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    Who’s brought in the most money so far in the race for Rep. Katie Porter’s open congressional seat?
    • October 19, 2023

    Republican Scott Baugh for the third straight quarter has reported a fundraising edge over Democrats in California’s 47th congressional district, according to reports posted this week with the Federal Election Commission.

    In the third quarter of fundraising, which spans from July 1 to Sept. 30, Baugh raised $417,715 and spent $48,555.

    The race features a crowded slate of candidates, among them Baugh, Democratic state Sen. Dave Min, Republican businessman Max Ukropina and Democratic community organizer Joanna Weiss.

    Min raised $311,196 in the third quarter.

    And in that same period, Weiss brought in $400,049, including the $100,000 she loaned her campaign. She loaned her campaign $95,000 in the second quarter as well.

    Ukropina, who entered the race in April, brought in $121,218 during the third quarter, personally contributing a little over $2,000.

    Breaking down the numbers

    Like Baugh’s, the three other leading campaigns in the race for Rep. Katie Porter’s open congressional district have all hit a mid-campaign lull, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

    A money slowdown at this stage of the election cycle is not all that surprising, said Dan Schnur, who teaches political messaging at UC Berkeley and USC.

    “Most campaigns start out with a burst of energy and enthusiasm as candidates reach out to their closest friends and past supporters,” Schnur said. “The third quarter can often be the in-between period after the candidate has already picked the low-hanging fruit but before the campaign is more visible as the election gets closer.”

    The coastal CA-47 — which includes Irvine, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach — is one of 33 Republican-held or open seats in the country that the national Democratic Party’s campaign arm is eyeing as a “critical battleground” to win a House majority. And Republicans, too, see the seat as a “top target” to pick up in 2024.

    Porter launched a 2024 bid for the U.S. Senate in January.

    Democrats have a slight upper hand in voter registration in the district: 35.6% of voters in the district registered as Democrats, 33.9% as Republicans and 24.5% list no party preference.

    Spending habits

    The two Democrats in the race and Ukropina blew through cash in the third quarter at a faster rate than Baugh did; all three spent more than half of what they raised.

    Min doled out just over $191,000, 60% of his third-quarter haul. Of that, he spent $70,000 on various consulting services, including digital, fundraising, research and legal. The rest of his expenditures went toward air travel, office supplies, online advertising, software rental and staff salaries, among other fees.

    Weiss spent close to $202,000, 67% of her haul minus the loan. She also poured over $70,000 into fundraising, digital and campaign consulting.

    And Ukropina, a political newcomer, spent more than $80,000, close to 70% of what he brought in. Of that, he spent nearly $50,000 on consulting services and another $2,861 on ads.

    Baugh, on the other hand, spent just over 11% of his haul from July 1 to Sept. 30. A little over 30% of his spending, $16,091, went toward consulting, while the rest went to software, bookkeeping, travel, lodging and food.

    “(Baugh’s) campaign is probably saving money for post-primary because there’s not as much pressure on them as there is with the two Democrats facing each other,” Schnur said.

    In California, all candidates running for office are listed on a single ballot and only the top two vote-getters in the primary — regardless of party preference — advance to the general election.

    Given Baugh’s status as the “only well-funded Republican in the race,” Schnur said, he’s likely to advance to the general election in November.

    “That means Min and Weiss are fighting for that other spot,” Schnur said. “So it shouldn’t be surprising that they’re spending more aggressively given the more immediate stakes that they’re facing.”

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    “While the career politicians in this race will need millions of dollars to defend their failed records, our outsider campaign for new leadership has raised half a million dollars entirely from grassroots conservatives who know that I am the strongest candidate to win,” Ukropina said.

    In 2018, Porter became the first Democrat to hold office in what was then the 45th congressional district after she defeated incumbent Rep. Mimi Walters. Last year, Porter won a tight race against Baugh.

    Baugh entered October with the most cash on hand: over $1.3 million.

    Min and Weiss closed out the quarter with $825,542 and $832,638 still left to spend, respectively, while Ukropina had $323,097 at the close of the reporting period.

    ​ Orange County Register