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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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May 30, 2008 11:44 AM

Rep. Simpson says charges dropped

Posted by David Postman

(Commenters: Please don't traffic in rumors here. There's a record that is fair game, of course, but I'll delete stuff I find out of bounds.)

State Rep. Geoff Simpson, D-Covington, said in an e-mail to supporters today that domestic violence charges against him have been dropped, and he plans to run for re-election. Simpson wrote:

The unwarranted charges that were brought against me recently have been entirely dropped due to there being no evidence of any wrongdoing.

The charges came earlier this month after an altercation between Simpson and his ex-wife. He agreed to step down from his chairmanship of the Local Government Committee until the issue was settled.

Simpson suggested in his e-mail that voters in his district may not have heard the last about the charges.

I am certain the Republican machine is gearing up with negative attacks, but the voters have rejected personal attack campaigns against me before and will see through them again.

ADD: You can read the court order dismissing the charges here. The prosecutor's office said it no longer believed had enough evidence to press charges. And, court papers say:

In addition, based on the alleged victim’s stated intentions for calling 911 at the time of the incident, there is no evidence that the alleged victim was calling 911 to specifically report a domestic violence incident or that the defendant would have reason to believe that she was calling to report domestic violence.

I just talked with Simpson. He said police were called for "assistance in a dispute about what property she could take from my house."

No crime was committed. I should never have been charged in the first place because she didn’t even say there was domestic violence.

Simpson said he supports the state domestic violence law that led to his arrest, even though charges were dropped.

I’ve thought a lot about this the past several weeks. I don’t like what happened to me and I didn’t like going to jail with all the unpleasantness associated with that. But I think that’s better than the alternative.

The alternative, he said, is having police show up at a domestic violence call and be told by the alleged victim that there was no crime, only to find later that someone had been seriously injured or even killed.

The full e-mail is after the jump.

Continue reading this post ...

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May 29, 2008 9:21 AM

Washington superdelegate backs Clinton

Posted by David Postman

Eileen Macoll, superdelegate and vice chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, announced today that she is backing Hillary Clinton for the presidential nominee. A statement from the Clinton campaign says:

“I’m taking this step today because I have been inspired by Hillary’s bold commitment to solving our nation’s toughest challenges,” Macoll said. “On the issues that matter most—from establishing universal health care to improving our schools to ending the war in Iraq—she has never backed down and never wavered. Hillary has what it takes to beat John McCain this Fall and win back the White House.

“Hillary has a plan to bring an honorable end to the war in Iraq, and I know that Senator she and Senator Murray will ensure that our troops receive the care we should be proud to provide as they return home.”

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May 28, 2008 10:10 AM

Reichert gets GOP enviro honor

Posted by David Postman

A Republican group says Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, is one of the three greenest Republicans in Congress. Republicans for Environmental Protection actually named Reichert the Greenest Republican in Congress, but the same award was given to Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

You can see the full scorecard here.

The Republican group put out a release today saying,

“Dave Reichert’s score of 103* was one of three top scores in Congress, thanks to his perfect voting record and steadfast leadership on wildlands conservation and clean energy issues. Voters in Washington and across the nation can always count on Congressman Reichert to safeguard our environment and to be a true steward of the country’s natural treasures,” said REP President Martha Marks.

Reichert’s score of 103 represented a perfect voting record on the 15 environmental votes scored and an environmental leadership credit for his co-sponsorship of the Wild Sky Wilderness Act, which passed Congress as part of consolidated public lands legislation and was signed into law by President Bush on May 8.

Reichert's environmental record is often the subject of discussion, as it was in this 2006 story. Earlier this year it also appeared he was becoming more green in his re-election year.

UPDATE: This issue goes to the heart of the campaign between Reichert and Democrat Darcy Burner. Burner and her supporters argue that Reichert is not a moderate, even if scorecards like the REP one above show him to be. Independent groups have come to the same conclusion.

But the Burner camp says that Reichert votes against measures during procedural votes, then swtiches sides and voting with the Democrats on final passage to show him as more of a moderate.

Here's part of the response Burner spokesman Sandeep Kaushik sent me:

The deeper truth is that Congressman Reichert is gaming the system to make his environmental record appear on the surface to be far greener than it actually is. For instance, this Republican group gives him credit for voting for H.R. 6, the “Creating Long Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act.” But the truth is that Reichert voted six times in lockstep with Republican leadership on preliminary and procedural votes to kill this bill. Only after those votes were lost and it was clear the bill was going to pass did he flip flop and vote for it on final passage (you can read a detailed examination of how he voted on this bill here). Yet despite opposing this bill multiple times he gets full credit as a supporter of this legislation.

This is not an isolated example. Congressman Reichert has followed this pattern more than 25 times in the current Congress - voting to kill, stop or weaken environmental and other progressive legislation in every preliminary vote before (once the outcome is determined) flipping on final passage, and then cynically claiming credit for supporting the legislation. This pattern shows that he is not acting independently or as a moderate, but is actually manipulating his votes on bills to create a false impression of his actual positions on these issues.

Here is an even clearer example: at the end of February Congress voted on H.R. 5351, a bill that would have eliminated $13.6 billion in corporate welfare subsidies for Big Oil and put the money instead into renewable energy development. Reichert voted for this bill, but only after - on the same day - voting for the Republican alternative that would have stripped the bill of its key provisions and keep the oil company subsidies in place. You can read an unintentionally hilarious report about how he voted on both sides of this legislation here.

To see more on this subject see Daniel Kirkdorffer's work here.

I will have a response from Reichert's office here soon.

UPDATE: Reichert Chief of Staff Mike Shields says that Burner's campaign is trying to parse something that can't be parsed.

"The votes and the scorecards speak for themselves," he said."There's no parsing of votes when you introduce a wilderness bill. Dave is a leader on the environment in Congress and he has a goal of trying to change his own party and that's reflected in the scorecard."

I asked Shields why Reichert votes against bills on procedural motions and then votes in favor on final passage. He said that some of those votes are attempts to replace the Democratic-sponsored bills with something that includes Republican changes. And when that fails -- and he says Democratic leadership makes sure it always does -- Reichert votes for bills on final passage.

The people who disagree with Dave on these final votes think they're real votes and they let us know that. When Dave co-sponsored a bill to make ANWR a wilderness area or to protect the Tongass National Forest, the Alaska delegation thinks those are real.

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May 28, 2008 9:16 AM

A legacy vote for Hillary

Posted by David Postman

The Weekly has a profile of 17-year-old Jack Laurence who is trying to become a Hillary Clinton delegate to this summer’s Democratic National Convention. Laurence, writes Jesse Froehling, could be the youngest-ever delegate, and would be renewing a political bloodline.

Jack has the intrinsic makeup of a born politician. For one, his grandfather is … Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson. Although the legendary Democratic senator died before he was born, Jack says he's been deeply inspired by the man. In fifth grade, Jack wrote a research paper about his grandfather that hooked him on politics forever.

While unwavering in his support of Clinton, Jack is politically astute enough to know that if Hillary doesn't pull out a win—and it's looking pretty grim at this point—he'll support Obama. But he hasn't yet resigned himself to that reality. "I'm optimistic that she still has a chance," he says.

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May 27, 2008 4:37 PM

Our team loses a good one

Posted by David Postman

KING 5's Robert Mak is leaving TV to be Mayor Greg Nickel's new communications director. Mak is one of the best journalists of any sort in Washington state, and one of the very few TV reporters who continue to follow politics closely.

