LOS ANGELES — Recent history shows that running a successful U.S. Senate campaign in California is a multimillion-dollar venture. If that holds true in 2016, Republican Rocky Chavez has a long way to go if he's going to compete for the seat.
Chavez, a two-term state assemblyman from San Diego County, had about $5,000 in the bank at the end of March after raising $12,000 since he entered the contest last month, according to records submitted to federal regulators.
Democrat Kamala Harris, who has established herself as the early front-runner, had $2.2 million on hand after raising about $2.5 million since mid-January.
"We're just getting started," Chavez campaign spokesman Justin Glover said. Chavez, a retired Marine colonel, "is receiving a lot of support around the state," he said.
Republican statewide candidates often struggled in recent years to raise money in California, where Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature and every statewide office. Democrats also hold a commanding 2.7-million edge in voter registration.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, reported raising over $28 million to defend her seat in 2010 in a tough re-election fight against Republican Carly Fiorina. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, raised over $9 million for her walkover campaign win in 2012, in which she defeated Republican Elizabeth Emken by 25 percentage points.
The 2016 contest for the seat being vacated by Boxer could attract other candidates. Several Democratic members of Congress are considering entering the race, including Reps. Loretta Sanchez and Adam Schiff.
Harris' tally included a stream of money from the entertainment industry, a steady source of campaign dollars for Democrats. Her contributors included actor Sean Penn and producer Norman Lear.