J.D. Rossetti’s seat in the 19th District is proving to be a hotly contested race.
One of the candidates, Teresa Purcell, has raised $10,000 more than the incumbent despite only announcing herself as a candidate in April. She also received more than triple the amount of small contributions.
Purcell leads the 19th District Position 1 race in campaign contributions with $41,000 as of Thursday afternoon, according to the Public Disclosure Commission. Rossetti has raised $31,500. Jim Walsh, a Republican, has raised nearly $19,000.
Purcell has the most small contributions of all candidates with $815, though Walsh closely follows her with $772. Rossetti’s small contributions added up to $227.
It’s been nearly 20 years since a member on the 19th District first joined the Legislature as an elected representative.
“I have a lot of people who are excited to see me running,” Purcell said. “I think it’s a little bit of a testament to me having good relationships.”
Rossetti said he’s not worried. He said he still has a stronger grassroots effort and get out the vote plan.
“I will continue to keep fundraising and keep making sure that I’m putting my best foot forward,” he said.
Walsh said he has not made seeking big money a part of his race, though he wouldn’t refuse it either. He said there is an established system in place for financing campaigns that is not democratic.
“We all know what it is. ... The word corruption gets thrown around a lot,” Walsh said. “My money is all from the people.”
Walsh said despite the lack of representation from Republicans in the district, he said he’s optimistic that people want change.
Purcell said she thinks the area is dissatisfied with the district’s process of choosing candidates. The 19th District is the only one out of the state’s 49 districts in which all current legislators were appointed, not elected.
Republican representatives are few and far between. It’s also been decades since the district had a female legislator.
“I think people would like to have a choice,” Purcell said. “For so long, it has been that a small group of people get to decide who our representatives are.”
Rossetti said the elections or even precinct committee officer votes aren’t a “locked-in deal.” He said commissioner questions are more district-specific in the process, and candidates should give 100 percent “through the whole race, not just the first part of the sprint.” Rossetti was appointed to the 19th District in October after commissioners ignored the PCOs, who picked Tiffany Turner.
“We’ve had some great legislators come out of the appointment process in our history,” Rossetti said. “They have been very well-respected not only within our district but within Olympia, and I think that those folks all wanted to do what they thought was best. ... That’s the same thing I would like to do.”
Purcell and Walsh both criticized Rossetti for taking a campaign contribution from Millennium Bulk, a company that is currently trying to push through its permitting process for the coal terminal export facility in Longview. Rossetti’s largest contributions came from several companies including Rayonier Inc., Southwest Washington Electricians PAC and Millennium.
Purcell’s largest contributions came from the Adam Smith for Congress Committee and individuals in Tacoma, Lakewood, Seattle and Seaview. Purcell and Smith, a legislator for the 9th District, became friends when they worked on a campaign together in the 1980s.
Walsh said her campaign fundraising in Seattle will work against her in the votes since she is perceived as a “Seattle liberal,” despite her having grown up in Longview.
“I don’t think that her hands are completely clean either, but they are certainly cleaner than J.D.’s,” Walsh said. “I’m kind of the Bernie Sanders of this race.”
Purcell said criticized the comments for being a political ploy.
“I was born and raised in the 19th District and the idea that my values don’t align with the 19th District, it’s almost offensive to me,” she said.
Valerie Tinney, a Republican, has raised $11,700.
Tim Sutinen is also running as a Democrat despite running as a Republican in the past, and has only raised $50, according to the PDC. In 2012 he ran as an Independent.
Candidates with the most votes will face off in the general election, even if they are on the same party, after the primary in August.