MODESTO -- Nearly $2 million has been raised in the congressional race to represent Stanislaus and southern San Joaquin counties, and the vast majority of it has come from outside the area.
The five-way battle for the 10th Congressional District seat is among the most expensive House races in this region's history.
The top two vote getters in the June 5 primary will advance to the November election.
Campaign contribution records made public Friday show that Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, has amassed nearly $1,332,000 in donations, including almost $577,000 from lobbying groups known as political action committees.
Only about 12.3 percent of Denham's reported contributions are from residents or organizations in the 10th District. Donations under $200 don't have to be disclosed, however, so some small local contributions likely were not reported.
Democratic challenger Jose Hernandez has collected nearly $600,600, including nearly $147,000 from PACs.
Less than 4.6 percent of his reported contributions have been from within the district. But his campaign manager said Hernandez has received assorted small donations from local folks, which aren't itemized on the federal disclosures.
Independent challenger Chad Condit has garnered more than $45,000 in donations, all of them from individuals. About 34 percent of his donations are from district residents.
A so-called super PAC not controlled by Condit has spent more than $51,000 promoting his congressional bid. That group, called icPurple, produced a video ad supporting Condit and several other independent candidates.
Democrat Michael Barkley has donated about $10,700 to his campaign, but he has collected only a couple hundred dollars from others.
Independent candidate Troy McComak has not reported receiving any donations.
Despite the big bucks pouring into the Hernandez and Denham campaigns, neither has spent much.
Denham has more than $1 million in cash on hand and Hernandez has more than $367,000.
Condit has about $13,700 to spend, which includes $1,740 he loaned himself.
"Raising money hasn't been a priority for me," said Condit, who has focused on walking precincts and pitching himself at community events. He said his competitors' out-of-the-region contributions are evidence they are hand-picked pawns for their national parties.
"The numbers speak for themselves," Condit said. "Mr. Denham and Mr. Hernandez run their campaigns out of Washington. They're not very concerned about local donations."
That's not how Denham's campaign manager Dave Gilliard sees it.
"District boundaries are really irrelevant," Gilliard said. "Over the last several years, Jeff has represented districts that range from Monterey County to Yosemite. He has made many good friends who support his efforts to reform government and stand up for farmers and small business. They continue to support him because they believe in what he is doing, even though district lines change."
Gilliard said Denham recently raised more than $150,000 at a Modesto luncheon featuring Speaker of the House John Boehner and "almost all of it (was) local money."
The campaign manager for Hernandez, Dan Krupnick, also defended his candidate's funding sources.
"Jose's life story is one of hard work and perseverance. From his birth in French Camp to the stars for NASA, his story has inspired people from across the country," said Krupnick, explaining why so many of his donors are from elsewhere.
Here are a few of the local residents who have made large donations:
Hernandez donors: Modesto City Schools board member Ruben Villalobos, $2,500; Modesto school teacher Marianne Villalobos, $1,000; Kathleen Janssen of Manteca's Ace Tomato Co., $5,000; Modesto attorney Duane Nelson, $1,325; and Denair homemaker Margaret Quattrin, $2,500.
Denham donors: California Dairies Federal PAC, $10,000; J.E. Coleman of E.&.J. Gallo Winery, $5,000; Anita Duarte of Duarte Nursery, $2,000; Anthony Bruno of Turlock Dairy and Refrigeration, $2,500; Stephen Smith of Smith Farms in Turlock, $4,500; Jane Martella of Ronald Martella Farms in Hughson, $2,500.
Condit donors: Tracy Schulte of Light Sheer Pros in Ceres, $2,500; Charles Lyons of Mape's Ranch in Modesto, $1,500; Hughson farmer Ty Angle, $1,000; Hughson farmer Dosanjh Bupinder, $1,000; Care Solutions of Modesto, $2,500.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2196.