Democrats and Republicans have stepped up campaign expenditures in a pivotal California Senate race that could decide whether Democrats regain supermajority status in the state Senate.
According to the Fresno Bee, 14th Senate District Republican incumbent Andy Vidak’s campaign received two large cash injections this week. Vidak, a local farmer who took office earlier this year after winning a special election, is battling Democrat Luis Chavez, a Fresno Unified School district trustee, for the Fresno-based Senate seat.
This week, Vidak received a $150,000 independent expenditure from the Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class, an IE committee supported by several oil companies, including Chevron, which has a large presence in the area. That money was reportedly used mostly for television commercials, but also for campaign mailers, polling, and consultants.
Vidak received a second donation this week, $750,000 from independent expenditure committee California Alliance for Progress and Education. The money will reportedly be used for an extensive television, print, and online media campaign.
Pete DeMarco, a spokesman for the Vidak campaign, told the Bee in an earlier report that the contributions do not present conflicts of interest.
“It is an independent organization that makes its own decisions about how they spend their dollars,” DeMarco told the Bee. “Their contributions are done independently of our campaign.”
Meanwhile, Luis Chavez still holds a fundraising lead over Vidak, having reported raising more than $1.3 million to Vidak’s $800,000 since August 1. However, Vidak enjoys strong name recognition in the district, having almost defeated Democrat Jim Costa for a congressional district seat in 2010, and then winning the Senate special election earlier this year.
Chavez is primarily counting on the voter registration advantage Democrats hold in the district; 49 percent of voters in the District are registered Democrats, while just 29 percent are registered Republicans.
Breitbart California reported last week that the tone of the race has turned negative and confrontational over the past few weeks, with each side running a slew of television advertisements criticizing the other. Chavez has slammed Vidak for voting against minimum wage increases, while Vidak has hit back at Chavez with claims that the Democrat would vote with his party on every critical issue.
“I will make votes for my district and not so much for my party,” Vidak told the Bee in an earlier report. “I am going to be independent.”
Democrats are focusing their energy on the Vidak-Chavez race as well as the 34th state Senate District race, where Republican Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen and Democratic former Assemblyman Jose Solorio are battling it out. Democrats need to win just one of the two races to ensure the party holds a supermajority in the chamber.
The midterm election will be held on November 4. Early voting by mail in California is already underway.
Images: Luis Chavez for Senate/Andy Vidak for Senate