Election Section

Hancock’s Primary Victory Powered by Fundraising

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday June 19, 2008 - 09:57:00 AM

This week, after beating former 16th District Assemblymember Wilma Chan 56.8 percent to 43.2 percent in the June 3 District 9 Democratic primary, current 14th District Assemblymember sent out an e-mail thank-you to supporters. 

“I cannot thank you enough for your support throughout this campaign,” Hancock wrote. “Hundreds of you contributed time, money, and encouragement.” 

She could have emphasized the “money” part. 

Hancock’s win against Chan was fueled in no small part by a massive, well-timed, well-organized fund-raising effort that started out well and then picked up momentum as election day neared. 

That is the conclusion of a Daily Planet analysis of campaign expenditure reports turned in by both candidates to the office of the California Secretary of State. 

Overall, Hancock outraised Chan by three to one, $988,370 to $314,200, in 2007 and 2008. And in the key fund-raising months of March (when campaign finance reports are released to the public, showing the relative strengths of the candidates and helping raise or lower future donations) and May (when the big mass mailings and media buys are done), Hancock swamped Chan $111,161 to $28,965 and $291,749 to $71,175, respectively. 

Hancock’s massive fund-raising lead was helped by a huge infusion from the California Democratic Party. Beginning the first week in May, Hancock received $144,779 in donations from the state party, more than 23 percent of her total contributions from non-individuals during her entire two year fund-raising effort. 

During the campaign, after Hancock won the endorsement of the California Democratic Party, Chan tried unsuccessfully to get Hancock to sign a pledge vowing to refuse any party donations. Because donors can give unlimited amounts to political parties—and because donations from political parties to individual candidates do not indicate who originally gave those donations to the parties—the practice is a loophole through which it is possible for donors and campaigns to sidestep California law that limits the amount that individual donors, businesses, and associations can give to a campaign. 

Hancock relied far more heavily on business, political action committee, labor, and other group donations than did Chan. More than 62 percent of Hancock’s donations came from group donations, while Chan’s contributions were divided almost equally between groups and individual donors. 

Among individual donors, three-fourths of Hancock’s contributions came from contributors living within District 9. Chan, on the other hand, raised a little more than half of her money from individual donors in California cities outside of District 9. Chan raised close to 9 percent of her individual donor total ($14,675) from the city of San Francisco alone. 

Businesses accounted for 31.8 percent ($195,775) of Hancock’s contributions—both small businesses and large corporations—but the rest of her contributions were fairly evenly divided among categories of donors; 9.59 percent ($58,900) came from associations and political action committees that were not associated with health care, labor, or public safety, 10.41 percent ($63,900) came from campaign committees for candidates for other offices (including, oddly, $150 from the Tony Thurmond For Assembly committee, who lost in his bid to succeed Hancock for the 14th District Assemblymember), 16.22 percent ($99,550) from labor-related organizations, 6.68 percent ($41,000) from health care-related groups, and 1.47 percent ($9,000) from law enforcement and firefighting associations. 

With a contribution cap of $3,600 per election ($7,200 if given in at least two separate checks earmarked for the primary and general elections), the top Hancock donors at $4,000 and above were: 


California Federation of Teachers CFT COPE (Burbank) $7,200 

California Nurses Association PAC (Sacramento) $7,200 

California Teachers Association--Association For Better Citizenship (Burlingame) $7,200 

California Dental PAC (Sacramento) $7,200 

Friends Of Anthony Portanio Campaign Committee (Los Angeles) $7,200 

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Educational Committee (Washington, D.C.) $7,200 

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 302 PAC (Martinez) $7,200 

Northern California Carpenters Regional Council (Oakland) $7,200 

State Building & Construction Trades Council of California PAC (Sacramento) $7,200 

Tony Suh (retiree of Lafayette) $7,200 

Consumer Attorneys’ PAC Action Fund (Sacramento) $6,000 

Louise Harvey Clark (retiree of Lafayette) $6,000 

Political Education Committee of Public Employees Local #1 (Martinez) $5,000 

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 PAC (Oakland) $4,600 

Professional Engineers In California Government PAC (Sacramento) $4,600 

Bayer Corporation (Pittsburgh, CA) $4,000 

California Beer & Beverage Distributors Community Affairs (Sacramento) $4,000 

California Professional Firefighters PAC (Sacramento) $4,000 

Kava Massih Architects (Berkeley) $4,000