The rule on political cash is, “When you’ve got it, flaunt it,” and the campaign of Republican candidate for Washington State Governor Rob McKenna is doing just that with an early release of campaign finance numbers, touting a $1.1 million month of May.

With unexpected swagger, the McKenna campaign made its early boast in a release Thursday evening, an announcement that nearly $1.159 million in direct contributions were received in May. What’s more, the campaign’s statement of having $3.2 million cash-on-hand seems to be the purposeful statement of a lean operation with a war chest mentality.

“Our momentum after the fundraising freeze is back and better than ever – literally,” said McKenna in a prepared statement. “I am so grateful for – and proud of – the strong support my campaign has seen in every county–every corner–of the state. Our success in May will allow me to carry my ideas on job creation, education reform, and changing the culture in Olympia to even more voters in the months to come.”

The May figure would narrowly edge the McKenna campaign’s previous monthly record of $1.142 million last November, and eclipses Democratic candidate Jay Inslee’s best month in March when he received just over $500,000 from contributors.

Though Inslee’s campaign finances have kept pace with McKenna for most of the race, his coffers have routinely been padded by transfers from the State Democratic Party that total more than $820,000 in pass-through money since the June of last year.

Since official campaign finance filings for May are not due to the Public Disclosure Commission until next week, does McKenna have something to gain by crowing? Without a doubt, he does.

Through the end of April, McKenna had operated under a statutorily-imposed 100-day handicap on his fundraising while Inslee was free to rake in the dough, and May’s numbers represent the first true head-to-head money race of the real campaign.

May was one of a small number of full calendar months during this race in which McKenna has been able to raise money freely, having been in compliance through the end of April with state law that prohibits state elected officials (McKenna is the State Attorney General) from accepting campaign contributions while the Legislature is in session. Inslee was never under any such restraint, a fact that underscores why his lackluster fundraising thus far has kept Democrats less than optimistic about his chances. The blow to morale if Inslee fails to post an impressive filing to compete with McKenna’s May could be enough to turn the eyes of Democratic financiers permanently elsewhere.

“This kind of overwhelming support erases whatever minor advantage our opponent may have built between November and mid-April,” said Randy Pepple, McKenna’s campaign manager. “Our campaign is strong not only because our candidate is a proven leader with better ideas, but also because we have the support of so many individual contributors.  Their continued generous involvement in this race will allow Team McKenna to continue adding to the extensive campaign infrastructure already in place in every county in the state.”


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