Nearly $16 million in independent expenditures was spent for and against candidates during the Washington state midterm election this year, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.
Out of the top five PACs who made independent expenditures, four of them supported mostly Republican candidates.
However, one political action committee in particular called New Direction PAC spent the most for Democratic candidates and against Republicans, with 33% of the total amount of independent expenditures statewide. The PAC that spent the second most on statewide candidates only clocked in at 17.5% of the total independent expenditures.
Independent expenditures “are ads that expressly advocate the election or defeat of specific candidates and are aimed at the electorate as a whole,” according to Open Secrets, a nonpartisan nonprofit that keeps tabs on campaign finance and lobbying data.
In comparison, over $16.5 million was spent on independent expenditures either for or against certain candidates during the 2020 election year.
Here are the top five PACs that donated the most to state candidates this year:
New Direction PAC
New Direction PAC spent over $5.3 million for and against candidates this election cycle, with a majority of those expenditures being spent against Republican candidates such as Rep. Jesse Young from Gig Harbor, Sen. Simon Sefzik from Ferndale, and Bill Boyce from Kent. All three of those candidates lost their bid for the Senate positions they were vying for.
The PAC spent less than half of their overall total in independent expenditures for Democratic candidates such as Sen. Emily Randall from Bremerton, Rep. Sharon Shewmake from Bellingham, and Rep. Dave Paul from Oak Harbor. All three of those candidates won election to the seats in their districts.
The PAC’s website said the group fights “for economic security, social justice, environmental protection, and personal freedoms. We work to elect legislators who put people first rather than the wealthy corporate and special interests that have far too much power in Olympia.”
The website lists SEIU Washington State Council, SEIU 775 Quality Care Committee, Washington Federation of State Employees, the Harry Truman Fund and the Kennedy Fund as the top five contributors to New Direction PAC.
WA Wins Sponsored by the Leadership Council
This PAC spent $2.8 million in independent expenditures, with only about $150,000 in funding for Republican candidates Young, Boyce and Ryika Hooshangi from Sammamish.
A majority of the funding was spent against Democratic candidates, with money being spent against candidates such as Sen. Manka Dhingra from Redmond, Claudia Kauffman from Kent, and Shewmake.
The group is made up of “community and business leaders” that said their two purposes are “to help elect fiscally responsible legislators to the State Senate and to communicate directly with Senate leaders on issues vital to the private sector,” according to their website.
Evergreen progress (WA state Republican Party)
Coming in third place, Evergreen Progress spent less than half of what WA Wins brought in with a little over $1.1 million in independent expenditures.
The PAC spent approximately $792,000 against Democratic candidates such as Clyde Shavers in the 10th district, who the group spent about $112,000 trying to beat. Evergreen Progress also spent funding against Brandy Donaghy from Mill Creek, with about $107,000 in independent expenditures.
Approximately $341,000 from the PAC was for Republican candidates such as Chad Magendanz from the 5th, Tawsha Thompson from the 42nd, and Karen Lesetmoe from the 10th district. None of those candidates won their bid for the seat.
WA Realtor PAC
The WA Realtor PAC spent just over $1 million this election cycle on independent expenditures, and spent money for both Republican and Democratic candidates campaigns.
The PAC spent about half of that total number for candidates Boyce; April Connors, a Republican candidate in the 16th district; Stephanie Barnard, a Republican candidate in the 8th; and Lesetmoe, all of whom lost their bid for their seats.
WA Realtor PAC Democrats also spent for Democrats Rep. April Berg from the 44th, Rep. Jessica Bateman from Olympia, and Rep. Steve Tharinger from the 24th.
The committee “is one of one of the largest PACS in Washington and supports legislative efforts in favor of the real estate industry on behalf of WR members,” according to their website.
Concerned Taxpayers of WA State
Concerned Taxpayers of WA State PAC came in fifth with the amount of independent expenditures spent on candidates totaling just over $645,000.
The PAC spent about $357,000 against Democratic candidates such as Randall, Sen. Marko Liias from Mukilteo, and Rep. Melanie Morgan from Parkland. Almost 45% of the independent expenditures against candidates were spent against Randall.
Independent expenditures were spent for candidates such as Young, Boyce, and Rep. Greg Gilday from the 10th.
Building Industry Association of Washington Member Services Corporation, Steve Gordon, Master Builders Association of Pierce County Affordable Housing Council, Bruce McCaw, and Brian Heywood are the top contributors to the group, according to their website.
The PAC also supported and endorsed Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Tiffany Smiley, who lost her bid in the election against Sen. Patty Murray.