It has become the most expensive state Senate race in Washington's history. The special election for Legislative District 45 on the Eastside has officially set a new record, based on campaign reports filed this week.
The race will determine the balance of power in Olympia, and money is pouring in from Washington state to Washington D.C.
Republican candidate Jinyoung Lee Englund has spent more than $1.3 million, so far; Democratic candidate Manka Dhingra has spent nearly $1.1 million, with weeks to go before election day.
The race has also attracted millions of dollars in independent spending from outside groups, much of it funding negative attack ads.
More than $1.2 million has been spent in opposition of Englund, and more than $1.4 million has been spent in opposition of Dhingra, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.
Note, candidates do not have control over independent expenditures, and tracing the source of the outside spending isn’t easy, since it’s often funneled through multiple committees.
One of the top outside groups raising money in support of Dhingra is called the Eastside Leadership Council, funded by separate Democratic PACS, including the New Direction PAC.
Top donors to the New Direction PAC include the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg and California environmental mega donor Tom Steyer.
Local groups contributing include regular Democratic donors including the Washington Conservation Voters Action fund, Washington Federation of State Employees and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
Dhingra has also received a $95,000 independent expenditure from the Vermont based group Democracy for America.
On the Republican side, a top funder of independent expenditures remains the Republican caucus PAC known as the Leadership Council.
The PAC’s top donor is a national group called the Republican State Leadership Committee, backing GOP candidates at the state level across the country. Englund’s picture can be found on a map of states and races the group is watching.
There’s also big business money trickling into the race through PACS funded by interests ranging from oil and gas to building and real estate.
The Washington Association of Realtors, Phillips 66 and Enterprise Washington’s Jobs PAC are funding a group called Citizens for Progress Enterprise WA
The Enterprise WA Jobs PAC bundles even more business donors from BNSF Railway Company to Chevron Policy Government and Public Affairs, Tesoro Companies of Anacortes, Amazon Fulfillment Services and Koch Industries, one of the Republican Party’s most reliable donors.
For a closer look at the Independent spending in this race: