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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Pakootas, McMorris Rodgers take to airwaves to make their case

Joe Pakootas (right) is challenging Cathy McMorris-Rodgers for the 5th Congressional District seat. (The Spokesman-Review)
Joe Pakootas (right) is challenging Cathy McMorris-Rodgers for the 5th Congressional District seat. (The Spokesman-Review)

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and her Democratic challenger, Joe Pakootas, have taken their rematch contest to the airwaves. 

Both Pakootas and McMorris Rodgers have launched TV campaigns in Spokane as ballots are reaching mailboxes. Pakootas, in a strategy taken by many Democrats vying for Congress, ties McMorris Rodgers to Donald Trump in his ad, calling on the fourth-ranking House Republican to repudiate the presidential candidate for his words about and treatment of women. McMorris Rodgers has condemned Trump’s treatment of women, but will vote for him, she says.

The ad "Unfit to Serve" uses national headlines tying McMorris Rodgers to Trump and a soundless excerpt from the bombshell "Access Hollywood" video where Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women before showing Pakootas visiting with construction workers and a family on the front porch of a home.

The ad concludes with Pakootas delivering the standard, "I approve this message" disclaimer, followed by a shake of the head. 

McMorris Rodgers has produced multiple TV spots focusing on her narrative of wresting local control from the federal bureaucracy. In a particularly stark departure from this tack, a more recent ad promotes the congresswoman as the only choice to protect the country from “radical Islamic terror.”

“She’s leading the fight to rebuild our military, at Fairchild, and around the world,” a narrator says, with images of American military forces in the background. The ad is titled “The Homeland.”

McMorris Rodgers maintained her commanding lead in fundraising following the release of the most recent Federal Election Commission financial filings in the race. The congresswoman’s receipts this election cycle total close to $3 million, and she’s spent all but $184,859 of that. That includes more than $50,000 on TV campaign ads.

Pakootas has raised $276,082, up slightly from the $202,000 he raised in his unsuccessful 2014 campaign. He’s done so without the backing of the state or national Democratic Parties, but that’s typical, said Spokane County Democratic Chairman Jim CastroLang. The FEC filings showing how much Pakootas spent on his TV ads were not available as of Friday afternoon. He spent $39,000 on televised ads for the 2014 general election. 

“I think it’s just a factor of how the system works,” CastroLang said. “We’re doing everything we can. We think we have a great grassroots campaign.”

Kip Hill
Kip Hill joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the City Desk, covering the marijuana industry, local politics and breaking news. He previously hosted the newspaper's podcast.

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