Fundraising for primary heating up

Olson takes lead in 17th District race; Pike gains edge in 18th District

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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With the Aug. 7 primary elections less than three weeks away, Republican legislative candidate Julie Olson is gaining a fundraising lead over her Democratic opponent Monica Stonier, but the two have raised significantly more than the other Republican in the race, Matthew Homola.

All three are running for the 17th Legislative District House position being vacated by state Rep. Tim Probst, D-Vancouver. The top two selected by voters in the primary will advance to the Nov. 6 general election. Primary ballots were mailed Wednesday and should start appearing in mailboxes today.

In Clark County, the primary election is necessary to winnow the field of candidates in two state House races, as well as Southwest Washington's U.S. House race. In another state House race, a write-in candidate is gaining fundraising momentum in the hopes of landing on the November ballot.

Olson has raised about $34,800 and has spent more than $12,800 so far on her campaign, according to a candidate finance report that was due to the state's Public Disclosure Commission on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Stonier has raised nearly $23,000 and has spent nearly $14,000. Homola was not required to file the report because he plans on raising and spending less than $5,000 on his campaign.

The amount of money raised and spent includes in-kind contributions, such as donated political signs or event catering.

In the county's other three-way House raise, Republican Liz Pike leadsin fundraising over her Democratic opponents, David Shehorn and Ryan Gompertz. Those three are vying for the 18th District seat being vacated by state Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, who was placed in the 20th District after the 2010 Census results prompted a redrawing of legislative districts.

Pike has raised more than $22,500 since she began campaigning this winter, and she's spent about $13,800 so far.

Meanwhile, Shehorn has raised about $3,300 and has spent about $3,100. Gompertz has raised $1,100 and has spent about $300.

Gompertz said he has stopped fundraising efforts because he's raised enough money to campaign for the primary election. If he ad

vances past the primary, he plans to continue raising money.

"We have our literature, we have our signs, and we actually have all the money we need to do what we have to do," he said.

Senate and House members get an annual salary of $42,106 and are provided with a $90-per-day per diem when on state business.

Congressional race

First-term U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, has raised $1.29 million so far in her campaign for re-election, according to a quarterly Federal Election Commission report that was due Sunday. Meanwhile, Herrera Beutler's challengers, Democrat Jon Haugen and nonpartisan Norma Stevens, both said they have not raised enough money to quality for FEC reporting.

Herrera Beutler took in more than $222,500 during the fundraising quarter covering April, May and June. She's spent nearly $600,000 so far on her campaign for re-election.

"I've approached this job aggressively," Herrera Beutler said earlier this week. "Part of the reason I work to raise support is because I'm looking forward to putting my message out. Yes, I get to put my message out sometimes through the media, but I don't always feel like I get to talk about the things that are important to me. … Regardless of who my opponents are, I'm going to work this job hard."

Members of Congress make $174,000 a year, and members who serve in leadership roles earn more.

Write-in challenger

Republican Peter Silliman, the write-in candidate who announced earlier this month that he would run against fellow Republican Brandon Vick for an 18th District state House seat, has raised $3,696, according to Public Disclosure Commission data. That's more than one-third of the amount Vick has raised so far.

Vick has raised nearly $10,000, including a $2,000 loan, and he has spent more than $6,800. On Wednesday, he said he expects his fundraising to pick up. He was headed to his campaign kickoff event that evening.

"Things seem to be falling in place now," Vick said, adding that people are beginning to "take notice of this race."

Silliman has said he decided to challenge Vick after another Republican, Adrian Cortes, dropped out of the race, essentially leaving Vick unopposed. Because Cortes dropped out after the deadline to officially withdraw, Cortes' name will still appear on the primary ballot next to Vick's. If Silliman and Vick are the top two vote-getters in the primary, that would knock Cortes off the general election ballot.

Silliman, a conservative with libertarian stripes, attended the state's Republican caucus as a delegate for presidential candidate Ron Paul. He said he decided to run against Vick to give voters a more conservative option, and because he believes competition is healthy for the democratic process.

Silliman is the only person to file in Clark County as a write-in candidate, according to the county's elections supervisor, Tim Likness.

Big spenders

The amount of money raised and spent in the 17th District Senate race seems to dwarf the amount moving through other legislative campaigns in Clark County. State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, has raised more than $133,000 in his campaign for re-election, while his challenger, Rep. Probst, has raised more than $69,000.

Rather than seeking re-election, Probst filed to run against Benton for the 17th District Senate seat. They are the only two who have filed to run for the position.

So far, Benton has spent more than $73,000 on his campaign, and Probst has spent nearly $52,000.

Both candidates released announcements earlier this month touting their fundraising prowess for the month of June.

"Our very ambitious fundraising goal for the month of June was a whopping $40,000, and we beat it," Probst said in an email announcement to supporters. "That is simply a tremendous outcome for a legislative race at this time of year."

Meanwhile, Benton's campaign sent out a news release stating: "Sen. Benton is known throughout the legislature for his fundraising skills and has utilized that to gain the support from the Clark County community since 1994. The overwhelming majority of his campaign finance comes from individual donors who are willing to give what they have in these tough economic times to see that he keeps his seat in the Senate next year."

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