Grant leads campaign funding total so far

Democrats appear to be hoping money talks as the majority party attempts to hold onto a House of Representatives seat in Eastern Washington's 16th Legislative District.

With a little more than a week until the Aug. 18 primary, nearly $225,000 has been raised and nearly $140,000 spent by candidates running for state representative in the 9th and 16th legislative districts.

State Democrats have focused efforts in the 16th District, where incumbent Rep. Laura Grant, D-Walla Walla, faces off against two Republican foes and a self-styled Reagan Independent to hold the seat her late father, Rep. Bill Grant, won for 11 consecutive terms.

Grant's seat, which represents a piece of Southeast Washington stretching from Walla Walla to Pasco and part of Kennewick, is the only one in Eastern Washington occupied by a Democrat outside of urban Spokane.

Grant thus far is the fundraising front-runner, having raked in $56,196.58 in donations as of Friday afternoon.

Reports filed with the state's Public Disclosure Commission show Grant's tally includes $15,000 cash from the House Democratic Caucus Campaign Committee, which also spent $9,375 on polling, $4,500 for a campaign manager and $143 for postage on Grant's behalf.

She also received two $800 contributions from the Harry Truman Fund, House Democrats' soft money committee, and contributions of $500 or less from 17 individual Democratic lawmakers including House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle; Majority Whip Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle; Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Seattle; and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle.

Although Glen Stockwell is running as a Democrat in the 9th District, he hasn't been endorsed by the party and hasn't reported any contributions.

Other special interest groups throwing their money behind Grant are Central Washington Lawyers For Working Families, Inland Northwest PAC, Western Washington Trial Lawyers for Victim's Rights and the Washington Forest Protection Association.

Grant, a fifth-grade teacher, also appears to have support among education lobbyists, getting contributions from the Public School Employees of Washington and League of Education Voters staffers.

The Republican party thus far is staying out of the fray, choosing not to endorse or make contributions to Terry Nealey or Kevin Young, both of whom are running in the 16th District as Republicans.

Nealey, a Dayton lawyer, has raised $41,401.95 as of Friday in cash contributions and donated goods or services. Young has reported $8,722 in total contributions.

Reagan Independent David Roberts, a corrections officer living in Walla Walla, has not reported any contributions to the Public Disclosure Commission.

Nealey and Young's contributions mostly come from individuals living in Walla Walla and nearby communities such as Dayton, Touchet and Waitsburg, and none of them exceed $1,000. Most are in the range of $250 or less.

Nealey reported a few larger contributions, such as two $800 donations from retail giant Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart also has contributed to Republican Susan Fagan in the 9th District race.

Fagan is the fundraising front-runner of the five candidates running in the 9th District.

Fagan, formerly government relations director for Schweizer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, reported $61,337.08 in cash contributions and donations of goods and services.

Many of her supporters are business owners in Whitman County or former SEL colleagues, although she also received contributions from Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Deerfield, Ill., Premera Blue Cross in Seattle and the Timber Products Manufacturing PAC.

Hailey, who runs a farm in Mesa and is the widow of the late Rep. Steve Hailey, draws her financial support largely from Franklin County residents. She has raised $39,142.65.

Republican Hailey also reports contributions from special interest groups Public School Employees of Washington and the Washington Cattle Feeders Association.

Republican Art Swannack, a Lamont sheep rancher, has raised $8,375 from individuals in rural areas near Spokane in the northern part of the district.

Darin Watkins, a Republican from Palouse, has raised $9,665.59 from individual contributors.

-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; mdupler@tricityherald.com