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Behind the Curtain

November 05, 2004

The Final Countdown

You remember the song.

Dana nah nah, dana nah nah.....

If a blog shuts down in a forest....

A big thanks to Jim Simon for giving me a chance to make a big fool of myself on a daily basis. And to Nick Provenza, my editor, who's helped me not get fired. And to Lucy Mohl, Tom Boyer, Beth Kaiman, Craig Welch, David Postman and some others who have edited at one time or another and/or generally supported me. Thanks to Mark Deichmiller and Todd Coglon on the tech side. Thanks to ye all political operatives for your tips and hate mail (Go back to Minnesota where you belong!)

I'll be moving over to features to write about music.

That's it. Off to Canada (no, not because I don't like the election results; an already planned vacation.)

One final semi-esoteric reference:

Dave...What are you doing Dave? Dave.....

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 04:39 PM


November 04, 2004

A day off

A final post, for you, dear reader(s), tomorrow.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 02:14 PM


November 03, 2004

Dominance

Sen. John Kerry conceded to President Bush this morning. Republicans picked up four Senate seats and sent Tom Daschle, the minority leader, home (or, more accurately, to a very high-paying job as a Washington lobbyist, like his wife.)

President Bush gained more than 50 percent of the total votes cast, more than anyone since his father. He also got more votes than anyone in history. Quite an achievement. He and his party control the two main branches of government, and he'll have a chance to appoint at least one Supreme Court justice, though it could be three. The conservative -- or at least Republican dream (many conservatives don't care for Bush) -- is now reality. What will they do with it? Look for an overhaul of the tax system, a move to privatize Social Security and continued de-regulation of the economy. As for foreign policy? Who can tell?

And how will the Democrats respond?

There'll be some finger pointing among Democrats. The liberal blogger DailyKos is calling for Howard Dean to be head of the Democratic National Committee, calling Terry McAuliffe's reign a failure.

President Bush and his team ran a fantastic campaign, and the evidence is likely to show that their ground operation turned out to be pretty strong, a good payoff for the investment they put into it. The majority of Bush voters said "moral values" was their issue, according to exit polls. More self-identified conservatives voted in this election than ever before, and they all voted for Bush. Anti-gay marriage amendments brought them out, especially in Ohio.

But more than anything, one Democrat BtC knows put it this way: "There are more of them than there are of us."

Not by much. President Bush and the Republicans control the national government, but this isn't a Nixon '72 or Reagan '84 landslide by any means.

Here in Washington, Republicans did better than they have in years. Dino Rossi has a real shot at winning the governor's mansion, Dave Reichert held on to Jennifer Dunn's House seat and Rob McKenna is the next attorney general. Democrats will likely control both houses of the legislature, so if Rossi is elected, we'll have divided government.

In the only downside for the GOP, Sen. Patty Murray was re-elected in a strong showing.

The Republicans seem to have showed they can definitely compete in this state when they nominate moderate, or moderate-seeming candidates from the Eastside, which has become battleground central.

Tomorrow, BtC's farewell.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 02:24 PM


Late night wrap-up

BtC was over at the Republican Party party, and even the teetotalers seemed to take a swig or two in celebration of what's looking like a great night for the party. The dream of Karl Rove and Grover Norquist of realignment and a big Republican majority seems to be taking hold as Republicans picked up several Senate seats. President Bush appears to be on his way to re-election, though there'll be disputes in some key states, and it's far from over, to be sure. Here in Washington, Republicans were doing better than they've done in years.

Gregoire has a slim lead.

Patty Murray is going back to the Senate.

Dave Reichert has a commanding lead in the 8th Congressional race on the Eastside.

Sales tax increase, slot machines and charter schools are failing in initiatives.


Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 12:44 AM


November 02, 2004

Have a votertini

BtC and Lisa's last stop was at Tini Big's, where they're having a returns-watching party, featuring their Republitinis and Democratinis, which are actually the same drink. (Can't we all just get along? Tini Big's seems to be asking.)

The political drink, which is made with mostly vodka but looks like a Manhattan, comprises Sky Spice Vodka, apple liqueur, cranberry juice, a lime wedge and a little American flag.

So far, since they began keeping score in the beginning of March, it's been 980 for Kerry, 774 for Bush.

So to recap. If psychics and martinis are your guide, Kerry will win. If bowling and guys who share office space with psychics are your guide, then the president gets re-elected.

