Pro-Mullet committee spent $44k "curing ballots"
SEIU 775 had an off year, and other interesting campaign cash news
Near-final financial disclosures are coming in from this year’s major campaigns, and they reveal some eye-popping totals and intriguing details about the races we followed through the fall. The revealing C4 forms that wrap up spending just before and after Election Day are due today.
(And no, we haven’t seen disclosure yet from Loren Culp campaign for governor about how much they’ve grifted out of their supporters — and how they spent the money — by pretending they didn’t get stomped by more than half a million votes.)
In that super-tight state Senate race out in east King County, the lobbyist-driven Committee for Proven Leadership, aka the Committee to Save Mark Mullet’s Bacon, wound up spending more than $1 million, including $44,000 in November for “ballot curing.”
Ballot curing is outreach to voters whose ballots weren’t counted for some procedural reason, most commonly that the ballot envelope wasn’t signed or the signature didn’t match the signature on file. Such ballots can be “cured” with an affidavit from the voter, a labor-intensive process.
Mullet, a business-friendly Democrat targeted by progressive labor and environmental groups, wound up winning that race by just 57 votes over progressive challenger Ingrid Anderson, so they cured just enough. Neither Anderson nor Washington Cares, the biggest independent committee supporting her, had filed disclosures by this morning. Seems likely they did some curing as well.
A big chunk of the money behind Anderson came from SEIU 775, the union that represents long-term care workers. The union has had some notable successes at the ballot box over the years, but this year their disclosures show they spent more than $2 million and came away mostly empty.
Their biggest loss was likely an obscure constitutional amendment that would have allowed the state to more aggressively invest the money in the long-term care trust fund, which pays for much of the care the union’s workers provide. The SEIU 775 Ballot Fund spent $572,000 to try to pass the amendment, which had no real opposition, but voters, perhaps confused by the issue, said no. Public radio’s Austin Jenkins took a look at the $15 billion price tag of that decision last week.
SEIU 775’s Quality Care Fund was also a major contributor to New Direction PAC, which spent $6 million trying to flip seats in the Legislature and mostly broke even. The also gave to Southwest Washington Priorities, which failed to protect two vulnerable Democrats in the 19th District, where Republicans swept for the first time since the Great Depression.
Outgoing state Rep. Gael Tarleton’s campaign to unseat Secretary of State Kim Wyman spent more than $1 million, and benefited from a $270,000 dark money independent expenditure from the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, as we reported in October. It wasn’t enough. Wyman, now the lone statewide Republican officeholder on the West Coast, got nearly 54 percent of the vote.
Democratic hopefuls for the state Senate in traditionally Republican areas pulled in some eyebrow-raising amounts in fundraising, but ultimately came away empty. Danielle Garbe Reser raised nearly $450,000 in her bid for the 16th District in Eastern Washington, while Julie Door spent $384,000 trying to win the Puyallup-area 25th District. Both were running in hostile territory, and faced tough independent campaigns from the Washington Association of Realtors, the state’s most aggressive player on the right.
Blaine City Councilperson Alicia Rule had better luck in her run for the 42nd District House seat in Whatcom County. Rule spent $316,000 on the race, and ousted incumbent Luanne Van Werven by more than 2,000 votes in a traditionally Republican area.
In one of the stranger political spending stories of the year, another lobbyist-driven PAC, the Effective Leadership Committee, spent $173,600 defending Republican Sen. Ann Rivers from a two-pronged attack in Clark County’s heavily GOP 18th District. Rivers, who’s crosswise with the arch-conservatives who control the Clark County Republican Party, wound up with both a Democratic opponent and a write-in candidate from the right. In the end, Rivers won easily and was recently elected minority caucus chair. So perhaps the lobbyists and their clients consider it money well spent.
We should see more disclosures today, so watch this space.
Clarification: It’s Sen. -elect Jeff Wilson, not Stephen
As an astute reader points out, the new Senator-elect from the 19th District goes by Jeff, rather than Stephen, although his PDC filings are under “Stephen Jeffrey Wilson.”
And now, from our canine correspondent:
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