His award-winning work on KING 5 will be missed. He's also a nice guy and I'll miss hanging out with him at news events as I've done for years. But it seems like he's already fitting in at City Hall:

"Mayor Nickels has led a successful agenda addressing climate change, improving transportation, and fostering healthy neighborhoods," said Mak. "With the Mayor committed to supporting better schools and creating more economic opportunities for all, this is an exciting time to join the City of Seattle."

UPDATE: I see from Jim Brunner's story that Mak will be making $160,000 a year.

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May 27, 2008 2:42 PM

Rossi warms to climate change

Posted by David Postman

I see in the P-I that Dino Rossi is going to battle Gov. Chris Gregoire for the environmental vote. (He’s already got a hybrid campaign SUV.) It’s going to be tough for Rossi to overcome the Democrats’ traditional alliance with the environmental movement.

And there's no doubt that Democrats will play on Rossi's particularly close connections to the Building Industry Association of Washington. The BIAW is the group the environmentalists love to hate. The BIAW opposes the state and King County’s efforts to tighten environmental regulations as a way to combat global warming. The builder’s group called one of this year’s major climate change bills “the foundation for more enviro lawsuits.”

In a global warming report sent to its members, the BIAW listed a number of things it was doing to oppose the state’s efforts to reduce global warming. The list includes potential litigation to stop the Department of Ecology’s climate-change rulemaking, intervening in environmentalists’ lawsuits, and “Endorsing Dino Rossi for governor.”

But Rossi has had a recent epiphany on global warming. The P-I reports that “Rossi said there's no doubt the planet is warming.”

Rossi was asked about global warming at the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce in March. There he said “there’s still a lot of debate going on in this.”

I know a lot of people say, ‘Why bother with long-term planning if Al Gore says the world’s going to end in 10 years or 15 years. But there are a lot of scientists who disagree, so we’ll see how this debate goes.

Two weeks ago, Rossi wouldn’t say whether he thought global warming was real. He was quick to say it didn’t matter whether it was real because it was important to clean up the air regardless of whether there is scientific consensus on climate change. He told Times reporter Andrew Garber:

It doesn’t matter whether you believe in one scientist or another. The bottom line is we need to make reasonable plans to reduce carbon emissions and make improvements in our environment.

Despite repeated questions, Rossi refused to say whether he personally believed global warming was real, saying, “I’m not a scientist.”

That puts Rossi somewhere between the BIAW and Republican presidential candidate John McCain. McCain believes global warming is real and that there is a strong scientific consensus about the issue. He thinks most of the world agrees with that assessment. I asked McCain earlier this month how he responds to leaders in his own party who won’t say whether global warming is a fact.

Well, I’ll be glad to continue the debate on climate change. We will continue to accumulate scientific data. NASA, I think, has proven to most Americans and most people in this world as we’ve seen pictures of the globe and the receding ice caps in the Arctic and Antarctic and the profound changes that have taken place.

McCain uses a similar line to Rossi’s about how it really doesn’t matter what you think about global warming as long as you believe more environmental protection is needed.

I asked Tom McCabe, executive vice president of the BIAW, what he thought of Rossi’s global warming position.

“That’s fine,” he said. “He has his own perspective.” McCabe doesn’t think Rossi will be able to win much environmental support. “No matter what he does it’ll never be enough for them,” he said.

Rossi and McCabe agree in their opposition to this year’s major legislative action on global warming. House Bill 2815 set up goals for carbon reduction, but does not fund those efforts. Gregoire signed the bill and has called it a major accomplishment.

Rossi, according to spokeswoman Jill Strait, would not have signed the bill. Strait said Rossi believes “we should focus on rewarding people, not punishing them.”

The bill she just signed aims to use the power of the government to force people to cut vehicle miles traveled down to the level of 1980 in just ten years, and that is only the first step.

Dino’s vision is based on personal freedom and engaging Washington’s creative economy. His plan provides incentives for people to use new, clean technology.

After the jump, read more from Rossi on global warming.

Continue reading this post ...

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May 27, 2008 2:06 PM

Gingrich to headline Reichert fundraiser

Posted by David Postman

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich will be in Bellevue next month for a special Father's Day fundraiser for Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.

(It was during his Bellevue stop for Reichert in 2006 that Gingrich said the U.S. was in the midst of World War III, and urged President Bush to say that publicly.)

Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for Reichert opponent Darcy Burner, said Reichert says "he is saddened by the partisan tone in Washington, D.C.," "the truth is he is tied at the wallet to some of the most partisan and extreme Republican leaders, whose support he actively seeks and enthusiastically welcomes."

Reichert has benefited from, among others, fundraisers headlined Gingrich, President Bush and Vice President Cheney. But it's hard to measure the fallout, if any, given Reichert's 2006 re-election over Burner.

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May 27, 2008 9:39 AM

As end nears, Clinton reverts to type

Posted by David Postman

Over the weekend there was much discussion about Hillary Clinton's comments about Robert Kennedy’s assassination. She quickly apologized and, of course, said she was quoted out of context while her campaign blamed Barack Obama for fanning the flames of the Memorial Day story.

The Kennedy comment follows her jarring bit of analysis about her appeal among white voters.

Not to get all Gail Sheehy on Clinton, but I think as her chances for the nomination go to the other side of dim, she is reverting to type. It’s not that there are sinister undertones to either comment. She’s saying the sort of thing you can hear from political consultants, campaign staffers, TV pundits or reporters.

The problem is you don’t normally hear candidates - particularly for president - talk like that. Most of Clinton’s vaunted experience has been behind the scenes. Until being elected to the Senate, her political experience was as advisor and strategist to Bill.

Maybe it’s frustration that reporters don’t see the race as she does. Or maybe it’s that voters don’t see it her way. If this were a Bill race instead of a Hillary race, I can imagine sitting with Clinton in a bar - and we now know how much she likes a shot and a beer - and listening to her analyze the race, talking about the racial breakdown of votes and maybe even saying, “Hey, it’s only May and in 1968 the race was far from over at that point.”

There are a couple of problems, whether Clinton is a candidate or a strategist. First, why would a Democrat talk about 1968? As a friend pointed out last night -- I was only 10 that year -- Richard Nixon won the presidency that November.

Also, Clinton has repeatedly mentioned that Bill was still fighting for the nomination at this point in 1992. That just doesn't seem to be the case.

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May 27, 2008 7:09 AM

Huckabee says he doesn't want to be VP

Posted by David Postman

Mike Huckabee was in Seattle last week to play a little rock and roll and talk some politics, of course. Laura Mansfield and Will Mari of seattlepoliticore interviewed the former GOP presidential candidate. Huckabee tried to clear one thing up:

According to Huckabee, he is not seeking out the Vice Presidency. However, with the latest controversy surrounding McCains support of Rod Parsley and John Hagees endorsement, both whom McCain rejected publicly yesterday, it may be McCain that seeks out Huckabee for VP. In short, the evangelical vote.

You can read a transcript of the politicore interview with Huckabee here. The former Arkansas governor gave a hint, but no details, of a book he’s working on.

How are you doing after the election and the primary season?

“Almost as busy as I was during the campaign,” he said, adding that that he’s done a lot of speaking on behalf of people running for the House and Senate, and, of course, Sen. John McCain.

