The Biggest—And Smallest—Grassroots Fundraisers of 2018

By Ryan Hughes (@RyanHughesCA)
Oct. 24, 2018


In American political campaigns, cash rules everything. Candidates and elected officials spend countless hours raising money to pay for their commercials, mailers, and door hangers. But candidates differ in how they raise enough money to be competitive.

Dollar Dollar Bill wanted to find out who 2018's biggest—and smallest—grassroots fundraisers were. Our full methodology is explained below, but the short version is this: we calculated the percentage of each candidate's donors who gave $200 or less, but excluded any candidate who had not raised at least $100,000.

So whose campaign is raising the most grassroots money in 2018?

CommitteeCandidateDistrictTotal RaisedGrassroots ($)Grassroots (%)
1399275Mark Meuser (R)SOS$261,187.46$128,800.7449.31%
1396341Jovanka Beckles (D)AD15$350,499.34$99,997.2028.53%
1401386William Ostrander (D)AD35$109,049.90$28,446.0626.09%
1399141Jacalyn Smith (D)AD06$135,137.29$31,991.5123.67%
1397133Joy Silver (D)SD28$509,409.42$71,888.0314.11%
1389776Steven Bailey (R)AG$501,228.98$56,053.6111.18%
1396734Buffy Wicks (D)AD15$1,134,729.48$90,251.917.95%
1394897John Cox (R)CAGOV$12,145,288.73$878,300.097.23%
1400670Cottie Petrie-Norris (D)AD74$435,364.07$31,213.187.17%
1400293Alexandria Coronado (R)AD65$199,364.08$13,874.006.96%


At the top of the list is Mark Meuser, the Republican candidate for Secretary of State. He attributed his grassroots fundraising success to his campaign's considerable travels throughout the state to speak to political and civic groups—and he has numbers: 825 events, 92,500 miles driven, a 58-county bike tour over 46 days, and air travel on top of all that. "We've been very good at handing out campaign contribution envelopes right there when I'm speaking," said Meuser. During our interview, Meuser was southbound on I-5 to headline an event that night for a Republican congressional candidate.

Joy Silver, the Democratic candidate for Senate District 28, attributed her success in grassroots fundraising to her having been an organizer before she began running for office. "I am a grassroots candidate because I was working as a grassroots organizer," explained Silver. Following the 2018 election, she helped organize a group to oppose Trump Administration policies. "They wanted me to run, so I became the voice of those people."

Asked how much time she spends fundraising, Silver paused and joked, "I'm trying to think of what else I do."

On the other end of the spectrum are candidates who raised almost no money from grassroots sources. California has ten candidates who raised less than one tenth of one percent of their campaign funds from grassroots donors:

CommitteeCandidateDistrictTotal RaisedGrassroots ($)Grassroots (%)
1392439Miguel Santiago (D)AD53$1,238,791.76$1,125.000.09%
1400787Wendy Carrillo (D)AD51$448,769.86$375.500.08%
1393364Blanca Rubio (D)AD48$1,074,290.57$880.500.08%
1392494Lorena Gonzalez (D)AD80$1,724,427.89$1,403.000.08%
1393555Ken Cooley (D)AD08$625,057.51$450.000.07%
1392684Ian Calderon (D)AD57$1,145,958.17$736.000.06%
1392388Jim Cooper (D)AD09$2,002,785.01$1,210.000.06%
1401423Joel Anderson (R)BOE04$449,001.08$235.000.05%
1392666Marie Waldron (R)AD75$544,437.22$189.970.03%
1392928Mike Gipson (D)AD64$981,334.48$102.200.01%


All of these candidates are incumbent members of the Legislature, and only one of them is seeking higher office: Joel Anderson for Board of Equalization.

At the very bottom of grassroots fundraising this cycle is Mike Gipson, a Democratic Assemblymember from South Los Angeles, who raised 0.01% of his campaign contributions from grassroots sources. Of the nearly $1 million he raised, only $102.20 came from grassroots sources.

