SACRAMENTO — Republican gubernatorial front-runner Richard Riordan collected twice as much as Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in a high-stakes fund-raising battle in recent weeks, reports released Thursday show.
Riordan collected $2.1 million during a recent 28-day period, while Davis took in $1.1 million. Both spent heavily on dueling television commercials as the primary race entered its final stretch.
Riordan will face Secretary of State Bill Jones and Los Angeles businessman Bill Simon in the primary in less than two weeks. The victor will challenge Davis in November.
The newest reports detail fund-raising and spending between Jan. 20 and Feb. 16. They reflect a crush of spending on commercials and an outpouring of cash by Davis and the two leading Republicans who want to unseat him.
Riordan took in $250,000 during the four-week period from his top donor Univision chief Jerry Perenchio, who has contributed a total $400,000 to the former Los Angeles mayor. Perenchio also has donated at least $350,000 to Davis since February 2000.
Both Riordan and Simon collected money from companies or individuals heavily involved in offshore oil exploration. Davis recently has publicly rejected federal efforts to settle a lawsuit over the state’s right to review oil and gas leases off California’s coast.
Riordan received $20,000 from Hushang Ansary of Houston, chairman and CEO of IRI International, an offshore oil drilling company. Ansary, a former Iranian ambassador to the United States and now a U.S. citizen, has been a major supporter of President Bush.
Simon received $5,000 from Tesoro Petroleum, a Texas-based company active in offshore oil drilling.
Davis, meanwhile, continued to lure a stream of donations from an array of donors from corporate heavy hitters to worker’s unions.
Davis spent $5.7 million in four weeks — mostly on television commercials that aired statewide. Riordan, meanwhile, poured $3.6 million into his bid, mostly for television spots.
Despite raising cash at a clip of $75,000 a day during the four-week stint, Riordan has faced criticism from his own party, come under attack from Davis and has seen his once-commanding lead in polls shrink.
Simon — a wealthy investor who went from virtually unknown to gaining on Riordan in recent polls — lent his campaign $1.7 million during the period and raised $686,000 in contributions. Many of his contributions have poured in from donors in his native East Coast and from religious conservatives.
He also received $25,000 from PMX Industries, a Korean-owned copper and brass recycling mill in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and $1,000 from Susan Lyne, the new president of ABC.
Simon spent $3 million, mainly on positive ads to boost his profile. His popularity has climbed in recent weeks and he has gained the support of some of the Republican party’s key conservatives, and he launched his first negative ad Thursday critical of Riordan.
Secretary of State Bill Jones, who has struggled to attract donations and has lagged in polls, raised $484,000 during the period and spent $288,000.
Davis — who faces no opposition until the general election in November — has made the unusual step of plunging into the campaign before the primary. He has launched a string of ads, many of which directly attack Riordan. But he still has the largest campaign treasury by far: He had $28 million to spend as of Feb. 16.
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The campaign finance reports can be found at http://www.ss.ca.gov