In the 12 days before the April 2 election, Councilman Zareh Sinanyan ran from fundraiser to fundraiser, bolstering his campaign war chest. Even though he canceled three fundraisers, he raised more than $18,000 in the roughly two week stretch, boosting his contributions to $88,942.72 by election day.
By the latest campaign disclosure period on July 31, which marked the first public disclosure of post-March 21 fundraising, he kicked up his totals to $93,192.72.
He's not the only candidate who banked big contributions just days before the election, but he gained the most.
"I knew that I would need to raise more money than the incumbents because they have a natural advantage," Sinanyan said during an interview this week.
And he did — despite a controversy that cropped up just weeks before the election about vulgar, sexist and racist comments mostly about Armenia's geopolitical enemies that he posted on YouTube and other websites years ago.
Sinanyan waited until after his seat on the dais was secure before he admitted to writing the comments.
But the controversy didn't deflate his monetary support, not did it curtail the chances of his reelected, incumbent competitors, Council members Laura Friedman and Ara Najarian. During the campaign, the two placed a discussion on the council agenda about removing Sinanyan from a city commission because of the comments.
Najarian ended up raising $16,699 in the 12 days before the election, increasing his election-day haul to $81,074. By July 31, he'd raise $84,274.
Friedman had less of a final fundraising boost just before the election, but she still had money flow in. She netted an additional $8,452, bringing her contributions to $54,764 by the day she raked in the second-highest number of votes. Najarian came in first, Sinanyan third.
By July 31, Friedman raised just a tad more money, generating $55,064.
Lori Cox Han, a political scientist professor at Chapman University, said the last-minute rush of contributions is typical, especially in a local race where a small donation can make a big difference..
"This crunch time is also when donors can feel as if they can make a big difference in who wins or loses, so motivation to donate can be higher than when the election is still months away," Cox Han said.
Jaime Regalado, a political analyst, agreed, adding that those who had large campaign war chests all along would benefit most from eleventh-hour donations.
"Everybody likes a front runner," Regalado said, speaking of both donors and voters.
But sometimes, even those with low earnings but a big reputation, can see a last-minute splash of cash.
City Treasurer Rafi Manoukian had raised just $2,100 and spent $12,965 by March 21. But with one fundraiser he netted enough to wipe away the debt of his "No on Measure A" committee. The lone candidate for treasurer wasn't raising money for himself, but rather a campaign against a measure that would make the post an appointed rather than elected position.
By election day he made $24,590. As of July 31, he'd raised $24,840.65.
Manoukian said even before the fundraiser, he knew he'd get the money he needed. He's been in the political game in Glendale for about a decade, serving on the council before becoming treasurer. He raised $146,712 by July 31, 2007 for a council race that year, which he eventually lost, but he came back in 2011 with about $54,000 in the bank and successfully reclaimed his seat on the dais.
Despite big earnings, some candidates still have debts to pay. Sinanyan said he plans a bit more fundraising to cover the roughly $5,400 gap between his contributions and expenditures.
"I'll raise the money before November," he said.
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