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An outside finger on the scales

The closest thing the Northwest has to a truly unpredictable major contest – probably the one toughest to estimate with any reasonable confidence – is the Washington 3rd district House seat. There are two solid and experienced candidates, Democrat Denny Heck and Republican Jaime Herrera. The district has elected Democrat Brian Baird for the last six elections, but overall the district’s politics are a close balance.

The year is trending Republican, to one extent or another, and Herrera is positioning herself well to take advantage. But Heck has had a few advantages. One that he cleared the field of major opponents among Democrats much earlier than did Herrera, who had to keep battling them up to primary election day.

Another is campaign treasury. Heck is independently wealthy and has a massive rolodex, and the most current campaign finance reports (though July 28) show him raising just over $1 million, to $410,627 for Herrera.

Ah, but that’s not all there is to the campaign story. In his column today, Joel Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes about how Heck is being massively outspent by people outside the campaigns:

“The American Future Fund has plunked down $875,000 to defile Denny Heck, the Democratic nominee, to the benefit of Republican nominee Jaime Herrera. AFF is not alone. Americans for Prosperity spent $282,000 on anti-Heck ads that began running the day after the August primary. The outfit was founded and fueled by oil billionaire David Koch. Not surprisingly, it specializes in attacking clean energy legislation and launching fake “Astroturf” grassroots groups.”

Your congressman (in whatever district)? How sure are you of that?

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