More big money flies into Seattle mayor's race

Plus more campaign finance news from around the state

The political action committee backing Bruce Harrell’s run for Seattle mayor has now raised more than $1.1 million, nearly all of it from wealthy individuals in the city’s real estate world. That eclipses the boatloads of corporate cash spent on now-lame duck Mayor Jenny Durkan four years ago.

Nearly 20 percent of the money that has flowed into Bruce Harrell for Seattle’s Future came from just two linked households. Real estate developer John Goodman, who’s about as far from the blue-collar dudes played by the more famous John Goodman as you can get, upped his contribution last month to $90,000. Here’s Goodman behind the wheel of one of his collection of vintage race cars:1

That’s a 1971 Ferrari 312B2Do, for all you car nerds. Note the matching Ferrari-branded helmet. The car is likely worth somewhere north of 20 times his $90K contribution to the Harrell PAC.

An additional $100,000 came from George Petrie, Goodman’s business partner, and his wife, Alyssa Petrie. They split the tab $61,250/$38,750, presumably because six-figure contributions are gauche.


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Goodman’s bio on the Goodman Real Estate site mentions that he “has had ownership in more than 40,000 apartment units and 2.5 million square feet of office space.” That clearly gives him a passionate interest in the city’s future prosperity and the nature of its governance, especially on issues like rent control and land-use policy, which figures to get more renter-friendly and landlord/developer hostile should the mayor’s office fall to Harrell’s opponent, Lorena González.

Other major donors to Bruce Harrell For Seattle’s Future include Seattle Hospitality for Progress, a creature of the Washington Hospitality Association, representing hotels and restaurants. Those folks are in for $25,000, no doubt wary of the unions backing the PAC behind González, most notably UNITE HERE, a union for hospitality workers with a keen interest in organizing the city’s overwhelmingly non-union hotels and restaurants.

As we reported earlier this year, González prevailed on her colleagues at the city council to effectively ban corporate from Seattle politics. All that corporate cash has now been more than replaced by rich-people cash. Bruce Harrell for Seattle’s Future has surpassed the spectacularly misnamed People For Jenny Durkan, which raised less than $880,000 in 2017, mostly from Amazon and other corporate players.2

Essential Workers For Lorena, the PAC backing González, did just fine as well, thank you, with nearly $993,000 raised so far. UNITE HERE dropped an additional $50K on them Oct. bringing the union’s total bet on her to $600,000. The United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents grocery-store workers, chipped in an additional $40K, for a $240K total. The González PAC had less to spend in the endgame because they spent heavily ahead of the August primary.

How’s the money being spent, you ask?

The González PAC drained its coffers buying local TV time to go aggressively negative with ads like this one featuring footage of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and pointing out that George Petrie was among Donald Trump’s past contributors:

It’s a thin connection at best, prompting a predictable faux-angry response from Harrell’s camp. Daniel Beekman over at The Seattle Times has details.

The Harrell PAC hasn’t really shown its hand yet, reporting less than $20,000 on newspaper ads. But a key disclosure is due to the Public Disclosure Commission today.

Hospital association PAC invests heavily in incumbent legislators, caucus committees

The political arm of the Washington State Hospital Association spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars last month on contributions to members of the Legislature and to political-action committees controlled by its four caucuses.

With the 2022 elections more than a year away, Hospitals For A Healthy Future cut checks to 36 incumbent legislators across the political spectrum, ranging from veteran Republican Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside to first-term House Democrat David Hackney, who upset an incumbent in south King County’s 11th District last year, according to its most recent filing with the Public Disclsoure Commission.

The lion’s share of the money went to the four caucus committees. The PAC gave $45,000 each to the Reagan Fund and the Truman Fund, controlled by House Republicans and Democratic, respectively. The biggest check, for $60,000, went Senate Democrats’ Kennedy Fund, while the Leadership Council, controlled by Senate Republicans, got $52,000.

That big four-way play is a sign of seriousness of purpose in Olympia.

The hospitals are a perennial fixture in Washington politics and lobbying because they’re locked in a complex tug-of-war with insurance companies, doctors, nurses, and other medical providers over dozens of policy issues that govern who gets to do what kind of medical care and how much they get paid for it.

Lawmakers and lobbyists will tell you that money buys not votes but access. As we’ve written about other players before, the hospitals are buying in bulk.

Elsewhere in big political money…

The Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe put another $150,000 into The Washington Coalition for Responsible Gaming, a war chest the state’s Native American tribes are building to protect their recently acquired monopoly on legalized sports betting from those folks over at Maverick Gaming.

Chris Stolte, one of the founders of Tableau Software and a major political giver on the left, gave $25,000 to the Washington Senate Democratic Campaign, which is stacking cash ahead of a big fight over control of that chamber next year.

Pearson Packaging gave $30,000 to the Spokane Good Government Alliance, a business-backed PAC in that city playing heavily in some hot city council praces.

Vulcan Inc., the real estate juggernaut founded by the late Paul Allen, gave $25,000 to Change Seattle, a PAC backing Sara Nelson’s bid for the Seattle City Council. The aforementioned Seattle Hospitality For Progress gave the same amount.

Amazon, which is banned from such giving in Seattle, gave $25,000 to the Eastside Business Alliance, which plays in local races east of Lake Washington.

The Affordable Housing Council, the political arm of the Master Builders of King and Snohomish Counties, gave $25,000 to Concerned Taxpayers of Washington State, a conservative PAC currently focused on saving King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert’s bacon, which certainly looks in need of saving after this debacle.


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1

To be clear, your correspondent owns a quick, well-aged roadster, and would probably indulge in more of them if money, parking, and the wrath of the Woman Who Lets Him Live With Her were not issues. Ferrari grand prix racers? Probably not.

2

Durkan’s opponent, Cary Moon, was far weaker than González. No doubt the corporate purses would have opened wider if necessary.