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I-Team goes in-depth on money and politics

We're less than three weeks away from the June primary and some local races are beginning to take shape.

Candidates are stepping up their fundraising games to get their message out ahead of June 7.

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TV ads are hitting the airwaves, people still working on putting signs up, and campaigns are working overtime raising the money to pay for it all.

"Under our system, it's necessary to run a campaign, you can't really run a campaign without it," said Brendan Glavin, senior data analyst for opensecrets.org, a nonpartisan research group working to make the process transparent.

The 41st Congressional district, representing the west valley, is one of the races getting a lot of fundraising attention. In this case, the incumbent, Republican Ken Calvert leads the pack with over $1.6 million raised and over $1.3 million cash on hand as of March 31.

Glavin breaks down where some of that money is coming from.

"He raised a good portion of his money, maybe about a 3rd of his money from PAC donations, which is pretty normal for an incumbent, someone who's you now he sits on defense subcommittee, so he's getting PAC money from defense-related groups," Glavin said.

The challengers are touting their own fundraising efforts. Democrat Will Rollins had raised nearly $780,000 as of the last reporting period.

"I'm unbelievably honored and proud to have set the all-time fundraising record for any Democrat to ever challenge Ken Calvert going back to 1992. We're at almost a million dollars raised," Rollins said.

Democrat Shrina Kurani had raised over $384,000, well below Rollins but she says it's enough to prove she's viable in the race.

"We are confident we will have the resources to communicate with voters," Kurani said.

Glavin isn't handicapping the race, but does point out that challengers to incumbents need enough but not necessarily as much to win. Proving viability is most important at this stage because the parties may take over in the general election.

"So, if it's deemed competitive, that party apparatus will come in and spend as much as they feel is necessary," Glavin said.

The other race to watch locally may be the open 47th assembly seat. It's getting a lot of attention because there's no incumbent.

"It's very hard for a challenger to win when one of these seats comes open, then p0eople are doing to jump in and try to take their opportunity," Glavin said.

Democrat Christy Holstege has the fundraising advantage with over $410,000 raised and $183,000 cash on hand as of April 23. Republican Greg Wallis brought in over $123,000 by the last filing and had over $82,000 cash on hand

"It's important to show that the campaign's viable and we feel like we've been able to raise enough to run a fully-funded campaign, so that we'll be competitive," Wallis said.

"So, while money doesn't win elections on its own, it's really important to be able to put out our message and explain why I'm the most qualified candidate," Holstege said.

Both candidates are now out with their first TV ads, image spots introducing themselves to voters.

Money and politics, it's not everything but something to watch.

"So really, you know, a lot of what we do is try to then just make that transparent," Glavin said.

These 2 races are the most competitive on the fundraising front. Each of them also has 2 other candidates on the ballot.    

At this point, those candidates have not filed fundraising information.

Check out the links below to see where all of our local races stand when it comes to fundraising:

You can also check out https://www.opensecrets.org/ to see the resources they have available to learn more about the money -- and where it's coming from for each of the candidates.

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John White

John White anchors News Channel 3 Live at 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 11:00 p.m.on KESQ-TV and CBS Local 2. Learn more about John here.

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