Councilwoman Jen Campbell / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

This post originally appeared in the June 4 Politics Report. The newsletter is available to Voice of San Diego members. Become a member today to support our work here.

Late last month, Councilwoman Jen Campbell did something unusual. 

She loaned her campaign $25,000, just a few weeks before the election. 

A candidate loaning their campaign money isn’t unusual on its own. This one stands out because Campbell is not only an incumbent running for re-election, but she was also the Council president – final arbiter of the sacred Council docket – less than a year ago. 

The incumbency advantage is often attributed to name recognition and having the title of the job voters are deciding listed right under their name. And no doubt, those are nice edges to have. 

But the incumbency advantage also typically gives candidates fundraising superiority. Their years in office are years of opportunity to take up or vote on issues that would-be donors care about. That’s especially true if you basically get to determine the Council docket. 

That’s why it raised eyebrows in political circles when an incumbent needed to put herself on the hook for $25,000 in the closing stretch of the race. Her campaign (distinct from the couple independent expenditure committees spending money on her behalf, against former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana), has brought in $157,000 for the race – including the $25,000 she loaned it. 

That said: If Campbell wins, she’ll be able to pay the loan back with campaign donations after the election. It’s the only way a campaign donation can go directly into the pocket of the elected official asking for it. 

Andrew Keatts

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at

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  1. Consider that at the end of the day in D2, a cumulative 1/2 million or more will be spent by my 5 opponents. Where the hell does this money come from if not from lobbyists/special interests/insiders/gladhanders and other elite important stakeholders in this city and even from displaced folks from all 50 States? This is immoral and I am glad to lose, glad to be ignored but how is it morally possible to disparage my character as many in this city have done? What do you not accept about truth and honesty? Dan Smiechowski D2 candidate 858 405 5118

    1. Some of that money comes from people like me. Just with VOSD, I give money to people who I think are doing a good job. That includes Dr. Jen Campbell.

      1. The truth remains that if we had campaign spending limits sans PAC’s, Dr. Campbell would be checking blood pressure at the OB free clinic. Trust me as an Ironman triathlete, none of these political hookers would stand a chance in hell of winning with their constitutions built on a house of cards. They make a trip to Nevada’s Chicken Rance look like a soiree at Disneyland. As far as I’m concerned, you are aiding and abetting an immoral and unethical election without regard for the mercy rule. How much is too much? 15 dollars a vote? 20 dollars a vote? 25 dollars a vote? God forbid should Campbell lose! What will her famous elite prominent cousin say? Dave Axelrod who set her sails to prominence. My cousin is a toilet cleaner in Italy. Sorry pal! You are not my idea of American equality! Dan Smiechowski

  2. This article forgot to mention that her fellow council members did not re-elect her to be council president by a nearly unanimous vote after her first term was over. That tells me something!

    1. Buddy, wake up! These same political street walkers support the diminutive lady for D2 hook line and sinker! Dan Smiechowski SDCC candidate ignored by “Voice” as a credible candidate. Oh my! “We all die as fools” Voltaire

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