On the ballot, the race to represent Washington’s 4th Congressional District looks just like 2014 — but on the campaign fund front, Rep. Dan Newhouse is far ahead of rival Clint Didier.
The wide divide is due to the fact Didier did little fundraising the first half of the year for his last-minute campaign and Newhouse is reaping the benefit of being the incumbent, with much higher support from national political action committees.
Updated financial reports will be filed in mid-October, but through July, Newhouse’s campaign had received $499,741 from 191 political action committees — most of which are not local — according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
That’s pretty par for the course for Washington representatives.
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Two Republicans — Rep. Dave Reichert, whose district includes Kittitas and Chelan counties, and Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler, who represents southwest Washington — have raised $672,000 and $316,900, respectively, from PACs. And Democratic Rep. Denny Heck, representing Olympia, raised $540,000 from PACs.
Newhouse’s major donors include Boeing, Microsoft, Exxon Mobile, BNSF Railway, General Electric, Koch Industries, Lockheed Martin and groups representing the agriculture, timber and fishing industries. While most of the committees are not based in Washington, many of them also represent local constituents, said campaign spokesman Sean O'Brien.
“Not a single one of Dan’s votes have or ever will be influenced by a donation or lack thereof,” O’Brien said of PAC support. “He’s been working hard to sponsor an environment where jobs can grow and a lot of those groups are going to notice that.”
Through July, Newhouse also had received $344,902 from more than a thousand individual donors, O’Brien said.
The FEC only itemizes donations over $200 and of those, 92 percent were from Washington residents. Washington’s agriculture industry is, not surprisingly, well-represented among donors to Newhouse, a Sunnyside farmer and former director of the state Department of Agriculture. Orchardists, dairy farmers, farm equipment suppliers and others in the agriculture industry donated about $300,000, according to a Herald-Republic analysis.
In total, the Newhouse campaign had raised $844,643 by mid-July.
His campaign reported spending $644,698 through the first half of 2016 on TV advertising, direct mailers, polling, yard signs and consultants.
Donation-wise, Didier’s campaign got off to a slow start this year. The Eltopia farmer and former NFL star had raised just $7,740 by the July 15 reporting deadline. All of his 10 itemized donors are from Washington, but just one resides in the 4th Congressional District, near Didier’s hometown of Eltopia.
During the primary, Didier told the Herald-Republic he didn’t need to fundraise because Newhouse’s voting record was sending voters his way.
In 2014, Newhouse, with support from many establishment Republican groups, also outpaced Didier but not so dramatically. Last time around, Newhouse raised $726,005, with about $150,000 coming from 73 political action committee donations.
That put him well ahead of Didier’s $423,115 in donations, including about $44,000 from PACs.
Both had a relatively small number of out-of-state donors in 2014 — 58 or 14.6 percent of Didier’s donations and 85, or 10 percent of Newhouse’s donations. The next filing date is Oct. 15.