OLYMPIA, July 10.—The fund-raising horse-race seemed to enter the turn in June as the two leading candidates for governor pulled neck and neck. According to reports filed at the state Public Disclosure Commission, Democrat Jay Inslee maintains the fund-raising lead over Republican Rob McKenna — but it’s about as close as it comes.
Between them, the two candidates have raised more than $13 million. And Inslee is out in front by a grand total of $1,156.74.
The backstory here, of course, is that Attorney General McKenna is catching up after a four-and-a-half-month fund-raising freeze that prevented him from raising money while the Legislature was in session. The prohibition applied to him, because he is a statewide elected official. The rule didn’t apply to Inslee, a former congressman.
And while McKenna has relied almost entirely on contributions from individual donors, Inslee has been getting big donations nearly every month from the state Democratic Party – some $865,000 in cash so far, and more than that when the party’s non-cash contributions are considered. During the month of May, Inslee got $130,000 from the state party, enough to put him over the top. But not by much.
Actually, the astounding thing at this point is that the overall numbers are pretty much exactly the same. Inslee has raised a total of $6,667,612.52. McKenna has raised $6,676,455.78.
During all the months when McKenna was out-raising Inslee – that is, the months that he was allowed to raise money – the Inslee campaign always countered that the Democrat had a cash-on-hand advantage, and maintained that fact was significant. But those numbers look pretty much the same now, too. Inslee has $2,604,807 left to spend. McKenna has $2,601,871.
One point worth noting — earlier in the cycle, candidates were reporting monthly performance on the 10th day of the following month, and so it was easy to compare progress month by month. But now that the primary is approaching, campaigns report contributions weekly, on Mondays. Last week’s reports would not have reflected the full month of June, however, because campaigns report contributions after money is deposited, not when it is received, and a lagtime of a few days for deposits is permissible. But that also means a few contributions from the first week of July are included in the latest numbers. Meanwhile, the cash-on-hand numbers are based on reports filed last month and certainly are a bit out of date by now. Updated C-4 expenditure reports are due July 17.
Where has all that money been going? According to the reports, in both cases, the fund-raising has paid for enormous enterprises involving staff, consultants, direct mail, telemarketing, postage, signs, polls, web design, and event catering. What we don’t see yet are the big expenses for TV airtime that can be expected in the weeks ahead as ad-buying season begins. The next expenditure reports will be where the ad buys start showing up. Stay tuned.
Independent Campaign for Inslee
That’s not all the money that’s going to be spent on this year’s campaign, of course. Democratic interests are raising money for an independent campaign for Inslee, “Our Washington,” which last month reserved $3.2 million in TV time through the public affairs firm GMMB. So far the PDC reports show that the campaign has raised $1.28 million, meaning there must be more money where that came from.
That money is coming from the Washington Education Association, the Democratic Governors Association, the Service Employees International Union, the Washington Federation of State Employees, the state Labor Council’s DIME PAC, and the Justice for All PAC, which covers the state’s trial lawyers.
So far there really isn’t a parallel committee on the Republican side.
A TV First
Inslee is the first on the air with a 60-second TV ad that began airing statewide Sunday morning – a soft, positive message that touts his background as a congressman who represented both sides of the Cascades. “Jay was one of the few who voted against the Wall Street bailout and the war in Iraq,” it says.
Because it began airing after the first of the month, the cost of the ad buy may not be reflected in the monthly expense reports that are soon to be filed.