Postman on Politics
Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.
June 11, 2008 4:06 PM
Posted by David Postman
Tacoma attorney Jack Hill withdrew from his Supreme Court race today, leaving incumbent Justice Debra Stephens with no opposition. Stephens was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Chris Gregoire last December.
Stephens had served a short time on the Division III Court of Appeals and prior to that had practiced law in Spokane. She replaced Justice Bobbe Bridge, who resigned from the court to take another job.
June 11, 2008 10:27 AM
Posted by David Postman
Gov. Chris Gregoire’s re-election campaign touted her May
April fundraising success in a press release yesterday, saying it “shows strong, early support for the governor.”
“I’m happy to see such enthusiastic support for our campaign,” said Gov. Gregoire. “It proves that voters want us to continue to take on challenges and get results on the issues that matter to them most, like education, children’s healthcare and global climate change.”
She did raise a lot of money. But the single largest chunk, by far, came from the state Democratic Party. The press release said Gregoire raised $785,000 in May. Not mentioned was that $200,000 of that came from the state party. That is more a sign of the party’s commitment to her re-election than it is a measure of early support from voters.
And where did the state party get its money from in May? Mostly from two tribes. The party’s filings with the Public Disclosure Commission show $276,000 raised in April. Of that, $250,000 came from the Tulalip Tribes and the Swinomish Tribal Community.
Of the $2 million Gregoire reports raising since she formally kicked off her campaign, $511,000 has come from the state party.
Republican challenger Dino Rossi got some party help, too. Of the $701,000 he raised, $40,000 came from the state Republican Party. That’s all he’s gotten so far. That wasn’t mentioned in Rossi’s press release, either.
The state Republican Party doesn’t show any big May donations. But this week it did get $50,000 from the Republican Governor’s Association.
Both parties are sure to play major roles in the governor’s race. That makes it hard to know the real source of campaign money. We can see which groups make large donations to the parties, but of course it’s impossible to say precisely which dollars flowed through to the candidate. It’s all legal. But it leaves voters in the dark about important campaign finance details.
The Rossi campaign was quick to put out a press release this afternoon criticizing Gregoire for taking the party money and for donations she’s accepted from out of state residents.
But Rossi’s campaign is getting some outside help itself. And Rossi benefits from a different sort of loophole in the campaign law.
A political action committee called “It’s Time for a Change” paid $272,047 on May 28 for radio ads criticizing Gregoire on transportation issues. The ads feature women who complain that gas taxes went up but traffic hasn’t improved.
The ads are so-called independent expenditures. By law, an independent expenditure committee is prohibited from coordinating its activities with a candidate’s campaign. The Building Industry Association of Washington - the builders’ lobby whose ardor for Rossi is matched by its
his animus toward Gregoire -- has made no secret of its control of that PAC.
So where did the money come from? Just as with Gregoire’s party money, it’s impossible to say precisely which dollars flow from one committee to another and what they pay for.
But on the same day It’s Time for a Change reported its ad spending, it showed it received $245,000 from ChangePAC, where all its money has come from.
And where does ChangePAC get its money? May 28 was a busy day. That’s also the day the Building Industry Association of Washington donated $245,000 to ChangePAC.
The BIAW already gave Rossi $3,000 directly to his campaign, which means it can only give another $200.
ChangePAC also gets money from others who have either hit their limits in donating to Rossi or are close, including Rossi campaign treasurer Howie Meadowcroft, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Washington State Farm Bureau.
The tribes that gave recently to the state Democratic Party are close to reaching the limit for donations directly to a candidate. So both sides have methods for spending money from maxed out donors.
It is all legal. And it all makes it a little harder to track donations and spending.
June 11, 2008 7:54 AM
Posted by David Postman
I wrote below about Dino Rossi's decision to list himself on the ballot as a member of the "G.O.P.," meaning primary and general election voters will not see him identified as a Republican.
That raises the question about how many people know that GOP stands for Grand Old Party.
The Rossi campaign says voters get it. But a reader reminded me this morning that not even every Republican in office knows what it means. In 1999, Washington's late Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn and Oklahoma Rep. Steve Largent, a former Seahawk, gave the Republican response to President Bill Clinton's State of the Union Address.
Largent said, in describing his lack of political background,
Prior to 1994, my wife and I, we weren't political. We were like most families, raising four kids, hustling from one school or sports event to another - our car littered by fast food wrappers and French fries.
In fact, it wasn't until after I was elected that I attended a Republican function where a banner hung that read "GOP." I had to ask someone what those letters stood for.
They said, "Grand Old Party, of course."
UPDATE: Another reader sends along a piece from CBS about the Wall Street Journal’s Decision in 2002 to drop the use of GOP in news stories and headlines.
In an internal memo issued to staffers last week, Journal higher-ups said the term GOP will be dropped because not all readers know what the letters mean, and some may not realize that they are a reference to the Republican Party.
That doesn't mean that the time-honored letters will disappear forever from the pages of the prestigious financial newspaper.
Reporters and editors will still be allowed to use the term in a quotation, if someone else says GOP. But an explanation of the acronym will be provided for any readers who might be stumped.
Jun 11, 08 - 04:06 PM
Gov's court pick gets free ride
Jun 11, 08 - 10:27 AM
UPDATED: Gregoire got big party cash last month
Jun 11, 08 - 07:54 AM
UPDATED: More on Republican re-branding