Three 8th legislative district candidates have gone all out to build big campaign war chests, while their opponents pass the hat.

Those three candidates together have raised $286,511, while their three opponents have only raised a total of $21,431.

When Sharon Brown decided not to run for re-election to the state Senate, and Brad Klippert gave up his state House seat to run for Congress, it created three seats without incumbents. Matt Boehnke gave up his House position to run for Brown’s spot in the Senate. Stephanie Barnard filed to run for Boehnke’s House seat, and April Connors filed to run for Klippert’s seat.

All are Republicans. 

The 8th LD covers Richland and West Richland, west Kennewick and west Pasco.

Connors has raised the most money

Connors has raced ahead of party-endorsed opponent Joe Cotta in fundraising.  Recent Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) reports show Connors raising $111,332. 

Connors is a real estate professional and is married to a farmer. Both interests have backed her campaign.

In addition to the money that Connors has raised, the Washington Association of Realtors’ PAC has spent $50,000 in independent expenditures to support her campaign. PDC reports for its spending show it paid for two mailings, each to approximately 30,000 addresses.

Independent expenditures are not coordinated with candidates, and they are not subject to the limits placed on individual donations.

In addition, the Realtor PAC gave $2,000 directly to Connor’s campaign.

Connors also has the support of agricultural businesses. PACs connected to wheat, potatoes, cattle and tree fruit interests contributed between $500 to $1,000.

Individuals have provided most of Connors’ donations, and some of them have “real estate” or “farmer” after their names. Among those are Jody Easterday of Easterday Farms and Jeff Thompson of Windermere Group; each donated $1,000.

The haul has allowed Connors to pay Stevenson Advertising $29,857 for TV and radio ads. Along with the usual yard signs and other campaign expenses, Connors has spent $72,455 of her contributions.

Joe Cotta struggles to raise money despite Republican Party endorsements

Joe Cotta, Connors’ opponent, describes himself in the 2022 voters’ guide as a 4th generation farmer who is now active in the vineyard industry. He was endorsed by the Benton County and the Franklin County Republican central committees along with Barnard and Boehnke.

He has raised $20,331, almost all from individual donors.

Cotta and his wife, Sherry Cotta, are the biggest contributors to his campaign. They kicked in $3,747.66.

Cynthia McKay, the wife of Kennewick City Councilmember Bill McKay, donated $2,000.

The Franklin County Republicans contributed $1,000.

Many of Boehnke’s contributions come from businesses and PACs

Boehnke, who usually leads in fundraising, is not far behind Connors with $104,899. Most of his contributions come from businesses and PACs, like Amazon, Boeing, Chevron, Kroger, Walmart and others. He has only spent $14,538.

Boehnke reports $66,000 in his surplus account.

In the last election cycle, Boehnke transferred $45,000 from his surplus to the House Republican Organizational Committee. Candidates cannot transfer money to other candidates from their campaign accounts, but they can transfer an unlimited amount to the political party funds, where party bosses can spread the money to other candidates at no more than a $1 per registered voter in the recipient’s district.

Boehnke is the lead professor of  Columbia Basin College’s cybersecurity division.

Ronnie Bachelor, a mental health field crisis assistant running against Boehnke as an independent, has raised $1,120 from individual contributors.

Barnard’s opponent has filed no report

Stephanie Barnard, who is running for the second 8th LD house seat, has raised $70,280 mostly from individual contributors. She has spent $35,190 of that.

Some of the same business interests that donated to Connors also donated to Barnard. The Realtors gave her campaign $2,000. The wheat, potato, cattle and tree fruit PACs contributed $500 to $1,000.

Barnard, strategic projects director at the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce,  is the ex-wife of Judge Sam Swanberg who was recently found not guilty of assaulting her.

Barnard’s opponent, Patrick Guettner of Pasco, an engineering manager and former chair of the Franklin County Republicans, has provided no record of contributions to the PDC.

Guettner ran in 2019 for the at-large seat on the Pasco City Council. During that campaign he filed with the PDC for mini-reporting, pledging that he would raise and spend no more than $5,000 on the election and accept no single contributions of more than $500. He lost to Zahra Roach.