RICK LOEFFLER, San Clemente
A couple of months ago, I attended a City Council candidate forum hosted by the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce. One of the first questions asked of the candidates was if they would support a limitation on campaign contributions. All, but one, stated that they would support such a regulation. That one—was Steve Knoblock.
Mr. Knoblock clarified by stating that it “cost a lot of money” to get your message out to the residents. Boy, I guess it did.
The city’s webpage contains a link to the forms that the candidates filed with the State of California to report who contributed to their individual campaigns. The final numbers will not be released until the end of January, but there is certainly enough information to support some conclusions.
Mr. Knoblock barely edged out the fourth-place candidate by a mere 23 votes (they both received over 9,000 votes).
Both candidates received under $10,000 from private citizens; however, Mr. Knoblock received a much higher average dollar amount from each donor. His (nearest) opponent received a much lower average donation per donor, but obtained far more small donations.
The big disparity was in the amount that Knoblock received from Political Action Committees and special interest groups. Mr. Knoblock received over $16,000 from such groups—this is over four times what his (nearest) opponent raised.
These groups were primarily real estate organizations, developers and businesses who contract with the city. Why would someone need to pander to so many special interest groups in order to get elected to an office that pays a stipend of $400 per month?
I have to admit that Mr. Knoblock is an election purchasing genius. Had he raised only a few thousand dollars less, it is doubtful he would have tendered the 23 votes he needed to achieve election.
He knew exactly what he needed to spend. I have to add that Mr. Knoblock received nearly 13% of the vote, which means about 87% of the votes cast were in support of electing a candidate other than him.