Politics & Government

PAC refunds $225,000 to another PAC in 35th district race pitting Sen. Sheldon, Irene Bowling

A political campaign committee formed to promote Democrat Irene Bowling and oppose Sen. Tim Sheldon in the 35th Legislative District has given back $225,000 it received from a Senate Democrat-allied PAC.

The latest money transfers happened last week with the Senate Democrat-allied Kennedy Fund taking back $225,000 of the $250,000 it contributed to Real Representation on Aug. 13. But the PACs, which are overseen by some of the same people, aren’t talking about their reasons.

“It’s just been moved back to the Kennedy Fund PAC and we’re going to reassign it to other places in the near future,” said volunteer Kennedy Fund board member Neil Beaver.

He said the PAC would not comment on any strategy it might be pursuing.

The initial Kennedy Fund contribution, which drew on money it received from labor unions and other advocacy groups, was given Aug. 13 to Real Representation for the 35th. That was just one week after Bowling won the primary with just over one-third of the vote — a potential bright spot for Democrats looking to win back a majority in the Senate from a Republican coalition.

Sheldon, a Democrat who aligns with Republicans in the Senate in a Majority Coalition Caucus, said Wednesday the refund is either a sign that new Democratic polling showed he’d win on Nov. 4 or his opponents have another source of money to deploy against him. Bowling, a first-time candidate from Bremerton, said she was not aware of the maneuvers by the independent groups.

Sheldon has raised more than $260,600 for his campaign compared with $135,326 for Bowling. In addition, more than $167,700 was spent independently on Sheldon’s behalf by business-backed PACs, which was the biggest independent outlay of any legislative race in the Aug. 6 primary.

The Kennedy Fund money, which includes large contributions from union groups, represented a potentially similar push from the other side.

Including the net $25,000 donation to Real Representation, Kennedy Fund has given the local PAC about $27,000 this year. About $2,000 was given earlier to cover polling and research related costs, according to Beaver.