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Postman on Politics

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

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July 31, 2008 3:02 PM

Union ready to spend big to unseat school chief

Posted by David Postman

The school worker’s union where Randy Dorn has worked for nearly a decade has spent $60,000 to prepare ads backing his campaign for state school chief, and opposing the incumbent, Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson.

Dorn is executive director of the state Public School Employees union. The 26,000-member union is a part of the Service Employees International Union. A SEIU political committee accounts for the entirety of the $62,500 raised by “Citizens for Washington.” The group has filed with the Public Disclosure Commission to make independent expenditure in the SPI race.

A report filed Tuesday shows that Citizens for Washington paid $60,000 to produce radio ads. Half that would be in support of Dorn, the other half would be in opposition to Bergeson. Adam Glickman, spokesman for SEIU, wouldn’t comment on the effort. I don’t know if the radio ads have already begun. If you’ve heard them, let me know.

Dorn’s union is making his election a priority. PSE and SEIU have donated $6,400 directly to his campaign. The top item at the PSE website is:

Dorn outlines superintendent campaign message

Chris Vance, the former Republican Party chairman, is a consultant to PSE and also general consultant to Dorn’s campaign. Dorn is a former Democratic lawmaker. The state Democratic Party has endorsed Dorn and given him $10,000.

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July 30, 2008 10:41 AM

Rossi's subtle editing

Posted by David Postman

I posted yesterday about Dino Rossi's first TV ad of the campaign. But it turns out there are two versions of the spot. You can watch the one I posted about here:

Then watch this version here.

Can you spot the differences? And can you figure out why there are two versions?

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July 30, 2008 8:53 AM

Foward Washington exec responds

Posted by David Postman

I wrote Monday about Dino Rossi and Forward Washington, the non-profit foundation he led after losing the 2004 governor’s race. It would be fair to say that after reading Ralph Thomas’ Sunday story about Rossi’s efforts since 2004 and looking again at the Public Disclosure Commission investigation of the foundation, I found Forward Washington and its Idea Bank to be lacking in substance.

But I should have contacted Ted Dahlstrom, the executive director of the foundation. He’s always been responsive to my questions. So here, a little late, is his take on Forward Washington, both in the Rossi era and now that the group’s founder has left to run for governor.

The point of the idea bank was to provide the citizens of Washington with a chance to have their voice heard by those in Olympia. All too often, many constituents feel like they are ignored by their elected representatives and their ideas are not taken seriously.

Continue reading this post ...

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July 29, 2008 1:46 PM

Rossi's first TV ad avoids specifics

Posted by David Postman

Republican Dino Rossi is up with his first TV commerical. It is 30 seconds. The campaign calls it “Better.” It doesn’t mention his opponent, Gov. Chris Gregoire, and includes no specifics other than saying he’s for better schools, fewer traffic jams and a better climate for small businesses.

It is designed to stress Rossi’s campaign themes of “change” and without criticizing Gregoire raises the issue of leadership with his closing line:

A governor must lead, I will.

The ad follows Gregoire’s first TV spot that began airing last week and talks about what she says she’s done to help the state economy.

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July 29, 2008 12:35 PM

What Stevens indictment means to his re-election

Posted by David Postman

U.S. Sen. Ted Sevens, R-Alaska, was indicted today on charges related to his failure to disclose financial gifts and favors from VECO that brought him a remodeled home along with a new car for his son.

In Alaska, I’m sure the talk has already turned to what this does to Stevens’ re-election bid. He faces primary challengers and, if he were to win the nomination, would face a well-known and well-financed Democrat in Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.

But the candidate who is likely to get the most immediate attention is a newcomer to the state, Vic Vickers, one of the Republicans in the primary against Stevens. While other candidates avoid direct mention of allegations against Stevens, Vickers has been explicit.

Continue reading this post ...

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July 29, 2008 7:34 AM

Burner's big bank account

Posted by David Postman

Democrat Darcy Burner’s campaign has more cash on hand than all but two other congressional challengers this year. That’s according to CQ Politics, as pointed out by the Burner campaign this morning. Here’s what CQ has to say about Burner’s stash of cash in her rematch against Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn:

3. Darcy Burner, Democrat, Washington’s 8th ($1.2 million). Burner, who was formerly employed by Microsoft, is taking on two-term Rep. Reichert ($916,000) in a suburban Seattle district in which she came within three percentage points of unseating the congressman in 2006. Burner’s challenge is one reason why Reichert is among the most vulnerable Republican incumbents; so too is the likelihood that his district will back Barack Obama over John McCain for president. CQ Politics Race Rating: No Clear Favorite.

The advantage of big bank accounts is one reason why Democrats expect they’ll do well this year.

Democrats comprise nine of the 10 most cash-rich challengers to incumbents of the opposite party, according to a CQ Politics analysis of campaign finance reports that were recently filed with the Federal Election Commission. The large cash-on-hand totals posted by these Democrats are one sign party officials are hopeful of a number of seat takeovers in November.

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July 28, 2008 3:52 PM

I know when I've been proven wrong

Posted by David Postman

This morning, in one of those smart-alecky things reporters write, I said that you'd know that Dino Rossi's non-profit foundation was taking off when you see goats on the side of the freeway. And now, the day not even over, an attentive reader sends along this headline from the Federal Way News:

Goats clear a path

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July 28, 2008 10:39 AM

When losing pays off

Posted by David Postman

Ralph Thomas had a story in yesterday’s paper detailing what Dino Rossi did in the three years between losing the 2004 governor’s race and his official entry into this year’s rematch with Chris Gregoire.

It turns out that losing the ’04 race wasn’t all bad for Rossi. Connections he made during the campaign helped him boost his real estate investments and get him a piece of the Everett AquaSox minor league baseball team. Said Rossi:

"There's no doubt that I got to meet people I wouldn't have met if I didn't run for governor."

