OLYMPIA – Close races mean big spending, and Washington’s gubernatorial race is no exception.
Along with candidates Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee, who have a combined total of $18 million with one month left to raise and spend, outside groups have kicked in another $12 million thus far.
The main sources of independent money are the Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association. These are not, as the casual observer might surmise, subdivisions of the National Governors Association, an organization which arranges regular meetings at which state chief executives can, in the words of Oz, hobnob with their fellow wizards.
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The RGA and DGA are political groups that raise and spend money, one might say lavishly, in pursuit of keeping a governor’s mansion in their hands, or wresting it from the other side. They are likely to be the source of the hardest-hitting commercials and mailers that will grace Washington this season, giving the candidates themselves somewhat implausible deniability of the nasty things being said.
The RGA has set up the Republican Governors Association Washington PAC, into which it has poured almost $6.9 million. The DGA has pumped $3 million into a PAC calling itself Our Washington which could be deemed a misnomer. Considering nearly three-fourths of the group’s $6 million comes from outside the state, one wonders about the use of that first-person pronoun.
Our Washington described itself in a press release last week as “a coalition representing more than 500,000 Washington state voters and their families.” Pressed for details, a spokesman for the PAC said that includes teachers, nurses, health care professionals and public employees, but conceded the half million figure might be a bit squishy.
Most money from within the state comes not from individuals but from unions that represent some of those aforementioned groups.