The Washington Realtors’ Political Action Committee (PAC) has upped the ante big time in the two 8th Legislative District House races. According to their Public Disclosure Committee (PDC) filing on Sept. 13, the PAC has spent almost $280,000 total in independent expenditures for April Connors and Stephanie Barnard.

April Connors is a real estate agent married to Michael Connors, a farmer and a member of the Kennewick School Board. 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.

Both candidates are Republicans.

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

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

Of the $684,580 in independent expenditures that the Realtor’s PAC has donated to 11 candidates so far this year, Connors has received $164,790 and Barnard has received $114,790.

The Realtor PAC, one of the wealthiest in the state, spends hundreds of thousands of dollars of independent expenditures to promote candidates each election cycle.

The PAC also makes contributions directly to candidates. The direct contributions are limited to $1000 for each election.

With their latest expenditures for Connors and Barnard on Sept. 9, the PAC bought five weeks of TV advertising. In July, the PAC paid for mailings in support of the two.

With several weeks left before election day Nov. 8, it’s likely that the Realtors’ PAC will make more contributions. In 2020, the group was spending until the end of October.

Connors has raised about $116,743 in direct contributions during her campaign. Stephanie Barnard has collected about $72,812. Both candidates received $1,000 for the primary and a $1,000 for general election in direct contributions from the Realtor PAC.

Connors’ opponent, Joe Cotta, who is active in the vineyard industry, has raised $23,891. He was endorsed by the Benton County and the Franklin County Republican central committees along with Barnard.

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.