The Berryhill brothers built big war chests to ward off political opponents in 2009, while two candidates running for what could be the state's most expensive election this year amassed six-figure funds to prepare.
The hottest race likely will be to take outgoing state Sen. Jeff Denham's seat. The 12th Senate District's voter registration leans Democratic even though it has elected a Republican for the past eight years.
That has the GOP gunning to play defense, while the Democratic Party senses an opportunity to pick up a seat.
Ceres Mayor Anthony Cannella, a Republican, and Democratic Assemblywoman Anna Caballero appear to have their parties' nominations locked up for Denham's district and are expected to avoid a primary contest in June.
Cannella gathered $196,775 in 2009, newly released campaign finance reports show. Caballero pulled in $297,124 in the same period.
Both campaigns met their goals but said the recession had made it a difficult year to raise money.
"I've been doing this for 25 years, and I have not in my career gone through a tougher year than the past year," said Connie Sanders Emerson, a fund-raising consultant for Caballero.
Her largest supporters tended to come from labor groups and political action committees.
Cannella's team was pleased with his showing, acknowledging that Caballero has a fund-raising advantage as an incumbent assemblywoman.
"Cannella was very competitive with her without being a sitting state senator," said Kevin Spillane, a Cannella campaign consultant. "This is going to be a very expensive and fiercely competitive race come November."
Cannella received his biggest checks from other Republican lawmakers and from large San Joaquin Valley business representatives, such as Food 4 Less Chief Executive John Quinn.
Assemblyman Tom Berryhill of Modesto raised $282,779 last year. He has $115,570 in the bank as he turns his attention to running to succeed state Sen. Dave Cogdill, who is not seeking re-election. He has an opponent in Heidi Fuller, a Tuolumne County attorney who did not report any fund-raising activity in 2009.
Berryhill's brother, Assemblyman Bill Berryhill of Ceres, gathered $283,749 last year. He has $127,338 in the bank. State records show that his 2008 opponent for the 26th Assembly District, Democrat John Eisenhut of Turlock, has an open account to run again, but Eisenhut did not raise money for a race in the second half of 2009.
Democratic Assembly- woman Cathleen Galgiani of Livingston raised $252,102 last year. She has $324,160 on hand for her bid to hold on to the 17th Assembly District. Two Democrats have pulled papers to challenge her in the June primary, but they did not report any fund raising.
Merced Republican Jack Mobley last year raised $24,415 to run against Galgiani, and has $677 available.
None of the candidates running for Tom Berryhill's 25th Assembly District has filed a campaign finance statement. Berryhill's decision to run for Cogdill's seat did not come until December, and the six candidates who have pulled papers to run for the open Assembly chair did not begin putting together their campaigns until late last month and January.
The latest campaign finance reporting period covered Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2009.
Bee Assistant City Editor Adam Ashton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2366.