Jul 20, 2022 - News

Washington's biggest campaign spenders

Data: Public Disclosure Commission; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios
Data: Public Disclosure Commission; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

With mail-in ballots already returning in Washington's top-two primary, the latest campaign disclosure reports show three of the five most expensive campaigns statewide so far involve Senate races.

The latest: Topping the spending list is the Senate contest in Washington's 26th Legislative District ā€” a key swing district encompassing Kitsap and Pierce counties that pits incumbent Democratic Sen. Emily Randall against Republican challenger and state Rep. Jesse Young.

  • Collectively, the two candidates have spent about $390,000, with Young so far outspending the first-term incumbent $213,571 to $177,488, per the Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC).

Why it matters: Campaign spending could make a key difference in some of the hotly contested races and swing districts this election season, with Republicans hoping to make inroads against Democrats who now control both chambers of Washington's legislature.

Yes, but: The individual candidate who has spent the most in a local or state race is incumbent Democratic state Rep. Drew Hansen.

  • Hansen, who is vying to hold onto the 23rd Legislative District representing Bainbridge Island and north Kitsap County against Republican challenger Paige Jarquin.
  • Per PDC reports, Hansen has spent $317,803 compared to $2,769 by Jarquin. But the bulk of Hansen's spending ā€” $296,500 ā€” came in the form of a transfer of surplus funds into his latest campaign from a past one. Such transfers must be reported as expenditures, but Hansen said that gives a false impression that his campaign has already spent big.
  • "I've spent nothing on ads so far," he said.
  • Hansen and Jarquin, the only two candidates in the race, will face off in the November general election.

Of note: Spending totals for individual candidates and races don't include independent expenditures ā€” money independently spent outside of a campaign for or against a candidate.

An intriguing detail: In fourth place on the list of the highest spending candidates is former state senator-turned-appointed-secretary of state, Steve Hobbs, who's making a bid in a crowded field for the open secretary of state seat vacated by incumbent Republican Kim Wyman.

Yes, but: Hobbs' spending in that statewide race so far ($143,250) is actually less than what he'd previously shelled out on his 2022 Senate re-election bid ($264,547) before he called off that effort.

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