Money race centers on Avakian, Bonamici in Democratic primary

Donations roll in for two Ds and an R, but State Rep. Brad Witt is falling behind
by: Chase Allgood Republican Rob Cornilles (left) has raised $505,556 in his bid for Congress. In the Democratic primary, State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian (center) has raised $378,678 and State Sen. Suzanne Bonamici brought in $600,404.

If money's any guide, the two leading candidates in the Democratic primary for Oregon's first congressional race are locked in a tight battle for the nomination.

In the latest quarterly filings with the Federal Election Commission, State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian reported raising $378,678 in total for his campaign. State Sen. Suzanne Bonamici reported $600,404, including $200,851 of her own money.

That puts Avakian and Bonamici ahead of state Rep. Brad Witt, from Clatskanie, the third major candidate in the Democratic primary, who raised a relatively scant $63,977.

In campaign spending Avakian leads the way, disbursing $269,807. Bonamici has spent $148,532 and Witt $40,732.

Rob Cornilles, the frontrunner in the Republican primary, reported $505,556 in contributions. Facing little competition, he has spent $101,295.

Cornilles' only serious challenger, Tigard real estate investor Jim Greenfield, didn't report any contributions in the latest FEC report, but told the News-Times he is loaning his campaign $100,000.

But the dollars and the action seem to be in the Democratic primary, where Bonamici and Avakian are buying television ads to get their message out to voters.

Bonamici hit airwaves first, releasing an ad in late September. The ad recalled a legal case early in Bonamici's career as a lawyer where she prosecuted a mortgage fraud case, burnishing her consumer protection bona fides.

Avakian's ad, which his campaign released Oct. 11, casts him as a feisty Democrat who is "ticked off" by the efforts of "Tea Party" Republicans to "destroy Medicare."

Notable donations

Brad Avakian

• $5,000 - International Longshore and Warehouse Union

• $1,500 - Rogue Brewery founder and CEO Jack Leroy Joyce

• $500 - Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Communications Director Bob Estabrook

Suzanne Bonamici

• $10,000 - Tin House Publisher Win McCormack

• $1,000 - Youth Service America Vice President of Education Susan Abravanel

• $500 - State Rep. Mitch Greenlick

• $300 - Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner

Brad Witt

• $5,000 - United Food and Commercial Workers

• $5,000 - United Steel Workers

• $1,000 - Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

• $500 - State Sen. Betsy Johnson

Rob Cornilles

• $5,000 - Nike Founder Phil Knight

• $2,500 - Stimson Lumber CEO Andrew Miller

• $1,000 - Former U.S Sen. Bob Packwood

• $1,000 - Former Oregon Gov. Victor G. Atiyeh

South County Spotlight reporter Stover Harger contributed to this news story.