The story also looks at Forward Washington, the non-profit group Rossi founded and led during the time he wasn’t running for governor. Democrats filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission claiming the group was just a front for Rossi’s ’08 campaign. Thomas writes:

Continue reading this post ...

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July 28, 2008 8:28 AM

New state campaign money site

Posted by David Postman

The state Public Disclosure Commission has gone live with a new searchable database of campaign fundraising and spending. It makes huge improvements on the previous site, which was packed with good information but not always intuitive to use.

Eric Earling at Sound Politics says it's "crack for political junkies." True enough. But I'd say the site will be considered a real success if even those who don't consider themselves junkies can navigate it and learn something about who is giving and who is getting the big bucks this year.

If you've never used the PDC site before I urge you to go try it. And let me know what interesting things you find.

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July 23, 2008 7:36 AM

Step away from the blog and no one gets hurt

Posted by David Postman

I'm taking the rest of the week off. I'll be back Monday, but if you miss me you can tune in Sunday for KING 5's Up Frontat 9:30 a.m. on KING and 8 p.m. on Northwest Cable News.

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July 22, 2008 3:08 PM

Gregoire & Eyman, "getting real results in tough times"

Posted by David Postman

Gov. Chris Gregoire has her first re-election TV commercial on the air. Gregoire uses the 30 second spot -- which the campaign calls "The News" -- to push her point that Washington state has been isolated from the economic problems plaguing the rest of the country. A male narrator opens the commercial:

In George Bush's Washington, the news isn't good.

But in our Washington, Governor Gregoire is helping the middle class fight back.

The first accomplishment touted in the spot is:

Local property taxes capped at 1 percent.

Can Gregoire properly claim credit for that? Well, sure, she signed a bill that did just that last year.

But the property tax cap was much more the work of Tim Eyman, the professional initiative manager so many Democrats love to hate. Gregoire and the Legislature only got to leave their fingerprints on it because after it was embraced by voters as Initiative 747, the tax cap was thrown out by the state Supreme Court. The court said that voters had been deceived into thinking the initiative would mean a smaller hit on the state treasury than it was.

voters had been told they would be reducing the tax-increase cap to 1 percent from 2 percent, although the initiative actually was reducing the cap from 6 percent to 1 percent.

An earlier Eyman initiative, I-722, had put a 2 percent limit on property-tax increases, but that was found unconstitutional months before voters approved I-747.

The court upheld a lower court ruling that said "voters were incorrectly told I-722 was being amended, but it was no longer law, so voters were asked to amend a non-existent law."

With that drafting error fixed, but no other changes made, Gregoire called the Legislature into special session last November and asked them to codify Eyman's initiative in law.

"This bill makes things exactly the way they were prior to the Supreme Court's decision," said Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, the bill's lead sponsor. "It does nothing more and it does nothing less."

The night that one-day session adjourned, I talked to Gregoire about how it appeared to me that she and the Democratic-controlled Legislature were doing Eyman's bidding. She strenuously disagreed.

And the fact of the matter is, this has nothing to do with Tim Eyman as far as I'm concerned. I think the voters said very clearly what they wanted. And he may have written something. But the fact of the matter is my motivation is what the voters had to say. And the voters said they're fearful about whether they're going to be able to keep their homes.

It's been implemented now for five years or more. It is, in fact, the way we've been doing business. So I don't think this is a rush to judgment by the Legislature. I think it is exactly what the voters want to have done


What I never understood was how re-implementing Eyman's initiative would do anything about voters' fears about losing homes. Gregoire said last year she repeatedly heard those fears during town hall meetings she held around the state. But those happened before the Supreme Court threw out I-747. So if people were worried about losing their homes, that was despite the 1 percent property tax limit that had been in place for five years.

At best, reinstating the initiative would stop those homeowners from being more afraid. But it couldn't have done anything to assuage fears heard at the town hall meetings.

In other campaign ad news:

I wrote yesterday about new ads from Evergreen Progress, the labor-backed PAC that is running TV ads against Gregoire's opponent, Republican Dino Rossi.

I pointed out that despite the ads' attacks on Rossi's education record, the teacher's union had said nice things about the budget he wrote in 2003. But I failed to mention that the same union, the Washington Education Association, later sued over the teacher pay plan drafted by Rossi. The union obviously didn't like the Rossi pay plan as much as I made it appear.

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July 22, 2008 9:59 AM

Teachers back Reichert

Posted by David Postman

Congressman Dave Reichert has won important endorsements from the national and state teachers' unions. The usually-Democratic leaning National Education Association and Washington Education Association announced yesterday that they are backing the two-term Republican's re-election.

The NEA gave Reichert an "A" on their Congressional report card. Washington's Democratic delegation all got "A"s as well. But the other two Republicans fared poorly. Rep. Doc Hastings got an "F" and Cathy McMorris Rodgers got a "D".

The NEA has found very few Republicans to back this year. According to, the union has donated $749,150 to federal candidates this year. Democrats got 91 percent of that.

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July 21, 2008 3:41 PM

DCCC schedules ads in WA 08

Posted by David Postman

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is now including the 8th Congressional District in $54 million of planned television advertising time. The national committee has reserved $949,000 worth of air time to boost Democrat Darcy Burner's campaign against two-term incument Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, as reported on the Washington Post's political blog.

When the purchase was first released last week, it didn't include the 8th, but today's release included more districts with Republican incumbents, including Reichert.

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July 21, 2008 2:48 PM

On the radio

Posted by David Postman

I'll be on KTTH at 5:30 today to talk with David Boze about Dino Rossi's appearance on KING 5's Up Front. Tune in to 770 AM and see what one of the last local conservative talkers has to say about yesterday's broadcast.

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July 21, 2008 10:44 AM

New anti-Locke -Rossi ads on the air

Posted by David Postman

The union-funded Evergreen Progress PAC is airing two new TV spots critical of Republican Dino Rossi’s tenure in the Legislature. Both ads follow the theme and style of earlier spots from the PAC; 15 seconds, narrated in a Desperate-Housewives-sort-of-way, mining Rossi’s votes as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee in 2003.

