According to a new report by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, the amount and size of contributions to candidates in last year's city council elections played less of a role than in previous years determining which candidates won. (The report doesn't include much analysis of mayoral and city attorney elections because those only happen every four years.)

For example, in 2005 and 2007, the candidate with the most money won in eight out of nine contested elections. Last year, the candidate who spent the most lost four out of six contested local races. And the average size of campaign contributions declined substantially—from $213 in 2007 to $178 last year, a drop of more than 16 percent. That's the first time the average contribution has declined in at least 16 years, which is as far back as records are available.

Other findings from the commission's analysis:

• The total number of people making campaign contributions last year—8,192—increased substantially over 2007, although it was close to the average number between 1997 and 2007.

• Total fundraising for city council campaigns fell to its lowest level since 2003, to $1,628,828, almost $400,000 less than all council candidates raised two years ago. Last year, only two candidates (Sally Bagshaw, who won, and Robert Rosencrantz, who lost) raised more than $200,000.

• Candidates spent a third less on mail and literature, but twice as much on radio and TV ads, compared to 2005.

• Finally, independent expenditures—expenditures made for or against a candidate by third parties unaffiliated with the campaign—went up dramatically, totaling $134,495 in council races, nearly triple the record for the past ten years. That number doesn't include the nearly $1.4 million the American Chemistry Council spent opposing the bag fee.

Below the jump, I've listed the top 20 contributors to all local candidates (including candidates for mayor and city attorney).



1. Matt Griffin, Managing Partner, Pine Street LLC ($6,700)

2. Nucor PAC of Washington ($6,600)

3. Seattle Mariners ($6,100)

4. Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters ($6,100)

5. John McCullough Jr., Attorney, McCullough Hill, PS

6. Craig Shafer, Owner, Hotel Andra ($5,800)

7. H. Jon Runstad, Real Estate Developer, Wright Runstad ($5,675)

8. Amalgamated Transit Union ($5,600)

9. Karen Gates Hildt, Attorney, Hildt & Reid ($5,600)

10. Robert Burkheimer, Burkheimer Management Co. ($5,500)

11. Washington State Council of County and City Employees ($5,400)

12. Judith Runstad, Attorney, Foster Pepper PLLC ($5,275)

13. Al Clise, Owner, Clise Properties ($5,200)

14. Mark Barbieri, Washington Holdings ($5,050)

15. B. Gerald Johnson ($5,000)

16. IFPTE Local 17 PAC ($4,900)

17. Bruce Blume, The Blume Company ($4,900)

18. IBEW Local 46 PAC ($4,681)

19. Hod Carriers and General Laborers Local 242 ($4,700)

20. John Goodman, Chairman, Goodman Real Estate ($4,700)