Democrats pumped as challenger outpaces Reichert on fundraising
Seattle Times staff reporter
For the second straight quarter, political newcomer Darcy Burner raised more money than U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, bolstering Democrats' view that he is vulnerable for an upset in November.
The difference — Burner brought in $590,460 to Reichert's $569,076 — was slim, and Reichert still has more money in the bank.
But President Bush's private fundraiser for Reichert in Bellevue last month was expected to boost the former King County sheriff far ahead in the money race. Instead, Burner said, Bush's visit may have been a bigger financial boost for her than for Reichert.
"We had lots of money come in specifically because of the president's visit," said Burner, a former Microsoft manager from Carnation.
A Democrat has not won in the 8th Congressional District — the suburbs and woods of eastern King and Pierce counties — since it was formed in 1980. But the district has a moderate voting record and is considered a bellwether this year for Democrats' hopes of regaining control of Congress.
Reichert's spokeswoman, Carol Beaudu, downplayed the importance of the fundraising margin, noting that Reichert's campaign had already raised more than $2 million.
"Dave is staying focused on his job," she said.
The race continues to draw national attention and big-name politicians. The same day that Reichert hosted Bush, Burner flew to San Francisco for a fundraiser with U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the Democrats' 2004 presidential candidate, and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader.
On Saturday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich toasted Reichert at a $1,000-a-plate dinner in Bellevue. Some Republicans have forsaken GOP principles for congressional pork, Gingrich said, but not Reichert.
"He's one of the guys who understands it," Gingrich said during an interview. "He is a genuine reformer. He is bringing a sheriff's attitude to Washington, he's not bringing a congressman's attitude back to the district."
According to filings with the Federal Elections Commission, Reichert has $1.1 million in the bank, about half of the total raised. Burner has pulled in $1.1 million since entering the race last year, and has $769,822 in the bank.
Both spent about $180,000 from April to June, although neither has bought significant advertising.
In the 2004 general election, on his first try for a congressional seat, Reichert defeated local talk-radio host Dave Ross. It was just after Reichert's office had caught the Green River killer. Before that, Reichert had spent 32 years in the King County Sheriff's Office, rising to the top job in 1997.
Burner, who has never run for office before, is a Harvard graduate who worked for Microsoft for four years. She left Microsoft after having a son, and spent a year in law school before deciding to run for Congress.
She portrays Reichert as a pawn for the Bush administration and criticized his vote against raising the minimum wage while voting to raise pay for members of Congress.
Voters may not care much about fundraising numbers nearly four months before the election, but they do pay attention to the advertising the money buys, said Burner.
"We're going to be able to compete on a pretty level playing field, and I'm confident that competing on a level playing field wins us this race," Burner said.
Republicans paint Burner as a rookie in over her head in taking on Reichert and his decades in law enforcement. Her campaign made the National Republican Congressional Campaign's list of "B-list blunders" when the state firefighters' union — described by Burner's campaign manager as a key endorsement — backed Reichert.
"It takes a lot more than bravado to win this race, and we don't think Darcy Burner brings much to the table," said Carl Forti, an spokesman for the NRCC.
Staff reporter David Postman contributed to this report. Jonathan Martin: 206-464-2605 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information in this article, originally published July 16, 2006, was corrected August 9, 2006. A previous version of this story stated that U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, voted to raise the pay of members of Congress. Members of Congress are granted automatic cost-of-living raises. On June 13, Reichert missed a vote on a rule that would have required Congress to vote on yearly raises. The rule did not pass.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company