It’s worth noting that although California limits donations to candidates for office, political parties are free to take whatever they can get. Party leaders can then pump large sums into races without having to identify the original source of the funds.
Out of the 117 organizations and business interests that together gave $25 million-plus to the parties for the 2016 elections, 76 gave more to the state Democratic Party and 31 gave more to the state Republican Party. The other 10 gave the same amount to both.
In total, the Democratic Party raised $39.8 million. Republicans raised $20.9 million.
The Democrats’ edge is hardly surprising, considering they have a hammerlock on all the statewide elected offices, plus hold a two-thirds supermajority in both the state Senate and Assembly.
“Wherever you have one party in dominant control, that’s the team that is going to get the most money,” said Republican Party chair Jim Brulte. “That is just the way it is.”
As for why corporate donors would even bother with giving to the GOP: “It’s called covering your backside,” said Larry Gerston, political science professor emeritus at San Jose State University. Even though Republicans are in the minority in the Legislature, every now and again their votes might come in handy.
What counts is “who has been helpful and who has been with us,” Gerston said. “It all verifies, yet again, that interest groups are very close to lawmakers.”