How much is DelBene willing to invest?

The most anticipated decision from Democrat Suzan DelBene this election season is whether she will spend a couple million dollars of her own to win a seat in Congress.

You might think it’s not even a question after the primary in which she poured $2.3 million into her campaign and won a spot on the November ballot.

But it is.

DelBene, a former Microsoft Corp. executive, said she’s not made up her mind. While the vault isn’t empty and she’s not lost the combination to it, she’s going retail for now, putting in time each day dialing donors for dollars.

What she ultimately decides is a big deal for her party and that of Republican rival John Koster as well as commanders of cash flow for Super PACs backing each candidate.

DelBene’s friends and foes know her duel with Koster for an open seat in the 1st Congressional District is viewed as a toss-up right now. They’re calculating how much, if any, to invest to influence the outcome knowing full well her decision could change the landscape of choices.

Consider the Democrats’ conundrum. Though no one is in the seat now — Democrat Jay Inslee vacated it to run for governor — it’s been in their hands for more than a decade. Any hope Democrats have of regaining a majority of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives necessitates they retain control of this one.

As badly as leaders of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee want to win, they have not pledged big sums of money to this race. They’d be overjoyed — though they won’t say so out loud — if DelBene dropped in a couple million dollars, allowing them to redirect the committee funds to other contests.

It’s a similar scenario for the House Majority PAC, an independent political committee devoted to electing Democrats to Congress. It reserved $800,000 worth of time for television commercials boosting the fortunes of the primary victor.

With its initial ads set to air in September, its brain trust is trying to figure out if they’ll need to expend more before November. Again, if DelBene shoulders the financial load, they’re certain to shift their financial focus to other races across the country.

From the Republican point of view, it doesn’t look much different.

Koster certainly expects DelBene will pull out her checkbook at some point and he might even be able to gain a few votes if she does.

The wealthy don’t always win; DelBene didn’t when she took on U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., in 2010. Self-financed candidates won less than 25 percent of the time that year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

A folksy grass-roots guy like Koster, who once made a living raising dairy cows, could stir doubts about the Democratic candidate’s believability as a voice for the middle class by pointing out she hails from the posh Medina.

Meanwhile, as much as leaders of the National Republican Congressional Committee want this seat, DelBene’s ability to self-fund may deter them from trying to win it if they must match her millions.

Similarly, the prospects of pro-GOP SuperPACs like American Crossroads and Citizens United coming to Koster’s aid will dim if it requires a mega investment on their part to keep pace.

The bottom line is there are people working on both sides of the political divide trying to figure out what winning the seat is worth and if it is a price they can afford.

They aren’t likely to make a decision until DelBene settles on what she’s willing to pay.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

N3054V accident site. (Alaska State Trooper Photo)
Lake Stevens pilot, who lived ‘Alaska dream,’ died in Fairbanks crash

Former Snohomish County lawyer Harry “Ray” Secoy III, 63, worked as a DC-4 pilot in Alaska in the last years of his life.

Air and ground search and rescue teams found Jerry Riedinger’s plane near Humpback Mountain on Monday. (WSDOT photo)
Remains of pilot recovered near Snoqualmie Pass after Arlington flight

Jerry Riedinger never made it to Ephrata after departing the Arlington airport Sunday. Investigators have not determined the cause of the crash.

Federal prosecutors say the two men shown here outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, are Tucker Weston, left, and Jesse Watson. (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)
Lynnwood roommates sentenced for roles in Jan. 6 riot

Tucker Weston was given two years in prison Thursday. Jesse Watson received three years of probation in August 2023.

Lynnwood
Lynnwood firm faces $790K in fines for improper asbestos handling

State regulators said this is the fifth time Seattle Asbestos of Washington violated “essential” safety measures.

A truck towing a travel trailer crashed into a home in the Esperance neighborhood Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (South County Fire)
Man seriously injured after his truck rolls into Edmonds home

One resident was inside the home in the 22500 block of 8th Avenue W, but wasn’t injured, fire officials said.

Ferry workers wait for cars to start loading onto the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Memorial Day holiday weekend travel nightmare is upon us

Going somewhere this weekend? You’ll have lots of company — 44 million new BFFs — on planes, trains and automobiles.

Bothell
Bothell family says racism at Seattle Children’s led to teen’s death

In February 2021, Sahana Ramesh, the daughter of Indian immigrants, died after months of suffering from a rare disease.

Boeing Firefighters and supporters have a camp set up outside of Boeing on Airport Road as the company’s lockout of union firefighters approaches two weeks on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Union firefighters reject Boeing’s latest contract offer

The union’s 125 firefighters on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected the offer, which included “an improved wage growth” schedule

A “No Shooting” sign on DNR land near Spada Lake is full of bullet holes on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, along Sultan Basin Road near Sultan, Washington. People frequent multiple locations along the road to use firearms despite signage warning them not to. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
County pumps the brakes on planned Sultan shooting range

The $47 million project, in the works for decades, has no partner or funding. County parks officials are reconsidering its viability.

Suzan DelBene, left, Rick Larsen
Larsen, DelBene request over $40M for projects in Snohomish County

If approved, Congress would foot the bill for traffic fixes, public transit, LED lights and much more around the county.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.