Denham combats recall as others fill war chests

State Sen. Jeff Denham of Merced is stashing cash to deflect a recall campaign while other lawmakers from the Northern San Joaquin Valley build foundations for their November election bids.

Denham raised $250,200 in the second half of 2007. He brought in $461,874 for the year, spending $197,329 to defend himself against the recall, according to records disclosed Thursday by the secretary of state.

The state Democratic Party and a separate campaign committee are spending cash to unseat Denham in June. The recall campaign has until Feb. 13 to gather signatures to put their effort on the ballot.

Denham won re-election in 2006, but Democratic groups singled out the Republican lawmaker last summer when he refused to vote for the state budget, which was 52 days late after a stalemate.

Denham received more than 300 contributions from individuals and businesses around the state, many of them in $100 checks. He raised $297,000 in nine major contributions from tribal, law enforcement, dental and horse racing interests.

Dana Ferreira, a campaign spokeswoman for Denham, said voters in the district oppose the recall.

"They're pretty upset about it, especially because of the way the budget is now," she said. "We're getting a recall because we didn't want to vote for an unbalanced budget."

Other candidates angling to represent seats from Stockton to Merced used 2007 to gear up for November's election. None of the candidates faces opponents in June primaries so far, state records show.

Bill Berryhill, a Ceres Unified School District trustee running to take termed-out Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian's seat, has $204,126 left in the bank. The Republican took out a $100,000 loan and raised $219,805 from donors.

Angela Raeburn, his Democratic opponent from Turlock, did not file a spending report.

Berryhill's "got a wide breadth of support," said campaign consultant Carl Fogliani. "He's looking strong and there are no viable alternatives out there."

Berryhill's brother Tom, the incumbent assemblyman representing Modesto, raised $166,720 last year. His district is considered a safe Republican seat, and he donated more than $45,000 to his party and to other candidates.

State Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, likewise raised money for other candidates last year. He contributed $83,950 to the Republican Party and to candidates. He faces re-election in 2010.

Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, a Democratic fund-raising juggernaut in her 2006 bid for office, raised $353,807 last year. Her Republican opponent, Jack Mobley of Merced, collected $21,039.

"Cathleen is a very moderate, open member," spokesman Robin Adam said. "People feel that she's accessible. She's open to hearing everybody's views."

Galgiani raised $3 million for her 2006 campaign against Tracy school board member Gerry Ma- chado. About $1.8 million came from Democratic committees, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at aashton@modbee.com or 578-2366.

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