The 28th congressional district is one of the more unusual districts in California, in that it has a rare mix of urban, suburban, and rural parts cobbled in. It stretches from the center of Los Angeles up through the Silverlake and Hollywood area into the suburbs of Burbank and Glendale and far into the woods of the Angeles National Forest. It’s also a massively Democratic district. Current incumbent Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has had over 70% of the votes each primary and general election here since he came in during 2012/2013 redistricting. That’s why it was a bit of a shock in March when he got 59.7% of the votes when a battle for second place between Republican Eric Early and fellow Democrat Maebe A. Girl ended with Early taking a narrow 12.6% to 11.9% victory by less than 2,000 votes.
Republicans were underrepresented in the 2020 primary due to a lack of a national Republican presidential nominee challenge. In the 28th this can be seen by the large gap between the usual 20-22% of Republican votes in congressional elections compared to Early’s total in the primary. Schiff is almost assured victory in November, but the way money is being raised, you’d think he was in the tightest race on the west coast.
According to the FEC, Congressman Adam Schiff brought in $10.5 million in donations during the first quarter and disbursed $5.4 million. This also added to over $9 million cash on hand. Silverlake Neighborhood Councilwoman Maebe A. Girl was far behind, making only $7,900 while spending $4,500. Schiff’s top employee/family member of employee group donors were mostly entertainment/tourist, law, and education based. Burbank-based Disney led the pack in donations there with $30,900 with second-place donator Stanford University having second most with $17,600.
Unsurprisingly, retirees were the largest individual sector givers, donating $1.48 million in Q1. Lawyers and law firms only came in at about 1/3rd of that with $532,000 donated. Democratic, entertainment, and educational groups also gave high amounts with over $300,000 each. When it came to PACs, Schiff dwarfed Early’s total by over $300,000. And then there was the almost even amount of in-state and out-of-state donations. Just over half of Schiff’s donations, totaling 51.2%, came from outside of California.
Coming off a close second-place finish that allowed him to be on the November ballot, lawyer and 2018 California Attorney General candidate Eric Early lags far behind Schiff on most financial accounts. Early raised $680,000 and spent $595,000 during the first quarter to stave off Girl’s bid. Of this, he only received on large group employee donation: $5,000 from title insurance provider Fidelity National Financial. Even the distantly fourth place Independent candidate Jennifer Barbarosa made more through this type of donation than Early.
Individual sector donors did come through though, with retirees donating $84,000 in total, followed by Republican groups and real estate groups donated $25,000 and $23,000 respectively. Early didn’t receive much from PACs however, clocking in only a fraction more than $5,000. But Early did turn out to have over 60% of his donations coming from the Golden State, with less than 40% coming out-of-state. While these totals don’t instill much hope for November, they do show that the party hasn’t written Early off and that the GOP most likely has some lingering feelings for Schiff’s role in the Trump impeachment proceedings earlier this year.
What this means for the 28th
Schiff has been raking in donations thanks to his anti-Trump rhetoric and general popularity in a district that includes some of the richest areas in Los Angeles and the most solid Democratic strongholds in Southern California. Having most major studios and channels being based or having their west coast base in the 28th probably doesn’t hurt either. He’s also in a good position to help other candidates come out closer to November.
Early, in all likelihood, will lose in November by between a 1 to 3 and 1 to 4 margin. Early has pushed hard against Schiff, and again, Republicans have proved that “elephants never forget” by building up a case against Schiff. In this district, it likely won’t work, but digging into his total and trying to shift some areas before district shifting in a few years can help the GOP out in the long-term.
Plus, Early has a genuine chance of gaining some ground between now and November.
The coronavirus has halted a lot of fundraising, and as such, favors incumbents and those with a lot of cash on hand more. Schiff is going to win this, but Early and the GOP have proved that they aren’t going down without a fight here.