Millions of dollars have poured into the mayoral race; here’s where it’s coming from

The race for Long Beach mayor will likely be the most expensive in city history, with the two remaining candidates already raising nearly $1.3 million in individual contributions.

Councilmembers Rex Richardson and Suzie Price both announced in January that they were running for the mayor’s seat after Mayor Robert Garcia launched a bid for Congress.

Both candidates got an initial fundraising boost by transferring funds they had raised for their City Council reelection races: Price transferred $66,877 and Richardson $89,000.

On top of that, they have each raised hundreds of thousands in individual donations since the beginning of the year: According to campaign disclosures filed with the City Clerk’s office through the end of June, Price has out-fundraised Richardson with individual contributions of $707,380 compared to $552,896.

But independent expenditure committees are also boosting both candidates, with a combined haul through June of $1.55 million.

How much money is from Long Beach? 

That depends on which candidate you’re looking at.

Price’s individual contributions have predominantly been from within the city, with 71% of the funds she’s raised coming from Long Beach residents, according to campaign finance disclosures. Richardson’s individual contributions have come from a more diverse pool of cities and states, with just about 29% coming from Long Beach.

About 18% of Richardson’s funds have come from Los Angeles, with other Los Angeles and Orange County cities rounding out the top 10 cities by dollars contributed for each candidate. But campaign filings showed that Richardson’s largest haul of contributions came from a variety of cities sprinkled across California, with some donations coming from multiple states including New York, Texas, Florida, Arizona and even Maryland.

Danielle Cendejas, a consultant for his campaign, attributed this to his days in the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. The fraternity was the first Black intercollegiate Greek organization in the nation and boasts hundreds of thousands of members worldwide.

Both Price and Richardson have received about the same number of donations from out-of-state donors.

Cities that appeared in both Price and Richardson’s top 10 cities for money raised include Huntington Beach, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Newport Beach.

Unions vs. business 

There is a lot of money pouring into this race from organized labor, and almost all of it is going into an independent expenditure committee backing Richardson. According to campaign filings through June, unions have dumped $567,000 into groups supporting Richardson’s run for mayor.

The biggest contributors have been various arms of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The SEIU Local 2015, which represents long-term caregivers, has given $150,000. SEIU Local 721, where Richardson was once an organizer, has thrown in $50,000.

SEIU-United Healthcare West, which has pushed for a health care worker minimum wage increase in Long Beach, has given Richardson $35,000.

Richardson has been endorsed by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which represents over 300 unions and 800,000 members. The federation’s president, Ron Herrera, is the father of Richardson’s longtime chief of staff.

The federation is sponsoring the largest independent expenditure committee supporting Richardson and other candidates in the city and has also kicked in an additional $134,000 in non-monetary contributions, such as canvassing and other donated services.

Two of the powerful local unions, the Long Beach Police Officers Association and the Long Beach Firefighters union are split between the two candidates. The firefighters are backing Richardson with $50,000 of support while the POA is supporting Price with $110,000 in donations.

Price also has some small donations from unions like the Long Beach Lifeguard Association ($5,000) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ($10,000).

But most of her financial support has come from businesses.

Long Beach hotel properties have contributed $98,000 to a committee supporting Price. Romanza Aviation LLC, which lists Signal Hill Petroleum’s address as its location, and Edison International have also been big contributors, giving $45,000 and $49,000 respectively.

One element of campaign fundraising that might stick out to someone scanning the financial disclosures is that elected officials can donate to other elected officials using funds that were given to them from donors.

Richardson so far has been the biggest beneficiary of this maneuver, with over $20,000 in other candidate’s campaign money being given to his mayoral committee. This came from over 30 different candidates for federal, state and local officials, including Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon, state Sen. Lena Gonzalez, councilmembers Mary Zendejas and Suely Saro, and LBCC Trustee Vivian Malauulu. Each of them gave the maximum $900 contribution from their campaign funds to Richardson.

Price, who has repeatedly cast herself as an outsider during this campaign, pulled in a modest $2,200 from other candidates, with outgoing Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell being the only local candidate to contribute.

Becoming mayor is getting more expensive

When then-Councilmember Robert Garcia faced off against Damon Dunn in 2014 for the open mayoral seat in Long Beach, getting elected to the city’s top position wasn’t nearly as expensive.

Archived campaign disclosures show that Garcia raised about $496,000 during his 2014 mayoral run and Dunn raised just over $1 million, but about $700,000 of that was financed directly from Dunn’s own money.

Both received support from unions and independent expenditures but totals have been eclipsed by what groups have raised thus far in the 2022 race. A group supporting Garcia raised $211,000 during that cycle and the Police Officers Association chipped in another $15,000 to support his run.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor spent $115,000 opposing Dunn.

Dunn was supported by $130,000 from the Long Beach Firefighters union and another $89,000 from an independent expenditure helping to fund his campaign.

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.
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