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September 30, 2006

Libertarian Senate candidate loans campaign $1.2 million

Posted by David Postman at 8:33 PM

Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Guthrie is mortgaging everything he can to change the dynamic of the race. Guthrie, a former college instructor who hopes to go back to school to get a high school teaching certificate, filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission today saying he will loan his campaign $1.18 million. Up until now he had raised $33,000.

Guthrie said he had not planned to spend his own money but changed his mind after campaigning around the state.

"I'm disappointed, as most people are, that money is what drives politics in this country. But I realize if I didn't go in all the way, if I didn't do the best job with the campaign I thought I could do, I would have regretted it later.

"My heart is really in this race, and I decided it was just time to put my money where my heart is."

But there will be no more personal money after this. There isn't anything left to mortgage.

"It is absolutely everything I could scrape together. I mortgaged my house, my only house, in Bellingham. I mortgaged it as much as the bank would let me mortgage it. And I put up all the savings that my former wife and I were able to save in our 17 years of marriage."

It's unclear how this changes the race that has naturally focused on Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and her Republican challenger, Mike McGavick.

It is difficult to know which side Guthrie is more likely to take votes from. In 2000 former Republican Sen. Slade Gorton blamed his close loss to Cantwell, in part, on Libertarian candidate Jeff Jared. Jared got more than 64,000 votes and Cantwell won by a little more than 2,000.

Guthrie's top issues are most likely to attract liberal voters. He is a strong proponent of same-sex marriage and is ardently anti-war, calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and a permanent reduction of U.S. troops abroad and a critic of the Patriot Act.

There are some more traditionally Libertarian fiscal positions, too, including support for reducing the federal deficit. Guthrie told me, "We Libertarians are fiscally responsible and the Republicans have definitely made themselves vulnerable with their overspending."

He criticizes Cantwell on that as well. From his campaign website:

Maria Cantwell has done nothing to shrink the huge budget deficits. In fact, she's approved every Republican request for an increase in public debt. That debt has become a huge burden for ourselves (just paying interest) and for our children.

He said he thinks he'll take votes from both major party candidates and may do polling to see which of his messages resonate the best with voters.

"Libertarians are traditionally thought of as taking votes from Republicans in the way that Greens could only take votes from Democrats. And I think there's a good argument to be made that I'll take from both sides.

"But right now we don't have any idea how we're going ot influence the outcome of the election. What we do know is we are going to take the Libertarian Party to a new level and the voters of this state are absolutely disgusted with the two big parties. They're screaming for an alternative.

"I believe the Libertarian Party is that altenriave. I think this $1.2 million is going to do a lot in that direction."

Guthrie said he thinks his campaign could now be the best-financed Libertarian campaign in state history.

As required by the Federal Election Commission, Guthrie sent written notice of his personal spending plans yesterday to his opponents in the race. The self-financing triggers the FEC's so-called "Millionaire's Amendment," a law that will allow contribution limits to the other senate candidates to increase.

(CORRECTION: This does not automatically trigger the Millionaire's Amendment. Richard Pope raises this in the comments and another readers points me to the FEC explanation that says:

A candidate with a significant fundraising advantage over a self-financed opponent might not receive an increased contribution limit. In this way, the regulations avoid giving increased contribution limits to candidates whose campaigns have a significant fundraising advantage over their opponents.)

Guthrie was a Libertarian candidate for the 2nd Congressional District in 2002 and 2004.

Cantwell has raised $16.8 million so far. McGavick has raised $7.7 million, including $2 million of personal money he loaned his campaign. He said last week he has no plans to donate any more of his own money.

McGavick spokesman Elliott Bundy said the campaign did not yet know what to make of the news of Guthrie's donation:

"I have no idea what it means or what he intends to spend the money on. He says right up front that he disagrees with Mike on gay marriage and the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq."

I haven't heard back from the Cantwell campaign.

Green Party candidate Aaron Dixon is also running for the senate. As of June 30 -- the most recent report available on-line at the FEC -- he had raised $33,826.

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September 29, 2006

Liberal PACs target Esser

Posted by David Postman at 4:16 PM

Three liberal political action committees have joined together to try to defeat state Sen. Luke Esser, R-Bellevue. Seattle-based groups pushing for gun control, abortion rights and gay rights formed the Save the 48th Committee and will begin a TV ad campaign against Esser Sunday.

The committee is composed of the Ceasefire Action Committee, Equal Rights Washington PAC, and Planned Parenthood Votes. In an announcement, the groups said it is the first time they have banded together.

Their new PAC is focused on defeating Esser and replacing him with Rep. Rodney Tom, a former Republican who switched parties this year and filed to run against Esser.

Washington CeaseFire says it "has already produced a hardhitting TV ad highlighting Esser's poor record on gun safety" that begins airing Sunday. The group criticizes Esser for voting against a bill sponsored by Tom that would have required background checks to buy guns at gun shows.

There is also a fundraiser scheduled in October at the home of Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

"I'm busy that night," Esser told me. He said that one of the group's main arguments against his candidacy is false. The group says on its website about regulating pharmacists:

Rodney believes all women should have access to birth control pills and plan B emergency contraception. Esser takes the extreme view that pharmacists should be able to deny you prescriptions your doctor has already approved.

Said Esser:

"They actually got my position wrong. The only time I announced a position was on Robert Mak's show and I said I agreed with the governor. Maybe they think the governor is an extremist, I don't know. I'm pro-life, but I'm not anti-contraception."

UPDATE: Jon Scholes, vice president of Washington CeaseFire, said the groups "are following the Jim Horn model here -- teaming up with other progressives, focusing our resources and taking the chance with TV." Horn was the veteran Republican senator from Mercer Island defeated in 2004 by challenger Brian Weinstein.

The will run during Meet the Press Sunday morning and in the evening on KONG. Here's the ad:

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Opportunities to argue with me in person

Posted by David Postman at 8:37 AM

I'm participating in a couple of events I thought some of you might be interested in.

Monday night I will moderate a panel on the state Supreme Court's decision on the Defense of Marriage Act. It is before the Puget Sound Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society.

The panelists are a distinguished group: Dale Carpenter, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota Law School and contributing blogger to Volokh Conspiracy, Steven O'Ban, an attorney who represented intervenors in the case who argued to uphold DOMA and Bradley Bagshaw who represented same-sex couples in the case arguing against the law.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington Athletic Club. You can get more information here.

On Saturday October 7, I will be at Town Hall for an 8 p.m. event called "Janeane Garofalo and Friends discuss Politics and the Press: Fair and Balanced or Lazy and Cowed?"

I'm a little worried I've been invited to represent the lazy and cowed side of things. I'll be the lone mainstream media type among a panel of liberals. The event is sponsored by Foolproof and is headlined by Garofalo, an actress and activist who until recently was host of a liberal talk-radio program. Also on the panel are David Goldstein of, Duncan Black, aka Atrios, and Matt Stoller who writes at It will be moderated by Angie Coiro of Mother Jones Radio.

You can get more information here.

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Cantwell, McGavick differ on terror trial legislation

Posted by David Postman at 7:50 AM

It doesn't seem to be getting attention in the papers this morning but Sen. Maria Cantwell and her Republican challenger, Mike McGavick, have a substantive disagreement on the military tribunal bill approved by the Senate yesterday.

The bill would set up military trials for terror detainees and the debate had been forecast by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist as an important measure of where senators stand on the war on terror. That strategy stumbled some when Republican senators balked at President Bush's original proposal.

But in a race where McGavick has spent more time saying he and Cantwell held nearly identical position on the war in Iraq, the vote draws a distinction on a major national security issue.

The bill which would severely limit defendants' rights, passed 65-34.

Cantwell voted against it. McGavick said he would have supported it.

The New York Times points out that among the 12 Democrats who voted for the measure are some senators in the most difficult re-election fights.

But most Democrats saw little political danger in opposing Bush, according to the Times:

The most vivid example of the Democratic assessment came from the party's many presidential hopefuls in the Senate. All of them voted against the bill, apparently calculating that Mr. Bush's handling of Iraq has undercut the traditional Republican strength on national security and will insulate them from what are certain to be strong attacks from Republicans not only this year but also in 2008.

Cantwell issued a statement yesterday after the vote saying she supported an earlier version passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee but that the bill voted on yesterday "still has critical flaws."

The legislation voted on by the full Senate will permit the Bush Administration to undermine the Geneva Conventions, broadly expand the definition of enemy combatants, allow for coerced and secret evidence and abandon habeus corpus. For more than three years, our ability to try terrorists has been hampered by the Administration's refusal to abide by U.S. law. The provisions in this legislation may be once again deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, only further delaying our goal of bringing the terrorists to justice. Short-term political goals should never come ahead of America's long-term success in the war on terror.

McGavick issued two statements on the issue yesterday, one before the vote and one after. He found it "terribly disappointing" that Cantwell voted against it.

Too often in recent years the Senate hasn't made progress. This bill is an exception. The Bush administration came together with thoughtful critics like Senator McCain and produced a compromise bill designed to strengthen national security.

Very simply, this legislation is a necessary piece of the long term struggle against radical Islamic terrorism. Our security depends on our military and intelligence communities possessing intelligence gathering tools, and we are in need of a system to try our terrorist enemies. This is common sense legislation which 53 Republicans and 12 Democrats supported.

Another vote today is likely to show differences between the candidates. The Senate is set to vote on a bill that would build a 700-mile fence along the border with Mexico. Cantwell has opposed the move in the past and McGavick has supported it.

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September 28, 2006

Hal Spencer retires, but won't ever retreat

Posted by David Postman at 4:04 PM

Today is the last day of full-time work for Hal Spencer.

Hal works now in the governor's Office of Financial Management helping to translate budget talk into English and explaining complicated things with numbers to math-dopes like me.

Two consecutive governors have been lucky to have him. But when he slips off to retirement at the end of the day today I'll remember him much, much more for his 26 years of work as a journalist.

Hal was a mentor to me, whether he wanted to be or not. I've known him since 1982 when I got my first full-time journalism job. I was a public radio host in Alaska and he was in charge of the Associated Press bureau in Juneau. I knew him from his incredibly fast, sharp and accurate reporting of the Legislature as well as his yelling and arguing that were a frequent backdrop when I was on the telephone with reporters in the Capitol pressroom. Things had to be right for Hal. He'd always say, "When in doubt, leave it out." Don't guess, or fudge or think you remember something. Get it right the first time.

Later he took over the entire AP operation for Alaska. The first day I actually met him he was in the newsroom of the Anchorage Times. He was wearing wrinkled chinos and a beat up corduroy jacket. I remember standing a step or two back waiting for him to finish his conversation with the managing editor and noticing that the hem of his jacket had been repaired with staples. Lots of staples.

"Man," I thought. "That's one real reporter. I want to be just like him some day."

We later worked together at the Anchorage Daily News and then near by when we both ended up in Olympia. He has a temper and a sensitive soul and he can whip through the rage-shame cycle faster than any living human. If Hal left my office after dropping some F bombs as he critiqued my work, I'd know the phone would ring in minutes or an e-mail would pop up soon apologizing for the outburst -- though not for the substance of comments.

And he most often was right. In my 25 years or so of journalism I can think of few reporters who worked harder than Hal or were any more committed to fairness and objectivity than he was. He wasn't afraid to call bull; on sources, colleagues, competitors, bosses, family members, pets, or strangers.

He really loved being a reporter and always pushed those around him to be better at it. I don't expect his badgering to stop just because he's retiring. He's not quite 61 and has a lot of years left to keep pushing.

In honor of his retirement all of us in the press corps should work a little harder and be unafraid of what anyone in power will say about our work. And when we lose it and tell an editor off or tell a source he's boring the hell out of us, we should honor Hal again and be quick to apologize.

(I'm pretty sure he still wears that coat, too.)

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PDC wants to crack down on independent expenditures

Posted by David Postman at 11:53 AM

The PDC calls this graphic showing funding sources of independent expenditures "The Wheel of Fortune."

Members of the Public Disclosure Commission say independent expenditures are corrupting the state's elections. The commission wants to consider a ban on corporate and union involvement in independent expenditure campaigns. At a meeting in Olympia where they were briefed on the $2.6 million spent on independent expenditures in the primary, commission members asked the staff to look at ways the spending can be controlled.

Commission Chairwoman Jane Noland said the commission wants "to reduce the amount of independent expenditures ... and to ensure that yhey come from a broader array of sources."

Commissioner JohnMike Connelly said:

"The only reasonable conclusion you can draw from those facts is that the entities, the corporations, trade associations, unions, have taken control of the election process. By the simple volume of the money being spent, they have taken over that, pre-empted if you will the voters and individual citizens.


"And I think we also have to assume that influence has a dramatic adverse effect on the public confidence in the political process."

Noland said:

"We have two different concepts clashing here. As a state we have approved contribution limits and on the other hand though, we have these independent expenditures which make a mockery of those contribution limits ... and so I'm hoping that we can look at this broadly in terms of the spirit of campaign contribution limits and what we can do to really enhance that so that they work and so individuals feel they have a part of this and it's not controlled by a few very wealthy entities."

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Public Disclosure Commission reports on independent expenditures

Posted by David Postman at 10:55 AM

The Public Disclosure Commission is meeting now on the Capital Campus to get a briefing on independent expenditures in the 2006 primary campaigns. You can watch the meeting on TVW on the TV or on the web.

PDC Executive Director Vicki Rippie is walking the commission through a PowerPoint presentation on independent expenditures. That should be available online later and I'll post it here. You can see all independent expenditures done in the primary here at the PDC site.

There was a total of $2.1 million spent on independent expenditures in the state Supreme Court races. The PDC tally shows that in the two big races, Chief Justice Gerry Alexander vs. John Groen and Justice Susan Owens vs. Sen. Steve Johnson, conservatives far out spent liberals.

Backers of Johnson and Groen, primarily the Building Industry Association of Washington, spent $1.5 million, while Alexander's and Owen's backers spent $402,461.

Other findings include that 54 percent of all independent expenditures was spent on TV advertising, 27 percent on mail, 8 percent on radio, 4 percent on billboards, 2 percent on newspapers, 2 percent in movie theaters and 1 percent on doorbelling.

MORE: In all primary races, $2.6 million was spent on independent expenditures. In addition to the $2.1 million on Supreme Court races, there was $11,243 on Court of Appeals races and $547,550 on legislative races.

Of the legislative races, more than half of that was spent in the 35th District Democratic Senate primary between incumbent Sen. Tim Sheldon and Kyle Taylor Lucas. Sheldon won that race easily. Rippie said that 39 percent of the independent expenditures in that race came from out of state. And most of that went to oppose Sheldon.

MORE: Rippie told the commission that she thinks that the amount of money spent on independent expenditures makes it "ripe for discussion" whether current state laws are enough to regulate the spending and "if there are approaches that have been implemented at the federal level that are worth considering."

Rippie said that federal courts have upheld further restrictions on the "power of aggregated" money seen in independent expenditure campaigns because it distorts the "process and actually constitutes a kind of corruption in the political arena."

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McGavick blog fact-checks Cantwell ad

Posted by David Postman at 10:16 AM

On Mike McGavick's campaign blog his staff digs into Maria Cantwell's new TV ad on drug prices.

They compare it to an ad Cantwell ran in 2000 in her race against Sen. Slade Gorton, McGavick's former boss. (They found a bit of identical footage in the two ads. It's a good thing Cantwell doesn't age like me because a six-year-old picture of me would show a whole lot less gray.)

The McGavick campaign also questions Cantwell's position in support of "safe reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada."

That's a fine idea as well, and Mike supports it, but Senator Cantwell hasn't always thought it such a good idea.

