Victoria Rusnak leads fundraising, spending in 41st Assembly race

Rusnak raised $480,000, spending a large portion on campaign mailers. Some of Pasadena City Councilman Chris Holden's funds were lost to admitted embezzler Kinde Durkee.

  • Candidates for the 41st Assembly District, from left, South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti, Ed Colton, Pasadena City Councilman Chris Holden, Donna Lowe and Victoria Rusnak at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum.
Candidates for the 41st Assembly District, from left, South Pasadena Mayor… (Adolfo Flores / Times Community…)
May 27, 2012|By Joe Piasecki,

Using $350,000 of her own money, businesswoman Victoria Rusnak has emerged as the top fundraiser — and biggest spender — among the five candidates running for the 41st Assembly District in the June 5 election.

Democrats Rusnak, Pasadena City Councilman Chris Holden and South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti have raised and spent far more than their Republican rivals Ed Colton and Donna Lowe, according to reports filed with the California secretary of state.

Rusnak, who declared her candidacy in February, amassed a $480,000 war chest, donating $250,000 and lending $100,000 to her own campaign. She spent $470,000, including $320,000 on campaign literature and mailers in April and May.

Holden, who entered the race more than a year ago and is endorsed by the Democratic Party, raised $453,000 through May 19, according to the reports filed Thursday. He spent $252,000 on campaign activities but lost another $121,000 to embezzlement by former treasurer Kinde Durkee, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges in March.

Cacciotti raised $175,000 and spent $120,000.

Holden spent $61,000 on mailers from March 18 to May 19, and Cacciotti spent $44,000 on mailers.

President and general counsel of her family's Rusnak Auto Group, Rusnak said her use of personal funds shows she is serious about winning the race.

“I'm making an investment in my campaign. When I make a commitment to do something, I'm going to do it wholeheartedly,” said Rusnak.

Cacciotti said Rusnak's spending advantage may not pay off.

“So much information could have an impact on some people,” he said. “It depends on how much they become engaged in the process. Hopefully, people will be able to discern the local, regional and state experience that distinguishes me from [Rusnak] and the other candidates.”

Claremont businesswoman and conservative activist Donna Lowe has raised $55,000 and spent nearly all of it, including $11,600 on phone-banking and $3,300 on campaign literature. Lowe's top donors include seven Republican state legislators and the parent company of Turner's Outdoorsman gun store in Pasadena.

Colton, a Republican businessman, has not reported any fundraising activity.

In recent weeks, Holden has collected contributions from Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, the California League of Conservation Voters, the California Assn. of Highway Patrolmen, the California Teachers Assn. and the Pasadena political group ACT.

Rusnak's spending included $28,000 to a consulting group run by Pasadena school board member Ramon Miramontes, a critic of ACT.

The top two vote-getters on June 5, regardless of party affiliation, will face off in the November election.

In the race to replace termed-out Assemblyman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park) in the 49th Assembly District, Republican Matthew Lin has spent nearly $100,000 more than Democratic opponent Ed Chau.

Lin, a doctor and former mayor of San Marino, raised nearly $445,000, including $60,000 in loans from his medical business, and spent $345,000.

Chau, a Montebello school board member backed by Eng and his wife, Rep. Judy Chu (D- Monterey Park), raised $459,000 — including $100,000 he lent the campaign — and spent $254,000.

Regardless of June's vote tally, Lin and Chau will advance to the November election.

In the 25th Senate District race, incumbent Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) has a significantly bigger war chest than Republican opponent Gilbert Gonzales — director of government relations for Vons — and Democratic challenger Ameenah Fuller.

Liu raised $388,178, including $100,000 in loans to her own campaign. She spent $162,000, including $17,000 in contributions to other Democratic candidates.

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