Fundraising for congressional race kicks it up a notch

Republican state Rep. Jaime Herrera will take a break from the grueling legislative session to travel to Washington, D.C., for a Capitol Hill fundraiser later this month. Hosting the Feb. 25 breakfast will be former U.S. Sen. Slate Gorton, Herrera’s marquee backer, and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., her former boss. Politico’s Liz Mair reports that individuals are being asked to contribute $250 toward Herrera’s campaign to succeed 3rd District Rep. Brian Baird, a Democrat. Political action committees will be asked to fork over $1,000. Herrera showed her fund-raising chops in late December, when she raised more than $55,000 just days after entering the race.

Meanwhile, Democrat Denny Heck of Olympia has hired Strategies 360, a high-powered Seattle political consulting firm, to run his campaign for the 3rd District seat. The Seattle Times has called Ron Dotzauer, the company’s co-founder and CEO and the architect of Sen. Maria Cantwell’s 2000 victory over Gorton, “one of the most successful political operatives in Washington history.” The firm is hosting a fund-raising reception for Heck at its downtown Seattle office Feb. 24. A $1,000 contribution will qualify donors as “co-hosts.”

State Rep. Deb Wallace’s campaign accused Heck of violating federal election rules by e-mailing the invitation for the event to a small number of state and federal employees at their work e-mail addresses.

Said Paul Berendt of Strategies 360, former longtime state Democratic chairman: “I am unaware of any campaign laws regulating this. I sent this e-mail to a large list of my personal e-mail addresses that I have used over the years. This is an event I am participating in, and I didn’t vet the e-mail list with the Heck campaign.”

A Federal Election Commission spokesman said federal campaign rules don’t address such solicitations. It’s not clear whether the Hatch Act, which restricts political activity by federal employees, covers unsolicited fund-raising e-mails.

Speaking of campaign staffs, Republican 3rd District candidate David Castillo, an Olympia financial advisor, has hired two campaign staff members with ties to the George W. Bush administration. His lead campaign consultant, Cary Evans, served as a western regional campaign director in the Bush-Cheney 2000 and 2004 campaigns. Campaign manager Tom Dryer served in various capacities in the Bush administration. Castillo worked in Bush’s Department of Homeland Security. Castillo also has a paid spokesman.

Meanwhile, Herrera’s campaign is deploying Daniel Beutler, the candidate’s husband, as her spokesman. Herrera said that’s part of her strategy to “keep it lean” with campaign spending — at least for now.

The race for the open 3rd District seat, one of a handful of true swing districts in the nation, is already attracting attention from the national parties. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted Herrera from day one. But its latest volley suggests it needs to brush up on its oppositional research.

In a Feb. 9 missive, Andy Stone of the DCCC said “it seems only natural” that Herrera would back “House Republicans’ new Social Security and Medicare privatization scheme.” The reason? McMorris Rodgers is now vice chair of the House Republican Caucus.

“Now, will Herrera come clean with Southwest Washington voters about eliminating the safety net for seniors, subjecting their benefits to the whim of the stock market and greedy Wall Street traders, and cutting benefits for those under 55?” Stone asked.
Herrera, whose well-publicized health care agenda includes tailoring some policies for young adults and allowing health insurance plans to be marketed across state lines, scoffed:

“This is the same group that just put in a FOIA request for all my House records,” including non-existent e-mails from Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.

“I don’t support privatizing Social Security or Medicare,” she said. “And this isn’t the Republican plan, it’s one congressman’s plan. I’m not interested in bills that aren’t going anywhere.”

— Kathie Durbin

Scroll to top