Outside groups spend big bucks bashing Probst, Benton

Senate candidates in Clark County’s 17th Legislative District are in the top five when it comes to the amount of money spent against them this election season by outside political organizations.

Outside groups have spent about $164,000 in opposition to state Rep. Tim Probst, D-Vancouver, who is running to unseat state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver. And outside groups have spent about $159,000 in opposition to Benton. Those numbers are according to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s online database.

Independent political groups, which are sometimes financed by a political party or special interests, don’t have direct ties with any candidates’ campaign. But they can certainly buy advertisements that support or oppose candidates.

Much of the time, this outside spending manifests itself as glossy, and sometimes cartoonish, fliers that seem to be flooding voters’ mailboxes as election day nears.

Statewide, such outside groups have spent more than $2.2 million in opposition to legislative candidates. They’ve also spent more than $1.2 million to express support for legislative candidates.

Just three other legislative candidates have been hit harder by outside spending than Benton and Probst have. Those candidates are: Sen. Rosemary, McAulliffe, D-Bothell; Rep. Mark Hargrove, R-Covington; and Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island.

In the race to replace Probst, Republican Julie Olson and Democrat Monica Stonier also have suffered advertising blows from outside groups. Independent political organizations have spent nearly $97,000 against Olson and nearly $26,000 against Stonier.

Meanwhile, the other 17th District House race between Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, and Democrat Jim Gizzi has attracted no outside spending.

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523 or stevie.mathieu@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reportermathieu or www.twitter.com/col_politics

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