The new spots focus on education and Rossi's support for suspending two citizen-approved initiatives designed to give teachers raises and to reduce class sizes. Gov. Chris Gregoire made funding those initiatives a priority when she took office in 2005.

Continue reading this post ...

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July 21, 2008 7:13 AM

Are they made in France?

Posted by David Postman


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July 18, 2008 4:04 PM

Rossi on KING 5's Up Front

Posted by David Postman

KING 5's Allen Schauffler and I interviewed Dino Rossi for this Sunday’s Up Front program. The show airs at 9:30 a.m. on KING 5 and at 8 p.m. on Northwest Cable News. In the interview, Rossi talks about his backers at the Building Industry Association of Washington, what he would have done with tribal gambling compacts, and other issues.

We also continued the discussion for an interview you can watch now on-line. In that portion of the interview, I ask Rossi why he refuses to answer questions about issues he says aren’t part of his campaign. Here’s part of what he said:

I only have so much time to talk to the voters in the state of Washington. ... This is my campaign. I’ll talk about the issues I want to. When people have the guts enough to run for office they can actually talk about whatever issues they want to talk about.

Watch the on-line extra here and be sure to watch the program Sunday.

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July 18, 2008 7:29 AM

Sutherland, horsesass, the Times and Mike Lowry, too

Posted by David Postman

As you likely know by now, the Times ran a story Wednesday about Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland and his admittedly inappropriate behavior toward a new female employee. If you read it, you’ll see that the paper had documents relating to the case for months, and interviewed Sutherland in April.

But the story wasn’t published until after posted details of the incident. So why did The Times publish now, but not when it had the story first? The shortest answer is that the horsesass post prompted the paper to reconsider its decision. And I’m glad that happened.

This is not a case of sliding standards, but rather the result of a wider discussion than what preceded the initial decision in the Times newsroom. And it is an instance where a blog can influence coverage in the old media.

Continue reading this post ...

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July 17, 2008 11:39 AM

With Gregoire and Mrs. Obama

Posted by David Postman

I'm in the WaMu Theater inside the Qwest Event Center. Michelle Obama is the headliner at a lunch fundraiser for Gov. Chris Gregoire.

It cost $200 per person to get in. There are seats for 1,600. (You do the math, though the campaign is hoping people will give more than the minimum.)

More when the action starts.

Former Gov. Gary Locke is the first speaker. He was a Clinton supporter during the primaries. He says there are more than 1,600 people here.

Locke said:

Gov. Chris Gregoire has been an awesome governor.

I wonder if Gregoire regrets any of those not-so-awesome things she has said about the Locke years.

Gregoire and her daughter, Michelle, are on stage. Gregoire is showing the crowd a small, electronic counter:

It tells us how long before George W. Bush leaves office.

Gregoire, who has backed Obama since February, said she wanted to give a big thanks to Hillary Clinton for running for president, and for now backing Barack Obama.

Continue reading this post ...

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July 16, 2008 11:22 AM

The search for young conservatives

Posted by David Postman

This is from Will Mari, a Times editorial intern, and friend of the blog:

It’s a pleasant summer evening at Enatai Beach Park in Bellevue. The sun is shining, dogs are barking, kids are kicking soccer balls and young Republicans are, well, socializing.

Yes, that’s right.

Twenty-something conservatives do exist, and they’re getting increasingly active, said 22-year-old Peter Cowman, the director of MoveRed, the King County Republican Party’s “youth coalition,” an outreach effort aimed at the 16-28-year-old age bracket.

“We recognize that for the first time in a long time, young people have the opportunity to lead and take responsibility at a young age,” Cowman said.

Continue reading this post ...

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July 15, 2008 3:34 PM

Republican gov group will have deep pockets

Posted by David Postman

Politico is reporting that by election day the Republican Governors Association will have raised - and likely spent - $30 million. That would be a record for the RGA.

RGA Executive Director Nick Ayers told Politico he hopes the money will allow Republicans to pick up a couple of governor’s mansions “in an election cycle when Democrats are expected to surge at the federal level.”

Eleven states are holding governor’s races this year; five of those governorships are now held by Republicans.

Political analyst Charlie Cook rates three as safe seats, and two - Indiana and Missouri - as tossups. Ayers said his organization intends to invest in those contests and use its cash to turn the races for Democrat-held seats in North Carolina and Delaware into tighter contests.

Delaware is rated by Cook as "Likely Democratic" and North Carolina has the longer-shot "Leans Democratic."
Washington is rated a toss up - the only Democratic seat rated that close. But the race doesn’t merit mention in the story. The RGA has said Republican challenger Dino Rossi’s race against Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire is a priority for the group.

And there is every reason to believe national party money will flood the state this year. So far the Republican Governors Association has given about $170,000 to the state Republican Party. The Democratic Governors Association has given $210,000 to the state Democratic Party and $250,000 to Evergreen Progress, a new PAC that is getting most of its money from labor unions.

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July 15, 2008 7:43 AM

(Insert Texas pun here)

Posted by David Postman

After I reported yesterday that Dino Rossi was in Houston for a fundraiser, Chris Gregoire’s campaign and the Democratic Party were quick to attack the Republican candidate for traveling to the Lone Star state.

Gregoire’s campaign said:

On a day when Republican Dino Rossi headed to Houston to raise money from George Bush country, his campaign passed around a poll showing a dead heat.

And the party weighed in with:

Memo to Dino Rossi: don’t mess with Texas - unless you’re a Bush Republican in need of some big campaign cash.

But prior to Rossi’s Houston fundraiser last night, Gregoire’s Texas cash dwarfed what Rossi had gotten from there. Public Disclosure Commission records show that Gregoire has raised nearly $28,000 from Texas donors. Rossi's total: $500.

I’m sure - at least I’m sure Rossi hopes - that after last night’s fundraiser with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rossi now leads in Texas fundraising.

