District 4 Supervisor race: Morgan not fazed by Jones' large fundraising advantage
Patrick Jones has raised an unprecedented amount of money in his bid to win the Shasta County Board of Supervisors District 4 seat.
His opponent, incumbent Steve Morgan, counters by saying the seat can’t be bought.
Jones' campaign has brought in about three times the money of Morgan's
One reason why Jones is spending so much is because he doesn’t want to repeat the mistake he said then-District 4 incumbent Bill Schappell made in 2016, when Schappell also won the primary by a large margin, but then lost in a November runoff to Morgan.
“Most people say I didn’t need to spend that much money to win this race, maybe,” Jones said. “But Steve Morgan was in second place four years ago and Bill Schappell took it for granted.”
Jones also won the March primary convincingly by collecting 41.5% of the vote while Morgan finished second with 22.1% of the vote to earn a runoff in Tuesday’s election.
Jones has brought in nearly $160,000, including $100,000 from former Shasta County winery owner Reverge Anselmo and $20,000 from Win-River Casino and the Redding Rancheria. The contribution from Anselmo is believed to be the largest single campaign donation ever in local politics.
“I don’t know of any local city or county candidate that has ever received that much money,” Kent Dagg, former CEO of the Shasta Builders' Exchange who’s been active in local politics for decades, told the Record Searchlight in August. “That is the largest sum for a local race, city or county, probably for all of Northern California.”
Dagg has endorsed Morgan in the race.
Top donors for Morgan include the Redding Chamber of Commerce ($2,500), Wallner Enterprises ($3,000), Operating Engineers Local Union 3 District 70 ($2,500) and Sierra Pacific Industries ($1,995).
Jones has spent his money on TV and radio spots, mailers and digital advertising.
“He’s not reaching his voters,” Jones said of Morgan. “I have five different radio messages, two different TV messages. … We’ve just ran a better campaign, well-financed. Obviously, it doesn’t do any good leaving half the money behind.”
Morgan counters that he is running a grass-roots campaign that has brought in over $50,000 from business and community leaders that include current Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini and retired Shasta County Sheriffs Tom Bosenko and Jim Pope.
"We spent a ton of time and committed our efforts throughout District 4 — to listen, learn and garner support from east Redding to Shasta Lake, Mountain Gate to Castella," Morgan said in an email.
He also is endorsed by former and current county supervisors, including District 5 Supervisors Les Baugh, who ironically, like Jones, is skeptical of the state declaring COVID-19 an emergency and believes Shasta County should be allowed to open up.
It was at the behest of Baugh that last Thursday’s special meeting to discuss opting out of the state’s COVID-19 colored-tier system was held. Ultimately, the county decided not to opt out.
“I am humbled by the outpouring of support and financial contributions received by local families, individuals and local businesses to date,” Morgan said.
Referring to Anselmo’s $100,000 donation to Jones’ campaign, Morgan said he would “never accept a contribution of that size from a special interest group and abandon my principles.”
Though Anselmo no longer lives in Shasta County, Jones has said the businessman still cares about the North State.
“That type of money obviously makes a statement here,” Jones told the Record Searchlight in August. “He is a friend of mine, a good friend of mine.”
David Benda covers business, development and anything else that comes up for the USA TODAY Network in Redding. He also writes the weekly "Buzz on the Street" column. He’s part of a team of dedicated reporters that investigate wrongdoing, cover breaking news and tell other stories about your community. Reach him on Twitter @DavidBenda_RS or by phone at 1-530-225-8219. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.