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Incumbents dominate fundraising in Washington, Idaho congressional races

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers speaks during a ceremony in February 2020. The Congresswoman is among Northwest incumbents who have raised much more money than political challengers so far during this election cycle.  (TYLER TJOMSLAND)
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers speaks during a ceremony in February 2020. The Congresswoman is among Northwest incumbents who have raised much more money than political challengers so far during this election cycle. (TYLER TJOMSLAND)

WASHINGTON – Fundraising in races for Congress in Washington and Idaho has so far been dominated by incumbents, campaign finance disclosures filed Friday show, with few competitive races drawing the major outside spending seen in other parts of the country.

Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission covering fundraising and campaign spending in the first quarter of 2022 reflect a campaign map with few competitive races in either state. Only Washington’s 8th district – which spans the Cascades from Wenatchee and Ellensburg to the suburbs of Tacoma, Seattle and Everett – appears winnable by either party. Meanwhile, two Republican incumbents face challengers from within their own party backed by former President Donald Trump.

In the race for Eastern Washington’s solidly red 5th district, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, had raised nearly $3.6 million and had about $2.7 million on hand after spending just shy of $2 million. Almost $1.4 million of her fundraising came from individual contributions, which are capped at $2,900 for each of the primary and general elections. About $1.8 million came from political action committees, or PACs, and roughly $413,000 from her joint fundraising committee, the Win the Future Fund.

Her two Democratic challengers, Ann Marie Danimus and Natasha Hill, both trailed McMorris Rodgers by a wide margin in fundraising and spending. Danimus had raised nearly $110,000 and spent about $100,000, while Hill had raised over $77,000 and spent nearly $52,000.

In Central Washington’s 4th district, Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, had raised roughly $1.2 million, more than all six of his opponents combined, and had about $928,000 on hand after spending over $574,000 in the first three months of the year. About half of his fundraising came from individual donors and half from political action committees, with several agricultural industry PACs making the maximum contribution of $5,000.

Loren Culp, the former Republic police chief who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2020, is one of five Republicans aiming to replace Newhouse after the four-term congressman was one of 10 GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. While Culp received Trump’s endorsement in February, his fundraising has so far lagged behind fellow Republican Jerrod Sessler, a former NASCAR driver, and Yakima businessman Doug White, the sole Democrat in the race.

Culp reported raising more than $191,000 – virtually all from individual donors – and spending nearly $168,000, with about $23,000 on hand. Most of his fundraising has come in the form of contributions of $500 or less, while a few donors gave the maximum of $2,900, including billionaire Peter Thiel.

Sessler has largely self-financed his run so far, with most of the $444,000 he had raised coming from a $351,000 loan he made to his own campaign. He had roughly $147,000 on hand after spending more than $302,000.

Nearly all of the roughly $231,000 raised by White has come from individual donations, most of them under $500. The remainder, about $6,000, came from the campaign accounts of Democrats Doug McKinley, who lost to Newhouse in 2020, and Lisa Brown, the director of the Washington State Commerce Department who ran unsuccessfully against McMorris Rodgers in 2018.

Three other GOP candidates challenging Newhouse trail far behind in fundraising. State Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, had raised about $23,000 and spent more than $18,000. Corey Gibson, who lives in Selah and runs a marketing firm, had spent nearly all of the $36,000 he had raised. Benancio Garcia III, an Army veteran from Sunnyside, reported no fundraising or expenditures.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican who has represented southwest Washington’s 3rd district since 2011, also drew a Trump-endorsed challenger – former Green Beret Joe Kent – after voting to impeach the then-president in January 2021. Herrera Beutler reported raising more than $2.8 million and spending over $936,000, with just over $2 million on hand. Individual contributions accounted for more than $1.6 million of her fundraising, with about $1.2 million from PACs.

By the end of the first quarter of 2022, Kent had raised more than $1.8 million, including nearly $1.5 million from individual donors. He had also made $205,000 in loans to his own campaign and received about $120,000 from PACs.

Heidi St. John, an author and motivational speaker also running as a Republican, had raised about $808,000 and had nearly $283,000 on hand after spending about $525,000. Democrats Brent Hennrich and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez had raised about $77,000 and $67,000, respectively. Republican Leslie French had raised about $70,000 and four other candidates all had less than $5,000 on hand.

In Washington’s 8th district, the only congressional district in either Washington or Idaho that doesn’t lean heavily in either party’s favor, Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Sammamish, had raised nearly $4.2 million to fend off five challengers. Schrier reported more than $3.4 million in individual donations along with about $645,000 from PACs.

Her three leading challengers, all Republicans, were neck and neck in fundraising at the end of the first quarter. Jesse Jensen, an Army Ranger who ran unsuccessfully against Schrier in 2020, had raised about $816,000 and spent $401,000. Matt Larkin, an attorney who lost the race for Washington attorney general in 2020, had raised nearly $630,000 and spent $275,000. Reagan Dunn, a King County Council member, had raised more than $605,000 and spent $139,000.

With Schrier likely to get through the Aug. 2 primary, in which the top two finishers proceed to the general election, the top Republican is sure to receive an infusion of funds from the national GOP ahead of November.

The two senators up for re-election this year, Democrat Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Mike Crapo of Idaho, have handily out-raised and outspent their opponents. Unlike Crapo, however, Murray faces an opponent backed by major party figures, first-time Republican candidate Tiffany Smiley.

Murray reported raising more than $11.6 million and spending roughly $7.5 million, with nearly $7.9 million left on hand. Most of the veteran senator’s fundraising – more than $8.7 million – came from individual donors, with about $2.8 million from PACs.

Smiley, a former nurse and veterans advocate from Pasco, had received over $4.2 million, nearly all from individual contributions. She reported spending more than $1.7 million with over $2.4 million on hand. Of the eight other candidates running against Murray, all reported having less than $1,000 on hand.

In Idaho, Crapo had raised over $5.7 million and had nearly $6 million on hand after spending about $2.6 million. None of his nine challengers had raised more than $40,000 and the senator seemed poised to coast to a fifth term in office.

In Idaho’s 1st district, which includes North Idaho, GOP Rep. Russ Fulcher also appears to be gliding to reelection. He reported raising about $302,000 and spending $207,000 with $198,000 on hand, while all four of his opponents reported zero cash on hand.

The race for Idaho’s 2nd district, which covers most of Boise and the eastern half of the state, may be more competitive. Rep. Mike Simpson, a Republican who has held the office since 1999, reported raising just over $1 million and spending $591,000 with about $625,000 on hand. His challenger, attorney Bryan Smith, had raised about $640,000 and spent $311,000 with nearly $329,000 on hand. Neither of the two Democrats in the race reported raising or spending any money.

Washington’s top-two primary will be held Aug. 2, while Idaho’s primaries will take place May 17. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Orion Donovan-Smith's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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