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June 30, 2006

McGavick on Social Security

Posted by David Postman at 10:01 AM

Mike McGavick's position on Social Security has become the issue, or really the question, of the week. Getting an answer has even become a contest on one of the most popular political blogs in the country.

I can understand some of the curiosity because McGavick's campaign material doesn't say much about his position. On his Web site he says there should a system that allows people to give back Social Security money they don't need.

But I just finished a lengthy interview with McGavick about Social Security and he has a much more expansive platform. Here's his main three points.

1. He supports means testing, voluntarily at first but if people don't turn back enough money he'd support making it mandatory and creating income limits for benefits.

2. Benefit levels must be guaranteed for people at or near retirement age.

3. He wants a phased-in system of individually controlled, privately managed retirement accounts that could provide a higher yield than the government-run system, but would come with a lower guaranteed payment.

Does this mean he supports what President Bush proposed last year?

"I do not think the president's program was that well designed or that well promoted. But I think something like this with some hard bipartisan work could create a lasting solution for a problem that has cyclically dogged us for decades."

Here are some details. On means testing, McGavick said that each year Social Security recipients would be given the chance to send money "back into the trust to extend the life of Social Security for the good of society." He said it should be promoted as a "patriotic endeavor." But if people weren't willing to give back benefits, he'd support mandatory means testing.

McGavick said that would save money at the front end of the transition to individual accounts. Bush, he said, "didn't do anything at the front-end to shrink the problem."

McGavick said he knows that people will refer to his talk of personally controlled accounts as privatization. He said financial institutions would be involved, but would not control, the investments. "I'm not turning it over to banks to run. I'm turning it over to the individuals for them to run." The accounts would be similar to 401 K programs, with investment choices "that could provide a higher yield than the current Social Security investment strategy." But with individual control would come a lower guaranteed benefit.

McGavick says partisanship has made it impossible to fix Social Security. He said it may take a bipartisan commission with a proposal given to Congress for an up or down vote to get anything done. He said he'd support anything "to get this out of the political world and into a thoughtful space."

President Bush said this week he's going to keep trying to change Social Security. But McGavick says he doubts anything will happen until after the next presidential election.

"I don't think there's enough juice left in this administration to push that through. That's just my own opinion."

You can credit Josh Marshall for the pressure to get answers about McGavick's Social Security position. He has decided to "start tracking some positions here on Social Security", and several of his loyal readers have e-mailed me in the past two days asking me to follow up.

The Democratic Party has also been pushing this angle since last week's D.C. fundraiser with the Financial Services Roundtable.

This is the part that seems to bug McGavick. He says it's insulting to suggest that because the roundtable held a fundraiser for him, and those firms supported the president's plan, that he would follow in lock step.

So what about Maria Cantwell's position? I'll be asking for more details, but here's what she says on her campaign Web site:

Maria opposes Social Security privatization because she believes this critical program must serve its original purpose as a safety net for seniors. Her innovative legislation, the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act, would base Social Security cost of living increases on a more realistic assessment of how much elderly Americans need to get by each month. By taking into account the rising cost of health care and its unique impact on seniors, Maria's plan would make a real difference for retirees.

UPDATE:

Joshua Micah Marshall seems less than impressed with McGavick's answers. (But do I get a mug?) Marshall wrote, "For now, McGavick seems like he just wants the issue to go away." I'm sure, but McGavick answered all the questions I had and I'm confident he'll put up with the inevitable follow-ups. Isn't anyone impressed with McGavick's line that there isn't "enough juice left in this administration to push" Social Security through?

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In other news

Posted by David Postman at 7:28 AM

  • The business-backed Liability Reform Coalition has endorsed Supreme Court challengers Steve Johnson and John Groen who are running against incumbent Justice Susan Owens and Chief Justice Gerry Alexander. You can see the coalition's review of Supreme Court justices, as well as a list of its members, here.

    The business group has gone with incumbents, though, in court of appeal races, endorsing judges Mary Kay Becker, Joel Penoyar and Christine Quinn-Brintnall. LRC executive director Dana Childers told me that with those judges "the LRC believes that although they have challengers that appeal to the LRC, the incumbents appear to be balanced and fair judges and therefore deserve re-election." 

  • If you want to know what is going on with taxpayer-funded sports facilities and the government's refusal to tell us what's happening with the money, you've got to read Peter Callaghan in The News Tribune. His column yesterday looks at the Seahawks new headquarters and practice facility. Is it part of the return on the investment taxpayers made in Paul Allen's team?
    Allen has used the tax money to transform a franchise he bought for $200 million in 1997 into one worth $823 million, according to numbers denied taxpayers but leaked to Forbes magazine. That makes it one of the few Allen investments making money. But without the taxes, there would be no profit. So is the new headquarters privately funded or publicly funded?

    Probably both. It's a classic example of the public-private partnership in which the public takes all the risk and the private takes all the profit.

  • Linnea Noreen may be making her first run for public office in a long-shot try as an independent against Congressman Jim McDermott. But she's already learned a trick of the most veteran pols - the straw man.

    Her campaign staff sent out excerpts from a speech Noreen gave at one of the conventions shes holding to collect 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot. It included this passage, which the campaign said "drew cheers from the crowd":

    "Let's talk about those who say it can't be done. To quote: 'I don't have a chance in hell.' The ones who say I'm too young, too female, too Independent, too under-funded, or too naive."

    OK, I know there is the cleavage controversy over at The Slog, but Linnea, really, who is saying these things?

  • Eli Sanders reports in The Stranger about two women's rights leaders trying to talk Stephanie Pure into dropping out of the 43rd District Democratic primary - to boost the chances of Lynne Dodson, the only other woman in crowded race:
    As for why a race with four men and two women should have fewer women involved, NWPC's Mitchell said: "I want to see a woman win that seat. And when voters are offered a choice of two great women, then it limits each woman's chances of winning."

    Meanwhile the Balkanization of the race continues. Bill Sherman who won the endorsement of the Sierra Club last week now has the nod from the Washington Conservation Voters, too. He now claims the mantle of "The Environmental Candidate."


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June 29, 2006

Net profitability

Posted by David Postman at 2:24 PM

The day after Sen. Maria Cantwell voted against a telecommunications bill in the Commerce Committee because of concerns about net neutrality, she turned the move into a fundraising pitch.

In an e-mail to supporters today, Cantwell asks people to sign an online petition in favor of net neutrality and makes a pitch to "protect the Internet now."

In the p.s., she reminds people of the "end-of-the-quarter fundraising push" and says, "This issue is a perfect example of why — if we had the majority on the Commerce Committee, we wouldn't have to have this fight. If you can contribute please do it now: https://contribute.cantwell.com."

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Eighth District loses spot on list of hottest races

Posted by David Postman at 7:57 AM

Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics has his latest Crystal Ball report out this morning and Washington's Eighth Congressional District has dropped off the "Dirty Thirty" list of competitive House races.

In February the race between Republican Congressman Dave Reichert and political newcomer Darcy Burner made the list and was labeled "Leans Republican." It's gone today, though, and relegated to the list of the next 20 races to watch around the country.

Sabato is one of the country's leading political prognosticators and widely considered an expert on Congress. David Wasserman, the House editor for the Crystal Ball, told me the race was downgraded not because of anything that happened in the Eighth, but because other races around the country became more competitive.

Sabato's Web site now lists the race as "Likely Republican" but Wasserman said that is a mistake that will be fixed soon, and listed as "Leans Republican" once again. Wasserman said he's been impressed by Burner's fund raising. But he looks at more than just money in deciding how to rate a race.

"The kind of candidate Darcy Burner is will have the biggest impact on how well she is able to out-perform what Dave Ross was able to do two years ago. ... They'll certainly be following her around waiting for her to slip up."

On the national picture, Sabato's assessment echoes what Burner's pollster, Celinda Lake, told me last month needs to be done to win in the Eighth. Sabato says:

"Democrats have succeeded in placing national issues of great consequence front and center in individual races for the House, but they have thus far failed to establish a truly national narrative to frame the battles in each of their targeted districts within a single, compelling context."

And overall, he says:

"The Republican margin in the House of Representatives may be more tenuous this year than it has been in any election cycle since its inception in 1994, but a larger wave than currently exists must build in order to completely erode the GOP's 15-seat edge, and by no means has the party in power already been swept out to sea."

UPDATE: By e-mail Sabato adds a bit more about Washington's hottest congressional race and how it will follow national trends.

"There's no question WA-8 will be competitive, but it will take more than the micro-wave for the Democrats we now see to wash out Reichert. Political conditions have stabilized for the Republicans, at least for now. But if the macro-wave develops in October, Reichert could be swept away."

UPDATE: Speaking of rankings, Republican Mike McGavick's campaign draws my attention to the National Journal's Hotline rankings of Senate races that reports a "slightly improved climate" for McGavick against Sen. Maria Cantwell.

There's no big change, but there are some good tidbits for McGavick in the rankings. Hotline calls him "the GOP's best Senate challenger in the country." There's a cautionary note that the race could slip from its position as the seventh hottest Senate race. But I bet this line is on the wall of McGavick headquarters this morning:

"But right now, we can't imagine ever viewing any other Democratic incumbent as more vulnerable than Cantwell."

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State cleans felons from voter rolls

Posted by David Postman at 7:39 AM

Secretary Sam Reed this morning said he has canceled the voter registrations of 848 felons. It's the latest move in cleaning up state elections following the record-close, and problem-plagued, 2004 gubernatorial election.

In a press release Reed said, "These felons, who are incarcerated or supervised by the Department of Corrections, will not receive a ballot in the 2006 elections. This aggressive screening of our state's registration system is long overdue and imperative to the conduct of secure elections."

The felon voters were found through the state's new database that matches voter registrations with information from the Department of Corrections.

UPDATE: Katie Blinn, the assistant director of elections, said the 848 includes people in prison and still under supervision by the Department of Corrections.

The state cannot bar from the polls felon voters who have completed their sentences but still owe court-ordered fines and payments. A Superior Court decision in March struck down that part of the law. Reed and Attorney General Rob McKenna were unable to get a stay on the decision from either the Superior Court or the Supreme Court and as of now that group is eligible to vote.

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June 28, 2006

Christian group recruiting hiring for conservative judge campaigns

Posted by David Postman at 1:37 PM

After a failed attempt at an anti-gay rights referendum, Joseph Fuiten and the Faith and Freedom Network are turning their attention to judicial races.

A letter dated today says the network "is teaming with Walk for Washington" to hire part-time workers to do door-to-door campaigning:

Do you want to help elect conservative judges to the Supreme Court and get paid to do it? Here is your chance.

(snip)

Using the latest technological advances, your work will help elect candidates with a pro-Constitution and free-market philosophy towards governing.

UPDATE: Religion and business are teamed up together on this effort. Faith and Freedom Network is working with Walking for Washington, a business group focused on voter identification.

That group is funded and administered by the Building Industry Association of Washington. The BIAW has donated at least $118,000 this year, according to the Public Disclosure Commission. The business PAC United for Washington has donated $10,000. BIAW is the largest donor to United for Washington, having given $20,000 in March. Other recent big donors include $10,000 from Philip Morris and $10,000 from the Washington Restaurant Association PAC. Elliot Swaney, BIAW's political director, told me that donations to Walking for Washington have also come from the Farm Bureau, the Restaurant Association and a timber industry group.

UPDATE: At the Seattle Weekly, George Howland is writing about this, too. He says Walking for Washington is doing the hiring and Faith and Freedom is pitching in to help recruit the troops.

UPDATE: Jon Russell, Faith and Freedom's field director, e-mails to say that his group is, in fact, just doing recruiting for Walking for Washington. His solicitation asks people to contact him and sends them to the F&F Web site. But the hiring will be done by the Walking for Washington business folks, who also will cut the paychecks.

This is an interesting match up. While Chrisitan conservatives and business groups like BIAW share common interests, I don't recall seeing many efforts with this sort of coordination and cooperation. F&F felt burned by its ad-hoc partnership with Tim Eyman. Clearly that experience is not turning Fuiten and Gary Randall, the group's president, away from the world of electoral politics.

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Libertarian Senate candidate says he'll be on ballot

Posted by David Postman at 8:28 AM

There's another anti-war candidate running against Maria Cantwell, and this one looks like he'll be on the November ballot, too.

Libertarian Bruce Guthrie says on his campaign blog that he's gotten more than the 1,000 signatures needed on nominating petitions to secure a place on the ballot. A lot of the signatures came during last weekend's Seattle Pride Fest where, according to the campaign blog, "Bruce's campaign issues like marriage equality, ending the ban against gays in the military, and ending the occupation of Iraq resonated with Pride Fest attendees."

Guthrie has been an instructor at Western Washington University and is getting his certification to teach high school. He's run for Congress in the 2nd District twice as a Libertarian, getting 2.5 percent of the vote in 2004 and about 2 percent in 2002.

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How PAC money can help Cantwell

Posted by David Postman at 7:41 AM

Tonight in Washington, D.C., political action committees have an opportunity to help out Maria Cantwell's re-election campaign, despite her pledge to refuse PAC money.

The invitation to the "Washington Senate Victory Reception Honoring Senator Patty Murray & Senator Maria Cantwell" solicits PAC money as well as individual donations.

It doesn't go directly to Cantwell's re-election account. But some of the money is sure to end up helping her in the race against Republican Mike McGavick. Washington Senate Victory, according to the invitation, is a "joint fundraising committee authorized by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Inc. and the WA State Democratic Central Committee."

The money raised tonight will be split according to a formula spelled out on the invitation. But it also says, "Any contributor may designate his or her contribution for a particular participant." That means a donor, whether a PAC or an individual, could say "Put it all on the DSCC." And this year if the DSCC is looking to use its "Washington Senate Victory" money for a victory in Washington, that means using it to help Maria Cantwell.

I asked Karl Frisch, a spokesman for the DSCC, about how the money would be used. He e-mailed to say, "The DSCC has a policy of not discussing fundraising strategies in the press."

Cantwell swore off PAC money in her self-financed 2000 campaign. That doesn't mean she doesn't take money from lobbyists or employees of the same corporations that run the PACs, but she has said rejecting PAC money is a piece of self-imposed campaign finance reform. It's been pointed out before that Cantwell's no-PAC pledge has holes, and makes raising money more difficult. Some supporters wish she'd drop the PAC ban.

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June 27, 2006

In other news

Posted by David Postman at 8:01 AM

  • The state Republican Party has a new spokeswoman, Carrie Howard Shaw. I spoke to her during the medical malpractice ballot fights when she was working for Doctors for Medical Liability Reform. She worked in the Office of Congressional Liaison in the Reagan Administration, on the presidential campaign staff of Jack Kemp and with Kemp's son, Jeff, at Families Northwest.
  • Linnea Noreen is a young woman who wants to run against Congressman Jim McDermott as an independent. To do that she needs 1,000 signatures by the end of the week. She kicks off the campaign tomorrow at the Columbia City Theater, which is kind of late for a kick-off given that the campaign could end Saturday if she doesn't get the signatures. Noreen doesn't come right out and say McDermott is too old, but her campaign is a generational one:
    "We need an innovative approach to solving the problems facing our country and I believe that my generation has the answers. We can either start the conversation now and accelerate the process, or resign ourselves to wait for yet another generation to come of age, propose the idea, and start again. I'm here to prove that this generation is standing up, and I'm saying let's start the process!"

    Young Josh Feit at The Stranger said it was an "insane pleasure" to meet her.

    UPDATE: At the Seattle Weekly, George Howland is less than impressed with the latest "vanity candidate.


  • Lary Coppola, editor of the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal, gives his take on the McGavick-Cantwell race on his personal blog, West Sound Politics. He's a fan of McGavick's, but the candidate probably doesn't need friends saying things like this: "Meanwhile, McGavick hasn't really taken any positions on anything controversial or of any real substance. His strategy is extremely smart." (Thanks for the tip, Sengali.)

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June 26, 2006

Bar association looks for info on candidates

Posted by David Postman at 3:57 PM

The King County Bar Association is looking for help in evaluating judicial candidates who refuse to participate in the bar's evaluation and ranking process.

Supreme Court candidate Steve Johnson and Court of Appeals candidate Jeffrey Teichert have said they won't cooperate with the bar, whose ratings are generally the most prominent in judicial races. The conservative candidates say they don't think they'll be treated fairly by the bar's review panel.

Johnson told the bar association earlier this month: "The Supreme Court is a nonpartisan office, yet the people you choose to evaluate candidates for the Court are themselves partisan activists — and heavily tilted toward one side of the partisan scale at that!"

