Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown has received nearly $2 million from donors who gave to the GOP gubernatorial candidates in 2010. That’s more than three times what these donors have given to Brown’s 2014 Republican rivals. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Seema Mehta
May 25, 2014

With Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown expected to romp to reelection this year against little-known rivals, many donors who gave Republican candidates more than $37 million in the last gubernatorial contest are now keeping their hands in their pockets.

But those who are writing checks are largely giving them to … Jerry Brown.

The governor has received nearly $2 million, a Times analysis of campaign reports found, from donors who fueled Meg Whitman’s and Steve Poizner’s Republican gubernatorial bids in 2010. That’s more than three times as much as his current GOP rivals have received from these donors.

Allstate Insurance Co., Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, the California Restaurant Assn. PAC and the California Refuse Recycling Council PAC are among those that delivered five-figure checks to Poizner or Whitman the last time around.

But they have stiffed this year’s main GOP contenders, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly and former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari, even as they have each sent tens of thousands of dollars to Brown.

Several contributors had been impressed by Brown’s performance, saying he turned a gaping state budget deficit into a surplus that allows for deposits into a rainy-day fund.

“The state needed a lot of work in the last few years, and Gov. Brown has been the adult in the room,” said Lucy Dunn, an Orange County business executive and registered Republican.

Dunn, who worked in Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration and was a volunteer for Whitman in 2010, has given $500 to Brown’s reelection bid, although she had given Whitman $3,000 more.

“There’s a lot of things that certainly I don’t agree with, but … the reality is he has delivered on his promises” about tax and business policy, Dunn said.

The dynamics of the two contests are vastly different. In 2010, Schwarzenegger was leaving office, and the race was wide open. Whitman, a billionaire, and Poizner, a multimillionaire, poured many millions of their own wealth into their campaigns.

Whitman prevailed in the primary, and Brown ultimately beat her decisively. But it was a competitive race, leading many major donors — businesses, Native American tribes, other interests — to give to both, hedging their bets and avoiding any slight to the future governor.

This year’s low-key contest has not prompted the same outpouring, and many who gave on both sides of the aisle last time have now given only to Brown.

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