Back in 2000, then candidate Cantwell said the following:
Cantwell Called Reimportation A "Gimmick."
"Sen. Gorton promoted his new 'reimportation' law that allows U.S. consumers to buy drugs at the price they sell for in Canada. Cantwell called that a gimmick." ("Highlights From Monday's Debate Between Republican Sen. Slade Gorton And Democratic Challenger Maria Cantwell," The Associated Press, October 30, 2000)

Cantwell Conceded That Reimportation Would Lead To Drug Companies Raising Prices Abroad.

"Cantwell criticized Gorton's education and prescription drug proposals as 'gimmicks' that wouldn't solve the nation's core problems. For example, she said, under Gorton's plan, drug companies are more likely to raise drug prices abroad than lower them in the United States. 'I just don't think the public is looking for gimmicks,' she said. 'They're looking for people who are going to roll up their sleeves, sit down with people who disagree, and forge compromises.'" ("Running Toward The Middle," National Journal, October 21, 2000)

(I like how McGavick's campaign is using the blog in blog fashion. It's not just a series of press releases or photos. There's a little bit of attitude there and links to the videos and back up information.)

I sent a link to McGavick's blog to the Cantwell campaign and asked for its response. Spokeswoman Katharine Lister said prescription drug policy is a major difference in the campaign and said Cantwell has been trying to lower the cost of drugs and called McGavick "an insurance industry lobbyist and CEO, who cut health benefits at his company and has taken tens of thousands of dollars from big drug and insurance companies ... ."

"The other thing worth noting is McGavick's continuing cherry picking of the facts to attack Senator Cantwell, while refusing to state any clear position. "For example, after 18 years in the Senate, Senator Gorton, in an election year conversion, filed a bill. But once again, McGavick's campaign isn't telling the whole truth. The Gorton bill that Cantwell and others called a gimmick had nothing to do with reimportation. It was a bill no one would even co-sponsor when he introduced it. "Does McGavick support Gorton's bill? He won't say. Does he support Cantwell's legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices? Once again, he equivocates. McGavick keeps attacking Maria Cantwell, when she has fought for changes only to see them blocked by a Republican Congress."

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Is McGavick done self-financing his campaign?

Posted by David Postman at 7:28 AM

That Monday Wall Street Journal article that focuses on our Senate race in a national round up of sorts contains this nugget I missed in my first reading:

Ms. Cantwell has more money than Mr. McGavick, and while Republican leaders had hopes the wealthy businessman would spend more of his own money, he says he has no plans to go beyond the $2 million he has lent his campaign.

So no more money moving from McGavick's personal bank account to the campaign? If he put more of his own in it would lift campaign donation limits for Cantwell, something McGavick wants to avoid. I asked McGavick campaign spokesman Elliott Bundy about it and he said only:

"At this time, there are no plans for a further personal contribution."

UPDATE: The Hill covers self-financed candidates today, including McGavick:

McGavick, who received $28 million after leaving as CEO of Safeco Corp. last year, plugged $2 million into his noncompetitive primary in August and declared that he didn't plan on contributing any more. He told The Hill on Wednesday that he is sticking with that plan for the time being and that he doesn't anticipate he'll need to supplement his fundraising.

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Newspapers help fund initiative to repeal estate tax

Posted by David Postman at 7:17 AM says that newspapers in Washington are helping to fund the initiative to repeal the estate tax. And it's not this paper. That's still an opportunity for Goldy to trash Times publisher Frank Blethen some more. But wade through that and you'll see The Columbian has given $5,000 and Pioneer Newspapers, which owns a chain of small papers, including the Skagit Valley Herald and the Ellensburg Record, has given $25,000.

Blethen has said he will not make financial contributions to the campaign and I have not heard anything to think that has changed. Blethen and Times lobbyist Jill Mackie have discussed the initiative with its sponsors and backers and, Blethen said in August, "may be involved on the periphery."

I feel for the reporters in Vancouver and at Pioneer papers in the state, because there's no question that when the corporate side of the paper involves itself in politics it makes it harder for those of us on the news side.

Blethen and I talked about that in August for a post here about his lobbying on the federal estate tax:

Blethen said he knows that people in the newsroom are uncomfortable with his political activity on the estate tax. He said editor Mike Fancher has made it clear on many occasions and said former Managing Editor Alex MacLeod was "far less subtle. He just looked me in the eye and said, 'You shouldn't be doing this.' And I'd say, 'Your job is to make sure we don't affect anything you do.' "

MORE: Yhese newspaper contributions did not go to Dennis Falk's group that sponsored the initiative and got it on the ballot. Instead the papers are giving to Keeping Washington Family Business Alive, the group started by the NFIB and the Association of Washington Business to push 920.

As Blethen said above, news people don't like it when the business side gets involved in politics. But the editorial side needs to worry, too. The day after The Columbian donation, the paper ran an op-ed piece by AWB President Don Brunell promoting I-920, with no mention of the paper's involvement in the campaign.

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September 27, 2006

Ethics complaint against Nixon dismissed as "non-sensical"

Posted by David Postman at 3:58 PM

The Legislative Ethics Board has dismissed a complaint against Rep. Toby Nixon, R-Kirkland, that had been filed by the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee. Nixon is running for the Senate in the 45th District.

The board called the complaint nonsense and found it "unsupported by any facts."

Democrats filed the complaint after seeing a press release about Nixon's Senate candidacy in the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce newsletter. At the bottom of the release it said to contact Rebecca Japhet for more information. Japhet is a legislative employee and heads the Senate Republican communications office. She is barred by law from doing any campaign-related work.

But she didn't. It turns out that the attribution to Japhet was an error on the part of the chamber staff and she had nothing to do with Nixon's release — as Nixon has maintained.

Last week the Democratic campaign committee asked the ethics board to remove Japhet's name from the complaint because, "After further investigation, we are satisfied that Ms. Japhet had no role in her name appearing on Rep. Nixon's press release in the May 2006 edition of the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce publication Off the Vine."

But Democrats wanted Nixon's name to remain on the complaint. That made no sense to the ethics board. In its dismissal order today, the board said that recognizing that Japhet did nothing wrong means the entire complaint is without merit:

If that is true, and we conclude today after investigation there is no evidence to the contrary, the complainant seems to be left with only the inference that Rep. Nixon or his campaign staff would for some reason intentionally place a partial attribution to this legislative employee on the campaign release. That inference is nonsensical as well as unsupported by any facts.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, pursuant to RCW 42.52.425, which grants the Board the authority to dismiss a complaint after investigation if it finds that the complaint is unfounded, that Complaint 2006 — No. 9 is DISMISSED.

UPDATE: Here's the board's order.

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Cantwell threatened in primary only in hindsight

Posted by David Postman at 11:27 AM

In the spring when Sen. Maria Cantwell was still routinely getting beat up by anti-war activists in the Democratic Party I wondered in this space how much of a problem this really would be for her re-election chances.

No one really thought it would cost her the primary, much less the election. There were concerns that Cantwell's position on the war could cost the party volunteers during the campaign season.

In May, thinking I was clever and ready to move the story, I asked, "Any chance this all could help Cantwell because it makes her appear more moderate, not part of the Seattle liberal elite that Republicans love to bash?"

But maybe I wasn't clever enough. Since last week's primary I've been wondering — and only partly in jest — if Cantwell didn't concoct or at least play up the anti-war criticism of her. Why? Because when she creamed her primary opponents she'd emerge in the fall as a powerhouse.

Look at this story in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that focused on Cantwell's race with Mike McGavick:

After she refused in January to call her war vote a mistake, liberals' rebelliousness built. Two potentially worrisome candidates surfaced. Meanwhile, state and national pundits were praising Mr. McGavick. By late June, a Seattle paper headlined its poll story, "Cantwell's Lead Nearly Gone."

The senator explains her recovery simply: "We had a lot of meetings with people." She met with groups to let them vent. Supporters promoted Ms. Cantwell's work on other issues important to liberals — for abortion rights and against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in particular. In July, the two rival Democrats had joined her campaign, leaving just Ms. Tran. And Ms. Cantwell issued a statement that if she had known the U.S. wouldn't find weapons of mass destruction, she wouldn't have voted for force against Iraq.

And this from the McClatchy News Service roundup of Senate races:

Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell survived a primary challenge over her vote to authorize the Iraq war. Now, antiwar voters may have nowhere else to go, and Cantwell leads Republican Mike McGavick, a former insurance executive.

Were Cantwell's primary opponents ever "worrisome"? Was there any question she would survive that challenge? That poll about Cantwell's evaporating lead was splashed on the front page at a time when the average lead she had in public polls was almost 10 percent.

There were several million reasons and dollars that separated Connecticut's Ned Lamont from anyone running against Cantwell. There never was a serious challenge here.

Maybe McGavick should have played up Brad Klippert's campaign and stories this week would mention how he beat back a challenge from Right to Life forces.

MORE: Speaking of Cantwell's anti-war critics: When Mark Wilson was still running against Maria Cantwell I don't think he had a stronger supporter than Chad Shue, a Democratic peace activist in Snohomish County who writes at The Left Shue.

Like me, Shue now wants to hear directly from Wilson about the allegation that he tried to talk Green Aaron Dixon into dropping out of the Senate race.

Mark, please tell me it isn't so. Please tell me that you would not be involved in any effort to buy off the competition! Tell me this isn't the type of outreach Senator Cantwell had in mind when she hired you to work on her campaign. Or, wait! Maybe you should say that you did do this and that you were acting alone as a sort of "rogue operative" and that Senator Cantwell had no knowledge of this action! That would be much better. Or not! I don't see, if there is any truth to this allegation, how this makes anyone at Camp Cantwell look good.

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Darcy in the air, Dave on global warming and other news

Posted by David Postman at 9:09 AM

  • Darryl at Hominid Views interviews Darcy Burner about her time with the Civil Air Patrol. Burner was apparently a successful young cadet, but maybe she, Darryl and Goldy infuse that experience with a bit too much meaning?

    It was the place where she learned how to run an efficient operation, how to get along with people of disparate political stripes and learned the meaning of leadership. From Darryl's interview:

    Darcy: For example, it was from the Civil Air Patrol that I internalized the principle that a true leader will not ask somebody under their command to do something they are not willing to do. You have to be willing to do anything that you ask of those working for you. Darryl: ...something that we aren't getting from our national political leaders these days. Darcy: Right, exactly, there seems to be a tremendous lack of basic principled leadership right now. And being principled is something I learned in the Civil Air Patrol.
  • In the Tri-City Herald, Chris Mulick fact-checks a TV ad running against Rep. Bill Grant and says Republican Kevin Young's spots "bend the truth."
    Young said he wasn't directly involved in the ad's production and added he'd look into any discrepancies.

    Shouldn't candidates know enough about their ads before they run to know if they are truthful?

  • The state Senate has decamped to Spokane for committee meetings. They're at the luxurious Davenport Hotel, though The Spokesman-Review's Rich Roesler says the senate is paying $99 a night for a room rather than the usual rate that runs from $165 to $195.
    The hotel gives the lawmakers, staff and lobbyists a chance to spread out in a way that's tougher in the capitol — on Monday, Sen. Bob McCaslin was holding court at one table with business lobbyists while other lawmakers were sprawled out on nearby couches. Up in the mezzanine — a balcony encircling the vast lobby — Sen. Brad Benson chatted with lawmakers, while election rival Chris Marr talked with other folks at a table below.
  • Also in the Spokesman was this AP story about the Idaho governor's race and the debate raging over "canned elk hunts." That is not hunting for elk meat in cans, but hunting on fenced-in hunting grounds.
    Democratic candidate Jerry Brady called a news conference Tuesday at the Boise Zoo, calling for a ban on the hunts of big game animals on fenced-in grounds.

    "Canned hunts are ruining the American heritage of public access to wildlife," Brady said in a statement. "They signal a return to an elitist, European system of land ownership where people have to pay to hunt. This is not a trend Idaho should follow."

  • A long-running dispute between the Evergreen Freedom Foundation and the Washington Education Association will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Olympian's Brad Shannon says:
    The case pits the conservative, Olympia-based Evergreen Freedom Foundation and allied interests against the Washington Education Association over the question: Should the WEA teachers union ask its nonmembers for written permission before spending a portion of agency fees on political purposes? Or, as WEA argued, should the employee have to opt out, as its practice had been?

    Here's the Times story on this from D.C.

  • And be sure to read this Times story by Jonathan Martin on Dave Reichert's environmental record.

    Could it really have been that Reichert was close to getting the Sierra Club endorsement until he told them his view on global warming?

    "The problem is, you have some scientists who say it's happening, and some who say it's not happening. The problem is the Sierra Club says that every scientist says it is," said Reichert, a member of the House Science Committee.

    "I'm going to wait until all the facts are in. There were many scientists who used to say the world was flat."

UPDATE: Eli Sanders points out that Reichert's position makes him even more a skeptic of global warming than President Bush is.

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September 26, 2006

We have a winner

Posted by David Postman at 4:16 PM

Chase Gallagher of Shelton is the winner in the Postman on Politics Pick-a-Party Primary Prognostication contest.

Gallagher, 22, is campaign manager for Democrat Mike Rechner who is running against House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt. Gallagher graduated from UW last year.

There were a few other entries that came close to Gallagher. But where he sealed his victory was in the 43rd Legislative District. He picked the correct finish for four of six candidates.

Most entries picked the Supreme Court races correct and most chose Tim Sheldon to win in the 35th. Most guessed wrong in the 26th Legislative District Senate race, where Jim Hines beat Lois McMahan in the Republican primary.

Congratulations to Gallagher. His prize is on the way.

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Condi Rice no fan of McGavick's call for Iran soccer ban

Posted by David Postman at 12:29 PM

If Mike McGavick is looking for more daylight between him and the Bush Administration he can look at his call to ban Iran from the World Cup. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says it's the sort of thing that could have strengthened anti-American sentiments in Iran.

In an interview yesterday with the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, Rice was asked, "What do you think about a gasoline embargo on Iran?"

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I just ... I don't think that it was anything that you have to look at it in the near term and I'm not sure that it would have the desired effect. One of the problems that we have is if indeed you would like not to have a situation in which you reinforce the leadership's desire to make their people feel that America is anti-Iranian people, then you want to stay away from things that have a bad effect on the Iranian people to the degree that you can. You know, we've talked ...quot; people have talked for instance about barring Iranian students or barring Iranian ...quot; there was at one point the World Cup, you know, bar them from the World Cup or something like that.

The Iranian regime has been pretty insistent on a line of reasoning that this is not between the United States and the Iranian regime; this is between the United States and Iran, the culture, the people, its great national pride. And that's something we really do have to fight against and some believe a gasoline embargo might play into that.

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The BIAW's post-primary poll

Posted by David Postman at 8:10 AM

The Building Industry Association of Washington commissioned a poll immediately after last week's primary to see what worked and what didn't in their expensive, but unsuccessful, campaign to elect John Groen to the Supreme Court and to try to figure out what to do different in their effort to help Sen. Stephen Johnson beat Justice Susan Owens in November.

Among the 400 or so people polled was reader Frank Shoichet, a Seattle attorney and no friend of the BIAW's. He's a donor to Owens and the trial attorneys' PAC. Shoichet took excellent notes as he was polled and sent me a list of 27 questions he was asked. BIAW executive vice president Tom McCabe — who I must say was impressed with the accuracy of Shoichet's list — confirmed it was his group that paid for the poll.

Among the questions were favorable/unfavorable ratings for BIAW, the SEIU ... the union that was one of the top donors to Citizens to Uphold the Constitution which opposed BIAW candidates ... as well as for Groen, Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, Owens and Johnson.

Respondents were asked who they voted for in the Groen/Alexander race and why they voted that way. They were asked if the vote was more for supporting Alexander or opposing Groen and were given a sliding scale of one to five to show how important different factors were in their vote. Those included whether they thought Alexander had been on the bench too long, Alexander's support for Justice Bobbe Bridge after her arrest for drunken driving, that John Groen was a "right-wing extremist," that Groen opposed stem cell research and abortion, that Groen was funded by big-money special interests, and whether Alexander won because he was more experienced or because of the BIAW's attack ads against him.