Tini Big's was mostly a bar for Democrats. Keith Robbins, the owner, bought a bunch of champagne. If Bush wins, he's saving it for New Year's, he said.

Next up: Republican Party party in Bellevue.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 07:23 PM


Bowling for president

If 10 frames of bowling between Bush and Kerry surrogates is any indication of how things will go tonight, Kerry is in trouble.

BtC (Bush) beat trusty sidekick Lisa Heyamoto (Kerry) 108-71 at Leilani Bowl, a Hawaiian-themed place in Greenwood that's also a hotbed of pro-I-892 activity. That's the slot machine initiative that would allow places with pull-tabs, like, say, Leilani Bowl, to have slot machines.

Big Lebowski reference: "Walter, This has nothing to do with Vietnam!" That might have been a good motto for both candidates this year.

As for midday patrons, they're pretty evenly divided when it comes to the election.

Wes Dahl, 47, a Seattle resident, is eager for it all to be over. His fiance works for the state Republican party. He doesn't expect to see her until late tonight, and, "She might be grumpy," he said.

He voted for President Bush and Dino Rossi, and for the slot machine initiative.

As for the 1-cent increase in the sales tax for an education trust fund: "I don't got no kids. Someone else can pay for it."

Chris Pleasants, 19, said of the surrogate bowling match between Bush and Kerry: "Kerry got off to a slow start with a double gutter in the first frame, which seemed to parallel the presidential race."

Pleasants voted for the first time this year, and he voted for Kerry. He said he wants America to strengthen its alliances.

He registered to vote when the Declaration of Independence made a national tour recently and stopped in Seattle, he said.

How can you be cynical when you hear that?

Next stop: Tini Bigs, to watch results come in.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 05:20 PM


Spirits in the material world, if you can find them

After talking to lots of voters, pollsters and experts, BtC and his trusty sidekick Lisa Heyamoto decided to consult the real experts: psychics. (Hat tip to reader S.M. for the idea.)

Problem is, most psychics don't seem to keep bankers' hours, so we've had a little problem finding one.

We did get one on the phone, however.

MeLeana, professional, Shoreline-based, one-named psychic, went into a trance, and made predictions based on the vision she received. Tim Russert: Top that!

President: Kerry, in a close finish. "That's what I was told," she said. It flashed while in the trance, she said.

Governor: Rossi, after hearing his name, she said.

Senate: Murray. No hesitation there (it could be Murray's strong poll numbers.)

Attorney General: McKenna (long pause here. It was a like a teeter-totter going back and forth, and McKenna weighed it down a little bit more. Fun image!)

8th Congressional: Reichert, which a voice told her.

The nation's mood: "There's a lot of anger behind the scenes, almost to the point where different groups are rioting, but they don't."

No wounds will be healed by this election, however. (She must have read The New York Times Week in Review!)

In our journeys to the International District, Belltown and up on Aurora in search of a pyschic, we did find a psychic's office, but she wasn't there. A real estate agent who shares an office with her was, though, so we asked him to do some prognosticating.

Joe Thorne, who has a suspiciously thick head of hair (like, say, Howard Cosell), says it's Bush, and not even as close as people are predicting.

The country won't change presidents during wartime, he said. He also picked Rossi, and Patty Murray.

When we asked him if he may have soaked up some psychic power while sharing a building with a pro, he demurred.

Next up, we hit the bowling alley. The bowling bloc is the most important, if overlooked, group of voters in this election. If Lisa wins, it's Kerry (this is not an indication of political preferences); if BtC wins, it's Bush. If it's a tie, it's Nader and/or the Libertarian.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 04:03 PM


Ballots and Ballard: Split seconds, pulled pork

After a morning looking into a Republican spokesperson's claims of a bomb scare at a polling place in Monroe and another in Everett, neither of which panned out (smells Rovian 'round here, don't it?), BtC and his trusty sidekick for the day, Times crack reporter Lisa Heyamoto, headed out to do some reporting.

First up, BtC's own polling spot at the Crown Lutheran Church near the intersection of 85th and 15th north of Ballard.

Four years ago, they had about 800 voters cast ballots there. At just after 11 a.m., they already had more than 600, plus another 100 or so absentee ballots that had been dropped off.

