Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series on finances in this year’s elections. The first article covered the recall campaign and the third will cover the House of Representatives race.
Campaign financing and name recognition have proved significant obstacles for Republican Cristina Carreno Martin, a recent entrant to the race for California State Assembly against 35th District Democratic incumbent Hannah-Beth Jackson.
Martin replaced Republican candidate Bob Pohl in September after he was diagnosed with lymphoma, a life-threatening form of cancer. Since then, she has had just six weeks to campaign for the Nov. 5 election against powerful Democratic incumbent Hannah-Beth Jackson.
“When you have a six week campaign, you can either spend your time raising money, or spend your time getting your name out there,” Martin said. “I’ve chosen to get out there and meet the people at places throughout the district as well as at UCSB.”
Martin, a community activist and former member of the board of directors for the Carpinteria Chamber of Commerce, also worked for a time as a scheduling manager at the UCSB Carrillo Dining Commons. She has only raised about one percent of the total $255,000 that Jackson, a former prosecutor and family law attorney, has raised in the past year.
The money that Martin has raised is entirely from unsolicited private donations, she said, but the amount is not large enough to satisfy state law requirements for mandatory public reporting.
“The Santa Barbara Republican Central Committee gave me $500 to jump-start my campaign, but my largest private contribution of $1,000 actually came from a local Democrat,” she said.
While Martin has struggled to take the extra steps necessary to inform potential voters of her write-in candidacy on a limited budget, incumbent Hannah-Beth Jackson’s campaign has had no such problems.
According to campaign finance records from the California Secretary of State website, the Jackson campaign received a $7,000 contribution from the Democratic State Central Committee of California and two dozen $3,000 contributions from private citizens like Judith Hopkinson, businesses like Industrial Service Oil Company, Inc. and organizations like the Women’s Political Committee.
Jackson’s campaign has also received smaller amounts of money from over 1,500 individual donors, Hannah-Beth Jackson’s campaign manager said.
“The majority of our money has come from people within the 35th district who support the work [Jackson’s] done over the past four years,” she said.
Jackson’s total expenditures to date have come to $322,712.28 which include $29,194.60 for television and cable airtime and production costs, over $55,000 on campaign consultants and over $60,000 on campaign literature materials and postage.
Despite the difference in money available to the two candidates, Martin said she and Jackson have similar objectives but different ways of approaching them. Martin said she believes state administration is too top-heavy and should be streamlined to free up more money for programs like vocational job training that are being cut out of the California state budget.
Martin said she is not your typical out-of-the-box Republican, especially when it comes to environmental issues.
“Although I’m a businesswoman, I’ve also always been an environmental activist. I feel the business community has an obligation to protect the environment within reason,” she said.
Martin, who is using “C.C. Martin” as her official ballot write-in name, said she hopes her voters will take the time to fill in the oval next to the write-in space and hand-print her name in the box. When the ballots are counted by machine, write-in votes without a filled in oval will not be counted.
Voter education will also be a factor affecting the campaign, she said.
“Many voters don’t know that Bob Pohl has withdrawn from the race,” she said. “If voters are just going down the line selecting all Republican candidates for every position, they’re going to inadvertently vote for Bob since his name will still be on the ballot.”