While Jay Inslee’s transition team scoured the state for promising leaders to fill his administration, Inslee’s campaign team was on the hunt for checks to pay off the debt from his expensive contest for governor.
Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste was able to help with both needs.
Batiste gave $1,000 Dec. 19 while attending a fundraiser for Inslee, who will be sworn in to office today. Less than a month later, praising Batiste’s award-winning leadership, Inslee announced him as one of the first two leaders from Gov. Chris Gregoire’s administration who would keep their jobs.
Batiste, who hadn’t given to either Inslee or rival Rob McKenna before the election, said he gave afterward only because some close friends invited him to the event. “I’m apolitical,” the career law-enforcement officer said.
The state troopers association, which endorsed McKenna and opposed Batiste’s reappointment, also gave for the first time to Inslee after the election.
Inslee has held at least five fundraisers and raised at least $224,000 since he was elected governor Nov. 6, wiping out his debt from a $12.3 million campaign. Much of the money came from people making their first-ever contributions to Inslee’s gubernatorial bid — including many business interests that had backed Republican McKenna.
While other state elected officials have been forbidden from raising money since Dec. 15 as the legislative session approached, that freeze didn’t take effect until midnight today for newly elected officials such as Democrats Inslee and Bob Ferguson.
Ferguson has raised at least $93,000 since being elected attorney general — and likely more, after a fundraiser the Association of Washington Business says was held last week at its headquarters.
Ferguson’s campaign is also debt-free, with enough left over to transfer $72,000 last month to a surplus fund. He “came out a little ahead — which trust me, his wife is grateful for,” campaign manager Mike Webb said.
It’s nothing new for fundraisers to follow elections.
AWB president Don Brunell, whose group endorsed McKenna but gave to Inslee after his victory, said he recalls attending a fundraiser for Democratic Gov. Booth Gardner after he unseated Republican John Spellman in 1984 — even though his employer, Crown Zellerbach Corp., had backed Spellman.
It helps build relationships, said Brunell, who said Gardner’s administration ended up working well with the timber industry.
“I’ve gone to the ones that have been post-election, and it opens an avenue for people,” Brunell said.
“The person is elected, and that’s the person you’re going to have to work with for four years,” he said. “I think if McKenna would have won, you’d have seen folks who endorsed Jay Inslee trying to retire a debt too.”
Besides covering their debts and last-minute expenses, candidates often try to sock away money for future runs and to contact voters in between campaigns.
“He’s not thinking about 2016, but it would be foolish of the people who work for him not to realize that you start setting up for the future right away,” said an Inslee campaign aide who spoke on condition that he not be named, citing his current position on the state payroll.
Business interests have filled the post-election coffers of both Inslee’s and Ferguson’s campaigns.
Some gave to both for the first time, such as Facebook, Anheuser Busch, Rayonier, Premera Blue Cross, Verizon and Tacoma’s TrueBlue, or groups tied to those companies. All of those had previously contributed only to McKenna, who garnered the bulk of the business backing in the race.
Some trade associations that bankrolled McKenna also are now belated contributors to Inslee, including those representing bankers, Realtors, and beer and wine wholesalers.
The list of McKenna-supporters-turned-Inslee-donors includes some high-powered lobbyists. A couple of them said they had personal relationships with McKenna that pointed them his way, but now are focused on beginning a new relationship with Inslee.
“There are three cycles — there’s a primary, a general, and after the election,” said one of them, Martin Durkan, describing how he said seasoned lobbyists see campaigns. “A lot of people ignore the after-the-election part, but it’s really critical.”
Jordan Schrader: 360-786-1826
Donors who gave to Inslee after the campaign for the first time and contributed $1,800 include:
• Alaska Airlines
• Avista Employees for Effective Government
• Boeing PAC
• Rebecca Bogard
• BNSF RailPAC
• Bristol-Myers Squibb
• Cash America International Inc PAC
• Council of Metropolitan Police and Sheriffs (COMPAS)
• Eli Lilly and Co. PAC
• Denny Eliason
• Liberty Mutual Insurance Co PAC
• Northwest Credit Union Association
• Northwest Marine Trade Association PAC
• Stand for Children PAC Washington
• Stauffacher Communications
• Washington Asphalt Pavement Association
• Washington Association of Realtors PAC
• Washington Dental Service
• Washington Lodging Association PAC
• Washington State Auto Dealers PAC
Source: Public Disclosure Commission