Democratic candidate for governor Gary Locke is out-distancing GOP rival Ellen Craswell in fund raising, but he had to go out of state to do it.
Locke raised nearly $2 million during the campaign, state records show. He had about $64,895 in the bank as of Oct. 28, the latest filing date prior to the election.
Locke, the King County executive, had been trailing Craswell in contributions until he made a fund-raising swing through New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., last month.
Craswell has raised $1,603,818 in all, and had about $13,972 in the bank as of Oct. 28.
Most of her money came from small donations by thousands of individual contributors. “It’s Ellen’s Army versus Gary’s money,” said Kathy Mears, Craswell’s campaign press secretary.
The state parties have dumped large last-minute contributions into the race.
The state GOP has spent more than $300,000 on Craswell’s race, mostly for television ads attacking Locke.
Locke denounced the ads in a news release Thursday, claiming Craswell should have asked the state party to pull them.
One ad says Locke is planning to implement a state income tax. The other says Locke, a former deputy prosecutor, is soft on crime. He denies both.
Democrats spent $95,792 on television ads for Locke and $40,385 on mailings.
Spending on the governor’s race has remained slightly below what the candidates spent four years ago.
Governor Mike Lowry spent just $282,765 less than Locke has by now. That was four years ago, and Lowry set a self-imposed limit of $1,500 on contributions, lower than the statewide limits in place today.
State GOP Chairman Ken Eikenberry, Lowry’s opponent in 1992, spent $1,988,900 on his losing race. That’s considerably more than Craswell has raised by now.
New campaign finance limits are in effect this election cycle, but they are easily circumvented by businesses or other donors who want to legally spend as much as they like.
All they have to do is run a so-called independent expenditure campaign, in which the money is spent to help a candidate without that candidate being involved in any way.
Business groups that are usually big players in political campaigns said weeks ago they would probably sit out the governor’s race, out of concern that Craswell could not win.
Most anticipated they would put money into congressional campaigns and the Legislature instead, where Republicans hope to capture the state Senate and hold onto their majority in the House.
The Building Industry Association and United for Washington, two of the state’s most active business groups in political campaigns, dumped $250,000 into a mailing blitz this week targeted at state legislative races.
The builder’s group also helped Craswell raise about $20,000 by holding four fundraisers for her, including one at the Ridpath Hotel that generated about $5,000 for the candidate.
Unions, meanwhile, have flooded congressional campaigns with cash to elect Democrats to office.
“We’re pikers compared to them,” said Tom McCabe of the builder’s group. “Peons. Insignificant.
“They’ve poured an ocean of money into these races and it’s working. Democrats are going to turn out to vote and they are going to vote against Republicans all the way down the ballot.”
Unions have spent a total of $1.5 million on “voter education” in the 1st, 9th, and 5th congressional districts, according to the national office of the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C.
Democratic challenger Judy Olson has received generous last-minute contributions from out-of-state union political action committees in her race against U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt, state records show.
The letter carriers’ union in Washington, D.C., gave $5,000 to her campaign this week, and the United Auto Workers of Detroit sent her campaign a check for $5,000.
The Communication Workers of America political action committee in Washington, D.C., sent Olson $5,000, and the Amalgamated Transit Union sent $1,000.
Nethercutt received some last-minute help from business, including $4,832 from the National Federation of Independent Business and $2,000 from BuildPAC, a builders’ political action group in Washington, D.C.
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