Battle For Control Of Washington Senate Draws Outside Money

Jun 7, 2017

A map of Washington's 45th legislative district
Credit The Campaign of Late Senator Andy Hill

A state legislative race in Washington is starting to draw out of state money. For one donor from Idaho that’s because the outcome could determine west coast climate policy. 

Elaine French owns a house in Seattle, but lives in Ketchum, Idaho. Now environmental groups she belongs to have drawn her attention to Washington’s 45th legislative district [which stretches from Sammamish to Woodinville on Seattle’s east side]. That’s where a special election this fall could flip control of the Washington state Senate to Democrats. Last month, French and her husband contributed $4,000 to the Democratic candidate in that race, Manka Dhingra.

She says that her investment is strategic. 

French wants to help Democrats win in Washington so they can team up with Oregon and California to counter President Donald Trump on climate policy. She says, “I think that if Washington can help form some sort of a firewall with the other states here we will really make an impact on climate change for the country.” So far the Republican candidate in the 45th district, Jinyoung Englund, has raised a much smaller amount of money from out of state. However, outside dollars have gone to a political action committee that’s spending on her behalf. So far Dhingra has raised $411,393. About a quarter of that money has come from out of state with the vast majority coming from California. A spokesman for Dhingra notes that she came to the U.S. from India as a child, grew up in California and has significant support from her community there.  Englund has raised $257,874. But she’s also benefited from $198,684 in independent spending on her behalf by Senate Republicans whose top donor is the Washington, DC-based Republican State Leadership Committee. A spokeswoman says the focus of the Englund campaign is on “in district, in-state” contributions.