Incumbents have edge in campaign fundraising

Benton has brought in $84,000 so far, compared to $33,000 for Probst

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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In arguably the highest profile legislative race in Clark County, incumbent Republican state Sen. Don Benton is out-fundraising his challenger, Democratic Rep. Tim Probst, but Probst said his campaign is picking up speed.

Benton, R-Vancouver, has raised more than $84,000 this election season. About $25,000 of that was raised in May, according to candidate fundraising reports that were due to the state's Public Disclosure Commission before midnight Monday.

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Meanwhile, Probst, D-Vancouver, raised more than $11,000 in May, bringing his Senate campaign total to more than $33,000. The 17th Legislative District race between Probst and Benton is being watched closely by political observers as Democrats and Republicans fight to secure a majority in the Senate.

In all nine legislative races in the 17th, 18th and 49th districts, candidates have raised more than a combined $343,000. Across the board, incumbents have been able to raise more than their challengers.

Probst said on Tuesday that the amount he's raised in the first half of June is equal to what he raised in all of May.

"I really like how our momentum is building," Probst said. "It's really beginning to snowball."

Probst is also working on getting permission from donors to transfer money from his House re-election campaign fund to his Senate fund.

"We do have about $16,000 more that can still transfer over from the House account," said Probst, who decided in April to run for state Senate instead of run for re-election.

Probst said his donors reflect the unifying approach he takes toward politics. He said he receives campaign donations from business leaders, working people, and education reformers, to name a few. Benton said most of his donations are given in small amounts and come from people living in his district.

"Fundraising is going really well," Benton said, "but certainly you can tell that the economy is much different. People have less money for politics these days."

In the 18th District, state Rep. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, also had the challenge of transferring donations from her House re-election campaign to her Senate campaign. She decided to run to replace former state Sen. Joseph Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, rather than seek re-election.

"I really haven't raised very much money," Rivers said on Tuesday, adding that the more than $22,000 she raised in May was a carryover from her House campaign fund. She said it took time to get permission to transfer the funds and "that's where my energies were focused."

Rivers said she has a few fundraisers lined up and that she is excited to ask for help at the grass-roots level.

"I feel good about it," she said. "There's nowhere to go but up."

At press time, it was unknown how much Rivers' opponent, Democrat Ralph Schmidt, had raised for his campaign.

Schmidt did not file paperwork online with the state's Public Disclosure Commission. This could be because he hasn't raised any money yet, or because he filed by mail and the information hasn't been received yet by the commission. He did not return a phone call placed Tuesday morning.

In the 49th District Senate race to replace outgoing Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, it appears Democrat Annette Cleveland has a strong lead over Republican Eileen Qutub, according to Public Disclosure Commission data. Cleveland has raised $29,000 while Qutub has raised about $3,000.

Republican Debbie Peterson, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, said she hasn't raised any money yet because she has been conducting research on bus rapid transit. She said she will begin fundraising this week.

In the 17th District race to replace Probst, the fundraising between Republican Julie Olson and Democrat Monica Stonier appears close. Olson raised more than $17,000, while Stonier raised more than $16,000. Republican Matthew Homola hasn't filed a fundraising report with the state because he expects to raise and spend less than $5,000 during his campaign for the seat.

Republican Liz Pike appears to have the fundraising lead in the 18th District battle to replace state Rep. Ed Orcutt, who is running in a different district after boundary lines changed. Of her opponents, Democrat David Shehorn will begin accepting campaign donations on Monday, and Democrat Ryan Gompertz hasn't raised any money so far.

Commissioner races

Candidates in the Clark County commissioner races have raised more than a combined $124,000. In the District 1 race, Democrat Joe Tanner has outraised all of this opponents combined, raising more than $54,000 — $10,000 of that being personal money. Republican incumbent Tom Mielke has taken in about $12,000.

Darren Wertz has raised no money so far. He said he was busy with his wedding and now plans to focus on fundraising.

Another candidate in the race, Bob Freund, did not file paperwork online with the Public Disclosure Commission.

In the District 2 race, Republican David Madore had raised the most money so far, with more than $28,000, but $20,000 is personal money. The incumbent, Republican Marc Boldt, has taken in more than $13,000.

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