“Then also, [I have] been working on my future of what I’m going to do, and some of that involves writing a book that will come out in November,” he said.

Huck declined to give much in the way of details.

“I have to kind of keep it very general. The publisher wants me to keep things very mysterious for now, but essentially it’ll be a book on the overall direction of American and where it’s headed.”

Along with his book project, he’s “looking at some media opportunities that I’m trying to nail down … I’m certainly not lacking for something to do.”

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May 23, 2008 11:30 AM

Christian charity helps raise Rossi funds

Posted by David Postman

Dino Rossi may have gotten some money for his gubernatorial campaign at a meeting of the Christian Businesmen’s Connection, but at the TNT, Niki Sullivan says it was a mixing of politics and charity that may have violated IRS rules.

The president of the local chapter of the businessman’s group that met in Fircrest, Dwight Mason, told the TNT “no funds were solicited” and he said he didn’t see even a hint of fundraising. But the TNT got an audio tape of the meeting that showed otherwise. Mason is heard giving a prayer that said in part he was “thankful for this opportunity to hear Dino’s story and pray for him and his campaign...”

After the prayer, Mason told the crowd, “OK, at your table, this is not a fundraiser, although Dino did leave with us a couple envelopes there, and I’m sure he’d appreciate that.”

The Rossi campaign says it thinks it got one check from the luncheon and had no plans to return the money despite questions about the event.

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May 23, 2008 8:23 AM

Obama, Gregoire and Hanford

Posted by David Postman

When Gov. Chris Gregoire endorsed Barack Obama in February,

She said she talked with Obama four times, including a 30-minute conversation that impressed her with his grasp of health care and Washington state-specific issues.

But over the weekend, when asked about Gregoire’s pet issue of clean-up of the nuclear waste from Hanford, Obama said:

"Here's something that you will rarely hear from a politician, and that is that I'm not familiar with the Hanford site, so I don't know exactly what's going on there. … Now, having said that, I promise you I'll learn about it by the time I leave here on the ride back to the airport."

Obama’s response to the question is sort of the Microsoft Windows approach: That’s not a glitch, that’s a new feature. (I think this could catch on with other professions, too. Imagine, "Here's something that you will rarely hear from a surgeon: Oops."

But Obama’s attempt to turn nuclear waste into lemonade made me wonder what state-specific issues he and the governor talked about for half an hour. Did Gregoire bring up Hanford, an issue she has dealt with going back more than 15 years when she was director of the Department of Ecology? I asked her communications director, Pearse Edwards. He said:

The Governor talked to Senator Obama about a host of state and national issues- health care and global climate change, in particular - and his vision for the country. The Senator and the Governor have a strong relationship and she will continue to talk to the Senator about issues that impact Washington state. The Governor is aware of the Senator's comments on Hanford, an issue that is important to her. Given Senator Obama's excellent record on the environment and his most recent comments supporting the Hanford site cleanup effort, she has all the confidence that she and Senator Obama will work well together on issues that affect Washingtonians.

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May 22, 2008 1:24 PM

Former pol takes to the stage

Posted by David Postman

Former state Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn has found an artistic outlet for whatever leftover frustration she has from losing - by a lot - her 2004 race against Attorney General Rob McKenna. She’s putting on a show. It’s a one-woman show titled, Until the Last Dog Dies.

In a year bursting with politics see the action from the inside! Come see the hilarious and poignant story of the successful effort of evil outside interests to capture and control Washington’s 2004 race for attorney general. Written and performed by former Insurance Commissioner and Democratic nominee for attorney general Deborah Senn. Not all ex-politicians are put out to pasture — come see it to believe it.

The performance is next week at the Capitol Hill Arts Center.

There certainly were some memorable moments in the campaign, including improper hits against Senn from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I don't know if that is the stuff of great theater.
CHAC has an interview with Senn in which she talks about the “transition from elected official/politician to writer/ performer”.

Deborah Senn (DS): I know of an ex-insurance commissioner who was selling jet-skis in Hawaii, so by comparison I am pretty fortunate. Some have said politics is performance art, so the distance between art and politics may not be too far.

LiveWire: Tell us about your decision to create Until the Last Dog Dies.

DS: At a post-campaign party, my young staff decided that the campaign was so unbelievable, it should become a book or a movie. When I asked who would play the roles, my staff person said she, of course, would be portrayed by Julia Roberts. I said “and moi?” Oh, she gushed, Tyne Daley should portray you, Commissioner Senn. My self-image shattered (Tyne is brilliant but old and well developed), I decided to attempt to write a solo show about the campaign and portray myself.

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May 22, 2008 9:50 AM

Two pounds of pot too much for the governor

Posted by David Postman

Last year, nine years after Washington voters approved a medical marijuana law, the Legislature passed a bill designed to clarify, among other things, what exactly qualifies as the 60-day supply of pot patients are allowed to possess.

Senate Bill 6032 says:

The legislature intends to clarify the law on medical marijuana so that the lawful use of this substance is not impaired and medical practitioners are able to exercise their best professional judgment in the delivery of medical treatment, qualifying patients may fully participate in the medical use of marijuana, and designated providers may assist patients in the manner provided by this act without fear of state criminal prosecution.

The Legislature didn’t consider itself experts in the world of medical marijuana and didn’t come up with specifics on what is a defensible, two-month supply. Instead, lawmakers directed the state Department of Health to hold hearings, talk to experts, research medical literature, and come up with a regulation that as of July 1 of this year was supposed to give patients, doctors and law enforcement an answer.

The Department of Health did all that. And it recommended allowing proposed a rule that would allow more than two pounds of pot every two months. But as Times reporter Carol Ostrom wrote yesterday, Gov. Chris Gregoire and some cops didn’t like that. The governor told the Department of Health to go talk to more people, get more input, and reconsider the pound-a-month plan.

"I wouldn't say she was upset" by the amount, said Gregoire's spokesman, Pearse Edwards, but she believed input had been one-sided.

But if that’s the case, whose fault is it? No one in law enforcement or the medical community should have been surprised the Department of Health was trying to clear up one of the big gray areas of the medical marijuana law.

Officials with the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs testified on the bill last year. They certainly knew what was in the measure.

When the rule-making process began last year, there was a news release sent out and, as required by law, details were published in the state register. But the Department of Health did more to comply with the Legislature’s direction that experts be consulted and interested parties be given a chance to comment. An e-mail that was headlined, “Defining a 60-day supply of medical marijuana,” was sent Aug. 7, 2007. It went to a long list of organizations asking for help and soliciting comments via e-mail, the Department’s Web site, public workshops or by snail mail.

That e-mail went to:

The Washington State Medical Association, medical researchers at the University of Washington, the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Washington Association of Police chiefs and Sheriffs, the Department of Social and Health Services, the ACLU, the State Medical Quality Assurance Commission, the Board of Pharmacy, the Board of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, Washington State Patrol, the state department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, Washington Fish and Wildlife, statewide court administrative offices, all Washington NORML offices, Green Cross, and the Washington State Association of Counties and Cities.

It seems outreach wasn’t the problem. I can only assume that two pounds of pot was more clarification than some folks could handle.

