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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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