On Tuesday, Brayden Olson, an entrepreneur and businessman who wants you to stop calling him "Seattle's Christian Grey," withdrew from the race to represent Washington's 8th District in Congress.
His resignation letter is full of hope for the future as an "activist," and it includes a plug for a book he's publishing called Twilight of the Idols: An American Story, which sounds like it has nothing to do with the famous Twilight book series, which served as the source material for E. L. James's 50 Shades of Grey, which stars Christian Grey, a fictional Seattle millionaire who is no way connected to Brayden Olson, as Olson has already explained in detail. But there's also a little shade in there:
In January, I made the difficult decision to stop fundraising for this election, when it was made clear to the candidates that endorsements on the Democratic side would be made without fair consideration of all the Democratic candidates. This was a disappointment, but faced with that reality, I decided on principle that I could not continue to actively ask donors for their hard-earned monetary support.
As this process has continued to accelerate, I know it is only right that I choose to withdraw at this time.
Kim Schrier pulled in early, large endorsements from EMILY's List and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. She's since picked up endorsements from Laborers’ International Union of North America, Washington and Northern Idaho District Council, a co-endorsement from Indivisible groups in the district.
While I was reporting on allegations of the Washington State Democratic Party putting its thumb on the scale in the race, Olson told me that "endorsements [were] happening without interviews or without paperwork being submitted."
At that time, Larry Brown, political director for the machinists union, told me that “right before or after the first of the year" he invited "leaders from significant local lodges" to interview the candidates he considered to be in the top three. Those candidates were Kim Schrier, Jason Rittereiser, and Shannon Hader. In March, both Rittereiser and Hader confirmed they'd met with the union in late December. Schrier announced the union's endorsement on January 24 of this year.
Olson's departure leaves three major contenders and two non-major contenders on the Democratic side. According to the latest filings from the FEC, Schrier leads the pack financially with approximately $1.1 million. With the help of a $300,000 personal loan to her own campaign, Hader is currently technically in second. Former King County prosecutor and enemy to unbound hay, Rittereiser, comes in third with just under $600,000 raised. IT guy Robert Hunziker and Independent William Grassie are also in the race, but they have raised and spent very little money.
The only Republican running for the seat is perennial loser Dino Rossi, who leads the field with $2 million.
In other money news, today Paul Ryan's Super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, announced a $2.1 million ad buy in the 8th District for the fall, edging out Nancy Pelosi's House Majority PAC, which dropped nearly $1.7 million on ad buys in Seattle.
Washington state has three Republican-controlled districts in play this election: the 3rd, the 5th, and the 8th. Analysts think Democrats have the best chance of flipping the 8th District—which is only a 30-minute drive from Seattle—from red to blue.