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May 22, 2008 9:22 AM

Slow move to reform at Valley Medical Center

Posted by David Postman

The citizen commission that runs the troubled Valley Medical Center is resisting change, says a reform candidate elected to the panel last fall. Anthony Hemstad, who defeated Commission President Carole Anderson, writes in a column in the Renton Reporter today:

It is concerning when the initial response to my 10-point reform program has included an attempt to move meetings to the one time I cannot attend (repealed after calls by the Attorney General’s office and the appearance of KING 5 TV crews to investigate this unprecedented move to disenfranchise an elected official) and the passage of Valley’s first ever “Code of Ethics” as the last act of the outgoing commission which, according to First Amendment advocates from the Institute for Justice, clearly blocked the freedom of speech of elected officials. Encouragingly that code is now being reviewed as well to ensure it follows the Constitution and state law. Still, it would be even more encouraging if the initial response was for openness and dialogue, not work on silencing inconvenient voices that challenge the status quo.

You can see that KING 5 report here. Robert Mak reports that when Hemstad suggested it was difficult for the public to attend commission meetings held Monday afternoons, the board voted to move them to Monday nights. That’s the one night of the week Hemstad, city manager of Maple Valley, can’t attend. And, Mak said, the other board members “knew full well he spends every Monday night with the Maple Valley City Council.”

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May 21, 2008 8:11 AM

Oregon, the morning after

Posted by David Postman

It appears that Barack Obama’s big win in Oregon last night will give him 30 of Oregon’s 52 Democratic delegates.

In the other big Democratic primary there, the Oregonian says state House Speaker Jeff Merkley beat grassroots attorney Steve Novick - but not by much.

Novick ended the campaign in his unique style, saying,

“We are going to go down in history with the greatest losers of all time.”

I think he’s right that he “proved there is a constituency for truth, a constituency for laughter, a constituency for courage.” Just not a majority for all those things.

The Oregonian’s Jeff Mapes has lots of good analysis at his blog, Mapes on Politics, including a look at SEIU successes in yesterday’s election.

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May 20, 2008 4:53 PM

Join me at 6 p.m. to talk about Oregon, Kentucky, results

Posted by David Postman

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May 15, 2008 3:00 PM

In my absence

Posted by David Postman

I will be away from the blog until Wednesday morning as I properly celebrate my older son’s graduation from college.

Other Times staffers will fill in here while I'm away.

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May 15, 2008 2:16 PM

Superdelegates; a chronology

Posted by David Postman

Dates when elected officials among Washington's superdelegates endorsed a candidate:

April 2007 -- Congressman Adam Smith says he backs Barack Obama; formal endorsement came in July.

June 21 - Congressman Jay Inslee endorses Hillary Clinton

Sept. 4 -- King County Executive Ron Sims endorses Clinton

Oct. 8 -- Former Gov. Gary Locke endorses Clinton

Dec. 31 2007 -- Sen. Maria Cantwell endorses Clinton

Jan. 30, 2008 -- Sen. Patty Murray endorses Clinton

Feb. 7 -- Congressman Norm Dicks endorses Clinton

Feb. 8 -- Gov. Chris Gregoire endorses Obama

Feb. 15 - Congressman Brian Baird endorses Obama

May 8 - Congressman Rick Larsen endorses Obama

May 15 - Congressman Jim McDermott endorses Obama

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May 15, 2008 9:58 AM

McDermott backs Obama

Posted by David Postman

Congressman Jim McDermott, the last neutral superdelegate among the state's elected officials, has decided to endorse Barack Obama for president. McDermott has been close to the Clintons -- Bill helped him raise money for his legal defense fund -- and he stayed out of the Democratic presidential race about as long as he could.

McDermott is the latest move among neutral superdelegates to back Obama as the primary season begins to wind down.

The full release after the jump.

Continue reading this post ...

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May 14, 2008 11:41 AM

McCain's straight talk. Really

Posted by David Postman

There was a moment in John McCain’s panel discussion yesterday that sounded a bit like a commercial message, or some clever product placement. McCain was responding to something that REI CEO Sally Jewell had said about the need for solar power tax incentives.

McCain said he was wary of subsidies, and injected this parenthetical: “I have to give you straight talk.”

It sounded to me like, “I have to give you Straight Talk™, now less filling and even straighter and talkier. Available only from John McCain. Past results not a predictor of future performance. Ask your doctor if Straight Talk™ is right for you. Do not operate heavy machinery after a full dose of Straight Talk.™, "

But it was straight talk. And McCain’s campaign stop at a remote watershed was remarkable for something that should not be remarkable in politics. It was not pre-programmed; it was not a panel of sycophants carefully vetted to avoid dissension; and no one asked any question along the line of, “Senator, when did you first decide to be an undying champion of the environment?”

Continue reading this post ...

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May 13, 2008 10:59 AM

McCain promotes nuclear power in North Bend visit

Posted by David Postman

NORTH BEND - I’m at the Cedar River Watershed Educational Center in the Cascade foothills to hear John McCain and panelists talk about the environment.

The panelists will be Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland; Bruce Williams, chairman and CEO of HomeStreet Bank and vice chairman of Cascade Land Conservancy,; Jim DiPeso, policy director of Republicans for Environmental Protection; REI CEO Sally Jewell; West Mathison, a fifth-generation farmer with Stemilt Growers, Inc.; Chris Bayley, the former Republican King County prosecutor and chairman of Stewardship Partners; Eagle Scout and high school senior Will Mentor; and Mercer Island City Councilman Steve Litzow Litzglow. Former Gov. Dan Evans will moderate.

This is a City of Seattle facility. It’s a nice, rustic, set of buildings above the river.

McCain is also scheduled to hold a media availability after the panel discussion.

There are a host of local Republicans in the small auditorium, including former Sen. Slade Gorton, GOP state Chairman Luke Esser, vice chairwoman Freddi Simpson, Sen. Cheryl Pfulg, and former state Rep. Toby Nixon.

MORE: With a light, cool, rain falling, Evans joked that “we’re looking forward to global warming.”

MORE: Jewell said that members of REI include people from the far left and the far right, but said “the one thing that they all appreciate, I think, is a healthy environment.”

She thanked McCain for his comments yesterday on climate change, and pointed out Gorton to say that he helped secure the public lands around this area. Jewell also mentioned former Democratic Gov. Gary Locke and said bipartisan work is necessary to continue to protect the environment.

(By the way, Evans’ REI number is 1819.)

“I’m not new to this issue. But I’m always learning about this issue,” McCain said. He said that when he first ran for president in 2000, young people would ask him about climate change, but he was then far from an expert.

“I will freely admit … I began to learn and I went back to the Senate and as chairman of the commerce committee had many hearings on this issue, and I traveled. I traveled around the globe, usually at your expense.”

In brief opening remarks, McCain said that fighting climate change and pushing for improvements to the environment are good for the economy.

“Everyone is talking about how harmful it is,” he said. “Look at what’s out there.”

He said that the wind turbine company he visited in Portland yesterday is employing thousands of people and “are contributing to probably as clean a technology as you’ll ever find. … I just firmly and steadfastly reject the notion that somehow this is something that will be harmful to our economy.”

MORE: Jewell said that REI has a goal to be “climate neutral.” She said that is very difficult, but very important to REI members. It involves a difficult balance.

All businesses, by nature, are taking from the planet right now. So how do we reconcile sending out catalogs while we’re hiking in the trees?

She said that businesses and private enterprise “have to play a very, very significant role” in combating global warming.

McCain asked her, “What do you want me to do?”

