Candidates for state Senate and Assembly in the Northern San Joaquin Valley are starting to salt away cash for November's election.
Much of the money is flowing to the open race for outgoing Sen. Jeff Denham's seat. The Merced Republican is campaigning for Congress, leaving Ceres Mayor Anthony Cannella and Salinas Assemblywoman Anna Caballero to compete for his 12th Senate District seat.
Caballero raised $161,430 from May 23 to June 30, according to reports filed this week with the secretary of state. She has raised $364,038 this year, and has $212,299 in the bank. As an incumbent Democrat, Caballero is drawing heavy support from her party and labor groups.
Cannella, a Republican, gathered $46,898 over the same period, and has raised $143,376 this year. He's sitting on $201,186. His biggest checks have come from San Joaquin Valley businesses and Republican lawmakers, though his party has not put nearly as much cash into the race as Democrats have in supporting Caballero.
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Caballero has been spending money to raise her profile in the San Joaquin Valley. The sprawling district includes parts of Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, San Benito and Monterey counties, with most of the voters in the San Joaquin Valley.
Campaign finance reports show she's buying radio ads on San Joaquin Valley stations, and paying workers on the ground in Merced and Modesto. She spent $62,649 to produce radio ads in May, and spent smaller amounts buying time on air this summer.
Their race is expected to be especially competitive because the district has a Democratic majority even though Republicans have held it for the past eight years. Democrats want the district to bring their party closer to a two-thirds majority in the Senate, which would let them write a budget without Republican input. Republicans want to keep the district to hold on to their influence over the budget.
In other campaigns, Democratic Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani of Livingston has begun setting up her war chest for her re-election campaign. She has $340,570 on hand. Galgiani transferred $251,296 from a previous campaign fund to prepare for the Nov. 2 election.
Merced Republican Jack Mobley, whom Galgiani defeated two years ago, has raised less than $1,000.
Other Northern San Joaquin Valley campaigns are on cruise control because they are not expected to be competitive this fall.
Assemblyman Tom Berryhill, R-Oakdale, has $90,814 on hand. He raised $447,849 this year to win a five-way GOP primary for the seat held by outgoing Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto. Berryhill's supporters included other Republican lawmakers, San Joaquin Valley farmers and industries.
His opponent for the November election, Democrat Larry Johnson of Clovis, has not reported raising political money this year.
Modesto City Councilwoman Kristin Olsen does not have a challenger in her bid for the 25th Assembly District, which Berryhill holds. She raised $161,765 to win a six-way Republican primary for the district, and she owes $38,000 in unpaid bills from that election.
Berryhill's brother, Republican Assemblyman Bill Berryhill of Ceres, raised $28,960 in May and June. He has $133,336 on hand. That's more than other candidates, but it reflects a less intense campaign for Bill Berryhill than the one he had two years ago.
In 2008, Bill Berryhill loaned himself nearly $600,000 to defeat Democrat John Eisenhut, who benefited from more than $500,000 in spending from his party in their race for the 26th Assembly District. Berryhill's opponent this year, Democrat Tim Weintz of Tracy, has not reported raising money for the campaign.
Bee Assistant City Editor Adam Ashton can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2366.