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DOWNEY - With the June 3 primary contest quickly moving out of the peripheral, new fundraising numbers from state senate candidates foreshadow a tighter race than analysts predicted.
According to semi-annual financial statements released last month, Republican Councilman Mario Guerra of Downey outraised his democratic counterparts last year, garnering more than $335,000 in monetary contributions.
"I'm so proud to see the support for my candidacy and our values," said Guerra. "80 percent of our support is local, not special interests. The support is definitely there -- and our campaign is resonating."
Former Assemblyman Tony Mendoza was the closest contender with nearly $206,800 in donations received from Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2013, but the Artesia-based Democrat boasts more than $681,000 cash on hand and an enviable list of endorsements throughout the overwhelmingly democratic district.
Semi-annual financial statements filed January 31 reveal Mendoza's campaign committee, "Mendoza for Senate 2014," received $154,445 in contributions between the period of July 1 to Dec. 31 and spent $93,241 in expenditures.
The bulk of Mendoza's contributions during this period came from political action committees, corporations, and unions based in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
Mendoza's supporters included: Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc. ($1,000); Phillip Morris USA Inc., the nation's largest cigarette manufacturer ($4,100); New York-based Pepsico Incorporated ($2,000); Montebello Teachers Association ($4,100); International Union of Operating Engineers Local 12 Political Fund ($3,600); International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13 PAC ($6,200); DRIVE Committee ($3,100); and Sacramento-based CA Nurses Association PAC, which has already given $14,000 towards Mendoza's primary and general campaigns.
Financial reports also show that Mendoza's 2014 campaign made several contributions to local democratic candidates and party committees last year.
Since declaring his candidacy, Mendoza has announced endorsements from several former colleagues in Sacramento as well as more than 40 labor unions and 30 councilmen and women from the 32nd district.
Earlier this month, Mendoza's campaign also earned the pre-primary endorsement of the California Democratic Party.
Elected to the 56th Assembly district in 2006, Mendoza served three consecutive terms in the state Assembly until he was termed out in 2012. Prior to his career in Sacramento, Mendoza served three terms on the Artesia City Council, where he was elected the youngest mayor at age 26.
Guerra, who was elected to the Downey City Council in 2006, collected the majority of his donations from local residents and business owners, but his largest contribution came from himself. On Dec. 31, Guerra, co-founder of Scanlon-Guerra-Burke Insurance Brokers, loaned his campaign $100,000.
"If I don't believe in myself, how will anyone else? I have a stake in this," Guerra said. "I'm the only businessman in this race. I'm the only one who has created jobs and this is what I'm going to do if elected."
In 2013, Guerra's campaign made over $150,000 in expenditures mostly related to campaign literature and campaign consultants, which included paying the travel expenses of a Louisville, Kentucky-based financial consultant with LA Harris and Associates.
Financial reports indicate the Guerra campaign had $183,683 cash on hand by the end of last year.
Other Guerra donations came from both inside and outside the district's boundaries, including: Alex Boggs of Tower Communities LLC ($4,100); attorney Sam Dordulian of Glendale ($4,100); Rudolph Gayton, CEO and president of Gayton Foods ($4,100); Downey-based Cartozian Associates Real Estate Inc. ($4,100); Downey Nissan ($4,100); Law Offices of Kevin J. Keenan ($4,100); Vinod Jivrajka, president and CEO of Apple Care Medical Management ($4,100); former Downey mayor Meredith Perkins ($4,100); and Raul Porto, the owner of Porto's Bakery & Cafe ($4,100).
However, Guerra isn't the only Republican on the ballot in June.
Noel A. Jaimes, a Republican, who ran for the 57th Assembly district in 2012 and lost, has yet to announce any contributions given to his 2014 campaign for the 32nd district, but the La Mirada resident has created a committee.
Democrat Sally Havice, who won a seat representing the 56th Assembly district in 2000, announced her intention to run last year, but the Cerritos College professor also has not filed any campaign contributions thus far in the contest.
Dr. Irella Perez, a trustee on the Whittier City School District board of education, might just benefit from the lack of challengers to Mendoza and Guerra.
Currently the principal of Bennett Kew Elementary School in Inglewood, Perez of Whittier is a 20-year educator with a Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California. Perez has already received endorsements from Assembly members Ian Calderon and Cristina Garcia, who already represent much of the 32nd state Senate district area.
Based on semi-annual statements, Perez pulled in $100,445 last year, including a $60,000 loan she made to her campaign. Having made no expenditures, the longtime community volunteer has all of her funds on hand heading toward the primary.
Most of Perez's financial support came from individuals and businesses in the Whittier area including: Carolyn Sims of IWCO Direct ($4,100); La Mirada-based IQAir North America, Inc. ($4,100); Law firm Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo ($1,000); Huiming Huang, a Whittier College professor ($4,100); and Guoquan Weng, CEO of Ocean Shipping Agency ($4,100).
On June 3, 2014, the two top vote-getters of either party in the primary will face off in the general election on Nov. 4, 2014.
The next official campaign finance reporting deadline is March 24. These financial reports will include the contributions received and expenditures paid by each campaign between the period of Jan. 1 to March 17.
The newly-drawn 32nd Senate district incorporates the communities of Artesia, Bellflower, Buena Park, Cerritos, Commerce, Downey, Hacienda Heights, Hawaiian Gardens, La Habra Heights, La Mirada, Lakewood, Los Nietos, Montebello, Norwalk, Pico Rivera, Rose Hills, Santa Fe Springs and South Whittier.
Published: Feb. 20, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 45