The Price of a County Supervisor McShane and Root Askew raise more than $1.4 million


By Joe Livernois

Steve McShane, the Salinas city councilman, has raised just short of a million dollars in his bid to become a Monterey County supervisor.

At $973,216 and counting over the past two years, McShane is easily winning the money race against Wendy Root Askew, an aide to Supervisor Jane Parker in the District 4, in a contest that will be decided on Nov. 3. According to campaign financial statements on file with the Monterey County Registrar of Voters, Root Askew has raised $432,920 during the same two-year period.

This supervisor’s race is by far the most expensive on the Central Coast. Though he’s seeking election to a supervisorial district that drew a mere 19,122 voters during the primary election in March, McShane this year is outraising every Central Coast candidate for state political office on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The 4th District generally includes South Salinas, Marina, Fort Ord and Seaside.

The latest campaign statements were submitted to the county elections’ office last week and cover the period between Sept. 20 to Oct. 17. During that 28-day period alone, McShane raised $144,447, compared to Root Askew’s $72,347. That does not include additional late contributions from donors totaling more than $14,500 that McShane’s campaign reported he received after Oct. 17.

McShane also outspent Root Askew by about a 2-to-1 margin in the run-up to the March primary election, but he finished second in a field of four candidates. He won almost 35 percent of the total votes cast, compared to Root Askew’s 45 percent. She was unable to win at least 50 percent of all votes during the primary, which forced the Nov. 3 runoff. 

The list of contributors to the McShane campaign reads like a list of Who’s Who among industry leaders and business organizations in Monterey County, including some of the largest agricultural operations in the Salinas Valley. 

Among his largest contributors are Taylor Fresh Foods of Salinas, which has given $20,900 this year; Louise Huntington of Huntington Farms, who has donated $17,600; and California Water Service, which has contributed $10,000.

The McShane campaign has spent $44,000 in the past month for advertising on KSBW-TV, according to the campaign financial statements, and another $4,400 with KION-TV.

The largest single contributor to Root Askew’s campaign during the past year has been the Democratic Women of Monterey County, which sent $28,000 her way, according to campaign statements. She has spent about $23,000 in the past month for TV ad buys at KION and KSBW.

When asked about their fundraising and the amount of money being spent on their campaigns, neither candidate addressed the cash directly, but instead talked about the nature of their support and the challenges of campaigning during a pandemic.

McShane told Voices of Monterey Bay by email his campaign war-chest represents the breadth of support he enjoys in the community and his tenacity on the campaign trail.

“I’ve spent 20 years volunteering and doing business in Monterey County and my support is representative of that,” he said. “My support, both volunteer and financial, comes from all corners of the district, large and small businesses from every major sector of our local economy, and hardworking people from every community. 

“My wide base of support demonstrates the broad range of District 4 residents who believe in my leadership and trust me to see us through challenging times.”

He said his campaign has sponsored nearly 50 events, including fundraisers, coffees and community events since early last year. 

“This is the longest campaign of my life and by all measures a race that I’m very proud of,” McShane said.

Root Askew said she has many “off-the-record thoughts” about the amount of money being spent on the supervisorial race. But she said she is “proud of the positive campaign we’ve run and grateful to every single voter who has put their confidence in my leadership to work on important issues of affordable housing, protecting our water, and keeping our community safe.”

See the latest filings here:

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Joe Livernois

About Joe Livernois

Joe Livernois has been a reporter, editor and columnist in Monterey County for 35 years.

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