Controller Candidates Giving us Something to Watch

2022 is not a year full of exciting statewide candidate races in California.  The Democrats are expected to win all the races.  Republican Attorney General candidate Nathan Hochman is putting some effort, and a significant TV ad buy, into his race against appointed Attorney General Rob Bonta, although his chances remain a long shot.

The only possible upset is in the Controller’s race, which Calpeek has previously discussed.  Democrat State Board of Equalization Member Malia Cohen and Republican Fiscal Advisor/Educator Lanhee Chen are giving political junkies something to watch.  Chen has made a multi-million dollar TV ad buy.  You can see the commercial here.  

Cohen’s campaign has the support of the state Democratic Party, Democrat elected officials, labor unions, Planned Parenthood, and the Sierra Club.  Chen’s endorsement list includes a long list of Republican and non-partisan elected officials.  Notably, he also has endorsements from 23 newspapers’ editorial boards including the L.A. Times and Sacramento Bee.  Cohen does not list any newspaper endorsements on her website.  

A former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Cohen received the endorsement of the San Francisco Chronicle in her race for Board of Equalization in 2018, but the Chronicle has yet to make an endorsement in the Controller’s race.

In terms of campaign cash, Chen has significantly outraised Cohen.  On Thursday, the next set of campaign finance reports will be available, but until then we are looking at data as of September 24, 2022.  Chen ended the reporting period with just over $3 million cash on hand.  Cohen’s report listed $529,000 cash on hand.  

The independent expenditure campaigns are also playing with big bucks.  An IE supporting Chen has raised $323,000. An IE opposing Chen has spent $365,000.  The IE supporting Cohen has spent about $80,000 in the General Election cycle.  There does not appear to be an IE opposing Cohen.

So, the question for everyone watching to see if a Republican can win statewide in California remains, will money and endorsements beat Democratic Party registration?  We will know soon.

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