By the way, that poll mentioned in the Gregoire release was done by Moore Research in Portland. Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer asked pollster Bob Moore the question that others didn’t before publicizing the results. He wanted to know specifically what question voters were asked about the governor’s race. Moore told Kirkdorffer in an e-mail the question was:

Looking ahead, if the election for Governor was held today and the candidates were (rotate names) Dino Rossi, prefers GOP party, and Christine Gregoire, prefers Democratic party, for whom would you vote?

I wonder what Rick Perry, chairman of the Prefers GOP Party Governor’s Association, thinks about Rossi’s chosen nomenclature?

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July 14, 2008 2:53 PM

What Cindy McCain does for fun

Posted by David Postman

The AP says Cindy McCain, wife of presidential candidate John McCain, “does something called drift racing with her son.”

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July 14, 2008 1:35 PM

Rossi begins out-of-state fundraising

Posted by David Postman

Dino Rossi will be in Houston tonight for his second out-of-state fundraiser in less than a week. The Republican gubernatorial candidate will be feted by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, Rossi spokeswoman Jill Strait confirmed.

She said the event is in a private home and there is no set ticket price to get in.

Last Thursday, Strait said, Rossi was in Honolulu for a fundraiser hosted by Gov. Linda Lingle. Lingle may be an inspiration for Rossi. In 2002 she was the first Republican elected governor of Hawaii in 40 years - breaking a Democratic winning streak even longer than the party’s hold on the office in Washington. And Lingle won on her second try, after losing to the Democratic incumbent the first time by less than 1 percent of the vote. The incumbent was forced into retirement by term limits and Lingle and her Democratic opponent were running for an open office.

Rossi has been critical of how much out-of-state money has been raised by Gov. Chris Gregoire. Last month he issued a press release bemoaning “out-of-state special interests” he said were financing Gregoire’s campaign.

Gregoire has raised a lot more from out of state than Rossi has. She’s taken in more than $1 million from donors who list an address outside Washington. Gregorie has raised a total of $7.6 million.

Rossi has raised about $120,000 from out of state and a total of about $6 million.

Also: Gregoire has a big fundraiser on the schedule this week. Michelle Obama will be hear Thursday to headline a noon event for the governor. Eli Sanders says Gregoire is cashing in an IOU with the Obama campaign.

It may be too cynical to cast this as a purely financial transaction, but if you’re wondering how much Gregoire’s endorsement was worth to the Obama campaign the answer, so far, seems to be about $320,000.

That’s how much Michelle Obama will raise for Gregoire if the 1,600-person venue the campaign has reserved for Thursday is filled to capacity with people paying the required $200/head.

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July 14, 2008 8:38 AM

State says top-two will go ahead

Posted by David Postman

A top state attorney says the state primary next month is in no legal jeopardy despite claims by the Republican and Democratic parties that the state is ignoring an order from a federal judge.

Attorneys for the parties said last week that appeals related to the top-two case are continuing and that an injunction against the primary is still in effect. They said the results of the primary and general election could be nullified if the state went ahead and did not specifically have the 2005 injunction reversed.

But Solicitor General Maureen Hart said in a letter to the parties that the injunction imposed by Federal District Court Judge Thomas Zilly was reversed as part of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the top-two earlier this year. Hart wrote Friday to Democratic Party attorney David McDonald and Republican Party attorney John White.

Neither of you can be surprised to know that the state of Washington began preparing to conduct a “top two” primary as soon as the Supreme Court issued its opinion on March 18, 2008, and has adopted rules and policies to implement Initiative 872. Candidates filing has been conducted in preparation for a “top two” primary, the voters’ pamphlet for the primary has been prepared, and the primary is scheduled to be conducted on August 19, 2008. Wholly aside from the practical impossibility of your suggestion, there is no legal basis for it. The injunction was based entirely upon the District Court’s conclusion that I-872 would facially violate the constitutional rights of the plaintiff political parties - a judgment that has been reversed. An injunction must be obeyed until it is “reversed by orderly and proper proceedings.”
Hart points to the final paragraph of the Supreme Court decision to show that the “injunction is no longer operative.”
Immediately after implementing regulations were enacted, respondents obtained a permanent injunction against the enforcement of I-872. The First Amendment does not require this extraordinary and precipitous nullification of the will of the people. Because I-872 does not on its face provide for the nomination of candidates or compel political parties to associate with or endorse candidates, and because there is no basis in this facial challenge for presuming that candidates’ party-preference designations will confuse voters, I-872 does not on its face severely burden respondents’ associated rights. We accordingly hold that I-872 is facially constitutional. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed.

Hart said that to revert to the state’s previous primary election system - the pick-a-party or Montana-style primary - “amounts to nothing more than a request that the State refrain from following a law enacted by the people and upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States.”

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July 11, 2008 1:52 PM

UPDATED: Dems haven't booked Burner airtime yet

Posted by David Postman

Eli Sanders points out that 8th District Democratic challenger Darcy Burner is not included in a list of 31 races nationwide in which the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already reserved air time for TV commercials.

Sanders says the list is only an initial buy, and the list may not -- or may -- be important.

Either way, it’s worth keeping an eye on the outside ad money because the race in the 8th Congressional District, like a lot of other races around the country, has historically been heavily influenced by ad buys made in the last few months of the campaign. Every time you ask Democrats in the 8th why it didn’t work for them the last time around, you always hear the same thing: Not enough help from D.C.

UPDATE: Brian Wolff, executive director of the DCCC, issued a statement on the media buy:

Our initial media buy is the first act of a many act play. As we have been all cycle, the DCCC is focused, prepared, and organized. Watch what we do over the next four months and our aggressive strategy to expand the playing field and strengthen the Democratic Majority will become clear.

