As the beginning of filing week, today marks the official starting gun to campaign season, but anyone just now showing up risks being lapped. Hundreds of Washington candidates have been shaking hands and pocketing checks for months, a few for years.
Between them, Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert and his Democratic opponent, Suzan DelBene, have raised more than $2.6 million. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray collected more than $10 million as she waited for Republicans to sort out who would challenge her.
There still could be surprises this week, as candidates send in paperwork to put their names on the Aug. 17 and Nov. 2 ballots. The deadline is Friday for anyone still wrestling with a decision.
One last-minute shakeup came Friday as Marilyn Rasmussen, the Democrat from Eatonville unseated in 2008 after 22 years as a state legislator, announced she would try a political comeback. She’ll challenge Republican state Rep. Jim McCune of Graham, whose only other Democratic opponent withdrew Thursday.
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“There are so many things left undone in Olympia,” Rasmussen said.
For down-to-the-wire drama, look no further than the biggest race on the ballot, the one for Murray’s seat. It took shape only in recent weeks, as former state Sen. Dino Rossi announced his bid and some of his fellow Republicans thought better of running.
Pent-up support for Rossi helped him collect $600,000 in contributions in his first week in the race. It vaulted him over all other candidates in the money chase, but he’ll need more of the same to catch up to Murray’s head start in a race that’s popped up on the national radar screen.
Among other Republicans, Eastern Washington farmer and former football player Clint Didier had raised $351,000 through March, while Bellingham businessman Paul Akers had $276,000, mostly from the personal fortune built partly on his invention of an adhesive cap for screws.
Akers said he would spend “whatever it takes” in the campaign.
“We actually don’t even try to fundraise,” he said. “Obviously I’m pretty well off, and it’s not a major issue for us.” Not that he turns away checks, he said, but he’s uncomfortable begging for them: “I’ve never asked for anything in my life.”
STATE MONEY RACE
Some state candidates, too, are coming into filing week with plenty of money already in the bank.
Two Republicans, one a longtime incumbent with an independent streak and the other a newcomer who nonetheless has the backing of top leaders in the party, could provide one of the biggest-spending showdowns.
Rep. Tom Campbell, a former Democrat, doesn’t caucus privately with either party, leaving some Republicans wanting a more dependable vote. JT Wilcox, the former chief financial officer for his family’s Wilcox Farms, is challenging him in the 2nd Legislative District, the same area McCune represents.
Campbell has raised $67,000, with help from doctors’ and lawyers’ groups. He stands to benefit from union money after the state’s biggest labor group endorsed him. Wilcox has received $71,000, with help from pharmaceutical and agricultural companies. He is endorsed by the state’s Chamber of Commerce.
“Essentially the business groups are trying to buy this one,” Campbell said. As for his own contributors: “I always have money from both unions and businesses,” he said. “If you put them all in the (same) room, there would be blood.”
Wilcox said his support is widespread: “There’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 460 individual contributions,” he said. “I’m real proud of that. It wasn’t due to a few industries.”
The biggest fundraisers among legislative candidates include Democratic Sen. Chris Marr of Spokane, raising $184,000 so far; Gregg Bennett, a Republican challenger from Bellevue who has raised $180,000; and Democratic Sen. Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor, with $165,000.
No gap between opponents’ fundraising is wider than the one between Kilmer and Republican challenger Marty McClendon, who has raised $450.
“Obviously we’re behind financially,” said McClendon, a real estate broker, “but we’re going to beat him by going door-to-door, talking to businesses and talking to people.”
Kilmer has been doing the same thing since the legislative session ended. He hasn’t spent much of his big war chest.
“What I’ve been spending most of my time doing is going out and listening to people,” he said.
Jordan Schrader: 360-786-1826 jordan.schrader@ thenews tribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/politics