|The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly|
The two leading Democratic candidates for governor have spent months trying to outline the differences between their candidacies and that of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But breaking down their campaign contributions by ZIP code shows that, although the donors are different, the three candidates are filling their campaign treasury at many of the same troughs.
Although state Treasurer Phil Angelides has staked his bid for governor on his image as the anti-Arnold, four of his top six donating ZIP codes are the same as Schwarzenegger's. Three of state Controller Steve Westly's top 10 donating ZIP codes overlap with Schwarzenegger's top 10, as well.
The only ZIP code that all three candidates share is Downtown Sacramento's 95814--universally acknowledged as ground zero for the state's special interests.
For Angelides, a Sacramento native backed by much of the Democratic establishment, residents and interests in the Capitol's ZIP have coughed up $1.08 million--more than double his next highest postal code. For Angelides' opponent, Steve Westly, Capitol-area donors rank fourth, with $239,285 in contributions. The 95814 is Schwarzenegger's top donor postal code, with businesses and residents in the area giving the governor $689,527.
"It doesn't surprise me that Sacramento is No. 1," said Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies. "That's where the money is. That's where the influence is. That's where the PACs and lobbyists are located."
All three campaigns also have mobilized aggressive fund-raising efforts in the quiet neighborhoods of Los Angeles' Westside, which includes the affluent towns of Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Beverly Hills and Brentwood.
Beverly Hills posh 90210 is the single biggest ZIP code for Westly other than his own. Beverly Hills denizens have chipped in $260,376 to the controller's campaign. The 90210 is Schwarzenegger's ninth biggest donor area, giving $186,000, while it ranked fifteenth for Angelides, despite giving an nearly identical $185,636.
Ned Wigglesworth, an analyst with TheRestofUs.org, a campaign-finance watchdog group, says that Downtown Sacramento's vested interests and the rich residents in areas like Beverly Hills 90210 and are "easy pickings" for campaign cash.
"Political fund raising is an easy cocktail to mix: one part lobbyists, one part millionaires," said Wigglesworth. "You can't spit in Sacramento without hitting a lobbyist, Beverly Hills is the same for millionaires, so it's no surprise that they're among the top donor ZIP codes."
All three campaigns also have made fund-raising pit stops in New York City, a must-see attraction for politicians on the money-seeking circuit. New York ranks as the fourth biggest donor city for both Angelides and Westly, and sixth for Schwarzenegger.
Angelides' New York donations far outpace those of either Westly or Schwarzenegger. In all, Angelides raised $1.47 million from residents of the Big Apple including $358,651 from the 10022 ZIP code, Westly's top donor ZIP code, as well.
Still, there are major differences between where the two leading Democrats and Schwarzenegger have collected campaign cash. For starters, Angelides, facing a multimillionaire self-funding opponent, has mounted a much more expansive fund-raising campaign.
"There was never any doubt that Westly would put in more than $30 million," said Angelides strategist Bob Mulholland, noting that the campaign had taken in donations in all 58 counties from 23,000 donors. "Angelides has always been a fighter for his values and knows that in order to feed the grassroots … you need to get contributions and donations."
As of May 20, Angelides had raised more than $21.2 million, compared to $8.9 million for Westly, not including donations he made to himself. Angelides' donations spanned 43 states and the District of Columbia, compared to only 33 states and D.C. for Westly. In fact, Angelides collected more than $100,000 from seven different states, compared to only one for Westly.
Angelides' East Coast fund-raising has been aided by Susan Torricelli, the ex-wife and fund-raiser of former New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli, who withdrew from his re-election race in 2002 amid a fund-raising and ethics controversy.
Angelides has raised $2 million from the state of New York and has paid Torricelli $100,000 as a campaign consultant.
But the hub of Angelides fund-raising has been in Sacramento. Backed by organized labor, the state party and much of the Sacramento establishment, Angelides has taken in more than $3 million from his hometown.
Half of Angelides top 10 donating ZIP codes are from the greater Sacramento-area. His Sacramento donors include many long-time political powerhouses like the Teamsters, SEIU Local 1000, and the California Council of Laborers--each gave the state treasurer the maximum $22,300 donation for the primary.
In addition, Sacramento residents Angelo Tsakopoulos and his daughter Eleni have funneled nearly $9 million into a pro-Angelides independent-expenditure campaign. Other members of the Tsakopoulos family have donated thousands to Angelides directly. The 95826 ZIP code, which ranked seventh for Angelides, climbed into the Top 10 donor areas on the strength of $178,400 from donors named Tsakopoulos.
Meanwhile Westly, a former eBay executive, has relied more heavily on residents and businesses in the Silicon Valley. Westly's experience with the dot-com sensation eBay has been a pillar of his campaign, as Westly has said, both in campaign stops and televised advertisements that he will govern with an entrepreneurial spirit and act as a "different kind of governor."
Proportionally, Westly has relied on donors from the high-tech heavy South Bay more than either Angelides or incumbent Schwarzenegger.
Half of Westly's top 10 donating ZIP codes are in the South Bay, including $249,249 from sleepy Los Altos Hills (ranked third), $176,510 from Portola Valley (ranked sixth), $145,292 from Menlo Park (ranked eighth) and $144,932 from Woodside (ranked ninth).
Westly's own ZIP code ranked first with $32,771,953 in contributions, including $32.5 million from Westly himself, according to the latest filings. He has since sunk another $2 million into his campaign.
In contrast, only one of Angelides top ZIP codes is near Silicon Valley, 94010 in Hillsborough, which eked into his top 10, with $197,708 contributed. None of Schwarzenegger's donating hot spots are in the Silicon Valley area.