Several Democrats have gotten off to unusually strong fundraising starts in challenges of Orange County’s four Republican members of Congress, but the incumbents performed even better and easily outpaced their opponents, according to semi-annual campaign disclosures filed over the weekend.
However, there are multiple Democratic candidates in all four races — and in two of those contests, total Democratic fundraising surpassed that of the GOP incumbent, indicating that a single Democrat to emerge from the June 2018 primary could be financially competitive come the general election.
Among the most closely watched races in the country is that of Rep. Darrell Issa, R- Vista, after he won reelection by just 0.6 percentage points last year over retired Marine Col. Doug Applegate of San Clemente. Issa, who gained notoriety during the Obama administration as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, raised $822,000 in the first half of the year — including the transfer of $121,000 from other campaign-related accounts. He had $672,000 remaining as of June 30.
Applegate has raised $398,000 and had $199,000 left, but was been topped by environmental lawyer and longtime Democratic activist Mike Levin of San Juan Capistrano. Levin easily raised the most of all Orange County Democratic challengers, bringing in $617,000 with $416,000 cash on hand and $63,000 in debt.
Including that debt, Levin had spent $264,000 on his campaign already, an expenditure usually seen at this stage only from vulnerable incumbents. But Levin said he has been assembling a campaign operation that will be in full swing from now until the election.
“We’re doing everything we can to build the infrastructure now,” Levin said of his bid in Congressional District 49.
Rancho Santa Fe Democrat Paul Kerr entered the race after the filing deadline.
Congressional District 39
Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, towered over all other Orange County congressional candidates with $3.1 million in his campaign…