GOP lags in fundraising in race for 10th District

filings: Candidates raise, borrow more in final days leading to Aug. 7 primary

bshannon@theolympian.comJuly 17, 2012 

Republicans running in Washington’s 10th Congressional District lagged in fundraising over the last three months, and one candidate borrowed another $100,000 last month from a Beverly Hills firm just ahead of the Aug. 7 primary, new Federal Election Commission reports show.

Stan Flemming, the GOP physician and retired general from University Place, reported raising just $18,765 in new contributions in the April-to-June period and $38,867 since entering the race late last year. That is according to new reports filed Sunday at the FEC.

Flemming has now borrowed $200,700 from Spanky’s LLC, a California firm that, according to Flemming, gives loans to candidates as part of its course of business. The loans are unsecured and carry an 8 percent interest rate, but helped Flemming boost his campaign funds total to $243,817.

Dick Muri, the other Republican in the race, raised $26,383 in the three-month period, bringing his total receipts to $160,757 – with about $37,153 cash on hand for the primary campaign’s final days. That puts him at a disadvantage in the primary if Flemming, who has almost $225,000 cash on hand, uses it for advertising, which his campaign hints is coming.

If money proves to be an advantage in the three weeks before the primary, Democratic Party candidate Denny Heck of Olympia is best positioned with $1.09 million cash on hand at the end of June. Heck, who reports raising $1.33 million including $100,000 out of his own pocket, spent some of that over the weekend on mailers that went to most parts of the 10th District.

The state’s newest congressional district runs from Shelton down to Olympia and Thurston County, then north to University Place and Puyallup.

Heck’s campaign spokesman Phil Gardner said the Democrat’s fundraising is simply a “reflection of the grass-roots support” Heck has from people that like his message about jobs. Almost $813,000 of Heck’s money is reported from individuals, but the largest donations are from political committees – many in Washington, D.C., FEC records say.

Gardner said 90 percent of donations are from individuals.

Three other candidates are running. Sue Gunn, a Progressive Independent from Olympia, is running – in part – against the prominent role of money in politics. She reported raising $3,855 and had $1,991 cash on hand. Gunn has started putting up campaign signs.

FEC information was not yet uploaded for Democrat Jennifer Ferguson of University Place and independent Steve Hannon of Yelm, who also is campaigning against the influence of money in Congress.

Muri’s campaign put out a statement that said he “is proud to be running a debt-free campaign, funded by local donors. We have confidence that Dick will win the primary, and that his record of bipartisan success on the Pierce County Council will more than make up for Heck’s sizable war chest.”

Flemming wrote in response to a reporter’s questions that the loan terms are better than what one could get from a bank as a first-time candidate.

“Spanky LLC is in the business of loaning money to a variety of projects and does this every day. This is nothing out of the ordinary for them and in fact probably is more ordinary than some of their projects. The FEC has this information and this loan meets all of their requirements,” Flemming said.

Flemming also said fundraising is a challenge this year with the slow economy and campaigns for president and governor. “People don’t have the cash that they’ve had in the past to put in to all of these campaigns. Raising money has been difficult,” he said. “The Republican Party, unlike the Democratic Party, doesn’t get involved in primary races, so it’s very difficult to compete.”

Flemming did not give specifics about where he is spending his funds but said Internet messaging is not enough to win.

Flemming also announced over the weekend that he has won endorsements from three California congressmen who deal with defense and military policy. They were Rep. Duncan Hunter, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Ed Royce of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who sits on the foreign affairs committee.

Heck campaign manager Hart Edmonson said they plan more mailers before the primary but he declined to say if television and radio are also planned. In the mailer sent to most areas of the district on the weekend, Heck pledged to work “on something the tea party has shown no interest in – creating jobs for the middle class and those working to get into it.’’

Heck has lent his campaign $100,000 from his personal wealth. FEC reports show he is listing $350,000 in debts – including $250,000 that he lent his 3rd District congressional campaign in 2010 and another $25,000 owed to Global Strategy Group in New York for opinion research. 360-753-1688 @BradShannon2

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