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July 10, 2008 10:44 AM

Pro-Rossi signs say Seattle stole '04 election

Posted by David Postman

Billboards promoting Dino Rossi's gubernatorial campaign and telling voters "Don't Let Seattle Steal This Election!" are going up in Eastern Washington, thanks to the Republican's biggest backers. The Building Industry Association of Washington is paying $168,000 for 61 of the billboards, according to this story by Spokane TV station KXLY.

I wrote about the signs last month when they started to pop up in Eastern Washington. At the time the Rossi campaign said they had no connection with the signs and didn't know who was erecting them. The BIAW has also led an effort to air radio commercials attacking Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The billboards are an effort to remind Eastern Washington voters about the troubled 2004 vote count in the race between Gregoire and Rossi. That fight ended more than six months after the election when a judge ruled against Republican claims that the election count was flawed and corrupt.

Rossi has said he thinks the election problems have been fixed and his campaign is on the record saying it does not fear this year's election can be stolen. Now that we know the billboards are coming from Rossi's most powerful ally, I wonder what he and others will say about the effort.

At Sound Politics, Eric Earling wrote last month that the signs were counter-productive for Rossi backers because they convey "a message Rossi seems clearly trying to avoid." Earling understands the sentiment behind the signs, though.

Folks on the west side of the Cascades, even many Republicans, sometimes fail to grasp the annoyance and resentment those east of the mountains have with politics and policy in our state that at times seem dominated by King County liberals. This frustration runs deeper than many west-siders care to acknowledge or admit.

The professional-looking signs, however, inevitably receive attention on the other side of the state where huge chunks of the population don't grasp the root of the resentment.

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July 10, 2008 10:23 AM

Soprano's band says Demo ad offensive

Posted by David Postman

The leader of the band whose song is used as the theme to The Sopranos says the music was misused when state Democrats made it the soundtrack to an Dino Rossi attack video. According to the Wired blog, A3 leader Larry Love said in a statement:

We are against the use of any of our songs in this manner. This advert was ethnically offensive.

Love had some campaign-season advice, too:

If any political parties want to carry out tawdry campaigning utilizing radical political music, A3 suggest they check out the following: Alabama, The Charlie Daniels Band and Ted Nugent. We like to keep it underground. We make pop music for intelligent people, not politicians.

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July 10, 2008 8:46 AM

New ads from Gregoire and Rossi

Posted by David Postman

Gov. Chris Gregoire is airing a radio ad that tries to draw an ideological connection between her opponent, Republican Dino Rossi, and President George W. Bush.

But the ad pushes Rossi a bit further to the right than facts support. Rossi doesn’t help himself much on this front given that when it comes to the issue of abortion he refuses to say clearly what his position is.

The ad runs one minute and is airing statewide. It opens with a narrator, who asks:

When you hear the name Dino Rossi, what other name comes to mind?
You can listen to it here.

Continue reading this post ...

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July 9, 2008 1:28 PM

Gregoire releases tax returns, but nothing from Rossi

Posted by David Postman

Gov. Chris Gregoire released three years of her family’s federal income tax returns today. The Gregoires’ total income has gone up from $162,290$129,073 in 2005, the governor’s first year in office, to $180,179 last year.

I’m not an accountant - boy, am I not an accountant - but there doesn’t look to be anything too fascinating in the returns. The family paid more than $32,000 $29,000 in total taxes on the 2007 income and made $9,260 in charitable gifts and donations.

In the three years I see only a one-time $10 capital loss.

Why ask the governor for the tax returns and write so little about what’s in there? We ask because we want to collect as much information as possible about candidates for governor.

Republican Dino Rossi has rejected requests to release his tax returns. This is what happened in 2004 as well; Gregoire released hers, Rossi didn’t.

The Rossi campaign says that the candidate has complied with all disclosure laws and filed a personal financial disclosure form this year with the Public Disclosure Commission. Spokeswoman Jill Strait said the candidate "will not release any more personal financial information."

There's no question that releasing tax returns is over and above what’s required by law. And a tax return from a career state employee and office-holder - whose salary is already public information - is likely to be less interesting than one from a businessman and real estate investor.

Those PDC forms, though, leave a lot to the imagination. Office holders, candidates and some appointed officials are required to file the reports. But income and investment numbers are reported only within ranges:

A -- $1 to $2,999 B -- $3,000 to $14,999 C -- $15,000 to $29,999 D -- $30,000 to $74,999 E -- $75,000 or more

Rossi’s filing shows three sources of income that qualify as an “E”: book sales, his salary from the non-profit Forward Washington, and apartment income. He has one “D,” rental income from a medical building.

But those “E” incomes could be - as we know, from other sources, about the non-profit salary - just about $75,000. Or they could up to any amount you could imagine. Or at least up to $1 billion, which would put him on Forbes’ list of the richest people in the world.

If you are a candidate with little wealth, the public will know about your finances with more specificity than if you are well-off. And if you’re super rich, you can pretty much keep that to yourself.

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July 9, 2008 10:48 AM

Another political scribe leaves the biz

Posted by David Postman

The Columbian’s Gregg Herrington has taken early retirement from the paper. He sent an e-mail to friends and colleagues this morning explaining why he was leaving after almost 33 years as the political brain of southwest Washington.

The paper had a mild round of layoffs in late winter, but now more serious cutbacks are upon us, in both personnel and the number of pages and sections in the newspaper itself. My own area, the "Opinion' pages, will drop from two pages a day to one, beginning Wednesday, July 9. The number of staff-written editorials (I have been one of two editorial writers) is dropping from two a day to one. The handwriting was on the wall for me, so I accepted an "early retirement incentive" that was offered to the most senior employees. I will work through mid-August. Others are being laid off this week. Naturally I am sad about leaving The Columbian under these circumstances. It certainly isn't the way I figured I'd depart. Moreover, I'm sad for The Columbian and newspapers in general and for the country, whose citizens are increasingly content to get their information from openly biased sources in talk radio, cable TV, narrowly focused Internet pages and blogs -- or from nowhere at all.

