Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Battle For Control Of Washington Senate Draws Outside Money

Campaign photos
Republican Jinyoung Englund, left, and Democrat Manka Dhingra will face off this fall for an open state Senate seat in Washington's 45th legislative district.

A state legislative race in Washington is starting to draw out-of-state money. For one donor from Idaho that’s because the outcome could determine west coast climate policy.

Elaine French owns a house in Seattle, but lives in Ketchum, Idaho. Now environmental groups she belongs to have drawn her attention to Washington’s 45th legislative district, which stretches from Sammamish to Woodinville on Seattle’s east side. That’s where a special election this fall could flip control of the Washington state Senate to Democrats.

Last month, French and her husband contributed $4,000 to the Democratic candidate in that race, Manka Dhingra.

“My investment is definitely strategic,” French said.

French wants to help Democrats win in Washington so they can team up with Oregon and California to counter President Donald Trump on climate policy.

“I think that if Washington can help form some sort of a firewall with the other states here we will really make an impact on climate change for the country,” she said.

So far Dhingra has raised $411,393. About a quarter of that money has come from out of state with the vast majority coming from California. A spokesman for Dhingra noted that she came to the U.S. from India as a child, grew up in California and has significant support from her community there.

The Republican candidate in the 45th district, Jinyoung Englund, has so far raised a much smaller amount of money from out of state. However, outside dollars have gone to a political action committee that’s spending on her behalf.

Englund has raised $257,874, but has also benefited from $198,684 in independent spending on her behalf by Senate Republicans whose top donor is the Washington, D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee.

A spokeswoman said the focus of the Englund campaign is on “in district, in-state” contributions.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."