Acosta takes fundraising lead in Assembly election rematch

Constituents visit at Assemblyman Dante Acosta’s open house in December.

Campaign finance data showed Assemblyman Dante Acosta outraised Newhall School Board President Christy Smith by nearly $200,000 last year as each candidate prepares for a rematch of the 2016 state assembly race.

Records from the Secretary of State’s office said the incumbent Republican raised $322,854.60 last year while Smith received $128,442.34. Acosta has $159,325.74 cash on hand while Smith has $75,858.65.

“It’s a reflection on the fact that people are enthusiastic for my campaign,” Acosta said. “We are raising money. I think things look very good.”

Smith said Thursday the 38th Assembly District seat was one of the first to be listed as a targeted seat for the November election.

“There’s a lot of momentum behind my candidacy,” she said.

Acosta said town halls and community chats have generated a lot of feedback from the community on issues such as public safety and caring for children, the disabled and seniors.

“We’re communicating extremely well with the district,” he said.

Smith said she has received a 100 percent pre-endorsement vote from local Democratic party delegates. Their convention is later this month in San Diego where Smith will likely get the official endorsement of the party.

Smith said her campaign’s focus this spring is to “connect with voters at the grassroots level.”

“We’re firing on all cylinders,” she said.

Acosta’s campaign consultant Duane Dichiara said the assemblyman is in a strong position for the primary and general elections.

“Dante is a strong fundraiser for the same reason he is currently leading in the polls: People know he is an independent voice for the 38th District. We’re extremely optimistic about our chances in June and November,” said Acosta campaign consultant.

The assembly race cycle is still in its early stages, Smith campaign spokesman Maclen Zilber said.

“We’re incredibly happy about where we are at this point in the cycle,” Zilber said. “We’re very confident we’re going to be able to raise the resources that we need.”

Zilber said the total Smith has raised so far “is a lot more than any Democrat has raised in this district this early in the cycle.”

Smith’s campaign will focus on education and healthcare, Zilber said.

In the 2016 election, Acosta received 53.1 percent of the vote—71,058 ballots cast—to Smith’s 46.9 percent, or 62,871 votes.

Last week, the congressional candidates released their contribution data for the last quarter of 2017. Incumbent Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, led in overall cash on hand with $794,747.79. Democratic challengers Katie Hill, the executive director for nonprofit People Assisting The Homeless, received $382,848.25, attorney Bryan Caforio had $377,203.39 and geologist Jess Phoenix reported $110,187.58 cash on hand.

Hill outraised Knight and the other challengers in the individual quarter. Hill raised $252,350.81 while Knight brought in $240,244.10, Caforio received $211,496.93 and Phoenix had $158,033.55.

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