As Filing Deadline Approaches, Campaign Finance Realities Sink In: Part 1


Three months of reporting out from the August primary, council candidates’ campaign finance situations are starting to shake out. That goes not just for how much candidates are raising (although, spoiler alert: There’s still plenty of money in campaigns even with district elections, and the consulting business is exploding*), but where they’re getting their money from, how well challengers are or aren’t keeping up with incumbents, and whether candidates have a strong base inside the districts where they’re running.

A quick note about this report: I’m focusing primarily on the top two or three candidates who I believe have a reasonable shot at winning in each race, because the unpaid intern army here at The C Is for Crank only has so many hours in the day for crunching numbers. And I’m focusing in this post primarily on numbers, not individual donors, because I think side-by-side comparisons can illuminate a lot about the how the candidates are doing in the weeks before the filing deadline.

With that said, on to the races!

District 1 

Shannon Braddock, the well-connected legislative assistant to King County Council member Joe McDermott, raised the most money among D1 candidates this month ($7,585), but her total raised is still lower than that of longtime Nick Licata aide Lisa Herbold, who brought in $7,216.  Braddock has raised $27,518 overall and has $7,630 on hand (with $4,449 in outstanding loans), to Herbold’s $30,339 total and $17,631 on hand.

Braddock has already spent a significant amount ($2,500) on direct mail to district voters, and District 1 is the largest geographical source of her funds (39.8 percent). Twenty-three percent of Braddock’s funding so far is from outside Seattle.

Herbold, meanwhile, has received most of her money from voters in District 3 (Capitol Hill, Montlake, Central District) and just 13 percent from within District 1; 27 percent of her money is from outside Seattle.

A third candidate, Phillip Tavel, is notable mostly because he has loaned $10,000 to himself, to be repaid “as funds become available.”

District 2

Fundraising in the Southeast Seattle district continues to be dominated by council incumbent Bruce Harrell, who brought in $40,021 this month, for a total of $136,442 raised with $107,459 on hand. A  plurality of Harrell’s money (38%) has come from outside Seattle, and his biggest in-city contribution source (21%)  is District 7–downtown, Queen Anne, and Magnolia. Fifteen percent of Harrell’s contributions came from inside his district.

Harrell’s main opponent, food systems consultant Tammy Morales, raised a comparatively paltry $5,055 last month, for a total of $33,916 raised and $7,558 on hand. Of that total, Morales owes nearly $1,300 for fundraising and treasury services. Like Harrell, Morales raised a substantial proportion of her money (33%) from out of town, and the largest proportion of her in-city money (21 percent) is District 3. She raised 18 percent of her funds from within the district.

District 3

In this district, where incumbent council member Kshama Sawant is being challenged by Urban League upstart (and well-funded, Bruce Harrell-endorsed, “establishment” candidate) Pamela Banks, the two front-runners (who will both participate in a 43rd District Democrats-sponsored forum, hosted by me and PubliCola’s Josh Feit, at Mount Zion Baptist Church on Capitol Hill tonight), both had a good month.

Sawant raised $30,314 in campaign funds this month, putting her total at $81,756, with $14,162 on hand–a sign that she’s burning through money as fast as she raises it, but not bad for a socialist. Sawant ties with Harrell (who has endorsed Banks, by the way) for percentage of funds raised from out of town, at 38 percent, but a plurality of her in-Seattle money does come from her own district (15 percent).

Banks nearly bested the incumbent in overall fundraising, at $29,8o2, but with $48,433 raised overall (Banks just declared in March), she has raised far less total than Sawant. However, with $24,152 on hand, she does have more money in the bank. Banks, painted by opponents as a downtown “establishment” candidate in Mayor Ed Murray’s pocket, actually raised her largest chunk of money (38 percent) inside District 3, with 17 percent coming from outside city limits. Banks has paid for 4 percent of her own campaign so far.