The bar association disagrees the panel is partisan or biased. And it will go ahead and rate Johnson and Teichert. Last week the bar sent out e-mails to local lawyers looking for information about the candidates' "experience, ability, fitness, judgment and/or professional integrity."

The messages say each candidate has "declined to participate in the Committee's evaluation process. The Committee, therefore, is attempting to gather information about him through other available sources, including attorneys who practice in King County." The responses will be confidential and given only to members of the evaluation committee.

Judicial races in Washington are non-partisan. Candidates are restricted in what they can say about issues that might come before them on the bench. Philosophy is OK. Politics aren't. In a recent letter posted at the Faith and Freedom Network Web site, Teichert said, "Unfortunately, voters cannot be solely concerned with the qualifications of a judicial candidate. In America today, a candidate's judicial philosophy matters immensely."

Teichert is running against Court of Appeals Judge Mary Kay Becker. He talked in the letter about his judicial philosophy and a little of his own spiritual journey during a recent sabbatical:

"During that year, I spent a great deal of time studying theological influences on the development of rights theory. That year away from active law practice provided me with an invaluable opportunity to take stock of everything I believed and everything that I had learned."

Candidates from all philosophical persuasions find ways to signal their world view to potential supporters. As Teichert put it:

"For those of us who value our families, our faith, and our freedom, this election is a very serious matter."

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Supreme Court hears felon voting case tomorrow

Posted by David Postman at 11:26 AM

At 2:30 Tuesday afternoon the state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on an important felon voting case. Madison v. Washington is an appeal of a King County Superior Court ruling that said
Washington's law that bars felons from voting until they pay off all court-ordered payments violates the state and U.S. constitutions. In that March decision Judge Michael Spearman wrote:

"It is well recognized that there is simply no rational relationship between the ability to pay and the exercise of constitutional rights."

The lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of three four felons who were unable to pay their court-ordered fines and payments argues that Washington's law "has made affluence a voter qualification."

In its brief to the Supreme Court the state argues instead that felons make a personal choice in committing a crime, so they choose to give up the right to vote.

"Commission of a felony, unlike other potential barriers to the exercise of the franchise, is at root an individual choice. Disenfranchisement resulting from a felony conviction stems ultimately from a 'conscious decision to commit a criminal act for which they assume the risk of detention and punishment.' Wesley, 791 F.2d at 1262. It hardly is irrational to require a person who chooses to commit a felony to complete the terms of their punishment — to fully pay their debt to society — prior to being restored to their civil rights and allowed to again participate in the political process. A person who makes the conscious decision to break the law can fairly be regarded as having abandoned the right to further participate in making the law, or in electing officials who do so. Green v Bd. Of Elections, 380 F.2d at 451."


The ACLU says in its brief that the state has created a "wealth-based classification."


"The State's invocation of a Lockian social contract theory may explain the reasons for felony disenfranchisement, but it is not a rational basis for selective vote restoration. On the state's theory, both rich felons and poor felons are 'perpetrators of serious crimes' who have 'proven themselves unwilling to abide by the laws' and thus 'can fairy be regarded as having abandoned the right to further participate in making the law.' Brief of Appellants at 21. It is not rational to deem Plaintiffs unqualified to vote for these reasons, while deeming other ex-felons qualified to vote simply because they had the financial resource to pay their LFO (legal financial obligations) balance in full."

The case has gotten a lot of national attention. The New York Times said in an editorial that Washington's law was an example of Dickensian Democracy.

There are three friends of the court briefs filed on behalf of the felons. One filed by, among others, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of law, the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and minority bar associations, argues:

"Washington's law is exceptionally harsh, even within the domestic spectrum, and the United States enforces some of the most restrictive felony disenfranchisement laws in the world. Washington's law also has a severe disproportionate impact on the state's minority communities. Felony disenfranchisement is tainted by racial oppression in this country, and the continuing disproportionate impact of the practice reflects this history."

You can watch the oral arguments Tuesday at 2:30 on TVW.

You can read more at the Secretary of State's site, the ACLU of Washington and the Brennan Center.

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The breakaway republic of Gregoiristan

Posted by David Postman at 7:05 AM

Gov. Christine Gregoire's push for independence continued last week with a Spokane speech where she urged Washington residents to think globally.

According to Jim Camden at The Spokesman-Review, "The governor suggested that the people who have the most trouble thinking of Washington as a small nation are some of its own residents."

At the Seattle Weekly, Knute Berger says if you've heard Gregoire speak recently "you might get the impression that instead of being chief executive of a medium-sized state in a far corner of the continental U.S., she's prime minister of an independent country."

And Berger doesn't like Gregoire's trade policy. (Or the fact that she recycles speeches.)

"She didn't even attempt to address the potential downsides of globalization, instead smearing it with a progressive, Panglossian gloss."

To read more words like Panglossian, Berger has his own blog as part of the Weekly's jump into blogdom.

UPDATE: This from the governor's office this morning, showing that the governor does deal in the international realm:

The flag of Mexico is flying at the Flag Circle on the Capitol Campus to welcome a delegation of officials from Mexico. Doctor Irma Gomez, Undersecretary of Foreign Relations of Mexico, is meeting with Governor Chris Gregoire this morning to continue the trade discussions Governor Gregoire had with President Vicente Fox last month.

And the governor definitely has security befitting a head of state.

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June 25, 2006

No impeachment resolution for librarians

Posted by David Postman at 10:05 PM

The Seattle librarians who went to the American Library Association meeting in New Orleans to push for a resolution calling for President Bush to resign or be impeached were unable to get the measure introduced. But they'll try again when the ALA comes to Seattle in January. Seattle librarian Lynn Lorenz, who was not in New Orleans but has been involved in the effort, told me that the group ran into procedural problems stemming from their lack of experience in the ways of ALA. (And ALA officials have told me it is a complicated process.)

Here's what Lorenz e-mailed me tonight:

"What we did do, was gain a lot of support for the resolution from colleagues, including some on the ALA Council, who have offered advice and concrete help to get the resolution introduced at the ALA Midwinter Meeting to be held in Seattle in January. We would've loved for it to be introduced and passed, especially in New Orleans, because we are arguing that the situation is urgent: Every day that Bush is in office brings a new violation of national and international law and human decency. However, we have every intention of following this through and feel the resolution will have a better chance of passage at this next ALA national meeting.

"Though such a resolution has no precendent, the main sentiment my colleagues ran into at the ALA is that the evidence exists and is well-documented to build a reasoned, factual case for why George W. Bush should no longer hold the office of the President."

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June 23, 2006

McGavick and the Ted Stevens strategy

Posted by David Postman at 3:43 PM

Mike McGavick's campaign just issued a press release to announce that Senate Republicans will maintain the state sales tax deduction from the federal income tax:

In a meeting yesterday, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee told Mike that state sales tax deduction provisions will be included in upcoming tax legislation.

Grassley also just hosted a fundraiser for McGavick. And this is the second time that McGavick's friends among GOP senators have helped him take credit for D.C. action. He's trying to become the non-incumbent incumbent, getting credit for the good things while continuing to criticize the dysfunctional nature of Congress.

Just like with his letter to Ted Stevens in March about oil tankers, McGavick says the Senate is doing what he asked.

From the release:

Mike sent a letter to Senator Grassley last month asking that the deduction be included in a future tax package.

"There have been reports that in the near future, the Senate intends to take up a second tax package and that extension of the state sales tax deduction may be included," Mike said in his letter. "Inadvertently raising taxes on Washingtonians and the residents of the other seven states who would benefit from the extension is not the right course to keep local economies growing."

The deduction had earlier been removed from pending tax legislation, prompting Washington's Democratic senators to speak out. "Patty Murray blamed Republicans for making no commitment to what she calls an issue of fundamental tax fairness," the AP reported, and Cantwell called the decision "outrageous."

McGavick's grab for the spotlight may not sit well with Rep. Brian Baird, D-Vancouver, either. He has been the state's foremost proponent of keeping the deduction and is credited with saving it for the previous two years.

The issue has come up in a Senate race before, and caused tension among the delegation.

UPDATE: Cantwell spokeswoman Charla Neuman says by e-mail that Canwtell and Baird were responsible for extending the deduction and have been fighting to make it permanent.

"Anyone who knows this issue knows that a permanent deduction is the only way to ensure Washington families truly get tax fairness. They have been working with their colleagues on both tax committees to make sure Washingtonians will continue to receive this tax deduction. It's a shame that it's become a political toy on the other side of the aisle, but the important thing is Washington families get the tax cut they deserve."

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McGavick's shot at Cantwell falls short

Posted by David Postman at 9:44 AM

By declaring that his campaign is all about civility, Mike McGavick was inviting close scrutiny of any criticism he levels at Sen. Maria Cantwell. And a shot he took at Cantwell on her environmental record falls short.

The Yakima Herald Republic this week ran a short story about Cantwell's introduction of a bill to increase fuel efficiency standards and included a response from McGavick:

"Cantwell's likely opponent in November, former Safeco Insurance executive Mike McGavick, said he's long supported increased vehicle fuel efficiency and suggested Cantwell is late to the issue. 'The senator's been on the energy committee so she's had plenty of time to work on CAFE standards. Too bad it didn't come up six years ago,' he said."

This set off a pretty thorough fact checking on the liberal blog Hominid Views that showed Cantwell's history of support for increased corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards and raised questions about what McGavick has done to show the long support he told the Yakima paper about.

It all grew out of a few sentences in a small story, but Hominid Views and the liberal bloggers who have been picking up the post clearly see this as an opportunity to put McGavick on notice.

I asked McGavick about the claims and he told me:

"I wasn't saying that Sen. Cantwell hasn't had a view on CAFE. But I do find the timing of the introduction of the bill, in the last six months of her term, relatively late. ... All I've said is this is interesting; a lot of introduced bills and a lot of press releases as of late, as opposed to a lot of steady action over the years that might have seen results."

Hominid Views points to a speech Cantwell gave on the subject in 2002 and a vote against an amendment that would have eliminated CAFE standards. But, in fact, Cantwell has a much deeper record than that on the subject. She has co-sponsored CAFE legislation since 2001, her first year in the Senate. This is easy to check by going to the Library of Congress' site and searching for "Cantwell and fuel" to find the bills.

McGavick told me that he has spoken about CAFE and thinks its "part of the puzzle."

But there's not much of a record of that. In January McGavick gave a major environmental speech in the Tri-Cities. He doesn't mention CAFE or fuel economy. On his Web site there is a video of McGavick talking about energy and again there is no mention of CAFE or fuel economy, except in relation to electric- and hydrogen-powered cars.

McGavick's speeches may not include references to the need for more fuel efficient cars, said his spokesman, Elliot Bundy, but the subject comes up often during Q&A sessions.

He did mention it at an appearance in Gig Harbor last month with former EPA director Christine Todd Whitman. The News Tribune reported that "He suggested pursuing alternative energy sources and higher vehicle fuel economy standards."

That doesn't really back up the claim that McGavick is a long-time supporter of increased CAFE standards, or more importantly the implied claim that he has a better record on the issue than Cantwell. But maybe that starts today. McGavick is the keynote speaker at the Washington Energy and Convenience Store Conference and Bundy says "it will be a topic in his remarks this morning."

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Librarians push their call for impeachment

Posted by David Postman at 7:49 AM

In New Orleans, Seattle librarians are lobbying delegates at the American Library Association conference in the hopes of getting their call to impeach President Bush adopted as an official ALA policy.

If you read the comments in the post below you can see the debate between those who think this is an important stand for librarians to take and those who wonder what difference it could make and what, if anything, impeachment has to do with libraries.

I asked those questions of Lynn Lorenz, a Seattle librarian and member of the AFSCME local that adopted the resolution.

"Libraries don't exist in a bubble. As stated by the ALA, democracy is the core value of libraries and we're talking about unprecedented and sweeping changes by the Bush administration that, taken as whole, comprise a radical remaking of society, a society that will no longer be a democracy. ... Is it radical? It's actually what the majority of people in this country and the world would like to see. So we said it."

But in addition to seeing some special role that librarians play, Lorenz argues that more professionals should do the same.

"I think the political terrrain and the political discourse in this country would be very different if people from all walks of life, all professions, all organizations, were making strong statements that repudiate the political direction being led by the Bush administration. Right now, things are way too silent and people are beginning to get used to things they would've never found acceptable just a couple years ago. Those of us who voted in favor of the resolution want this to help break the silence and paralysis that are setting in. It's every citizen's responsibility to not conciliate with the Bush administration's crimes."
  The ALA has 65,000 members worldwide and about 18,000 expected in New Orleans, Larra Clark, the ALA's spokeswoman told me. She said it's not unusual for the ALA to consider political issues at its conferences.

"Our membership is very diverse, so there are many, many kinds of resolutions that are considered; literacy issues to school libraries, destruction of libraries in other countries, issues in the news," she said.

The group has adopted resolutions about propaganda and disinformation related the Iraq war and the Patriot Act at conferences earlier this year and in 2005.

There's a process the Seattle librarians have to follow to get their resolution debated before the ALA'a governing body. Lorenz, who is not attending the convention, said she thinks they have gotten support from members of the ALA council, which is necessary to get the issue introduced and debated. She said the ALA's Social Responsibilities Round Table is supportive and that other groups will be proposing similar resolutions that she hopes results in "one unified resolution calling for the impeachment or resignation of President Bush."

UPDATE:
To see if librarians in New Orleans were talking about the Seattle librarians' campaign, I reached Jim Rettig, a veteran member of ALA and a research librarian at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

He has served 14 years on the ALA's council, which is the 180 or so member governing board that acts on resolutions. He says he hadn't heard much about the impeachment move but that librarians are really just starting to get to town.

The ALA is set up to foster debate and discussion, he said. "We truly are committed to freedom of speech and intellectual freedom. There's no hindrances to that within our governance structure."

He said the council has been "criticized by some groups as a tool for the left. But I'm completing my third term and I would describe most of its actions as very centrist." He also said the actions are rooted in the ALA's principles.

The librarians are split on their view of the president just like the rest of the country, he said, and there was no way to predict what would happen when business meetings get underway.

"I can't think of a good precedence for this to base a good guess on," he said.

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June 22, 2006

Murray's Iraq speech echoes Darcy Burner

Posted by David Postman at 11:33 AM

The U.S. Senate, as expected, has rejected two Democratic resolutions calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Washington's Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray voted for the Levin amendment, a non-binding resolution that called on the Bush Administration to begin withdrawing troops but with no specific deadline for withdrawal. That failed on a 60-39 vote.

John Kerry's plan for a July 1, 2007 withdrawal failed 86-13.

As I watched the debate on C-Span Wednesday I was struck by these comments by Murray:

"The men and women of our military have done everything we have asked them to do. We've looked for weapons of mass destruction and found none. We got rid of Saddam Hussein. We helped the Iraqis hold elections and set up their government and security forces.

"So what is our mission today? Right now our nation's policy on Iraq is adrift. Instead of addressing this head on, the administration and this Congress continue to build on miscalculations and incompetence of the past and are dismissing any serious discussion of the challenge the American people now face."


That rang a bell. It sounded similar to what Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner says. I heard Burner at the Democratic State Convention earlier this month and was struck by the cogent summary that allowed her to criticize the Republican leadership of the war while at the same time showing support for the troops.

Here's what Burner said in Yakima:

"We asked our men and women to go take out this government that we told them was a threat to us. And they did it in less than three weeks. We asked them to ensure that there were no weapons of mass destruction and they did that. We asked them to maintain stability in the region while the Iraqis adopted a constitution and elected a new government and they did that. "And now they are sitting over there getting shot at because the Republicans in control in Washington, D.C., cannot figure out what their plan is to finish the job and bring them home and that has got to stop."

I am not suggesting plagiarism here. It's not anywhere close enough for that. But was Murray influenced by Burner's take on Iraq, was Burner influenced by someone else, or was this a passage from a Democratic talking point?

Burner's spokeswoman, Jaime Smith, said Burner has always used that approach in talking about Iraq and it did not come in some Democratic guide for talking about the war. "We were not fed that by anybody," Smith said. "It is probably a good way to communicate the frustration people are feeling," she said, adding that Murray and others may have found that it "is an effective message to pick up."

"We're happy to share with Patty," Smith said.

Murray spokeswoman Alex Glass said the senator focused on the theme of the troops having accomplished their goals by going back and looking at the original 2002 Iraq war vote that laid out what Congress was authorizing. It was clear, she said, that what the troops had been authorized to do had been done and the question became, "did we authorize them to do what they're doing there right now?"