She said REI is converting 10 stores to solar this year, “in sunnier markets than the one you’re presently sitting in.” She said that some states, but not the federal government, have tax incentives that now make converting to solar financially viable.

Jewell said:

There isn’t anything significant that helps us make the right decisions.

McCain responded:

I’m a little wary of - I have to give you straight talk - about government subsidies. We just saw the impact, I think, of the subsidies for ethanol. I opposed the subsidies for ethanol because I thought it would distort the market. … When government jumps in and distorts the market then there are unintended consequences as well as intended consequences.

He said that happened after the gas crisis in the 1970s. He said there were “too many incentives given to the solar industry” and “we turned out to have some pretty shoddy material.”

MORE: Williams questioned McCain’s call for more nuclear energy. He said that Washington state is still dealing with nuclear waste issues at Hanford. He said:

We’d like to see that taken care of before we make more of it.

McCain said he understands the controversy over nuclear waste at Hanford and knows there is much more to be done there.

All I’m saying is, if other countries are able to make use of nuclear power and address the issue of spent nuclear fuel, then I don’t know why the United States of America can’t.

Again, we’ve sailed ships around the world for 60 years, some of them have come into this state, and we’ve never had a problem. We’ve never had a nuclear accident. …

We ought to be able, as a nation, to address the issue of transportation of the spent nuclear fuel, the storage of it, whether it’ll be reprocessed.

McCain said that if new nuclear power plants are built then no new coal-fired plants will have to take their place. “I’m all for clean coal,” he said, but added that the technology is still too expensive to be viable.

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May 13, 2008 8:00 AM

McCain in state today to continue green talk

Posted by David Postman

John McCain will hold a roundtable discussion later this morning in North Bend to talk about the environment. Former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, a longtime McCain supporter here, said that former Republican Gov. Dan Evans is expected to moderate the discussion.

Also around the table will be Republican Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland, REI CEO Sally Jewell
and others. Jewell’s presence -- see a profile of her here -- shows that at least not all the participants are Republicans. State and federal campaign finance records show she primarily gives to Democrats.

She has donated to Sen. Maria Cantwell, congressmen Brian Baird and Jay Inslee and congressional candidate Darcy Burner. She also has given at least $2,000 to Gov. Chris Gregoire, as well as $100 in 2004 to Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi.

Munro did not have the full list of participants. But, he said

This is not designed to be a bunch of yes people. It’s designed to say, ‘We’ve made a lot of progress, but what more should we be doing.’

McCain’s northwest campaign swing, with a stop yesterday in Portland to deliver a global warming speech, is also designed to distance the Republican candidate from President Bush’s environmental record, as well as an attempt to draw a distinction with the Democratic presidential candidates.

McCain said in Portland yesterday:

I will not shirk the mantle of leadership that the United States bears. … I will not permit eight long years to pass without serious action on serious challenges.

Doug Holtz-Eakin, a McCain senior policy advisor, later used a conference call with reporters to end any question about whether McCain meant to criticize Bush’s record. Holtz-Eakin said McCain’s proposal for a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gases marked the “beginning of the end of the Bush administration’s inaction on climate change.”

Holtz-Eakin described the plan as a middle-ground between what interest groups on the left and right would prefer. He said the timetable for reducing carbon emissions and the approach to do that is not a “litmus test” to appeal to the environmental community or “inaction chosen to appeal” to business interests.

Stories in the New York Times and Washington Post lead with the McCain/Bush angle.

But McCain is also talking about the environment this week to try to fill a gap he sees in the presidential campaign.

“Our feeling is the Democrats aren’t talking about the environment at all,” Munro said. “It never seems to get mentioned. There’s no debate.”

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May 12, 2008 4:12 PM

After school special: What's a superdelegate?

Posted by David Postman

If you need a primer on how superdelegates do their work check out this video from The League of Young Voters and AGIT-POP. It seems, according to this After School Special-like video, that superdelegates fly through the air, and proclaim things like “I’m a back-room, brandy-sniffing dealmaker” and, “The people have spoken, but I know better.”

But guess what? Not everyone thinks it’s funny. Some Democrats have apparently lost their sense of humor in the final days of their nomination fight. Check out the comments at this post on firedoglake.

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May 12, 2008 10:35 AM

McCain wants cap & trade, more nukes in energy plan

Posted by David Postman

John McCain will give a major environmental speech today in Portland. It covers his proposal for a cap and trade system to reduce emissions and fight global warming.

Environmentalists began to respond to the Republican's energy proposal, even before the speech was delivered. In fact, we got this copy of the speech from someone at the Sierra Club even before we got it from the campaign.

Here's AP's take on the speech.

McCain will deliver the speech at a Portland company, Vestas Wind Technology. He tries for a much more inclusive approach than many Republican candidates do when campaigning in the west.

When we debate energy bills in Washington, it should be more than a competition among industries for special favors, subsidies, and tax breaks. In the Congress, we need to send the special interests on their way - without their favors and subsidies. We need to draw on the best ideas of both parties, and on all the resources a free market can provide. We need to keep our eyes on big goals in energy policy, the serious dangers, and the common interests of the American people. ...

As a program under the Clean Air Act, the cap-and-trade system achieved enormous success in ridding the air of acid rain. And the same approach that brought a decline in sulfur dioxide emissions can have an equally dramatic and permanent effect on carbon emissions. Instantly, automakers, coal companies, power plants, and every other enterprise in America would have an incentive to reduce carbon emissions, because when they go under those limits they can sell the balance of permitted emissions for cash. As never before, the market would reward any person or company that seeks to invent, improve, or acquire alternatives to carbon-based energy. It is very hard to picture venture capitalists, corporate planners, small businesses and environmentalists all working to the same good purpose. But such cooperation is actually possible in the case of climate change, and this reform will set it in motion.

McCain, though, also will call for more nuclear-generated energy.

It doesn’t take a leap in logic to conclude that if we want to arrest global warming, then nuclear energy is a powerful ally in that cause.

In a cap-and-trade energy economy, the cost of building new reactors will be less prohibitive. The incentives to invest in a mature, zero-emissions technology will be stronger. New research and innovation will help the industry to overcome the well known drawbacks to nuclear power, such as the transport and storage of waste. And our government can help in these efforts. We can support research to extend the use of existing plants.

The League of Conservation Voters said in a statement this morning:

To his credit, Senator McCain wants to do something serious about global warming, but his proposal falls far short of what the science says we need to do today.

He has not substantively improved his plan over the bill he introduced years ago - legislation that the science now shows is out of date.

He is right to call for investments in new alternative forms of energy but it is troubling that he continues to support taxpayer subsidies for a mature industry like nuclear which has yet to resolve its waste disposal problem.

McCain will be in Bellevue and North Bend tomorrow.

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May 9, 2008 4:50 PM

State GOP won't share take from McCain fundraiser

Posted by David Postman

Presidential candidate John McCain will make a fundraising stop in Bellevue Tuesday. But the state Republican Party won’t be getting any of the money raised at the big-dollar event. It’s not that McCain Victory 2008 will keep all the money for the Arizona senator’s presidential campaign. The money instead will flow to states that national Republicans think will be battleground states in November.

The joint fundraising committee formed for the Hyatt Regency event is made up of the McCain campaign, the Republican National Committee and the state Republican parties of Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico and Wisconsin.

