RICHMOND -- Defeating a penny-per-ounce ballot measure is worth millions to the beverage industry.
Less than one hour before the deadline for filing campaign finance disclosure forms, six of the 11 candidates for City Council had turned in their papers Friday.
But all their money combined was a pittance compared with the $2.2 million in campaign spending reported by the Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes, a campaign committee funded by the Washington D.C.-based American Beverage Association with the express purpose of defeating Measure N in November.
The City Council in May voted to put Measure N, which would require local businesses to pay a penny per ounce of sugar-sweetened beverage sales, on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The money has been used to hire a San Francisco-based public relations firm and saturate airwaves and street corners with advertising.
The pro-tax "Fit for Life" campaign reported $25,293 in spending thus far.
The six candidates who had reported as of 45 minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline were Mike Ali-Kinney, Gary Bell, Marilyn Langlois, Eduardo Martinez, Jael Myrick and Bea Roberson.
The top earner was Bell, who had $34,253 in contributions, mostly from businesses and other large donors. Langlois was not far behind, with $29,228, mostly from smaller donors who gave less than $500. Roberson and Martinez had also raised more than $20,000.
Incumbents Nat Bates and Tom Butt had not yet filed but are expected to have big war chests to hold their seats.
The six early reporting candidates have spent a combined $66,551 so far this season, or less than one-thirtieth of the spending by the beverage companies to defeat Measure N.