Weyerhaeuser descendant and real-estate investment-firm executive Bill Driscoll has roughly doubled his personal stake in his campaign for Congress, lending just more than $1 million of his own money.
The Tacoma Republicans latest $500,000 loan kept him on pace with his Democratic opponent, Gig Harbor state Sen. Derek Kilmer, with both candidates raising just more than $1.5 million total. Driscolls campaign said it shows potential donors that he means business.
But Kilmers campaign pounced on Driscolls switch from his original plan to fund the rest of his campaign with individual donations after an upfront $500,000 investment.
There are 253 millionaires in our Congress, and he would like your vote to make him No. 254, Kilmer told a business crowd at a debate Monday in Port Angeles. Driscolls campaign estimates his and his wifes net worth at $55 million.
Kilmer, who works in economic development, has not spent any of his own money. He joked to the audience that hes been playing the Mega Millions since (Driscoll) got into the race. But his real fundraising strategy is less risky: raising $552,000 from political committees tied to unions, businesses, medical groups, Indian tribes, the Democratic Party and others, and more than $993,000 from what he said are 3,100 individual donors.
In fact, Driscoll says he decided to put more money in to keep up with Kilmer. Essentially all Im doing is matching where hes going to be, to make sure weve got a relatively even match, Driscoll said after Mondays debate.
Candidates reports disclosing their fundraising and spending from July 19 to Sept. 30 were due Monday. While the two were even in fundraising, Driscoll had more cash left over after spending $680,000 to Kilmers $387,000.
Driscolls fundraising totals include $532,000 from individuals and $18,000 from committees.
His campaign consultant, Alex Hays, said the loan will help ensure the campaign is taken seriously by political action committees and the national Republican Party, which like the Democratic Party has yet to send money to the 6th District.
Kilmer collected 53 percent of votes in the August primary, with five Republicans and an independent splitting the rest, led by Driscoll with 18 percent. They are competing to represent a Democratic-leaning district covering most of Tacoma and the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas. Incumbent Norm Dicks is retiring.
In other contests for Congress, fundraising totals have been more lopsided.
Democrat Denny Hecks well-funded campaign for Washingtons new 10th Congressional District has padded his massive wealth-edge over Republican Dick Muri. Heck reported he collected about $494,000 in the third quarter to bring his total raised to $1.835 million.
Heck reported spending almost $1.1 million in the quarter and $1.5 million in the overall campaign. By contrast, Muri reported a gain of $54,529 in the quarter to give him $222,907 for the entire campaign. The Steilacoom Republican, who serves on the Pierce County Council and is retired from the Air Force, has been scraping to put out what he expects will be a single mailer to undecided voters in the district, which has a lot of military veterans.
The 10th District, created this year to accommodate the states population gains in the last census, is centered between Olympia and Lakewood and includes almost all of Thurston County, Shelton in Mason County, and Pierce County communities University Place and Puyallup.
National groups appear to be staying out of the race in the Democrat-leaning district, and in a possible indication of Hecks confidence, his reports show he transferred $25,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that is helping candidates across the country.
In other congressional races around the region:
• Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Tacoma has $272,000 in cash after raising more than $1 million, including more than $120,000 in the latest period. GOP challenger Jim Postma has lent his campaign $150,000 but isnt raising much money in contributions, and has $50,000 in cash.
• Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert of Auburn raised more than $220,000 between July 19 and Sept. 30, passing $1.5 million in total fundraising. He has more than $675,000 in cash, dwarfing the $20,000 for his challenger, Democrat Karen Porterfield. She has lent her campaign $82,000 of the $117,000 she has raised.
Jordan Schrader: 360-786-1826