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Originally published October 25, 2012 at 7:47 PM | Page modified October 25, 2012 at 11:45 PM

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Suzan DelBene puts $500,000 more into her race

Democratic candidate Suzan DelBene has put another $500,000 into her race against Republican John Koster in the 1st Congressional District. Her total contribution now for the primary and general elections is $2.8 million.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Democratic candidate Suzan DelBene has put another half million dollars into her campaign for Congress, bringing her total spending on the primary and general elections to $2.8 million.

The latest expenditure, revealed in campaign-finance documents Thursday, puts DelBene over the $2.3 million she spent on her 2010 loss to U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert and shows she is trying to gain momentum in the last two weeks before Election Day.

DelBene is in a close race against Republican John Koster, a three-time congressional candidate and longtime elected official, for a seat representing the newly drawn 1st Congressional District. He has raised just over $1 million from donors — less than her $1.4 million from contributors.

But DelBene's ability to heavily self-fund her campaign puts Koster at a disadvantage in the final weeks of the election.

DelBene also has an advantage in independent spending.

Television ads funded by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and EMILY's List, a group that works to elect pro-abortion rights Democratic women, have been running attack ads against Koster's social views for weeks.

Koster has seen much less independent money on his side. Two weeks ago, the National Republican Campaign Committee boosted him into their Young Guns program, meaning that he is considered a promising candidate.

But they haven't spent much on his race. PACs are limited to $5,000 contributions to individual candidates, and he has collected the maximum from some big-name PACs, including SarahPAC, the political-action committee headed by Sarah Palin.

The bigger money comes in the form of independent ad buys, and the only independent ads for Koster so far have been a few mailers from the National Right to Life PAC, a $12,000 online ad buy from the National Federation of Independent Business, and, this week, a $7,500 radio ad purchase from the Faith Family Freedom Fund.

Koster said he's surprised national Republican groups have not spent more money in his district, especially with the race so close.

"Time is getting shorter," he said.

This summer, DelBene pushed to survive the primary by self-funding a big television-ad blitz in the final two weeks before the August election.

Her $500,000 check now, for the reporting period ending Oct. 17, is not for any specific advertisements, but "part of the overall comprehensive budget to finish strong," said DelBene spokesman Viet Shelton.

The Koster campaign has been able to afford only cable ads, so a voter watching network television would only see ads promoting DelBene from her own campaign and outside groups supporting her.

In response to the contribution, Koster quoted another Democratic primary opponent, Darcy Burner, his ideological opposite. "For once, I agree with Darcy Burner, who said: 'In this campaign, one person decided, rather than raise the money for the election, she would try to buy it.' "

Shelton said the money wouldn't matter if DelBene's message didn't appeal to voters.

"This is a message that will resonate with working families across the district," he said.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @EmilyHeffter.

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