Photo: San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti (left) and Representative Josh Harder are vying for the 9th District Congressional seat. (FILE PHOTOS)
The fundraising numbers between the two candidates are not even close. Congressman Harder has raised over $5.4 million while County Supervisor Patti has raised just under $750 thousand. That’s a glaring gap, but there are a few explanations for it.
Keith Smith, an associate adjunct professor at the University of the Pacific with expertise in public policy and public administration, says a significant reason for differences in fundraising between the two candidates is the 2020 redistricting.
The former district used to be spread out and shared between parts of Contra Costa, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties, but the change has made it to where the district is primarily San Joaquin County.
Smith said Harder’s previous district was more competitive than this one, and the initial plan for redistricting would have been even more competitive.
“He needed to raise a lot of money on the expectation that he was going to be in a close campaign fight because of what his old district is and what he thought it was going to be,” Smith said.
The new district has actually ended up favoring Harder more than he had planned. District 9 has 70,000 more registered democrats than republicans, which is what makes it less competitive than Harder’s old district, Smith said.
Patti said redistricting had nothing to do with the money he raised.
“He (Harder) first announced after redistricting was complete,” Patti said. “He currently is in CD10. After redistricting was complete he announced he was running for CD13 because CD5 and CD13 were his region.”
Then once Congressman Jerry McNerney stepped down Harder changed to District 9.
Harder’s spokesperson Andrew Mamo said that even though it is an easier district it’s not something the campaign takes into account because it is a non-partisan, citizen-led process. Even with the democrat advantage he said they have not changed how they are running the campaign.
“Josh is working every day to earn the vote of everyone in the 9th district,” Mamo said. “Our campaign is focused on getting our message out the best way we know how: knocking on doors and having real-life conversations with the folks in our community. We’re also making sure voters hear from Josh on TV, radio, and online everywhere in the district, regardless of where they live.”
That’s a big advantage to have according to Smith because Harder can fundraise year-round while any opponents must declare they are running before they can begin fundraising.
However, Mamo says he doesn’t believe that doesn’t necessarily give someone that significant of an advantage.
“Candidates can declare as early as they’d like, so it doesn’t make much of an impact on a race,” Mamo said.
Patti also disagreed. He said that Harder has only been there for four years and the biggest difference isn’t the length in his fundraising, but where his money comes from.
“Jerry McNerney was there for four years and he had less than $1 million going into this election cycle versus Josh (Harder) who has almost $8 million,” Patti said. “The majority of his money is from the Bay Area. It is not from the valley region or San Joaquin which I represent which is where the majority of my funding came from.”
Harder does have a lot of donations from the Bay Area with over 1,500 of his over 8,800 California donations coming out of Oakland and San Francisco alone. Data from fec.gov shows that Harder has spent $1,652,569.46 to Patti’s $381,320.04 or over four times as much.