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Strong fundraising by Berman, Veenker in state Assembly race

 

Palo Alto Councilman Marc Berman raised $104,481 in the latest reporting period for his bid to succeed Rich Gordon in the state Assembly, more than any of his seven competitors, campaign-finance documents show.

The disclosures, which cover the period between Jan. 1 and April 23, also show a strong fundraising drive by attorney Vicki Veenker, who received $100,812 in contributions. The strong numbers coincide with recent endorsements she has received from California's teachers and nurses unions.

Cupertino Mayor Barry Chang, who held the fundraising lead earlier this year, received only $32,638 in the latest period — much of it in large checks from outside the district. His campaign still has more than $290,000 in cash on hand, according to his latest filing. Yet because he used some of his campaign funds to repay a loan, he actually ended the period $7,362 in the hole.

Mountain View Councilman Mike Kasperzak, meanwhile, raised $34,219 in the last period but remains well behind the other three Democratic front-runners in total cash raised.

The other four candidates have far smaller campaign chests. Menlo Park Councilman Peter Ohtaki, the lone Republican in the race, raised $22,495, while Mountain View Councilman John Inks, the lone Libertarian, $14,670, respectively (this includes a $10,000 loan Mr. Inks gave to his campaign). The two have only recently entered the race to replace Mr. Gordon.

Two other candidates — Seelam Reddy and Jay Cabrera — are running low-budget, grassroots campaigns and have not filed papers with the Secretary of State.

According to his finance statement, many of Mr. Berman's contributors have come from labor groups, developers, Realtors, attorneys, business professionals and public officials. This includes $8,500 from the California Association of Realtors; $7,500 from the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council SCC; $4,200 from the Laborers Local Union 270; and $4,250 from the California Sate Council of Laborers PAC.

Mr. Berman also received $4,200 from the San Francisco Laborer's Local 261; and $4,200 from the Palo Alto Professional Firefighters.

Steven Westly, managing partner of the Westly Group, donated $2,000 to Mr. Berman's campaign. Palo Alto developers John McNellis and Chop Keenan contributed $2,100 and $500, respectively, to his campaign, which is also being supported by dozens of local environmentalists, commissioners and community volunteers, according to his campaign statement.

Ms. Veenker's campaign was bolstered by recent endorsements and contributions from California's teachers and nurses unions. This includes $8,500 contributions from the California Teachers Association/Association for Better Citizenship and from the California Nurses Association Political Action Committee.

She also received $4,200 contributions from Castilleja teacher Julian Cortella and Palo Alto resident John Rohrer; $2,000 checks from Stanford University professor Leonore Herzenberg and from Menlo Park resident Karen Grove; and a $1,000 contribution from the Teamsters union.

Mr. Chang, who led the field in January, saw his overall balance wane in the latest reporting period. Most of his contributions came in the form of large checks from corporations based outside the Assembly district. Union City-based Marina Food LLC contributed $8,400, with $4,200 pegged for the primary campaign and another $4,200 allocated for the general election, according to his campaign statement. Helix Electric, based in San Diego, similarly gave $8,400, split between the two elections, as has Welkin International Industrial Inc., based in Saratoga.

Mr. Kasperzak reported $34,169 in contributions in the last period, much of it coming in smaller checks from individuals inside the district. Among his top contributors are Menlo Park resident Patricia Spieker Hopman, Atherton resident Catherine Spieker, and Portola Valley resident Margaret Thomas, who each gave him $4,200 for the primary challenge. Allison Aldrich, an executive at GoDaddy.com, contributed $1,000 to his campaign. Virginia Bryant, Mike Kroll, Andrew Hudacek, Robert Wagner and Todd Regonini, all of Sares Regis Group, contributed $1,000 each to Kasperzak's campaign. Tod Spieker, president of Spieker Companies, contributed $2,100.

Mr. Kasperzak's Mountain View council colleague John Inks reported raising $14,670 in the period between Jan. 1 and April 23, including $4,670 in contributions and a $10,000 loan. His biggest contributors include Woodland resident Chris Rufer, (who donated $990), Mountain View resident Donald Bahl ($900), and Palo Alto resident Tod Spieker ($950).

Mr. Ohtaki did slightly better, reporting $17,495 in contributions (along with a $5,000 loan) in the latest period. About half of his cash raised came from two contributors: Charles Munger and William Regan, each of whom contributed $4,200 to the race's lone Republican. He also received $1,000 from Grace Todd of Montague, Michigan, for the primary battle, according to his campaign statement.

The eight candidates are competing in the June 7 primary, with the two top vote-getters moving on to the November ballot.

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