August 11, 2022

You may have contributions for the general election made to the campaign before the primary.

If a donor reaches the contribution limit for contributions to the primary election, sometimes they’ll give more, and those donations are for the general election. If the candidate isn’t going on to the general, all contributions for the general election need to be returned to the donors in full. Don’t spend them.

Use the rest of the donations for the primary election to pay outstanding bills. You can use them to pay loans, too. Lenders also have the option to forgive loans they made to the campaign, in part or in full.

You could register for a future election and carry forward a loan to that future election. If you don’t have enough money to pay the vendors and pay back the loans, the campaign can keep on accepting contributions for the primary election for up to 30 days after the election. The same contribution limits that applied for the primary apply now.

(Please note: This only applies if you lost in the primary. If you are moving on to the general election, contributions made after the primary are all for the general election.)

After you have pay campaign expenses, the rest of the contributions for the primary are surplus funds. We have a web page about what you can do with surplus funds here, but in short, you can:

  • Refund contributions to donors. Don’t refund a donor more than they gave. You can’t refund contributions from the candidate to their own campaign, but you can pay back a loan from them, if the campaign recorded a paper loan agreement when the campaign got the loan.
  • Donate them to a party committee or legislative caucus committee.
  • Leave the funds in the bank to spend on a future election campaign.
  • Reimburse the candidate for lost income due to campaigning, if you can document the lost earnings.
  • Make a donation to a charity that’s registered with the office of the Washington Secretary of State.


Keep the campaign books of account (ledger, receipts, all the financial material) for five years after the election. Keep a backup of the ORCA campaign for five years too.