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Stuckart and Woodward find almost equal financial support, but in different places

Candidates for Mayor of the City of Spokane from left, Jonathan Bingle, Kelly P. Cruz, Shawn Poole, Ben Stuckart and Nadine Woodward talk about the issues during The League of Women Voters candidate forum at City Hall on Tuesday, June 5, 2019. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Candidates for Mayor of the City of Spokane from left, Jonathan Bingle, Kelly P. Cruz, Shawn Poole, Ben Stuckart and Nadine Woodward talk about the issues during The League of Women Voters candidate forum at City Hall on Tuesday, June 5, 2019. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Ben Stuckart and Nadine Woodward have raised – and spent – nearly the same amount of money in their campaigns for mayor.

Both describe their base of support as diverse, but criticize the source of the other’s funding as representing outside interests.

Woodward, a former television news anchor who has quickly risen to prominence in the campaign, and Stuckart, a two-term Spokane City Council president, have a decisive fundraising lead over the three other mayoral candidates – Shawn Poole, Jonathan Bingle and Kelly Cruz.

Stuckart has brought in about $156,200 in cash donations through July 31, in part by leaning on organized labor, individual donors and political advocacy groups for support throughout his campaign.

He’s received $2,000 donations from the political action committees of the Spokane Firefighters Union, the Washington Education Association, Ironworkers District Council of the PNW, and United Food and Commercial Workers.

But Stuckart notes that he has hundred of individual donors, as well.

“It’s a wide variety of support,” he said.

Woodward has backing from the business community, taking in cash from the Washington Association of Realtors, Associated Builders and Contractors, and Basalt Hospitality, the operator of the downtown Spokane Holiday Inn Express. She also has substantial support from individual donors.

Woodward raised about $149,800 thus far.

She describes grassroots-level support from many people who have never taken an interest in politics before.

“I have a broad-based appeal, just because of my involvement in the community and being here for 29 years,” Woodward said.

Although Woodward and Stuckart are neck and neck in fundraising, the former has received a boost from outside groups that have independently spent $137,000 in support of her campaign.

In addition to the $2,000 in support given directly to her campaign, Fritz and Katie Wolff have each given $27,500 to the Spokane Good Government Alliance political action committee, which already has spent $34,000 on ads supporting Woodward in the leadup to the primary. That’s on top of the $93,600 the Washington Association of Realtors PAC has reported in independent expenditures for Woodward.

Woodward said she has no control over who makes independent expenditures in support of her campaign, but noted that the PACs like the Spokane Good Government Alliance represent local interests.

“I have no control over how they spend that money or even how they message me as a candidate, and people don’t understand that,” Woodward said.

However, Woodward added that the independent expenditures have featured messaging that “has been pretty positive.”

Stuckart believes that the realtors’ investment in Woodward does not reflect the support of its local membership.

“I’m frustrated with the amount of independent expenditures,” Stuckart said. “It’s more than has ever been spent in a mayoral primary than ever before.”

Woodward criticized Stuckart for the support he has received from unions.

Though the City Council does not directly negotiate with unions, it does approve contracts. And while unions have donated to his campaign, Stuckart said “to think that would influence my decision-making is ludicrous.”

“We have a really responsible record that I’m running on, and you’ll never hear me say people should get raises that will bust our budget,” Stuckart said.

Poole, Bingle and Cruz have not amassed similar campaign chests.

Poole has raised $18,800, Bingle $12,600 and Cruz $2,050.

Woodward has dropped more than $28,100 on broadcast television advertisements between July 17 and July 26. She paid FPI Strategies an additional $8,000 for the production and editing of the spots.

Stuckart has not paid for any TV ads, but he has invested in campaign mailers and digital advertising.

In the race for Spokane City Council president, political newcomer Cindy Wendle has outraised and widely outspent her three opponents.

Wendle has raised $68,600 heading into the primary election, while the next closest candidate, Councilman Breean Beggs, has reported $56,800 in donations thus far.

The two have a substantial advantage over two other candidates, Councilman Mike Fagan and Phillip Tyler, former president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP. Fagan has reported about $13,600 in donations, while Tyler has brought in $7,800.

In addition to her fundraising lead, Wendle also has received outside support in the form of independent expenditures. The Washington Realtors political action committee has spent about $60,400 on campaign materials in support of Wendle, who is co-owner of the NorthTown Square shopping center.

A second group, the Concerned Taxpayers of Washington State, has independently spent $20,300 to back Wendle.

Excluding the independent expenditures made in support of her campaign, Wendle has outspent Beggs by a nearly two-to-one margin. She’s reported $57,600 in spending compared to Beggs’ $33,600.

Meanwhile, Fagan has spent $18,700 on the race thus far and Tyler $6,100.

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