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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

October 29, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Spending approaches $1M in four state Senate races

Spending on the four most hotly contested state Senate races is approaching or has topped $1 million each.

Here are the four races, which are expected to determine whether the Republican Party can gain control of the Senate:

Spending reached $1 million Monday in the 1st Legislative District battle between longtime Democratic Senate education committee Chair Rosemary McAuliffe and her Republican challenger, Northshore School Board member Dawn McCravey.

The education-reform group Stand for Children Washington has spent $245,000 on advertisements that oppose McAuliffe, while the Washington Education Association has spent $147,000 supporting McAuliffe and opposing McCravey.

Spending in the contentious Fifth District contest between Democrat Mark Mullet and Republican Brad Toft has hit $859,000. Republicans must win this open seat in order to eke out a one-vote majority in the longtime Democratic Senate.

Democrats have attacked Toft’s past legal problems, while Republicans have charged that former Sen. Cheryl Pflug resigned after the candidate deadline as part of a deal with Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, who appointed her to a paid state job.

Both political parties and committees funded by the parties have invested heavily in the race.

Veteran Democratic Senate Transportation Committee Chair Mary Margaret Haugen’s 10th District re-election campaign and Republican Rep. Barbara Bailey’s challenge have drawn more than $1 million in contributions and independent expenditures.

Independent spending has been dominated by the two parties and committees controlled by them.

Also in the $1 million-plus league is the 17th District face-off between Republican Sen. Don Benton and Democratic Rep. Tim Probst. Benton at one point threatened to sue Probst over his opponent’s characterizations of his voting record and the circumstances under which he was voted out as chairman of the state GOP.

The big money in this race has come from party funds.

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