Campaigns

By Jean Merl
April 16, 2015

Hoping to inoculate themselves against challenges next year, most of California’s vulnerable House members already are building campaign war chests.

Quarterly fundraising reports filed with the Federal Election Commission provided an early glimpse of candidates’ financial strength as they head toward the 2016 contests. Six Democratic incumbents whom Republicans are targeting for defeat all had six-figure campaign accounts by March 31.

Although the costs of hotly contested races often run into the millions, money shown early in a race — sometimes even before an opponent has materialized — can attract more donors, provide a head start in campaigning and scare off challengers.

The law allows candidates to keep and use funds left over from a previous congressional race.

Among those the National Republican Congressional Committee has on its target list are Democratic Reps. Scott Peters of San Diego and Ami Bera of Elk Grove. Both survived tight races that were among the costliest in the nation last year.

Peters had almost $344,000 on hand at the end of the quarter. Bera had nearly $353,000.

Others are Rep. Raul Ruiz of Palm Desert, who reported more than $687,000 in his treasury, and Rep. Julia Brownley of Westlake Village, who staved off a strong GOP challenge in her Ventura County-based district last year, had $556,919.

In Northern California, Rep. John Garamendi of Elk Grove, who handily fended off a challenge last year, reported slightly more than $200,000.

In the Inland Empire, Rep. Pete Aguilar of Redlands, whose 2014 GOP opponent has announced he wants a rematch, had about $307,000. His Republican challenger, military veteran Paul Chabot of Rancho Cucamonga, reported slightly less than $35,000.

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