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Postman on Politics

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

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June 13, 2008 6:26 PM

At the Democratic convention

Posted by David Postman

This was supposed to be posted last night. My bad. But here's the not-so-live blogging from Friday night.

SPOKANE -- Yes, the sun is shining. I hope it is raining back in Seattle.

Tonight the Democrats hold their big banquet prior to tomorrow's convention floor session. Gov. Chris Gregoire and Sen. Patty Murray will speak tonight. Chairman Dwight Pelz is speaking now. He says he's proud to be a Democrat. (Yes, hold the presses.) But, he said, not everyone is proud.

Dino Rossi will not allow the name Republican appear after his name on the ballot. Dino Rossi is ashamed to be a Republican.

Pelz also took a shot at Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed and the top two primary, saying Rossi could call himself a member of the GOP because of "Sam Reed's flakey, goofy, childish ballot."

I ran into Randy Dorn, the former Democratic lawmaker running for superintendent of public instruction, and he said the party's executive committee endorsed him today. He says that will make it easier for him to win an endorsement from the Washington Education Association.

MORE: The featured speaker tonight is Kansas Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson.

Murray is speaking. The crowd is giving her mention of Sen. Hillary Clinton a sustained standing ovation. Murray says America was changed by the Democratic presidential primary and that every boy and girl in the country now knows that "anything is possible."

But this is the biggest applause line so far: "I know I was right when I voted against going to war with Iraq." She said Iraq veterans have been mistreated by the Bush Administration. "Our heroes have had to fight their own government for the treatment they have earned," she said.

Murray is talking about the Air Force tanker.

By giving this contract to Airbus we are undermining our abilty to provide for our military and decimating the U.S. aerospace business.

Murray said that there is one person to thank for Washington state avoiding the economic problems facing much of the country: Gregoire. That's a lot of credit for one person.

And now Gregoire is speaking. She said Democrats should spend the next couple of days really thinking about why they are Democrats.

She said that Rossis is one of “those Republicans who are exactly in lock step with” President Bush. She said people like “do not see the world with the vision and the values we do.”

More from Gregoire:

Today we are at a watershed moment. Now is the time for us to stand up and say, ‘No more.’ Now is the time for us to stand up and elect those people who share our vision and our values. Now is the time when we here in Washington state can continue to live in a common vision with a partner in the White House. Ladies and gentlemen, it is an inspirational year, a year of change and hope. … It is time for us to take this country back. It is time for us to travel the world and be proud because we put the USA ticket on our luggage.

MORE: So why is Kansas Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson here? He's just starting to speak, so maybe there are more reasons. But Pelz explained in his introduction that Parkinson was first elected as a Republican legislator. He switched parties at the urging of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

"Being the Lieutentant governor of Kansas is not that big of a deal," Parkinson said. He said that Washington Lt. Gov. Brad Owen has real power. Boy, Parkinson must not have much to do in Kansas because Owen has a very slim official portfolio. He says that in the political food chain he comes right after the single-cell amoeba.

Parksinson is the Rodney Dangerfield of politics. But it is the party-switching that makes him a draw as a speaker. He said he considers very carefully invitations like the one that brought him to Spokane.

I don’t want to be the Zell Miller of the Democratic Party.

He said that if his speech had a title it would be "Is Mark Parksinson an opportunist."

The issue arises because after I switched parties the folks that had been asking me to leave the party for a long time suddenly got upset and they called me a lot of things. The thing that they were able to publish was oportunist.

He said he registered as a Republican in 1976 because that was the tradition in Kansas at the time, in the style of Dwight Eisenhower or Alf Landon. He said he fit fine with the party even as he supported abortion rights and thought "the government should not tell us where and what to pray."

But he says the Republican Party in Kansas was taken over by regligious conservatives. The final straw, he said, was when a conservative Republican attorney general began to subpoena medical records of women who had abortions performed by Kansas doctors.

Parkinson became chairman of the state Republican Party when the moderate GOP governor asked him to take the post over from a conservative who was daily criticizing his party's governor. But as he toured the state as party chairman, he realized the party had changed permanently.

"I decided I would quietly slip away," and gave up party politics. Still a Republican, he endorsed a Democratic candidate for attorney general and figured his political career was over. But the governor called him and asked him to consider switching parties to run with her as lieutenant governor.

I realized that the Republican Party that I had been a member of for 30 years was no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln. It was no longer the party of Alf Landon or Dwight Eisenhower or Nancy Kassenbaum. Instead it had become the party of George Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

And he gave a nod to Gregoire, by adding, “It had become the party of Dino Rossi.” That brought hisses from the dinner crowd.

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