PORT TOWNSEND — Democratic Party leader Libby Urner Wennstrom is heading into Tuesday’s primary election with more than 2-1 advantage in campaign contributions against her progressive opponent and fellow Democrat Tyler Myles Vega for the Position 5 seat on the Port Townsend City Council.
Wennstrom, the Jefferson County Democrats vice chair, has garnered $2,733 compared to Vega’s approximately $1,200, according to her latest state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) filings and an interview Thursday with Vega. Vega, as a mini-filer, does not report contributions to the PDC.
“We’re used to that,” Vega said of the disparity.
“It’s helpful for me to have those numbers to work against.”
Their third primary opponent, Sky Hardesty-Thompson, who has said he does not have a party affiliation, did not return a call for comment Thursday afternoon on his campaign finances.
Contributions were not reported to the PDC in primary races for the Port Ludlow Fire District 3, Position 3 primary among candidates Glenn Clements, Mike Feely and Ron Helmonds and the Brinnon School Board primary among Shirley Towne, Paul Mahan and Ronald Leon Jones.
As mini-filers for Public Disclosure Commission purposes, Hardesty-Thompson and Vega are not required to file financial reports with the PDC unless they raise $5,000 or more, which Wennstrom said she may do depending on the outcome of the primary.
Like PDC records, mini-filers’ records are public.
Wennstrom’s largest cash contributions do not exceed $100. They include donations from Jefferson County Democrats board members Deborah Pedersen ($50) and Gary Larsen ($25); Democratic Jefferson County Commissioner Heidi Eisenhour ($25) and 24th District Democratic state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege of Sequim ($25).
She received an $81.30 in-kind contribution from Washington State Democrats for public ballot-return information on voters from both parties that includes a party analysis of voter tendencies.
“It’s a voter data base that the Democrats use state[wide] and nationwide for helping campaigns,” Wennstrom said.
Three-quarters of Wennstrom’s donations are from city residents and 19 percent from Jefferson County residents who live outside the city limit, she said.
Wennstrom’s expenditures of $2,275 include business cards, buttons, newspaper advertisements, and $635 for 100 yard signs, her largest single expenditure.
Some smaller expenditures go a long way.
Her campaign paid $40.52 for Facebook to “boost” four campaign ads that Facebook targeted to the Port Townsend’s 98368 ZIP-code.
“The reason I decided to do full reporting is not because I needed to raise more money,” Wennstrom said.
“I feel like campaign finance transparency is super important to me. The public has a right to know who I am getting money from and how I am spending it.”
If the race continues to be congenial and issues focused, and if Wennstrom does well in the primary, she said she may not go over the $5,000 limit.
Vega, a member of Jefferson County Democrats, said his largest contribution was $500 from Janet and Larry Zimmerman of Port Townsend, and next largest, $200 from Debbie Jahnke.
His campaign has done Facebook and newspaper advertising, purchased buttons and repainted previous candidates’ yard signs to get the word out.
Advertising has been his greatest single expense, Vega said.
“We are intentionally the underdog movement until we win,” he said.
“Progressive vs. established Democrat always looks like this.”
Vega said he expects he and Wennstrom will meet again in the general election.
Below are Public Disclosure Commission contributions of $100 or more and expenditure totals as of noon Thursday:
Libby Urner Wennstrom
Starting balance: $0
Total contributions: $2,733.
Cash contributions: $1,963.
In-kind contributions: $770.
• $408 (in-kind): Libby Urner Wennstrom, Port Townsend.
• $255 (in-kind): Andrews Business Consulting, Port Townsend.
• $100: Jonathan Langdon, Martha Trolin, Kirk Albright, Grace Dumenil, Deborah Stinson, Patricia Vaughan, Jane Armstrong, Port Townsend; Steven McGready, Portland, Ore.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].