A third candidate, longtime LGBT advocate Rod Hearne, raised $15,927, bringing him to $47,397 with $25,501 on hand. Hearne owes $5,116, mostly to consultants, and received 22 percent of his money from outside Seattle, 20 percent from within the district, making District 3 the largest source of his contributions.

Hearne also reports spending $1,000 for the services of public-speaking coach Michael Shadow, who also helped Tom Rasmussen when he was first running for council, back in 2003.

District 4

Jean Godden is the incumbent in this district, where she faces strong challenges from Transportation Choices Coalition director Rob Johnson and longtime Democratic Party and parks activist Michael Maddux. Godden’s reports show that she, like Sawant, is low on ready cash, having raised $7,846 in April, for a total of $70,998 with $19672 on hand. Godden owes $7,596 in debt, including $3,637 to high-priced consultant Cathy Allen, who has done direct mail and events for all Godden’s campaigns. She raised 31 percent of her money from outside the city, and 12 percent from inside the district; the biggest Seattle source of funds for Godden (27 percent) is downtown’s District 7.

Johnson, who is familiar with fundraising from his years heading up a nonprofit, brought in $7,344 this month for a total of $45,638 raised and $19,732 on hand. Not bad, but he’ll need more to convince voters to vote not just for him but against Godden and Maddux. He’s clearly aware of this, because he owes the biggest chunk of his $2,113 in debt to the fundraising firm Oldmixon Hill. Thirty-one percent of Johnson’s money comes from outside the city, with another 25 percent coming from downtown and 12 percent from inside the district.

Maddux, the underdog in this race, raised just $3,503 in April, for a total of $13,397 with $7,315 on hand. Of that total, 35 percent came from outside Seattle, 20 percent from District 3, and a mere 3 percent from his own district. A fourth candidate, anti-development neighborhood activist Tony Provine, raised $7,475 for a total of $13,334, but has negative $556 on hand. Provine’s campaign is self-funded, with 94 percent of the money coming from the candidate himself.

District 5

Lefty former minister Sandy Brown, widely viewed as a frontrunner for this North Seattle open seat, saw his fundraising slow last month, raising just $3,770 for a total of $46,538 and $2876 on hand. Brown has outstanding debts of $10,320 (i.e. more than three times his cash on hand), mostly to Christian Sinderman’s Northwest Passage consulting firm. Thirty percent of Brown’s money is from out of town, and just 7 percent is from within his district; the biggest district money source for Brown is District 7 (24 percent).

Mian Rice, the tongue-tied candidate and son-of-ex-mayor-Norm who was the subject of a flurry of apparently baseless dropout rumors earlier today,  raised $5,735 for a total of $41,075, with $11,625 on hand. Rice got 39 percent of his money from out of town, with the biggest in-town portion (16 percent) coming from District 3, and just 5 percent from his own District 5. Interestingly, Rice’s $15,064 in debt is made up almost entirely of a $15,000 bonus to consultant Cerillon N4 Partners, payable only if he wins.

A third candidate, attorney Debora Juarez, is mostly self-funded: 68 percent of the $17,797 she has raised so far came from herself.

* And now that promised final note on consultants (this note appears in both parts of this report). New names have been popping up all over the reports this year, from Sawant’s parade of Socialist comrades (whose status as non-employees Josh covered here) to new upstart firms. Overall, I count nearly 24 consultants getting paid so far this year, including old-timers like Argo, Northwest Passage, and Winpower. I mention this not to denigrate the work of consultants, but to point out that one of the stated aims of district elections was getting money out of politics, yet consultants–the easy symbols of “everything that’s wrong in politics”–seem to be doing better than ever.

It’ll be interesting, at the end of the election, to tally how much all the candidates spent, and how much they spent on consultants; my guess is that it won’t be the victory over campaign funding that district supporters were hoping for.

2 thoughts on “As Filing Deadline Approaches, Campaign Finance Realities Sink In: Part 1”

  1. Why do you not mention candidate Chas Redmond in District 1?

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