A voter can tell quite a bit about a political candidate by their major financial supporters. That information is a matter of public record and is compiled, housed and free to look at on the state Public Disclosure Commission’s website, pdc.wa.gov.
As a local example, the wide-open 19th Legislative District for House Position 1 features Republican Jim Walsh of Aberdeen and Democrat Teresa Purcell of Longview. A look at their contributors shows major interest from their respective parties for an open seat.
The House Democratic Caucus Campaign Committee has contributed $80,000 to Purcell, while Walsh has received the same amount from the House Republican Organizational Committee. The seat has historically, at least in the past 30 years, been held mostly by Democrats. If Walsh were to win it, he would be the first Republican to hold that seat since Bob Williams, who had it from 1982 to 1988. Purcell has outpaced Walsh in contributions $187,573 to $121,521 and as of the latest reporting figures, spent nearly six times as much as Walsh during the campaign.
Walsh has reported contributions of $1,000 each from the National Rifle Association’s Victory Fund and a number of trucking and transportation, beverage distribution and real estate interests. Purcell reports $1,000 contributions from the Children’s Campaign Fund (a “nonpartisan child welfare” organization), Planned Parenthood Votes, legal reform organization Justice for All, Win with Women (associated with women’s and reproductive rights), and True Blue PAC (run by the Center for Responsive Politics, a D.C. organization that keeps tabs on money flow in politics and runs the website opensecrets.org).
The 19th District Position 2 state representative race shows the often wide margin in contributions favoring incumbents. Democrat Brian Blake holds the seat now and has reported $128,000-plus in contributions. His competitor, Republican Jimi O’Hagan, barely more than $1,000. The 19th District Senate race pits an incumbent Democrat, Dean Takko, against a Republican with no elected experience, Sue Kuehl Pederson. Contributions-wise Takko has taken in just under $103,000, Pederson just over $85,000, and their expenditures are about even. Takko’s contributions range from the NRA to the Washington Cannabusiness Association, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and health care and forest interests. Pederson’s list is much shorter; of the $85,000 she has reported she is the one who contributed $70,000 of it.
In the 24th District, both Democrats hold wide leads in contribution totals in the House races. In the position one race, Mike Chapman has raised more than $103,000, compared to Republican George Vrable’s $4,120. Steve Tharinger, an incumbent, has $100,000 more in contributions than Republican John Alger.
In the 24th District Senate race, Democrat Kevin Van De Wege has nearly twice the contributions claimed by Republican Danille Turissini, $116,622 to $65,844, yet the difference in spending, $68,188 and $59,514, is much smaller. The bulk of the funds raised by Turissini come from the Republican party and individual donors; Van De Wege’s from area tribes, corporations like Rayonier and Pfizer, and organizations like the Northwest Sportfishing Industry PAC and Potato PAC to go with his own private party contributions.
In the Grays Harbor County commissioner races only one candidate has raised more than $10,000 in reported contributions. Randy Ross, the challenger in District 2, claims $18,548 in money raised and has spent nearly $15,000 during the race. Incumbent Frank Gordon has raised less than $8,000 and spent less than $4,000 as of the latest reporting. Ross’ major contributors include Clements Construction, Coming Attractions Theatres, Olympia Master Builders’ Affordable Housing Council, Westport Seafoods and Quigg Bros. Construction. Gordon’s PDC report lists no individual contributors.
The District 1 race has incumbent Wes Cormier with less than $4,000 in contributions and challenger Jamie Nichols with a little under $5,000. Most reported contributions for both candidates are from individuals. Cormier has contributions from Grays Harbor County Republicans, a real estate broker, a nurse and a retired Coast Guard veteran. Nichols has reported contributions from Grays Harbor Democrats, the International Union of Operating Engineers and IBEW Labor Union 76, along with numerous individuals.