State Republican Chairman Luke Esser told me:

We’re not guaranteed to get anything. I wish it was the case we were guaranteed something. The way I like it to see it is we are still in the stages of proving to the McCain campaign that we will be a battleground state in 2008. I think the other states on the list have already proven that. I think we still can.

Esser said he also hopes that some of the money that goes to the RNC and the McCain campaign will end up being spent here.

I’m thinking this won’t be the last fundraising visit by John McCain and I hope we’ll get some money into our federal accounts at the state party if we do our work.

Events at the fundraiser run from $1,000 admission to a general reception to a Victory Dinner that will cost $33,100 per person. You can see all the details, including the proposed split of receipts

At this point the money may not be as important as the pyschological hit of having national Republican leaders make it so clear they don't view Washington as an '08 battleground.

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May 9, 2008 11:37 AM

Why some Clinton voters may not back Obama come fall

Posted by David Postman

I wondered yesterday why so many Hillary Clinton supporters in Indiana and North Carolina said they wouldn’t vote for Barack Obama if he were the nominee. What I really wondered was if race was a factor in that.

Well Jed Lewison has a pretty good explanation of the phenomenon. The one-time aide to Sen. Maria Cantwell pushed himself away from the Vegas poker tables long enough to send me an explanation of the role of the “McCain Meddlers.”

From the exit poll, 1 in 8 Indiana Clinton voters and 1 in 6 North Carolina Indiana voters will not vote for Clinton even if she wins the nomination. These are the “McCain meddlers.”

If you factor them out (also subtracting the McCain meddlers who supported Obama), Obama wins Indiana by 3 and North Carolina by 22.

So what Lewison is saying is that no one should draw too much from the fact that Clinton supporters say they won’t back Obama, because a chunk of them aren’t really Democratic supporters.
And as he writes at The Jed Report:

By the books, there's no taking away Clinton's Indiana victory, but it is worth remember that it was only made possible by voters who have no intention of voting for a Democrat in the fall.

He explains his methodology here.

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May 9, 2008 10:11 AM

Where's Tom Foley?

Posted by David Postman

And more importantly, who does former U.S. House Speaker Tom Foley back for president? Foley, a former member of Congress from Spokane, is one of Washington's superdelegates. As the race for the Democratic nomination finally begins to wind down more attention is being paid to who superdelegates are backing.

But no one seems to know for sure where Foley stands. Some sites that track superdelegates show him as a Clinton backer. (He was U.S. ambassador to Japan under President Clinton.) But other sites and news organizations show Foley as uncommitted.

Has anyone seen anything directly from Foley on this question?

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May 9, 2008 9:57 AM

State Republicans make nominating conventions optional

Posted by David Postman

The state Republican Party is recommending, but not requiring, local GOP officials to endorse candidates in contested primaries. That’s a more laissez faire approach than what state Democrats have done. State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz has said local party organizations are required to pick among Democrats in contested races and vote to give one candidate an official endorsement.

Pelz has been disappointed that a few local Democratic organizations balked at endorsing candidates.

The nominating conventions are the parties’ response to the first-ever top-two primary scheduled for August. In that election, they party has no way to identify its preferred candidate and the top two vote getters, regardless of party, advance to the November ballot. Candidates endorsed by party organizations can show that in the voter’s pamphlet, but not on the ballot.

Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser said the GOP state committee shares Pelz’ concern about the party having a say in who is nominated. But, he told me yesterday, some felt uncomfortable requiring county and legislative district organizations to nominate a favored candidate.

It can be a little bit challenging to extraordinarily painful for a grassroots organization to go through selecting among different Republican candidates.

That’s particularly true in a heavily Republican district where the November ballot would be likely to include two party members facing off. The party has at least two eastern Washington legislative districts with multiple Republicans running in primaries.

The 117-member State Committee met Saturday to approve the nominating rules. The committee also voted to endorse the three incumbent Republican statewide officials and the three Republicans in the state’s Congressional delegation.

In addition, gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi and state treasurer candidate Allan Martin were endorsed.

Democratic leaders have pushed nominating conventions both as a way to give the party it’s say in the primaries, but also as part of a legal strategy as challenges continue against the top-two primary. Esser said he shares those concerns.

That does make sense. One of the reasons that we went ahead with the nominating process on fairly short notice is to recognize that we’re in the middle of a lawsuit and we needed to send a message that we take this very seriously, and we are concerned about confusion between the officially endorsed Republican candidates and other Republican candidates.

Esser said that allowing the locals to decide whether to hold nominating conventions should not hurt the party’s standing in the legal fight against the primary.

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May 8, 2008 1:49 PM

Larsen throws superdelegate support to Obama

Posted by David Postman

Congressman Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens, says he’s a Democratic superdelegate committed to Sen. Barack Obama.

Larsen has been neutral in the race between Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. He's holding a conference call with reporters right now. Larsen said:

This week Sen. Obama has proven that he is tough and resilient. He has shown that he can take a pounding but come back and communicate with the public to deliver his message of hope and change.

He said that he's been "particulary impressed by Senator Obama's truth-telling on the proposed gas tax holiday." Clinton supported a temporary suspension of the gas tax, but Obama called that pandering. Larsen said a tax holiday would "make little or no difference for Americans paying too much at the pump."

Larsen said that “as great as it sounds,” the gas tax holiday would save drivers about 31 cents a day, but take billions away from transportation projects across the country.

By definition, to me, it really looked like someone trying to create voters where votes didn’t exist. … It says to me that at least Senator Obama had the fortitude to call this gas tax holiday what it is, a gimmick.

Larsen said that early in the primary race he was leaning toward endorsing Clinton, and had also thought about endorsing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Still left uncommitted among Washington’s superdelegates are state Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz and Vice Chairwoman Eileen Macoll; Democratic National Committee members Ed Cote, Sharon Mast and David McDonald; and Congressman Jim McDermott.

McDermott is the last neutral superdelegate among the state’s elected Democrats.

As recently as April 23, Larsen was saying he had no plans to choose sides before all states had a chance to vote in primaries or caucuses. He said then:

I haven't changed my view at all that we should let the states play themselves out.

Larsen said today that he, as well as other superdelegates, were impressed by Obama’s performance in the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. It was, he said using a Clinton phrase, a “game-changer” and it “put a lot of uncommitted delegates into head-scratching mode” about what to do.

He met with Obama today in D.C. about an hour before his 2 p.m. conference all began. Larsen had already decided to endorse Obama, but he wanted to talk to the candidate about the state of the race and to raise a few Washington state issues, including the Boeing tanker deal.

Politico has a great national superdelegate tracker here.

There are a total of 796 superdelegates, including 17 in Washington. That's about 20 percent of the total delegates. In Washington, the superdelegates backing Clinton are U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Congressmen Norm Dicks and Jay Inslee, former House Speaker Tom Foley, and King County Executive Ron Sims.

Those backing Obama are Congressmen Adam Smith and Brian Baird, Gov. Chris Gregoire, and DNC member Pat Notter.

Larsen has been critical of the power the party gives to superdelegates.

I’m still no fan of the superdelegate process. That doesn’t mean I’m not a superdelegate, I still am. And it is more and more clear that the superdelegates are going to decide the nomination. That said, we’re not going to be doing it in a … smoke-filled back room. … Superdelegates are going to come out one by one and make their decision.

