Herrera Beutler pulling in donations

Her campaign is far ahead of opponents’ in contributions

By Lauren Dake, Columbian political writer

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In the first three months of the election year, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s campaign raised almost four times as much money than the total of her announced opponents. A check of campaign records show most of her money has come from individuals from around the region, but she’s also pulled checks from high-profile contributors, such as the Tesoro Petroleum Corp.'s and BNSF Railway’s political action committees.

So far Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, has stayed neutral on the issue of whether Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies should be able to build the Northwest’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver.

“Jaime has never let a campaign contribution influence her actions before and she’s not going to start now,” her spokesman Casey Bowman wrote in an email.

In a three-month period starting the first of the year and going through the end of March, Herrera Beutler pulled in $170,178 in donations, and has $766,215 cash on hand. She received a $2,500 boost from both the Tesoro and BNSF political action committees, reported in the April quarterly report to the Federal Election Commission.

Her Republican opponent Michael Delavar, a former board member of the Clark County Republican Party and a former Washougal City Council member, has raised $4,655 in the same time period and has $5,390 cash on hand.

Delavar, an airline pilot, noted that incumbents often have an advantage.

“But, of course, on our side we have (Herrera Beutler’s) voting record; that’s the best tool I have,” he said.

Democratic challenger Bob Dingethal raised $39,345 in the most recent quarter and has $12,070 in the bank.

Herrera Beutler, who was first elected in 2010, is seeking her third term in the U.S. House. Dingethal said he is not worried by Herrera Beutler’s formidable fundraising prowess.

At one of her early campaign events in the 2012 election, she featured House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. People could attend a photo reception with Boehner for $1,000 each.

“If you’re daunted, you’re in the wrong game,” Dingethal said. “You have to keep grinding it out. One advantage I have is I meet hundreds of people every day.

“Even if you raise half a million and you spend it on a television ad, you don’t grab someone’s attention and belief. But when I meet someone and shake their hand, those are votes you can count on.”

Dingethal, who is on sabbatical from his post as executive director of the environmental group Gifford Pinchot Task Force, has recently started to pull endorsements that he believes will translate into donations from popular Democratic bases, such as labor unions.

“That will help,” he said. “They are starting to line up.”

All the candidates said the donations that matter most to them are the ones that come from individuals. During a presentation at a pizza place, Dingethal said, one guy poured $26.87 into an envelope as a donation.

“That’s all the money he had on him, and I was touched,” Dingethal said.