If early money totals are any indication, the Republicans have one tough row to hoe if they have any hope of gaining (or saving) House seats in Olympia. Sure, it’s a year and a bit before the 2008 election, but the House Democratic Campaign Committee (formerly the House Democratic Caucus Campaign Committee) already has more than $450,000 in the bank— 10 times more than the Republicans have saved up. The House Republican Organizing Committee reports just $40,621 for the period ending June 30, according to the state's Public Disclosure Commission.
The organizing committees are the party machines that give campaign funds directly to candidates. “It’s amazing how big the disparity has become,” marvels former state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance. By comparison, at this time in 2005, the Democrats had about $74,000, the Republicans, $10,505. But in June in 2003, the House Republicans had more dough: $10,448 compared to the House Democrats' measly $2,464.
Vance credits this year’s Democrat cash explosion in part to House Speaker Frank Chopp’s machine. “In terms of Olympia that’s the shadow that looms over everything,” he says, adding that Republican challengers are as good as on their own in 2008.
“The financial advantage is so massive it will put the Republicans completely on the defensive,” Vance says. “The Democrats can force the Republicans to have to worry about their incumbents. Now you have to take whatever money you’ve got and defend them and you’ve got no other money to help challengers."