Attorney General Bob Ferguson continued raking in campaign cash at a torrid rate in July, bringing in $419,000 for the month for his bid for governor. State Sen. Mark Mullet, meanwhile, saw his haul of campaign dollars decline from more than $500K in June to $102K in July.¹
Ferguson’s campaign has raised more than $3.5 million in total. His monthly haul was down about $130K from June but remained strong even though midsummer is traditionally a difficult time to shake down bigger donors because of that whole cruising-the-San Juans problem.
Ferguson’s fundraising machine is working to create a sense of inevitability among the political donor class in aid of choking off the flow of money to opposition campaigns. With just under a year before the 2024 primary, he’s got a nearly 7-1 advantage.
A substantial chunk of Ferguson’s money comes from a big database of smaller donors built during his three statewide campaigns and his headline-grabbing fights with the Trump administration. The campaign tells us that 83 percent of 4,120 donations in July were $100 or less. Those folks are responding to a near-constant barrage of electronic outreach from his campaign.
Whether Mullet’s drop-off is just a case of the midsummer doldrums or a signifier that enthusiasm for his centrist appeal is limited to a thin slice of the political class remains to be seen. Mullet, D-Issaquah, doesn’t have Ferguson’s statewide name recognition or the crusading attorney-general thing to work with, so it makes sense that he’d lag in grassroots money.²
We reached out to the campaigns of former U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert and Commissioner of Public Lands Hillary Franz, but neither got back to us before it was time to hit the “send” button.
Reichert, the most prominent GOP hopeful, got into the race at the end of June and has thus far reported no cash raised to the Public Disclosure Commission.
Conventional wisdom holds that his entry into the race is a death knell for Mullet’s chances, both in terms of money and a realistic chance to make it through next August’s primary to a Democrat-on-Democrat throw-down with Ferguson.
We’re not sure we’re buying it: On paper, Ferguson-vs-Reichert looks like a standard-issue Democratic victory because Reichert will have to wear a long anti-abortion rights voting record in Congress. That could keep the smart money from the business community on the sidelines or shift it to Mullet. Meanwhile, it’s not clear if the MAGA faithful or their money comes Reichert’s way. This week’s number will be an early signifier of the seriousness of his campaign.
Franz’s June fundraising was weak, and she doesn’t have a ton of cash to sustain a campaign unless things pick up.
1. Campaign filings for July aren’t due until Thursday, but we shook the campaigns down for an early look.
2. Much-belated Conflict of Interest Disclaimer: Way back in 2016, during his former life as a communications operative, Paul gave Mullet’s Senate reelection campaign the princely sum of $100. The donation, which Paul had completely forgotten, was a favor to a lobbyist colleague. But the real hook was the campaign slogan: Bring Back the Mullet, which featured an outline of the iconic late-20th-century haircut. Both Paul and the senator are of an age where there may or may not be pre-internet photographs best left in a drawer somewhere.
This article first appeared in The Washington Observer, which tracks politics, government, and the influence thereof in Washington State.