SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— California may not have the hotly contested, high-profile races for U.S. Senator or governor that some other states do this year, but it’s still attracting some of the biggest campaign spending in the country.
To many voters, this is kind of a sleepy campaign season, but there’s still close to $200 million being spent on the five most expensive California races.
Health insurers are pouring in more than $55 million to stop Prop. 45, which would let the state Insurance Commissioner regulate their rates. Those same companies, along with physicians, have spent more than $57 million so far against Prop. 46, which would raise the cap on malpractice payouts and subject doctors to random drug testing.
Then there are the soda taxes in San Francisco and Berkeley. The soda industry has spent about $8 million so far trying to defeat San Francisco’s Measure E and $2 million more against Berkeley’s D, 10 times more than anyone has ever spent on a campaign in Berkeley before.
Daniel Newman of Maplight, the Berkeley-based nonprofit that tracks money in politics, explained how anyone could spend that much on a campaign there.
“They actually are paying people from outside Berkeley to come have conversations with Berkeley voters and make their case. It’s very labor intensive with all the advertisements as well,” he said.
The candidate with the biggest bankroll this year is Governor Jerry Brown who’s sitting on a $33 million war chest that he is more likely to spend pushing Propositions 1 and 2, while largely ignoring his underfunded opponent, Neel Kashkari.