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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Assembly Race In 20th District Increasingly Funded With Personal Finances

ASSEMBLY 20
Feb. 4, 2012 | While monied interests flock to candidates in the 18th assembly district with open checkbooks, the flow of fundraising in the nearby 20th district is increasing becoming a race funded by personal finances.

Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk reported nearly $135,000 in campaign fundraising, according to reports filed this week with the secretary of state. Dr. Jennifer Ong reported over $93,000 in cash on hand. Included in each total are personal loans to their respective campaigns amounting to half their total fundraising efforts for last year.

Quirk gave his campaign a $95,000 loan last December. Ong, who has an optometry practice in Alameda, loaned herself $48,100 in four installments over the course of the year.

Union City Mayor Mark Green, who is running as an independent, did not file a report. Neither did New Haven School District Trustee Sarabjit Cheema.

Quirk's list of contributors is in many ways an extension of some of his pet issues as a councilman in Hayward. Over the years, Quirk has supported developers aiming to transform Hayward to a post-industrial city. He has also met controversy in backing the Calpine's natural gas-fired power plant at the Hayward Shoreline along with support for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Former assemblyman John Dutra, who is also one of the area's most successful developers, along with his family, contributed $6,350 to Quirk's campaign. Calpine added another $3,900 with $2,000 from chemical giant Monsanto. Dale Gieringer, one of the pot trade's biggest and most vocal advocates contributed $500.

Quirk also received transfers from the campaign accounts of Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer ($2,000) and Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski ($1,000).

Ong's support rests largely connected to the health care field, specifically optometrists and other related groups and individuals. In the fourth quarter alone she raised nearly $70,000. Many believe future financial support for her candidacy took a big hit by the recent shoplifting scandal surrounding Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi. Any support from the current seat holder may now amount to political Kryptonite for any candidate.

Green's financial situation, on the other hand, is more murky. The long-time Union City mayor is known to be a fierce retail campaigner and rumored to be already pounding the pavement and knocking on doors. He is also known to rely on limit resources while eschewing consultants and campaign manager's in favor of utilizing the expertise of family members.

There is question, though, whether Green's work as chair of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) will crowd out time for his campaign--one increasingly fueled more by elbow grease and gumption than campaign dollars.

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