UPDATE: I just spoke with Murray. After reading what I wrote above she said I should have been listening more carefully as she's traveled around the state in recent months.

"You have not been with me. I have been saying that for some time now," she said. Murray said she's met Burner but has not seen her speak. "I don't think it's surprising that we are saying something very similar. ... I think that's a reflection of what a lot of people are saying."

Murray said people tell her, "I don't understand why we are there now."

Murray voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq in 2002. But she has supported the supplemental appropriations for the war and occupation. While she was an early, and somewhat lonely at the time, Democratic voice against the war, she says the Kerry plan for a specific withdrawal date is the wrong approach.

"I had to work my way through that. I clearly understood that a date-certain could put our troops in jeopardy, simply by telling our enemy 'hold your breath we'll be out of there.' "

UPDATE UPDATE: You know, in the state House at least sometimes great minds just think alike.

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE: An alert reader with a better memory than mine just reminded me about something I wrote in 1999.

On Jan. 6, Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Spokane, introduced a minor bill to rename the federal courthouse in Spokane after Foley. Here is what he said in remarks printed in the Congressional Record:

"Mr. Foley personified the high ideals to which all of us aspire as members of Congress. First and foremost he was a gentleman who sought consensus. . . . He loved Congress, believing it to be the best forum for democracy in the world."

What a speech! The words were so inspiring, apparently, that a month later, when Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., introduced the companion bill in the Senate, here is what she said:

"Mr. Foley personified the high ideal to which all of us aspire as public servants and members of Congress. First and foremost he was a gentleman who sought consensus. . . . He loved Congress, and believed it to be the best forum for democracy in the world."

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June 21, 2006

McGavick says Cantwell attack ad goes too far

Posted by David Postman at 8:14 PM

Republican Senate candidate Mike McGavick issued a statement tonight saying the new TV commercial criticizing Sen. Maria Cantwell for voting against repeal of the estate tax is a personal attack and he says the Free Enterprise Fund should take it off the air.

"I have said over and over that my campaign will be a civil one that does not attack Senator Cantwell personally. While campaign finance laws prohibit me from coordinating on advertising with organizations such as the one sponsoring this particular ad, nothing prevents me from stating publicly that I disagree with the personal nature of it and I hope that it is taken off the air."

The ad, which I wrote about below, features Cantwell's head superimposed on a vulture's body.

It is not unheard of for a candidate to call on an outside group to pull an ad attacking an opponent. I can't recall an instance, though, of an ad actually being taken off the air in response.

Cantwell spokeswoman Charla Neuman said Cantwell will not support a full repeal, and said of the senator:

"She's taking the issue more seriously than how this group is treating it. Fortunately, the creepiness of an ad isn't going to be a factor for her while trying to come up with the best estate tax reform policy Congress can."

UPDATE: Phil Kerpen, policy director for the Free Enterprise Fund, says the group has no plans to take the ad down. He says the TV spots have nothing to do with the Senate race, and he doesn't think they are personal attacks.

He said versions of the vulture ad have run in other states with no complaints. "Certainly nothing like this where a Republican complained," he said.

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Murray opposes Kerry plan for Iraq withdrawal

Posted by David Postman at 1:51 PM

In the Senate just now Patty Murray said she did not support Sen. John Kerry's proposal to set a July 31, 2007 deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Instead, Murray backs the proposal by Michigan Democrat Carl Levin to begin "redeploying" troops by Dec. 31, but sets no deadline for complete withdrawl.

The Senate today is debating the two Democratic resolutions. Murray has been a strong opponent of the war and voted against the initial congressional authorization for the invasion. But she said she could not support the Kerry plan.

"Like all of us I want the troops home as soon as possible. In fact I think they should start coming home this year. It is absolutely time for a new strategy in Iraq. An arbitrary specific date for full withdrawal, however, could force us to ignore facts on the ground, facts that have a direct impact on the security of our troops or the interest of our nation."

Murray, though, accused the Bush administration of playing politics with the war and being dishonest about it with the American public.

"Right now our nation's policy on Iraq is adrift. Instead of addressing this head on, the administration and this Congress continue to build on miscalculations and incompetence of the past and are dismissing any serious discussion of the challenges the American people now face.

"Instead of working to unite this nation behind a common purpose in defense of our security and freedom, the president and his aides are using the war as political fodder for the next election cycle, instead of being honest with the American people about the costs of our efforts and the sacrifice necessary to support them."

On the question of troop withdrawal, this puts Murray in the same vicinity as Maria Cantwell, who has rejected calls for an early, date-certain, withdrawal. It'll be interesting to see if Cantwell gets a break from the anti-war wing of her party now that she is more aligned with Murray, who has superior anti-war credentials.

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Librarians want Bush impeached

Posted by David Postman at 10:43 AM

At the American Library Association's annual conference that opens Thursday in New Orleans, the union representing Seattle library employees will introduce a resolution calling on President Bush to resign or be impeached.

The resolution says that "Librarians are among the preeminent defenders of intellectual freedom and government openness in the U.S." and includes a list of offenses by Bush, "many of which are indictably criminal" and include the "illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq," torture and domestic eavesdropping. The librarians specifically note the U.S. Patriot Act, which they say allows the government to snoop on library patrons.

The librarians will also introduce the resolution at their union's national convention in Chicago in August and have pledged to join the anti-Bush group, The World Can't Wait, which is calling for a "Day of Mass Resistance" against Bush in October.

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New estate tax attack on Cantwell

Posted by David Postman at 7:48 AM

Grandpa didn't work, so now come the vultures. The Free Enterprise Fund, a business lobby group with solid GOP ties, is running a new TV ad in Washington state today attacking Sen. Maria Cantwell for her vote against permanent repeal of the estate tax.

The ad features vultures circling, feasting on a carcass and then superimposes the senator's head on a vulture, because, as the ad says in case the metaphor is lost, "It's a vulture of a tax." Last month the group aired a commercial showing an old man and a young boy going fishing with sentimental music as the soundtrack to the anti-tax entreaty.

The group was founded by Stephen Moore who used to lead the Club for Growth, a major source of Republican campaign money, and has been dogging Cantwell since last year.

There have been many national reports that Cantwell is one of the Democratic senators that Bill Frist is looking to for a possible vote on another run at estate tax repeal. It's not clear how sticking Cantwell's head on a vulture will affect that effort, but the Free Enterprise Fund isn't interested in a compromise that has been talked about as a way to get Democratic votes. The group's communications director, Todd Schorle, told me this morning, "We are still in this for the full repeal and we want to educate people about Cantwell's vote and that she has a second chance to do right here and vote for repeal."

It is not clear how many times the ad will air here. It is part of a $3.7 million nationwide campaign. Schorle would not say how much of that has been spent on TV time here, but did say "the only way you would not see this ad is if all you watch is PBS."

UPDATE: It's not just pro-business, conservative groups that dislike the idea of a compromise on repealing the estate tax. From the other side of the spectrum, and the other side of the country, the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, issued a paper with its critique of the plan by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, which has been touted as a possible compromise to win Democratic votes.


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June 20, 2006

Gambling Commission director responds

Posted by David Postman at 4:21 PM

Rick Day, director of the Washington State Gambling Commission, has responded in the comments about the post below about the crackdown on Internet gambling. His comments include these on how the state views online players, as opposed to operators of the casinos:

"As for players, gambling on the Internet, whether playing poker, slots or another gambling game, runs a risk of a felony conviction. However, there is not going to be an active campaign against regular players. If players' names appear in an operator's seized records, the Gambling Commission would likely send the player a warning letter, notifying them that betting online is a felony. If a player's name reappears again, charges may be filed."

Day's comments have spurred more discussion and I wanted to draw attention to it.

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Regional FEMA director gets Snohomish job

Posted by David Postman at 4:13 PM

Remember John Pennington? He's the regional FEMA director who got caught up in Brownie-gate following Hurricane Katrina with a story here about his thin resume for the job, which helped propel him to the No. 2 spot in The New Republic's list of the Bush Hackocracy (subscription required).

Frankly I'm not sure he deserved that dishonor, having carried out the job without crisis, even if he did get the gig on his bona fides of running a mom and pop coffee company and being a Republican state legislator. But he was in the wrong job at the wrong time to have a diploma from a questionable college and no experience in the field.

But a year later it hasn't hurt his ability to get a job. He's been appointed director of Snohomish County's Department of Emergency Management. He's still at FEMA until July 10 and has to be confirmed by the county council for the new job.

County officials told the Herald they were well aware of Pennington's background, including his degree from a diploma mill, and county executive Aaron Reardon says Pennington's "references from state disaster officials are impeccable."

Pennington took some shots because he was a former Republican lawmaker hired by a Republican president with a series of questionable appointments. Now, though, Pennington has that experience and Reardon's hiring decision can't be seen through the same political lens given that the county executive is a Democrat.

(I removed a link here, and comments related to it, because in consultation with my editor it was decided it didn't meet our standards.)

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Even ruled unconstitutional, Eyman initiative has power

Posted by David Postman at 8:57 AM

Gov. Christine Gregoire's announcement that she'll back property tax relief if Tim Eyman's Initiative 747 is ruled unconstitutional is yet further proof of something smart Eyman once said: His initiatives can carry political power even if they are stripped of any legal power.

And I'm sure he takes comfort in that, given how many court fights he has lost.

The best example of this Eyman rule is Initiative 695. The 1999 initiative that eliminated the state car registration tax was opposed by Democrats as a devastating blow to transportation funding. But the day the initiative was ruled unconstitutional by a King County Superior Court judge, Democrats were in a tizzy as they rushed to protect the tax-cutting measure. Then-Gov. Gary Locke demanded "the Legislature act in special session to remove any doubt in voters' minds that the cheap, flat-tax car tabs are here to stay."

Eyman had some heartburn with seeing Locke become the champion of the lower car taxes, but in the end he said he didn't care how it happened.

"There are a thousand different ways to skin this cat, whether it's the court approving of 695, or the legislators getting off their duffs, or us running another initiative in the future."

Opponents of I-747 said the 1 percent cap on property tax increases was a threat to "basic local services," including fire protection and hospitals. They argued that taxes were not overly burdensome and "lower than many similar states."

Gregoire's comment Monday that "We need to make sure that people can afford to pay their property taxes" is a mild version of Eyman's voter's pamphlet statement that the initiative was needed "so working class families and senior citizens, and not just rich people, can afford to buy and own homes."

There are no details on what Gregoire or Democratic lawmakers will offer for property tax relief. But one wonders what the firefighters, nurses, librarians and others who fought against I-747 think about their friends in the Democratic party joining Eyman's cause. I'll ask them and see.

UPDATE: The Washington State Council of Firefighters, the most visible piece of the anti-I 747 campaign, has a note of caution for politicians rushing to replace unconstitutional property tax limits. The union's legislative liaison, Bud Sizemore told me:

"Our organization would hope that the Legislature does not just react to 747 and slap another 1 percent on there when local governments have already been hurting over the last several years trying to deal within that 1 percent."

And union president Kelly Fox said he hopes that the governor will include firefighters and other 747 opponents in any discussions about new property tax limits.

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June 19, 2006

Gregoire worries about North Korea attack, wants troops out of Iraq

Posted by David Postman at 5:55 PM

Gov. Christine Gregoire says the threat of an attack by North Korea convinces her that U.S. troops should leave Iraq as soon as possible. Gregoire told reporters this morning that she talked over the weekend with the head of the Washington National Guard, Major Gen. Timothy Lowenberg, who convinced her that America's defenses are down because of the war effort.

Gregoire made her statement at the end of her regular media availability. Rather than take a last question from the press, she told reporters:

"I've wanted to respond to the very disturbing news this morning of North Korea and a three-stage rocket that literally could reach Seattle. And I wanted to do so by saying to people of the state of Washington, this reinforces me and the state that our security is going to have to be at the forefront of our thinking and our attention — that in fact out there remains considerable risk around the world. Not just to Washington state but to the entire country. And I think that also tells me very clearly, in talking to General Lowenberg, that it is very important that we, as timely as we possibly can, ensure that we are turning Iraq over to the Iraqi people and bringing our troops home so they are ready and prepared to do whatever is necessary to defend this country.


"I'm disturbed by what we're hearing. It is not the news that I think any of us should have to hear from North Korea and I want Washingtonians to understand the security risks to the nation and to us, but to understand that we've got to remain ever diligent and I ask every Washingtonian to be smart about their own personal security, and again any time they see something that raises a concern they get to law enforcement right away."

This was unusual for Gregoire. She hasn't spoken about Iraq before. She doesn't bring up international matters unless they connect pretty directly with the state. It was the news that Seattle could be reached by a North Korea rocket attack that prompted her comments, said communications director Holly Armstrong. The governor is alarmed enough about the North Korea news that she and Lowenberg talked about "tabletop exercises" for the guard "because the security and safety of Washingtonians has to be our No. 1 priority."

Gregoire said earlier this month that she would not order any Washington National Guard troops to the Mexico border as part of President Bush's immigration enforcement plan. She said that duty would be voluntary.

While Gregoire has stayed away from foreign policy, she has been asserting the state's international standing, saying Washington "is more like a small nation than a state." Apparently she now will make sure that the nation-state is well defended.

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Gay group to back two in 43rd District race

Posted by David Postman at 11:48 AM

I see I've been beat on this, but when the Seattle Metropolitan Elections Committee, "Rating candidates on issues of importance to the LGBT community since 1977," candidate ratings come out — which is expected to happen today — there will be two people endorsed in the 43rd District, Jamie Pedersen and Lynne Dodson.

We cover the race today with a story about those who argue the 43rd should be a "gay seat." That has Dan Savage reacting.

Here's the e-mail that went out to the SEAMEC listserve Friday:


Hello all,

Here is a recap of this evening's ratings. All ratings have been adjusted
based on SC decision to rate on median as opposed to average interview
scores.

43rd House

*
Lynne Dodson AAABB 5 (Endorsed)
*
Dick Kelley AAABA 4
*
Linde Knighton (postponed until general election - this information
will not appear on ratings sheet/ad, but candidate will be notified)
*
Jamie Pedersen AABAA 5 (Endorsed)
*
Stephanie Pure ABBBB 3
*
Bill Sherman AAAAA 3
*
Jim Street AAAAA 3


43rd Senate

*
Ed Murray AAAAA 5 (Endorsed)

48th Senate

*
Luke Esser di 0
*
Rodney Tom AAAAA 4 (Endorsed)

Again, candidates will be notified on Sunday morning (it gives me a day to
work on the announcements/press release). The announcement will go to SEAMEC members Sunday afternoon and the press release to the press Sunday evening for publication on Monday (or after).

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NASCAR cash, strip club cash and other news

Posted by David Postman at 7:56 AM

I missed this in last week's News Tribune. Business columnist Dan Voelpel has interesting news about the proposed NASCAR track and its connections to a Tacoma car museum, as well as recent and apparently unusual NASCAR-related campaign donations to Norm Dicks and Patty Murray.

In December, James France, of Daytona Beach, Fla., donated $2,000 to "Norm Dicks for Congress," which might not seem unusual. Until you review Federal Elections Commission records that show France has contributed to 30 congressional campaigns since 1997 — 26 of them those of Republicans. Other James France contributions went to the Republican National Committee, Republican state committees and President Bush. Other members of the France family in Florida — also consistent Republican donors — have donated in the last few months to Dicks and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

More from Pierce County: Here's a report from the county's GOP chair on Friday's presidential visit. From up close we get a report that Bush showed "every mannerism the press whines about but that are endearing to Americans."

One self-proclaimed "violence worker" is crowing about the small protests against the Bush visit.

The Wall Street Journal says Congress may make another run on repealing the estate tax before the July 4th break, and again GOP leaders are looking to Maria Cantwell as a possible vote.

Republicans say Democrats have their own candidates to help, such as Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, who was one of the swing votes against permanent repeal last week and is running for re-election in a state where the estate tax is a hot issue.

On The Stranger's blog Erica C. Barnett is following donations to the campaign to repeal the city's strip club ordinance. The group, Seattle Citizens for Free Speech, has collected more than half a million dollars. See the reports here and last week's additional $25,000 here.

The money comes entirely from the operators of Seattle's strip clubs. On the group's Web site the organization attacks the nanny city and its new strip club regulations.

Is this the type of City we want? Where the Council plays the role of nanny, unnecessarily restricting our choices of legal adult entertainment?

We think the City has more important issues to attend to. Let's reject these misguided, nanny-state rules and regulations.

They don't like nannies, but they are for women finding work.

These establishments provide a viable high-wage job for many women who are raising families and earning college degrees. If we shut down the clubs, we will put these women out of work.

