Whatever happens in the Election Day shakeup of Irvine City Council, one thing seems certain: Incumbent Larry Agran’s race for a council seat is looking like it will be less expensive than his past runs.

Agran raised nearly $175,000 on the way to victory in 2008.

Agran’s financial disclosure statements for this election cycle tell a different story. Agran’s campaign committee had received $38,359 as of Sept. 30, according to his most recent campaign disclosure statement. Agran lent $28,000 of that to himself.

By the same filing deadline in 2008’s council election, Agran’s campaign committee received more than twice that amount — $89,291. At this time in 2004, he took in $83,753 in campaign cash.

So why is this so? It’s a bit complicated.

A big reason is that there just isn’t as much special interest money flowing as in years past. This is especially true in a place like Irvine, where developers typically donate large amounts of cash, said Republican pollster Adam Probolsky.

Development has petered in stride with the sluggish economy, and so have contributions from developers.

While Irvine does have big development plans over the next couple of decades — like the plan to add 6,000 new residential units at the Irvine Business Complex — Probolsky says that won’t translate into development for at least a couple of years.

“The vision plan is a neat document, but the idea that someone’s going to be pulling permits [soon] and building there is a lark,” Probolsky said.

Probolsky also notes that contributions to candidate campaigns can be an artificial measure of campaign strength. The city imposes a $440 contribution limit, and in years past, the heavy campaign financing was done through independent expenditure committees.

Stay tuned for a rundown of this year’s slate mailer reports.


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