McCabe said he learned some things from the poll. He doesn't think his ads were negative. But, he said, if you accept that they are as the Times and other papers said, the poll showed "negative ads are successful. They were successful in generating a lot of no votes for John Groen and yes votes for Gerry Alexander."

"The other side's ads were really good," McCabe said. The most successful lines of attack, he said, was calling Groen a right-winger and saying that he opposed abortion and stem cell research. "The numbers really jumped considerably on those two issues."

"When you say he is a right-wing extremist in a state where most people identify themselves as moderate or liberal, that really makes an impression on people."

Looking ahead to the Johnson/Owens race, the BIAW asked, "If you knew nothing else about two candidates besides the fact that one was a man and one was a woman, for whom would you vote?"

McCabe said the poll found a 13 percent advantage for the female candidate.

"We've got a sisterhood in this state that is just interesting. ... It's not a surprise that we have two U.S. senators who are women, a governor who is a woman, four Supreme Court justices who are women. Is that different than in other states? I think it is."

And that poses a challenge for Johnson and his backers at the BIAW.

"Susan Owens' positives are really high primarily because she is a woman. People don't even know what she looks like or how she voted or where she's from."

A man running against a woman needs to watch his image carefully. It is difficult for any anti-abortion candidate to win statewide here. And to try to neutralize the gender gap as much as possible a candidate needs to avoid appearing as, say, a "shifty brute," which is how Ralph Thomas described the portrayal of Groen in an opposition ad.

Instead, McCabe said, Republican men running statewide need to appear "as a sensitive, caring guy, like Rob McKenna or Dino Rossi, and I think they both did a pretty good job."

MORE: Steve Johnson issued a press release this morning with a letter he sent supporters "outlining his plan to run a clean, fair and truthful campaign in the remaining weeks of his campaign." Johnson had no specific criticisms of ads run so far, but said in the release, "This action was precipitated by a series of controversial ads aired on both sides of the Groen/Alexander race leading up to the recent primary election."

Johnson said he wants Owens "as well as outside interest groups" to honor his three guideliens: "All facts and statements shall be grounded in truth and relevance. Personal attacks are out of bounds. My campaign will focus on my judicial philosophy, my qualifications and decisions of the Court.

Also, in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, a column by Kimberley A. Strassel says that the Groen/Alexander election was reason "for good cheer in the business community."

How could an expensive loss be good for business? Because it showed business was willing to strike against creeping "Spitzerism." Strassel calls New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer "Chief Persecutor of Wall Street."

Mr. Groen lost last week, but barely. Across the country, incumbent judges--who are rarely challenged, much less seriously so--began shaking in their robes.

Call it business's revenge, or better yet, business's new political strategy--one that may prove a rare bright point for conservatives in upcoming elections. Somewhere among the Spitzer campaigns, the endless trial-lawyer suits, and the adverse verdicts in state courts, the corporate world realized it needed to address root causes. Local chambers of commerce and tort-reform groups encouraged businesses to start putting some skin into state elections.

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September 25, 2006

Green candidate Dixon says Cantwell campaign wanted him out of race

Posted by David Postman at 9:40 PM

Green Party Senate candidate Aaron Dixon says someone on Maria Cantwell's campaign tried to talk him into quitting the race with the promise that the senator's supporters would donate money to the non-profit group that Dixon founded.

Cantwell campaign spokeswoman Katharine Lister said she did not know of any staffer in contact with Dixon and said no one on the campaign "was authorized to speak with Mr. Dixon about his candidacy This is consistent with the Cantwell campaign's strict policy of not hiring felons."

(There was no allegation that he was offered a job, but Lister is obviously referring to Dixon's criminal record, as reported by and the Spokesman Review. Dixon responded to the reports on his website.)

Dixon's allegations were reported today by Joshua Frank at World News Trust, a "grassroots, independent news media project." Frank wrote:

As Dixon tells it, "Mark [Wilson] called and basically told me that a lot of people have a lot of money within the Cantwell campaign, and he said that they could put on a fundraiser for Central House that would 'blow my mind.' He called a week later and basically told me the same thing. I didn't bite, ending this war is too important."

When asked if exiting the race would have been contingent on there being a fundraiser for his organization, Dixon answered, "It wasn't said directly, but it was certainly implied."

Dixon also said that Mark Wilson was not the only Cantwell staffer to call his campaign headquarters with the hope of convincing him to drop out, but Dixon declined to elaborate. The Cantwell campaign declined to comment on Dixon's allegations.

Wilson is Cantwell's former Democratic primary opponent who folded his campaign and took an $8,000-a-month job with the senator's re-election campaign.

Earlier tonight I talked with Dixon spokesman Mike Gillis. He confirmed Frank's report. He says the calls came in July right before the deadline for filing for office.

"There were heavy implications that Central House would be getting a lot of money if Aaron would drop out of the race, which is about as close to a buy-out as you can get.

"There was another one a week later, a bit more urgent."

Dixon founded Central House in 2002 to provide housing for homeless teenagers.

Gillis said Dixon has not talked about the calls publicly until the interview with Frank. "We were planning on it coming out eventually," he said. When Frank asked Dixon about the calls, Dixon told him what happened.

Gillis repeated the allegation that someone else with the Cantwell campaign also contacted Dixon, but he wouldn't say who it was. Gillis checked with the campaign manager to see if he could tell me who it was, but he called back to say the campaign was not ready to release that information. But he said the name would be released in the future.

I'm not sure why the Dixon campaign would withhold that bit of information while confirming the rest of the story, or why the campaign sat on the story since July.

I wish I could talk to Wilson about this directly. But he has not responded to questions since going to work for Cantwell and the campaign says he will not be made available to talk about this. Lister's statements clearly say there was no official approach made to Dixon and she didn't know of anything unofficial, either. But she doesn't say it didn't happen. Wilson is the one who could answer that.

UPDATE: I missed Frank's post when it first appeared at and

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No mansion dinner for Demo donors

Posted by David Postman at 4:23 PM

Gov. Christine Gregoire says she won't host a dinner in the Governor's Mansion for a couple who won the honor at a fundraiser for Darcy Burner. Instead, the governor says she'll take them out to dinner.

"They don't want to embarrass me and they don't want to embarrass Darcy. So they'd just as soon not do that. ... They'd like to have the opportunity to have dinner with myself and my husband. So I'll probably take them to dinner somewhere."

The governor made her comments this morning in response to questions about the $4,000 dinner at the mansion auctioned off at a recent fundraiser for Burner, the Democratic candidate in the 8th Congressional District.

There's no embarrassment on Gregoire's part. She seemed more angry than anything about questions raised about the propriety of using the mansion for political purposes. She makes living in the beautiful home sound like an awful burden — and perhaps unlivable if she isn't able to have dinner with whomever she wants:

"I think there's fundamentally something wrong when I can't invite somebody into my private quarters at the mansion, buy food and my husband and I make them a dinner. I think there's something wrong with that, OK?
I don't think you're going to get any governor who's going to want to live over there if that's the criteria by which they have to live there — that they can not invite anybody and have a private dinner at their own expense, made by themselves. There's just something wrong with that.


"If I'm going to have it in my own private kitchen upstairs, I bought the food, I made the dinner — I can't invite you to dinner because you're a member of the press? Somebody might think there's something wrong with that? I think that's wrong.

"I ought to be able to live in that house. As restrained as it is to live in that house. Come live in it for week. Come live in it for a week. ... It's a difficult place to live in, folks. You've got guards there all the time. You're not free to do a whole lot. So I can't invite somebody to my private quarters, pay for the food, make the food myself? There's something wrong with that."

Gregoire's statements were firm, but she was not exactly clear. In general she makes no distinction between overtly political events like the dinner to raise money for Burner, charity events like something to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club, or her own private life.

She said she's never done a political event there and never before auctioned off a dinner for a campaign fundraiser.

So by not doing that now all the fun has been sapped out of living in the mansion? She makes it sound like a marble prison.

There's a clear difference between charity events and political events. There are social events, too. The press was invited to the mansion recently for a reception. Legislative leaders are there frequently during the session. The governor can have all the friends she wants to for dinner. She could invite random people off the streets.

In fact, there's no evidence she can't have fundraisers there if she wants to. But apparently the reaction in some quarters to the Burner dinner lead the winning bidders to change their mind and take their dinner elsewhere.

Gregoire said she and her husband, Mike, have worked to open the mansion more to the public. That's a great thing. It's a beautiful building and I wish more people could see it. They have guidelines for use of the building, including the very smart decision not to hold charity events there unless she or Mike are in attendance.

"So the place isn't up for rent," Gregoire said. "The place isn't up for sale."

I don't know why the governor seemed so perturbed about this. She thought it was OK to hold the dinner. Republicans complained, as did some bloggers. I questioned the political judgment of the move. But no one has ruled it can't be done. If she believes so strongly she should be allowed to do it, then she should go ahead.

But no one should confuse charity with politics.

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Which liberal Seattle district has no female lawmaker?

Posted by David Postman at 11:21 AM

At the Slog, Erica C. Barnett points out that whichever candidate is named the official winner in the Jamie Pedersen/Jim Street count:

The 43rd District is now the only legislative district in Seattle without a single female representative.

Barnett posted in response to what she said was sexism in the comments in this Slog post about Stephanie Pure.

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We will keep electing judges

Posted by David Postman at 9:23 AM

Record spending in court races and the nasty ad campaigns have some on the left saying it's time to stop electing judges in Washington. The P-I editorial board said:

Rather than leave such important decisions to the vagaries of the public vote, or to the narrow scope of political appointments, Washington's justice system would be improved by a combination of independent committee selection of appointments and retention elections for judges.

For David Goldstein at, it's as much or more Richard Pope's good showing last week than the Supreme Court races that leads him to say:

It is time to stop electing judges. We need to create some sort of nonpartisan commission to interview and nominate slates of candidates from which the Governor is free to make appointments. And we need to institute regular retention votes, through which voters can remove sitting judges based on their performance on the bench, rather than in a name-familiarity contest.

It's not going to happen. This battle has been fought several times before. And in a state that still — in some counties — elects partisan coroners, there is little support to take away voters' power in electing judges.

There's been teeth-gnashing over politics in judicial races for nearly 100 years. Judges used to run partisan races, according to "A Century of Judging," the late Charles Sheldon's excellent history of the state Supreme Court. (No one should be allowed to argue about the court without having read the book.) That ended in 1910 because of fears the judiciary was being politicized.

The current system was the reform. And it's hardly news to criticize it as being too easily swayed by money, or a candidate with a familiar name. Justice Robert Utter wrote in a 1972 University of Washington Law Review, "Facing an election, the judge realizes that he probably will be elected or fail to be elected on the irrelevant issue of name familiarity."

There have been attempts to change the system since at least 1966 with the Citizens Committee on Washington Courts. The group's call for retention elections went nowhere.

The most recent major effort came in 1996 with the Walsh Commission, which called for judges to be appointed and then stand for retention elections.

The report got some media coverage, but little traction. It was criticized as a move to take power from voters, as Seattle attorney Todd De Groff wrote:

The Walsh proposal, in effect, shows no confidence in the voters and drains all of the blood from the judicial election process. The citizens deserve a direct voice in the judicial selection process. Insulating Supreme Court justices from the sound and fury of short-term political pressures while preserving the right of the people to freely choose their judges is the best compromise.

Gov. Christine Gregoire has criticized the role money is playing in the court races, and also has been raising money for court incumbents. She says voters here don't want Washington judicial races to become like some other states' races, "where literally, it's about money and politics."

But she doesn't support changing how judges are elected. I asked her about it at a July 17 press conference and she said the Walsh Commission report "didn't catch on politically."

"The public really wants to vote and I respect that."

I'm confident that the system we have will be around for a long time to come.

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September 20, 2006

Light blogging ahead

Posted by David Postman at 2:06 PM

I had all these really smart things I was going to write about last night's primary but then I remembered I'm on my way to take my son to college. So I'll largely let the primary results stew for a few days.

I'll also be sifting through the entries in the primary contest.

In short, I don't think the primary results tell us anything at all about what might happen in November. But please use this comment thread to disagree if you have found some deeper meaning.

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Giuliani to campaign here for McGavick

Posted by David Postman at 10:29 AM

Former New York City Mayor and potential presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani will come to the state Oct. 9 to help Mike McGavick. Giuliani is the sort of moderate and independent Republican McGavick wants to surround himself with. No details yet.

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Doc Hastings has no problem with GOP challenger

Posted by David Postman at 8:30 AM

In case there was any question, Republicans in the 4th Congressional District still seem to like their congressman.

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King County actually counting ballots faster than before

Posted by David Postman at 8:05 AM

It is not at all clear to me why King County is so slow in counting ballots.

Before the election, the election office posted the "2006 King County Primary and Special Elections Results Schedule." It explained that polling place votes would be counted slower this year because results would not be electronically transferred from polling places. But, the county said the posting of absentee ballots counted will not be affected.

But last night, when the count of absentee ballots was slow, the county issued a press release: "Pick-a-party primary slows vote tabulation".

Interim Elections Director Jim Buck said it was a matter of being extra careful. He was quoted as saying, "We are taking the extra time necessary to make sure everyone's vote is counted accurately."

Buck went on to explain that because many voters didn't pick a party on their ballots, tabulation machines spit the ballots back and staff were forced to first manually inspect the ballot and then manually override the tabulation machines so non-partisan races could be counted.

But numbers provided by the county in the press release show that workers were actually counting faster this year than in 2004. In 24 hours in 2004 they counted 70,299 absentee ballots. Yesterday they counted for 12 hours, and counted 45,521 absentee ballots. Math is not my strong suit, but at that rate they were on course to count 91,042 over 24 hours.

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September 19, 2006

BIAW says more of the same to come in court race

Posted by David Postman at 10:48 PM

Whether you thought the campaign against Chief Justice Gerry Alexander was nasty or just an effort to draw a stark distinction between him and challenger John Groen, get ready for more of the same. The race between Justice Susan Owens and challenger state Sen. Stephen Johnson may set the same tone.

I just talked to Tom McCabe, executive vice president of the Building Industry Association of Washington, who said he thinks that Groen did well tonight and he has no regrets about the campaign that his group ran against Alexander.

"I still think all the ads we did were fair and all the ads we did were true. But I think what we do in the Johnson race will be the same."

McCabe said he didn't think the anti-Alexander campaign was particularly tough. He said he'd consider a TV ad that criticized Alexander for supporting Justice Bobbe Bridge after her drunken driving arrest a "tougher spot. But I wouldn't consider it untrue and I wouldn't consider it unfair."

I've been wondering in recent days if Alexander could have been helped by all the effort against him. Not just as a backlash, but because the ads used his name, not Groen's, and perhaps that could have driven up Alexander's name recognition. McCabe said he doesn't think so. He said the BIAW's polling showed Alexander with pretty good name recognition before the campaign.

He also pointed to Spokane as something of a test market. There, the Alexander campaign and its allies at Citizens to Uphold the Constitution were not running television advertising, so the BIAW ads went unanswered. And there was not the
heavy media coverage of the race seen in the Seattle area — coverage that McCabe described as the liberal media bashing the BIAW on a daily basis. Results tonight show Groen doing well in Spokane, which McCabe said shows his ads standing alone did not turn voters off.

McCabe thinks Groen will run again. And he hopes he will. Justice Jim Johnson, another BIAW-backed candidate, won his seat on the court after first losing a race.