Herrington is looking for his next job. I know how hard it is for a veteran journalist to leave the trade. As an acquaintance told me, “Journalists always think that’s who they are, but it’s just what they do.”

Enough veteran political reporters have left their jobs recently that it qualifies as a trend. The AP’s Dave Ammons went to work for Secretary of State Sam Reed; KING 5’s Robert Mak to Mayor Greg Nickels’ staff; The Herald’s longtime Everett political reporter Jim Haley retired; the P-I”s Neil Modie retired earlier this year and The Stranger's Josh Feit gave up his job to do something new.

I read about Herrington long before I ever met him. He makes a cameo in The Boys on the Bus, the best campaign trail book ever written. That made Herrington a bit of a celebrity in my eyes when I was told he was the same Gregg as the "young AP backup man" mentioned by Timothy Crouse. (The book is largely responsible for me getting into this business, but I don't blame Crouse, or Herrington for that.)

Herrington told his friends today:

I eagerly await the Second Coming of American newsrooms such as The Columbian's where dedicated and professional news reporters and editors trying their damnedest to present the news straight transition increasingly to the Web.

Hey Gregg, let me know when you see that coming.

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July 9, 2008 9:41 AM

Another (losing) case against McDermott's re-election

Posted by David Postman

I’ve been reading about the liberal case against Jim McDermott for years. Many have said Seattle’s congressman is out of touch, worries more about foreign trips than local pork and even when he’s on the right side of an issue, can hurt the cause with his sometimes controversial statements.
But voters in the 7th District return him to office by consistently huge victory margins. I believe Seattle voters know McDermott’s record, as well as his shortcomings, and must believe he is doing just what they want him to. I have no polling to back this up. But I’d be surprised to find that many 7th District voters are unhappy that their congressman spends so much time worrying about, for example, health care in Africa.

Today comes yet another argument against McDermott. This time it’s at Crosscut, where former reporter, former Democratic staffer - now Group Healther - Don Glickstein covers some familiar territory. He writes about the war, McDermott’s travels and his legal troubles. He does so, though, with a level of detail and a thoroughness usually missing from more strident rants against McDermott.

But Glickstein also pokes at McDermott’s financial holdings. As he writes,

… McDermott doesn't let his progressive ideals interfere with his investments.

This was news to me. Its’ the piece of Glickstein’s story that I bet could rile McDermott’s voters.

The man who opposed the Medicare prescription drug program because he felt it "was set up to maximize profits for the pharmaceutical and HMO companies" owned more than $52,000 of Pfizer, Merck, and other pharmaceutical company stock at the start of 2007.

McDermott talks the language of addressing global warming. "A prime challenge facing our nation is the reduction of our dependence on fossil fuels such as coal and oil," he notes on his Web site. Yet he owned shares valued at more than $40,000 in Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal mining company and the target of at least two environmental campaigns.

This issue, in the hands of a capable campaigner, could possibly keep McDermott’s re-election numbers down to the low 70s.

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July 8, 2008 9:30 AM

Political parties say top-two primary may not count

Posted by David Postman

Attorneys for the state Democratic and Republican parties say the upcoming top-two primary violates a federal court order, and could jeopardize the results of both this year’s primary and general elections.

Attorneys for the parties wrote to the state yesterday. The letters were prompted by an order from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week that asked attorneys for supplemental briefing materials in the long-standing court fight over the primary. They say that makes clear that the legal fight over the top two is still alive, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year.

Under the top-two primary, voters can select any candidate on the ballot for each race and the two highest vote-getters advance to the general election regardless of their party affiliation. The old pick-a-party primary required voters to select a party ballot and vote for candidates only from that party.

Democratic Party attorney David McDonald and Republican Party attorney John White said in separate letters that the 9th Circuit order shows that appeals of Judge Thomas Zilly’s 2005 decision are continuing.

Zilly issued an injunction against implementing I-872, the initiative that created the top-two primary. McDonald wrote that the state has made no effort to modify or vacate that injunction. He wrote to state attorneys:

Proceeding with the planned August primaries and November elections in violation of this injunction will expose all of the results to challenge, potentially wasting significant taxpayer resources on elections that have to be redone.

White wrote:

As we have previously advised you: This litigation is not over. No court has vacated the injunction entered by the district court in July, 2005. The injunction against implementing the Modified Blanket Primary is still in effect. Conducting a Modified Blanket Primary in August will be a willful violation of the injunction. In addition to violating the injunction, issuing certificates of nomination to candidates who receive the most votes will constitute an “error” in the administration of the election because the Open Primary is still the law of Washington.

The party attorneys say the state should conduct a pick-a-party, or so-called Montana-style, primary that has been in place since 2004. And that, McDonald wrote, should be the law “until such time, if ever, as the validity of I-872 is fully and finally upheld.” White asked the Attorney General's office to “confirm immediately that the State will adhere to the terms of the injunction, and conduct its August primary in accordance with the Open Primary law.”

The top-two system got the go-ahead in March when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that overturning the citizen initiative would have been an "extraordinary and precipitous nullification of the will of the people."

The Supreme Court ruling left open the possibility that the top-two could be challenged after it was implemented and the political parties could show actual harm.

MORE: State election director Nick Handy says the U.S. Supreme Court says the top two is constitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in March that Washington's Top 2 primary is constitutional and that Washington may conduct a Top 2 primary.

Accordingly, the state is proceeding to implement a Top Two primary on August 19. The Voters' Pamphlet has been printed and ballots for military voters will be in the mail in the next few weeks.

In summary, the state is proceeding to implement the people's initiative as upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The order from the 9th Circuit, signed by a three-judge panel, says:

Within 30 days of the filing of this order, the parties shall submit supplemental briefs not exceeding 15 pages each addressing the impact of the Supreme Court's ruling in Washington States Republican Party v. Washington, 128 S. Ct. 1184 (2008), on the issues raised but not resolved in the appeal before this three-judge panel. The parties should also address any intervening authority on the ballot access and trademark claims that has been filed since these issues were originally briefed.