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May 8, 2008 10:26 AM

Clinton makes case for white appeal

Posted by David Postman

Well, the actual USA Today headline this morning says "Clinton makes case for wide appeal." But the way Hillary Clinton's comments are being anaylzed this morning it is clear many think she has made a new, and stark, appeal as the candidate for whites.

Here’s what Clinton said, in what is certainly the most-discussed story of the day:

“I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on,” she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article “that found how Sen. Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.”

Eli asks at The Slog:

Is Clinton really staying in the race to become the candidate of that portion of white, Democratic America that won’t for the black guy?

Clinton strategists held a conference call yesterday to talk about the Indiana and North Carolina results. Geoff Garin talked about the role race played. Says Greg Sargent at Talking Points Memo:

Put in the context of the Hillary campaign's chief argument that she's the more electable Dem, Garin's overall implication here is that her success among white voters in North Carolina yesterday is "progress" in the sense that it strengthens her case for electability.

In other words, it's an explicit, and unabashed, linking of her claim of electability to her success among whites.

There is something jarring about hearing Clinton talk about her appeal among whites. And that likely has more to do with it coming out of the mouth of the candidate than the reality that campaigns analyze the electorate along racial lines. That's not news.

As the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato told USA Today:

Clinton's comment was a "poorly worded" variation on the way analysts have been "slicing and dicing the vote in racial terms."

But there is another trend in recent exit polls that has me wondering if race is playing an unstated role among Clinton supporters. From CNN:

According to the exit polls, half of Clinton's supporters in Indiana would not vote for Obama in a general election match up with John McCain. A third of Clinton voters said they would pick McCain over Obama, while 17 percent said they would not vote at all. Just 48 percent of Clinton supporters said they would back Obama in November.

Obama gets even less support from Clinton backers in North Carolina. There, only 45 percent of Clinton supporters said they would vote for Obama over McCain. Thirty-eight percent said they would vote for McCain while 12 percent said they would not vote.

Those percentages are higher than those that say race played a role in their decision to support Clinton over Obama. But voters would be reluctant to tell a pollster directly that they used race as a deciding factor. But if so many backers of the white candidate say they would refuse to back the black candidate, one has to wonder if what is being unsaid.

Obama voters appear to be more willing to support Clinton in November. In Indiana, 59 percent of Obama backers said they'd vote for Clinton, and 70 percent of Obama backers in North Carolina said they'd support the New York Democrat.

Throughout the primary season, I figured that just the opposite would be true. Clinton supporters were more traditional Democrats and if their candidate wasn’t the nominee they would be likely to support Obama, even if they thought he was less prepared than their first choice. Obama supporters, I thought, may just decide to stay home if their guy didn’t win because many are new to the party and to politics and much more drawn by the phenomenon surrounding Obama.

I’m obviously wrong about that. But it’s not at all clear yet why Clinton supporters are so reluctant to switch their allegiance to Obama.

UPDATE: A smart guy I know e-mailed to say that race is certainly part of the answer to why those Clinton supporters say they won’t vote for Obama come November.

But he also suggests that part of that is the sour feeling some of them have as Clinton’s chances slip away. He said some of those people feel like a beleaguered minority - and acknowledged the irony of that - but that their frustration will eventually dissipate and many will come around to back Obama.

That makes sense to me. What do you think?

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May 7, 2008 7:33 AM

Clinton's win last night means little this morning

Posted by David Postman

When I stopped live-blogging last night Hillary Clinton had just won Indiana and declared:

“It's full-speed on to the White House."

But this morning’s headlines tell a far different story.

Clinton won Indiana, but she lost the punditocracy. She’s even lost Drudge, who the Clinton campaign has been working hard to massage. He says simply under a photo of Obama and his wife, Michelle, walking hand-in-hand,


But she’ll always have Rush. Given the close finish in Indiana, it is certainly possible that Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos helped Clinton eke out her win.

Operation Chaos Field Reports: Chaos Reigns Across Fruited Plain!

I have also been receiving field reports via e-mail today, both at my website e-mail address and the address, from people, commandos, operatives reporting that they have followed orders and fulfilled their duty. Nobody's been challenged. In fact, the Indiana voters all say that they have not been challenged, and they were hoping to be. They had themselves steeled and ready for it, many of them have shown up in tie-dyes, flip-flops, holding their heads up, looking down at their noses like they're liberals, effete snobs, showing up in battered pickup trucks and this sort of thing.

Operation chaos is also a great marketing tool for Rush. I'm not sure what those T-shirts will be worth if Clinton drops out.

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May 6, 2008 2:18 PM

Join me now to live-blog and chat about primary results

Posted by David Postman

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May 6, 2008 11:17 AM

Reichert makes endangered list

Posted by David Postman

Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, is on Roll Call's list of the 10 most vulnerable members of Congress. Here's what Josh Kurtz says about him:

It's tough to go from hero cop to endangered incumbent in such a short stretch of time, but that's the former King County sheriff's fate in a suburban Seattle district that is steadily becoming more Democratic. Reichert still has a reservoir of good will to draw from as he fights off Democrat Darcy Burner for the second straight cycle. But Burner has become a more polished and confident campaigner -- and has outpaced the incumbent on the fundraising front for the past few quarters.

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May 6, 2008 10:11 AM

Anatomic anomalies through history

Posted by David Postman

"If she gave him one of her cojones, they'd both have two."
Clinton advisor James Carville on how Hillary Clinton is tougher than Barack Obama.

Maybe so, James. But that still puts your candidate behind our first president, anatomically speaking.

WARNING: This video contains some bad words, adult material, Carvillesque boasts of manhood, strong anti-monarchist leanings and a song you’ll have stuck in your head all day. But, hey, it’s history, or it wouldn't be on YouTube, right?

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May 6, 2008 7:09 AM

Live-blog and chat this afternoon at 4

Posted by David Postman

When the polls close tonight I'll be live-blogging about Indiana and North Carolina. We had a great turnout last time and there should be plenty to talk about.

I also hope that some of the UW bloggers in Indiana will be able to join us for part of the evening. They've been doing a great job there. After the jump is the latest post from Laura J. Mansfield.

Continue reading this post ...

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May 5, 2008 1:49 PM

Pelz wants party leaders to keep the faith

Posted by David Postman

State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz urged party leaders to continue to hold nominating conventions this month and not back down from having to pick a favorite among competing candidates in the top-two primary.

At least two legislative district party organizations have balked at Pelz’ request, with Seattle’s 36th District saying it will not vote to endorse either Democratic candidate in the race to replace retiring Rep. Helen Sommers.

In a Sunday e-mail, Pelz reminds party leaders that of an April 9 message to party chairs that says:

If you have multiple candidates, you need to run a tight operation, and seek maximum participation from your PCO's.

A quorum is not required to make an endorsement under the Democrats' rule. Pelz said he is proud that most Democrats are following the party’s request.

This Party has stepped up to a tremendous challenge posed by the US Supreme Court ruling on March 18 which (tentatively) upheld the Top Two Primary. You have responded by planning, organizing, and/or conducting 55 Nominating Conventions at the LD, County, and CD levels.

He said it was unfortunate that there are resistors among party leaders.

Some LD or County parties face a tough choice between two or more solid candidates. The Thurston County Democrats should be recognized for making a hard choice between two good Democrats standing for County Commissioner at their April 28th Nominating Convention. The 46th LD will face a similarly tough choice on May 15th.