The group and its seattlefreespeech.org Web site should not be confused with freespeechseattle.org, the group that tried to repeal the city's poster ban.

UPDATE: The campaign manager, Timothy Killian, just told me that about half the group's money went to collecting the signatures for the referendum. But once the city council officially puts it on the ballot this fall, Killian says his group has a "commitment to running a visible campaign."

Most of the money has come from Seattle Amusement Co., Inc., the company that owns the Déjà vu strip club, and the Colacurcio's Lake City LLC, which operates Rick's.

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June 16, 2006

Postman ducks the Prez

Posted by David Postman at 8:45 AM

I'll be taking the day off. Just like Mike McGavick's, my son is graduating from high school this week. I have family in town and that trumps covering the president. (Doesn't that make me sound like a politician?) At least it trumps sitting at Boeing Field for a few hours for a glimpse of Bush, since the press is not going to be allowed anywhere near the event.

I don't know if Democrats will use this opportunity to try to show me as a rubberstamp for Bush scurrying out of town to avoid the comparisons. But if you look at the polls, the press comes out below the president so maybe Bush is just trying to avoid being seen with me.

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Groen v. Alexander, a difference of more than style

Posted by David Postman at 7:50 AM

My column today is about the Supreme Court race between Chief Justice Gerry Alexander and challenger John Groen. To really get a good flavor of their different approaches here are transcripts of the speeches they gave at the state Republican convention.

You can also watch or listen to them at TVW. Groen is about 33 minutes in on the file, and Alexander is at about 1:03.

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June 15, 2006

Bush/Kerry proxy rematch in the 8th

Posted by David Postman at 3:54 PM

On the same day President Bush goes to Medina to raise money for Congressman Dave Reichert, his 2004 opponent in the presidential race, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, will be in San Francisco raising money for Darcy Burner, Reichert's Democratic opponent.

Burner flies to San Francisco tomorrow to appear with Kerry at a fundraiser. Already, Kerry has used his national e-mail list to raise more than $27,000 for Burner, according to Burner campaign manager Zach Silk.

"He's just been incredible," Silk said of Kerry.

The S.F. event, Silk said, is at the home of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and is part of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Red to Blue program, which gives targeted help to Democratic challengers.

Bush can raise more money tomorrow. But in the 8th District, Kerry was a bit more popular than Bush in the 2004 election. Kerry got 51 percent of the vote, while Bush got 48.

UPDATE: Here's Reichert's welcome to the President.

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Cantwell opponent says Vietnamese-Americans deserve a U.S. Senator

Posted by David Postman at 11:38 AM

Hong Tran, one of two anti-war Democrats running against Maria Cantwell in the primary, is morphing her campaign into a nationwide effort to sell herself as a candidate not just for a Senate seat from Washington, but as a senator for Vietnamese immigrants wherever they may live in the country.

In a "call to the Vietnamese community nationwide" today, Tran said, "There are over a million Vietnamese-Americans in this country. We deserve a U.S. Senator, but I need your help to make that happen."

From the statement: "Tran hopes that her campaign will give voice to a nationwide Vietnamese community that currently has very little political representation."

Tran, an attorney with the Northwest Justice Project, was a refugee from the Vietnam War who came to the states when she was 8 years old. She says she's getting support from around the country as Asian newspapers report on the campaign.

A May 13 article in the Northwest Asian Weekly, still available on the paper's homepage, says, "While her ethnic background has no bearing on why she is running, Hong said, it's critical that Congress be a reflection of the people it represents."

"The U.S. was founded on immigrant labor and sweat. ... When we look to Congress, we mainly see white men legislators, (and) that sends a really powerful message to the minorities who are struggling. 'Those are the people in power, and I'm not there,' and, 'They're making laws that are affecting my life, and they're not getting it,' " Tran said.

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Online gambling ban was easy sell with lawmakers

Posted by David Postman at 8:12 AM

Danny Westneat has a column this morning about the real effects of a bill passed by this year's Legislature to clarify the state ban on internet gambling. In brief, the law is being used to crack down on people who don't just operate online gambling sites, but who write about them.

I didn't pay much attention to this year's legislative session and wondered what sort of debate took place about legislation that would have the state gambling commission threatening poker columnists.

In a House Commerce and Labor Committee hearing Feb. 22, Rick Day, director of the state gambling commission, told committee chairman Rep. Steve Conway that the bill was drafted to allow the commission to crack down on "what we're really pursuing here, which is the larger Internet providers and those third parties that are deliberately facilitating the activity."

Committee staff explained the bill was "reaffirming and clarifying" laws about gambling. This reminds me of something a lobbyist told me in Alaska many years ago: Beware the clarifications and watch out for the house-keeping and the "good little bill." In committee and in floor debate, this bill was explained as updating a law that banned gambling by telephone, telegraph, radio or semaphore.

Here's the entire Senate debate, held Feb. 14.

Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Seattle, prime sponsor of Senate Bill 6613:

"This bill clarifies that using the Internet to place wagers on activities regulated by the gambling commission or to play the state lottery are prohibited; requires a 60 percent majority vote of the state Legislature to authorize the state lottery to offer games played through any device, including electronic scratch tickets machines that electronically replicate any game of chance. New communication technologies and variations of electronic gambling have come into existence since gambling by electronic media was prohibited by the Gambling Act of 1973. This also clarifies exactly what it is that people can do. The state has to be extremely careful in legitimizing these games. Please vote yes."

That was it. The Senate voted unanimously for the bill. The House voted 93-5 two weeks later.

UPDATE: This is in the comments, but if you're looking for more on this check out Washington Votes.

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June 14, 2006

Republican olive branch on county elections?

Posted by David Postman at 5:22 PM

Tuesday's news that Dean Logan was resigning as King County elections chief brought calls to party, paeans to Logan, and reprimands for the "partisan extremists," "unscrupulous people" and "unhinged partisan critics" blamed for Logan's departure.

But lost among all that, at least in my in-box, was a call for a truce in King County's election wars. Michael Young, chairman of the King County Republican Party, issued a statement Tuesday night not only congratulating Logan and wishing him well — with sincerity I think — but said the county's problems can't all be laid at Logan's feet.

"Many of those problems in the Department of Records, Elections and Licensing existed before Dean Logan arrived, and remain today. But his departure offers the citizens of King County a unique opportunity to resolve the one issue that has divided us so bitterly. ...

"I call upon the leadership of the Democratic Party to work together with the KCGOP and all interested groups and citizens, to set aside our partisan differences and help HEAL our community by working in a bipartisan manner on these issues."

I just talked briefly with Young. He said Logan's departure "provides an opportunity for a fresh start" and thinks that at least some Republicans on the council agree and are ready to set aside some of the harsh rhetoric that has been heard for two years.

It is true that Logan's departure may take care of one big problem, or at least put it off, now that county-wide vote-by-mail looks unlikely by next year. That's got to help. And there may be Republicans on the council ready to move on. But the conservatives' No. 1 voice on the issue of elections clearly is not.

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State will appeal Eyman initiative case

Posted by David Postman at 4:18 PM

Attorney General Rob McKenna just announced he will appeal Tuesday's ruling by King County Superior Judge Mary Roberts that threw out Tim Eyman's Initiative 747.

In making his announcement, McKenna said the "ruling is disturbing in two ways." My quick, non-lawyerly read is that one of those is more compelling than the other.

McKenna's statement says the decision "overturns the will of the people." Well, that happens. And the state Supreme Court has upheld lower court decisions that invalidated initiatives. Even a lot of votes don't solve constitutional problems.

McKenna says the second reason is that Roberts "sets an impossible hurdle for those seeking to exercise their constitutional right to initiative." Roberts said the initiative was unconstitutional because it amended a property tax law that had been amended itself by an earlier Eyman initiative, I-722. But in the time between when I-747 was drafted and voters had their say, I-722 was ruled unconstitutional — see a pattern with Eyman's initiatives? — and that meant the new initiative was amending a law that no longer existed.

State attorneys argued before Roberts, and now will do the same at the Supreme Court, that it's impossible for initiative sponsors to be able to predict what would happen to underlying laws in the months that pass between drafting an initiative and the fall vote.

"Penalizing voters because the initiative drafters failed to predict whether or not I-722 would be upheld is bad public policy that severely damages the people's power of initiative," McKenna said.

And that doesn't just worry initiative writers. Legislative staff is worried, too, state assistant attorney general Jim Pharris told me this morning. He had already gotten calls from legislative staff worried about how Roberts' ruling might affect their work.

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HIgh court candidate says he's target of state "political ambush"

Posted by David Postman at 10:29 AM

The Times has a story this morning about Supreme Court candidate John Groen's fundraising rush right before new campaign donation limits went into effect.

Groen's campaign is using that new limit to try to scare up more donations, painting the conservative attorney as the target of a political attack. A fund raising letter dated June 1 from Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman, Jr., closes with this p.s.:

Just yesterday, the Public Disclosure Commission (who oversees campaign contributions and practices) passed an emergency rule aimed specifically to prohibit John Groen from using legal contributions raised so far! This appears to be nothing other than a political ambush. So, we desperately need your financial support. Please cut out the form below and return in the envelope provided as soon as you can.

The PDC did approve an emergency rule May 31. The law passed by the Legislature said campaigns covered by the new limits had to "spend" any money before June 7 that otherwise would be above the new campaign limits. The PDC had to decide what "spend" meant. The commission adopted a rule that said the money had to be used to buy goods or services that were used by the deadline. That meant a campaign could not buy TV time for October and say it was spent. It had to be used up by June 7.

Was it directed just at Groen? No, said PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson. When the PDC staff was preparing to notify candidates about the pending rule-making, in April, there were a number of candidates who appeared like they would be over the limit, but Groen was not one of them, she said. The new limits govern court races and county offices.

But direct mail often works best with some fear factor thrown in. And conservative candidates for the court this year are clearly trying to run against the establishment. Judicial candidates aren't allowed to say much about their political leanings and positions on specific political issues, but certainly there are messages for voters in portraying the candidate as the target of a "political ambush" by state regulators.

Groen's campaign did amp up spending before the deadline and likely got rid of anything that would have been above the limit, said campaign manager Laurel Christiansen:

"It was just exciting. ... especially for a woman that loves to shop."

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Cantwell calls for Haditha investigation

Posted by David Postman at 8:14 AM

During debate this morning on an emergency supplemental bill with money for Iraq and Afghanistan, Sen. Maria Cantwell called for a congressional investigation of the killings in Haditha:

"The United State must make sure it does not ever condone indiscriminate, deliberate, killings of civilians."

She said soldiers accused of wrongdoing should be subject to the military justice system:

"But I think we should also play our oversight role here in Congress and make sure that Congress is not leaving the investigation of this issue simply up to the Department of Defense. We need to make sure that Congress is also investigating this issue and giving the accountability and oversight that everyone deserves."

Cantwell also called on President Bush to appoint a special envoy to Iraq, suggesting Bill Clinton or the president's father for the job.

Cantwell's stance on the war has put her at odds with anti-war Democratic activists. The speech this morning didn't include any dramatic turns for Cantwell. But she continued to stress what she has said about 2006 needing to be a year of transition and talked tough about holding the Administration accountable, including the Department of Defense's goal of training and equipping 325,000 Iraqi troops by the end of the year.

"I want to make sure that Congress in our budget process holds them accountable to meeting those goals. This is for the sake of the troops that are on the ground and for our own security; to make sure that the Iraqi government knows that we want the security responsibilities transitioned to them. And we must make it clear that the United States will not stay in Iraq indefinitely.

"I take Prime Minister Maliki at his word. He basically has said that the Iraqi forces could take complete control of security within the next 18 months and that the new government could deal with the militias and that the security forces would take control as quickly as possible. I think we need to continue to push that issue and make sure that we are meeting the milestones that will help that event occur as soon as possible."

UPDATE: Here's the transcript of Cantwell's comments.

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June 13, 2006

Pastor questions Eyman's motives, says he broke agreement

Posted by David Postman at 7:54 PM

(See update below for Eyman's charge he is being blackmailed.)

Joseph Fuiten, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Network and the pastor who worked most closely with Tim Eyman on the anti-gay rights initiative, has new details and new criticisms of Eyman's role in the campaign.

In an e-mailed statement tonight Fuiten said Eyman broke his agreement with religious leaders and when questioned, essentially lawyered up and refused to talk to his partners in the Christian community. Fuiten also questions Eyman's motives for taking on a campaign to repeal the gay rights law.

"We printed up thousands of petitions with our return address on them. We wanted to promote the effort and keep tabs on the progress. Tim Eyman was very upset by our plans and communicated the same to many. He wanted all the petitions to bear only his name so all the forms would go to his office in Spokane. In exchange for Faith and Freedom Network stepping out of the role we had planned, Tim agreed to allow us access to the petitions as they came in. We withdrew our petitions and everything flowed through Tim's office. When we requested access to the information as he had agreed with me, Tim told us to have our lawyer contact his lawyer. He broke the agreement without even talking to me, and kept us in the dark thereafter as to the progress.

"We invested $53,000 in the effort. Tim said he spent $14,000. I can appreciate the effort that Tim made in this cause, although I am not sure of his motives. He never was involved in the gay rights issue in the years it was in the legislature so it makes me wonder if his interests were mercenary rather than in the actual issue."

Fuiten and others in his group have been critical of Eyman's role. But this is the most pointed, and most detailed, critique yet.

Eyman has been uncharacteristically defensive about the failure of R-65. He has been e-mailing reporters statements from other religious leaders with good things to say, but who were not as actively involved as Fuiten. He also sent a massive e-mail excerpting every piece of reporting and every quote that would explain the defeat on something other than what the pastors say were his own short-comings.

Eyman forwarded a message from Restore America, which defended Eyman and took a shot at Fuiten and his allies:

"No doubt, you are aware of the public lashing Tim Eyman has received over the failed R-65 campaign, and not only from the media, which was expected, but also from a couple of self-appointed spokespersons for the Washington State faith community. I can assure you these men and their organization speak only for themselves."

Restore America is an Oregon group. Another group, Sound the Alarm, blamed R-65's failure on a failure of faith:

"It would be easy to blame others at this time when the blame should fall squarely on us. I'm not talking about political missteps or lack of organization that brought us to where we are today. I'm talking about the condition of the Church of Jesus Christ in Washington State."

UPDATE: Eyman just sent an e-mail that includes what he says is a transcript of a phone message left earlier today on his cell phone by Fuiten:

"Tim, Joe Fuiten calling. I'm in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Hey, I would still like to get those names on the petitions. And I have a proposal for you: if you turn over to me the petitions, I will make sure that nothing more is said in public by Faith & Freedom, or in private for that matter by any of us or me or my employees or whoever, that would be negative of you. That's my suggestion to you. We agreed you'd turn those names over to us in our agreement and I would like for you to follow through on that even at this stage of the game. You've got my cell phone number 425-###-#### or an email, either one. Thank you, sir. Bye."

Eyman said in his e-mail to reporters and supporters:

We're not going to be intimidated or blackmailed into allowing these citizens who signed these petitions to have their names and addresses used by Faith & Freedom and anyone else to do anything other than seeking a public vote on HB 2661.

Was Fuiten blackmailing Eyman or was he giving Eyman one more chance to turn over the petitions as he had promised? Certainly Fuiten is playing hardball.

Eyman is well used to being criticized and even demonized by opponents, from the Legislature, local governments, Democrats, mass transit advocates, David Goldstein and editorial writers and columnists across the state. But Fuiten was an ally, not an opponent. He had an inside view of how Eyman operates. He clearly has gotten under Eyman's skin.

Here's the full text of Fuiten's statement:

Dr. Fuiten's Response to Washington Referendum 65

The failure of the Referendum on gay rights is a disappointment to us all. This issue is one that Faith and Freedom Network has worked on for the past 13 years. We fought it every year in Olympia under the able leadership of our lobbyist, Bob Higley. We put our heart and soul into the referendum effort for these last months. For me, to believe in biblical righteousness is to take a stand on this issue. We will continue to work through the various processes to stand for righteousness until the Lord comes.

Since I am still on an extended trip, I have not commented on the failure except as reported by others. Let me tell you in my own words of concerns that I have. When the Legislature passed the bill that we fought so strongly, we determined to do what we could to win. We planned a full-scale effort of multiple facets. We printed up thousands of petitions with our return address on them. We wanted to promote the effort and keep tabs on the progress. Tim Eyman was very upset by our plans and communicated the same to many. He wanted all the petitions to bear only his name so all the forms would go to his office in Spokane. In exchange for Faith and Freedom Network stepping out of the role we had planned, Tim agreed to allow us access to the petitions as they came in. We withdrew our petitions and everything flowed through Tim's office. When we requested access to the information as he had agreed with me, Tim told us to have our lawyer contact his lawyer. He broke the agreement without even talking to me, and kept us in the dark thereafter as to the progress.