How much have your local candidates raised in grassroots contributions? All candidates for the 2018 General Election who raised at least $100,000:

CommitteeCandidateDistrictTotal RaisedGrassroots ($)Grassroots (%)
1399275Mark Meuser (R)SOS$261,187.46$128,800.7449.31%
1396341Jovanka Beckles (D)AD15$350,499.34$99,997.2028.53%
1401386William Ostrander (D)AD35$109,049.90$28,446.0626.09%
1399141Jacalyn Smith (D)AD06$135,137.29$31,991.5123.67%
1397133Joy Silver (D)SD28$509,409.42$71,888.0314.11%
1389776Steven Bailey (R)AG$501,228.98$56,053.6111.18%
1396734Buffy Wicks (D)AD15$1,134,729.48$90,251.917.95%
1394897John Cox (R)CAGOV$12,145,288.73$878,300.097.23%
1400670Cottie Petrie-Norris (D)AD74$435,364.07$31,213.187.17%
1400293Alexandria Coronado (R)AD65$199,364.08$13,874.006.96%
1373364Mike Mc Guire (D)SD02$1,541,581.86$102,039.186.62%
1397541Sunday Gover (D)AD77$471,297.26$30,756.226.53%
1399301Tasha Boerner Horvath (D)AD76$412,747.96$24,435.965.92%
1401391Tepring Michelle Piquado (D)AD54$168,735.08$9,959.585.90%
1397082Alan Geraci (D)AD75$142,171.37$7,736.445.44%
1375287Gavin Newsom (D)CAGOV$41,931,831.24$2,160,446.325.15%
1373835Janet Nguyen (R)SD34$1,947,105.29$96,779.014.97%
1392484Mark Stone (D)AD29$468,134.57$20,875.944.46%
1400327Konstantinos Roditis (R)CON$117,214.99$5,114.994.36%
1355121Michael Eng (D)SD22$2,449,071.73$101,798.464.16%
1398674Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D)AD16$958,349.83$39,094.374.08%
1394091Xavier Becerra (D)AG$6,798,507.78$266,470.773.92%
1400729Jesse Gabriel (D)AD45$947,466.05$36,115.363.81%
1397714Frank Scotto (R)AD66$725,034.58$27,107.003.74%
1395234Marshall Tuck (D)SPI$4,276,700.13$126,421.192.96%
1374146Brian Jones (R)SD38$926,033.24$24,481.002.64%
1374058Richard Pan (D)SD06$1,331,028.76$33,510.672.52%
1392567James Gallagher (R)AD03$1,126,179.33$28,326.882.52%
1393775Malia Cohen (D)BOE02$909,361.61$22,467.002.47%
1392453Kevin Kiley (R)AD06$676,588.65$16,004.982.37%
1395749Maria Elena Durazo (D)SD24$1,206,722.95$28,406.002.35%
1384474Fiona Ma (D)TREAS$3,454,286.07$77,226.712.24%
1393660Ash Kalra (D)AD27$482,134.00$10,114.002.10%
1399486Robert Rivas (D)AD30$702,549.27$14,390.002.05%
1399481Josh Lowenthal (D)AD72$1,340,146.42$26,857.172.00%
1392518Catharine Baker (R)AD16$2,043,507.26$38,367.271.88%
1392662Al Muratsuchi (D)AD66$1,354,823.00$25,039.531.85%
1401462Melissa Hurtado (D)SD14$653,284.33$11,939.181.83%
1392511S. Monique Limon (D)AD37$876,953.00$15,135.491.73%
1394470Andreas Borgeas (R)SD08$894,384.98$15,412.191.72%
1392371Edwin Chau (D)AD49$596,739.75$9,950.001.67%
1402965Bob Archuleta (D)SD32$518,724.83$8,602.001.66%
1392828Kevin Mullin (D)AD22$844,571.10$13,634.001.61%
1392890Susan Rubio (D)SD22$837,248.66$13,356.001.60%
1374814Betty Yee (D)CON$2,194,307.05$34,581.431.58%
1392806Melissa Melendez (R)AD67$401,288.04$6,075.001.51%
1393016Jordan Cunningham (R)AD35$1,020,896.61$15,126.661.48%
1392556Laura Friedman (D)AD43$748,804.12$11,013.081.47%
1374486Bob Wieckowski (D)SD10$946,622.22$13,881.141.47%
1374834Shannon Grove (R)SD16$1,512,205.91$21,661.761.43%
1393543Kansen Chu (D)AD25$449,819.16$6,436.311.43%
1395167Christy Smith (D)AD38$1,275,279.76$18,227.721.43%
1392333James Wood (D)AD02$1,103,126.85$15,259.911.38%
