Fund-Raising Records Broken In Senate Race -- Murray's Attracting Business; Smith's Touting Populist Roots
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
The two women campaigning for Washington state's U.S Senate seat are setting fund-raising records in their bid to become part of the world's most exclusive, almost-all-male club, mostly with the help of little people.
Sen. Patty Murray and Republican challenger Linda Smith together have raised 40 percent more money in this election than their male counterparts - Republican Sen. Slade Gorton and his Democratic challenger Ron Sims - did four years ago, campaign records show.
As of mid-October, Smith and Murray already had raised a total of $8.4 million.
A record number of individual contributors have written checks to Murray and Smith, smashing Gorton's record of 37,000 contributors in 1994. The two 1998 candidates have developed donor lists of 43,300 and 41,000 respectively.
Murray and Smith say their fund-raising prowess shows that they appeal to a broad base of people. But the numbers also reflect the way in which each woman has been appealing for votes all year, with Murray taking on more of a pro-business tone and Smith playing up her populist roots.
Democrat Murray's top contributor list is dominated more by Washington state business icons like Boeing and Microsoft than the feminist and labor groups that propelled her into office six years ago. Smith, meanwhile, is tapping into a network of small-business owners, farmers and working-class residents who advocate social conservatism, less government and more of a grass-roots approach to politics. Smith's vow
More than a year ago, Smith spooked leaders in her own party when she vowed not to accept money from political action committees (PACs), a move they perceived as unilateral disarmament and an almost certain prescription for defeat. But she has managed to nearly keep pace with Murray in the money race and has even collected more from individuals than the Democratic incumbent.
"There may be a glass ceiling, but there's no green ceiling" for either candidate, said Blair Butterworth, a Democratic consultant in Seattle.
Butterworth attributes the bump in donations to several factors: the increased cost of television advertising, candidates' fears of a low-turnout election and campaign-finance limits that require people to raise money in smaller chunks.
"You've got to do real grass-roots fund raising," Butterworth said, and "these donors aren't volunteers at the Salvation Army ready to march, or give money. They've got to be found, recruited and encouraged to participate."
Murray, a former parent-education instructor who couldn't get her own party to take her seriously in 1992, has become one of the prodigious fund-raisers in the U.S. Senate. Already, she has raised three times the $1.5 million given to her first statewide campaign, against former U.S. Rep. Rod Chandler, six years ago.
"I'm proud of the support I've received," Murray said. "My support comes from average Washingtonians who care about the issues I'm working on. This has been a grass-roots campaign."
Business support locked up
Murray locked up much of the business support Republicans normally rely on, in part because of her incumbency and because she has gone out of her way to patch over some rocky relationships. She says the new alliance fits in with her concern for working families because "a good economy means good, family-wage jobs," and she doesn't often let a speech go by without reminding people that she has supported free-trade agreements, and that Smith has not.
Murray also has been working the Democrats' liberal base and reminding women that she joined other female senators "in demanding public hearings over the sexual-harassment charges" against former Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore.
"In an era where politicians are either millionaires themselves or deeply influenced by the special interests who broker millions, I'm still my own person . . . still an outsider," she wrote in a fund-raising letter earlier this year.
In fact, her list of top donors suggests that Murray is very much accepted now as an incumbent who is moving her way up the ranks.
Many early Murray supporters are sticking by her and giving more than ever. Emily's List, a Washington, D.C., PAC that "bundles" donations on behalf of Democratic, pro-choice women, has made Murray's re-election a priority and emerged this year as her top donor.
Smith, meanwhile, hopes to prove that it's possible to win a statewide election and stand by her principles of campaign-finance reform. While Murray has held several big-ticket fund-raisers with draws like Vice President Al Gore and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Smith has made her pitch with coffee and nibbles in people's homes.
Campaign spokesman Erik Lokkesmoe said Smith's campaign has been collecting about 1,300 checks daily. More than $500,000 poured in on a single day last week. The campaign has tried to make the giving as easy and painless as possible, suggesting, for example, that supporters provide credit-card numbers instead of checks.
The average contribution to Smith is $60, and for Murray, $70.
"Money is ceasing to be a problem," Smith said earlier this week. "My base is not rich. My base is working people."
She thinks her much-publicized effort to get money from U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has actually been quite a boost. McConnell, who so adamantly opposes the campaign-finance reform she advocates, has generated headlines by openly snubbing her appeals for money.
"It really has raised the issue and it's raised up people," Smith said. "People want things to be fair, and they don't think this is fair" that she's not getting all the money the party could legally give.
Her campaign has encouraged supporters to give to her candidacy as sort of an investment in political reform. Gorton and other Republican leaders have donated donor lists and staff to help work the phones since the Sept. 15 primary election, and have helped tap $100,000 from the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C.
But Smith's campaign says much of the fund raising has been almost single-handedly led by Smith. Well-known for her skills in direct-mail tactics, she has used anti-abortion, Oliver North, the Reform Party and other Republican donor lists to help tap money from around the country.
Barbara A. Serrano's phone message number is 206-464-2927. Her e-mail address is: email@example.com ------------------------------- Winning the money race The two women running for U.S. Senate in Washington state this year have raised more money than their male counterparts in 1994.
Murray's top contributors, 1992
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, $17,500 Women ... For a Change, $16,125 AFL-CIO Committee, $10,000 AFSCME (American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees) $10,000 KidsPAC, $10,000
Murray's top contributors, 1998 Emily's List, $34,175 Boeing Co., $21,900 Microsoft Corp., $20,686 PricewaterhouseCoopers, $14,500 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, $12,500
Linda Smith, 1997-98 Receipts, $3,930,248 Expenditures, $3,774,684 PACs, $0 Individuals, $3,860,166
Patty Murray, 1997-98 Receipts, $4,544,005 Expenditures, $4,381,313 PACs, $711,451 Individuals, $3,507,577
Source: FECInfo Summary activity reported through 10/14/98
Slade Gorton, 1993-94 Receipts: $4,755,977 Expenditures: $4,792,764 PACs, $1,110,341 Individuals, $3,325,996
Ron Sims, 1993-94 Receipts: $1,238,575 Expenditures: $1,228,098 PACs: $247,535 Individuals: $888,165
Source: FECInfo Summary activity reported through 12/31/94 ------------------------------- Out-of-State vs. In-State contributions
Patty Murray: 77 percent: In-State 33 percent: Out-of-State
Linda Smith 88 percent: In-State 12 percent: Out-of-State
SOURCE: FECInfo, a nonpartisan Web site ------------------------------- THE SEATTLE TIMES.
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