COUNTYWIDE — If you were a candidate running for office, what would you rather have, money or fame?
Former Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver has both.
His campaign disclosure statement reads like a guest list for one of Hollywood’s most exclusive parties, featuring the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Renee Zellweger and Jerry Bruckheimer. Then there are the Facebook and Google executives, iconic fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg, oh and billionaire Warren Buffett. Chef Wolfgang Puck is providing the desserts.
In the race to replace Third District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Shriver, a member of the Kennedy clan, has taken the fundraising lead, collecting nearly $848,000, including a $300,000 personal loan.
The nearly 2,000 contributions have come in $300 increments, the limit since he opted to not abide by the county’s voluntary $1.4 million spending cap.
“These donors include people with whom I’ve worked over the years in business and the non-profit world,” Shriver said. “Many of our donors are friends and some are family. I’m inspired and grateful to each of them for their support.”
His chief rival, former State Sen. Sheila Kuehl, has raised about $717,000, but she’s been at it far longer than Shriver, announcing her bid for Los Angeles County supervisor about a year ago while Shriver stepped up in late January.
West Hollywood Councilman John Duran has raised just over $187,000, campaign finance reports show.
As the race moves toward the June 3 primary election, Shriver has $639,712 in cash available while Kuehl, who recently secured the endorsements of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights and the Los Angeles County Democratic Club, has $429,877 and Duran $140,824. Five other candidates in the race are expected to raise lesser amounts.
If no one receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers will compete in a November runoff.
Shriver has positioned himself as a business executive who brings energy and a new vision, willing to break out of the box to find solutions to some of the county’s most pressing issues.
Kuehl is promoting herself as a seasoned lawmaker and policy expert who knows the issues and what it takes to bring change.
Duran, a defense lawyer, is putting the emphasis on creating opportunities for economic growth, identifying himself as a “moderate Democrat” who wants to hold “the solid center” on the board.
“I don’t think they vote for the person who drops the most mail, but for who they agree with on the issues,” Duran told the L.A. Times about the voters in the Third District, who he says are highly educated and are paying attention.
There are 2 million residents in the Third District, which includes the San Fernando Valley as well as the wealthy Westside communities of Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood and Santa Monica.
The county Board of Supervisors is one of the most powerful elected bodies in the nation. Los Angeles County — 4,000-square miles, 88 cities, 10 million residents — is more populous than 42 individual states.
The board, which has a budget of $24.7 billion, is in charge of implementing almost all federal, state and county programs, including food stamps and the Affordable Care Act. Its decisions impact public health, social services, welfare, education, law enforcement, jails, emergency response, environmental protection, housing, and other aspects of daily life.
It manages the county’s foster care system, probation system, juvenile halls, animal shelters, senior centers, as well as beaches and the coroner’s office.
The board’s five members also serve as leaders at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the mass transit system.
Kuehl had been limited to raising $1,500 per donor until Shriver declared he would partially self-fund his campaign. Now, under county election rules, she can accept unlimited donations.
Last week, Kuehl received a $75,000 contribution from the California Nurses Association, a Sacramento group that advocates on behalf of the state’s nursing profession. During her years in the Legislature, Kuehl wrote a law that set nurse-to-patient ratios and twice attempted to pass a universal healthcare law, according to the L.A. Times.
Shriver isn’t the only one with Hollywood connections. Kuehl has recently played up her past as the brilliant and eager Zelda Gilroy on the 1960s sitcom “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” An upcoming fundraiser will feature “Dobie Gillis” episodes, with special guest Ed Begley, Jr., an actor-turned-environmentalist.