Political power

’Tis the season – political, that is. And that means a big boost for some sectors of the local economy.

“It’s a big thing for us – we look forward to it,” said Cliff Stewart, president of Markon Signs and Decals in Hazel Dell.

TNS Media Intelligence’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks paid political and issue advocacy advertising, reported that across the United States, political candidates will spend at least $3 billion this year – and Clark County will see its fair share.

Here is a sample of local fundraising efforts, gathered from a few of the candidates, their campaign managers and Public Disclosure Commission statements:

• Joseph James (a Republican, running for state representative in the 17th District): $120,000

• Tim Probst (Dem., state representative, 17th District): $60,000

• Pam Brokaw (Dem., county commission, District 1): $43,000

• Jim Jacks (Dem., state representative, 49th District): $43,000

• Michael Delavar (Rep., 3rd Congressional District): about $27,000

• Matt Swindell (Rep., County Commissioner District 1): $26,000

Local impact

How much money raised by local candidates stays in Clark County? Quite a bit, according to the campaigns.

Campaigners need political consultants, yard signs, billboards, T-shirts, gasoline, flyers, food, newspaper ads, coffee, meeting rooms, direct mail services and more to fuel their bids for office. Much of these supplies are purchased locally.

“It’s really important to work in the local community,” said County Commission District 1 hopeful Pam Brokaw, who uses Markon Signs.

Brad Lothspeich, another County Commission District 1 hopeful, estimates his campaign has spent about $17,000 at local businesses, including Battle-Ground based Alpha Impressions, PIP Printing in Vancouver, Ridgefield-based Kaufman Direct Mail Inc. and several graphic design companies.

Congressional hopeful Michael Delavar’s campaign manager Katja Delavar said the campaign has spent about $16,000 for printing at Camas-based Columbia Litho, T-shirts from Vancouver Screen Printing and other expenditures.

Katja Delevar said going to Kinko’s might have been less expensive, but the campaign preferred to “support the local sector.”

County Commission District 1 hopeful Matt Swindell’s campaign manager Tom Niewulis said of the $26,000 raised by Swindell’s campaign, “We’ve spent all but about $2,000 here.”

If every major political candidate for hotly contested offices spends like these examples, the local economy would see a boost of hundreds of thousands of dollars in election years.

Businesses take note

Some local business owners said candidate spending is definitely noticeable.

Ken Kaufman, vice president of Kaufman Direct Mail, cited a more than 50 percent jump in business during election years – from 3 million or 4 million pieces per year to 5 million or 7 million.

Stewart of Markon Signs said the company handles a large volume of political signs and estimated that during a major election campaign, its business jumps as much as 30 percent.

Tom McLeod, owner of the Vancouver PIP Printing franchise, said the primary election isn’t particularly lucrative but as the general election nears, campaign-related projects represent 5 percent to 6 percent of the company’s total business.

And sometimes it’s not so much the actual dollars spent, but a ripple effect that benefits businesses.

For example, Julie Morley, owner of The Hostess House in Hazel Dell, said she has hosted many campaign fundraisers and kick-off parties, including Brokaw’s in January.

These events are not necessarily big revenue generators themselves, but “bring clientele that will think of us in the future,” she said.

Swindell’s “Coffee with the Candidate” campaign brought new customers into local restaurants including Fatty Patty’s in Battle Ground, the Country Café in Ridgefield and Fat Dave’s in Hazel Dell, as well as eateries in Yacolt, Amboy and LaCenter.

Each candidate seems to have his or her favorite hangout, where volunteers buy meals, coffee and bagels.

For Delevar supporters, it’s Boppin’ Bo’s Malt Shop at Vancouver Plaza; for Joseph James’ campaign for state representative in the 17th District, it’s Shari’s on Chaklov Drive; and for Swindell, it’s a bagel shop in Hazel Dell.

“The coffee shop community does well during election season,” said Tim Probst, another candidate for state representative in the 17th District.

Larger venues, too, benefit from the season.

Kevin Young, director of sales and marketing at the Red Lion at the Quay, said the hotel netted about $25,000 in January when it hosted the Southwest Washington Conference of the Washington State Democrats. The conference was attended by about 300 people.

A few days after the upcoming primary, the Quay will host an annual local Republican meeting and general election night – Nov. 4 – will be another big night for the hotel, as many candidates rent conference rooms while tracking election results.

“We expect to have the hotel full that night,” Young said.