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County incumbents are spending big

Nevada County’s incumbent supervisor candidates failed to knock out their challengers in the March primary, even though they have handily out-spent them so far this year, campaign finance records show.

Records released late last week show that Supervisor Elizabeth Martin was the top spender among supervisorial candidates for the first half of the year.

Martin has spent $60,503 so far this year, and $28,718 from Feb. 17 to June 30, which would include spending just before the March primary.



Martin garnered close to 39 percent of the vote to her opponent’s 34 percent, but out-spent 4th District challenger Robin Sutherland by more than three to one.

Sutherland has spent $17,431 so far this year, and $7,442 from Feb. 17 to June 30.




Sutherland added that Martin would probably continue to out spend her in the general election. But the challenger noted her campaign is cost effective.

“She has used up three-quarters of the pie to earn 39 percent in the primary, and I used a quarter of it to earn 34 percent,” said Sutherland.

But the award for the most frugal – or most underfinanced – goes to a third candidate for the district, Rene Antonson, who spent $5,884 during the year, and $1,951 from Feb. 17 to June 30. Antonson, who has said he will run as a 4th District write-in candidate, got almost 23 percent of the primary vote.

Martin said the spending figures show she has the most and the broadest support, including plenty of small donations.

“People see it as an investment in a supervisor who is protecting their quality of life,” she said.

Martin said the primary vote percentages don’t prove much – except that she had the most votes – Sutherland came in second, and that they will both be running against each other.

The primary votes don’t prove much because of five people on the ballot, which causes confusion among voters, said Martin.

Much of the spending for the period of mid-February to June 30 was actually spent for the primary, said Crawford Bost, a former Nevada County supervisor and Natural Heritage 2020 critic.

Spending should be important in the 4th District, a rural area with far-flung constituents that is not easily walked, noted Bost. The 3rd District is easier to walk around and canvas, he said.

Money is important even in a Nevada County supervisor’s race, said Bost. Even in a rural campaign, money can buy radio spots, newspaper ads and mass mailings.

“It shouldn’t be, but it is,” said Bost. “The area’s small enough that a person should be able to make personal contact.”

Third District Supervisor Bruce Conklin out-spent his opponent, Drew Bedwell, by more than three to one, campaign records show. But Bedwell edged out Conklin by 135 votes.

Conklin has spent $48,370 this year, while Bedwell spent $13,322.

“He out-spent me three to one in the primary and I still beat him,” said Bedwell. “It’s not the money; it’s the message.”

Bedwell said he has been out working the precincts, getting endorsements and encouragement from people.

“It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out brawl, but I think I’m going to win,” said Bedwell.

Conklin said Bedwell has been riding on free publicity from his opposition to NH 2020, monopolizing the media for two years, and putting up four-by-eight signs saying “No to NH 2020.”

Conklin said that makes the spending impossible to compare.

“Getting our message out there about our positive accomplishments was harder than ‘no, no, no,’ so it cost us money, unfortunately,” said Conklin.

Campaign Expenses

Supervisors spending in 2002 through June 30, according to campaign disclosure statements:

Rene Antonson: $ 5,844

Drew Bedwell: $13,322

Bruce Conklin: $48,370

Elizabeth Martin:$60,503

Robin Sutherland:$17,432


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