PALM SPRINGS – Sen. Jeff Stone, the Republican lawmaker representing District 28, has something that is difficult for any first-time candidate to buy: Name recognition.
Is he banking on that well-known name, so ingrained in constituents’ heads, to win in November and taking victory for granted?
Sen. Stone, a pharmacist from Temecula, was first elected to the state Senate in 2014. Before that, he garnered widespread name recognition by serving on the Temecula City Council, as Mayor and on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.
“Absolutely not … Sen. Stone is not taking his race for granted,” Andre Levesque, spokesperson for Stone’s campaign told Uken Report. “He is out in the community meeting with groups, organizations and individuals, in addition to doing his job as a State Senator helping people around the 28th Senate District. Session ended just over a week ago, and he was busy doing his job of standing up for taxpayers, crime victims and the people of Riverside County. You may have noticed signs being placed around the district and he is continuing to attend events across the district.”
Residents in the 28th state Senate District reports seeing a crop of Stone signs in the district in high-profile places. They report an absence of Silver signs at this point.
Others suggest that Stone is absolutely taking a victory for granted.
“I can’t speak to where (Stone’s) heart is” Greg Rodriguez, a Democratic political consultant, told Uken Report. “But just in my observations and watching other incumbents in the past, that’s my feeling. He just thinks that (Joy Silver) has no chance. So, he’s just not worried about it.”
Sen. Stone appreciates people who put themselves into the public arena to run for political office, and he is certainly taking her candidacy seriously, Levesque said. “We have an aggressive campaign, and we are confident the voters will know the records of both candidates by the time they cast their votes for this race.
Results from the June 5 Primary could give Stone a feeling of confidence. He grabbed 56 percent of the vote, 89,426 votes, in a three-way race. Silver pulled in 35 percent, or 55,312 votes.
Indications Sen. Stone might be taking victory for granted could also be inferred from financial disclosure documents, his opponents contend. The continue to point to his lack of fundraising.
Between May 20, 2018 and June 30, 2018, Joy Silver, the Democratic nominee looking to unseat Stone in November, raised $71,760 in contributions. Stone reported contributions of $13,650 for the same period. Through the first six months of 2018, Silver spent $228,092 compared with Stone’s $160,485 for the same period, according to finance disclosure documents.
Sen. Stone has the necessary funds to run an aggressive campaign, Levesque said.
“While true that his opponent has raised a significant amount, it seems clear that much of that money has gone to fundraising costs and consultants,” Levesque said. “I hope she has enough left over when the campaign is over to pay herself back the loans she’s made to her campaign to make it look like she’s raised more than she has.”
Silver has spent more than $80,000 on political consultants, according to her financial disclosure statements. Silver has also loaned her campaign $50,000, according to finance disclosure statements.
“Joy Silver’s fundraising is going great,” said Dan Rottenstreich, a campaign spokesman. “She’s outraised the sitting incumbent at every juncture in this campaign, which is unheard of, and underscores how sick and tired Riverside voters are of Jeff Stone’s right-wing extremism and political self-dealing.”
Based purely on numbers, Republicans have the edge. As of Aug. 20, the most current data available, there are more registered Republicans, 158,560, in the 28th Senate District than Democrats, 147,220, according to the Riverside County Registrar of voters.
The expansive 28th District, which is entirely in Riverside County, stretches from the vineyards of the Temecula Valley to the Colorado River and includes the cities of Blythe, Canyon Lake, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, Lake Elsinore, La Quinta, Murrieta, Temecula, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, and Wildomar.