1393314Devon Mathis (R)AD26$441,166.09$6,049.921.37%
1374053Connie Leyva (D)SD20$1,301,747.12$17,835.001.37%
1397523Tyler Diep (R)AD72$907,191.79$12,187.001.34%
1403611Henry Nickel (R)AD40$282,813.12$3,787.681.34%
1392630Bill Quirk (D)AD20$643,019.42$8,534.001.33%
1392840Steven Choi (R)AD68$245,853.00$3,203.001.30%
1374149Ben Allen (D)SD26$1,690,309.04$21,782.001.29%
1403029Thomas Umberg (D)SD34$1,085,928.14$13,193.171.21%
1393047David Chiu (D)AD17$1,395,785.39$16,769.011.20%
1393597Patrick O'Donnell (D)AD70$1,030,713.79$12,294.001.19%
1393824Susan Eggman (D)AD13$1,023,635.71$12,056.191.18%
1392357Evan Low (D)AD28$2,040,144.24$24,026.251.18%
1374488Edward Hernandez (D)LG$3,672,188.78$42,041.001.14%
1392977Todd Gloria (D)AD78$866,625.10$9,730.001.12%
1392962Sharon Quirk-Silva (D)AD65$1,676,466.92$18,797.971.12%
1392362Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D)AD04$788,054.20$8,676.691.10%
1393014Vincent Fong (R)AD34$1,071,066.11$11,237.981.05%
1392758Marc Berman (D)AD24$715,198.24$7,456.201.04%
1401368Sydney Kamlager (D)AD54$571,669.75$5,880.001.03%
1393111Joaquin Arambula (D)AD31$898,302.70$8,899.310.99%
1403354Justin Mendes (R)AD32$653,832.91$6,085.000.93%
1393074Jacqui Irwin (D)AD44$1,233,253.50$11,356.000.92%
1393064Cristina Garcia (D)AD58$807,374.70$7,318.690.91%
1407043Mohammad-Ali Mazarei (R)AD61$114,356.04$1,035.540.91%
1393341Eloise Gomez Reyes (D)AD47$681,258.32$6,144.700.90%
1402831Bill Essayli (R)AD60$629,253.31$5,626.170.89%
1393376Shirley Weber (D)AD79$719,040.24$6,394.000.89%
1393777Randy Voepel (R)AD71$162,010.00$1,400.000.86%
1392652Jim Frazier (D)AD11$1,071,153.60$9,248.990.86%
1392480Adrin Nazarian (D)AD46$827,127.82$7,127.990.86%
1373719Alex Padilla (D)SOS$1,769,469.14$14,767.130.83%
1392593Tim Grayson (D)AD14$1,089,670.33$8,911.040.82%
1395990Eleni Kounalakis (D)LG$6,948,261.57$54,581.580.79%
1401703James Ramos (D)AD40$1,561,945.06$11,711.320.75%
1373825Andy Vidak (R)SD14$1,786,180.52$12,895.000.72%
1378003Ted Gaines (R)BOE01$840,303.33$6,015.000.72%
1373597Jim Nielsen (R)SD04$997,447.79$7,115.000.71%
1393498Tony Vazquez (D)BOE03$358,674.35$2,501.110.70%
1374577Pat Bates (R)SD36$1,540,644.65$10,658.450.69%
1392526Dante Acosta (R)AD38$914,428.76$6,162.000.67%
1401105Luz Rivas (D)AD39$334,456.14$2,108.030.63%
1392882Chad Mayes (R)AD42$1,213,756.31$7,576.300.62%
1392389Rob Bonta (D)AD18$2,628,260.37$15,647.880.60%
1393369Brian Dahle (R)AD01$1,437,744.65$8,493.840.59%
1392382Eduardo Garcia (D)AD56$747,383.28$4,298.000.58%
1392690Heath Flora (R)AD12$490,837.33$2,772.250.56%
1393932Ricardo Lara (D)IC$2,065,769.09$11,560.350.56%
1392561Sabrina Cervantes (D)AD60$1,748,736.69$9,754.700.56%
1393171Jose Medina (D)AD61$615,600.64$3,386.320.55%
1392711Marc Levine (D)AD10$1,755,336.86$9,509.850.54%
1374274Jeffrey Stone (R)SD28$537,258.00$2,769.000.52%
1373775Holly Mitchell (D)SD30$1,279,003.18$6,305.960.49%
1393990Jim Patterson (R)AD23$784,863.17$3,800.000.48%
1398994Robert Poythress (R)SD12$1,812,471.53$8,620.000.48%
1392565Frank Bigelow (R)AD05$1,413,518.61$6,460.000.46%
1392528Bill Brough (R)AD73$623,975.43$2,823.000.45%
1392488Tony Thurmond (D)SPI$702,140.37$3,097.220.44%
1394879Anna Caballero (D)SD12$2,114,695.50$9,109.160.43%
