The first quarter of 2014 was not a time of swelling campaign accounts, but if campaign funding were the equivalent of votes, Congressman Dr. Paul Ruiz has an overwhelming lead in his first re-election campaign.

During the first quarter of 2014, the Democrat added nearly $400,000 to his cash coffers, ending the quarter with more than $1.5 million in the bank.

His principal opponent, Assemblyman Brian Nestande, has not even raised $1 million. He has received barely one-third the contributions Ruiz has raised in his first 15 months in office. Nestande’s cash balance on March 31 was about 20 percent of Ruiz’s balance.

Nestande had been the assumed Republican nominee for months, the endorsed candidate of the Riverside County Republican Party.

Now his campaign must also navigate the shoals of the waves the third candidate in the race — former Republican Assemblyman Ray Haynes — has created. He formally announced his entry in the congressional race in early March just prior to the closing of candidate filings.

Haynes served in the California State Senate from 1994 to 2002. Prior to and after his senate term, he served in the State Assembly from 1992 to 1994 and from 2002 to 2006. He served in Republican leadership positions in both houses. Term limits ended his state legislative career.
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California’s “Top Two” law sends the two candidates garnering the most votes, regardless of party affiliation, to the November general election. Haynes’s Republican history makes him more of a challenger to Nestande than to Ruiz in the primary election.

However, Haynes reported no campaign contributions as of the end of March. While he had almost $15,000 in cash, that came from a personal loan to the campaign.

Despite Haynes’ slow start, Nestande’s campaign must address this challenge. He is already preparing television ads in case Haynes generates support from political action committees just prior to the primary. Consequently, Nestande will have to use some of his limited cash for the primary, while Ruiz continues to build his campaign chest for the November election.

The Federal Election Commission site provides campaign funding information. The names of individual donors were only available through December 31, 2013, although the funding totals were through the end of March 2014.

As of the end of 2013, Ruiz had received donations from more than 1,000 contributors, of which 187 gave $2,500 or more and another 200 gave at least $1,000.

Nestande had 359 contributors during the same period; 87 gave more than $2,499 and another 87 gave at least $1,000. All but 28 of his contributors were from California.

Nearly 70 percent of Ruiz’s benefactors are Californians and they contributed about 60 percent of his December funding. Another $635,000, almost a third of his total, came from political committees, many related to medical specialties such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Hospital Association.

Various political committees have given Nestande $58,800 through the end of March.