Three-way Senate race is a cliffhanger 

With less than two weeks to the primary election, state Senate District 8 candidate Mike Nevin has gone on a spending spree, outpacing his nearest Democratic competitor by $81,000 in recent months.

Nevin, a former San Mateo County supervisor, former Assemblyman Lou Papan and Assemblyman Leland Yee are locked in one of the tightest races in the area. The three are vying to replace state Sen. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo/San Francisco, who will be termed out.

With all three candidates touting schools, affordable housing and improved health care among their top issues, much of the campaigning has focused on dredging up past run-ins with the law, alleging illegal campaign spending and attacking their opponents.

Nevin raised about $211,000 during the latest filing period March 18 to May 22 and spent $628,000, culminating in a cash balance of about $165,000. He loaned himself $25,000, a loan Yee’s campaign has alleged to the state Fair Political Practices Commission was made to cover up illegally spent funds that are supposed to be reserved for the November general election.

Nevin, who is widely known on the Peninsula but less so in The City, has secured the coveted endorsements of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Speier, among others, in hopes of swaying voters.

The majority of the $600,000 Nevin has spent has been on four mailers and two cable television advertisements emphasizing his politically connected supporters, Nevin spokesman Seamus Murphy said.

Former Assemblyman Lou Papan, whom Nevin accuses of joining the race as spoiler to draw votes away from him, raised about $99,000 this period, spending almost $252,000. His cash balance stands at about $50,000.

An estimated $72,000 of Papan’s expenses have gone for cable television airtime, with another $50,000 going for advertising on KCBS and KGO radio spots, campaign expense records show.

Papan, to a large degree, has remained above the fray of accusations being thrown between the other two candidates.

Yee, who has managed endorsements from a few Peninsula councilmembers, counts among his endorsers state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

Yee has raised about $286,000 from March to May and spent $547,000. His cash balance stands at about $190,000, including funds from his 12th Assembly District account. In a tit-for-tat exchange, Nevin’s campaign also filed a complaint with the FPPC, alleging that Yee has illegally spent funds from his 2004 Assembly account on his Senate campaign.

Yee’s campaign spending focused on informing voters about education, seniorand health care issues he has worked for in the Assembly, including SB 840 that would provide universal health care for low-income Californians. His campaign has been delivering the message on cable television, in more than a dozen mailers and phone banks in English, Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog, spokesman David Noyola said.

ecarpenter@examiner.com

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