Politics Blog

Realtors support conservatives ... and Ken Mann

An update on those campaigns for Whatcom County Council that are running parallel to the actual candidate's campaigns:

A new group has entered the game of big-money independent expenditures for county council and the Port of Bellingham. According to the Public Disclosure Commission website, the Washington Association of Realtors has spent $10,000 on mailers for a mostly conservative slate: Ken Bell and Dan Robbins for port, and Kathy Kershner, Bill Knutzen and Michelle Luke for council ... oh, and Ken Mann.

All six of these races do have a clear conservative/progressive line, at least in terms of who is funding the candidates. But Mann is the council candidate endorsed by Democrats, labor and Washington Conservation Voters. WCV has spent $48,575.60 in support of Mann. Mann's share of the Realtors' support is one sixth of $10,000, or $1,666.67.

Mann said in an interview between council committee meetings this afternoon that he received the Realtors' endorsement a while ago.  Because his campaign and independent campaigns such as that of the Realtors do not communicate, he heard about the group's monetary support just this afternoon, he said.

The Realtors endorsed Mann's opponents in two previous campaigns, so he was pleased they switched to him this time. (Mann's opponent is Ben Elenbaas.)

I asked Mann how, as the odd Mann in an otherwise conservative group (OK, I didn't say it that way), he fits into the Realtors' worldview.

"I think I fit into their worldview because I am accessible," Mann said. "It really was a validation of four years of me being very willing to meet with them and listen to them and discuss their issues, and incorporate a lot of their suggestions into county government."

Perry Eskridge, government affairs director for the Whatcom County Association of Realtors, said the group did not endorse five conservatives and a progressive; rather, it supports "six property-rights advocates."

Eskridge praised Mann's balance and reasonableness. "Even though we might not agree, he at least listens," Eskridge said.

Elenbaas in campaign statements said he wants to be the farmer on the council, bringing that voice and experience to county decisions. He is endorsed by farm organizations, some labor groups and the small-city mayors. He lists his endorsements on his campaign website.

From today's wire: Phuong Le of the Associated Press took a look at the big money coming into the county, something you blog readers have been reading about here for weeks.