Twenty-seven years after his death, Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh, remains a beloved figured in Sacramento. The boozing, philandering Assembly speaker of the 1960s is fondly remembered in capitol circles for his blunt descriptions of political power. The money quote, if you will: “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

Unruh, of course, is a politician from another time, when a man with his proclivities could remain in office without much controversy. But his words about politics and money are as true as ever — especially during election season.

This week, candidates on the Nov. 4 ballot were required to file updated reports with the Secretary of State on the amount of money they’ve raised. In competitive races, these reports are vital to understanding who has the inside track. But even in the case of San Diego’s legislative contests, which aren’t competitive, campaign fundraising is telling. From the numbers, you get a sense of who has support — power — and who is on the outside looking in.

You also can get a sense of who might have a shot at higher office. A good fundraiser always has hope.

So, here’s a look at how much money San Diego legislative candidates have raised for the 2014 election. We’re only listing here the candidates who are required to file their reports — that is, this is a list of only those candidates who have raised or spent $25,000.

With the exception of Pat Bates, the Orange County supervisor running for the Senate seat currently held by the termed-out Mark Wyland, all of these candidates are incumbents. (Numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand.)

Brian Jones, R, 71st Assembly District: $443,000

Marie Waldron, R, 75th Assembly District: $325,000

Rocky Chavez, R, 76th Assembly District: $380,000

Brian Maienschein, R, 77th Assembly District: $700,000

Toni Atkins, D, 78th Assembly District: $1.98 million

Shirley Weber, D, 79th Assembly District: $483,000

Lorena Gonzalez, D, 80th Assembly District: $555,000

Pat Bates, R, 36th Senate District: $565,000

Joel Anderson, R, 38th Senate District: $745,000

Ben Hueso, D, 40th Senate District: $450,000

No surprise that Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins is the top fundraiser here. Her position of power makes it easy to solicit contributions since every special interest group wants to be on her good side. Brian Maienschein’s reputation as a moderate Republican also may have helped him raise some dough.

Quick Hits

• San Diego-area political consultant John Dadian says the local delegation is “raising the profile of San Diego” with its lawmaking. (U-T)

• It’s nice to be the frontrunner: Gov. Jerry Brown’s campaign for governor is, just now, showing signs of life. (KQED)

• Brown is starring in campaign ads — just not for himself. He’s promoting Props. 1 and 2. (L.A. Times)

• In the wake of a scandal, the state Senate is going over its policies on nepotism. (Sacramento Bee)

• State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has proposed scrapping the California High School Exit Exam. (Sacramento Bee)

• The governor apparently doesn’t worry about vetoes angering his Democratic allies. (San Francisco Chronicle)

• Outgoing Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg will launch a mental health foundation when he leaves office. (Sacramento Bee)

What’s Next?

Prediction: The vast majority of the money raised by San Diego lawmakers for this election will ultimately be spent on other elections, or contributed to their political allies.

Brian Joseph

Brian Joesph is a Voice of San Diego contributor. He has covered the state capitol for more than seven years. You can reach him at

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