We invested $53,000 in the effort. Tim said he spent $14,000. I can appreciate the effort that Tim made in this cause, although I am not sure of his motives. He never was involved in the gay rights issue in the years it was in the legislature so it makes me wonder if his interests were mercenary rather than in the actual issue. Tim was the quarterback of this team but the running backs and ends did not know where we were on the field. We knew there was a goal line but as the weeks wore on, we never knew if we were close or distant. Tim kept that to himself. It was not a victory formula.

Faith and Freedom Network has been in this and other spiritual battles for years. We intend to remain faithful through all the ups and downs as we have in the past. We hope that you will do the same.

I am uncertain as to the full extent of how the Lord intends to use this in our lives. Certainly part of the message is that the bible-believing church must awaken and take responsibility to present all God's message to this generation. The apostate church has no shame in promoting their message. Another part is to remind us that all that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. We have had way too much of doing nothing.

I am guessing now that the court may kick the gay marriage issue back into the legislature. If so, we will have opportunity to revisit some of these issues then. If the court imposes gay marriage then we will have the chance to vote on them in November. Either way there is plenty to do in the days ahead.

God Bless You,
Dr. Joseph B. Fuiten
Faith and Freedom Network

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Eyman loses another

Posted by David Postman at 3:27 PM

King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts has struck down Tim Eyman's 2001 property tax initiative because the ballot title was misleading. AP has the story:

"The voters were incorrectly led to believe they were voting to amend I-722," Roberts said. "The voters were misled as to the nature and content of the law to be amended, and the effect of the amendment upon it. The (state) constitution forbids this."

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Dean Logan resigns

Posted by David Postman at 7:41 AM

The resignation of elections director Dean Logan means King County may not be able to make its 2007 deadline for countywide mail-in voting. But County Executive Ron Sims has not yet given up trying to implement the plan in time for next year's primary election, Sims spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said this morning.

Kaushik said Sims expects a difficult time finding a replacement for Logan "because of what Ron has described as this toxic political environment surrounding King County Elections. ... King County elections has essentially turned into a partisan issue in a way that really undermines our ability to restore public trust and confidence in the election system."

At horsesass, David Goldstein says Logan has "been incessantly vilified by the GOP and their surrogates."

"A colorless bureaucrat in the best sense of the word, Logan has simply had enough of the abuse."
And when Goldstein says surrogates, he includes blogger Stefan Sharkansky, who has written more about Logan than anyone, and none of it nice. He's restrained so far this morning at Sound Politics.

Republicans have definitely made Logan a target. In the 2005 trial on the governor's election, the GOP legal strategy hinged on trying to show corruption in the elections division to steal the election from Dino Rossi. They showed some bumbling to be sure. But Chelan County Superior Court Judge John. Bridges found no corruption.

More recently there has been growing discontent from the left about King County elections and the plan by Sims and Logan to convert to countywide vote-by-mail. As one commenter put it on the liberal washblog site:

"On this issue, there are no Democrats and Republicans and there are no liberals and conservatives. There are only those who value the convenience of elections officials uber alles and those who have a fecking clue what is at stake when we don't have election transparency with checks and balances and public oversight at every step. "

Not all on the left have been open to criticism of the Democrats who run county elections. Washblog's resident vote-by-mail critic has been called on the site the "Right's Useful Idiot," a "paranoid weirdo," a "LaRouchian," and a "flat-earther."

Logan is taking a job in Los Angeles as deputy elections registrar. His new boss is Conny McCormack, who has been a long-time fan of Logan's, dating back to the height of the 2004 election controversy:

When Logan's most acerbic critics likened King County's election conduct to abuses in Ukraine and Chicago, auditors from other counties offered support. Los Angeles County Auditor Conny McCormack conducted media interviews and offered to fly to Seattle.

UPDATE: Here's Logan's statement:

UPDATE: Sims just released a statement expressing his sadness at losing Logan to L.A. Sims has some tough words for what he said was A "barrage of harsh personal attacks" on Logan "by some partisan extremists and elected officials," some of whom he refers to as "unscrupulous people" and "unhinged partisan critics."

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June 12, 2006

The (attractive) audacity of Locke's transportation group

Posted by David Postman at 10:24 AM

I just talked (and e-mailed) with Jessyn Schor, the executive director of Transportation Choices and one of the co-chairs of the new transportation committee headed by former Gov. Gary Locke. Locke is the chairman and Schor and talk show host John Carlson are the co-chairs.

Schor says she and Carlson, because of their past opposition to a gas tax increase for far different reasons, are also the two "outliers" in the group:

"I have no idea whether we will actually be able to come up with a set of recommendations that John and I are both willing to endorse, but I am attracted to the audacity of such an endeavor, and am therefore willing to see what happens when we try to seek common ground."

The three have met once, Schor said, and agreed to some ground rules "to protect our ability to talk openly." She didn't want to say much about that since the group has yet to officially launch. But I'm willing to guess they at least have agreed not to trash each other in the process of seeing if they can agree on a transportation and tax plan to sell to the voters next year.

As the green voice on the panel, Schor said she wants to avoid what happened with the defeat of the gas tax in 2002:

"In other words, another Hobson's choices where environmentalists are forced to choose between endorsing an enormous investment in highways with some modest transit investments or opposing the whole package with the result of maintaining a status quo transportation system that frankly doesn't work."

The committee is being organized by consultants at the Gallatin Group — both Chris Vance and John Wilson are involved there — and will be run with the help of the Discovery Institute's Cascadia Center, which has been working with business, labor and environmentalists on transportation issues. They've had some success finding common ground.

Skepticism about the effort from the left, and the right.

UPDATE: Former Gov. Gary Locke says he's getting a good response from his e-mail to business leaders and others looking for support and money to get his new transportation group off the ground. In a telephone interview Locke told me that the effort starts with a blank slate about how big the plan will be.

Sound Transit and the Regional Transportation Investment District have talked about projects totaling between $13 billion to $16 billion. But Locke said "we're going to look at it fresh" and no one should assume that's the price range.

Locke said he was asked to head the effort by a number of people, though he wouldn't say who. He said when the Legislature this year linked the transit and road projects — both would need to be approved by voters next year — "the net effect was to force the two sides together."

"This is an opportunity for the roads people to weigh in on transit and the transit people to weigh in on roads," Locke said. And with John Carlson, the anti-tax people will have their chance, too. "John Carlson has always said if it's the right set of projects he'd be willing to pay more," Locke said.

UPDATE UPDATE: John Arthur Wilson from the Gallatin Group says Cascadia has agreed to pay $30,000 for seed money for the effort. The Locke group wants to use polling, focus groups and the "on-line digital community" to get public input.

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McGavick may be ahead in battle of the Web

Posted by David Postman at 7:39 AM

UPDATE: The Maurone critique seems to have been done right before a new version of Cantwell's Web site went up for testing. The new one is online for debugging purposes and is set to be announced tomorrow. So poli-geeks, watch carefully and send me your reviews.

UPDATE UPDATE: Maurone has posted comments on the new site.


A Microsoft program manager has posted on his personal blog a comparison and contrast of the campaign Web sites of Maria Cantwell and Mike McGavick. And despite Cantwell's obviously superior high-tech credentials — she's a former senior vice president of RealNetworks — Jeff Maurone says in an open letter to Cantwell that McGavick's site is the real deal.

"At your site, I find a few bland and dry pages, some non-changing content, nine (count 'em) photos stretching back a few years, a page to submit information to volunteer (I haven't heard back yet), and — actually, that's about it. When I go to Mike McGavick's site I am bombarded with all of the 'right' tools needed to run a progressive campaign ..."

Maurone argues it matters.

"Until your web-site learns to love the netroots, it will become more and more difficult to follow your campaign and be passionate about it."

In Spokane, Doug Dobbins has some thoughts on political Web sites, too. He's an IT guy who ran for the state House as a Democrat, and if you get past the deep geek stuff in his critique of political consultant Christian Sinderman's new Web site, he too, gets on the McGavick Web bandwagon.

"Heck this man did not even work for Real, but could make a play that he is the real tech candidate."

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June 10, 2006

New transportation campaign with new coalition

Posted by David Postman at 6:11 PM

In the News Tribune Joe Turner has the scoop on a new effort "to win passage for a hefty package of transportation taxes in the Puget Sound." The new group is looking for money to get going but already has an interesting troika of leaders, former Democratic Gov. Gary Locke, talk show host John Carlson, who was Locke's 2000 GOP opponent and one of the leading opponents of the last gas tax increase, and Jessyn Schor, who heads a pro-public transit group, Transportation Choices.

There aren't a lot of details yet. Turner reports:

Locke sent an e-mail invitation Friday to executives at Microsoft, Costco, Starbucks, The Boeing Co., Weyerhaeuser, Paul Allen's Vulcan, Wal-Mart, the Seattle Mariners, auto dealers, labor representatives and government leaders to meet with him later this month.

From the e-mail:

"During the first half of 2007 we will mount an aggressive public education effort in support of the proposed investments, before handing matters off to the actual ballot campaign."

This seems to be an effort to broaden the sort of coalition that failed in 2002 to win voter backing for transportation projects funded by an increase in the gas tax. That effort was basically Big Business and Big Labor, with Democratic and Republican political consultants running the show.

That mix doesn't cover enough of the political spectrum. As Secretary of State Sam Reed told me after voters rejected the gas tax in 2002, "Having business, labor, editorialists from the newspapers, and political figures all say we need to do something almost seems to be an open invitation for voters to go the other way."

Bringing in Carlson covers the true anti-tax voice. Big business is not anti-tax when it comes to the gas tax. Carlson was a leader of last year's campaign to overturn the gas tax increase approved by the Legislature. Schor is just as important. In 2002 a lot of transit advocates and environmentalists opposed the gas tax because the projects that would be built with the money leaned too heavily toward asphalt and didn't do enough for alternatives.

The first big test is whether there is money to fund the effort. Then it will be worth watching to see if the group gives meaningful roles to a wide spectrum of people and stays away from tokenism. Carlson can't be the only anti-taxer and Schor can't be the lone green voice.

UPDATE: Here's a copy of Locke's e-mail.

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June 9, 2006

Lefty blogger gets radio gig

Posted by David Postman at 1:15 PM

David Goldstein of horsesass.org has gotten a regular talk show at 710 KIRO. Blatherwatch has the details and the congratulations to the KIRO staff for giving Goldstein a weekly spot.

And now that Goldstein is going mainstream, he wants his first official guest to be Tim Eyman, the inspiration for horsesass. In his invitation to Eyman, Goldstein says, "Now I know you might have some reservations about appearing on the air with a host who made his name by calling you names, but this is radio, and you are, after all, a media whore."

"Again, please remember that this is radio Tim, radio - tens of thousands of people hearing you talk - so if there really is no such thing as bad press, what do you have to lose? And besides, we're going to talk about you anyway, so why not be there to defend yourself?"

But wait, wasn't it Goldstein who was just telling us dupes in the press to ignore Eyman?

"So to my friends in the media I'd like to suggest that you take Timmy at his word one last time, and refuse to give him any coverage at all. Zero. Zilch. Nada. No clips on the news, no column inches in the paper... not even to curse him out. The guy just dissed you. (Again.) Don't reward him. Can the press resist? "

Apparently not.

Goldstein makes it seem like it'll be a hard sell, what with calling Eyman names and all. But don't be surprised if Eyman accepts the invitation.

UPDATE: Eyman responded to Goldstein and said he'd come on the show, but only if he could stay the entire three hours Sunday night. Goldstein says one hour is the best Eyman can hope for, and in the e-mail thread I just read (forwarded to me by Eyman), said, "Funny, Tim. I doubt the audience can take three hours of me, let alone three hours of the two of us." Responds Eyman: "Let me know if you change your mind, coward."

UPDATE UPDATE: Goldstein and Eyman send along the latest, and we'll assume, the last, of their e-mails.

To summarize, there's no way Goldstein gives Eyman three hours. "Truth is
you're not all that interesting. (snip) Whatever. If you want to pass up a chance to plug your car tabs initiative that's up to you."

Eyman says Goldstein has "chosen to crawl underneath a rock to hide from me after I accepted your pathetic challenge. Gutless coward."

You've got to feel a little sorry for Goldstein. He's clearly having a Groucho Marx moment trying to accept he's a member of a club he's never been a big fan of. As he told me in an e-mail last night:

"I guess I gotta get it through my head that I'm now kinda, sorta media too. Kinda sorta."

LAST UPDATE I PROMISE: Goldstein posts the entire e-mail thread at horsesass.org.

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Bush visit

Posted by David Postman at 8:22 AM

President Bush's trip to Washington state was made official this morning during the White House press gaggle. Spokeswoman Dana Perino only said Bush will travel to Washington and New Mexico for "political events" next Friday. Details to follow. All we know so far is that Bush will headline a fund-raiser for Dave Reichert.

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Another run at the federal estate tax?

Posted by David Postman at 7:51 AM

Both Washington senators voted against repeal of the federal estate tax yesterday. But it is clear from reading the papers this morning that the fight isn't over. And a lot of attention is focused on Maria Cantwell as a possible swing vote in a compromise plan.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Senate Leader Bill Frist "hopes to win over" a small group of senators, including Cantwell, for a second run at repealing the tax. "Yesterday afternoon, Ms. Cantwell, Ms. Landrieu and other Senate Democrats met in Mr. Frist's office to discuss a deal," according to the Journal.

And on its editorial page, the Journal says that Cantwell and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana "were so torn on the vote that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid wouldn't let them out of his sight until it was over." You can read it here thanks to Economics and Liberty.

People on both sides of the estate tax issue have their eye on Cantwell. Robert Kuttner in the Boston Globe, included Patty Murray, too as a potential swing senator in a pre-vote piece:

"Who exactly needs Cantwell and Murray to support another huge tax cut for the wealthiest? Their own families? Campaign contributors?"

I'll watch for the Kuttner follow up.

Human Events mentions Cantwell in its piece arguing against the "angry left's class warfare," though she's not among the angry or the left.

UPDATE: Cantwell's staff says there were not many details discussed in the meeting with Frist yesterday. The statement Cantwell issued yesterday does make clear that she's open to a compromise:

"I support repealing the estate tax for small businesses and family farms. A 55 percent tax rate is unfair for America's small businesses and family farms who deserve tax fairness. It's my hope that we can find an estate tax reform compromise before this expires in 2011. The vote today the Republican majority pushed was a vote for full repeal " sneaking in tax cuts to multi-millionaires at the expense of education, healthcare, and other vital initiatives. We need reform, but this reform must be within reason. We need a well thought-out policy, and I will continue push for a compromise that will truly help America prosper."

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June 8, 2006

Campaign to protect estate tax begins tomorrow

Posted by David Postman at 5:56 PM

A campaign to dissuade people from signing petitions for the repeal of the Washington estate tax kicks off tomorrow. The campaign focuses on the wealthy people backing the initiative, I-920, and the cost to education programs if the tax is repealed.

The Committee to Protect Our Children's Legacy will run ads in The Times and P.I. tomorrow. You can see the ad here. (My copy of the ad came from the committee, not The Times, which said confidentiality rules with advertisers prevented them from telling me anything about the content of the ads.)

The ads list the top 10 donors to the Committee to Abolish Washington State Estate Tax, the group pushing I-920, and says, "remember what the few wealthy families listed below stand to gain by bankrolling the 920 campaign versus all that public education students stand to lose." The ad asks people to "decline to sign." Sponsors need 224,880 valid signatures by the July 7 deadline.

And I'll answer the question I know I'll get in comments: Times Publisher Frank Blethen is not a contributor to the I-920 campaign. He opposes the estate tax on the state and national level, "but he is not a contributor and does not intend to be a contributor to this initiative campaign," said Times spokeswoman Jill Mackie.

There are some prominent names on the list. Developer Martin Selig has given $137,500, John Nordstrom, $50,000, and Charles Pigott, $10,000. You can go to the Public Disclosure Commission here and search for all donors to both committees.

The opposition campaign has gotten $10,000 from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, $5,000 from the Service Employees International Union, and about $35,000 in-kind from the teacher's union, according to the PDC site. Attorney Bill Marler told me he's helping with the costs of the ads. The group is working with the League of Education Voters, the sponsors of I-728, the 2000 initiative that directed state funding to reducing class sizes. Permanent Defense is active working against it, too.

