War chest reports

The latest congressional campaign reports turned up late last week, and they suggest some contours for the races. Not as absolutes; contrary to widely-held belief, money isn’t all in political campaigns. Less-funded candidates win regularly, and we’ve seen significant cases of that happening in this Northwest this year.

But candidates tend to get funded in relation to their overall support system and in relation to what the money people think is their probability of winning. They’re not perfect predictors, but they’re well worth a look. (And one good place to look is at OpenSecrets.org, where we watch for this data most regularly.) These numbers are as of June 30 reports.

One of the most startling and unexpected disparities in the Northwest is in Idaho’s 1st congressional district, where incumbent Democrat Walt Minnick has raised $1.8 million and has $1.1 million still in the bank. Compare that to his Republican opponent Raul Labrador, who has raised $215,671 but (because of a hot primary in which he was major financial underdog) still has (as of June 30) just $68,788. That kind of disparity with Minnick is an enormous problem for Labrador. Why Republican interests would be leaving him so underfunded at this point is unclear (unless they’re still just mad he won the primary instead of the establishment-preferred candidate). In any case, he could wind up at a fatal disadvantage against Minnick if he doesn’t get a major cash dump quickly.

The numbers in the other two hottest House races in the Northwest are a lot less overwhelming, but they are worth reviewing.

In Oregon 5, incumbent Democrat Kurt Schrader has taken his fundraising seriously, and has $915,356 still on hand. His Republican opponent Scott Bruun – probably the best Republican candidate for any major office this year – is way behind on money, with just $178,356 on hand. This should be Oregon’s most competitive congressional race, but these numbers don’t look great for Bruun.

(The closest Oregon congressional race in financing is the 1st, but even there incumbent Democrat David Wu has more than twice as much on hand as Republican Robert Cornilles.)

Washington’s hottest race is in the southwestern 3rd, the open seat now held by Democrat Brian Baird but in a highly competitive district. There, Democrat Denny Heck (the only major Democrat now in the race) has on hand $801,607; the leading Republican (and his probable November opponent) Jaime Herrera has $201,019. She’s a strong candidate and certainly competitive with Heck overall, but she may be weighed down by a fundraising deficit. (She also has to deal with another strong Republican contender, while Heck’s last fellow Democrat dropped out a while back.)

The big-money race in the Northwest, once again, looks to be the Washington 8th. Incumbent Repubican Dave Reichert has raised $1.7 million, and Democrat Suzan DelBene $1.6 million. Lots of political ads in the offing on the King and Pierce eastside this fall.

Share on Facebook