Seattle mayoral candidate Ed Murray faces one obstacle not shared by his rivals.
As a state senator, Murray is barred from raising campaign cash while the Legislature remains in session. With lawmakers locked in a budget stalemate, that has threatened to become a liability for the Murray campaign as the Aug. 6 primary draws closer.
Now a group of Murray backers is stepping in to fill the void, forming an independent political committee called People for Ed Murray.
The group, whose co-chairs include former Seattle Mayor Charles Royer and Puget Sound Partnership chair Martha Kongsgaard, said in a news release it plans to “level the field” with other candidates who don’t have to abide by the fundraising freeze. (Interestingly, Kongsgaard’s husband, environmental attorney Peter Goldman, has endorsed former City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck in the mayor’s race.)
Dean Nielsen, a Seattle political consultant who is organizing the effort, said the group plans to raise money for independent expenditures on Murray’s behalf. That could mean mailers or TV ads, depending on how much cash comes in.
“Obviously Ed can’t raise money during special session and we don’t know how long it’s going to go. A group of us were getting together and thought this was the right direction to take,” Nielsen said.
Another advantage to the new committee: it can raise unlimited donations. Candidate committees are restricted to $700 per donor in Seattle elections, but that limit does not apply to independent political committees (which by law cannot coordinate with the candidates or their campaigns). That fact alone guarantees this won’t be the last such effort to pop up in the 2013 mayor’s race.
The fattest mayoral-campaign bank account as of the end of April belonged to Mayor Mike McGinn, who reported $96,000 cash on hand. That was followed by: businessman Charlie Staadecker ($75,000), City Councilmember Bruce Harrell ($56,000), Murray ($55,000) and Steinbrueck ($38,000).
New reports detailing the candidates’ May fundraising are due by Monday.