25th Congressional race: a deeper look into campaign finance totals

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With former Rep. Katie Hill’s resignation leading to a special election this year in addition to the regular primary, an increased number of candidates have joined the fray — changing the 25th Congressional District race a great deal since mid-2019, when only about five candidates were slated to run. 

But one thing has steadily remained the same: The district, which encompasses the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Simi valleys, will be the focus of another multi-million-dollar race, with money coming in from all over. Fourth-quarter figures place Assemblywoman Christy Smith as the lead fundraiser to date.

With the latest finance figures released by the Federal Election Commission, The Signal took a deeper dive into each of the candidates’ fundraising tallies and broke down the reportable, trackable money for the year-end report, following an earlier story that shared only the overall totals.    

Christy Smith

Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, launched her campaign a day after Hill resigned from office in late October, and has steadily climbed as the top fundraiser since then, bringing in a total of $845,245 through the fourth quarter of 2019.

Smith raised approximately $514,000 in itemized individual contributions and $195,200 in “other committee contributions,” which averaged out to $3,300 per donation from, predominantly, party-affiliated organizations. Committees included the Equality PAC and the Los Angeles County Young Democrats Federal PAC. 

Of the reportable itemized donations in the $514,000, approximately $64,200 came from within the 25th Congressional District, and about $21,000 coming from within Santa Clarita. Out-of-state tallies reached nearly $30,000 and about $484,000 from the rest of California. Across the state, that figure was broken down into approximately $400,000 from Southern California and the remaining amount from Northern California. 

She also raised $135,500 in unitemized individual contributions, or donations of $200 or less, for which the Federal Election Commission does not require disclosure. Smith did not receive any loans and reported an ending cash-on-hand total of $592,400.  

Cenk Uygur

Smith’s totals were challenged by Democrat Cenk Uygur, founder of the progressive news and opinion outlet “The Young Turks,” who launched his campaign in mid-November and raised a total of $796,412 in the fourth quarter. 

His reportable, trackable tallies indicated most, if not all, of the donations came through online “conduits,” such as Act Blue. Of those marked as “individual” contributions, which totaled to nearly $199,000, an estimated $84,500 came from California, $3,300 from within the 25th Congressional District and nearly $33,000 from the rest of Southern California. 

In unitemized individual contributions, Cenk raised $192 and reported receiving zero contributions from party committees. His cash-on-hand totals reached just more than $651,000. 

Mike Garcia

Mike Garcia, an executive at Raytheon and a former Navy pilot, entered the race in April with a clear goal to unseat then-Rep. Hill. The Republican raised $406,000 from October to December, bringing his total receipts to $889,193, which includes a $125,000 loan to himself. 

Excluding his loan, his total contributions reached nearly $725,000, most of which came from itemized individual donations of $450,884. The average donation was $726. Of those itemized tallies, $162,500 came from within the 25th Congressional District, with the most donations (92) coming from Santa Clarita at a total of $79,256, according to FEC data. 

In California, Garcia raised about $344,000, with most donations coming from Southern California. Out-of-state funds reached about $106,000. He also took in about $38,400 in “other committee contributions,” with contributions from Friends of Buck McKeon, With Honor PAC and about $17,500 from online conduit WinRed.

Garcia also raised $274,000 in unitemized individual contributions and nearly $800 in “candidate contributions.” He reported an ending cash-on-hand total of $312,800. 

Steve Knight

Knight, a Republican, served in Congress for the 25th District from 2015-19 and lost his re-election bid to Hill in 2018. In early November, he returned to the campaign trail in an attempt to regain the seat, raising a total of $122,165. 

In Itemized individual contributions, he raised $74,779, in addition to $43,000 from “other committee contributions,” which came in donations ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 from Majority Committee PAC and American Security PAC, according to the FEC. 

Within the 25th Congressional District, Knight received about $29,700, a majority of which came from Lancaster (about $10,000) and Porter Ranch (about $5,000). He also raised about $4,300 in unitemized individual contributions and reported nearly $106,000 in cash-on-hand dollars. 

George Papadopoulos 

Former Donald Trump advisor George Papadopoulos officially entered the race in late October after seeing that the seat was available and has previously stated that “someone has to step up.” The Republican brought in a total of $72,576 by the end of the year. 

Papadopoulos raised $22,400 in itemized individual contributions and just more than $50,000 in unitemized donations. His campaign did not report receiving party committee contributions nor acquiring any loans. The ending cash-on-hand total reached $14,327. 

There were no trackable figures about his individual contributions available, according to FEC officials. 

Candidates who raised less than $20,000

Anibal Valdez-Ortega, a Democratic attorney, raised a total of $17,700, of which $17,400 came from a loan to himself. He reported a total of $375 in itemized individual contributions and no unitemized donations, as well as $100 in cash-on-hand. 

Attorney David Lozano, a Republican, reported donations totaling $6,000, all of which came from three itemized individual contributions. The total cash in hand reached $4,225. 

Robert Cooper, a university professor, reported a total of $2,325 with no loans. In itemized donations, the Democrat received $1,000, and $1,325 in unitemized contributions. His cash-on-hand total was $2,000. 

Businesswoman Courtney Lackey, a Republican who is the only candidate running only in the special election, raised $1,485 and received a $100 loan. A total of $750 in itemized individual contributions and $635 in unitemized donations were reported, as well as $1,438 in cash on hand.

There were no reportable, trackable donations for candidates Kenneth Jenks (Republican), Getro Elize (Democrat), David Rudnick (a Democrat), and Otis Lee Cooper, who does not identify with a political party.  

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