"I think everything conservative-leaning, free-market oriented people do in this state is a long-term battle. Nothing comes easy. We're in a liberal state, with, frankly in my opinion, a liberal media, with a liberal establishment. ... Most people that try to do what we try to do give up because it's depressing. But I'm not going to give up and I don't think John Groen will give up."

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McGavick shifts to issues

Posted by David Postman at 9:33 PM

Mike McGavick just gave a short speech to supporters in his Seattle campaign headquarters. He said that when he began the campaign he was "relatively unknown," but his certain win tonight shows he dominates "our own party." (He didn't mention which party that was in his speech.)

He criticized Cantwell and the Democrats for trying to tie him to President Bush, though. "Frankly if she wanted to run against George Bush she missed it by two years," he said.

McGavick brought up his favorite campaign theme of civility several times. But the speech seemed to focus as much on issues. He said, "I think the differences in this election are profound." He said he'd vote to spend less than Maria Cantwell, but cut more taxes than her. Along with Social Security, those are what McGavick called the big differences between him and Cantwell.

He said there are smaller differences, too. He repeated one of his very first campaign positions, criticizing Cantwell for voting to retain Social Security benefits for illegal aliens who later become citizens. He said he was unhappy that his recent call to drug test some welfare recipients was "met with a wave of derision" from the Cantwell campaign.

In the past McGavick has said that he and Cantwell hold almost identical positions on Iraq. But tonight he talked about Cantwell's position as unclear, mushy. When Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was in town, McGavick said that all the Senate debate over resolutions calling for troop withdrawal were largely without substance. But tonight he said "a politically driven timetable" is an effort to gain votes, not end the war. He then said he wasn't suggesting that was Cantwell's position.

On civility, he said Cantwell and the Democrats — he uses the GOP-approved appellation "Democrat Party" — are running a "good cop/bad cop" campaign where Cantwell sticks to the high road but party operatives take the hard shots. He's right about that, though his own party does much the same thing.

MORE: Dino Rossi, the GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2004, was at McGavick's headquarters. He said he had just called Sen. Tim Sheldon to offer his congratulations. Sheldon, a renegade Democrat who backed Rossi for governor, faced a well-financed primary opponent in Kyle Taylor Lucas. "Now he's bulletproof," Rossi said of Sheldon.

UPDATE: After getting a decent write up in the New York Times today, McGavick slips in the eyes of the paper of record:

In Washington state, Sen. Maria Cantwell won the Democratic primary for Senate, and Mike McGavick, a former insurance salesman, won the Republican Senate primary, both by large margins, The Associated Press reported.

He was an insurance company CEO, of course, and I'm pretty sure he was never peddling policies.

UPDATE: Kelly Steele, the Democratic Party spokesman who has taken the most shots at McGavick, said Cantwell has been "doing her job full-time in Washington, D.C." so the party has focused on McGavick.

They did a little of that tonight. Cantwell issued a statement tonight. It makes no mention of McGavick and says, in part:

"I will continue to run a true, issues based campaign. I will continue to fight to make sure Social Security remains a safety net for America's seniors. We need to change the course in Iraq so our troops can start coming home this year. We need to make health care and prescription drugs affordable for everyone in Washington state, especially our seniors. We need to lower energy costs so working families aren't paying for oil company record profits. "

The party issued a press release criticizing McGavick for his plan to fly to D.C. for fundraisers. The release refers to McGavick as, "The former Slade Gorton chief-of-staff turned high-priced insurance industry lobbyist turned wealthy insurance CEO turned Republican US Senate candidate."

Democrats will hold a press conference in the morning with Governor Chris Gregoire, House Speaker Frank Chopp, party chairman Dwight Pelz and labor council president Rick Bender.

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Hong Tran looks to the next race

Posted by David Postman at 8:31 PM

I'm at Hong Tran's Broadview home where a couple dozen people have gathered to watch returns with the candidate and her family. Tran obviously knows that even the earliest returns will show her long-shot campaign against Sen. Maria Cantwell will be a symbolic effort.

But in an interview, she expressed no regrets about her nearly five month campaign in the Democratic primary. And she thinks her anti-war platform has made a difference:

"I think it would have been a much easier path for Cantwell if I hadn't run. Even her efforts to sound more anti-war wouldn't have happened."

Tran says she doesn't think Cantwell has changed her position at all and she doubts that many anti-war Democrats were truly swayed by what the senator has said in recent months about the war.

"The only people it reaches are the people who were going to vote for her anyway and now they can just feel better about it."

She has little to say about Mark Wilson, the first anti-war candidate to get in the Democratic primary who went to work for the Cantwell campaign as a high-priced outreach director. She said he "cashed in."

This is the first election party Tran has ever attended. Her career has been solely with non-profits, mostly as an attorney providing legal services to the poor. She seemed quite focused tonight on the dominating role money plays in politics.

She said that a lot of people tried to compare her, mostly unfavorably, to Ned Lamont, who unseated Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Connecticut. "Ned Lamont is like a trillionaire," she said. "It's only because he has money and he's running against Lieberman, who everyone hates, that makes people like him. His history is not being a progressive."

Tran says much of that critique is true of Darcy Burner, the Democrat running against Rep. Dave Reichert, and the darling of the Democrats this year.

"People have really been enamored of her. But she has no public service background. She's another millionaire running. ... Unfortunately a lot of voters think when someone has money it makes them legitimate." (I don't know that she is a millionaire.)

Tran said she expects she will run for office again. She quit her job to campaign full time and she doesn't know what she'll do next, but she's confident public service will play a role.

She and her campaign manager, Jesse Blaisdell, are thinking about writing an article about "how undemocratic the Democratic Party really is." And she's thinking about joining the lawsuit against the state's primary system.

She said a lot of Democrats, including party and elected officials, have said they want her to talk about future campaigns. She had earlier considered running against Congressman Jim McDermott. And she still talks like a potential opponent.

"He's like this icon. People think that Jim McDermott epitomizes a good liberal and his voting record would not be any different than mine. But to be in a position like that, in such a safe district, you could do so much more."

She said McDermott has based his career on being "antagonistic with Republicans and be critical of people" and should instead use his tenure to do more for the district.

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Feds raid Muslim charity that helped fund McDermott Iraq trip

Posted by David Postman at 2:30 PM

A Michigan-based Muslim charity that helped pay for Congressman Jim McDermott's pre-war trip to Iraq was raided yesterday by federal law enforcement officials.

Counterterrorism agents of the FBI and IRS raided what is believed to be one of the biggest Muslim charities in the United States, hauling away a truckload of documents and computers from its Southfield office.

The raid was based on sealed search warrants, but the charity's head of legal services, Ihsan Alkhatib, said the agents are investigating whether the charity conducted business in Iraq before the 2003 war in violation of legal sanctions against the country.

Alkhatib said Life for Relief and Development "did everything by the book.

It was reported in 2003 that the group, along with the Church Council of Greater Seattle, paid for McDermott and two other Democratic congressmen to fly to Iraq in 2002.

McDermott and the charity also shared a controversial contributor, Detroit businessman Shakir al-Khafaji, as reported in this 2004 story.

McDermott, D-Seattle, returned a $5,000 contribution from al-Khafaji, who had accompanied McDermott on his highly publicized trip to Iraq in 2002.

The businessman has been linked to the U.N. oil scandal in Iraq as well.

I've put a call into McDermott's office for comment.

UPDATE: I just spoke with McDermott spokesman Mike DeCesare.

He said McDermott was invited to Iraq by the church council, not the Michigan group.

"Jim was asked time and again by the folks there to go see what others had seen and were concerned about, which was the plight of Iraqi children," DeCesare said. "That was the genesis of the whole trip."

He said his recollection was that the funding of the trip was worked out after McDermott accepted the invitation. When he was told who paid for it, he reported it as required on disclosure forms.

"We've been straight forward about it because it's a pretty straight forward thing," he said.

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Cantwell on McGavick's welfare plan

Posted by David Postman at 11:46 AM

The Cantwell campaign has sent a response of sorts to my question of last week about what the senator thinks of Mike McGavick's call to drug test some welfare recipients.

Michael Meehan, the campaign's chief strategist, said in a statement that the campaign will "not comment on old Republican plans that try to divide us." But he does comment a little.

As he continues to fall further behind in the polls, tearing a page out of Bob Dole's presidential campaign to attack people on welfare is another sad chapter in the McGavick campaign. Washington state has made progress on this since it was passed in the 1996 welfare reforms. In fact, Washington state already does provide initial screening, already does work to help drug-affected families.

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Green Party critique of today's primary

Posted by David Postman at 8:18 AM

Green Party Senate candidate Aaron Dixon does not appear on today's primary ballot, but he hopes to use election day to draw attention to the "the rigged nature of the two-party system," according to a campaign press release.

It's hard to argue with Dixon when he says, " These major party primary elections are over before they've begun." There are very few contested primaries today.

Dixon will hold a forum on Capital Hill tonight to discuss the primary system and make his pitch for a third party candidacy. He will appear with Elaine Brown, the only woman to ever have led the Black Panthers. She's an author and has run for office herself as a Green candidate for mayor of Brunswick, Georgia. She was disqualified from that race, as a candidate and a voter, because she couldn't show proof of residency.

In an interview with CounterPunch magazine during her mayoral campaign, Brown explained why she was running under the Green banner, a question that Dixon gets, too.

This was a slave-holding nation from the get go. So I don't care a thing about the Republicans or the Democrats any more than I distinguish between the Confederate flag and the United States flag. It's all one flag to me. All of these people promoted slavery and the oppression of Black people.

No matter how hard we fought to vote, we've always been stuck voting for people who have never bothered to serve our interests. The only reason I registered as a Green Party member is because at least the Green Party is a political entity that is doing electoral politics that calls for reparations.

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NY Times says Cantwell benefits from "cold dose of pragmatism"

Posted by David Postman at 7:54 AM

On the front page of the New York Times today is an excellent overview of the race between Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican Mike McGavick.

Correspondent William Yardley says the pressures Cantwell feels from anti-war critics in her own party are far different than from what cost Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman his race. In Connecticut there was no well-financed Republican who could take advantage of a Democrat weakened in a primary.

After all, unlike in Connecticut, the question here is not whether another Democrat will unseat Ms. Cantwell. Instead, the wild card is whether antiwar opponents will peel away enough support to leave her vulnerable to the Republican opponent, Mike McGavick, a former insurance executive who recently put $2 million of his own money into his campaign.

One tiny error in the piece. It was First Lady Laura Bush, not Barbara, who campaigned here for McGavick.

UPDATE: Josh Feit doesn't like the NYT story much. At the Slog he says "the article overplays the compromise angle" of what Cantwell has done to appease the anti-war forces in the state.

As evidence that Cantwell's changed her tune? The NYT cites the bill Cantwell sponsored with Sen. Joseph Biden in early August prohibiting permanent bases in Iraq (that's a solid example, but it's all they've really got.)

I don't read that at all as evidence to back up a claim that Cantwell has changed her position on the war. The story left me with just the opposite impression. There are statements from Chuck Schumer, Michael Meehan and Cantwell herself making the point that she has not made any substantive change - as I've been saying for some time - but has worked harder to communicate her position.

There's a piece of Feit's post that bugs me much more, though. He explains what he sees as the Times missing the story this way:

The liberal NYT wanted a neat story that explains why a Democrat who has got more in common with Joe Lieberman than Russ Feingold is a-okay in 2006--a weird phenomenon that doesn't live up to conventional wisdom about the war and this season's supposedly renergized Democratic party with its supposed backbone transplant. So, the NYT fudges it to make it look like Cantwell is responding to anti-war critics.

It is the worst sort of criticism of a reporter to say that a story was driven by an ideological or partisan bias. I find it impossible to believe that Yardley was under any orders to find the liberal angle or was following some self-imposed ideological agenda. There are times certainly that reporters go out to find stories that aren't really there; that the facts don't back up. I don't think that's the case here, either. But there are ways to criticize the story without playing into the public's growing distrust of the mainstream media by blaming bias for any shortcoming. (Besides, there is a growing number of people who find it hard to accept the NY Times as a liberal paper.)

UPDATE: Another small error was pointed out to me. Dal LaMagna wasn't hired by the Cantwell campaign. He's volunteering as co-chair.

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September 18, 2006

Picking apart the primary

Posted by David Postman at 1:52 PM

Secretary of State Sam Reed did an informal sampling around the state to see how well voters were doing filling out their pick-a-party primary ballots. The numbers have been changing, so these are not necessarily current. Snohomish, for example, showed 21 percent rejection rate last week, but over the weekend had improved to around 12 percent, according to Reed's office. Some other numbers:

Benton: 5%
King: 5%
Clark: 7%
San Juan: 7%
Garfield: 7%
Klickitat: 8%
Yakima: 9%
Pierce: 10%
Clallam and Stevens: 11%
Chelan: 12%
Kitsap: 14%

Peter Callaghan in The News Tribune said no one should be surprised that voters refusing, or failing, to show their party preference.

Here's what should surprise elections officials: A lot of voters are actually choosing a party, even though the parties have left voters with no real choices. While nonpartisan judge races have created all sorts of competition, the partisan races for Congress, state Legislature and county offices are mostly choices of one.

In the Peninsula Gateway John Earl wrote about the primary, too.

The two major parties have worked very hard to enforce party discipline. The result is that our September primaries resemble a coronation more than an election. In the process, voters are given less and less choice, and have subsequently grown more and more dissatisfied with the government that we eventually receive. If you get the feeling your voice is being minimized or marginalized, that's because it is.

The article isn't online but you can read it here, along with other primary news. He's been tracking all the bad news about the primary. There's more here, too.

In The Spokesman-Review, Rich Roesler says the grange is committed to getting rid of the current primary.

All you have to do is pretty much take the party affiliation off the ballots," says Dan Hammock. "Right now, the parties have basically a stranglehold on the entire system."

Hammock is a spokesman for the Washington State Grange, which in 1934 joined the AFL-CIO and other groups to successfully prod state lawmakers into approving the state's highly unusual "blanket primary." Under it, voters could hopscotch back and forth between parties on the same primary ballot.

Makes one nostalgic.

At The Stranger, Josh Feit lectures readers on the primary.

The Secretary of State's office has primary information here and more specifics on the ballots here.

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On the radio

Posted by David Postman at 7:03 AM

I'm scheduled to be on KUOW's Weekday this morning at 9 to talk about the primary. I'll be on with Joni Balter of the Times and Joel Connelly of the PI. Call in and ask some tough questions.

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A new contest

Posted by David Postman at 7:00 AM

The first time I tried to have a contest on the blog the prize was never claimed. That has led me to believe that the person who guessed closest to what the Supreme Court was going to do on gay marriage was a court insider and wearing a Seattle Times t-shirt around the Temple of Justice would have given him or her away.

So, Plessy Ferguson, whoever you may be, and everyone else, here's another chance. Before 8 p.m. tomorrow e-mail me your best guess for primary election results and I'll have the boss spring for a Timestastic prize. Put "primary contest" in the subject line.

Here's what you've got to do: Pick the winners, and order of all finishers, in the Supreme Court races, the 43rd District Democratic primary, the 35th District Democratic senate primary and the 26th District Republican senate primary. The tie-breaker, if necessary, will be the actual percentage vote totals for in the Alexander/Groen race.

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September 17, 2006

National Republicans to send anti-Burner mail

Posted by David Postman at 12:19 PM

I see from Talking Points Memo that about $1.8 million was spent Friday by the National Republican Congressional Committee to oppose Democratic House candidates across the country.

There is a $25,586 expenditure for mail opposing Democrat Darcy Burner in her effort to unseat 8th District Congressman Dave Reichert. But of the 20 races the NRCC spent money on Friday, the Burner/Reichert race has gotten the least amount so far this year. The $41,861 spent on the race is less than half the next smallest amount, and far below most of what the other races have gotten.

