Big gaps a theme in races for office

Campaign donors continue pouring money into a two-man open race for Stanislaus County supervisor, outpacing by far the amount raised for another supervisorial contest with an incumbent and two challengers.

Bill Lyons raked in $117,118 during the latest reporting period starting Jan. 1, compared with Terry Withrow's $52,511 in a race to succeed outgoing Supervisor Jeff Grover in District 3.

Their combined total of nearly $170,000 dwarfs the sum of $5,525 collected for District 4, where incumbent Dick Monteith raised no money this year. Former Modesto Mayor Carmen Sabatino raised only $225, and former Modesto City Councilman Balvino Irizarry got only $800 in addition to the $4,500 he fronted from his own wallet.

Sheriff Adam Christianson has raised $20,809 this year compared with challenger Rob Jackson's $11,514. Jackson, a Turlock Police captain, had less than $5,000 left to spend at the end of the March 17 reporting period, while Christianson had $41,842.

Lyons, who was state agriculture secretary under Gov. Davis, has raised $157,318 since last year, or three times Withrow's total. Both gave loans to their campaigns in December; Lyons, $40,200, and Withrow, $200.

Withrow's $52,511 in the latest reporting period is barely more than a third of Lyons' haul but far more than that collected by any of the three candidates in the other supervisorial race.

In this period, Withrow relied heavily on money from landowners on the county's West Side, where a majority of supervisors wants to build a giant business park near Crows Landing despite strident opposition from neighbors. The Maring family of Patterson and its business partners gave Withrow $16,250, and other West Side farmers donated at least $3,000 more.

Supervisor Jim DeMartini, a vocal critic of the Crows Landing project who represents the West Side, contributed $125 to Withrow's campaign.

With years of service as a board member of Doctors Medical Center, Lyons pulled down several contributions from the hospital's administrators and staff as well as others in the medical field. Several office holders, former and current, also donated.

In the other race for supervisor, Monteith, a former state senator, seems to be relying on money gathered since his local election four years ago, of which $13,608 remains.

Irizarry recorded one reportable contribution of $100 on his finance form, and Sabatino, none.

In the sheriff's race, Jackson received a few donations that could be notable not for amounts but for who they're from. Several Sheriff's Department officers and former officers, including three lieutenants, a sergeant and retired Assistant Sheriff Myron Larson, contributed to Jackson's campaign. He also received $240 from a committee for Jeff Perine, who lost a November bid for Modesto City Council to Joe Muratore.

Former Sheriff Les Weidman, who switched his endorsement to Christianson late in the campaign four years ago, gave the incumbent $250. Other donors this period include Modesto City Schools board member Sue Zwahlen, former county Supervisor Nick Blom, Lyons' Mape's Ranch, the widow of deceased Supervisor Tom Mayfield and former Modesto Mayor Peter Johansen. Christianson also received $250 from Muratore's campaign and $1,000 from a committee for Republican state Sen. Jeff Denham, who is running for Congress.

Lyons' long list of substantial donations includes:

$5,000 from north Modesto's Van Konynenburg family and businesses

$3,000 from Modesto accountant David Kalunian

$2,000 each from Greater Modesto Medical Surgical Associates, Modesto Radiology, Modesto Anesthesia, physician Robert Donovan, Doctors Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Dennis Litos, Sacramento consultant Tad Bell, Stanislaus Food Products, Foster Farms and Hughson's Frank Assali

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at or 578-2390.