In the only race for an open congressional seat in Washington this year, former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and state Rep. Beth Doglio are on relatively even financial ground, as their campaigns enter the final stretch.
And both campaigns have gotten boosts from political action committees (PACs): Big outside spending from national progressive groups for Doglio and donations from corporate PACs for Strickland.
The two candidates, both Democrats, are competing to represent Washington’s 10th Congressional District, representing Olympia, Lakewood and Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Doglio has about $350,000 on hand, after raising $570,000 over the last three months, according to her quarterly campaign finance report, filed last week. Strickland, boosted by her victory in August’s primary, raised more money over the last three months, nearly $760,000, but has slightly less on hand, about $340,000, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
But Doglio has also received significant support from two outside groups led by one of her most prominent supporters, Seattle Rep. Pramila Jayapal.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, co-chaired by Jayapal, has spent nearly $540,000 supporting Doglio’s campaign, far more than it has spent on any other race in the country. And the Medicare for All PAC, also led by Jayapal, has spent an additional $115,000 for Doglio, again, more than it has spent anywhere else in the country.
The outside spending from the two progressive groups, in a race between two Democrats, highlights the split that continues to play out in the Democratic Party, even as it has united behind the presidential candidacy of Joe Biden.
Doglio, who’s been endorsed by progressive stars like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, supports a Medicare for All health care plan, and a Green New Deal to battle climate change. Strickland, who’s been endorsed by past Washington Govs. Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke, supports still ambitious, but more modest, policies to expand health care access and fight climate change.
Strickland, meanwhile, has received $140,000 in support from outside groups including the Congressional Black Caucus PAC. The Service Employees International Union PAC and the United Food and Commercial Workers union PAC have spent more than $190,000 advertising against Strickland.
Jayapal said her groups were spending in the race in part because it’s a matchup between two Democrats.
“So it doesn’t get money from other Democratic PACs,” she said. “So for us it’s just all about electing bold progressives across the country.”
Doglio’s campaign has also highlighted more than $30,000 in donations that Strickland has received from corporate PACs. Doglio has pledged to not accept corporate PAC money.
Strickland, at one point, did the same. A brochure her campaign distributed earlier this year said that “Marilyn has taken the no corporate PAC pledge.” In more recent interviews, however, she has said she would accept such donations.
Her campaign accepted $31,500 from corporate PACs in August and September, from companies including Boeing, Nike, Weyerhaeuser and Pfizer.
“Giant corporations have mobilized to support my opponent because they see her as an ally, and me as a threat to their undue influence in Congress,” Doglio said in a prepared statement. “I’ve been resolute since the beginning of this campaign: I’m not taking corporate PAC money because big businesses have enough advocates in Congress. My question for Marilyn is: What changed?”
Doglio’s campaign also criticized an “additional $30,000+ from business-aligned PACs” that Strickland accepted. Those are mostly donations from business trade association PACs. But Doglio’s campaign accepted at least one similar donation, a $5,000 donation just last week from the National Beer Wholesalers Association PAC.
Mark Prentice, a Strickland spokesperson, pointed out that Doglio has had greater support from outside spending groups and that she has accepted corporate donations at times in her past campaigns for state Legislature.
“Marilyn refuses to limit her ability to reach voters and be outspent by outside special interests who don’t know or understand the South Sound and will try and distort her record of proven leadership,” Prentice said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the United Food and Commercial Workers union had spent money supporting Marilyn Strickland’s campaign. They have opposed her campaign.