Democrats last week also spent money on independent expenditures, but don't appear to have included the 8th District. You can see at PoliticalMoneyLine the 100 most recent independent expenditures.

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September 16, 2006

Joe Fuiten's robo call for conservative judges

Posted by David Postman at 3:12 PM

I just got a recorded call from Joseph Fuiten, pastor of Ceder Park Church in Bothell and chairman and CEO of the Faith & Freedom Network.

(UPDATE: Fuiten e-mails to say that he is no longer heading Faith & Freedom, but is doing his "overt political work" through two PACS he operates, Committee for Religious Freedom and Committee for Judicial Restraint. )

He was talking too fast for me to take complete notes, but he was urging me to vote for John Groen, Steve Johnson and Jeanette Burrage. He listed several things that he said that if I didn't want, I should vote for his slate. I wrote down three, gay marriage, a judge who left the scene of an accident -- a clear reference to Justice Tom Chambers who's being challenged by Burrage -- and, curiously, driving drunk.

None of the incumbent judges up for election this year have been accused of drunken driving. Justice Bobbe Bridge was, and the Building Industry Association of Washington has attacked Chief Justice Gerry Alexander for saying the court supported Bridge following her arrest.

But Fuiten's message would leave the clear impression to someone not familiar with the court that a justice running this year had faced a charge of driving while drunk. That seems pretty misleading.

On gay marriage, Alexander voted to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and did not support gay marriage. In fact, after the court ruled Fuiten said Alexander's stance changed the dynamic of his race against Groen:

There were two legs under Groen, one was gay marriage and one was property rights," Fuiten said. "He lost one leg."

Backers of Groen complained last week that an ad from Citizens to Uphold the Constitution, who support Alexander, were wrong to say that Groen was backed by people who "oppose stem cell research and a woman's right to choose." Tom McCabe, executive vice president of the BIAW, said Fuiten had done nothing to help Groen but unsuccessfully recruit workers for the campaign. Clearly now he has done more.

The phone call ended with the disclosure of who paid for it and the top donors, as required for independent expenditures. It all went too fast for me to catch, though.


Jon A. DeVore got the same call, and recorded it. I just listened to it and transcribed it.

Joe Fuiten here on why your vote matters.

If you believe your property belongs to you and not the government, if you don't want court-imposed gay marriage, if you don't want courts changing the definition of parenthood, if you don't want justices who drive drunk, leave the scene of an accident or don't follow the law, then please vote for John Groen, Stephen Johnson and Jeanette Burrage for the Supreme Court.

They wont legislate from the bench. Groen, Johnson and Burrage are not activist judges. They'll protect the constitution and follow the law,

This message paid for by the Committee for Judicial Restraint. Top contributor, Committee for Religious Freedom.

The Committee for Religious Freedom has reported a total of $15,250 in donations. The Public Disclosure Commission reports show that $250 came from Fuiten's Faith & Freedom Network. The rest came earlier this month from Lynwood homebuilder Larry Sundquist and his wife, Diane.

The Sundquists are already major players in the homebuilders' efforts in court races this year. They gave Groen $25,000 before new campaign limits went into effect for this campaign season and $32,500 to Change PAC, one of the BIAW political action committees which fund ad campaigns for Groen.

UPDATE: You can listen to the call here.

UPDATE: Fuiten responded to a question I e-mailed him about the call and specifically what he meant by raising the issue of drunken driving. He said:

My comments were general to the court and not tied to any one judge. I am concerned for the low standard being set by this court, evidenced by the hit and run and drunk driving, which is what I was speaking to.

SUNDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Alexander's campaign criticized Fuiten's recorded calls and the reference to Bridge:

But this year's Supreme Court elections have no bearing on whether Justice Bobbe Bridge retains her seat. Justice Bridge is not on the 2006 ballot. Stu Morgan, campaign manager for Justice Alexander, said, "I'm just amazed at the levels to which they will sink. The fact that John Groen has refused to repudiate these gutter tactics should be of great concern to voters indicate to voters that Justice Alexander needs to be re-elected if we want to keep fairness and integrity on the bench."

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September 15, 2006

The gov opens the mansion as fundraising perk

Posted by David Postman at 5:47 PM

Gov. Christine Gregoire last night auctioned off a dinner in the Governor's Mansion as a fundraiser for Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner. Said the Northwest Progressive Institute in its live blogging of the event:

The Governor ended her remarks by announcing a surprise, instant auction to raise money for Darcy Burner. She offered a dinner for two at the Governor's Mansion in December and kicked off the bidding at $100. The winning bid ended up being nearly $4,000.

Attorney and judicial candidate Richard Pope has filed an ethics complaint over the auction. He wrote to the Executive Ethics Board and Attorney General Rob McKenna:

This conduct by Ms. Gregoire appears to clearly violate both RCW 42.52.160 and RCW 42.52.180. The Governor's Mansion in Olympia is state property and a facility of a state agency — namely the Governor's Office. The state dinner being auctioned to benefit Ms. Burner's political campaign would be eaten at the Governor's Mansion, and would also be prepared and served by state employees performing their official duties. State employees would also be used to schedule and otherwise facilitate this state dinner.

Sound Politics has the same concerns.

The mansion is operated by a non-profit group called The Governor's Mansion Foundation. On its Web site it points out it is a "non-political organization founded in 1972 to furnish and maintain the public areas of the Executive Mansion."

I don't know if it is any sort of ethics violation. But even if it is completely legal, what sort of political judgment led the governor to open the official residence to political fundraising? Two words should have headed that off: Lincoln Bedroom.

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Reichert attack ad misses the mark

Posted by David Postman at 5:19 PM

There's a new TV ad out attacking Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn. It is an independent ad from a 527 group called Majority Action. It is not officially part of Democrat Darcy Burner's campaign.

It seems to fall short of its target, though. It accuses Reichert of failing to pass recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. But the provisions in the bills he's accused of keeping bottled up were in another piece of legislation passed overwhelmingly by the House in May 2005. Reichert is chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science and Technology.

The ad also criticizes Reichert for standing with President Bush on the Iraq war. One of the votes cited by Majority Action to back up the claim is a 2005 vote on a defense appropriations bill that had wide Democratic support. A yes vote could hardly be seen as a measure of blind support of the president. The bill passed 388 to 43. In the Washington delegation, Democrats Rick Larsen, Adam Smith, Jay Inslee and Norm Dicks, voted along with Reichert and Republicans Cathy McMorris and Doc Hastings. Democrat Jim McDermott voted against the measure and Democrat Brian Baird did not vote.

Majority Action is led by a heavyweight group of former members of Congress and Democratic party leaders. The group says it will focus on 10-15 key races against Republican incumbents. Unfortunately the group's Web site includes no contact information so I could not ask any questions about the ad or find out how widely it will be shown. says a week of ads has been bought on cable.

The ad opens with video of President Bush talking about Iraq, with shots of Reichert at a podium and a backdrop of soldiers at war.

President Bush: "We must stay the course."

Narrator: "But while Iraq slips further into civil war, Congressman Dave Reichert just stands with president Bush, voting to support Bush's open-ended commitment in Iraq.

And at home? Reichert chairs a subcommittee on Homeland Security that's failed to pass five critical bills dealing with recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Tell Reichert it's time to stand up to Bush on Iraq — and get to work on national security.

Majority Action is responsible for the content of this ad."

Here's the script and the group's back up documentation.

Reichert opponents may not count former Sen. Slade Gorton as a credible source for fact-checking the ad, given his support for the GOP incumbent. But Gorton has been outspoken in his criticism of Congress and the administration for failing to act on key recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. His work on the commission was praised by people of both parties. And in this case, the record appears to back him up.

In its final report the commission gave Congress an "F" for failing to allocate homeland security funds based on risk. Gorton said the money had been doled out based on political concerns instead, and the commission wanted to create a new formula.

But that was done with the passage of H.R. 1544 in May 2005, Gorton said. Reichert was a co-sponsor of the bill. Reichert wrote Gorton a letter Sept. 5 asking him to clarify that the bill satisfied the commission's recommendation. Gorton told me earlier today he hasn't written back yet, but said, "My answer to that question is 'yes.' The House, and Reichert included, deserve a very good grade on that recommendation. It has been the Senate that is a stumbling block."

As an example of the problem in the Senate, Gorton points to Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Susan Collins, R-Maine, who he calls one of the best senators in office today. Gorton said Collins was great after the 2004 elections in pushing through many recommendations from the 9/11 commission, but not the change in the funding formula.

"She's from Maine," Gorton said, "and with respect to this formula, she's protecting Maine, which would get damn little" under the system approved by the House.

The ad is misleading at best in its criticism of Reichert's role with homeland security funding.

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A tale of two Texans

Posted by David Postman at 3:44 PM

Lynn Allen, who writes at the Evergreen Politics blog, went to see Jim Hightower last night at Town Hall. Allen had a chance to ask Hightower on camera about his long history with Karl Rove, who just happened to be in town today.

You can watch a clip of the interview here:

Jim Hightower remembers Karl Rove

and see a prominent lefty populist Texan's take on the big time Lone Star conservative.

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Mystery robo calls in Court of Appeals race

Posted by David Postman at 2:54 PM

Voters in southwest Washington are getting robo-calls from an unknown source opposing the re-election of Division II Appeals Court Judge Joel Penoyar.

The taped calls — at least the one a reader sent me — do not say which group sponsored them or who the group's top five donors are, as the law requires with any independent expenditure. And that's what the calls appear to be.

Penoyar's opponent, Brent Boger, just told me he is not responsible for the calls. Boger is a deputy Vancouver city attorney and a former chairman of the Clark County Republican Party. He said no one asked him about the calls before they were made, and "if anybody had asked me I would have asked them not to do it."

Alex Hays, executive director of the Constitutional Law PAC, which backs Boger, said his group didn't make the calls either. But Hays may know who did. He said someone called him recently to ask if they should make the calls. Hays said he said no, and urged the person not to do it.

"We hate negative campaigns," Hays said. "It harms people's trust in the court. It harms the candidates themselves. This ad is so over the top." But Hays wouldn't say who it was who called him because he couldn't be sure that person was responsible for the calls.

I got a recording and transcript of the call from reader Jon A. DeVore of Vancouver. The message in a female voice said:

Hi. My name is Harriet Miller, and I am deeply concerned about the children of Washington state. Did you know that Joel Penoyar, who is running for re-election as judge, actually released a convicted child molester before he was sentenced so he could go commercial fishing?

I couldn't believe it when I found out about it, but it's true. No one who would use such poor judgment deserves to sit on the bench.

Please, when you vote for the court of appeals judges this year, vote for anyone, I mean anyone, but Joel Penoyar, the man who released a child molester.

The call refers to a case Penoyar handled while a Superior Court judge. He was appointed to the court of appeals last year.

According to a story in The Columbian, Boger has raised the case before in the campaign. Penoyar did release a convicted sex offender, David Tarabochia, from jail so he could go commercial fishing. Tarabochia was later sentenced to 10 ½ years in jail, according to the paper.

Penoyar told the Columbian, "Judges make thousands of tough decisions. If I had to make this one again I might make it differently."

Boger said he thinks the case is a legitimate issue in the campaign, and one of the reasons he decided to run against Penoyar. He said he has talked about it at newspaper editorial boards and with people who Penoyar was soliciting for endorsements, but has "not spent one penny of campaign money publicizing" the case.

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Reichert donates $5,000 he got from Rep. Ney

Posted by David Postman at 12:17 PM

Congressman Dave Reichert today got rid of $5,000 his campaign had gotten from Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, who this morning pled guilty to two criminal charges related to the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal.

Reichert's campaign sent a $5,000 check to the Kent Pediatric Interim Care Center, said campaign spokesman Carol Beaudu. Two of Reichert's adopted grandchildren had prenatal exposure to drugs and were successfully treated at the center.

The check was in the mail, Beaudu said, as soon as they heard about Ney's plea and before I had a chance to ask her about the Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee's statement calling on Reichert to give the money back.

The DCCC statement said:

"We knew this day was coming and now that Ney has decided to trade the back room for the courtroom, will Washington State Republican Dave Reichert do the right thing and return Ney's tainted money?" asked Bill Burton, communications director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

UPDATE: Eli Sanders says Cathy McMorris is also dumping her Ney money.

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Coping with politics in court races

Posted by David Postman at 11:43 AM

My column in the paper today is about the growing expense and nastiness of state Supreme Court races.

My point is that no one should be surprised given the trends of the past 12 years. This is the system, where judges run for election in increasingly more expensive media markets, while we try to act as if they're not politicians.

I was just talking to former Sen. Slade Gorton, who is one of the leaders of the Constitutional Law PAC, a group that backs Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, Justice Tom Chambers and one Supreme Court challenger, state Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Kent, who is in the race against Justice Susan Owens.

Gorton says politics are a natural part of the system and reflects the court's role in society:

"When judges decide that they are going to set social and political policies, they're going to find themselves in political races. It's very easy to say that these races ought to be based only on lawyers' determination of who is the best lawyer, but that just isn't a valid statement when we have so many really profound social decisions being made by judges.

"If they're going to make those decisions, they are going to have to face the fact that people are going to care who they are and what kind of philosophy they have, and attack decisions that they don't like and will try to elect people who will vote that way.

"They put themselves in the political arena and it's a little disingenuous to feel hurt."

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Feeling angry?

Posted by David Postman at 9:00 AM

University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato is out with his latest Crystal Ball. He says the overriding emotion that ran through the 2006 primary season is anger. And there's little sign that will change into the fall. He says Democrats and Republicans are mad at each other, of course, but are also directing anger at fellow party members. And voters are agitated.

Some analyses have improperly categorized 2006's rage as solely "anti-incumbent;" and though the electorate is more anti-incumbent than it has been since 1994, the anger we witness is multi-dimensional. Certainly, incumbents of all stripes have a lot to lose this year, and Democrats can be targeted as well as Republicans: just ask the endangered Democratic governors in Michigan, Wisconsin, and other states. ... When voters go wild, when they want to lash out, they can strike any available target. Since the Republicans control all federal branches, they will suffer most from the electorate's surly mood, but no one is guaranteed an exemption.

There's a little chaos theory at work here. Candidates of all persuasions are hoping that the amorphous anger will play their way. You can see it here in the most traditional sense in the 8th Congressional District. Darcy Burner wants to tie Congressman Dave Reichert to President Bush as closely as possible so that Bush Anger becomes Reichert Anger.

In the Senate race, Republican Mike McGavick has a more difficult chore. He needs voter anger to be aimed at incumbents of all parties, which is why as much as he talks about Sen. Maria Cantwell, or maybe even more, he talks about the failings of everyone in Washington, D.C.

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No disagreement on Darfur in Senate race, but what about welfare?

Posted by David Postman at 6:58 AM

Sen. Maria Cantwell and Mike McGavick, her Republican challenger, agree that U.N. peacekeeping forces should be deployed immediately to the Darfur region of Sudan. They also agree that President Bush should appoint a special envoy to the region and to impose a no-fly zone in Darfur with the backing of U.S. allies.

That was the thrust of a resolution approved Wednesday night by the Senate. Cantwell was a co-sponsor. She said in a statement:

The recent rise in violence and U.N. warnings about the worsening humanitarian situation make it all the more important that we act urgently and redouble our efforts to stop the widespread killing in Darfur.

McGavick spokesman Elliott Bundy said that McGavick agrees:

He said the situation in Darfur has been ignored by the international community for too long and it is appropriate that the UN step up to end the horrific violence in the region. This is a time when the UN could prove itself useful in helping solve this humanitarian crisis.

In other issues in the Senate campaign, McGavick this week proposed mandatory substance-abuse screening for some welfare recipients.

He wants a three-strikes provision for people with children that could include mandatory testing and treatment, reduction of welfare benefits and even loss of parental rights. Here's the Tri-City Herald story about the announcement made there in a speech and at an "Open Mike" session.

