Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of blog articles by University of Washington Tacoma students interning with The News Tribune. They are taking a closer look at campaign finance in the current election cycle.
Former A&E Flip This House host and real-estate investment guru Armando Montelongo lives in San Antonio, Texas, and thus can’t vote in Washington state — at least, not legally — but that didn’t stop him from donating $1800 to Rob McKenna’s campaign. Nor did non-resident status prevent Jody Buckley — a self-employed venture capitalist from Menlo Park, California — from likewise giving $1800 to Jay Inslee.
According to PDC data, out of state contributors like Montelongo and Buckley have donated over a million dollars to our gubernatorial candidates so far this year — $553,248 to McKenna and $449,870 to Inslee.
Half a million dollars per candidate may sound like a lot of money, in absolute terms, but accounts for only five or six percent of the totals raised so far. And while neither candidate enjoys a significant outside-money advantage, there are some stark differences as to where those donations are coming from:
Most of Inslee’s outside money has come from individual donations (78.9%), while businesses make up the majority of Rob McKenna’s contributions (54.6%), and although Inslee has received a greater total number of outside contributions (1,167 to McKenna’s 795), McKenna’s average contribution is larger ($695.90 to Inslee’s $385.49). These trends closely follow those for in-state contributions, reported here .
Neither the total amount of money raised this year, nor the share from out of state, comes close to the record amounts raised in 2008, when incumbent Christine Gregoire and her challenger Dino Rossi collectively raised and spent more than $25 million in direct contributions. Back then, 16 percent ($1.6 million) of Gregoire’s total came from outside Washington state — more than Inslee and McKenna combined.