Assembly candidate John Eisenhut got a $54,189 boost from the state Democratic Party and a pair of unions in the past week to bolster his campaign against Republican Bill Berryhill.
The checks equaled more than a third of the $140,000 Eisenhut raised between January and the end of September in his bid to take the seat held by termed-out Republican Greg Aghazarian.
"We have found that when people hear my message they respond favorably," said Eisenhut, a Turlock almond farmer. "We've always said that we will get our message out."
Berryhill, a Ceres wine grape grower, holds a considerable fund-raising advantage over Eisenhut. Berryhill raised $491,000 this year and had $193,000 in cash on hand at the end of his last reporting period, Sept. 30.
Carl Fogliani, Berryhill's campaign spokesman, was skeptical that the recent Democratic Party money would sway the race.
"They help him pay for his payroll and send out mail because he doesn't have local support," Fogliani said. The cash infusion "doesn't mean he's credible."
Both candidates have received checks from valley farmers in the 26th Assembly District, which includes parts of Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. An analysis from the National Institute on Money in State Politics showed that most of Berryhill's funds came from the district, but he also has support from Republican lawmakers and state political action committees.
Berryhill is running as a Republican who can reach across the aisle on issues like education and agriculture while working to ease regulation on businesses.
Eisenhut's campaign is focusing on education, creating jobs, improving state infrastructure and helping veterans.
Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2366.