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Supreme Court candidate doesn't want bar rating

Posted by David Postman at 12:24 PM

Supreme Court candidate Steve Johnson told the King County Bar Association today that he won't participate in its candidate evaluation this year. In a letter to the association he said he doesn't think he'd be treated fairly since in the last three elections, people on the evaluation panel have donated $19,000 to Democrats and $800 to Republicans. The court is a non-partisan office but Johnson is a long-time Republican state senator from Kent.

"The Supreme Court is a nonpartisan office, yet the people you choose to evaluate candidates for the Court are themselves partisan activists — and heavily tilted toward one side of the partisan scale at that!"

Johnson is also following the tracks of two incumbent court members, Richard Sanders and James Johnson. Both were given low evaluations in their first campaigns, "not qualified" for Sanders and "adequate" for Johnson, and then decided not to submit to the bar's questions in subsequent elections.

Steve Johnson is running against first-term Justice Susan Owens. He is backed by conservative groups, including the Building Industry Association of Washington and the Constitutional Law PAC, a group formed by Alex Hays, Jim Johnson's former campaign manager.

UPDATE: I just received an e-mail from Gary Maehara, president of the King County Bar Association, that include these two points:

1. The 70 members of the KCBA Judicial Screening Committee are prohibited from donating to judicial campaigns, but are not restricted from donating to other political campaigns.

In any event, assuming Mr. Johnson's figures to be correct, the average donation by each committee member would be only about $90.00 per year to non-judicial campaigns -- and $0 per year to judicial campaigns. He does not state how many of the committee members made a contribution in the past 3 years. Was it a small number or large number? In either case, this hardly suggests that the committee members are "partisan activists."

Will Mr. Johnson next criticize the composition of the editorial boards of the newspapers and also refuse to appear before those bodies?

2. Washington's voters will be the losers if Mr. Johnson declines to stand before his peers and be evaluated as a judicial candidate. The vast majority of voters have no information about judicial candidates except for the candidates' own self-serving campaign literature, and perhaps whatever negative advertising their opponents might publish.

If judges are to be elected, then more information about them is needed, not less information. Mr. Johnson's letter, unfortunately, tells voters nothing about himself except that (1) he has an aversion to Democrats, and (2) he believes that some lawyers on the KCBA Judicial Screening Committee have made donations to Democratic candidates in non-judicial elections. The public deserves to know more than that about Mr. Johnson.

The KCBA Judicial Screening Committee, like screening committees of other bar associations, contacts dozens of persons who have dealt with a candidate first-hand, in order to measure not only the candidate's litigation experience and judicial experience, if any, but also the candidate's judicial characteristics, including legal ability, temperament, common sense, patience, communication skills, courtesy and integrity.

There is no question on the questionnaire about whether the candidate is a Democrat or a Republican, and that never has been a criterion of the screening committee.

Also, I was sent a copy of the judicial candidate reviews done by state business groups. You can see it here.

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Grads and dads

Posted by David Postman at 7:34 AM

Flying east to see his son graduate from high school next week will keep Mike McGavick from appearing with President Bush at a fundraiser here. But it's not stopping the money machine completely.

McGavick has said that graduation and related festivities means he'll have to skip the president's June 16 visit to Washington state. But the night before his son, Jack, graduates from high school in Pennsylvania, McGavick has organized an insurance industry fund raiser in Chicago.

McGavick spokesman Elliot Bundy laughed when I started asking him about the money stop at the front-end of the grad trip, and said, "I find it amazing the lengths they will go to on this. The fact is Mike has chosen to be with his son and they won't accept that."

The "they" is the Democratic Party, which has been poking at McGavick and questioning whether he is trying to duck the president. Bundy used my call to point out that Cantwell gets a lot more money from out of state than McGavick does.

And Democrats still do question whether McGavick is at all sorry he'll miss the Bush visit. Party spokesman Kelly Steele said it's like the Mastercard commercial: "Having day-after-graduation activities you can attend on the day Bush and his 31% approval rating blow into Washington state - priceless."

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June 7, 2006

Cantwell opponent loses endorsement

Posted by David Postman at 4:12 PM

The Democratic Party in the 38th Legislative District in Snohomish County rescinded its endorsement of Mark Wilson Monday night. Wilson is the anti-war candidate running a long-shot primary campaign against Sen. Maria Cantwell. The endorsement of the 38th District Democrats is brought up often in discussions with Wilson supporters as one official sign of support for the protest candidate.

But Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, thought it was important to "show unity of the Democratic Party behind Maria Cantwell," he told me in a phone conversation today. I first heard about this from the Left Shue, who posted a long and somewhat complicated retelling of Monday's meeting. He said party leaders wanted to tell the grassroots that if they "are bold enough (or stupid enough) to mess with the machine, you will be burned and quickly put back in your place."

The 38th District voted to endorse Cantwell, and then rescind Wilson's endorsement. They could have endorsed both. But Wilson said it was a move done out of "reactionary fear for self preservation."

"The incumbents are determined to protect each other over and beyond any Democratic values or rules. Because, 'if there can be a revolt against Maria, maybe I'm next,' they're thinking, possibly."

McCoy said he hoped Cantwell was happy about the move but said, "I had no encouragement from anybody."

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What's Spanish for "I don't support the party platform"?

Posted by David Postman at 11:00 AM

Republican Senate candidate Mike McGavick today launched a Spanish-language version of his campaign Web site.

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Religion and politics mix on the left

Posted by David Postman at 9:05 AM

Much has been made of the involvement of local churches in Tim Eyman's anti-gay rights measure. But politics and religion don't just mix on the right. Apparently black politicians, who in Washington state are predominately Democrats, must cultivate the pulpit and the pews to be successful.

In the Seattle Weekly Mike Seely profiles Darryl Smith and includes this from Ron Sims:

"People think because you're black, you're going to get elected. But I don't know where Darryl's church base is, and in this city, you'd better have a home church. The people in the black community who vote are in a church. That is the tie that binds people."

And this from consultant George Griffin:

"I guess the litmus test for me with Darryl is when I asked him if he knew any of the African-American pastors in town and he said, 'No, I'm Buddhist,'" says Griffin. "I said, 'Hell, I'm Catholic, but I know all the black pastors.' So I've always felt he didn't really have a lot of the connections you need if you're going to run for office."

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What does Eyman's failure really mean?

Posted by David Postman at 8:05 AM

After Gov. Chris Gregoire said at a press conference the other day that Washington voters were being misled by Tim Eyman to believe R-65 was about gay marriage, I wrote that politicians on the losing side of citizen measures always claim people didn't know what they were doing.

Now that Eyman failed to force a vote on the gay rights bill -- and by his own design, a proxy on gay marriage -- who on the right will be the first to declare voters didn't understand what they were doing when they chose not to sign the petitions? (Of course given religious leaders' open disdain for Eyman's lackluster effort there may not be much of a search for excuses.)

What does it mean if Gregoire was wrong, as Eyman and his allies in the churches said she was, and people knew exactly what they were doing? Commenter John put it this way: "given that the ref 65 effort fell well short of the required number of signatures to even get on the ballot, doesn't it follow that the vast majority of Washingtonians have no issue with same-sex marriage whatsoever?"

The question could be put to the churches that backed the measure, as well as the governor who is on record saying Washingtonians are not ready for gay marriage.

Eyman's failure looks like good news for Democrats on the ballot this year. That's how one state Democrat reads it.

The defeat of the anti-gay rights forces comes as questions pop up about the strategy of national Republicans and President Bush to use a gay marriage ban as a way to boost sagging poll numbers. The New York Times reports this morning that doubting Republicans say "replaying the marriage debate in particular could do as much damage as good as Republicans fight to retain control of Congress."

"I don't think the problem is primarily with social conservatives," said Pat Toomey, a former Republican House member who now heads the Club for Growth, a conservative political action committee. "The problem I see is with economic conservatives who see out-of-control spending, huge deficits and that Republicans can't make the tax cuts permanent. The problem is on a different field."

The good news for Republicans today comes from San Diego where voters picked the GOP candidate in the special election to fill the seat vacated when Congressman Duke Cunningham had to go to jail. ABC's The Note says "National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Reynolds has the best summary of the Higher Meaning of a 1/435th-sized tea leaf."

"The results in San Diego show that nothing has happened to alter the notion (sic) that House elections are about a choice between local personalities focused on local issues."

Democrats need to nationalize congressional elections, as Demo pollster Celinda Lake told me last month. "It's very clear what the struggle is," she said. And it's clear the struggle continues.

UPDATE: The Faith & Freedom Network, one of the groups that worked with Eyman on the referendum, has a blog and here's the post on yesterday's news.

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June 6, 2006

Eyman Fails, Ticks Off the Churches

Posted by David Postman at 5:41 PM


Tim Eyman's failure to collect enough signatures to force a public vote on Washington's gay rights law has had one impact, and could have another. We'll see if this cements the law for a time, now that the state's initiative maven and a coalition of powerful churches failed to convince enough people that the new law should be repealed.

But the failure already has created a serious rift between Eyman and the churches and social conservatives who were banking on him to do the mechanics of their anti-gay rights efforts. Eyman has not had much luck with social issues. His first initiative was the anti-affirmative action I-200, which after his failed leadership was successfully pushed by talk show host John Carlson, himself a successful initiative sponsor.

Eyman announced the number of signatures he collected for Referendum 65 this afternoon with great drama. He did some math, shook his head, he sighed some big sighs and said oh so slowly: "We'd like to announce ... that ... we have successfully ... gathered ... 105,103 signatures for the Referendum 65 campaign."

He needed 112,440 valid signatures of registered voters.

Watching the event from just outside the scrum of reporters was Gary Randall, president of the Faith and Freedom Network, and his field director, John Russell. The group was one of the conservative Christian organizations that were working with Eyman to collect signatures at churches.

"This is the first number we've heard," Russell said, as Eyman made a celebration out of his defeat, sipping sparking cider from paper cups with his co-sponsors, Mike and Jack Fagan, and saying that the signature drive was "an enormously positive accomplishment."

Not for the Christians and social conservatives. Randall said that a "high percentage of the resources" his group spent in the last three months went to collecting signatures. But, Randall said, they were kept in the dark.

Eyman picked up some petitions from the churches. Others were sent directly to the secretary of state's office, which Eyman also collected prior to today. Randall said there was an evolution of answers when Eyman was pressed for information on the progress of the petition drive.

"At first he said, 'I don't tell anyone, that's part of my method,' and then he said later, 'I don't really know. I'm purposely keeping myself out of the loop,' or something to that effect. And then he didn't return calls."

Eyman's partners wore T-shirts promoting a tax-cutting initiative they're pushing this year. Randall said there have been questions about whether Eyman was using the anti-gay rights measure as a way to promote the tax-cut initiative. Yesterday, when Eyman duped reporters into coming to a news conference, he and the Fagans talked more about the tax initiative than they did about the gay-rights referendum.

If the churches try again to repeal the gay-rights law they'll do it without Eyman, Randall said.

Before Eyman's announcement, Randall was worried about what would happen. Not so much that Eyman would fall short, but that he would embarrass the effort. When a helicopter flew over, Randall worried Eyman might skydive into the press conference. He thought Eyman might come in costume. "I just prayed it wouldn't be worse than Darth Vader today." Eyman dressed as the Star Wars character at yesterday's news conference.

And it was not lost on Randall that today is the day that carries the mark of the beast, and he was left wishing the deadline for signatures happened either Monday or Wednesday:

"My life has been as a pastor and a theologian and I do believe in 666 and I do believe in the Bible and I don't know what it has to do with today, probably nothing. But in this case I have no idea. But I wish it would have been yesterday or tomorrow."

I'd like to hear what people on both sides of this issue think will happen now. Will there be another effort next year? Is there something to be done by supporters of the gay-rights bill to publicize what it does and does not really mean?

This is among the most passionate issues, so please let's keep the tone of the comments as civil as they've generally been so far.

ADD:

The gay rights bill becomes law tomorrow. Here's what Gov. Gregoire said in a statement:

"Tomorrow will be a proud day in Washington. In January, Washington took an affirmative stand to say to gay and lesbian individuals, moms and dads, sons and daughters, neighbors, co-workers and friends that, like all other people, they are free to work in an environment absent discrimination. Tomorrow our words become law."

Here's what some others are saying:

Horsesass, the original anti-Eyman

The Stranger answers the Prayer Warrior UPDATE, and has the answer to this question that Randall said he didn't want to be asked:

If the members of the religious right in Washington can't be bothered to sign a petition when they're told that signing will help prevent gay marriage from being legalized here, why should legislators be so worried about backlash from people of faith if they come out in favor of gay marriage?

Orbusmax links back to me, but boy the Orb's headline is Drudge-licious!

The Spokesman Review's Eye on Olympia

Thurston Pundits did a Monday post worth reading but I haven't seen an update yet.

Here's the statement from Barbara Green, executive director of Equal Rights Washington, which opposed Eyman's referendum.


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Eyman Pushes Deadline for Anti-Gay Rights Measure

Posted by David Postman at 3:49 PM

UPDATE: Tim Eyman just announced that the signature-gathering effort fell short. There will be no public vote on whether to repeal the gay rights bill.

Tim Eyman was supposed to turn in his petitions for Referendum 65 today at 4 p.m. But he's been calling reporters in the past few minutes to say the petitions won't arrive until close to 5 p.m. And 5 p.m. is the deadline. He's cutting it close. His partner Mike Fagan just flew into Sea-Tac with more petitions.

Wondering what happens if, say, bad traffic keeps them from meeting the deadline? It has happened before.

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What Will Leno Say Now?

Posted by David Postman at 1:12 PM

Today is the last day that it is legal in Washington state to have sex with animals. Tomorrow is the effective date for SB 6417, "Prohibiting sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal."

In one of the stranger legislative efforts in recent years, a bill outlawing bestiality was approved by this year's Legislature. The move came after a man died after having sex with a horse and legislators realized the act was not illegal.

The bill's prime sponsor, Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, said it was surprisingly difficult to get the bill passed. Not because people were opposed to the bestiality ban, but because the issue had such a high profile "it would upstage everything."

"This was a big issue in the fact that it was so different, so big in fact that Rush Limbaugh talked about it over a series of days. It was so so big that both Jay Leno and David Letterman talked about it over days. But it was something we didn't want to acknowledge so we pretended it didn't exist."

The bill moved quicker out of the Senate than the House, and Roach, who has been insistent in reminding people the act in question took place outside Enumclaw not in Enumclaw, said the bill would have moved faster in the House "but downtown Seattle had a hard time wanting the bill."

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Is there a Democratic Generation Gap?

Posted by David Postman at 8:03 AM

At last weekend's Democratic state convention there was a proposal, largely of interest only to delegates, that would give the Young Democrats organization a second vote on the state central committee. But what was interesting was that during the debate, one delegate — comfortably outside the 36-year-old age limit for the Young Democrats — expressed frustration that the group's members weren't taking a more active role opposing the war in Iraq.

I hadn't really noticed it before that: The anti-war forces were mostly older delegates, boomers, gray-beards, Vietnam-era protesters, folks whose Birkenstock's likely served orthopedic needs. Adding to the appearance of a generational split is that the Young Democrats, an official arm of the party, has endorsed Maria Cantwell for re-election, while some of the most vocal anti-war activists in the party are backing Mark Wilson and to a lesser extent Hong Tran.

Since returning from Yakima, I've asked a few people who were there if they see a generation gap.

"What I see from so many of the young folks is a desire to be accepted by the party machine and not want to be seen rocking the boat," said Chad Shue. He was a delegate from Snohomish County and is a Wilson backer.

I believe there is a real disappointment that young people are not as invested in the anti-war movement as is my generation. This is most likely due to the absence of a draft and the distance from the Vietnam experience.

Shue is 53 and an old-school war protester. He calls himself a Bobby Kennedy Democrat, signs his e-mails "peace" and closes with a John Lennon quote. He lays some of the blame for a generational split on John Kerry. He says that in 2004 if Kerry had "actually spoken out against the invasion of Iraq (and certainly not voted for it)" young people might have been inspired by his experience as a leading opponent of the Vietnam War.

Amy Ockerlander, 28, the press secretary for the Young Democrats, said she doesn't think there is a generational split. She told me about some high-profile anti-war activities of some YD members and said, "I think most people agree we want our troops home."

