Over at Publicola, Morning Fizz includes the fundraising totals in the third district race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash. You can also peruse them yourself at the FEC, which is far more user friendly than it used to be some years ago.
For convenience sake, I’m going to list the major candidates from each party, their cash on hand (and their debt) in thousands. Easier to get a clearer picture of what is truly going on that way. I’ll round up or down from $500.
Jaime Herrera (R) 56k (3k)
David Castillo (R) 73k (3k)
Denny Heck (D) 532k (253k)
Craig Pridemore (D) 51k (5k)
Obviously, even subtracting Heck’s debt, which I believe to be $250k in loans to himself (the FEC link only shows $100k of loans,) he still looks good on paper. If the other $150k is not a loan to his own campaign, he’s not qualified to be in Congress because nobody could have spent that much on a campaign yet. I suppose he could have given the money to his campaign, which would be impressive, if rather rash.
But here’s the thing. Nobody is showing much of anything yet in terms of PACs. Heck’s money is all from wealthy political insiders and consultants. If you start clicking around at the FEC link you can find well-known names like Paul and Beth Berendt and Booth Gardner. For those outside the state, Paul Berendt was a long-time state party chair, and Heck worked for Gardner when he was governor. The individual names are really beside the point, because what’s happened is that a lot of these folks are going to reach the legal limit on contributions, and as far as I know nobody has yet asked Heck if he intends to kick his loans back to himself at some point.
The only conclusion one can reach is that Heck is trying to run Pridemore off by flashing his wallet. Here’s a hint for the Heck campaign: not gonna happen.
Contrast that with Pridemore’s totals. Whereas Heck lists several pages of wealthy donors, Pridemore has about six. Not six pages, six wealthy donors.
With little PAC money yet reported, that means Pridemore is getting the grassroots support. Right now at his Act Blue page, Pridemore shows 644 supporters have donated $26,539, or an average of about $41. (You know what’s easy, btw? Clicking through to Act Blue! But you knew that.)
Once endorsements really start rolling, and the money starts flowing, Pridemore looks to be in fine shape. The Pridemore campaign has more than enough money to keep the lights on and staff paid, so with the candidate released from the Legislature at long last, look for Craig to show why he’s not only better on the issues, he’s going to be better at political campaigning than a guy who last ran (and lost) a race for public office in 1988.
As often happens, some of our state’s incestuous little clique of Democratic insiders have bet on the wrong guy. The faint at heart started trembling like scared children in December because some Tea People were on the tee-vee, and naturally they sought comfort in the arms of their favorite thing in the entire world, money.
As anyone who has ever worked on a campaign knows, money is vital but there’s more to it than that. You need a guy who can campaign, and I’m telling you, Craig can really campaign. It would be foolish to make an absolute prediction, as obviously Heck can give Pridemore a race, but I like Craig’s chances in the final analysis, mostly because people like Craig. He’s principled and authentic, and people respond to that.
The political landscape has already changed since December, and it will likely change again before November, so I figure one might as well support the guy who would do the best job, both in the campaign and in Congress. I’m sticking with Pridemore.