I asked the Cantwell campaign for the senator's position on this twice yesterday but did not get a response.

The PI editorial board doesn't like the idea. The best they said was "McGavick's plan isn't entirely out of right field."

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September 14, 2006

In other news

Posted by David Postman at 8:09 AM

  • In a story that should temper some Democratic optimism about November, the Washington Post today touts the Republican get-out-the-vote effort that got a test run Tuesday in the Rhode Island primary. The paper says it:
    was a potent demonstration of how money and manpower can transform a race even in an unfavorable political environment -- and a preview of the strategy that national party officials say they plan to replicate in the most competitive House and Senate races over the next 55 days.

  • Democrats in D.C. today will hold a press conference to unveil legislation they say should help reduce abortions, and reach out to "moderate, churchgoing voters with misgivings about abortion," The Chicago Tribune reports. The Ds will not propose restricting access to abortion.

    Instead, it promotes such preventive measures as funding for contraceptives and expanded sex education geared toward avoiding pregnancy as well as support for adoption and services to new mothers, according to several people familiar with the legislation.
  • One of the few big races to be decided in Tuesday's primary is the Democratic race in the 35th District. The Democratic Party and liberal groups want to oust Sen. Tim Sheldon, the conservative Democrat, and replace him with Kyle Taylor Lucas.

    Brad Shannon reports in The Olympian on the influx of big money and national organizations into the race:

    The Progressive Majority, which is backing left-of-center and minority candidates in several state and local races around the country, gave more than half of the $187,323 reported spent so far by three independent political action committees fighting against Sheldon.

    Steven Friederich of The Daily World is on the story, too.

  • Democracy for America, the group that formed out of Howard Dean's failed presidential campaign, has released its endorsements for Washington state races. So says Chad Shue at Washblog.
  • In Seattle, the Human Rights Campaign will give its 2006 Equality Award to the late Sen. Cal Anderson.
    Anderson won't be there to accept this award in person because, uh, Cal Anderson has been dead for eleven years.

    That's from The Stranger's Dan Savage, who sees the move as a slight at Rep. Ed Murray.

  • Caitlin Ross, daughter of KIRO host Dave Ross, is running for the Legislature as a Democrat in the 9th District. The Palouse seat is held by retiring Republican Rep. Don Cox. The Moscow-Pullman Daily News writes:
    Ross defines herself as a more conservative Democrat than some of her fellow party members. She's a practicing Roman Catholic and believes in personal responsibility. She also believes it's important not to lie, cheat or be wasteful, either of tangible things such as money or intangibles such as trust.

    I asked her dad, who made an unsuccessful run for Congress two years ago, what advice he had given his 22-year-old daughter.

    I advised her to study the issues, meet as many voters in person as she can, get signs out, participate in every debate, tell the truth, and prepare to be belittled by the opposition because of her age.

    I also told her she was smart enough to do this without help from me.

    UPDATE: The Caitlin Ross campaign came to my attention via Palousitics, which critiques the young Ross' campaign.

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September 13, 2006

Keeping track of Congress

Posted by David Postman at 4:31 PM

The Sunlight Network has an idea for giving people more information about what their federal lawmakers are doing to earn their public salaries. You can make some money out of the deal, too.

The group has launched The Punch Clock Campaign:

We are offering members of the public a "goodwill bounty," or fee, of $1,000 for each Member of Congress, and $250 for each candidate, that they persuade to sign the Punch Clock Agreement, an agreement to put their daily schedules on the Internet.

Members of Congress work for us, and we should know what they do every day.

(Thanks Boing Boing.)

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And another thing

Posted by David Postman at 3:48 PM

John Groen issued a press release earlier today saying that a TV ad criticizing him includes false and irresponsible allegations. The ad is paid for by Citizens to Uphold the Constitution, a group of liberal interest groups supporting court incumbents, including Groen's opponent, Chief Justice Gerry Alexander.

Groen's press release says:

John Groen asks that his opponent disavow these ads.

But wait. Less than a week ago Groen was asked about an anti-Alexander TV ad sponsored by Groen's No. 1 backer, the Building Industry Association of Washington.

What did he say then, when asked whether he agreed with the ad's implication that Alexander was getting too old for the court? He said it was against the law for him to say anything about the ad because it came from an independent group. He was wrong about the law, as Ralph Thomas reported:

Groen refused to comment on the BIAW ad, citing a state law that bars candidates from coordinating with groups that are running independent campaigns.

"Whether I like them or don't like them, I'm not supposed to say," Groen said.
That's not true, said Doug Ellis, spokesman for the state Public Disclosure Commission. He said candidates in the past have criticized groups that were waging independent campaigns on their behalf.

"Once you become aware of something, you can comment on it," Ellis said. "Commenting after the fact is not the same as coordinating prior to."

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Groen v. Alexander

Posted by David Postman at 12:59 PM

The Building Industry Association of Washington is sharpening its attack on Chief Justice Gerry Alexander in the final days of his re-election campaign against attorney John Groen.

The BIAW has already been plenty tough on Alexander. The PAC backing Alexander said in a release today that anti-Alexander ads "imply Alexander is a dotty old man who sympathizes with child killers and drunks."

The most recent ad went on the air yesterday and attacks Alexander for his support of Justice Bobbe Bridge after her 2003 arrest for drunken driving and hit and run.

It is a very tough ad, replete with scary music, oh-so-serious narrator and the worst possible photos of Alexander.

Here's the script:

Announcer: Seattle 2003. Justice Bobee Bridge is arrested for drunk driving and hit and run.

The very next day Chief Justice Gerry Alexander publicly expresses supports for Bridge.

Alexander backs Bridge despite her driving drunk with a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit.

Former Lewis County Sheriff John McCroskey: What Gerry Alexander did was wrong. Justices must live by the same laws as everyone else.

Announcer: Gerry Alexander. Justice, for who?

Bridge was arrested for driving while drunk and for hit and run. The hit and run charge was dropped, and the DUI settled when a Seattle Municipal Court judge accepted Bridge's request for deferred prosecution. That meant she had to admit she had an alcohol problem and get treatment.

The day after Bridge's arrest, the AP reported:

Chief Justice Gerry Alexander told KING-TV he hopes Bridge will remain on the court.

"I told her we were fully supportive of her," he said. "I think she's going to handle it in a forthright and honorable manner."

And that is what the BIAW is hammering Alexander for. A graphic in the TV ad says over a picture of Alexander: "Gerry Alexander says he's '... fully supportive of her.' " That is credited to KATU TV in Portland and I'm not sure if it was the exact same clip.

Every quote I could find quoted Alexander saying "we were fully supportive," as Alexander appears to be speaking for other justices as well, not that he personally was supportive.

But really, whether he was expressing his singular support or the court's collectively as friends and colleagues, what exactly is Alexander being condemned for?

BIAW executive vice president Tom McCabe told me, "All we're trying to do is educate people about the issues."

And what is the issue in this ad?

McCabe: "The message, I think, is Gerry Alexander is more interested in protecting a colleague than in protecting the public."

I told McCabe I didn't read anything in Alexander's comments to mean he didn't think Bridge violated the law, or that she shouldn't be punished for it. It was, I thought, the blandest of collegial support being offered.

Said McCabe:

"I don't think he should have said anything. Again, jurists that I talked to and even some lawyers said he should not have said anything. If he supported her he should have said that privately because it is case that could have come before the court."

I've written at least twice before about inaccuracies in attacks from the liberal groups supporting Alexander and other court incumbents this year. Neither side has a monopoly on the truth. But the Alexander ad about Bridge is one of the more negative ads I've seen in a long time.

This race has had no shortage of false claims, exaggerations and nastiness.

Both sides have asked local TV stations to pull the other guy's ads. Today, Citizens to Uphold the Constitution, a liberal-backed group supporting court incumbents, filed a complaint distributed a complaint a Seattle attorney filed with the Public Disclosure Commission alleging a series of violations for the political action committees backing conservative candidates.

(UPDATE: Here's a link to the BIAW's statement in response to the complaint. And I'll post the complaint here as soon as I get a link to it.)

The latest ad from Citizens to Uphold the Constitution attacks Groen and his financial supporters. Here's the script:

Narrator: Justice for sale?

John Groen and far right extremists are trying to buy our Supreme Court.

So extreme they want to gut protections for our clean air and water.

They oppose stem cell research and a woman's right to choose.

Special interests, skirting campaign finance laws, bankrolling John Groen.
Keep our courts fair and impartial.

Vote for Gerry Alexander. Join law enforcement, prosecutors and all major newspapers.

Vote for Gerry Alexander. Protect our constitutional rights.

Groen and the BIAW have said the ad is inaccurate and unfair. Groen says he hasn't taken a position on the issues raised in the ad.

The source the group gives to back up its claims is the Public Disclosure Commission. That's pretty vague, and leaves plenty of gray area about which groups backing Groen "want to gut protections" for the environment. The mention of skirting the law refers to some individual builders who donated large amounts to Groen's campaign right before new donation limits went into effect. The BIAW, by far the largest donor to Groen, did not do that.

As for the claim about abortion, the ad cites as its source the Faith & Freedom Network. McCabe said that's unfair because the group has done nothing to help the campaign. They did put out a call for workers for the BIAW-backed campaign, but McCabe said no one ever was hired through those channels. Nonetheless, the conservative religious organization's Web site still encourages its supporters to back conservative judges and continues to advertise for jobs with the campaign.

The next six days are going to be wild as we see new records set for money spent on court races and the ads get nastier to grab attention of last-minute voters. I'll try to keep up with the ads the best I can. And remember, if you get interesting last-minute mail send it my way.

UPDATE: Steve Zemke at Majority Rules Blog says he has also filed a PDC complaint against Groen's backers.

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Rove's host here likes Reichert, biodiesel and gays

Posted by David Postman at 9:55 AM

Eli Sanders has a fascinating e-mail exchange up at The Slog with Martin Tobias, the Seattle man who will be hosting a Friday Karl Rove fundraiser for Congressman Dave Reichert.

Sanders says Tobias is a "real live Republican-fund-raising, biodiesel-supporting, Dave-Reichert-endorsing resident of Seattle (not in the 8th District!) who disagrees with Rove on "the gay issue."

Tobias wrote Sanders:

The fundraiser is for Dave Reichert who is a big supporter of biodiesel as part of the solution to improve homeland security. I am a support of politicians of both parties who are serious about reducing our dependence on foreign oil and improving our domestic economy by keeping that money at home. That is an American value, not a left or right value. Regardless of how I may feel personally about Karl Rove or any other administration official, he is in a position to make a difference in this government's policies toward renewable fuels and having direct access to him and the other politicians current running the country is a good thing.

And Sanders asks Tobias:

Also, this question is out of left field, but a friend was looking at your blog and your mention of "Alex," plus the links to the design of your new house, prompted him to wonder whether you are gay.

He's not. Alex is his wife. But left unanswered is exactly what does a gay house design look like?

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The Rick Steves Guide to terrorism in the world

Posted by David Postman at 9:09 AM

Last Thursday I was at Channel 9 to appear on KCTS Connects to talk about the elections. Before the political panel went on, host Enrique Cerna first interviewed former Sen. and 9/11 Commissioner Slade Gorton on the state of the world. That interview was on tape.

Then as I and the other pundits watched on a TV in the green room, Cerna was in the studio interviewing travel writer Rick Steves "on how America is handling the war on terror." Steves has written some in the local papers about his political view of the world and it is a distinctly liberal view. He's criticized President Bush's foreign policy and supports legalizing marijuana. He said in an op-ed column in this paper:

The greatest risk to our society today is not Islamo-fascist terrorism, but the people who use that term to scare us.

And he's made it clear before that he's not worried about any commercial backlash from his being outspoken.

"I have a responsibility to be a good citizen and to be outspoken," he said. "And not to worry about someone who doesn't want to use my guidebooks."

But when he started talking with Cerna I admit to being surprised at what he said. Steves said that we should get used to hundreds or thousands of Americans being killed by terrorists each year. Steves' point was that America is essentially "spending" lives of its citizens as the price for being a military superpower. He compared victims of terrorism to victims of gun violence in the country.

Here's the verbatim of what he said:

"I think we're 300 million people and if we lose a few hundred people a year to terrorists, that doesn't change who we are and it shouldn't change the fabric of our society. Frankly I think we should get used to losing — as long as we're taking the stance in the world of being the military superpower, you're going to have people nipping at you. And if it's hundreds or thousands — we lose 15,000 people a year to have the right to bear arms and most people think that's a good deal, year after year. We spend 15,000 people for the right to bear arms. What do we spend to be as aggressive and heavy weight on this planet? We're always going to have terrorism."

Steves told Cerna that he thinks the role of the travel writer changed after 9/11. He said it's a more serious job now, but compared it to a court jester of medieval times — someone charged with delivering sometimes bad news to powerful people.

Steves made a provocative counterpoint to Gorton. He certainly said things you don't usually hear in the mainstream media. Some of what he said was startling. At times he sounded almost flip. I think if thousands of people a year were killed in America by terrorists it would, and should, change the fabric of who we are. Steves also made points we've heard before, but perhaps it jumped out at me because it came from that mild-mannered, Mr. Rogers-like character that we've come to rely on for the good restaurant tips in London, not a leftist, geo-political critique.

Whatever the case, it seemed worth repeating here some of what he said.

Steves said America overestimates itself and doesn't give enough credit to its enemies:

"I'm really concerned right now when I listen to Slade Gorton. He's very committed to the safety of our nation and all of this, of course. But I'm afraid in all this talk of, 'we must not be complacent,' that we're forgetting, we're underestimating, the spine of the people we're fighting.

"I'm amazed, and this is what I learned from history, that we can think that other people can have less spine than we do. We don't have more spine than they do. Nathan Hales, Ethan Allens and Patrick Henrys are a dime a dozen on this planet. And we forget that. We think we're going to exhaust them and break their spirit. And with our military might we're going to cause them to stop naming their children Osama and Saddam."

Americas, he said, have "created many more terrorists in the past five years than we have killed."

"Normally we talk about all of our motive is freedom and patriotism and democracy. We're pushing democracy. ... The rest of the world thinks that's laughable. Professors in Central America, I was just down in Central America, and leading professors, respected people, say when they hear the word democracy their bowels move. That's the phrase. It disgusts them because democracy has just been abused, the name democracy, for what our foreign policy is all about."

Steves said his extensive travels have obviously shaped his world view. He has almost an ex-pat's relationship with America and has a deep distrust of the commercial media here at home.

"I'm an odd duck here in America, and I look at the evening news on the commercial channel and I have a very cynical look at it because I see it as, it's just propaganda, spreading around this very potent cocktail of fear and patriotism that I think is messing up our perspective on this."

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September 12, 2006

No news in McGavick's divorce file

Posted by David Postman at 3:56 PM

I just read through the court file that exists from Mike McGavick's 1991 divorce. There's nothing there that is newsworthy, or even anything interesting. It looks just like many other divorce cases of far less prominent people. There's no story there for us.

The documents were obtained from the court in Bucks County, PA, by Times investigative reporter Susan Kelleher, who reviewed them carefully. What she saw was the original complaint and the final divorce decree. If there was ever anything other than that it doesn't exist in the records today.

It's unusual to mention things we look at that don't become news stories. But at least since McGavick called his divorce one of his "two great failures" there has been press and blogger interest in the GOP Senate candidate's divorce file. The curiosity was made greater because the file was kept private by court officials, as all divorce records are in Bucks County.

Or at least that used to the policy. After Kelleher's questions about accessing the records, court officials there told her that they were changing the decades-old policy of automatically making divorce files private unless one of the parties agreed to let them be seen. Officials there said the policy was in conflict with the state's open records law.