The church bake sale was a big success, the best ever, reported JoAnn Gibson. They'd made $500 already, selling the oddly named "split second" cookies ($5), brownies with nuts ($2) and rye bread ($4).

"I've never seen anything like it," Gibson said of both the voters and their ample appetites for the anti-Atkin's fare.

Most of the voters said they were voting Democratic, though Gibson is a lifelong Republican who voted for President Bush and Dino Rossi, she said.

"Oh, Dino," she said. "He's going to get the business going."

Randy Silvey was volunteering for MoveOn.org, a liberal interest group. He and another volunteer were checking the voter rosters and sending the intel along to other MoveOn volunteers, who would then check off names against their voter registration database and contact people who haven't yet voted. Silvey's never done anything like this before, he said.

If the Democrats do well this year, they'll have these types of get-out-the-vote efforts to thank for it.

BtC ran into an old Republican friend, who couldn't give her name because she's working for the King County elections office and couldn't talk on the record near the polls. The Seattle Pacific University student said she never had any doubts about her support for President Bush, a good sign for him today -- that Republicans have remained loyal.

After hanging at Crown Lutheran for a bit, we moved on to Smokin' Pete's Barbecue, on 65th in Ballard, which was offering 25 percent off for election day. (BtC had the ribs, which were tasty. Lisa had the pulled pork sandwich. Thumbs up there, too.)

"It's a way to celebrate democracy," said Julie Reinhardt, one of the owners. (It's Smokin' Pete's because that sounds better than Smokin' Julie's. We agreed.)

Pete's was doing a good lunch business, and there was lots of talk about the election.

"You can't beat it. That's what brought me here," said Shawna Sullivan, of the barbacue, not the candidates. She's 26, and a first-time voter. She voted for Kerry, and she's pretty sure she voted for Gregoire, though isn't certain (Hey now, it's her first time, so go easy.)

Next up: A psychic tells us who will win the race for the one we're all biting our nails over -- state treasurer.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 02:07 PM


Big turnout already

Earliest reports from Washington state: Big turnout.

Seattle Times: "Long lines and soggy weather marked the opening of the polls this morning in an election day that is expected to see a record turnout of voters in Washington state.

A steady stream of folks with coffee mugs and umbrellas waded into Hawthorne Elementary school as polls opened in Seattle's south end. Some 50 people were already lined up by the time the doors opened at 7 a.m.

Early reports showed none of the scattered problems and technical glitches that were popping up in other states.

In the University District, a few minutes' wait and heavy rain were minor hassles for voters at the Blessed Sacrament Church hall. About a dozen people were lined up waiting to cast their ballots when the polling place opened.
Within 10 minutes, 30 people in the six precincts represented here were voting.

That was about 10 times more people than Bob Plaag says he has seen for that period of the morning in the five years since he's been working the polling site.

'Usually, we get three or four people at this time of the morning.' said Plaag, the county's election inspector who works on elections at the parish hall.
'I can't remember ever having this number of people,' said Plaag, a physicist."

This is very key:

"At the Tulalip Reservation near Marysville, voters were mobilizing for a different reason, to stop Initiative 892, a measure that would allow slot-style electronic scratch machines across the state.

In the first hour of voting at the Tulalip Community Hall, more than 100 voters had streamed through, said poll inspector Phyllis DeSoto, about three times the number she saw four years ago by that time."

Tim Eyman, who's behind the slot machine initiative, has hurt Republicans by driving Native Americans to the polls to defend their slot machine monopoly. While they're voting no on I-892, they'll probably support Democrats.

Tim Eyman might be a very lonely man tonight.

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 10:46 AM


Weather, lines

Parties: The Democrats will assemble at the Westin on Fifth Avenue in Seattle; the Republicans at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. BtC will be at the latter.

The long lines have already begun. If you're a Republican, you may be thanking the Lord for the rain sweeping across the country and pounding the Puget Sound region. Republicans like low turnout, and rain keeps people at home. Not just voters, but also volunteers, who are a big part of the Democratic effort, especially this year.

Washington Citizen Action, a nonpartisan group that's seeking to turn out less affluent voters, has 150 volunteers poised to knock on thousands of doors in poor neighborhoods, likely Democratic voters. How many of them won't show because of the rain? When BtC was at their offices one day, he noted that many of the volunteers are seniors. And without flu shots this year....

