State Senator Pramila Jayapal is the frontrunner in the race for the 7th Congressional District.
State Senator Pramila Jayapal is a frontrunner in the race for the 7th Congressional District. HG

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When state senators finally put an end to this year's special session and voted on a budget package Tuesday night, five of them were missing, including Seattle's Pramila Jayapal. The Seattle Times tracked down why. Jayapal's answer: She was in Washington, D.C. for a speaking engagement and to fundraise for her Congressional campaign.

One of Jayapal's opponents for the 7th Congressional District, King County Council member Joe McDermott, wasted no time in seizing on that news. A press release last night from McDermott's campaign attacks Jayapal for missing the vote. McDermott's campaign manager calls it "very disappointing that Senator Jayapal would skip dozens of votes in the legislature to raise money from big money donors in New York and Washington.”

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It's unclear how much Jayapal raised on the trip or just who the "big money donors" are. McDermott's campaign sent along a link to an online story about the fundraiser calling the host a "socialite," but the latest fundraising reports for this race aren't yet public. McDermott's press release also criticizes Jayapal for speaking to a Super PAC during the trip. The PAC in question works to elect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and get them to vote.

Jayapal has not returned a request for comment. She told the Times she scheduled the trip for “almost a month after [the regular legislative] session was scheduled to end to ensure there was no conflict" and later informed Senate leadership which days she'd be absent.

The absence is certainly a misstep for Jayapal, but it's also early in the race to be going negative. Then again, the first substantive debate between the candidates last month left little question that McDermott is the least engaging candidate in this race. Up against heavy hitters Jayapal and Brady Walkinshaw, this may not be the last time he goes negative to try to compete.