Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Bigelow, Patterson victories ensure campaign debt won’t stay

For area Republicans Frank Bigelow and Jim Patterson, winning their respective state Assembly races was a good thing — and not just for their political careers.

It was also good for their campaign wallets.

Jim Patterson

If either had lost, they’d be facing sizable campaign debts — and have no real leverage to raise the money needed to pay them off.

In Patterson’s case, it’s mostly to political consultants. For Bigelow, it’s mostly to himself.

Bigelow, in fact, raised more than $715,000 last year, and it still wasn’t enough in his expensive, high-profile 5th Assembly District race against fellow Republican Rico Oller. As of Dec. 31, Bigelow still had more than $72,000 in outstanding debt. Of that, $50,000 was a loan to himself.

Patterson raised more than $225,000 in 2012, but ended the year with close to $76,000 in debt after his 23rd Assembly District defeat of fellow Republican Bob Whalen, a Clovis City Council member. Most of it is owed to political consultant Tim Orman, but there’s also a good chunk to Tal Cloud for consulting.

Frank Bigelow

By winning, both men will be able to cover the debt by holding political fundraisers. As sitting Assembly members, they can count on donors and a good number of deep-pocketed Sacramento interests to put both campaign accounts back in the black.

On the other hand, Oller loaned his campaign $100,000. The debt no longer exists, according to Oller’s most recent campaign finance report. But only around $12,000 was paid off. The remainder — close to $88,000 — was forgiven.

Both Patterson and Bigelow filed their final 2012 reports on Jan. 31.

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