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Tacoma: Jack Connelly’s self-funding nearing the $1 million mark in 27th Legislative District race

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Oct. 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
October 19, 2012 2:43 pm

Tacoma trial lawyer Jack Connelly has now poured $988,383 into his campaign for the 27th Legislative District senate seat against state Rep. Jeannie Darneille, the latest campaign finance records show.

In all, the Connelly campaign’s total contributions — when including about $67,000 in other donations  – have surpassed the $1 million mark.  He has raised $1,065,719 to date — tops among legislative candidates statewide, records show.

Connelly’s camp has also spent almost three-quarters of that money — partly to fund a barrage of TV spots, mailers and other political advertisements in recent weeks that largely attack Darneille’s 12-year record in the state House.  Darneille’s camp has refuted many of the ads as misleading or false.

In our profile of Tacoma’s senate race last weekend, we reported Connelly’s self-funded contributions at that time — a mere $571,000 — already had set a state record for self-funding in a Washington legislative race.   The latest campaign reports  now indicate that the nearly $784,000 Connelly has so far spent also has smashed the record for money spent by a single candidate in a legislative contest in Washington.

According to the Public Disclosure Commission, the previous record spent by a candidate running for a state legislative seat was the $579,055  that Republican Gregg Bennett spent in 2010, during his unsuccessful bid  for the 48th District senate seat against Democrat Rodney Tom.

The PDC doesn’t keep records for the top self-funding candidates, but campaign finance reports indicate the  $100,454 in personal funds that Bennett spent in 2010 had been the previous tops for self-financing of a legislative race.

Connelly’s spending totals also are now nearing record-territory for any non-gubernatorial candidate in Washington, including spending in races for statewide office.  He’s closing in on Ann Anderson, who spent $804, 941  in 1992 during her bid for Public Lands Commissioner.  Anderson ranks fifth highest in money spent all-time by a non-gubernatorial candidate (Rob McKenna‘s nearly $1.9 million spent during his 2008 bid for Attorney General tops that category).

Meantime, Darneille has so far raised $233,375 — none of it her own — an amount that ranks 15th among legislative candidates this year.  Darneille, also a Democrat, bested Connelly in the primary, 58 percent to 42 percent.

In an interview last month, Connelly refuted claims by some observers that he was trying to buy the election.

“I’d say number one, we’re told when we’re looking at getting into the race that you’re going up against someone whose been there for six terms, so it’s going to be an expensive race and you’re going to have to spend your own money,” he said. “We knew that going in. Two, with regard to – I know some people say, `you’re trying to buy the election’ —  but I don’t think you can.  I don’t think voters in Tacoma are that unsophisticated.  I think people look at the issues and the candidates.”

Connelly added he intended to “do what’s necessary to put my message out.”

“It’s something that my wife and I are committed to and we believe these issues we’re talking about are the ones that are important,” he said.

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