Tracking Campaign Contributions as Primaries Loom


With the August primary just around the corner, candidates and political action committees playing in this year’s elections now have to report contributions every week, which generates an interesting flow of campaign cash news. Here are some recent highlights.

The Northwest Regional Organizing Coalition, the political arm of the Laborers’ International Union in these parts, is cutting some big checks. The PAC sent $50,000 to the Jackson Legacy Fund, which backs moderate Democrats and has close ties to state Sen. Mark Mullet, the business-friendly Democrat running for governor. 

It also shipped $50,000 each to the Washington State Democratic Party and the Truman Fund, the soft-money(1) PAC controlled by majority Democrats in the state House. The Laborers do heavy construction work—think putting giant pipes underground—and they like to see a steady supply of both public and private-sector projects in the pipeline. 

The GOPAC Election Fund, a national PAC that invests in bench-building on the Republican side of politics, sent $75,000 to the Leadership Council, the soft-money PAC controlled by Senate Republicans. 

The Reagan Fund, the soft-money PAC controlled by minority Republicans in the House, got $20,000 from the Washington Food Industry Association and $10,000 from the Association of Washington Business

Jobs PAC, which is part of the business-focused Enterprise Washington network of PACs, got $75,000 from the Washington State Dental PAC. The dentists are ever-vigilant in Olympia for proposals to allow dental assistants and technicians to do work traditionally limited to folks who put DMD behind their names.

Koch Industries, a name-brand donor on the right in national circles, sent $25,000 to Main Street Matters to Washington, a PAC created by the Building Industry Association of Washington to push its ballot initiative that would roll back various restrictions on the use of natural gas for heating and cooking. Speaking of that initiative, I spotted some petitioners working the Point Defiance ferry line in Tacoma this week. The campaign has just over a week left to get the measure on the November ballot.

The bored folks waiting in line at Point Defiance for the ferry to Vashon Island are prime targets for signature-gatherers. (Image by Paul Queary)

Former House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox sent $100,000 from his campaign surplus account to the House Republican Organizing Committee, the hard-money PAC controlled by his successor, current Majority Leader Drew Stokesbary. Expect that money, which is part of the legal money-laundering scheme we think of as the surplus shuffle, to wind up in competitive races around the state. 

Speaking of that shuffle, the Senate Republican Campaign Committee sent $62,000 to Rep. Greg Cheney, who’s trying to hold onto the Clark County Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Ann Rivers. The district was substantially redrawn in 2021 and is now considered a target for Democrats. 

The PAC also sent $55,000 to Republican Marcia Kelbon, who is taking on Democratic Rep. Mike Chapman for the Olympic Peninsula Senate seat currently held by Democrat Kevin Van De Wege, who’s running for Lands Commissioner. Republicans eye the rural 24th District hungrily, but so far, the Democratic voters of Sequim and Port Townsend have kept it blue. Chapman’s doing a little shuffling of his own. He sent $125,000 from his House surplus account to the Washington Senate Democratic Campaign(2). If he looks vulnerable after the primary, expect most of that money to come back to him in a big chunk for the fall campaign. 

Taxing Seattle High-Rollers

David Kroman has an update in the Seattle Times on a forthcoming ballot measure to tax the city’s high rollers to bankroll social housing.

The tax would fall on employers who pay people more than a million bucks a year. The money would pay for apartments rented out by local governments or nonprofits for low-income tenants. Voters green-lit a social housing developer in 2023 but didn’t include a way to foot the bill.

It’s now up to the Seattle City Council to place the measure on the ballot. Should it choose to withhold its seal of approval, the measure could be pushed out to next February when the White House is no longer drawing voters to the ballot box.

On the state level, the Legislature has looked at funding social housing year after year but no proposal has come close to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk. One such proposal from Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, died this past session. (Tim Gruver)


  1. Such contributions can’t be given directly to candidates but can be used for independent expenditure campaigns and party-building activities. 
  2. This bank shot allows Chapman to duck the onerous task of asking all his donors for permission to use their money to run for a different office. Theoretically, the money going to the party can’t be earmarked, but…

These items first appeared in the authors’ political website, The Washington Observer.

Paul Queary
Paul Queary
Paul Queary, a veteran AP reporter and editor, is founder of The Washington Observer, an independent newsletter on politics, government and the influence thereof in Washington State.



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