New reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show a wide financial gap between the two candidates in the 21st Congressional District battle.
Incumbent David Valadao, R-Hanford, and Democratic challenger Emilio Huerta raised similar amounts in the third quarter of 2016, but Valadao has a campaign reserve that dwarfs his opponent’s.
And that gives Valadao a distinct advantage over Huerta.
Valadao raised $368,973 between July 1 and Sept. 30, according to the campaign finance reports, which were due Saturday.
Huerta’s report says he raised roughly $178,876 over the same period, but on Monday he said that number will be revised up to $250,000.
That would reflect respectable work by both campaigns in three short months.
But the real financial imbalance is evident in how much money the two men reported having on hand at the beginning of October — the cash they could use to put their candidacy before voters on the street, over the airways and in the newspaper.
Valadao had $1.2 million in the bank at the end of September, his campaign reported. Huerta had $74,756.
The extra money in Valadao’s account is already at work across the sprawling 21st District — which runs through heavily Latino and Democratic communities from southeast Bakersfield to rural Fresno County.
Valadao’s camp has reported scheduling roughly $900,000 in television and radio advertising between the end of September and Election Day on Nov. 8.
Huerta’s camp has benefited from a pair of independent television advertisements “Absolutely” and “De Mama” crafted and aired by the House Majority PAC, which announced it will put at least $390,000 into the race on Huerta’s behalf. The DailyKOS reported Monday that the full buy by the House Majority PAC was $636,000.
But the Republicans aren’t abandoning Valadao.
According to Politico, Valadao is part of a small group of candidates that will share $10 million in additional advertising paid for by the independent Congressional Leadership Fund.
And KFSN-Channel 30 in Fresno reported Monday that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will speak at a $1,000-a-person fundraiser for Valadao on Oct. 27 in Fowler.
Huerta said he plans his own advertisements and mailers. He’s hoping to see more independent spending like that from the House Majority PAC to even up the playing field a little more as the race roars into its final three weeks.
But most of his own campaign work is focused on the streets, walking neighborhoods and teaming up with other valley Democrats to get their voters to send in their mail ballots and head to the polls.
Over the weekend, the campaign walked neighborhoods in Bakersfield, Lamont and McFarland. This week, Huerta said, there will be a major push in Fresno County.
Campaign reports reflect Huerta’s campaign focus, showing his money going to pay for campaign signs, refreshments for volunteers, gas and payroll for his campaign staff.
Cole Rojewski, a spokesman for Valadao, said the campaign is doing everything it can to get its message out and that includes burning shoe leather.
“David’s out there knocking on doors and talking to” voters, he said.