Pierce County state Senate race second costliest in Washington history

Pierce County state Senate race second costliest in Washington history
Steve O’Ban, left, and T’wina Nobles, right.

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — A contested race for a West Pierce County state Senate seat was the second costliest such race in Washington state history.

Democrat T’wina Nobles won the Senate seat for the 28th Legislative District in November 2020 against incumbent Republican Sen. Steve O’Ban, becoming the first Black member in the state Senate in a decade and flipping the longtime Republican seat to Democrat. The 28th Legislative District represents Lakewood, University Place, DuPont and parts of Tacoma.

Combined, Nobles and O’Ban spent more than $1.7 million on their campaigns, excluding independent expenditures, according to a 2020 report by the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.

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That’s the state’s second most-costly Senate race, after a 2017 race between Democrat Manka Dhingra and Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund for an open seat in the 45th District, representing parts of Kirkland, Duvall and Sammamish in King County. The two raised $3.1 million.

O’Ban spent more than $841,000 on his campaign, with Nobles spending more than $939,000.

“That’s the most money ever spent in Washington state to defeat an incumbent state senator,” the PDC report stated.

Nobles and O’Ban also raked in independent expenditures — money from groups paying to either support or oppose a candidate —totaling $2.1 million, according to the PDC.

Of more than $16 million independent expenditures in the 2020 election cycle, 30 percent came from the New Direction Political Action Committee (PAC) in support of Democratic legislative candidates and in opposition to Republican candidates.

“The PAC spent more than $450,000 in support of Democrat T’wina Nobles, and more than $570,000 against her opponent, incumbent Republican Steven O’Ban,” according to the PDC report.

Nobles was the fourth biggest spender in terms of both candidate and independent expenditures for the 2020 election year at $2,401,756 spent. She follows closely behind Democrat Sen. Mark Mullet (District 5) at $2,489,058 spent, Republican Governor candidate Loren D. Culp at $3,218,277 spent and Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee at $7,596,328 spent. O’Ban came in No. 8 at $1,561,133 spent.

Overall, contributions to candidates and political committees for the 2020 election cycle totaled $142 million, with total spending at nearly $139 million as of December 2020.