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In other news

Posted by David Postman at 12:37 PM

  • Gov. Chris Gregoire hits the campaign trail this week to help Darcy Burner. Gregoire is the headliner for a Thursday night fundraiser in Redmond for Burner's campaign against Congressman Dave Reichert. Suggested donation runs from $50 to $500.

    Reichert today announced he had been endorsed by the Enumclaw firefighter's union. It is the sixth endorsement from police and fire groups for Reichert, the former King County sheriff.

  • In legislative races, The News Tribune's Joe Turner covers Democratic efforts to win back the 2nd Legislative District. Doesn't look likely they'll defeat Democrat turned Republican Rep. Tom Campbell.
    Now, three virtually unknown Democrats are seeking the party nomination for the chance to face off against Campbell in the Nov. 7 general election.

    "It's almost an amateur audition that's going on," said Bill Harrington, chairman of the 2nd District Democrats.

  • Project Vote Smart has posted its survey of candidates running in Washington this year. There's lots of good information on the site run by the non-profit whose work is mostly done by volunteers. But only two incumbents in our Congressional delegation responded to questions about specific positions: Jim McDermott and Doc Hastings.

    A few challengers responded as well. Candidates are increasingly less likely to answer the questions, said Project Vote Smart's Adelaide Elm. She said they are counseled by consultants and party leaders to keep their opinions to themselves.

    Legislative candidates are no better. In 2004, the first year our primary was covered by Project Vote Smart, 32 percent of candidates responded. This year it was 19 percent, Elm said.

  • At Sound Politics, Matt Rosenberg assesses Mike McGavick's campaign, saying the Republican "must somehow connect brilliantly with suburban swing voters to pull this one out." He also sums up the news about Maria Cantwell and Ron Dotzauer pretty well. Rosenberg says it "may not amount to much in the end. It would probably mean more if she owed him a loan." li>
  • The Herald in Everett shows that Snohomish County voters aren't doing a very good job following directions:
    In a test sample of 250 random ballots Monday, elections officials found one in five voters voted along strict party lines.

    Yet their choices from that part of the ballot must be thrown out. That's because the voters didn't pick their party affiliation — a task of connecting the front and back of an arrow with a simple line.

    Here's the AP version of the story.

    • Any question John Kerry is running for president? An update: "This weekend John Kerry will travel across Iowa to campaign with Democratic candidates running in critical races up and down the ticket on Friday, Sept. 15 and Saturday, Sept. 16."
    • Any question John Kerry is running for president? Oh, never mind. I just opened the mail and got a big, fat, envelope from "Friends of John Kerry" with DVDs and copies of speeches he gave over the summer on energy and health care. He's running.

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The official numbers on I-917 signature check

Posted by David Postman at 11:19 AM

Secretary of State Sam Reed's office just released the final count of Tim Eyman's I-917. Eyman submitted 266,034 signatures that were checked and Reed's staff rejected 46,859 as invalid, either because the person was not a registered voter or had signed more than once. There were 10,604 duplicates among those rejected signatures.

Eyman needed 224,880 valid signatures to put the car tab measure on the November ballot. He had been given a preliminary count earlier that showed him falling short.

Reed says the count cost about $125,000. He will ask next year's Legislature for a supplemental appropriation to cover the cost.

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Fixing the region's traffic problems

Posted by David Postman at 9:45 AM

State Secretary of Transportation Doug MacDonald says he'll give $1,000 to the citizen with the best idea to help solve transportation problems in the state. And I've got the winning idea.

When I was growing up, my father, an engineer, worked on various transportation projects, including rapid transit systems and some of the earliest on-demand traffic signals. At one point he was noodling around with ideas to reduce rubber-necking at freeway accidents. The one idea I remember someone mentioning was giant inflatable walls that could block a crash from view.

But it was my mother who came up with the best idea: Giant signs at each accident scene that read, "Better Crash 5 Miles Ahead."

Pure genius. Go ahead and send me the check Mr. Secretary. Or better yet, send it to my mother. It'd be a nice way to commemorate her birthday today.

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Cantwell's two TV ads show different take on security

Posted by David Postman at 8:24 AM

Sen. Maria Cantwell has two TV ads running this week. They have similar national security themes but different tones depending on what side of the mountains you're on.

The east side of the state gets a tough, militaristic take on security, while on the west, it's more about the importance of jobs and security at the port and criticizing President Bush.

The I-5 side of the state gets a 30 second ad titled "Port." It features Cantwell talking about port jobs in Seattle and Tacoma. With headlines flashing such as "Bush: No need to worry about U.S. port security," Cantwell says, "The Bush administration isn't doing enough to protect our ports and borders."

She says she's been pushing for locks and seals on containers and background checks for port workers.

The visuals are of the ports and with a casually dressed Cantwell talking with Puget Sound behind her.

On the more conservative, east side of the state — where Bush is more popular and Republicans dominate public office — there's no criticism of the administration. It's not Cantwell talking this time, but a deep-voiced male announcer.

The 30 second spot, "Security," mentions port and border security, Cantwell's work to keep F-15 fighter jets based in Portland — the only ones in the Northwest — and to provide new equipment to the National Guard.

The ad shows fighter jets on the runway, a speeding boat and border guard posts. Cantwell is shown in business attire at work in a dark-paneled office. The announcer's basso profundo says: "Maria Cantwell is fighting for us."

When I watched the two ads that began last Friday they seemed tailored to the state's two most distinct political regions. The ads don't contradict each other in any way. But the tone and imagery are as different as the weather patterns on each side of the Cascades. The eastern ad is tougher, militaristic, more male even.

Michael Meehan, Cantwell's chief campaign strategist, said the "two-tracking" of the ads is driven in part to capitalize on Cantwell's work on the fighter jets, which he said was a more important issue on the east side of the state.

"It's localized in terms of an accomplishment that we had news clips for," he said.

Both ads were in part a pre-emptive move to what the Cantwell campaign knew would be the Republican's focus on national security in the week of the Sept. 11 anniversary. Mike McGavick had already used an ad to criticize Cantwell on border security, which is why that is emphasized in both ads.

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September 11, 2006

Who is that waitress?

Posted by David Postman at 1:33 PM

The Hotline Blog issues a "Stock Footage Alert" after noticing the same waitress in a TV ad for Maria Cantwell and Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska.

The ad cuts to the waitress in question, and the viewer is implictly asked to link Cantwell's vote to the aspirations of the young woman on the videotape.

In the Nelson ad, which was broadcast last May and focuses on his Washington record, the waitress appears briefly in a digital video effect.

Recall that in '04, an ad run by the NRSC used an actor to portray an Alaskan; that caused a bit of an uproar.

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In other news

Posted by David Postman at 11:55 AM

  • Mike McGavick gets some good ink in the L.A. Times which includes his "sophisticated critique of the way Washington works" in a story that about how candidates this year are "running against the relentless partisan conflict that now defines life in the nation's capital."
    Mike McGavick, the Republican challenging Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell in Washington state, is among the candidates questioning that system most fundamentally. McGavick, the former chairman and chief executive for the insurance giant Safeco Corp., has had a rough few weeks. ...

    But McGavick has developed a sophisticated critique of the way Washington works — or doesn't. The intensifying pressure for party unity, he argues, makes it impossible for Congress to resolve difficult problems. Republican unwillingness to compromise, he maintains, is preventing action on immigration, just as the Democratic refusal to negotiate doomed any possibility of restructuring the Social Security system.

    Just as important, he argues, the growing tendency toward party-line voting compromises legislators' ability to represent their states.

  • At the Slog Josh Feit wonders if reports of dropping poll numbers mean McGavick will give up the civility pledge. He also rounds up some of the latest punditry on the race, including Charlie Cook's declaration that it is is "not terribly competitive anymore." Ouch.
  • In Legislative campaign news, the Herald's Bill Sheets reports on the Democratic primary in the 44th, where two candidates are fighting to take on Sen. Dave Schmidt, R-Mill Creek.
  • Steve Zemke at the Majority Rules Blog questions why Republicans in the state's Congressional delegation hasn't signed on to a bill that would require a paper trail for all elections and mandate a recount of 2 percent of ballots cast to look for errors or fraud.

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The politics of an anniversary

Posted by David Postman at 9:25 AM

Four years ago I was assigned to write the story of how Washingtonians marked the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks:

The government doesn't have a multihued alert system to signal the appropriate level of mourning, patriotism or reflection. So before dawn yesterday Washington residents were largely on their own as they commemorated the first anniversary of terrorist attacks on America. Was it a day for flag waving or mourning? To go to work in defiance of terrorists, or pause to show national solidarity?

It was the first time in my life that I felt I was a witness to the shaping of American history, and even to the national character. I remember thinking that one day a national consensus would emerge about the day. The evolution of the anniversary would tell us something, I thought.

Four years later we are even further away from consensus. Politics have taken over the day to an extent I could not have imagined. On the second anniversary of the attacks Sen. Patty Murray was criticized for a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser she held in D.C. that morning. I doubt there are any fundraisers scheduled today in D.C. But much of the day's events are steeped in electoral politics.

The White House says President Bush's appearances are, as the New York Times reported, for "remembrance and a reminder of national resolve, not a moment for politics."

But nine weeks before a midterm election that many Republicans fear they may lose, it is impossible to separate remembrance and politics.

In interviews, Republican strategists who are aware of the closely held White House plans for this week say the critical question is whether Mr. Bush still holds the power to alter the course of national conversation away from the Iraq war and back to the theme that has worked for them before, countering direct threats to the United States.

But there is another, related question as well: whether Republicans can succeed again in convincing the nation that Democrats cannot be trusted with keeping it safe.

The Wall Street Journal was more stark in its report:

President Bush will visit the sites of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks Sunday and Monday for a series of events that the administration hopes can once more lift Republicans to victory.

Mr. Bush sees the attacks as the defining moment of his presidency, and made his muscular response a centerpiece of his re-election campaign in 2004. With the Republican majorities in Congress endangered by economic uncertainty and public fury over the war in Iraq, the White House is striving to remind voters of its response to Sept. 11 — part of a broader assertion that Republicans take the terrorist threat more seriously than Democrats do and are better prepared to defend against it.

President Bush's high profile on the anniversary certainly dominates the news. But Democrats invoke the anniversary, too. Sen. Maria Cantwell sent out a press release over the weekend to say she'd be asking TV stations not to run her campaign ads today. The Washington Times reports Democrats in the Maryland Senate primary are invoking the day as Tuesday's election approaches.

Will politics be at all muted today when the Senate is expected to resume debate on a port security bill? Or will there be the mandatory mentions of the anniversary before it devolves into whatever the day's version is of "cut and run" vs. "stay the course"?

We're clearly still not sure what to do with Sept. 11.

In the New York Times Sunday Book Review you can see a review of Judge Richard Posner's new book, "Not a Suicide Pact," where he argues that the courts need to give more weight to national security interests. It's right next to an ad for another new book, "Dog Heroes of September 11." Heroes of the air are honored in another new book, there is a comic book-like retelling of the 9-11 Commission report, and of course, ABC's docudrama that mixed fact and fiction in a way you'd think would be difficult to do this close to the actual events.

Maybe one sign that this day is going to someday look like many others is the cheesy commemorative coin with the pop-up twin towers that are "able to rise up into a breathtaking standing sculpture."

What sticks with me the most five years later is thinking about the final minutes of the victims; those on the phone to loved ones or making the unimaginable decision to jump from the towers. Anyone who is ever in danger of forgetting the meaning of this day need only ponder what hell existed to make a leap like that seem like relief.

If you want to relive it what it felt like to be a distant spectator, CNN is streaming its Sept. 11, 2001, coverage in real time all day today. Maybe watching that is a way to keep politics from taking over the day.

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September 8, 2006

Mike Lowry hands down Demo tradition

Posted by David Postman at 3:34 PM

Mike Lowry's venerable shrimp feed fundraiser has been inherited by King County Councilman Bob Ferguson.

The "First Annual Bob Ferguson Shrimp Feed" is the 16th. Lowry will be there to "pass the plate and the tradition" to Ferguson. The two have known each other for years, but became closer in 2003 when Lowry was the only prominent Democratic politician to endorse Ferguson in his challenge to Cynthia Sullivan. "That was huge for me," Ferguson told me.

Lowry, the former governor and congressman and longtime Seattle liberal icon, once drew huge crowds for his shrimp feeds. When I arrived in the state in 1993 it was described to me in almost mythic terms. Lowry could always be counted on to give a rousing address to local Dems, as he did in 1990:

It was vintage Mike Lowry — eyes-flashing, fist-clenching, arms-waving, world-peace-mongering, Star Wars-bashing, gotta-reorder-our-priorities Mike Lowry.

And for more than 1,000 campaigners, local candidates and office holders and other die-hard Seattle liberals, yesterday's ranting, 10-minute speech by their political hero was more than worth the $25-a-head admission.

With or without the paper plate-full of Indonesian shrimp and slaw.

And the crowds still came even as his one term as governor faded away and he battled allegations of sexual harassment. I covered the 1995 event where nearly 900 people showed up as some Democrats made a point of staying away as a way to urge Lowry not to run for re-election.

But the only discouraging word heard yesterday came late in the afternoon when a supporter shook Lowry's hand and said, "You have run out of beer, sir," before turning to leave.

Let that be a warning to you Councilman Ferguson.

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Clarifying McGavick's view of Clinton

Posted by David Postman at 10:22 AM

Mike McGavick is angry at me. He just called to talk about my column in the paper this morning about his character study of Bill Clinton.

There's one sentence that ticked McGavick off. I wrote that his confession about his DUI was an effort at "authenticity," one of the traits he says is largely missing in public life today. And, I wrote, "And in that, Clinton is his model."

"To say I consider him my model is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous," McGavick told me this morning. "The guy was knowingly dishonest and he never, ever, admitted a fault until hounded into that."

McGavick objected to just that sentence. "Model" was not the best word to describe McGavick's study of Clinton. It was one of those cases where a word didn't ring in my head like it did with the person I was writing about. The sentence was on the blog all day yesterday and I wish someone had raised the issue some time before it was in the paper today.

McGavick's certainly right that in the initial DUI confession he was volunteering something the public knew nothing about. It was not a case of being hounded or caught like Clinton and Monica Lewinksy.

My point was that in making a public apology McGavick had given a lot of thought to the issue, and had studied Clinton's "deeper quotient of authenticity" as compared to former UW football coach Rick Neuheisel. He never praised the former president's behavior. But he was interested in how the public reacted to Clinton because of that authenticity. And McGavick described authenticity as being "consistent in exposing your inner motivations ... so there is completeness to who you are."

He told me today that Clinton didn't understand the concept of authenticity as he meant it in his May speech that I wrote about.

"The public had already judged him to be a scoundrel," McGavick said. He said the public was compartmentalizing Clinton's public and private behavior and in "some respects they were OK as long as he did a good job at being president."

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Any question John Kerry is running for president?

Posted by David Postman at 8:11 AM

This from a press release sent this morning:

John Kerry will travel to Keene, N.H., on Sunday, September 10, 2006 to stump for State Senate candidate Molly Kelly in District 10. Kerry will headline a free event with supporters at the home of Molly Kelly followed by door-to-door canvassing throughout Keene.

Yes, a state Senate candidate.

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Cantwell helps Dotzauer's clients

Posted by David Postman at 7:12 AM

In a follow up to Monday's Times story about Sen. Maria Cantwell and political consutlant and lobbyist Ron Doztauer, The Associated Press reports today Cantwell "helped arrange more than $11 million in federal money in the past year for projects benefiting clients" of Dotzauer and his firm.

Since last fall, Cantwell has helped persuade Senate appropriators to set aside $9.6 million — known as "earmarks" in congressional parlance — for a dam project benefiting two clients of Dotzauer's firm and $2 million more for the biotechnology company Inologic also represented by his firm.

