Assemblyman Todd Gloria and San Diego Councilwoman Barbara Bry / Photos by Dustin Michelson and Vito Di Stefano

Fundraising figures for the first half of the year became public Wednesday.

Our phones were buzzing with political consultants and their proxies making sure we saw just how good their candidate did – or just how bad their opponent’s numbers looked.

And it was then we realized maybe for the first time just how unique the 2020 election cycle is. Almost all the big local races are for open seats. The one major local race with an incumbent – County Supervisor District 3 – is still up for grabs.

All the candidates want to talk. All of them are looking for any edge they can get. Nobody has a huge chip stack bullying others at the political poker table.

Let’s get into it.

With much help from political consultant Mason Herron of Edgewater Strategies, we wanted to visualize how all the major city and county races look. All the graphs we have included show both total contributions over the last reporting period and cash on hand minus debt. That’s the closest number you can get to just how many resources a candidate has to invest.

Gloria’s Big Showing

Barbara Bry talks with Todd Gloria and David Alvarez during the opening of her City Council campaign headquarters in San Diego. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Assemblyman Todd Gloria has cornered the market on major Democratic endorsements against his rival, Councilwoman Barbara Bry, who’s also a Democrat. But Bry could have upended the narrative by significantly outperforming Gloria.

That did not happen. Gloria raised more money than Bry, and he spent less than her. He now has $427,299 on hand – counting debt – compared with Bry’s $299,935. So in addition to Gloria’s advantages in endorsements, institutional support and name ID, you can now add money.

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That’s not all. There’s already a PAC in place supporting Gloria that has another $187,408 in the bank.

County, D3: A Baby! And Unions Try to Knock Out Olga Diaz

Terra Lawson-Remer was one candidate who did not have fundraising at the top of her mind Wednesday.

The Democrat running for county supervisor had a baby Tuesday.

Check out the book. / Photo courtesy Terra Lawson-Remer

She announced that, given that she had just created a new human, she may need a few weeks off of the campaign trail. But she took a few minutes to talk to us.

Lawson-Remer did not raise as much money as incumbent Republican Kristin Gaspar, but she does have more money on hand than Gaspar and Olga Diaz, the Escondido city councilwoman who is Lawson-Remer’s main target.

Both assume Gaspar will make it through the primary. So, for now, the fight is between them. Lawson-Remer speaks with great confidence about why she’s the better choice for Democrats than Diaz.

“I have a vast breadth and depth of experience and she has a very local, limited range of experience, which I respect, but I think we have much bigger challenges,” Lawson-Remer said.

Diaz didn’t want to get into a squabble.

“I wish everybody well in this race. I don’t want to have a negative tone. I’ll do my own work to be the most viable candidate,” she said.

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Lawson-Remer does have another thing going for her, though: Two unions – Laborers International Union of North America Local 89 and Service Employees International, Local 221 – have put money into a PAC supporting Lawson-Remer. The group has $128,000, roughly doubling her campaign potency. SEIU 221 is the largest union of employees of the county of San Diego. They supported Nathan Fletcher, who supports Diaz in this race. As does his wife, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins supports Lawson-Remer.

So there’s a lot of talk about how this is a proxy war of rival Dem alliances. Maybe.

The PAC money is no joke. Lawson-Remer said she’s thrilled to have the support of the PAC and told us she heard it was on track to raise $500,000.

Another contributor to it? Rep. Juan Vargas, who gave $5,000. Lawson-Remer worked for Vargas and her father, local political consultant Larry Remer, served Vargas for many years.

“SEIU and laborers have every right to support their candidate of choice,” Diaz said. She pointed out she had gotten the endorsement of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 569, and all the Democratic clubs that have weighed in on the race so far.

County, D1: The Quiet Race

District 3 is getting a lot of attention as this contest between Dems wanting to face Gaspar heats up. Over in District 1, Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos has the most resources for now. State Sen. Ben Hueso and Nora Vargas, an executive with Planned Parenthood, are not close for now.

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County, D2: Anderson Has Most Left, Vaus Strong Showing

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus has a number of big endorsements in the race for county supervisor in East County, including the outgoing Republican, Dianne Jacob.

