The latest campaign filings show state Senator Ed Murray outpacing incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn in contributions for the Seattle mayor’s race. But at a campaign forum Wednesday night, Murray seemed anxious to escape any criticism of being the big money candidate.
The topic at the Seattle mayor’s forum was the city’s life sciences industry. But while discussing the importance of venture capital for biotech startups, Murray abruptly switched gears to discuss contributions to his own campaign. “Some of you out there have actually written me $700 checks,” he observed.
Murray went on to say that his opponent is making fundraising appeals that cast a sinister tone on Murray’s business support. The fundraising letters say that "downtown special interests are trying to buy this election."
Murray said McGinn’s tactics don’t show the type of leadership that will help Seattle businesses grow and attract capital. Murray told the business crowd he welcomed their contributions. He said he’s received union endorsements as well. “But I’m not going to play unions against business. I’m happy that you were willing to write checks to me, and I don’t think you should be stigmatized as ‘those people,’” Murray said.
Which invited McGinn to make his point again. “You should be happy, you’ve raised quite a bit of money from downtown businesses,” McGinn said. To which Murray responded, “As have you. Exactly the same amount, actually.”
That's not what campaign filings show. Murray has reported more contributions overall, and business groups have put more money into independent expenditures to support his campaign.
The Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee has contributed $52,000 to the independent group People for Ed Murray. The Washington Beverage Association has given that group $5,000. McGinn noted jokingly that the association includes both big name cola companies. “Senator Murray’s been talking a lot about money and he’s a uniter, I actually want to give him some credit, he’s managed to unite Coke and Pepsi as contributors to his campaign,” McGinn said.
McGinn’s independent support comes from labor unions. A union group called Unite Here, funded by hotel and restaurant workers, has contributed $50,000. Another $19,000 in union contributions has been reported by a group called Working Families for McGinn. All of these groups are working to support Murray or McGinn separately from the candidates’ actual campaigns.
Still, Murray campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said it's disingenuous for McGinn to portray himself as the outsider. He said McGinn has received plenty of direct contributions from businesspeople. Kaushik said Murray's support goes beyond business groups to include environmental groups and gay rights advocates.
According to the state's Public Disclosure Commission, Murray has raised $147,000 more than McGinn in direct campaign contributions so far.