Ferguson has $2.9M; Franz, not so much

ICYMI, Culp got paid; other political $ news; a fantasy state Electoral College

Attorney General Bob Ferguson didn’t have much of an opponent this year, but he shook the money tree hard anyway. Ferguson raised $4.3 million for his campaign and spent just $1.4 million as he cruised to re-election, according to his most recent filings with the Public Disclosure Commission.

Ferguson’s generally considered to be actively eyeing the Governor’s Mansion should Jay Inslee decide to vacate it for some reason.

A look at his “campaign” spending reveals very little actual campaigning. He spent a token $100,000 or so on cable and online advertising, and did some polling in June, perhaps to make doubly sure he was safe, but the rest of that $1.4 million was spent over the past four years raking in the $4.3 million at a series of giant fundraisers.

Another aspirant to the state’s top job, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, isn’t sitting nearly as pretty. She raised more than $1 million this cycle and spent nearly all of it. Interestingly, Ferguson and Franz wound up winning by similarly large margins of around 500,000 votes.

Franz was actively raising money up to Friday’s deadline before the fundraising freeze ahead of the 2021 Legislature. This landed in The Observer’s inbox last week.

It looks less and less likely that Inslee will decamp for the other Washington anytime soon, so any Ferguson-Franz throw-down is likely far enough off for Franz to fill a war chest.

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Elsewhere in political money

Thursday was the deadline for campaigns to report activity between Oct. 27 and Nov. 30, which serves as a kind of informal year-end report on what candidates raised and spent this cycle. The biggest news came from Loren Culp’s campaign for governor: Their plan to shake down their supporters by pretending they didn’t get beat by half a million votes worked, as we reported on Thursday. Short version: Culp put more than $48,000 in his own pocket, and that consultant of his, still getting paid.

Some other interesting nuggets.

Inslee’s campaign spent $7.5 million, and has nearly $1 million left over after an easy win over Culp. It’ll be interesting to see if he kicks any of it back to the Washington State Democratic Party, his largest benefactor, thanks to the party’s millionaires and billionaires.

Washingtonians Win, the political arm of Maverick Gaming, which has thus far failed in its bid to win a piece of the upcoming sports gambling boom, spent $1.1 million on races around the state. Maverick has been buying up non-tribal card rooms in recent years in hopes of turning them into sports books, but the Legislature passed a bill earlier this year reserving sports gambling for Native American casinos. The Observer plans to dig into that fight soon.

The Washington State Dental PAC spread around $538,000 in political money this cycle. We’ll take a look down the road at what the dentists are looking for. Usually it’s about who gets to provide what dental services.

Lyft, via its PAC Washingtonians For Independent Work, spent $541,000, mostly on independent expenditures to protect embattled state Sen. Mark Mullet, the business-friendly Democrat who narrowly fended off a labor-backed challenge from the left. Lyft, as we reported in October, has things to worry about next year.

Mullet’s campaign, meanwhile, spent more than $481,000 to emerge victorious by 57 votes, although a lobbyist-driven committee spent double that on his behalf, which was still less than the amount spent by his opponent, Ingrid Anderson and independent groups backing her.

That victor/spoils thing? It’s bipartisan

Last week we noted that Republican Senator-elect Jeff Wilson from the 19th District was welcomed by a string of $1,000 donations from entrenched Olympia players who had been accustomed to support the incumbent Wilson just defeated.

So it behooves us to note that Democratic Representative-Elect Jamila Taylor is getting a similar reception. The latest disclosure from Taylor, who just won an open seat in Federal Way’s 30th District, lists $1,000 checks Hospitals for a Healthy Future, the political arm of the state hospital association; the Puyallup Tribe; and the Washington State Auto Dealers PAC, all of which gave identical amounts to Wilson.

An electoral college for Washington?

This is the season of pre-filed bills, nearly all of which are are going exactly nowhere when the Legislature convenes next month. But some of them are designed to be catnip for Twitter, and Rep. Brad Klippert’s proposal for a state-level Electoral College that would choose Washington governors based on winning counties is definitely that. (In related news, the real Electoral Colleges meets today.)

Klippert, R-Kennewick, envisions 147 electors, allocated as the U.S. House of Representatives is allocated, which is to say mostly by population. The winner of each of Washington’s 39 counties would get all that county’s electors. Candidate with the most electors wins.

The catch is that each county, no matter how small, gets at least one elector. Now, your correspondent got into journalism because he was told there’d be no higher math, but here goes: Dividing the state’s population by 147 gets you about 49,000 people per elector. Seventeen counties have fewer than that many people, 12 have fewer than half than many.

If you give each of the 17 smallest counties one elector, and allocate the remaining electors evenly between the remaining counties based on population, the 10 largest counties are somewhat underrepresented, while the 12 smallest have more than twice as much as juice as they currently have. That’s not as lopsided as the national Electoral College, because each county doesn’t get an additional two Senate electors the way states do in the presidential election.

Now, as noted above, Loren Culp got absolutely smoked this year, so this system wouldn’t have bailed him out. However, had it been in effect in 2004 and 2012, Republicans Dino Rossi and Rob McKenna would be on the list of Washington governors. It’s an interesting thought exercise, but remember, it’s just not to happen.

And now, from our canine editor…

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