The parties are relying, in part, on a footnote in the U.S. Supreme Court opinion. This is Footnote 11:

Respondent Libertarian Party of Washington argues that I-872 is unconstitutional because of its implications for ballot access, trademark protection of party names , and campaign finance. We do not consider the ballot access and trademark arguments as they were not addressed below and are not encompassed by the question on which we granted certiorari: “Does Washington’s primary election system . . . violate the associational rights of political parties because candidates are permitted to identify their political party preference on the ballot?” Pet. for cert. in No. 06-730, p. i. The campaign finance issue also was not addressed below and is more suitable for consideration on remand.

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July 8, 2008 8:56 AM

Democrats say '08 elections may have to be redone

Posted by David Postman

An attorney for the state Democratic Party says the upcoming top-two primary violates a federal court order, and could jeopardize the results of both this year’s primary and general elections.

David McDonald, the attorney who represents the party in the primary case, wrote to state attorneys yesterday. His letter was prompted by an order from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week that asked attorneys for supplemental briefing materials in the longstanding court fight over the primary. McDonald said that order makes clear that appeals of Judge Thomas Zilly’s 2005 decision are not over.

Zilly issued an injunction against implementing I-872, the initiative that created the top-two primary. McDonald wrote that the state has made no effort to modify or vacate that injunction. He wrote to state attorneys:

Proceeding with the planned August primaries and November elections in violation of this injunction will expose all of the results to challenge, potentially wasting significant taxpayer resources on elections that have to be redone.

McDonald wants the state to go back to the pick-a-party primary that has been in place since 2004. And that, he said, should be the law “until such time, if ever, as the validity of I-872 is fully and finally upheld.”

The top-two system got the go-ahead in March when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that overturning the citizen initiative would have been an "extraordinary and precipitous nullification of the will of the people."

The Supreme Court ruling left open the possibility that the top-two could be challenged after it was implemented and the political parties could show actual harm.

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July 8, 2008 8:20 AM

What to call I-1,000

Posted by David Postman

The Associated Press, which often sets the official style for newspapers, will call Initiative 1,000 the “assisted suicide” measure. That’s not good news for sponsors of the measure who have worked hard to frame the debate as something other than suicide. Backers of the initiative call it “Death with Dignity.”

As the Olympian’s Adam Wilson wrote at his blog,

Supporters of I-1000 really don’t like associating someone with six months or less to live, in continuous pain, with "suicide." They see it as a negative connotation.

The issue of what to call the initiative was the subject of a court battle earlier this year. That led to the phrase “aid in dying.”

It’s true, as Wilson wrote, that state newspapers are likely to follow the AP guideline. But the Times is avoiding suicide references, describing the initiative as “aid in dying” or “assistance in dying.”

In Oregon, a similar law has been on the books for more than a decade. It explicitly excludes suicide references.

Nothing in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 shall be construed to authorize a physician or any other person to end a patient's life by lethal injection, mercy killing or active euthanasia. Actions taken in accordance with ORS 127.800 to 127.897 shall not, for any purpose, constitute suicide, assisted suicide, mercy killing or homicide, under the law.

However, that hasn’t stopped newspapers - for example here, here and here, -- from referring to assisted suicide.

Here at the blog, I don’t always follow the newspaper’s style. (I refer to the governor as Chris, as she prefers; the paper calls her Christine.) And in this case, I’m still not sure what the right description is for I-1,000. For now, though, I’ll follow the Times' style, but try to describe the initiative as best I can. (And how come some people leave out the comma in “1,000”? It’s a number, right?)

After the jump, Why I'm a dope.

Continue reading this post ...

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July 7, 2008 1:06 PM

When no news is news

Posted by David Postman

Chris Mulick says there's no news behind the press release Gov. Chris Gregoire's office released with the headline:

Gov. Gregoire announces state’s strong bond ratings

The ratings are, in fact, unchanged from last year. Mulick says there was no press releases issued in November and December when at least one of the ratings actually represented an upgrade. Gregoire announced her re-election campaign in April.

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July 7, 2008 10:18 AM

The risks of unstable objects

Posted by David Postman

California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher says the United States is unprepared for the prospect of a giant asteroid crashing into earth.

I was once told the chances of being killed by an asteroid were the same as getting a flush in Las Vegas. Well, I’ve actually gotten a flush in Vegas, a royal flush.

I think he’s on to something. A new threat-level system should be implemented right away. One recently discovered asteroid has a 1-in-200,000 chance of hitting the earth. That could be threat-level “straight flush,” with a nice graphic of the poker hand. As the asteroid gets closer, the poker hand gets changes to a full-house. When the signs that should be erected in every town show two pairs, it'd be time to don the hard hat and catcher’s mask that should soon be as much a part of every American household as duct tape and plastic sheets.

Continue reading this post ...

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July 3, 2008 6:47 AM

Have a safe and sane 4th

Posted by David Postman

I am stretching the holiday weekend to four days and will be back here Monday morning.

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July 2, 2008 11:39 AM

First anti-Gregoire spot on TV

Posted by David Postman

A builder-backed PAC is airing a new TV spot criticizing Gov. Chris Gregoire for approving a major expansion for tribal casinos. The 30-second spot, “Giveaway,” is the first TV ad from It’s Time For a Change,” the PAC funded by the Building Industry Association of Washington, the Farm Bureau, the NFIB-Washington and others that back Republican Dino Rossi for governor.

The ad shows an elderly woman frustrated while playing a slot machine. A narrator talks about the deal Gregoire killed with tribes in 2005 that would have required revenue sharing as well as for the final agreement that allowed more slot machines in tribal casinos.

I don’t see the ad on the Change Web site yet. But you can watch it here.

Most of the claims in the ad are from two recent newspaper stories, from the P-I June 12, and the Times June 24.

As the old lady loses her patience with the slot machine, the narrator says,

Sorry dear, Christine Gregoire and tribal casinos are the only winners here.

