OLYMPIA — Robert Sutherland isn’t very good at raising money the old-fashioned way.
In the six weeks since the Granite Falls Republican advanced from the primary he’s hauled in a paltry $2,800 from six donors, most of whom live outside the district Sutherland hopes to represent in the state House after the November election.
But Sutherland got creative and has brought in $5,000 by an unusual means — renting use of the wooden posts and locations of his campaign signs to a Snohomish County judicial candidate.
Even at $7,800, it’s not much of a haul for the man looking to succeed Dan Kristiansen of Snohomish, the former House minority leader who is retiring at the end of his term.
Sutherland said he’s got the financial resources he needs and, in this race, the all-important R next to his name.
This contest is in the 39th Legislative District, a political territory encompassing small cities and rural areas of primarily eastern Snohomish and Skagit counties. There’s a tear drop of land in King County.
It’s been solidly Republican turf the past two decades. And the terrain should be firm enough even for Sutherland who is campaigning without the warm embrace of those guiding his party.
He’s yet to receive a check from any Republican officeholder in Snohomish County or from any of the myriad of House Republican Caucus politicial committees.
Many local GOP leaders quietly rooted in the primary for Randy Hayden, who holds leadership positions with the county and state Republican Party administrations. But Hayden finished third.
Some of Hayden’s supporters now hope to see him defeated this fall, Sutherland said, so they can blame him for losing a safe Republican seat.
Democratic candidate Ivan Lewis, who garnered an impressive 46 percent in the primary, will certainly welcome votes from disaffected Republicans. But he will also need this year’s Democratic blue wave to generate a storm surge to carry him to victory.
While Sutherland may not need financial aid from the party, plenty of incumbent Republicans could really benefit from it.
But there isn’t much of it to have.
The House Republican Caucus and its soft money political committee, the Reagan Fund, spent nearly all of their resources in the primary in support of GOP challengers to Democratic incumbents.
Now, with less than 50 days to go, House Republicans are without much money to assist incumbent Republicans in danger of losing their seats including three in Snohomish and Island counties — Mark Harmsworth of Mill Creek, Dave Hayes of Camano Island and Norma Smith of Clinton.
Harmsworth might have a bone to pick with the GOP brain trust. He got zip funding in the primary which he lost to Democratic challenger Jared Mead of Mill Creek by 6 percent in the 44th Legislative District.
Meanwhile, in the duel for the other House seat in the district, the House Republican Organizational Committee gave $20,000 to Republican Jeff Sax of Snohomish against Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek. Sax lost by roughly 14 points.
Two years ago, Harmsworth didn’t get much financial help from the House GOP operation the entire election even as he got outspent by a Democratic challenger.
But he did get a $50,000 boost from an unexpected source days before the general election ballots went out — the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. And he wound up winning by 9 percent.