HUMBOLDT – The underdog in the Third District supervisor election has shown an early influx of campaign financing from a bloc of development- and construction-related funders.
Bayside resident Karen Brooks is the only announced challenger to incumbent Supervisor Mark Lovelace, whose campaign finance statement for the second half of 2011 amounts to $625, $500 of it from himself.
Brooks, a former state assembly candidate and a Tea Party Republican, is believed to be a long shot candidate in a district that heavily favors liberal candidates. But her campaign funding for the period is robust, totaling about $20,000.
Much of it is comprised of $1,000 donations from members of a business group that has set the pace for fundraising in recent elections.
Out-of-district businesses like Eureka Readymix, Kramer Investment Corporation, Hooven & Company, Hilfiker Pipe Company, O&M Industries and ReProp Financial are among those that have given Brooks an early jump on fundraising – as they have for other (and often successful) conservative candidates in recent county elections.
The same funding bloc has given a similar out-of-the-gate campaign finance lead to Estelle Fennell, the former executive director of the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights, who is challenging incumbent Supervisor Clif Clendenen in the Second District.
Fennell has raised about $31,000, about half of it from members of the business bloc, compared to Clendenen’s $6,000.
In the First District election, Rex Bohn has seen contributions from similar sources and his campaign raised an astounding $93,000 in the last six months of 2011.
Brooks said her contributors share her views on governing and are aware of the difficulties with challenging an incumbent.
“It’s really, really difficult to raise money for a campaign in this economy and in this market,” she said. “People have donated to my campaign because they believe in what I want to do, which is to change county government – to make it more open and more accessible.”
She added, “These businesses were following my campaign for assembly and when I reached out and sent them letters saying that I’m now running for supervisor, they responded.”
Asked about her chances of winning an election in a district with a reputation for liberal politics, Brooks said people will gain greater knowledge of her as she campaigns.
“I’m asking people to look at what’s in my heart and to look at what I am,” she said. “I think everybody has a voice and has value and can contribute – that’s my message, it’s about building bridges.”
Lovelace said he’s confident about his work as a supervisor and noted that the recent filings cover the second half of a non-election year.
“I’d been hoping to wait until we’re actually in an election year before starting to fundraise and campaign,” he said.
He estimates that at this point, he’s raised $4,000, as money’s come in since the start of the year. He said that when he won the June 2008 primary election, he’d raised $50,000 and has noticed “an escalation of cost” in recent elections.
“It should be worrisome to folks,” he added.