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

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June 25, 2008 10:36 AM

More than $1 million in union-funded PAC

Posted by David Postman

A new, largely union-funded, PAC has raised more than $1 million over the past six weeks. It’s still not clear exactly how Evergreen Progress will spend the money. But it’s looking more likely the political action committee will soon be weighing in on the governor’s race on behalf of incumbent Democrat Chris Gregoire.

Evergreen Progress has collected money from 14 labor unions and labor PACs, including the Service Employees International Union, which gave $495,000. The Democratic Governor’s Association gave $250,000.

The donors, most of whom have also donated heavily to Gregoire’s campaign, consistently referred questions to campaign manager Rick Desimone. Last week he wouldn’t say much about how the money would be spent. But today, echoing a bit of Gregoire’s campaign theme, he told me via e-mail:

In the future, Evergreen Progress will focus on the facts and do our best to ensure that every citizen has an opportunity to consider them as they make up their own minds about the direction they want the state to go in. Governor Gregoire and Dino Rossi both have records and both have positions on important issues that are informed by that record. For months we’ve heard and read a lot about what some people think about Governor Gregoire’s record - it’s been pretty hard hitting. I’m pretty sure the folks advancing this line of argument feel justified in their work. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander - the truth will get out - and I hope we’re part of it.

As Evergreen Progress got organized and quietly raised $1.06 million, Gregoire, the Democratic party and their allies have been bemoaning independent expenditures spent on behalf of Rossi. The ads were paid for by It’s Time for a Change, a PAC controlled by the Building Industry Association of Washington. MOney also came from other business and individual donors who also have donated directly to the Rossi campaign.

The radio ads criticize Gregoire’s performance on transportation, public safety and aid to foster children. The governor’s campaign has complained the ads mischaracterize her record.

The Change ads have become central to Gregoire’s fundraising this month. Monday, a post under her name appeared on the popular national blog DailyKos. It draws a connection between negative ads the governor said are certain to be used against presidential candidate Barack Obama, and her own struggle against the BIAW effort. She wrote that the ads “challenge my integrity as a governor and a mother.”

To help fight these attacks, we launched to help grassroots and the netroots learn the truth about my record so they can spread the word.

Every state has a group like the BIAW, and citizen journalists, like you, play an important role in debunking their myths. I’m glad to have your support.

A prominent feature of the page is a donation button.

Campaign manager Kelly Evans also sent an e-mail to supporters making a similar pitch:

It’s clear that our Republican opponent and his friends will say and do anything to bring the failed policies of the Bush Administration to our state.

Please make a contribution to send a message that we deserve better than the dirty politics of George Bush Republicans.

We’ll soon see whether Evergreen Progress will respond in kind. This first engagement of independent groups will be a telling moment in the rematch between Rossi and Gregoire. Gregoire supporters and opponents agreed that four years ago she ended up in a dead heat with Rossi in part because her campaign had not hit him hard enough and early enough.

There was a valuable comparison that year because Democratic Sen. Patty Murray easily held off a challenge by Republican Congressman George Nethercutt. Murray was much more aggressive in her advertising campaign against Nethercutt. I wrote about that at the time:

Her ads talked about Nethercutt's anti-abortion stance and showed pictures of women under arrest and claimed "George Nethercutt — just too extreme for Washington."

A close Rossi advisor, J. VanderStoep, told me four years ago that the substance of the attacks on his candidate were similar to what Nethercutt faced. But, he said, “stylistically it wasn't the same." Rossi’s polls at the end of the campaign showed just 20 percent of voters identified the Republican as "very conservative."

As former Democratic Party chairman Paul Berendt said earlier this year:

"I don't think it's a mistake that they are going to make again.”

Desimone may be able to help. The choice of him to manage a PAC funded by Gregoire allies certainly makes sense if one is looking for an aggressive independent campaign. Desimone was Murray’s chief of staff in 2004 and an influential player in the senior senator’s rise in the state and in D.C.

Desimone said that in’04 Murray and Nethercutt had a “spirited debate about what kind of leaders they would each make.” I think that debate had a pretty sharp edge to it. Desimone told me:

One of the things that we worked on in 2004 was to make sure the voters understood the choice between Patty Murray and George Nethercutt. Part of what gives voters clues as to what kind of job a candidate will do in office is the record they have - the priorities they’ve advanced, the choices they’ve made, and the judgment they show. I’ll let others apply the adjectives for now - what we were focused on in 2004 is making sure the facts were out there.

I'm sure there are plenty of adjectives to come. Stay tuned.

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Posted by P

12:23 PM, Jun 25, 2008

These union bosses and their paid thugs are a blight on our country. These do-nothing for the workers pay for Democrat-party "activists" and PCOs organizing for the one-party system we have here in the Socialist Workers' Paradise of Washington.

This state has become one of the most corrupt in the nation and they get away with it due, in large part, because of these paid political thugs and their fellow-travelers in the news media.

