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The battle for the 16th Senate District seat abandoned by Michael Rubio, culminating in today's election, has been a costly one.

A huge influx of money has accompanied the the race's waning days. Between July 8 and today, just over $600,000 poured into Democrat Leticia Perez's coffers, while Republican Andy Vidak drew an additional $432,965 in the same period.

That comes on top of more than $3 million that had already flowed into the race. According to filings with the California Secretary of State, Vidak's campaign committee garnered $1,549,966 between the start of the year and July 6. Perez eclipsed that total, pulling in $1,845,777 in the same period.

If that amount of money seems disproportionate to an obscure Senate seat in the Central Valley, a look at the Democratic and Republican campaign machines gives a sense of the importance the race has assumed. A Vidak win would complicate life for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who would need every Democratic senator's vote for a two-thirds majority.

Before July 8, the Democratic State Central Committee of California had already expended more than $1.1 million on getting Perez elected; since then, the Democratic party has given more than $288,000 to the Perez campaign.

Keenly aware of the significance of picking up Rubio's old seat, the Republican Party has also invested heavily in the race. The California Republican Party spent more than $450,000 on Vidak before July 8 and more than $189,000 in the intervening days. That comes on top of contributions from other arms of the Republican Party, including $80,000 from the San Luis Obispo County Central Committee in the last two weeks.

Then there are the independent expenditures. Independent groups -- both labor-funded committees and entities that draw cash from a wide variety of industries, from energy firms to insurance companies to biotechnology firms -- have spent more than $1 million in support of Perez.

As we've covered, the California Association of Realtors has lavished its support on Vidak via its independent expenditure committee.

But a closer look reveals something interesting: the real estate industry has also been a benefactor of Californians for Good Schools and Good Jobs, a group that has spent more than $650,000 on behalf of Perez. Records show that the California Real Estate Independent Expenditure Committee has put $150,000 into Californians for Good Schools and Good Jobs in 2013.

PHOTO: Voters including cast their ballots at the polling place at El Dorado County Senior Center in El Dorado Hills on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton.


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