From the outset of the campaign, U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee has lagged behind state Attorney General Rob McKenna in the polls. He's also finding McKenna to be formidable fundraiser. In fact, since the gubernatorial combatants began raising money last June, McKenna has generated $560,000 more than his Democratic foe.
Inslee, who is giving up his 1st Congressional seat for a shot at winning statewide office for the first time, has raised $3.1 million to McKenna's $3.67 million in cash.
Inslee's campaign consultant says he's not worried. "There's going to be a lot of money spent in this race, so it's immaterial if someone's spends a little less or little more," Christian Sinderman tells Seattle Weekly.
The congressman's fundraising gap at this juncture in the campaign, adds Sinderman, can be largely attributed to the fact that McKenna has a distinct advantage in terms of name identification, being a two-term incumbent as attorney general. (Inslee ran for governor in 1996 and finished a distant third in Democratic primary.)
McKenna is well ahead of Inslee in the number of contributors, as well as contributors giving large sums. Of those individuals and groups able to contribute up to $1,600 for both the primary and general election (that limit was raised last week to $1,800), McKenna had 720 anteing up the maximum amount, compared to 300 for Inslee.
The Bainbridge Democrat's biggest cash supporter has been the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, which to date has kicked in $365,000. Other big donors include the usual Democratic bases of support such as labor and education groups.
McKenna, who has not yet received any money from the state Republican Party -- though he expects it to come in force after the August primary -- has drawn most of his financial backing from business groups: builders, contractors and drug companies.