PORT TOWNSEND — The two Democrats vying to fill a pending Port Hadlock-area Jefferson County commissioner vacancy are neck-and-neck in campaign fundraising as they approach Election Day on Tuesday.
Heidi Eisenhour garnered 43 percent of the vote in the District 2-only top-two Aug. 4 primary to Lorna Smith’s 33 percent and Democrat Amanda Ray Funaro’s 21 percent.
Smith and Eisenhour find themselves within $450 of each other while raising a combined $88,410 to broaden their reach to 28,000 voters countywide for the general election, hoping to succeed Democrat David Sullivan, who is not running for a fifth term.
Smith, executive director of Western Wildlife Outreach in Port Townsend, has raised $44,430 to Eisenhour’s $43,980 according to the most recent totals last week filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission. Smith’s total was updated Friday.
The PDC records show Eisenhour, chief operating officer of the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, spending $38,332 to further her campaign.
Smith reported spending $29,356 as of Aug. 31, which was not updated until Friday, to $39,124.
She said the delay was a source of unfair criticism from opponents.
Smith said her reporting was late because of a family medical emergency and her campaign’s incorrect entry of data into the PDC’s reporting system.
She said the PDC was aware of the delay.
“We have spent almost everything we have made at this point in time,” she said.
“Over the last week, a lot of those expenses hit the bank account.”
Smith has 378 contributions listed to Eisenhour’s 317 as of Friday.
She had 177 Port Townsend contributions to Eisenhour’s 157. She had 12 Port Hadlock contributions to Eisenhour’s 24, and 37 Seattle contributions to Eisenhour’s 21.
Smith has 34 Quilcene contributions to Eisenhour’s 13, one Chimacum contribution to Eisenhour’s 16, and 10 Nordland contributors to Eisenhour’s five.
Eisenhour had ground to make up on Smith, filing with the PDC April 27, more than two months after Smith.
“I felt like, coming out of the gate, I had to concentrate on fundraising,” Eisenhour said, relying on email appeals and writing thank-you notes to every contributor.
Mission accomplished, she indicated Friday.
As the campaign has progressed, “it hasn’t been a main point of stress in the campaign,” Eisenhour said.
She said her campaign has averaged about $150 per contribution.
Eisenhour has about 30 people actively working on the campaign and about another 50 who have helped along the way.
She has purchased about 10,000 door hangers, most of which she has dropped off going door-to-door and, like Smith, has not doorbelled to be vigilant given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID has created a certain amount of trepidation in people, and we didn’t want that to be attached to our campaign,” she said.
When Eisenhour talks to voters, she emphasizes her 40 years as a county resident, her diverse work experience and the endorsements from six past and present county commissioners, including the three sitting commissioners.
“Like I’ve been saying, leaders recognize leadership,” Eisenhour said.
She has focused her expenditures on newspaper ads, signs and mailers, she said.
Smith also has focused her spending strategy in a similar manner, spending more than $18,000 on newspaper and online advertising and more than $3,000 on signs.
Smith’s campaign has 200 volunteers, she said.
She said her political views are similar to Eisenhour’s.
“I have the background and experience and can get in there and start working on Day 1,” Smith said, pointing to her government and volunteer experience, and her ongoing work as a county planning commissioner.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.