Former state agriculture chief Dan Newhouse has emerged as the leading early fundraiser among a pack of Republicans vying to represent Central Washington’s 4th Congressional District.
Newhouse raised $162,000 through the first quarter of the year, topping five other Republicans and one Democrat in the race so far, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Newhouse operates a 600-acre farm near Sunnyside. He’s a former state legislator and was director of the state Department of Agriculture between 2009 and 2013.
His rivals lagged in the early campaign cash chase, even though three of them made big donations or loans to their own campaigns.
Clint Didier, the former NFL player and two-time statewide candidate, reported the second highest total, with $133,000 raised – including $30,000 he loaned to his campaign.
Didier got a boost this week with the endorsement of a national tea party group, FreedomWorks.
Kennewick attorney George Cicotte reported $113,000 raised, but $85,000 of that was his own money (a $10,000 donation and a $75,000 loan – at 4.25 percent interest), FEC reports show.
Similarly, Franklin County Commissioner Brad Peck reported raising $100,000, but $75,000 of that was a loan he made to his own campaign.
The 4th District race was thrown wide open this year with the retirement of Doc Hastings, who has held the seat since he defeated Democrat Jay Inslee in 1994.
While the district is a big recipient of federal money, the talk by many of the GOP candidates is about slashing government spending. Didier, for example, has signed a pledge to oppose all tax increases and any other efforts to increase the size of the federal government.
The conservative district is likely to remain in GOP control, but Democrats hope to mount an energetic challenge.
The only Democrat to file with the FEC so far is Estakio Beltran, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell. He has not yet reported any money raised.