Supervisor Neil Derry left. Tribal Chairman James Ramos right.

Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/25/2012 12:41:53 AM PDT

In collecting and spending campaign money for the San Bernardino County 3rd District supervisor race, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians tribal Chairman James Ramos is clearly ahead of the field.

In the latest campaign finance report released Friday by the county Registrar of Voters Office, Ramos had a cash balance of $435,281, while incumbent 3rd District Supervisor Neil Derry had $101,448.

“James is very proud of the support he’s getting in the district,” said Andre Levesque, Ramos’ campaign spokesman. “Although we are leading fundraising, (Ramos) is proud of the endorsement he’s received from community leaders and the general support from around the community. The response has been overwhelming.”

Ramos has received $64,633 in donations since January. Derry received $44,167 in the same period. Ramos spent $194,664 in the past three months, while Derry spent $35,065.

“We knew we were going to be outspent, and I was outspent by a significant amount, but we’re going to have the revenue necessary to run a full campaign and win the campaign in June,” Derry said.

In the past year, Ramos has received tens of thousands of dollars from American Indian tribes that operate casinos in the state. Derry brought up the donations when commenting on the campaign fundraising on Friday.

“I have raised my money from lots of individuals throughout the community, from businesses, and from a broad swath of public support,” he said.

Derry said much of the money raised by Ramos has been from casino and gambling interests, adding, “The voters of the 3rd District aren’t going to allow this seat to be purchased by the casinos.”

Levesque responded by saying that the Ramos campaign has more bipartisan endorsement and more individual support than Derry does.

“People are upset with county government and with Neil Derry and he should be very concerned about that,” Levesque said. “It shows weakness in his ability as a leader.”

Doug Johnson, research fellow at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College, said the 3rd District race should be “bigger-dollar” and more wide-reaching than San Bernardino County usually sees.

Johnson said it’s normally very hard to raise money and make a serious campaign against an incumbent supervisor.

“Ramos is an unusual challenger in that he can tap those resources to fund a full-blown campaign,” Johnson said. “I think Ramos’ money advantage is obviously a big plus for him, but as an incumbent supervisor, Derry has his own advantages, so I think this is shaping up to be the tough campaign that we expected.”

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