I, and state election officials, expected more litigation by now over the top-two primary. But so far spokesmen for the Democratic and Republican parties say their sides are still reviewing the primary rules issued by Secretary of State Sam Reed.

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May 5, 2008 1:45 PM

From Indiana, a question: Is Obama a worthy successor to MLK?

Posted by David Postman

From Will Mari,

HAUGHVILLE —An impromptu debate swirled in front of Victory Tabernacle Apostolic Church.

In the bright sunshine of the early afternoon, a group of college-aged kids discussed the merits of voting for Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain. The general consensus of the lively crowd was that Obama was the best choice, but Clinton and even McCain had their vocal supporters.

Standing on the sidewalk a few feet away, Olgen Williams, the deputy mayor of neighborhoods in Indianapolis, listened with a smile.

An elder at Victory Tabernacle, Williams, 60, has been a community activist in Haughville for the better part of 20 years. He said he hasn’t seen this much political talk since he was in his teens.

“They don’t grasp the significance or the history of this,” he said. “They talk about it [but] they don’t grasp it.”

Continue reading this post ...

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May 4, 2008 8:35 AM

Stars are out in Indiana

Posted by David Postman

The UW bloggers from Seattlepoliticore are all over Indiana. Meghan Peters has a report on Hollywood star power for Barack Obama while Will Mari writes about blue collar rock and roll power for Hillary Clinton.

There's more at

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May 3, 2008 9:51 AM

From Indiana, finding a Bush in Clinton country

Posted by David Postman

UW Seattle Politicore bloggers are in Indiana for the upcoming Democratic primary. You can read all their reports at their site. Here's a dispatch from Meghan Peters and Will Mari:

FRANKFORT, IN — While driving down Clinton Avenue in Clinton County, we thought passing a Clinton lawn sign would be the icing on the cake. It’d make for a catchy title to our first post in Indiana, something like “Clinton in Clinton on Clinton.”

But there was no such luck in Frankfort, Indiana.

The 16,000-person town is the reddest part of the traditionally red state — and few are concerned with the upcoming Democratic-dominated primary.

“It’s such a Republican-dominated county that sometimes there’s no Democratic candidate on the (local) ballot,” said Janis Thornton, managing editor of The Times, Frankfort’s 128-year-old community newspaper, which has a circulation of about 6,000.

Continue reading this post ...

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May 2, 2008 4:41 PM

Grassroots Dems balk at party orders

Posted by David Postman

At PolitickerWA, Bryan Bissell reports on Democrats unhappy with their state party’s decision to nominate candidates for this summer’s top-two primary. Bissell says the 36th and 10th district Democrats have balked at Chairman Dwight Pelz’ order to have precinct committee officers endorse candidates in contested Democratic primaries.

The 36th District Executive board met last Thursday and decided that the use of a handful of PCOs, some of whom were appointed, was too undemocratic a way to choose a party nominee when there were so many thousands of people interested in the political process this cycle.

After this decision was made, District Chair Peter House both mailed Washington State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz a letter and sent him an e-mail notifying him of their decision not to nominate either of their candidates for State Representative, John Burbank or Reuven Carlyle.

Pelz then told the 36th LD almost immediately that if they do not change their mind and use the PCOs to choose a nominee, then John Burbank would be the one. Pelz affirmed that, in the absence of a choice by the LDs, the state party is in charge of the decision.

Carlyle used his campaign blog to respond to Pelz’ move:

It's all insider baseball, sausage-making process of politics that won't impact the race much....but it does have the real possibility of sending ugly signals to the 63,000 Democrats of our district...including the 18,000 who came to our presidential caucuses.

Meanwhile, up north in Island County, the 10th District Democrats say they’re not ready to endorse a candidate in a contested legislative primary. Writes Bissell:

"Our decision was to postpone until after the state convention," said 10th LD Chair Alec McDougal. "There are some who would like to have the race over with, but others felt a nomination made with PCOs casting weighted votes would quite possibly be seen as the least democratic of nominating processes."

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May 2, 2008 1:50 PM

Rep. Simpson takes temporary leave of committee post

Posted by David Postman

Rep. Geoff Simpson, charged with domestic violence this week, issued this statement today:

Serving as chair of the House Local Government Committee is an important and time consuming responsibility. Today, I have decided to take leave of my position as Chair of the Committee until my legal issues are resolved.As always, I intend to remain accessible and responsive to my constituents while I focus on the unfortunate personal matters that have arisen.

As I have stated, I remain confident I will be exonerated of these unwarranted charges once the facts are revealed. At such time, I plan to resume my leadership duties as chairman of the committee.

It's not clear to me whether Simpson was asked to step down from his chairmanship. House Speaker Frank Chopp says in a statement:

I met with Representative Simpson yesterday afternoon. He understands the gravity of the situation, and he has decided that he will take leave of his position as chair of the House Committee on Local Government pending resolution of the charges he faces. We both believe this is the best course of action for all involved.

House Clerk Barbara Baker just told me that the decision was a mutual one reached yesterday after a meeting in Simpson’s hometown of Covington. Simpson, Chopp and Baker were in the meeting. Baker said:

The thing that was nice about the meeting was they did set politics and personalities aside and talked about how Geoff really does have to spend his time right now focusing on his personal situation. And Geoff acknowledged that.

Also, the King County jail officials clarified yesterday that Simpson had spent a day in jail after his arrest:

Contrary to recent reports that there were no records of State Representative Geoff Simpson being booked into the King County Correctional Facility, hardcopy and electronic records show he was booked on April 27, 2008, at 2:47 p.m. for Assault 4 (Domestic Violence). Mr. Simpson was released the next day, April 28, 2008, at 5:45 p.m. after his court appearance.

A check of the publicly accessed version of the Jail Inmate Lookup Service (JILS) incorrectly showed no record of the booking. The system error has been corrected and all records in both the public access and law enforcement access areas of the system currently reflect that he was in custody.

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May 2, 2008 1:44 PM

Rules issued for state primary

Posted by David Postman

Secretary of State Sam Reed today the final rules for the state’s first top-two primary. As was clear from the proposed rules, Reed said candidates can state their preferred party identification on the ballot. But the Democratic and Republican parties, which have been hoping to thwart the primary, will not be able to show on that ballot which candidates have received their official endorsement of nomination.

After the jump is a summary of the rules. You can read the full document here.

Continue reading this post ...

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May 1, 2008 9:38 AM

Another candidate for SPI

Posted by David Postman

Former Democratic lawmaker Randy Dorn said today he's running for superintendent of public instruction. Dorn, of Eatonville in Pierce County, and was chairman of the House Education Committee. He is executive director of the Public School Employees of Washington, the second largest school employees union.

Richland School Superintendent Rich Semler is also running and has been endorsed by the Washington Education Association, the teacher's union and the largest school union in the state.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson is running for a fourth term in the non-partisan office.

Dorn says he wants the WASL scrapped and replaced with a test that is "more fair, more understandable, and more concise so testing doesn’t dominate curriculum and the school calendar."

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Recent entries

May 30, 08 - 11:44 AM
Rep. Simpson says charges dropped

May 29, 08 - 09:21 AM
Washington superdelegate backs Clinton

May 28, 08 - 10:10 AM
Reichert gets GOP enviro honor

May 28, 08 - 09:16 AM
A legacy vote for Hillary

May 27, 08 - 04:37 PM
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