As long as these thugs are allowed to use workers' money to finance corrupt government we are going to continue to see the same kind of monkey-business we have witnessed over Sound Transit's boondoggles, higher taxes and fewer services. I sincerely hope the people of this state will wake up and start seeing how they are being taken advantage of by these union thugs and their lap dogs in Olympia!

Posted by Particle Man

12:40 PM, Jun 25, 2008

From the moment Dino Rossi was first elected and in fact even as he ran for office to seek his first elected office, he has never been up front about where he stands on all of the issues voters are concerned about. In stead, his strategy has been to dodge all issues his consultants have identified as wedge or electorate dividing issues.
The voters have a right to know where candidates stand and who they stand with on important issues like abortion, regulation that protects our environment, funding which ensures a strong and stable public education system, health care access for all and so on.

I for one don't care who gets the word out or who creates a climate where the press is more inclined to do their job and not just accept the evasions of an effective huckster like Dino.

Equally important as defining Dino on the issues he would face if he were elected governor is the long overdue task of closely examining his long pattern of ethical lapses prior to, during and after his time in office.
Why should we trust a man who's fellon/mentor was put away for bilking retired folks out of their life savings in real-estate scams?
Just what regulations would Dino cut so "entrepreneurs can be entrepreneurs again" and how many consumers would this expose to fraud?
If Dino as a State Senator and chair of the powerful Ways and Means committee enters a partnership with two of the states most powerful lobbyists but earns far more than his proportional share of the profits how will he peddle his influence if we were to elect him governor?
When will Dino release all of the records surrounding this transaction and openly answer the questions it raises?
Again, if it takes union funding to shine a spotlight on these important ethical issues then the voters will be well served. The state party was right. Last time Dino got a free ride from the campaign, from PAC's and from the press. If he can survive real scrutiny and get elected by being forthright with the voters then perhaps he should be, but this has never been Dino's way. No, he has run as the only moderate when the mainstream republicans were formed in response to a hard right purge Dino helped lead. And now he seeks to mask his strong ties to the Republican party and George Bush by claiming GOP as his party. I doubt we will be hearing much about his dog "W" either.
So I look forward to a "spirited debate" about the kind of leader Dino might make. Alaska like corruption comes to mind for me, but the average voter has never had access to the facts and Dino has never addressed them. Perhaps this time he will.

Posted by Methow Ken

1:05 PM, Jun 25, 2008

Very good thread start by David.
Comments on a few highlights:

''Well soon see whether Evergreen Progress will respond in kind.''

Surely there is no doubt that the EP PAC will get maximally down and dirty, in an all-out attempt to smear Dino. Meanwhile the Gov will pretend to be piously disconnected and above the fray, leaving EP to spend megabucks doing her dirty work.

I'm not blind: BOTH the (D) EP PAC and the BIAW ''Change PAC'' will run hard-hitting ads; although I'll bet Change PAC will have a lot more substance backing up their claims. But the comment by Gregoire's campaign flack about how ''our campaign is different'' is still the one that stands out starkly as a leading candidate for the political ''brazen chutspah'' award of 2008.

The breath and depth of distortion and flat-out lies about Dino's record and positions that we can expect from the EP PAC is probably fairly well represented by the example of the rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth post on this thread by uber-leftie Gegoire supporter Particle Man; which of course just motivates me to put up more Dino signs and hand out more slim-jims to everybody I meet.

Posted by Particle Man

1:50 PM, Jun 25, 2008

Ken, your signs should say:
cuz corruption neads a leader

Posted by Cheryl

7:27 PM, Jun 25, 2008

Oh who cares - Rossi and the rest of the repukelican thugs don't have a chance and they know it. They will whine and cry right up to the minute before we all mark the ballot for the other candidate.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Posted by upchuck

11:31 PM, Jun 26, 2008

funny how when ken lay, dick cheyney, and lee raymond get together there's always plenty to go around... but when some folks who work an honest 40 hours per week to make this machine work that feeds those fat cats, they're the ones who get pegged with the 'greedy bastard' label. ...and heaven forbid they should have any resources left over to pool together to advocate politically for their interests!

Posted by John

5:07 PM, Jun 27, 2008

The "d's" are running scared here as these attack ad's shows and in the other Washington where the occupant in Olympia and this new guy BHO should be double digits a head instead look where they are. They should be saying nothing and still have a huge lead.
You know the DNC is in shambles thanks to BHO and the gang of thieves.

This is the worst of times for Republicans and these two cannot win without deceit.
Some will say can I prove it "YES I can look at the "REAL polls"

Posted by upchuck

11:09 PM, Jun 27, 2008

that's nice how you had to put "real polls" in quotes = )

Posted by R

10:15 AM, Jun 30, 2008

It's too bad that nobody in the state sees the real problem. These people are buying favors from a women who cares nothing about the state or the people who pay the taxes. She uses our money to support her bid for re-election by paying off her contributors. The state has hit a new low. There should be a maximum amount anyone can pay to support a candidate and there should be no funds from outside the state. When the Democrats wake up to what they have done, it will be too late.

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