The candidates trying to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks have built up a combined $1.5 million in their campaign bank accounts, foreshadowing an expensive fight ahead.
Most of that money accumulated through June 30 belongs to Democrat Derek Kilmer and Republican Bill Driscoll, according to federal campaign disclosures filed Sunday.
Each man has just a bit more than $710,000 in his war chest as they seek the open 6th Congressional District seat representing Tacoma and the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas. As Driscoll has begun television advertising, five other candidates in the race trail in money.
The money race there is more evenly matched than in the South Sound’s other campaign for an open seat in Congress. Records show that in the latest three-month period, Republicans running in the new 10th Congressional District fell even further behind leading Democrat Denny Heck.
Most of Driscoll’s fundraising so far comes out of his own pocket. The Tacoma real estate executive and Weyerhaeuser descendant lent his campaign $500,000, which he had previously announced, and contributed another $20,000. Contributors added $313,000 in his campaign’s first two months.
Kilmer, a state senator and economic development executive from Gig Harbor, raised $458,000 from April to June while waiting for the GOP field to sort itself out in the Aug. 7 primary.
Kilmer didn’t contribute any of his own money.
Another difference is that Kilmer brought in money both from individuals, who accounted for more than three-fifths of his haul, and from political action committees – an array of labor, business, tribal and Democratic interests. Driscoll’s contributions came almost entirely from individuals.
Family helped Driscoll out; the list of contributors includes many with the Weyerhaeuser and Driscoll names, including William and Gail Weyerhaeuser. It also includes addresses from all over the country, from Minnesota to California to Tacoma.
“We weren’t sure what to expect when we launched this campaign, but the response to my message has been overwhelming,” Driscoll said in a statement that emphasized local contributors. “I believe people in this district want leaders, not politicians.”
His biggest donors include Boeing vice president Nicole Piasecki, Dartmouth University professor Teresa Piasecki, Dragonfly Pictures executive Gregory Piasecki, SRAM executives Stanley Day Jr. and Frederick Day, doctor Rob Keeley, Green Diamond Resource Co. chairman Colin Moseley and Martha Moseley.
The Piaseckis have family ties to the Weyerhaeusers.
Kilmer’s biggest donors in the three-month period include beer wholesalers, Realtors, and firefighter, machinist, teacher and state-employee unions. The list is topped by the International Union of Operating Engineers, the New Democrat Coalition and Patrick Callahan, CEO of real estate firm Urban Renaissance Group.
His campaign said in a statement that “Kilmer’s support is broad, with nearly 1,500 individual donors who gave between April 1 and June 30. More than 1,000 of those individuals are from the six counties (Grays Harbor, Mason, Pierce, Kitsap, Jefferson, and Clallam) that make up the 6th Congressional District.”
Other candidates in the race include Doug Cloud, Jesse Young, David Eichner, Stephan Brodhead and Eric Arentz Jr.
Cloud, a Gig Harbor Republican, lent his campaign $50,000. That brought the total owed to Cloud by his campaign committee to more than $107,000. After expenditures, his campaign bank account had more than $44,000 on hand.
He received more than $10,000 in contributions in the period, all from individuals rather than political committees. Cloud, a lawyer, is making his fifth run for the seat but believes his chances are better this time since Dicks is stepping down.
Young, a Republican business consultant from Gig Harbor, reported raising $11,000 in the second quarter, all from individuals.
Young’s campaign owes him more than $102,000 in personal loans. His campaign has more than $33,000 in cash to spend.
Tacoma Republican Eichner, an accountant who owns a software company, reported just more than $2,100 in contributions and in the bank. The Federal Elections Commission didn’t list any reports from Arentz, and Brodhead said a computer problem had prevented him from filing.
In the state’s newest congressional district, Republican Pierce County councilmen Dick Muri and Stan Flemming continued to trail Heck, who added another $310,000 from April through June. Flemming, a physician and retired Army brigadier general from University Place, reported raising more than $18,000 in new contributions; Muri, a retired Air Force officer from Steilacoom, raised more than $26,000.
Loans make up the lion’s share of what Flemming has raised. Most recently, he took out another loan of $100,000 from Spanky LLC, a Beverly Hills-based firm that lent him $100,700 earlier in the year.
Flemming 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.”
Muri has $37,000 in 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.
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.”
The Democratic Party’s nominee, Heck, of Olympia, had $1.09 million cash on hand at the end of June. 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.
Heck has lent his campaign $100,000 from his personal wealth but lists $375,000 in debts – including $250,000 he lent his campaign for the 3rd District run in 2010 and $25,000 owed to Global Strategy Group in New York for opinion research. He spent money over the weekend on mailers that went to most parts of the 10th District.
Three other candidates are running. Sue Gunn, a Progressive Independent from Olympia, is running against the prominent role of money in politics. She reported raising more than $3,800 and had more than $1,900 in cash on hand.
Lakewood Democrat Jennifer Ferguson’s information was not available from the FEC yet; neither was that of Yelm independent Steve Hannon.
In the 8th Congressional District that includes eastern Pierce County, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert collected $278,000 in the second quarter. Fellow Republican Keith Swank raised $10,000. Democrat Karen Porterfield raised more than $46,000, most of it in the form of a personal loan, while independent James Windle raised $25,000 including his own personal loan. Disclosures weren’t available for Democrat Keith Arnold or Republican Ernest Huber.
Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Smith raised $196,000 in the 9th Congressional District that extends as far south as the east side of Tacoma. Another Democrat, Tom Cramer, raised $19,000, while Dave Christie, who is running under the “FDR Democrat” moniker, raised $10,000. Among Republicans, Jim Postma raised $95, while disclosures weren’t available for John Orlinski.