She said the organization endorsed Cantwell, as well as 8th District candidate Darcy Burner, because those candidates reflect their values on a host of issues, including port security and student loans. While Wilson supporters cheered his criticism of the 9-11 Commission, Ockerlander said Young Democrats want to see the commission's security recommendations implemented.

"Our tactics are different than the older generation but our feelings are similar," she said. Ockerlander, who works for the Legislature, said she disagrees with those in the party who have been pushing Cantwell to make some statement of public regret for her war vote:

I don't necessarily feel she needs to say the war was a mistake. She didn't make that decision to go to war, the president did. ... She voted for authorization of force as a last resort. The president made that decision.

River Curtis-Stanley, 46, and her husband attended the convention as delegates from Kitsap County. She supports Wilson. She said in comments posted here after the convention, "He doesn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of winning the primary, but we do think he's the better, more responsive, and more progressive candidate." In an e-mail later, she told me that Young Democrats seem to be taking their cues on the war from party leaders, like Cantwell.

During the convention, the greatest focus of the Young Democrats was their charter proposal (which passed), not issues of the day. Most of the focus our local YDs have is on assisting candidates in fundraising and other election-related activities, not on driving issues. These are our future Democratic Party leaders, and it makes me fear for the future of the Democratic Party. Yes, we need to elect candidates, and lots of them, but we also need to stand forth as a true opposition party at every level, from the grassroots on up. That's not happening.

I'd like to hear from more Young Democrats. Is there something keeping you from joining the older anti-war activists in your party? Is it about tactics and their vocal opposition to Cantwell? Perhaps more than the war, this is, like so much of internal party debate, about pragmatism vs. idealism.

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June 5, 2006

Eyman Dupes Press, Wastes Taxpayer Money

Posted by David Postman at 12:16 PM

Tim Eyman and his initiative partners duped the media and the secretary of state's office this morning into thinking he was coming to Olympia to turn in signatures for his campaign to repeal the state's gay rights bill. But Eyman and Jack and Mike Fagan had nothing to turn in, instead using the press gathered outside the secretary of state's office to promote both Referendum 65 and a separate tax-cutting initiative he is pushing for the November ballot.

The secretary of state's office had brought in two temporary workers in anticipation of processing petitions a day before the referendum deadline. Those workers were then sent home, though by state work rules, each were paid for two hours of work. A third worker was taken from other chores to stand by for the petitions that Eyman told the office he was bringing down.

Eyman says he deserves to waste a little public money because of his past successes with tax-cutting initiatives. He told public radio reporter Austin Jenkins, "I think there's no doubt that I think with the seven and a half billion dollars we've managed to save taxpayers over the last several years, I think that more than covers it."

Last week Eyman sent out e-mails to the press saying he would be "bringing down petitions to the Secretary of State's 520 Union Building offices on Monday, June 5th at 11 am." He did bring some. But he didn't drop them off and doesn't yet have enough signatures. Eyman and his co-sponsors didn't turn any signatures in today. Instead, they used boxes of petitions as a backdrop for their gloating.

He also said he told the secretary of state's office he was "bringing down" petitions. It's not a reach to think that meant he was turning in petitions, rather than "bringing down" petitions that he would then take back with him.

"Feel like you've been duped this morning? Well you have," said Mike Fagan, one of Eyman's partners. He justified it by saying voters feel duped, too, about state car taxes, one of Eyman's perennial issues.

Eyman said his e-mails were vague and could have been interpreted different ways. But being duplicitous is OK with him: "I think it is fair to say that we are willing to do whatever's necessary ... ."

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Gov. Gregoire on Gay Marriage, Gay Rights

Posted by David Postman at 10:54 AM

Gov. Christine Gregoire, anticipating signatures coming this week for the referendum that would repeal the gay rights law, said at a press conference this morning that voters were misled and signed the petitions thinking it had something to do with gay marriage.

I have no doubt some people thought that, and some petition gatherers suggested that. But it is a universal refrain for a politician on the other side of an initiative or referendum to say the voters didn't know what they were doing. All sides have done it, and when an election goes their way they praise the wisdom of the voters and when it doesn't the voters were misled or confused.

(UPDATE: Of course, this doesn't mean that voters aren't misled. Eyman just said at his appearance in Olympia that his campaign is about gay marriage. The law his measure would repeal is not about gay marriage and even in Eyman's telling it is a convoluted connection. He is clearly trying to sell the referendum as something that resonates with voters concerned about gay marriage. Still, it is the poor voter who often is said to have been confused and misled by what they signed or voted on. We heard it with Eyman's I-695, when Democrats said voters understood the part about cutting taxes but not about requiring public votes for tax increases.)

Gregoire also reprimanded Republicans in Congress for debating a ban on gay marriage. She points out that no one thinks the bill will pass and said it was coming up only because this is an election year. She also said gay marriage is "fundamentally ... an issue that ought to be left to the state." The state Supreme Court is expected to rule any day on a case that could determine whether gay marriage is legal in Washington state.

That prompted me to ask the governor, "What's your position on gay marriage? The state may have to wrestle with it soon."

Gregoire: "Yes, and then I will discuss it. I'm not going to get engaged in this any more than I was during the session. And I can see your looks at me and I have not changed my position. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I will await the Washington State Supreme Court."

Question: "I thought during the campaign you didn't want to talk about it because you were still attorney general."

Gregoire: "I just don't think you ought to get involved in an issue that is squarely before the state Supreme Court. Here's what I'm most concerned about. .... I don't want this issue to divide us. That's why I'm so offended by what's going on in Congress. To use a human rights issue and to have it divide this country when we have got very pressing problems that we need to be dealing with. That's what I'm offended by. So I don't want to talk about this issue right now. ..."

Question: "After the state Supreme Court acts you'll tell us?"

Gregoire: "I will."

The governor said she didn't think the court decision would come before the November elections.

During her gubernatorial campaign in March 2004, Gregoire said, "I do not believe that Washington state is ready to support gay marriage."

In September 2004 she said in a Seattle Times questionnaire: "We are in litigation on this issue right now in two counties. In my role as attorney general, I am defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Because of this, I can't express my personal opinion on the issue; indeed, I have already had my role in the case challenged by some legislators."

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Which convention did the most damage?

Posted by David Postman at 8:35 AM


With the conventions behind us, the big questions seem to be: Which party did itself the most damage? Where are the divisions greatest? And how does that translate to prospects for November? Both parties' press release machines have tagged the other as the party divided. Commentors here have thoroughly debated the issue and challenged me to declare a winner of sorts in the contest for most dysfunctional party. I'm not sure we know enough to draw those sorts of conclusions.

I know this: Whichever party finds itself in more trouble because of its convention will declare that what happens at conventions doesn't matter come election day.

The Republican and Democratic conventions exposed different sorts of schisms. Take the Republicans first. The big story at their convention was an aggressive anti-illegal immigration plank that went much further than the platform committee had wanted and much further than some Republican candidates and office holders thought necessary. (Or constitutional.)

It's important to remember that when Republicans began talking about immigration, the motion was to oppose automatic citizenship for babies born to all "aliens," legal and illegal. And there was very little dissension among delegates. That motion passed easily on a voice vote. The next vote, to essentially amend the plan to add the word "illegal" was closer. But again, very little opposition was heard.

The grassroots of the Republican Party seems united in what it believes and in what it wants its party to declare. The division comes between those delegates and the party leadership, including the GOP's statewide elected officials, its candidate for the Senate and its president. Senate candidate Mike McGavick got an overwhelming endorsement from the convention. We don't know what would have happened if Democrats took a similar vote on their Senate candidates, but opposition to Cantwell in the form of signs and buttons and T-shirts was much more obvious than anything McGavick faced the week before.

McGavick has been open about his disagreement with the party's immigration plank. And no doubt he will have to explain that throughout the campaign as Democrats remind voters, particularly Hispanic voters, of what Republicans believe about one of the hottest issues of the year.

Democrats face a different problem. There are those who laugh at the party's support for a Department of Peace. But that will not present the same problems for Democratic candidates as Republicans face in distancing themselves from the GOP immigration plan. It's a one-liner that I'm sure we'll hear from Republicans on the stump. But it does not undermine party leaders' sentiments on a major issue of the day or anger a major voting bloc.

The Democrats are divided in the grass roots. Votes Saturday were often close. Tempers and emotions were evident, particularly at the end when debate was cut off and many issues postponed until later in the year. It was evident, too, as Cantwell waited to speak to the convention and faced a noisy demonstration by anti-war delegates and supporters of one of her primary opponents, Mark Wilson.

The war is the wedge driving Democrats apart. The convention didn't do anything to reduce the tension. Pelz tried with a speech declaring that Iraq is "not our war" and urging Democrats to reserve their anger for Republicans. It didn't work. The anti-war forces in the party continue to focus on Cantwell.

This from Chad Shue, who was a delegate and writes on The Left Shue:

Unfortunately for both Pelz and Cantwell, Iraq is much too large to sweep under a rug or hide behind a curtain. ... We need to support a candidate who is willing to not only take ownership but who will take the lead in working to resolve the one issue that drives all other issues before us in the coming years.

At washblog we turn again to Authur Ruger who continues to enunciate the feelings of liberal Democrats who at best will be reluctant supporters of Cantwell's come November:

The picture in the fawning congratulatory blogs covering the state convention looked to me like a coronation picture for Senator Cantwell this weekend.

Andrew Villeneuve who live-blogged the convention for the Northwest Progressive Institute blog has the upbeat view, saying "I've never seen fellow Democrats more united in their resolve to change our country."

I'd be interested in hearing from other people who were delegates to either convention on how they think their party did.

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June 3, 2006

Yes on Dept. of Peace, Nothing on Impeachment

Posted by David Postman at 5:59 PM

Democrats voted to approve a resolution calling for creation of a U.S. Department of Peace. The resolution calls on the state's Congressional delegation to "support and cosponsor a Cabinet level Department of Peace & Nonviolence to be established to study and advance peace and nonviolence as the organizing principles in all human relations from families and neighborhoods, to courts and congresses, both nationwide and internationally."

The two impeachment resolutions were left undone along with about 90 others. The party said those will be considered at a meeting of the state central committee in September. There were unhappy shouts, and one delegate said it was important to vote on the impeachment resolutions. But by a voice vote the stack of resolutions was postponed.

Many delegates were unhappy that so much work was left undone. A delegate who said this was her first convention addressed the crowd choking back tears and said, "I'm wondering if we have the political will to stay and do the work." Another woman opposed the move because as a delegate she won't get to vote on the resolutions, which are now in the hands of the central committee. There was a complaint that too much of the convention was taken up with "rah-rah stuff" and not enough debating the platform.

The convention is adjourned.

UPDATE: A platform committee member e-mailed to tell me that the Dept. of Peace is also in the platform. It was moved from foreign policy to the section on government and political reform, so now it is endorsed in the platform as well as by resolution..

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Democrats Approve Platform

Posted by David Postman at 5:39 PM

Democrats approved their platform with very little debate and very few changes to what the platform committee proposed. Some delegates were clearly unhappy when a majority voted to end debate on the platform. And some didn't agree when a voice vote was said to have approved the platform.

The changes were mostly minor. For example, in the foreign policy plank delegates eliminated the call for the United States to leave not just Iraq but military bases in adjacent countries.

There are still resolutions to consider, including the ones calling for impeachment of President Bush. It's already been a long day.

"Stay hydrated," someone just announced from the stage. (So far no warning about dangerous pink liquid being passed through the crowd.)

In other convention news:

  • Among all the Democratic pins for sale here is a small one that says, "It's not working." That was what state party chairman Dwight Pelz said to DNC Chairman Howard Dean about the party's mushy stance on Iraq.
  • Republican Party Chairwoman Diane Tebelius has sent out her weekly message to party members. She declares last week's GOP convention a success and highlights the immigration plank.

    "The section on immigration is in-line with the sentiments of Washington State voters," Tebelius wrote. She describes it as a call for an immigration plan that strictly enforces borders, does not provide amnesty and "creates a reasonable guest worker program." She doesn't mention the party's call to oppose automatic citizenship for babies born to illegal immigrants.

    The party posted the entire platform here.

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Cantwell's Opponents Speak to Demos

Posted by David Postman at 3:37 PM

The anti-war candidates running against Maria Cantwell — Mark Wilson and Hong Tran — each got a few minutes to address the Democratic convention this afternoon. And they presented a clear distinction from Cantwell on the war and other issues. And from Wilson at least, delegates saw a far different Democrat than any other party official or candidate who has spoken.

Wilson is a Marine veteran who has run for office as a Green and a Libertarian. While he was hard on Cantwell, it was nothing compared to his indictment of the Bush Administration. He called them "terrorists in the White House" and "incompetent chicken hawks who wage immoral war against the innocent at home and abroad."

Wilson said he supports repeal of the Patriot Act and said "We must get to the complete truth about September the 11th. The commission's distortions and omissions are not worth the paper it's written on." This all brought cheers from a small chunk of the crowd.

Wilson said he believes in "ordinary citizens united with a commitment to positive change." But not in dealing with the Administration. He said he would be a "forceful, combative obstructionist to the Bush-Cheney, neo-con agenda."

"Let's make the final days of the Bush-Cheney nightmare a living hell for the dangerous duo," he said.

Attacking Cantwell on her stance on the environment, which she generally gets high marks for, Wilson said, "You can't be a true environmentalist when you support the pillage and plunder of war or neo-con, fast-tracking, free-trading policies."

Tran, an attorney who has left her job giving legal advise to low-income familes to campaign full-time, said she knows that some Democrats are willing to overlook Cantwell's war stance because of the environmental record. "The truth is however we can't count on her to protect our environment any more than we can count on her to uphold our key Democratic values."

That was the one line that brought boos from Democrats in either speech.

Tran criticized Cantwell's vote to confirm Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, saying Kempthorne opposes some of the environmental issues that Cantwell has pushed for. "Either Cantwell doesn't understand that or she's not the environmentalist we hope she is," Tran said.

After Wilson and Tran spoke, veteran Pierce County activist Harvey Brooks took to the microphone to try to calm the divisions. Brooks is a Vietnam war veteran with what he called Agent Orange cancer and said he was struck by watching Tran, a refugee from that war, touting a run for the U.S. Senate. "Now although we may make mistakes, which we have, we had some today, we are still and will forever be the ones who include others in our tent," he said to the biggest applause of the afternoon.

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Cantwell Speaks to Democrats

Posted by David Postman at 11:38 AM

Maria Cantwell just spoke to the convention in what was the most anticipated event of the weekend. I didn't hear anything new in the speech, but Cantwell emphasized liberal credentials, like yearning for Ted Kennedy as chairman of the Senate Health Care Committee and recounting her success in stopping drilling in ANWR.

"This senator will not be bullied and not be bought," she said. The war, though, was the subtext and the cause of obvious division in the hall. Cantwell supporters filled the aisles with signs and drums and banners and screamed their support, guided by campaign whips that had been organizing the crowd.

Anti-war Democrats held small "NO WAR" signs that were marked, "Paid for by Citizens for Maralyn Chase." (Chase is a liberal Democratic state House member from Edmonds.) Many sported campaign paraphernalia for Mark Wilson who is running against Cantwell in the primary. They too were organized, with one activist saying before the event that he couldn't say too much outside of his "cell" of anti-war protesters.

As the pro-Cantwell demonstration filled the hall, chants of "No more war" broke out. They were loud and Chase's little signs could be seen throughout the hall. The Cantwell people responded with chanting "Six more years."

I wondered what would have happened if Cantwell's people joined the anti-war chant. Cantwell could have joined, too, and said something like, "I agree there should be no more war and this is the year our troops need to come home." In her speech she reiterated her position that 2006 should be the year "when the Iraqi people stand on their own and our troops come home."

The problem, as Cantwell explained to me, is that "no more war" means different things to different people.

"These people have a wide range of ideas and views on that and we have had many meeting with different groups of them talking about exactly what they mean. And you can sit down with seven of them have seven different ideas about what each of them mean. I've tried to articulate what I actually voted for and what I think are the important principles for us to keep our eye on and that is to make sure we are making progress in getting the Iraqi people on their feet so our troops can come home."

Cantwell told reporters after her speech she was not bothered by the reaction, saying it was about what she saw at the King County Democratic Convention and other events.

MORE: Probably the most pointed response to the anti-war crowd came this morning in a speech from party chairman Dwight Pelz:

"This is not our war. Iraq is a Republican War. Had Al Gore been elected President in 2000, which he was, invading Iraq would not have been his response to 9/11. Not a Democrat in Congress would have voted to force a Democratic President to invade Iraq."

