By Jim Holt
Senior Investigative Reporter
Marching steadily toward a primary election just five months away, candidates are raising money for their campaigns, and while Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, and Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, are expected to go toe-to-toe, the incumbent sees his competition — at least on the money front — as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Garcia reported this week that he raised more than $755,000 in the fourth quarter of last year, ending 2021 strong with more than $1.5 million cash on hand thanks to the more than 100,000 donors supporting his campaign.
“We need to raise a lot of money because it’s an expensive market,” Garcia told The Signal, singling out Pelosi as the driving force behind the big money that will be spent in an effort to unseat him.
“In the end, it doesn’t matter who’s on the ballot against me,” Garcia said. “My competitor is Nancy Pelosi because she comes in and spends $20 to $25 million every race and that’s my real competitor.”
“So I’ve got to be able to build the coffers and get the volunteers and keep the campaign team hitting on eight cylinders basically year-round and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
According to Garcia, he heads into 2022 with “another huge quarter” in the books as he prepares for his reelection campaign in the newly drawn 27th District, among the nation’s top battlegrounds in Republicans’ push to reclaim control of the House.
Smith, meanwhile, has also been socking money away for the upcoming battle for this crucial district seat.
Last year, Garcia raised more than four times the amount of money raised by Smith.
The Federal Election Commission reports show Smith received $597,527 in total campaign contributions last year.
Garcia, by comparison, received $2,630,902 in campaign contributions during the same period, between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021.
Christy Smith fundraising
“More than $11 million has been spent in support of Christy Smith over the last few years in this region,” Smith’s spokeswoman Danni Wang said Friday.
“In fact, she came within just 333 votes of winning in 2020 in one of the closest congressional contests in the nation,” Wang said.
Since then, the district has become even more “blue,” she added.
“In this 2022 rematch bid, Christy has unrivaled name identification, unrivaled support among key leaders and organizations, especially among working families’ groups, an unrivaled record of delivering for this community, more cash on hand than any other candidate — all of which underscores the fact that she is by far the strongest candidate to defeat Mike Garcia. Period.”
Smith, who was elected to the California State Assembly in November 2018 representing the 38th Assembly District and who lost to Garcia in 2020, declared her candidacy for the rematch primary set for June 7.
Smith assured her base in the last election that when it comes to fundraising, she doesn’t take money from corporate PACs.
Asked Monday to articulate Smith’s stand on PAC donations, Wang said: “Christy does not take corporate PAC donations.”
A PAC — or political action committee — is a tax-exempt group that collects contributions and then distributes those funds to campaigns.
Smith was unable to speak directly about her fundraising this week in light of a busy work schedule, Wang said.
Garcia on fundraising
When asked about PACs contributing to his campaign, Garcia said: “We get our money from various sources, all sources. I don’t change my principles because of who donates to me. “
“Usually, the people who donate to me are aligned with me in terms of their interests and the
constitutionality of things and the philosophies that we believe in,” he said. “They know, going in, that if they cut me a check they’re not buying me, not influencing me in what I believe and how I vote.”
There’s a reason Smith is not getting corporate PAC checks — it’s because she’s not representing growth and businesses, he said.
Garcia added: “To be honest she’s not getting enough money. She doesn’t have enough money to run an effective campaign.”