But former state Sen. Joel Anderson has money to spend, much of it leftover from a hefty contribution the Republican Party gave him several years ago when he threatened, and then declined, to challenge Jacob. (It’s a long story.)

Democrat Kenya Taylor raised more than $12,000 and has more than $5,000 cash on hand after subtracting debts.

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City Council District 1

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City Council District 3

This one is just wide open.

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City Council District 5: Rough Cycle for Republicans, Dem Performs

The District 5 Council seat is the most Republican district in San Diego. Yet a Democrat has a big financial lead over the field.

Marni von Wilpert, a deputy city attorney, raised $56,855 in the first half of the year and spent very little.

One the other side: Patrick Batten, a lobbyist with Southwest Strategies, raised $30,713 so far – and spent 80 percent of it. He now has just $6,000 on hand, after accounting for debt.

Batten’s poor results had people talking. He said he was just getting started. He announced his candidacy, he said, only after T.J. Zane decided not to run and so he had very little time to put together a team.

“I have been raising money in this race for about two months before the reports were released. We continue to build support and momentum. I am proud of the endorsements and financial commitments that we have collected and there is much more to come,” he said in a written message.

There’s another Republican running for the seat, Joe Leventhal, who could be a contender, but who is not allowed to raise any money until Sept. 10, when he will have been off of the city’s Ethics Commission for a full year. He is allowed to line up events and plans for when his window opens and his team claims it’s on it.

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City Council District 7: Sorry, We Forgot One Last Week and He’s Strong

A mea culpa: We gave you a preview last week of how things were shaping up in the City Council’s open District 7 seat, but we neglected to include one candidate, Monty McIntyre. And McIntyre put up a solid number, raising some $55,000, good for second among the four Democrats running.

Anyway, the buzz about Noli Zosa’s fundraising was real.

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Moar Politics

  • City Attorney Mara Elliott raised $160,000 and had $109,000 cash after debts. Her rival, Cory Briggs, has not reported any fundraising.
  • Oh, almost forgot: This week, we had San Diego City Council President Georgette Gómez on the podcast. In the conversation, she delivered a not subtle warning to Mayor Kevin Faulconer to not veto new building and affordable housing regulations or something unfortunate could happen to his coalition for a hotel room tax hike. The new regulations are vulnerable because, although Gómez has a veto-proof super majority of six Democrats on the Council, one of them, Councilwoman Vivian Moreno, voted against them.
  • Oh, also: Gómez also said she didn’t have a preference in the mayor’s race. She did call Gloria her friend.
  • Oh and: Gómez said she supports putting a measure on the ballot to change San Diego Unified School District elections to subdistrict-only (rather than making finalists in neighborhood districts campaign across almost the entire city in their runoffs). She said previously she had hoped the district would lead itself toward the change because it was the right thing to do, but it did not so the City Council will go ahead with putting it on the ballot.
  • The Lincoln Club also has not endorsed in the mayor’s race. There seems to be a misconception that the conservative group has endorsed Bry. It has not. Three of its most influential members, developers Tom Sudberry and Michael Turk and David Malcolm, have raised money for Bry.
  • Jim Bell, the Ocean Beach environmentalist who ran for mayor of the city of San Diego many times, died this week. RIP, Jim.
  • Finally: Carl DeMaio made absolute art out of self promotion Friday as he tried to build up drama to his Monday announcement about whether he’ll run for Congress against U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter. He put out a personal email and press release talking about how people are clamoring for him to run. He’s just not sure but he knows Republicans can’t win the seat without him. And WHAT SHOULD HE DO, PEOPLE?? It’s very hard. “At the same time, DeMaio does not need to run for Congress to advance policy ideas as he currently hosts the popular DeMaio Report weekdays 3-6pm on NewsRadio 600 KOGO and serves as Chairman of Reform California,” he wrote. Er, his staff wrote.

Again, thank you to Mason Herron for compiling all the fundraising data in one spot. He’s very smart and funny. He has good baseball takes, too. Unless you think it looks bad for him that we compliment him. In which case, he sucks. Also thanks to Megan Wood, from our own staff, who did nice graphs of the data. Megan’s great! She also did this video of the Gomez interview. If you have any message for us, email us at or

Correction: The graphs for Joel Anderson and David Greco have been updated to reflect accurate numbers.

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

Andrew Keatts is a former managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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