By JEFF HORSEMAN | The Press-Enterprise | PUBLISHED: July 23, 2019
Since launching her bid for a San Bernardino County congressional seat about two months ago, a Democrat has out-fundraised the Republican incumbent she’s trying to unseat by about $66,000, the latest campaign finance reports show.
But while it’s a sign of strength and viability for a non-incumbent, Chris Bubser’s haul doesn’t guarantee a win against Rep. Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, in California’s 8th Congressional District. Another Democrat who challenged Cook in 2018 also raised six figures, but failed to make the general election ballot.
Bubser, who describes herself as an engineer and former biotech executive, formally announced her candidacy on Earth Day, April 22, citing the need to protect the environment. From April 1 to June 30, she took in about $205,000 while Cook raised about $139,000, Federal Election Commission data show.
In an emailed statement, Cook campaign spokesman John Sobel called Bubser “an LA resident of the Wilshire Country Club community who has never lived in Congressional District 8. In May 2019, she registered to vote in Mammoth where she owns a million-dollar vacation home.”
“We’re less concerned about her money than we are about another would-be politician with a savior complex looking to import the failed policies of Los Angeles and coastal elitists to our rural district,” he added.
Bubser registered to vote in Mono County on Jan. 23, according to the Mono County Registrar of Voters. The county is part of the district, though it’s not necessary to live in a congressional district in order to represent it.
In an emailed response to Sobel’s comments, Bubser’s campaign said: “It sure didn’t take long for Paul Cook to launch a desperate attack to try and cover up for the fact that he’s been bought and paid for by corporate special interests since he got elected.”
“Chris Bubser is a proud member and active resident of the Mammoth Lakes community (in Mono County) and has owned a home there for 14 years. She’s on our side.”
Almost all of Bubser’s money came from individual donations, while about two-thirds of Cook’s second-quarter donations came from political committees, according to records.
Cook has raised more than $229,000 since Jan. 1. As of June 30, he had more campaign cash – almost $300,000 – than Bubser, who had just under $169,000 in cash on hand.
A former state assemblyman, retired Marine Corps colonel and Vietnam combat veteran, Cook was first elected in 2012 to represent the 8th, which encompasses Inyo and Mono counties along with Hesperia, Highland, Yucaipa, Twentynine Palms and other San Bernardino County desert communities.
The district is not considered to be competitive by nonpartisan political forecasters. Republicans hold a roughly 4 percentage point edge in the district’s voter registration as of February, and President Donald Trump won the district by 15 percentage points in 2016.
Marge Doyle, a nurse and local health care district board member, ran as a Democrat against Cook in 2016. Doyle, who is backing Bubser this year, got the state party’s endorsement and raised more than $400,000 for her campaign, but finished third in the primary behind Cook and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly.