In the contest for King County executive, campaign money looks quite partisan in this nonpartisan race. Dow Constantine is far more likely to attract donors who gave to Democrat Chris Gregoire in the 2008 governor's race than to Republican Dino Rossi. Susan Hutchison is collecting far more money from Rossi donors than those who gave...
In the contest for King County executive, campaign money looks quite partisan in this nonpartisan race.
Dow Constantine, chair of the Metropolitan King County Council and a Democrat, has gotten most of his money from Seattle. He is far more likely to attract donors who gave to Democrat Chris Gregoire in the 2008 governor’s race than to Republican Dino Rossi.
Contributions to Susan Hutchison are nearly a mirror image. Hutchison, a first-time candidate who says she is nonpartisan, has relied more on the Eastside and is collecting far more money from Rossi donors than those who gave to Gregoire.
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It’s natural that Constantine, whose council district contains a large swath of Seattle, is drawing from the heavily Democratic donors of the city, said Matt Barreto, a University of Washington political science professor.
Because Constantine has “carved out the Democratic-leaning base,” Hutchison — who has strong ties to the GOP — is left “with the natural territory of the Republican-leaning base,” Barreto said.
Overall, Constantine has collected more money, $830,000, to Hutchison’s $542,000.
He has a broader base of financial support, with more than three times as many donors as Hutchison. His donors gave an average of $189; hers an average of $412. (The legal limit is $1,600 per donor in the election.)
But both candidates rely heavily on big donors, according to an analysis by The Seattle Times of campaign contributions reported as of Oct. 20.
People who gave at least $500 to one of the candidates account for a majority of each campaign’s total contributions.
In Constantine’s case, 50 percent of his big donors also gave to Gregoire in 2008. Just 4 percent gave to Rossi.
For Hutchison, 44 percent of her top supporters gave to Rossi; only 6 percent donated to Gregoire.
Contributions to the two candidates — who both live in Seattle — are sharply divided by geography, as well.
More than 59 percent of Constantine’s money comes from Seattle and just 14 percent from Eastside cities.
Hutchison has gotten 45 percent of her total from Eastside cities and 36 percent from Seattle.
“Hutchison does not have a clearly defined district like Constantine, so her support base might appear more scattered, which it is,” Barreto said.
Neither candidate has relied much on out-of-state money. Constantine has received about 5 percent of his total from outside Washington. Hutchison’s out-of-state money is 3 percent of her total.
Looking at contributors by occupation reveals more contrast between the candidates.
Constantine has collected far more from attorneys, about $88,000, to Hutchison’s $12,000. Environmental lawyer Peter Goldman and personal-injury lawyer Bill Marler — both big givers to Democrats — are among Constantine’s leading donors from the field of law.
He also has done well with unions — at least 30 different unions have contributed $31,443 — and King County employees, who have given $22,000.
Hutchison has no apparent union contributions and just three contributions totaling $600 from those who identified themselves as county employees. ($500 of that came from Republican County Councilmember Reagan Dunn.)
She has dominated, though, among donors who call themselves homemakers, collecting $95,000 to Constantine’s $17,000. Homemakers who gave her the maximum of $1,600 include Betty Freeman, Jolene McCaw and Lisa Persdotter, the wives of prominent businessmen Kemper Freeman, Bruce McCaw and Charles Simonyi, respectively.
Hutchison’s largest group of contributors by occupation is business owners and executives, who have donated almost $112,000 to her campaign. Bruce Nordstrom, William Weyerhaeuser and Martin Selig are among those who’ve made big donations to Hutchison.
Constantine has collected almost $89,000 from business owners and executives, including real-estate developers Jon Runstad and Frank Stagen, and Jeff Steichen, general manager of the Showbox clubs.
Both candidates also face more than $100,000 in attack ads from independent expenditure campaigns. The independent campaign against Constantine is mostly funded by Eastside business interests, such as the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties and the Eastside Business Alliance.
Independent ads against Hutchison have been largely financed by public-employee unions and abortion-rights groups.
There’s something else noteworthy about donations reported through Oct. 20: Contributions by employees of Boeing, Microsoft and the University of Washington are not much of a factor in the race.
Constantine has collected $7,300 from Microsoft employees, Hutchison $5,650. Boeing employees have given $2,865 to Constantine, and $2,050 to Hutchison (including $1,600 from her husband).
And UW employees and students have donated $8,800 to Constantine and $525 to Hutchison.