But this year isn't your typical election.

Weather nationally:

Associated Press: "Voters trying to beat the rush turned out early to cast ballots in many precincts as Election Day opened, forming long lines that snaked out the doors, waiting in rain and even taking along chairs for expected long waits.
Umbrellas and raincoats were needed today fromTexas to the lower Great Lakes, and snow-covered roads were a problem in the Texas Panhandle. In some places, voters were standing in line before the polling place doors opened."

Also, problems voting already:

"Long lines greeted voters in many big cities in closely contested states, and some polls opened late.

At one New Orleans precinct, all three voting machines were broken and voters were told to come back later, said Bill Quigley, an attorney working for the NAACP.

In South Carolina, problems were reported in a handful of precincts in two counties using electronic machines. Officials said voters were forced to switch to paper ballots while technicians got the iVotronic touch screens from Electronic Systems & Software up and running within about 90 minutes.

Voters in one Richmond, Va., precinct using an old-style machine briefly cast ballots in the wrong congressional race.

And in Volusia County, Fla., a memory card in an optical-scan voting machine failed Monday at an early voting site and didn't count 13,000 ballots. Officials planned to feed the uncounted ballots in to the voting machines.

Tension was high at some Ohio polling places, including at one in Cleveland where a Democratic official claimed he was thrown out by a screaming poll judge before another told him he could return to the church basement."

Here's a great compilation of New York Times election photos.

An appeals court judge in Ohio overturned the ruling of two lower court judges and is allowing party poll watchers, although Republican Gov. Bob Taft said his understanding was that they could observe, but not challenge voters, The Washington Post reports.

This has been a big issue in Ohio, where Republicans planned to have more than 3,000 poll watchers on election day, all in minority neighborhoods, to challenge the eligibility of voters. Democrats charged that this amounted to intimidation.

Early reports are that people are behaving themselves, despite long lines.

"The Republican monitors declined to answer questions about what they were told to do. One of the workers brought two elderly voters cups of water and offered his chair to another. He shared leftover Halloween candy with election judges. And when two of the voting machines broke down, a judge asked the GOP volunteer to help.

After looking at the machine, he declined, joking to a reporter, 'The last thing I need is to be accused of breaking a voting machine.' The GOP worker only identified himself as 'Jeff.'

A Democrat challenger who sat nearby expressed relief that the GOP monitors did not challenge voters. 'I had anticipated more challenges,' said Kim Singleton-Filio, a special education teacher volunteering for Democrat John F. Kerry's campaign. 'It is more like good-ole-boys.' "

Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 09:21 AM


November 01, 2004

Christmas Eve

Seattle Times staff reporter Jim Brunner and yours truly went out with get-out-the-vote volunteers. They're unlike anything seen in BtC's brief time watching politics. Story here.

There may be an oversaturation, in fact. One woman, who wouldn't identify herself, told Republicans to go away, she'd had enough.

BtC spent yesterday afternoon with Molly Kidwell, a smart and down-to-earth, 21-year-old campaign manager for Republican James Whitfield, who's taking on Democrat Ross Hunter for a state House seat in the 48th, a true swing district.

She seemed to realize that the base is taken care of and so went after so-called "soft Republicans," using effectively soft literature that sold Whitfield well. During two hours together, I heard no canned talking points, no attacks on Hunter, or anyone, for that matter. What a relief!

There's not much else to say, at this point.

Be sure to check in tomorrow. We'll post early. Then, BtC's colleague Lisa Heyamoto and BtC will be posting from polling stations, a barbecue joint, a barber shop, a palm reader, a martini bar and a bunch of other random places to help you kill time before results start coming in from the East Coast and then from Washington state.

With any luck, this will all be over late tomorrow night, and we can go back to our lives. It's been fun. Hope it's been for you as well, loyal reader(s).


Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at 12:58 PM


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November 2004
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 RECENT ENTRIES
The Final Countdown

A day off

Dominance

Late night wrap-up

Have a votertini

Bowling for president

Spirits in the material world, if you can find them

Ballots and Ballard: Split seconds, pulled pork

Big turnout already

Weather, lines

 LINKS

Behind the curtain would like to thank Rich Meislin of The New York Times for compiling much of this list. The views expressed on the following web sites are not those of The Seattle Times, and The Seattle Times is not responsible for the content expressed on them.

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