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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."

Six-Figure Checks Rolling Into Washington Coffers Before Election Day

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.

With Election Day less than a month away, money is pouring into Washington state political action committees. Much of that cash will likely find its way to a special state Senate race on the east side of Lake Washington.

The outcome of that race will determine which party controls the Senate. ?

Republicans are trying to hold onto their one seat majority in the Washington Senate. Democrats are hoping to win back that chamber and with it one party control of Olympia.

Major donors include former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In recent weeks, he’s contributed $250,000 to a political action committee that’s backing Democrat Manka Dhingra in the 45th district senate race. Meanwhile, the oil company Phillips 66 has put $250,000 into a PAC that supports Republican Jinyoung Englund.

Other recent six-figure donations have come from the Republican State Leadership Council, the Washington Federation of State Employees, BNSF Railway and Washington Conservation Voters.

These are likely the last of the big checks for the 2017 election cycle because as of October 17, a restriction on last minute contributions began in Washington. That restriction means political committees cannot accept contributions of more than $5,000 from a single source.

Instead the focus now will shift to spending the money that was raised in recent weeks. Already, independent PACs have spent more than $3.5 million in the 45th legislative district. That compares to $1.4 million spent by the candidates themselves.

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."