ASSEMBLYMAN Jared Huffman is starting his re-election campaign with a warchest of $238,649 - and he's not apologizing for taking money from any of his donors.

"Coakley left herself wide open," said Huffman, referring to the onetime sure-thing Democrat who lost her bid to succeed the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Huffman says his campaign treasury shows he's not taking any chances.

In 2008, he won re-election with 71.5 percent of the vote. Even after using a lot of his funds to help other Democratic candidates, he still reported he had $125,000 left over.

He's already given the California Democratic Party another $45,000 off the top of his 2010 fund.

His latest list of donors includes labor groups, powerful corporations and some businesses that have generated local political opposition.

He received $7,800 from the California Medical Association, $5,000 from the California State Council of Laborers, $3,900 from WalMart and $2,200 from the California Tribal Business Alliance State Candidate PAC, $1,900 from Waste Management, owners of Redwood Sanitary Landfill north of Novato, and $1,500 from Veolia Water, the private company whose contract to run Novato's new sewer plant has stirred up a political battle in Novato.

He also got $1,900 from PG&E.

"Look at my votes; I go against those people every other day," Huffman said.

Huffman has one of the lowest pro-business voting records in the California Chamber of Commerce's annual rankings. He gets top scores from labor and he's among Sacramento's "greenest" lawmakers, according to environmental groups.


As far as PG&E, he battled the power giant to win approval of his bill that will give household solar- and wind-power systems credit for the surplus energy they generate.

Huffman, who touts his expertise in environmental and power issues, also has carefully and noticeably steered clear from taking sides in PG&E's battle with Marin's controversial formation of a local public power agency.

Bob Stephens of San Rafael, a retired television executive, is running to be Huffman's Republican challenger. Making his first run for political office, he's starting from scratch.

"I want to be Brown," he said, referring to the little-known Republican lawmaker Scott Brown, who rode a wave of voter frustration with Democratic leadership to Massachusetts' Senate seat.

"I'm not going to get anywhere near what he's got," Stephens said of Huffman's campaign treasury. "It's a story of David and Goliath and I'm playing David."


U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina's appearance in Marin on Friday is creating a little dust-up among Marin Republicans. Some complained that making the former Hewlett-Packard CEO the headliner at the party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner is unfair to her GOP rivals.

Backers of Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, an Orange County conservative, weren't thrilled, claiming it gives the "impression" that the local party backs Fiorina.

Local party leaders who are organizing the event countered that DeVore has had three appearances in Marin and Sonoma. This is Fiorina's first. Also, they stress, her appearance is a fundraiser for the local party, not her campaign.

It's also not an endorsement, they say.

"It's all coming to us," said local GOP chairwoman Sashi McEntee of Mill Valley.

The event will be at the Marin Country Club in Novato.

Look for Brad Breithaupt's All About Marin column here on Wednesdays.