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Cantwell’s fundraising far ahead of Gibson’s in U.S. Senate race

Democratic senator from Washington has raised $7.8 million to date

By , Columbian politics reporter
Published:
2 Photos
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D.-Wash., left, listens as Alishia Topper of the Vancouver City Council speaks on the topic of affordable housing at Meriwether Place at the end of March 30.
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D.-Wash., left, listens as Alishia Topper of the Vancouver City Council speaks on the topic of affordable housing at Meriwether Place at the end of March 30. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

Congressional candidates recently filed quarterly campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission, providing the first glimpse this year into the fundraising race between local Republican challenger Joey Gibson and Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell.

The race still has the look of a David and Goliath matchup.

Before candidates are required to file, they need to raise $5,000. According to an FEC spokesperson, Gibson’s committee Gibson For Freedom has not yet filed, an indication that he has not yet hit the $5,000 minimum threshold.

Gibson’s campaign did not return a request for comment.

This quarter, Cantwell reported $1,096,451 in contributions, bringing her total for the election cycle up to $7,821,260. Cantwell is seeking a fourth term.

In the last three Senate elections, Cantwell has outspent her opponents. It’s unlikely Gibson will close that gap.

The FEC has not yet posted a sortable spreadsheet of Senate candidate filings because candidates still file paper campaign finance reports, unlike candidates for the House, who file electronically. Reports were filed on April 15.

Here’s what we know so far from looking through the more than 1,500 pages filed by Cantwell:

Of the money raised, 99.97 percent of it came from individual donors. Only $250 came from committees, specifically the 30th District Democrats.

This isn’t a surprise given that in 2000, Cantwell announced that she would not accept Political Action Committee funding.

In past years, the only committee contributions she’s reported came from committees for other candidates, including Oregon’s Sen. Jeff Merkley and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

In 2014, two PACs — Noble Energy Inc. and Center for Coastal Conservation — gave Cantwell money, but she refunded both contributions. The same year, she did keep $2,000 contributed by J Street PAC, a pro-Israel nonprofit advocacy group.

Cantwell took in 825 contributions using ActBlue, a nonprofit that builds fundraising technology for left-leaning candidates. ActBlue allows individuals to contribute using their software and then contributes money to candidates on their behalf.

This quarter, Cantwell has refunded $9,683 in individual contributions for a total of $77,426 this cycle. While she hasn’t refunded any PAC contributions this quarter, she’s given a total of $4,000 back this cycle.

Gibson, a relative newcomer, announced his candidacy in February at an event at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, describing his decision as an outgrowth of his libertarian and conservative activism.

That announcement came after his involvement in organizing several rallies and “free speech” events in Vancouver, Portland and other cities along the West Coast.

Some of the events drew counterprotesters that led to some rowdy confrontations and even violence.

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