Political Fundraising

Soria, Pazin lead cash haul in hotly-contested north Valley Assembly race

The battle between two Fresno City Council members over an open seat in the California Legislature isn’t turning out to be the toe-to-toe battle originally hyped.

Instead, Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria’s biggest financial foe in the footrace for the 27th Assembly District is shaping up to be a Republican, ex-Merced Sheriff Mark Pazin.

With the first of two fundraising reports turned in before California’s June 7 primary, Soria converted a lengthy endorsement list of Democrats across the Valley and state into a hefty campaign war chest, hauling in $$378,925.16 since the beginning of 2022.

In a release on Tuesday, Soria’s camp made a point of singling out one of her three opponents vying to advance from the June Primary – it wasn’t Pazin.

“The campaign finance reports. . . .show Soria with a massive financial advantage over her opponents,” the statement reads. “Notably, Democratic challenger Mike Karbassi raised just $71,005 and was left with only $25,255 cash on hand.”

The Soria camp added she has an 11-to-1 cash advantage over her colleague from northwest Fresno.

Soria has been on the receiving end of attacks by Karbassi and fellow Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld as the primary season has progressed.

Pazin, meanwhile, reported raising $109,899 through April 23, his first pre-primary fundraising report finds. He spent $18,039.17 in the three-month span, leaivng him with $95,094.77 to spend through the June Primary.

Despite the cash disadvantage, Karbassi has managed to win local support over both Soria and Pazin. He captured the endorsement of Fresno’s Chamber of Commerce and the Fresno Police Officers Association in the southern portion of the district.

Up north, in the district’s northern anchor, Karbassi earned the backing of Pazin’s successor, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke.

Soria, for her part, has touted the newly-acquired backing of U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D–Calif.)

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.