Note: The ad keeps up the strong trend of the campaign, a female narrator and a female on screen.

Yesterday, after Gregoire’s media buyer spotted the Change PAC buy, the campaign sent out a prophylactic press release predicting the TV spot would follow the same theme of radio ads the PAC has aired.

All of this is in addition to the $500,000 that Rossi’s anti-consumer protection, anti-toxic clean-up friends have already spent on radio ads disparaging and manipulating Gov. Gregoire’s record.

"While Dino Rossi tries to hide the fact he's a George Bush Republican on the ballot, his biggest supporters, Olympia's most powerful special interest lobbyists, continue to spend what seems to be an unlimited amount on false and misleading attack ads," said Aaron Toso, press secretary for the Gregoire campaign.

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July 2, 2008 7:53 AM

AquaSox don't want baseball mixed with politics

Posted by David Postman

Dino Rossi’s campaign misused the mailing list of the minor league baseball team he is a part owner of to solicit donations to his gubernatorial effort. The invitation to a “NIGHT OF GREAT FOOD AND EXCITING AQUASOX BASEBALL” was followed up by an e-mail from the Everett team’s majority owners offering their “deepest and most sincere apology” for the violation of the team’s privacy policy.

The Everett AquaSox are the Mariner’s Class A affiliate. Rossi, along with former Mariner star Jay Buhner, were among seven who bought minority shares of the team in April, 2007.

The Rossi campaign invitation to the fundraiser was e-mailed to people on the team's mailing list. It invited people to join Rossi's Snohomish County finance committee for a $100 per person, or $200 per family, fundraiser at the Everett ballpark on July 7. The team plays the Yakima Bears that night.

After complaints from team fans, an e-mail was sent by Peter A. and Peter E. Carfagna, the father and son whose family is the majority owner of the team. It said, in part:

We recently learned that our personal privacy policy was compromised in an attempt to solicit your support for a partisan political fundraiser.

In that regard, on behalf of our family ownership group, we would like to express our sincere apologies.

Although we did not authorize this communication nor were we aware of it in advance, we have justifiably received numerous complaints from you expressing your displeasure. We take full responsibility and again beg your pardon.

We take your personal privacy seriously. We will remain vigilant in protecting your e-mail address from solicitors and vendors. We are taking immediate steps to ensure an incident like this never happens again.

I've asked the Rossi campaign if the candidate knew about the use of the AquaSox mailing list.

UPDATE: Rossi spokeswoman Jill Strait responds:

Our Snohomish County Finance Chair Tom Hoban, who is also a part owner of the AquaSox, requested the list from the AquaSox General Manager, who then gave a list of e-mails to one of our campaign staffers. The campaign believed that since we had received the list from AquaSox management, we had permission to send an e-mail about the upcoming event. We were wrong. It is our fault for not double checking. Dino Rossi was unaware that the list had been requested or used. We apologize to AquaSox fans who received this e-mail.

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July 1, 2008 2:46 PM

Bill Gates for VP?

Posted by David Postman

Now heading to his leisure years, Microsoft's Bill Gates was named a longshot choice for a place on the national ticket in a review by Politico of reasonably viable, yet most unconventional picks.

Several Republicans and even some moderate Democrats called the Microsoft founder John McCain's dream running mate. Gates could position McCain as a trusted voice on the economy and his multi-billion dollar commitment to charitable giving could soften up the campaign's image.

And there's no question he could help scare up a few dollars. In 2006, Gates convinced billionaire investor Warren Buffett to give $31 billion to the Gates Foundation.

There's just one little hitch: he seems to favor the Democrats these days. While Gates has given generously to both parties (including $2,000 to McCain in 2003) and advocated for a broad swath of policies over the years, in this cycle he's contributed $2,300 to both Dems, and nothing to McCain.

Gates' inclusion may be a sign that sooner or later everybody's name will appear on a list of potential running mates for Barack Obama and John McCain. But until until my name pops up, I'll agree to believe that Gates is an actual viable choice.

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July 1, 2008 8:42 AM

Burner said to get pressure from pro-Israel group

Posted by David Postman

According to Matt Stoller, Democrat Darcy Burner says she’s being pressured to stay away from J Street,
a new PAC that calls itself the “the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement.”

On Friday, I was on the phone with Darcy Burner, who told me that she got a call from people affiliated with the conservative Jewish political group AIPAC. They told her to distance herself from the new pro-peace group J Street, which they said is full of radical leftists who believe in capitulation to the forces of the Arab world who would overrun and destroy Israel. Like most conservative arguments, it is utter nonsense backed up by a political threat designed to suppress alternative legitimate political views. ...

AIPAC's people are backing Darcy's opponent, Dave Reichert, so if they are calling her up and arguing with her, it shows just how confident they are politically at intimidating the opposition. A J Street endorsement is clearly a very risky and scary thing to take, because you'll bring down the wrath of a powerful and well-organized group.

J Street recently took out a full-page ad in the New York Times. It criticized American groups that support Israel when it goes to war, but not during recent diplomatic efforts between Israel and Hamas and Israel and Syria:

If Israel had gone to war this week, established pro-Israel organizations would have rallied to its side. There would have been ads, press releases, fundraising appeals and political speeches. Let’s have the courage to support Israel loudly and clearly when it pursues security through diplomacy.

RELATED: Burner's house was seriously damaged in a fire this morning. She and her family were in the home at the time, said spokesman Sandeep Kaushik, but got out unhurt. More on the fire here. We'll wait until another day to talk to her about J Street.

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Recent entries

Jul 31, 08 - 03:02 PM
Union ready to spend big to unseat school chief

Jul 30, 08 - 10:41 AM
Rossi's subtle editing

Jul 30, 08 - 08:53 AM
Foward Washington exec responds

Jul 29, 08 - 01:46 PM
Rossi's first TV ad avoids specifics

Jul 29, 08 - 12:35 PM
What Stevens indictment means to his re-election



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