"The War in Vietnam belonged to Democratic Presidents -- Kennedy and Johnson -- but this is a Republican War, launched by a Republican President and a Republican Secretary of Defense with no reason to start it and no plan to end it. If you are looking for a parallel between Vietnam and Iraq you will have to look outside of the Democratic Party to find it!"

That's from the prepared text of Pelz's speech. He didn't deliver the Johnson and Kennedy line.

And here is the text of Cantwell's convention speech.

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Democrats' Proposed Platform

Posted by David Postman at 9:46 AM

The Democrats proposed platform just came out. It will be debated, perhaps amended, and voted on late today.

This looks to be the new language on the war. Democrats:

"Declare that there is irrefutable evidence that the war against Iraq was an unjustified war based on false and misleading statements and faulty thinking, and that it has led to the death and injury of thousands of innocent people, including U.S. service men and women, and has made the U.S. and other nations less safe from terrorism."

The proposal also says:

"The sovereignty of Iraq belongs to the Iraqis; the developing and implementing of an orderly, complete, and rapid exit strategy from Iraq of all U.S. military forces and economic interests, including all military bases in adjacent countries, and the provision of funding for rebuilding under the United Nations of infrastructure destroyed since 1991; the U.S. government should seek a peace/disengagement/reconciliation ... conference organized by the Secretary General of the United Nations."

There is an anti-terrorism plank, saying Democrats support and affirm:

"Efforts to stop attacks on this country and attacks by this country on others by working on the root causes of conflict, including poverty, land distribution, injustice, and the ongoing political marginalization of all those around the globe who want a voice in shaping their own political and economic futures."

The Department of Peace, an inspiration of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and in the platform first in 2004, is out of the platform. But it is proposed as a resolution that is scheduled to be debated later today.

Some Democrats will also argue for impeaching President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

There are two separate impeachment resolutions in the packet scheduled to be debated. One says Bush and Cheney violated the trust of the American people through domestic surveillance and Cheney's alleged involvement in the leak of a CIA operative's name. The other lists a series of crimes that Bush and Cheney are accused of, including the charge that the president committed a felony by "withholding information from Congress about doubts in the intelligence community about Bush's justification for war," that he embezzled funds authorized for the war in Afghanistan to use in Iraq and that he "committed an act of terrorism" by "ordering the kidnapping of President Aristide" of Haiti.

The impeachment resolutions come to the full convention with no recommendation from the platform committee. It's unclear whether they will be debated today. If time runs out the resolutions are often the thing that gets bumped from the agenda.

The Department of Peace and the impeachment resolutions are among 26 out of an original 191 resolutions proposed at the convention. Because there were so many, the others will be considered at a later Democratic meeting.

UPDATE: Congressman Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, said he doesn't think there's any support among the state's Democratic House delegation for impeachment. "I've got to tell you there can be a backlash." He knows because he won in 1998 "running against impeachment" of Bill Clinton.

"It is valid and important to say that America deserves a Congress that fulfills its oversight function," he said. But that doesn't mean impeachment. "I think there are better ways to us to talk about it."

Darcy Burner, the Democratic candidate against Congressman Dave Reichert, didn't rule impeachment out.

I support Congress exercising its oversight responsibility. There should be hearings. Where that leads I don't know.

Poking at Congress' lack of oversight is clearly a Democratic talking point. This morning Rep. Rick Larsen spoke to a convention breakfast about the House Armed Services Committee which he serves on.

The House Armed Services Committee over the last five and a half years has practiced more over-look than oversight. ... We're overlooking everything and when Democrats get the House back and we get control of the Armed Services Committee we're going to start looking at what this administration has been doing the last six years to the men and women in the military.

UPDATE: There are plenty of people here who like the idea of impeaching the president, as well as the vice president, secretary of defense and secretary of state.

As delegates left the hall for lunch they were greeted by a group of people in big paper-machie heads of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice and wearing prison stripes and leg chains. They were promoting impeachment efforts of a number of liberal groups, including the Backbone Campaign, which has been active in Washington Democratic politics.

Many delegates offered their support, suggested other names to add to the chain gang and gave donations for chain gang bumper stickers.

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Pharmacy Board Members Never Confirmed

Posted by David Postman at 6:49 AM

None of the members of the state Board of Pharmacy have been confirmed by the state Senate and in January Gov. Chris Gregoire could replace the entire panel if she wanted.

And she may. The governor told me last night that she's learned the board members had never been confirmed, neither the two members she appointed or the five appointed by Gary Locke. On Thursday the board voted 5-0, the two non-pharmacists on the board don't get a vote, to to endorse a regulation that would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense medication on moral grounds. The vote moves the proposal forward to a public hearing in late summer, after which another vote will be taken by the board.

Gregoire has been criticized for not fighting harder to stop the proposal. Now, though, she says she's committed to a tough and aggressive campaign to get the board to reverse its position. And that could mean replacing board members next year.

"This is all about patients' rights and they must focus on patients. And if they're not going to do that I need a group that will. But they've got a chance. They can make it right. They have until August."

I interviewed Gregoire in Yakima last night after she spoke to the Democratic state convention. In the convention hall she papered the room with copies of her letter to the pharmacy board opposing the plan and mentioned it in her speech to delegates.

Gregoire is also working to build a coalition of interest groups to lobby the board. Gregoire said she is trying to enlist groups like the AARP, cancer organizations and doctors. While much of the attention on the proposal has been on emergency contraception, Gregoire says it goes much further.

"What if I came up and you assumed that I was an undocumented (worker), so you're going to deny me, because you decided I was getting some sort of state help and I don't deserve it. Or you decided because I'm getting some prescription having to do with AIDS, therefore I'm gay and you don't like that or I have some sort of cancer and you think I've been a smoker and that's my problem so you're not going to do that. I could go on with the list. I think there's no end to it."

"This board did not appreciate what they were doing. They did it too quickly. They looked for a compromise and they failed to understand what they've done and once I think they are aware of it, I have confidence they'll do the right thing in the end."

Gregoire has been on record since January opposing the plan. But should she have moved sooner to build a coalition and speak out publicly as she began to do just last night? "I've asked myself that today," she told me. But I was left with the clear sense that she didn't think that would have worked before now. Most people, she said, thought about the proposal only in terms of birth control and she said there was "complacency" about the board's deliberations.

Now, though, she seems jolted into action "I don't know of another state that's gone this way and I am shocked that we have," she said.

I'm sure the governor will be criticized for being slow to take on the issue in the high profile way she now seems ready to do. This is how she does things. It has been clear from her two legislative sessions that rather than get out front on issues and use the public bully pulpit, Gregoire is more likely to step in later in the game and then work usually behind the scenes to break logjams. It has become her trademark. UPDATE: Here and here are stories about Gregoire's leadership style.


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June 2, 2006

Democratic Convention

Posted by David Postman at 8:17 PM

It's clear the story line of the Democratic convention is Maria Cantwell and the war. In Yakima the Cantwell people have volunteers in Cantwell T-shirts, a confetti cannon for her appearance tomorrow — Memo to Maria's minions: Doesn't a cannon seems awfully militaristic? — and a photo op this evening where all the state's top Democrats endorsed the senator for re-election. In a press release, Rep. Jim McDermott, D-KIRO, called her a "progressive hero."

Bill Clinton will make a video-taped endorsement of Cantwell tomorrow. He was set to be in the state tomorrow but he had to reschedule — for July 31 — fund raisers for Cantwell and McDermott.

Party Chairman Dwight Pelz says the anti-war and anti-Cantwell sentiment peaked a few weeks ago. That would have been about the time that Pelz said Cantwell's position on the war was hurting volunteer recruitment, then essentially retracted that. Others have wandered off the talking points. State Labor Council President Rick Bender said today almost exactly what got Pelz into trouble: "I think she's going to catch a little bit (of grief), but I don't think it's going to make that much of a difference. ... The only thing I worry about is it might make it harder to get people to get out and work for her."

I just got to Yakima so missed the chance to sneak into the Democrats' closed-door strategy sessions earlier today. But my colleague Ralph Thomas did, and he has kindly shared his notebook with me. And he saw clear frustration with Cantwell among the base. A panel discussion billed as "The Bush Record -- Talking points for Democrats" turned into an open mic session for delegates who painted party leaders, especially Cantwell, as feeble alternatives to Bush and the Republicans.

Edward Mays, a delegate from Seattle, said Democrats should use the convention to hold Cantwell's feet to the fire. "This is the only chance we have," said Mays, wearing a Mark Wilson T-shirt, one of two anti-war Democrats running against Cantwell in the primary. "Because once she gets the nomination, it's going to be back to business as usual."

"When is the Democratic Party going to stand up and talk about our values," he said later in an interview. "What are we afraid of? Bush is down to 29 percent."

Some, though, didn't like the trash-talking, even behind closed doors. "The worst thing we can do is bad-mouth another Democrat," said Bob Wettleson, a delegate from Mason County. "The worst Democrat in the world is still better than any Republican."

Some anti-war delegates said they were going to their hotel rooms tonight to paint signs to protest Cantwell during her speech tomorrow. Tonight Cantwell got a rousing ovation from delegates before she gave brief remarks -- none of which had anything to do with the war.

I don't know if it is a sign of the anti-war forces losing steam in their efforts to pressure Cantwell, but they talk more and more about just wanting to see some public contrition from her. No one seems to think she's going to suddenly switch positions.

"The goal here is to put pressure on her to admit she made a mistake," said John Donoso, a first-time delegate from Bellingham. "You can't have a constructive policy debate without admitting that this was a huge mistake. ... Sooner or later she's going to have to talk about it."

My guess is if she does, it'll be later than Sunday when the convention closes.

Cantwell and party leaders would like to see her get strong support this weekend. It makes for better news ...quot;from their perspective ...quot; and helps excite the base. But, and no offense intended to the hundreds of delegates who have given up their weekend to be here, it probably doesn't matter a lot.

Cantwell didn't get a very warm reception at the state convention in 2000 when she was running in the primary against Deborah Senn. Senn had union endorsements and had been campaigning longer. The convention hall seemed overwhelmingly in favor of Senn. The coveted base everyone worries about now was clearly for Senn. It was as if everyone in the room would vote for her, though in the end Cantwell won the nomination with almost three times as many votes as Senn.

In other convention news, Pelz announced at the banquet that the debt has been retired from the 2004 governor's election legal fight. Party spokesman Viet Shelton said that when Pelz took over the party this year more than $2 million had already been paid to lawyers and there was another $525,000 left unpaid. Of that, the party paid $300,000 and the rest was written off by the lawyers, he said.

For the convention-obsessed, check out Andrew at the Northwest Progressive Instutiute's Official Blog.

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The Democratic Convention

Posted by David Postman at 8:33 AM

Democrats convene in Yakima this morning for their party convention. And I know they, and the media, will be watched carefully by Republicans to see what potentially embarrassing nuggets show up in the party platform that will be approved tomorrow. Which constitutional amendment do you think Democrats will say has been misread for a century?

In some ways I can imagine Democrats reading the paper this week and deciding the best thing they could do is come out with a benign platform that would keep the heat on the Republicans. But that's not been their style. Over the last couple of years the two big parties have taken far different approaches to their platforms.

I thought Democrats were restrained in their reaction to last week's Republican convention. They can send out a four-page press release attacking a 30-second radio ad, but issued nothing on the GOP call to deny citizenship to babies born to illegal immigrants.

That's in part because Republicans were fighting among themselves. And it also may have something to do with living in a glass house. Several years ago, former Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt switched convention strategies and decided to let the freak flag fly free in the platform.

In 2000 Democrats met in Spokane and amended the proposed platform to call for complete legalization of marijuana so it could be sold in cafes, bars and state liquor stores. Berendt was out of the room when it happened and I remember chasing him down on deadline to get his reaction, which was mostly a shrug. Rather than manage the platform to come out with something inoffensive, Berendt decided it'd be better for the party to let the core base have their way with it.

"If you really want to get people fired up, it's better to give them freedom to put in the things they care about," Berendt said.

Compare that to Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance's work in 2004 to come out with a platform that included "nothing incendiary or controversial or ... weird." The platform was adopted in a single vote, without the drawn out debates Democrats went through that year.

I'll leave soon for Yakima to see what happens and will post here through the weekend as news happens.

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June 1, 2006

In Other News

Posted by David Postman at 9:24 AM

Jim McDermott is filling in for Dave Ross on 710 KIRO this week. His performance is being listened to carefully from Blatherwatch on the left and The Radio Equalizer from the right.

UPDATE: Blatherwatch again on McDermott on the radio, and the blatherer is not impressed.

In 2004 Ross had to step down from his KIRO show when he became a candidate for Congress in the 8th Congressional District. McDermott hasn't filed for re-election and gave KIRO a letter indicating that "at this time he is NOT a candidate for re-election," KIRO Program Director Tom Clendening says via e-mail. Because of that, he says, "our legal dept. believes there are no equal time considerations." (CONFLICT ALERT: I have been a fill-in host on KIRO.)

McDermott continues to be news elsewhere. The Pittsburgh paper has a story on the congressman's legal fight which "has the elements and plot twists of the most intriguing kinds of Capitol Hill dramas, and it still has no final episode."

Former state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt is going into the lobbying business, says The Stranger.

The new Comedy Central fake news show will be set in Spokane. How can they find anything strange or funny there? Sound Politics is looking for ideas.

Attention Republican candidates. If you want John McCain to help you, be careful what you say about the Senate's immigration plan.

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Hispanic Republican Leader Lashes Out at Party

Posted by David Postman at 7:52 AM

The head of the state Republicans' Hispanic outreach group says he was blindsided by the party's immigration platform, which he says Republicans should be ashamed of. He blames the conservative activists who pushed to amend what had been a more moderate proposal and says Diane Tebelius, the chairwoman of the party, did not reach out to Hispanics before the convention and failed to control the right-ward slide of the platform.

Raul Diaz, chairman of the Washington State Republican National Hispanic Assembly, laid out the strongest objections yet to the party's call to end automatic citizenship for babies born to illegal aliens and for requiring all illegal immigrants to return home before applying for a guest worker program:

I'm no longer going to sit here and be the puppet for the Republican Party, for a few small-minded people who came through and did this. The 14th Amendment, you cannot take that away. You cannot take away these laws written by our forefathers.

If you took Diane Tebelius and you took these people who passed this agenda and put them in Alabama, slavery would come back in our lifetime.

UPDATE: (After reading this post, Diaz has had second thoughts about his comments, which he said were made in anger and "don't reflect my true freelings and beliefs." He said he particularly regrets the comments about slavery. "In no way do I support that platform. But in no way is the Republican Party racist or bigoted. ... The Republican Party did not use me as a puppet. I was frustrated with them.")

The Washington RNHA was formed after the 2000 elections by local Hispanics who had campaigned for George W. Bush. The next year the group became an official affiliate of the state Republican Party. Diaz has been chairman of the group since March. He said in that time Tebelius has never reached out to him, even as the immigration debate heated up. As recently as the night before the platform debate at last weekend's Yakima convention Diaz said he tried to talk to Tebelius but felt he got the brush off. He did speak at the party's campaign school on Friday.

Diaz said there was word that some wanted a tougher stand on illegal immigration. But, he said, "The last we had heard was that they had kept it off the agenda." He said he told Tebelius, "I don't want to get sideswiped." He said he did not attend the Saturday platform debate.

Tebelius said in response:

I don't have any comment because I don't know what he is really talking about. I don't think it is a slap at Hispanic voters. It's dealing with illegal immigrants and there are a lot of Hispanic voters that are legal. I hardly think it has to do with any race or class. There were Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans who supported that platform. I'm sorry he feels that way. I have no further comment.

Diaz puts a lot of blame on Tebelius.

Diane didn't have the guts or the leadership skills to make sure that the platform would reflect the true reform that President Bush's bill has. When President Bush had called us, and called everyone together, particularly Hispanic Republicans together, we worked our ass off. Forty nine percent of registered Hispanics voted for President Bush in Washington. Forty three percent of the Anglos did.

We cherish the same things any other Republican does. We love the freedom we have. But there has been a backlash of late. Not only of illegal aliens but now we have been shut out of the party.

Diaz and his group are no liberals. He says schools should teach immigrant children in English, not Spanish. "We believe we live in the United States and we should speak English."

But he says he wants to tell Tebelius how he feels about the state Republican Party. "I'm going to make sure I say it in English and Spanish because I'm going to execute my constitutional right of freedom of speech."

As the chairman of the Hispanic Republican Party, I'm coming out and taking a stand against the Republican Party of the state of Washington and the platform. It hurts because they went after the kids. They didn't go after the parents. Shame on them. Shame on them.

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