$500,558.That’s how much has already been raised in the battle over District 3’s seat on the Seattle City Council, making it by far the most expensive race in the city. District 6 comes in second with $376,520.
With the primary only six weeks away and ballots being sent out next month, things are likely to heat up, particularly now that the fundraising and spending cap has been lifted for all of the five D3 candidates using the city’s Democracy Voucher program to fuel their campaigns to unseat incumbent Kshama Sawant — who, notably, is not participating in the program.
Now challengers Logan Bowers, Pat Murakami, Egan Orion, Ami Nguyen, and Zachary DeWolf can also accept donations of up to $500 in the scramble to catch up with Sawant’s $163,677 raised. Bowers, with $87,910 in second place in terms of total funds raised and Nguyen with $78,358 in third, still have a long way to go.
One thing Bowers, a pot store entrepreneur and housing development proponent, has going for him when it comes to fundraising: out of all D3 candidates, he’s getting the most substantial donations, $94 average, followed by Egan Orion with $82, then Sawant ($77), Nguyen ($75) Dewolf ($74) and Murakami ($69).
Though Sawant could accept $500 from the start of her campaign and Bowers only since April, most of her contributors donate much lower amounts: a majority (53%) gives something between 0 and $25, and three-quarters of donations to her campaign are less than $100. That number is only a little over half for Bowers, one of Sawant’s most vocal critics when it comes to big donors and campaign money.
“It’s unfortunate, as every candidate except Kshama, myself included, were perfectly happy to keep big money out,” Bowers said in a statement to CHS in April, when Sawant had raised over $75,000, clearing the way for Bowers to successfully appeal the SEEC to lift his fundraising and spending cap. In the same statement, Bowers took aim at Sawant’s “big out-of-state donors.”
It’s a common criticism of Sawant’s campaign, which has drawn scrutiny as the leading fundraiser in the city’s most expensive district race and the race with the most non-city dollars streaming in. About a quarter of the total raised in D3, $124,267, comes from outside city limits, $84,136 of which flowed into Sawant’s campaign.
“Outside of city limits” dollars doesn’t necessarily equal “out of state,” however. 58% of Sawant’s campaign money listed on her itemized contributions list (which is not yet updated with more recent, Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission-vetted data and does not list anonymous and unitemized contributions of $25 or less) comes from Washington, and roughly 7/10 of her campaign contributors live in Washington state. Continue reading