Campaign Financing

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington’s November election will decide three statewide ballot measures. So far, nearly $6 million has flowed to these campaigns, and it’s still early.

Initiative 594 to expand background checks for gun sales is far out in the lead when it comes to fundraising. So far, nearly $3.4 million raised with recent $500,000 contributions each from Paul Allen, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates. Plus, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer just contributed $1 million.

There’s the possibility of another election turnaround.

First there was Kshama Sawant’s dramatic post-election night come-from-behind win over Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin. Now, supporters of Seattle Proposition 1 hope it’s their turn.

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The cost of running for public office keeps rising, and Seattle City Council members worry the need to fund expensive campaigns gives people with deep pockets a louder voice.

While money doesn’t seem to play the outsized role in Seattle elections that it does in national or even state campaigns, longtime council member Nick Licata is concerned.

A typical city council campaign costs about a quarter of a million dollars. In the past decade, Licata notes, the average size of donations has nearly doubled.