.Fundraising Wake-Up Call

Rebecca Kaplan's council seat challenged

Oakland At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan is one of the city’s most well-known politicians, and seemingly one of its more popular. But her re-election campaign received a major wake-up call after one of her challengers, Oakland restaurateur Derreck Johnson, posted strong mid-year campaign fundraising numbers on Friday that greatly outpaced Kaplan’s efforts.

Johnson, the owner of the Home of Chicken and Waffles in Jack London Square, raised $114,798 over the first six months of this year, according to finance reports filed last Friday.

Johnson’s largess is more than seven times the amount Kaplan raised during the same period this year, which ended on June 30.

After a paltry amount of early spending, roughly $8,200, Johnson heads into the campaign’s summer and fall months with $112,000 in cash reserves.

Citywide political campaigns in Oakland typically require in excess of $300,000 to run, a number that Johnson appears capable of reaching.

Johnson already touts the endorsement of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who donated $900 to his campaign last June. In addition, three of Kaplan’s recent former council colleagues contributed to Johnson’s campaign—Councilmembers Abel Guillen, Annie Campbell Washington and Pat Kernighan.

Kaplan, meanwhile, struggled to round into early re-election form. Her campaign raised $15,855 during the past six months, according to finance reports. In addition, Kaplan spent more than $11,000 during the same period and maintains a cash reserve of $22,735, as of June 30.

While Johnson’s sterling early fundraising numbers likely serve as notice to the Oakland electorate that his campaign is credible and, at least, financially able to challenge Kaplan through the fall, the election season has barely begun.

However, Kaplan appeared to signal that her campaign’s finance report would be dwarfed by Johnson’s last week when she emailed constituents and supporters a lengthy compilation of her recent accomplishments and press clippings. About 30 minutes later, through a press release, Johnson’s campaign announced his glowing fundraising figures.

Perennial Oakland mayoral and city council candidate Nancy Sidebotham also filed an intent to run for the at-large seat. The deadline for all candidates to file for the General Election was Friday, Aug. 7.


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