Video still of an ad for Mark Mullet
A still from the end of a new television ad promoting Mark Mullet's gubernatorial candidacy which looks like a campaign ad but is really the work of an independent expenditure

A polit­i­cal action com­mit­tee fund­ed by cor­po­ra­tions and wealthy indi­vid­u­als that would like Wash­ing­ton’s next gov­er­nor to be friend­ly to their inter­ests have launched a big ad buy in sup­port of Demo­c­ra­t­ic State Sen­a­tor Mark Mul­let’s flag­ging cam­paign, hop­ing it’ll give his can­di­da­cy a boost as the August Top Two elec­tion draws nearer.

The first phase of the ad buy, which will report­ed­ly be mul­ti­fac­eted, con­sists of a spot now air­ing on tele­vi­sion sta­tions in the Seat­tle media mar­ket. Our track­ing tools picked it up on at least three dif­fer­ent chan­nels today (KOMO, KING, and KIRO). Although the ad looks at first glance like it was cre­at­ed by Mul­let’s cam­paign, with Mul­let’s vis­age and large let­ter­ing read­ing “Mark Mul­let — Demo­c­rat for Gov­er­nor” at the end, the legal­ly required dis­clo­sure makes it clear that it is actu­al­ly a pro­duc­tion of the “Coali­tion for Prag­mat­ic Lead­er­ship PAC,” pri­mar­i­ly fund­ed by Wei­d­ner Prop­er­ty Man­age­ment, George Row­ley, John Good­man, George Petrie, and Marathon Petro­le­um Corporation. 

Watch it below:

Tran­script of the voiceover:

Sen­a­tor Mark Mul­let is run­ning for gov­er­nor to voice our Wash­ing­ton values:

  • A wom­an’s right to choose
  • LGBTQ rights
  • And putting a stop to gun violence
  • He’s run­ning to fix the real prob­lems we have with sky­rock­et­ing costs, crime, and homelessness
  • As a sen­a­tor, Sen­a­tor Mul­let led his­toric state invest­ments to make hous­ing more affordable
  • Sen­a­tor Mul­let nego­ti­at­ed a bipar­ti­san com­pro­mise to give police the tools they need to keep us safe — that’s why he’s endorsed by law enforcement

Demo­c­rat Mark Mul­let for Governor!

Our friend Paul Queary and his col­leagues at The Wash­ing­ton Observ­er pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed that the Coali­tion for Prag­mat­ic Lead­er­ship was prepar­ing to get involved in the guber­na­to­r­i­al race on Mul­let’s behalf. From their April 8th dis­patch:

A planned sev­en-fig­ure inde­pen­dent cam­paign aimed at boost­ing the guber­na­to­r­i­al pro­file of state Sen. Mark Mul­let should be pop­ping up in your inbox, mail­box, and on var­i­ous screens in the next few weeks. 

As we’ve not­ed before, polls from the right, left, and cen­ter show the busi­ness-friend­ly Issaquah Demo­c­rat stuck in sin­gle dig­its, far behind Demo­c­ra­t­ic Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son and for­mer Repub­li­can Con­gress­man Dave Reichert. 

So we were intrigued to learn of a March 28 meet­ing chock-full of top-tier Olympia lob­by­ists in which the Coali­tion for Prag­mat­ic Lead­er­ship — a PAC that was qui­et­ly estab­lished last year to sup­port Mul­let — laid out a plan to raise his pro­file this spring. As we not­ed when he entered the race, Mullet’s path to vic­to­ry involves some com­bi­na­tion of two things: chaos and dis­cord on the Repub­li­can side of the race, and a big inde­pen­dent cam­paign on his behalf. So far, the Repub­li­cans haven’t coop­er­at­ed on the chaos front. 

A few days ago, there was an impor­tant devel­op­ment on the “chaos front”: the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty endorsed ultra MAGA Reichert rival Semi Bird, spurn­ing Reichert, who with­drew his name from con­sid­er­a­tion and backed out of appear­ing at the con­ven­tion after con­clud­ing that the process was rigged and unfair. (State Par­ty Chair Jim Walsh nat­u­ral­ly dis­putes that and has loud­ly protest­ed the label­ing of the con­ven­tion as “chaot­ic.”) Our assess­ment is that the endorse­ment is unlike­ly to do much for Bird unless it becomes a spring­board to an endorse­ment from insur­rec­tion­ist Don­ald Trump himself. 

Mul­let’s camp, I imag­ine, sees the Bird endorse­ment as evi­dence that there’s still a path for Mul­let to get to the gen­er­al elec­tion. But that path is mighty steep. 

Our polling sug­gests Mul­let has expe­ri­enced only neg­a­tive momen­tum in his cam­paign thus far. Short­ly after he declared, in June of 2023, we found him at 7% in a field that also con­sist­ed of Bird, Fer­gu­son, and Raul Gar­cia, who is now run­ning for U.S. Sen­ate out of def­er­ence to Reichert. Then, in Novem­ber, we found that he had slid to 5%. And more recent­ly, in Feb­ru­ary, we found him at just 4%, with Bird at 9%, Reichert at 27%, and Fer­gu­son at 35%.

The Wash­ing­ton Observer’s sources advised that the pro-Mul­let inde­pen­dent expen­di­ture would be a sev­en-fig­ure effort, not­ing in their April 8th piece: “The Coali­tion for Prag­mat­ic Lead­er­ship expects to raise more than $1M for this effort and already has a key $250K check in hand from a com­pa­ny you’ve like­ly nev­er heard of: Wei­d­ner Apart­ment Homes.” 

As men­tioned above, Wei­d­ner is list­ed in the ad as the PAC’s top funder.

“The size of the cam­paign planned for Mul­let can be viewed as a short-term fea­si­bil­i­ty study to answer this ques­tion: Can the state senator’s pro­file be raised enough in the next cou­ple of months to jus­ti­fy a much larg­er invest­ment to get him through the August [Top Two elec­tion]? The plan is to run the cam­paign this spring and then test pub­lic opin­ion to see if the nee­dle has moved,” The Observ­er explained. “If so, look for some huge checks. The list of deep-pock­et­ed busi­ness inter­ests who would pre­fer Mul­let to Fer­gu­son but don’t want to set fire to stacks of Ben Franklins for a lost cause is long.”

The PAC’s C1-PC lists just two offi­cers: Tyler Mason of Enter­prise Wash­ing­ton and Julia Gor­ton of the Wash­ing­ton Restau­rant Asso­ci­a­tion. Gor­ton serves as the PAC’s trea­sur­er. It has yet to file any reports with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion for the cur­rent year, but it will have to soon, giv­en that it has launched this inde­pen­dent expen­di­ture campaign. 

If The Wash­ing­ton Observer’s sources are right, this inde­pen­dent expen­di­ture like­ly has enough fund­ing on hand to keep its tele­vi­sion spot on air for at least sev­er­al weeks. The afore­men­tioned guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­dates remain pri­mar­i­ly in fundrais­ing mode and are try­ing to stock­pile funds for their sum­mer vot­er out­reach efforts. 

Our next statewide sur­vey fields in mid-May and we’ll be ask­ing who vot­ers sup­port for gov­er­nor, so we’ll be able to gauge the effec­tive­ness of this ad buy and whether it’s doing any­thing for Mul­let fair­ly soon. 

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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