The winner of the 26th District State Senate race between Republican state Rep. Jan Angel and Democratic state Sen. Nathan Schlicher is drawing millions in contributions because of possible statewide implications.
The district represents residents from Bremerton to the Key Peninsula.
According to State Public Commission Disclosure a record $2.5 million has flowed into the race from local, state and out-of-state donors to impact the control of the state Senate. Republicans currently hold a slight 25-24 majority. If Schlicher is successful, the balance of power won’t change this year but it could make things easier for Democrats to retake the Senate in 2014.
“This race is critical to the state of Washington,” said Rep. Angel.
“It’s setting all sorts of records. That tells you the stakes and how passionate people are,” said state Sen. Schlicher, who was appointed to fill U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer’s old office.
A California billionaire has donated at least $4 million to the political action committee (PAC) NextGen Climate Action which pushes a clean energy agenda on a national level.
The PAC has spent at least $250,000 on the campaign through interest groups. Among them is “She’s Changed PAC, which has spent almost $660,000 against Angel.
NextGen Climate Action is committed to accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy and unleashing the power of innovation to solve our pressing energy problems. We don't have to make a false trade-off between economic growth, job creation, and the health of our kids. But we need the right policies in place to get there, and we need decision makers at every level of government ¬ national, state and local to pull in the same direction,” said Matthew Lewis, a NextGen spokesman.
Caleb Heimlich, Executive Director of the Washington State Republic Party, responded by sending an email out to voters saying a “billionaire extreme environmentalist is trying to buy the special election for state Senate.”
“I don’t think it’s right that they try to buy votes and try to buy the 26th district, leave that up to the people we represent. If they can buy this election, which’s next,” said Rep. Angel.
But Rep. Angel is getting help too. Groups have spent more than $460,000 against state Sen. Schlicher. The majority coming from the independent expenditure campaign called “The Good Government Leadership Council,” which spent almost $250,000.
“I believe the voters will make a good choice. We’ll see what happen,” said state Sen. Schlicher.
On Wednesday, the Washington State Republican Party filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Committee, claiming a $3 million donation made last Friday by California billionaire Tom Steyer to the NextGen Climate Action Committee, which supports state Sen. Schlicher is illegal.
The party worries that they money will be used against Rep. Angel in the 26th District race, which would violate a state law prohibiting contributions above $5,000 the last three weeks before an election.