Wealth gives Westly leg up on Angelides

*Arnold raises more than both Democrat rivals

By Laura Kurtzman and Michael R. Blood, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO - State Controller Steve Westly has a commanding financial lead over Treasurer Phil Angelides in the Democratic race for governor and has forced Angelides to spend more money than he is taking in.

Records released Wednesday showed Westly, a multimillionaire former eBay executive, has more than $23 million on hand. Of the nearly $30 million Westly has raised so far, most of it - $22.5 million, including a $100,000 loan - has come from his personal fortune, according to his campaign.

As of last week, he had $8.4 million more than Angelides in the bank, with less than three months to the June 6 primary election. He began airing television commercials in California's major media markets last month.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's fundraising for the period easily surpassed the combined $3.5 million that contributors gave to the two major Democrats. But he will need to sharply increase his pace to reach the expected $50 million to $100 million that analysts predict he could spend on the race.

"Westly went on the air early, and Angelides had to make a critical decision," Democratic strategist Darry Sragow said. "He made a decision to match it, and that's high risk unless he's got a lot of money coming in that's not obvious."

Records showed Angelides spent nearly $6 million between Jan. 1 and March 17, more than twice the $2.4 million raised from supporters.

He began the year with $17 million and closed the first reporting period of the year with $14.6 million in the bank. Miscellaneous payments to the campaign account for discrepancies in the bottom line.

During the period, Angelides paid $2.8 million for television commercials. His senior adviser, Bob Mulholland, said Westly's financial edge would not be decisive.

"Voters want to know: What are you going to do for me in office? That's what it's about," Mulholland said.

Referring to Westly, he added, "I've seen many self-funded candidates not make it."

Schwarzenegger, who has no major opposition in the June primary, started the year with his political finances drained after last year's costly fight over ballot proposals in the special election.

His campaign reported raising $5.2 million between January and mid-March and spending $1.8 million. Combined with previous funds, he ended the period with a balance of $3.9 million.

"We are confident we will have all of the resources necessary to effectively communicate the governor's message," Katie Levinson, Schwarzenegger's campaign spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Schwarzenegger listed $15,000 owed to his chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, who is being paid $7,500 a month as a consultant to the campaign in addition to her $131,000 annual government salary.

Westly's personal fortune has allowed him to keep a stream of commercials on TV touting his candidacy. In the most recent disclosure period, Westly gave his committee $2.5 million, more than double the $1.1 million he raised from other contributors.

Westly's chief strategist, Garry South, said Angelides was "not setting any world land-speed record" on fundraising.

Candidates for governor in 2002 spent a combined $130 million on the campaign, a figure that almost certainly will be topped this year. In the recall campaign in 2003, major candidates spent almost $88 million over a period of roughly three months; nearly one-third of that was spent by Schwarzenegger, who ousted then-Gov. Gray Davis to win the governorship.

Last year, campaign committees battling over eight ballot propositions in November's special election spent a record $303.9 million. All eight of the initiatives, including four promoted by Schwarzenegger, went down to defeat.

Fundraising statements released Wednesday also showed donations to two other high-profile races.

Director Rob Reiner's preschool initiative, which will appear as Proposition 82 on the June ballot, raised $2 million so far this year, 10 times the amount raised by opponents.

In the Democratic primary for attorney general, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and his opponent, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, each raised about $600,000. But Brown had $4.2 million in the bank, compared with Delgadillo's $2.6 million.


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