Money is pouring into the race for city council District 3, covering Capitol Hill and the Central District, both to incumbent socialist city council member Kshama Sawant and her main challenger, Urban League president Pamela Banks. According to the latest state campaign fundraising reports, Sawant is leading with about $125,800* to Banks’ $94,700.
But let's look for a second at only the cash raised in the last month, during which Banks’ war chest doubled.
As of the end of April, about two months after announcing her run, Banks had raised $46,000. Since then, in the month of May and the first five days of June, she's raised another $46,100**.
Sawant, meanwhile, raised about $83,500 through the end of April and another $34,500 in May and the first three days of June. That number doesn't include money from the fundraiser Sawant held this past weekend, which cost $15 to attend and drew at least 800 people. (That event raised $25,000, according to Sawant's campaign, in both ticket sales and the painfully drawn-out solicitation part of the program, which came at the end of the night, just before Sawant spoke, and drove a few people to start chanting "Kshama, Kshama!" in an effort to make it stop.)
While it could be that donors are just super excited about Banks (who has fewer total people contributing to her campaign than Sawant), it's safe to assume just as many of those donors are worried about Sawant, who supports the maximum possible linkage fee on developers and is now pushing for rent control. And, while Banks has repeatedly said that donations won't influence her votes, Publicola has pointed out that her stance on linkage fees has appeared to weaken since this money started pouring in.
Among Banks' donors are both the chair ($1,200***) and the president ($700) of Goodman Real Estate; the founder of Westlake-based Alchemy Real Estate ($700); and two employees of Vulcan ($500 from a public policy specialist; $550 from its community relations manager).
She's also received $250 from a board member from the Rental Housing Association of Washington, which represents landlords; $700 from the Washington Restaurant Association's PAC; and $700 from the Seattle Mariners (huh?). From City Hall types: Council President Tim Burgess has donated $500; former Council Member Richard Conlin (whom Sawant beat in 2013) gave $100; Council Member Jean Godden's consultant Cathy Allen gave $200; and Tobias Pulliam, a legislative aide to Council member Tom Rasmussen, donated $700. Andrew Lofton, executive director of the Seattle Housing Authority, who was at the helm when SHA introduced last year's controversial Stepping Forward program, gave a small contribution of $50.
Then there's $700 from the Seattle Police Officers Guild, which has endorsed Banks. SPOG president Ron Smith says his organization supports Banks because she "understands public safety and the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color. We were quite impressed with her."
In a departure from previous years, Smith says the union only considered endorsing candidates who asked for their endorsement. In District 3, Banks was the only candidate to ask for the union's endorsement. In 2013, when the union was interviewing all candidates before endorsing, Smith says the group reached out to Sawant and "we were told, 'No thanks, we don’t want anything to do with you.'"
(SPOG also endorsed in three other races in which only one candidate asked for their blessing: Council Member Sally Bagshaw in District 7, Council President Tim Burgess in one of the citywide races, and civil rights attorney Lorena González in the other. In District 4, they endorsed Abel Pacheco, who previously worked for the Seattle Police Foundation, over incumbent Jean Godden and neighborhood activist Tony Provine. In District 5, where no incumbent is running, SPOG endorsed former pastor Sandy Brown over the only other candidate who asked for an interview, Debadutta Dash, who cofounded the Washington State and India Trade Relations Action Committee.)
Unsurprisingly, Sawant is seeing some of her biggest gifts from unions, with $700 donations coming in from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 46, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 19, Service Employees International Union 775, the Building and Construction Trades Council, three Teamsters unions, and the Washington Federation of State Employees Local 1488. (That's a grand total of $5,600 from these unions alone; she has donations from a number of others, too.) Employees of Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing have also donated to the Sawant campaign—a reminder that, as in the case of those two contributions to Banks from Vulcan employees, money from employees of a particular company doesn't necessarily indicate support from the company itself. For example, it's hard to imaging Boeing, which Sawant has said would like to see nationalized, supporting her candidacy. But at least one Boeing employee does.
Also in that race, marriage equality advocate Rod Hearne has raised about $57,700 and Morgan Beach, whose main campaign issue is gender pay equity, has raised about $12,600. Long-shot neighborhood-power guy Lee Carter hasn't raised a dime.
Meanwhile, here's where things stand for the frontrunners in the other races:
Incumbent Bruce Harrell: $161,000
Tammy Morales: $37,400
Incumbent Mike O'Brien: $45,200
Catherine Weatbrook: $21,400
Incumbent Sally Bagshaw: $64,100
Gus Hartmann: $4,200 (Not exactly a "frontrunner," but Bagshaw's only challenger with any money at all.)
*This and all the other numbers over $1,000 in this post have been rounded to the nearest $100.
**If you’re doing the math here, you’ll notice these numbers don’t add up exactly to the candidates’ totals. That’s because those totals also include in-kind and anonymous gifts, money from the candidates themselves, or gifts under $25 (of which Sawant has $7,100).
***The campaign will have to refund $500 of this because the contribution limit is $700 per donor.
This post has been updated to include the amount of money raised at Sawant's recent fundraiser.