Election 2020: Show us the money

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If money talks, then there’s a whole lot of yakking going on in the 42nd district. As of October 19, the four candidates running for state representative district 42 seats have reported receiving $1,298,000 in donations in the hotly contested races. Leading the contributor pack is Democratic incumbent Sharon Shewmake with $390,875, followed by her Republican challenger Jennifer Sefzik with $330,672 in contributions. The two are running for the Position 2 seat.

Republican incumbent Luanne Van Werven has raised $290,557 while her challenger Alicia Rule has pulled in $286,146. Figures shown are current as of October 19. Reported expenditures tell a slightly different story. Shewmake has spent $316,677 versus Sefzik’s $231,200, while Rule has spent $254,697 compared to Van Werven’s $224,379.

Much of the money received by the candidates comes from party sources. For example, Shewmake has received over $204,000 from state and county Democratic campaign funds. She has also received money from a number of tribes as well as various union locals. She has spent the most money on mailers ($47,000) followed by Comcast TV ads ($41,570) and digital and radio ads with Cascade Radio and Praise 106.5 ($24,000). Polling has cost $8,250.

The Washington state Public Disclosure Commission lists political donations by date, organization and amount of money given. Often, an organization will give more than one contribution. For example, the House Democratic Campaign Committee made two donations, one for $80,000 and another for $8,250. Of Shewmake’s top 25 donations, 12 came from just four state and county Democratic organizations. With the exception of two donations from the Whatcom County Democrats, the rest of the top 25 donations were made by groups, unions or individuals from outside district 42.

The figures don’t necessarily reflect the local appeal of the candidates, of course. Not including the smallest contributions, the majority of contributions in numerical terms come from voters within district 42 for Shewmake and Sefzik alike.

It helps to have friends, especially when you’ve got enemies. The Democratic group New Direction PAC has spent $114,011 in support of Shewmake’s campaign while the Republican third-party organization Evergreen Progress has spent $116,270 against it.

Sefzik has also benefited from state and county Republican party sources, receiving $167,083 as of October 19. Sefzik has accused her opponent of being dependent upon donations from outside district 42; in her case, 92 percent of the top 25 donations came from outside the district for a total of $162,457 out of $176,083.

Like Shewmake, Sefzik has spent the most money on TV and video streaming ($78,668) followed by mailers and postage ($43,555). Top independent expenditures for and against Sefzik include the Democratic New Direction PAC, which has spent $147,935 against her while Evergreen Progress, the 42nd Legislative District Committee (GOP) and the NRA Political Victory Fund have spent $8,275 in support of her candidacy.

Running third in the list of money getters is Republican incumbent Luanne Van Werven, who has received a total of $300,432 and has spent $256,559 so far. She has received $51,526 from state and county Republican party sources. With the exception of two individual donations from Bellingham and an in-kind contribution made by herself, the rest of the donors in the top 25 list have been made by corporations or business associations such as BP, Chevron, BNSF Railway, Puget Sound Energy and Amazon.

Van Werven’s expenses mirror the other candidates in the district. She has spent $155,954 on TV, radio and cable advertising and $49,825 on printing and mailing election pieces. Outside groups have spent $93,099 against her (New Direction PAC) while friendly groups have spent $22,891 in support of her candidacy (Evergreen Progress, GOP and the NRA Political Victory Fund).

Bringing up the rear in the money sweepstakes is Blaine’s Alicia Rule, who has raised $286,148 and spent $254,697. State and county Democratic groups have given Rule $141,524, or 49.4 percent of total contributions. Five of her top 25 contributors are from district 42 including herself, county executive Satpal Sidhu, IAFF Local 191, Lummi Business Council and the local Democratic committee.

Rule has spent big on broadcast media with $100,000 alone going to Comcast for spots running October 7 through November 3. In all, $155,008 has been dedicated to advertising.

The New Direction PAC has thrown $218,135 in support of Rule’s candidacy while Evergreen Progress has spent just $15,192 against her.

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