Newsom's fledgling campaign off to fast start 

The high-profile race for lieutenant governor has spurred a fundraising drive, with Gavin Newsom raking in more than $130,000 in less than a week, according to campaign finance records.

The San Francisco mayor is competing in the June 8 Democratic primary against Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who had collected roughly $529,200 as of Wednesday afternoon.

Fundraising for the race — so far just a fraction of what was spent in the last Democratic primary — could heat up as the June 8 primary approaches.

Since March 9, when Newsom opened his campaign committee, he had raised $138,750 from 30 donors as of Wednesday, when the first pre-election filing period ended. That doesn’t include small contributions under $1,000, which do not have to be disclosed until the next filing deadline Monday.

“The strong surge of early support for Mayor Newsom’s campaign is extremely encouraging,” said Dan Newman, spokesman for Newsom’s campaign.

Political consultants agree that it’s an impressive start for a candidate who joined the race with less than 90 days until the primary. However, it’s not necessarily surprising, said Jim Ross, a political consultant who ran Newsom’s first mayoral campaign.

Ross said it gives people who wanted to back him during his gubernatorial campaign a chance to contribute. Newsom dropped out of the race for California governor in October after raising more than $3 million. Part of the challenge he faced is that Newsom’s fundraising circle overlapped with that of fellow Democratic candidate Jerry Brown. Brown recently declared his candidacy for governor.

“There were a lot who wanted to support him, but didn’t want to support him over Jerry Brown,” Ross said. “But now that he is in the lieutenant governor race, they can help him without that conflict.”

Newsom’s strong support right out of the gate will certainly up the ante for the lieutenant governor race, Ross said.

In the 2006 Democratic primary between John Garamendi, Jackie Speier and Liz Figueroa, spending was in the millions, with winner Garamendi raising more than $5 million for his campaign.

“As the profile of this race rises, [Hahn] will raise more money as well,” Ross said. The profile of this race will drive fundraising for both candidates.”

The Hahn campaign said it was easy for Newsom to collect so much money in a short time since he was tapping into donors that had already contributed to his aborted gubernatorial campaign, said Michael Trujillo, Hahn’s campaign manager.

“Newsom had to raise and spend $3.4 million to raise $100,000 in five days, Trujillo said. That’s pretty depressing for Gavin.”

Opponent says Newsom broke campaign laws

Janice Hahn’s campaign on Wednesday filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission against Mayor Gavin Newsom, accusing him of violating campaign laws less than a week after he jumped into the race for California lieutenant governor.

According to the Hahn campaign, Newsom is using the same donors he relied on in his aborted gubernatorial campaign, which ended in October. Hahn’s campaign manager, Michael Trujillo, pointed out that a candidate running for governor has to adhere to the $25,900 contribution cap compared to candidates running for lieutenant governor, who are limited to a $6,500 contribution limit per donor.

In many cases, Newsom already tapped out donors by collecting more than $6,500 from them during his gubernatorial campaign. Asking the same donors for money now is a clear violation of the California Political Reform Act, Trujillo said.

“He has a $3.4 million campaign infrastructure and political contacts from his town halls and a million followers on Twitter all paid for with money [raised] during his gubernatorial campaign,” Trujillo said.

Newsom shrugged off the complaint, saying he’s not concerned about it.

“We are very confident this is another attack by my opponent. Those are the verbal words of the FPPC,” Newsom said. “I’m running for something, not against somebody.”

Roman Porter, executive director of the FPPC, would not comment on the specifics of the complaint. However, he said in general, contribution limits that are outlined in the Political Reform Act are per election, per candidate, per office.

The agency has 14 days to decide whether to open an investigation.

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Erin Sherbert

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