WASHINGTON — The dollar chase never stops for California incumbents and challengers alike, who keep busy raising campaign cash for themselves and others.
In the past week alone, three of the San Joaquin Valley's House members held Capitol Hill fund-raisers. Conducted a year before the next election, the events raised thousands of dollars for the already flush treasuries maintained by Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia; Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced; and Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield.
"It's by far the worst part of the job, and I hate it," Nunes said Friday, "but you have to constantly do it."
Nunes allowed that he enjoys events in his congressional district, such as a reception scheduled for today in Visalia, but the Washington events are strictly business. Wherever the money comes from, he often redistributes it among his colleagues.
"My goal is to get the Republicans back into the majority," Nunes said, adding that "we are always running a campaign operation, 365 days a year."
Cardoza and McCarthy, too, steer some of the money raised toward other candidates. For every incumbent, raising lots of money is a way to fend off challengers, while giving some of it to others is a way to make friends and influence policy.
Nunes reported having $1,068,393 available in his campaign treasury as of Sept. 30.
To this, he added roughly $15,000 raised from an hourlong lunch held Tuesday at the GOP-run Capital Hill Club. In addition, he hosted two smaller fund-raising events over the past week.
Political action committees paid $1,000 each and individuals paid $500 each for the chance to meet with Nunes and the senior Republican on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan. Camp helped set up the fund-raising lunch, whose co-hosts included a PAC representing U.S. resorts.
The night before the Nunes event, Cardoza hosted a $1,000-a-person fund-raiser at Washington's Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar.
The event, two blocks from the Capitol, raised money for Cardoza's Moderate Victory Fund. The organization is a leadership PAC. It is separate from Cardoza's campaign committee, which had $453,347 available as of Sept. 30, and is another way for the incumbent to assist colleagues with contributions.
This year, the organization has spent more money on fund-raising than it has contributed to other candidates.
Special interests stay close
For leadership PACs and standard campaign committees, special interests prove a reliable source of cash.
On Oct. 27, for instance, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the American Gas Association helped host a $2,000-a-head "energy industry luncheon" honoring Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno. The night before, it was Rep. George Radanovich's turn, as energy industry officials hosted a $1,000-a-head dinner and cocktail fund-raiser for him at a Brazilian steakhouse called Fogo de Chao.
"Our gaucho chefs still expertly grill each of our 15 cuts of meat and offer you continuous tableside service," the restaurant's Web site promises.
Several hours after Nunes' Tuesday lunch concluded, his fellow Republicans could pay up to $5,000 for a chance to mingle with would-be GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina.
Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard executive who hopes to challenge Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, was the beneficiary of a fund-raising cocktail party held at a French restaurant on Capitol Hill called Bistro Bis.
Bee Washington Bureau reporter Michael Doyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-383-0006.