1392379Phillip Chen (R)AD55$669,264.64$2,697.240.40%
1392804Kevin Mc Carty (D)AD07$737,720.29$2,896.980.39%
1392884Jay Obernolte (R)AD33$503,331.01$1,962.720.39%
1393484Phil Ting (D)AD19$1,753,400.32$6,723.660.38%
1393131Matthew Harper (R)AD74$264,870.98$999.000.38%
1392468Richard Bloom (D)AD50$579,022.28$2,130.000.37%
1393205Thomas Lackey (R)AD36$629,275.51$2,225.590.35%
1392612Adam Gray (D)AD21$1,352,561.49$4,321.340.32%
1392735Brian Maienschein (R)AD77$1,768,749.36$4,794.000.27%
1402422Steve Poizner (N)IC$2,051,395.50$5,052.180.25%
1373423Robert Hertzberg (D)SD18$2,023,911.11$4,933.660.24%
1392709Freddie Rodriguez (D)AD52$890,116.53$1,668.810.19%
1392700Reggie Jones-Sawyer Sr. (D)AD59$486,944.48$800.000.16%
1393348Autumn Burke (D)AD62$1,218,879.76$1,726.190.14%
1393404Chris Holden (D)AD41$931,964.47$1,295.360.14%
1393439Rudy Salas Jr. (D)AD32$1,390,765.38$1,897.000.14%
1393412Tom Daly (D)AD69$1,513,510.53$1,993.000.13%
1373761Ben Hueso (D)SD40$1,114,985.56$1,350.000.12%
1393414Anthony Rendon (D)AD63$2,901,621.03$3,230.410.11%
1392439Miguel Santiago (D)AD53$1,238,791.76$1,125.000.09%
1400787Wendy Carrillo (D)AD51$448,769.86$375.500.08%
1393364Blanca Rubio (D)AD48$1,074,290.57$880.500.08%
1392494Lorena Gonzalez (D)AD80$1,724,427.89$1,403.000.08%
1393555Ken Cooley (D)AD08$625,057.51$450.000.07%
1392684Ian Calderon (D)AD57$1,145,958.17$736.000.06%
1392388Jim Cooper (D)AD09$2,002,785.01$1,210.000.06%
1401423Joel Anderson (R)BOE04$449,001.08$235.000.05%
1392666Marie Waldron (R)AD75$544,437.22$189.970.03%
1392928Mike Gipson (D)AD64$981,334.48$102.200.01%


Methodology

All data for this analysis comes from campaign reports filed through the last Form 460 reporting date, September 22, 2018.

We summed each candidate's contributions less than $100 (reported as a lump sum on Form 460, Schedule A, Line 2). Then we added to that total each candidate's contributions this cycle that were $200 or less, but excluded any contributor who donated multiple times for a sum exceeding $200. That figure is "Grassroots ($)", above.

Then we summed up the total number of contributions and the net of loans made to a campaign (loans received less loans repaid). That figure is "Total Raised", above.

We removed any candidate who had not raised at least $100,000 as a means to control for data skewing by candidates who are not viable. We then calculated the portion of a candidate's funds that are grassroots, i.e., from contributors giving $200 or less. We used a percentage in our rankings instead of total grassroots dollars in order to compare districts that are geographically and economically diverse.

To note, it is not possible to calculate the average contribution for California candidates from publicly available information. As noted above, all contributions less than $100 are reported as a lump sum without reporting the number of people contributing under $100. For example, if a candidate reports $1,000 worth of contributions under $100, that may have come from 11 people contributing $90.91 or 1,000 people contributing $1. Without knowing how many people actually contributed, calculating an average contribution amount is not possible.

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