Cantwell and Dotzauer have a long and complicated relationship. She worked for him, he worked for her, they dated, he's donated money to her campaign and she's given him a personal loan. From the AP:

"It is clear that this financial relationship web between the senator and the lobbyist creates a huge conflict of interest," said Ellen Miller, head of the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, which is working to highlight how lawmakers use earmarks to reward special interests.

"At the end of the day, there is a private lobbyist who is making a lot of money off her public actions. And it certainly appears, with the loan, to give her a stake in his financial success," she said.

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September 7, 2006

Eyman's Initiative 917 falls short for fall ballot

Posted by David Postman at 2:59 PM

Tim Eyman just sent the media his supporters an e-mail saying his initiative to cut the state car tax will fall short of the signatures necessary to put it on the November ballot. He wrote:

The Secretary of State will be reporting soon that the I-917 campaign turned in about 220,000 valid signatures, a few thousand short of qualifying. That's really close and the lesson we've learned is to work even harder from now on. This experience has also inspired us to rededicate ourselves to provide the voters with a greater voice in the political process.

Eyman needed 224,880 valid signatures of registered voters to qualify the initiative. He had claimed he turned in more than 300,000. When the secretary of state's office said it received only 266,006, Eyman said the others had been lost or stolen.

In June Eyman failed to get enough signatures on Referendum 65, which would have forced a vote on the state's new gay right's law.

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Real campaign finance disclosure

Posted by David Postman at 11:00 AM

What if politicians had to wear the names of their sponsors just like NASCAR drivers? Good Magazine has the answer. And you can see from the link on Boing Boing that the idea has some history.

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McGavick's Clintonian inspiration

Posted by David Postman at 8:24 AM

If you've read Danny Westneat this morning you know he thinks it's time to move on from the Mike McGavick DUI story.

After dedicating his second column to the subject, Westneat asks: "Can we talk about something else now?"

Nope, not yet. Because something else Danny wrote grabbed my attention. He said of McGavick: "It was his Clintonesque impulse to spill out all his remorse that bugged me."

Bill Clinton is important in understanding why McGavick made his public confession. McGavick's open letter to voters was his try to live up to what he calls "authenticity." And in that, Clinton is his model.

The very philosophy of the public confession is a key piece of the foundation of McGavick's candidacy. Long before his decision to write about his drunken driving, divorce and more public misdeeds, McGavick gave a lot of thought to the art and/or science of PDA, the just-now-coined, Public Display of Apology.

In another plug for a fellow Timesman, Jim Brunner today reports on the 1988 Slade Gorton campaign that McGavick managed:

That race hinged, in part, on Gorton convincing voters he was sorry for having grown arrogant and aloof during his previous Senate term, a strategy that reflected "McGavick's personality more than Gorton's politics," a Seattle Times article noted at the time.

I saw this McGavick personality trait most clearly in one of the first major speeches I saw him give this year. It was at the Mainstream Republicans conference in May. (You can watch or listen to it at TVW.) McGavick began by talking about the decline of trust among Americans.

"Whether in the corporate world or the political world, we see less trust every day."

He said there were four words that were important in trying to rebuild trust: authenticity, transparency, diversity and civility.

McGavick said that authenticity is what some people would call integrity. But he said authenticity is a "richer word."

"Because authenticity to me means you are consistent in exposing your inner motivations. You are open and true to your motivations and honest and open about those motivations with others. So there is completeness to who you are. It is an authentic being. And we sense authenticity in a very powerful way. I think it is one of the great human skills."

To describe what he meant by authenticity, McGavick compared Clinton's Monica Lewinksy scandal to former UW football coach Rick Neuheisel's firing over his involvement in basketball gambling pools.

"In both cases I think any fair observer could say there were lapses in integrity. I think any fair observer could say that. But despite parallel lapses in integrity, one of those people kept their job and the other was thrown out of their job. And I thought hard about why is it that we had this different reaction. Because certainly we would say the stakes of the president are higher than the stakes of the football coach, especially when Husky football is performing poorly we say this."

McGavick said it was because even though no one was especially surprised that Clinton was unfaithful to his wife, the president had a "deeper quotient of authenticity."

"It was who we expected him to be in a sense. But we believed he had integrity when it came to his public trust, his service as president. And as a result, when he finally came clean there was some sense of forgiveness, completion and moving on. So we had a different reaction.

"But alternatively, when it was the football coach and they lied, it was so at the center of irresponsibility to the job — that we expected that they were going to be teaching young men how to be better people — that it violated all authentic ability to serve the job. Isn't that an interesting thing? We forgave the president. We fired the football coach. I think it shows the richness, the power, of authentic behavior, and our judgment, our good judgment, when we have it in front of us."

By most assessments, McGavick's confession did not end up projecting authenticity. But that wasn't because of lack of forethought on McGavick's part. He seems to have the theory down, but still needs work on the practice. Which could probably be said about most of us.

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It's "Security Week" in Washington, D.C.

Posted by David Postman at 7:43 AM

This is from Congressman Jim McDermott's speech last night on the House floor:

The Republican Party will spend the next 30 days trying to make you afraid. They are afraid of losing power, and the only way they know how to govern is to play the fear game.

It is the Republican midterm election strategy. If they can make you afraid, and keep you afraid, maybe they can cling to power.

For the rest of September, until the moment Republican leaders gavel the Congress into adjournment, Republican speakers will rise and implore the American people to be afraid.

Republicans will call it security, and every time they do, just remember they are speaking in code. Republicans really mean insecurity.

The code words, though, are fast slipping away.

ABC News' The Note reports that later this morning the conservative group Progress for America will announce a media campaign focusing on "the reason for the War on Terror." The event will feature David Beamer, father of Todd Beamer, a passenger on Flight 93.

The TV ad is called "They Want To Kill Us."

UPDATE: Here's the press release from Progress for America with the script of the ad. You can watch it here.

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September 6, 2006

Dominatrix needs to whip finances into shape

Posted by David Postman at 7:16 PM

The professional dominatrix business just isn't what it used to be. Mistress Madison is bouncing checks and unable to make good on her latest try at role-playing: GOP financier.

The Southern California dominatrix wrote a $1,000 check to Mike McGavick's campaign in June. The donation is listed on the FEC forms as coming from Janique Goff of La Jolla, Calif. The address for Madison Communications, the company she lists as owning on her FEC form, is the same as that for "Mistress Madison & All-leather Fantasies," according to this La Jolla city guide and other Web sites. In 1995 it was reported that Mistress Madison has legally changed her name from Janique Kilkeary Goff-Madison.

The McGavick campaign isn't sweating the donation, since the check was no good. Said campaign spokesman Elliott Bundy:

"Apparently business is slow at "Madison Communications," the check came into us non-sufficient funds. Too bad though, for a second I thought we had a chance to get the endorsement of the Stranger."

Mistress Madison is fairly well known in California, where she ran for Congress as a Reform Party candidate and helped spearhead a fetish community charity drive. In 1995 The Associated Press reported: "Madison said she chose the Reform party because the Republican party is too conservative and the Democratic party too liberal."

According to PoliticalMoneyLine Goff has donated a total of $8,500 to Republicans this cycle, with checks written to Minnesota Senate candidate Mark Kennedy, California Congressman Darrell Issa, Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, Maryland Senate candidate Michael Steele and California Congressman Ken Calvert. She also gave to a political action committee that helps GOP senators and Senate candidates.

The Baltimore Sun figured out the Goff/Mistress Madison connection last week.
Columnist Laura Vozzella wrote:

The GOP is a big tent

Surprise supporter for the former seminarian in the U.S. Senate race: escort service owner. Janique Goff of La Jolla, Calif. gave $1,000 to Michael Steele's campaign in April. She identified herself as owner of Madison Communication, a "dating, escort and introduction service."

Steele spokesman Doug Heye said that was news to him and he'd look into it. I didn't hear back from Goff, whose business is listed in the La Jolla yellow pages along with "Buxom Beauties," "Hot Dreams Massage," and "Jenna's Centerfolds."

Goff may not be a Republican at all of course. If the checks are bouncing maybe it's part of a prank to put the GOP on the spot. I couldn't reach Goff this afternoon. (Note to editor: Please excuse my Google tracks as I searched for numbers for her under her various names and fields of expertise.)

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Posted by David Postman at 7:54 AM

I'm going to be on Fox News at about 9:45 a.m. to talk about the Senate race.

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Rumsfeld takes heat from Republicans

Posted by David Postman at 7:47 AM

The New York Times reports this morning that Democrats and some Republicans agree that, "Attacking Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is a way to lift them to victory."

Senate Democrats want to introduce a resolution calling for a vote of no confidence in Rumsfeld. At the same time more Republican candidates for office have been open about their criticism of the defense secretary.

Mike McGavick is featured in the Times story as well as one in The Hill this morning. From The Hill:

"I sure don't feel good about the job he's done," McGavick said. "And if I'd have had my way, he'd have resigned long ago."

From the NY Times:

"If I had my way, he wouldn't be secretary of defense now," Mike McGavick, the Republican challenger to Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, said in an interview Tuesday. "I would have accepted his resignation after Abu Ghraib. I have lost confidence in him."

But McGavick wouldn't say what he thought about Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's call for a vote of no confidence. He said it was up to President Bush to decide what to do with Rumsfeld.

Why is Rumsfeld suddenly a target of Republican candidates? I mean, other than the fact that he compared critics of the Iraq war to those who pushed for appeasing the Nazis and that the war effort he leads is increasing unpopular, and all the other things that might jump to mind.

Rumsfeld is a handy surrogate for Republicans who want to distance themselves from the Bush administration, and the unpopular war, without aiming anything directly at Bush.

The Times says:

For a small but growing number of Republicans, attacking Mr. Rumsfeld is a way to criticize how the war has been conducted without turning against the war itself.

And The Hill explains:

When it comes to President Bush, Republican candidates around the country are struggling with the well-publicized delicate balance between accepting his fundraising help and separating themselves from his unpopular leadership. So far, that balancing act has yet to yield any major candidates denouncing the president outright. When it comes to Bush's defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, however, the gloves are increasingly coming off.

UPDATE: A reader, Art Gary, e-mailed after I posted this yesterday, questioning whether it was accurate to say that Rumsfeld "compared critics of the Iraq war to those who pushed for appeasing the Nazis."

He had read the speech carefully, and the subsequent news coverage, including the L.A. Times story my paper ran.

Gary wrote in defense of Rumsfeld:

He did not say Bush critics are the same as the appeasers of the 1930's. He wasn't specific like that. Why doesn't the media just quote him, and not interpret him? His speech is right there.

I went back and read the speech, too. I think the coverage was a fair reporting, and I told Gary that reporters have to condense, summarize and sometimes interpret.

But, you decide. Here's Rumsfeld's speech.

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September 5, 2006

McGavick answers more questions about DUI

Posted by David Postman at 2:46 PM

On 710 KIRO, Dori Monson interviewed Mike McGavick just now about his drunken driving arrest. McGavick's spokesman said last week that McGavick wouldn't be talking about his 1993 DUI again in the campaign.

But Monson put McGavick through some tough but polite questions about discrepancies in the candidate's mea culpa and details that emerged with released of the police report.

McGavick said there was no attempt to mislead anyone and that his campaign tried to get the police report but was unable to find any records about the arrest that police in Maryland released to the media last week. He said if he had remembered all the details he would have included them in his open letter to voters.

"Why wouldn't I have? I wanted this out. I just said what I believed had happened and I was wrong on a couple of details, and I'm sorry that I was wrong on a couple of details."

Monson asked McGavick if he still drinks. "I enjoy a drink. Drink too much and drive? No. No, I will not," McGavick said.

But Monson pressed him on that, asking if he drives after drinking at all.

"Social drinking is a part of my life," McGavick said.

But why not have a zero tolerance policy about drinking and driving?

"Because I don't have any risk that I won't follow what I know is right. So, I don't feel the need to do that. The law takes all this into account, Dori."

Also, last week Washington Post political blogger Chris Cillizza wrote that McGavick's confession is the sort of thing that could make or break a campaign. Today, he says "break" looks more likely.

If you are going to confess past foibles in the context of a political campaign, you need to put everything on the table -- not offer it up in bits and pieces. McGavick still has a chance to unseat Maria Cantwell (D), but it has diminished over the past week.

UPDATE: McGavick isn't just answering questions, he clearly seems to want to say more about the DUI and the fallout from release of the police report. He just sent this e-mail message to supporters:


I want to take a minute to reach out to you with a couple of thoughts.

Recently, I told you all in an open letter on my blog that one of my biggest mistakes in life was a DUI some 13 years ago. Granted, this disclosure was an unconventionally honest approach to politics, but I want to be candid with voters about my mistakes and the lessons I've learned.

I did not have a written record of the event, and I am not a lawyer. I relied only on my memory of a 13-year-old event. A copy of the police report has now been published, and it shows that I had two details wrong. I said I cut a yellow light too close, while the officer reported that the light was red. I said I had been cited, while the report says that I was both cited and arrested. I don't believe that most citizens will consider these differences to be key in judging my integrity.

I believed, and still believe, that the relevant points were that I had way too much to drink and that I got a DUI. I think that was pretty straightforward. In fact, some people said it was "too much information"!

I've been candid with reporters all along, and I apologize if anyone felt I misled themâ€"clearly, that was not my intent.

To my supporters and the curious, I'm sorry that we have all been distracted from the real issues facing our state. I first raised the issue of my past mistakes because I believe in running a different kind of campaign. Candidates shouldn't be afraid to admit that they are human and to talk about lessons they've learned. Even with the media attention surrounding this embarrassing event, I still believe in campaigning in this open and straightforward way.

I believe Washingtonians are hungry for something different. They are tired of the politics of character assassination. The people of this state are looking for a candidate who offers change, who is willing to admit imperfection.

I look forward to debating the very serious issues that face us. Together, we're going to change the policies and politics of this country for the better!

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McGavick returns Alaska oil money

Posted by David Postman at 11:26 AM

Republican Senate candidate Mike McGavick returned $14,000 in campaign contributions last week from employees and executives of an Alaska company at the center of a federal investigation.

McGavick campaign spokesman Elliott Bundy told me just now:

"as soon as word of the FBI investigation in Alaska broke, the campaign returned all contributions from employees of VECO. While the exact subject and people at the heart of the investigation have not been announced, Mike wanted to err on the side of caution."

VECO ranks No. 10 on a list of donors to McGavick's Senate campaign ranked by employer, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The center's website showed $12,000 had been given to McGavick by VECO Chairman Bill Allen, president Pete Leathard and other VECO employees. Bundy said $14,000 is the total.

Allen and his company have long been big supporters of Republicans in the Alaska Legislature and in key Congressional spots. That includes Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, a prominent McGavick backer, whose son, Ben, is the president of the Alaska Senate and whose office was searched by the FBI.

Stevens helped organize a fund raiser for McGavick in Alaska in April. Allen was among the co-sponsors listed on the invitation.

Few details are known about the Alaska investigation. But it is clear VECO is of interest to federal agents. My former employer, The Anchorage Daily News, reported:

Federal agents swarmed legislative offices around the state Thursday, executing search warrants in a coordinated series of raids that appeared to target the long-standing relationship between the oil field service company Veco and leading lawmakers.

UPDATE: McGavick's move frustrates Democratic efforts to play the Alaska investigation angle. The state party put out a release this morning calling on McGavick to return the money and saying, "McGavick continues his sellout to the corrupt big oil interests that are bankrolling his campaign."

But McGavick had already given the money back. Bundy said of the Democratic move:

"Their lack of originality is astounding."

Liberals had already taken up the charge that the VECO investigation taints McGavick's campaign. Read Daniel Kirkdorffer, washblog, Pacific Views and

It's Democrats who faced this question most recently. When the Jack Abramoff scandal exploded, Maria Cantwell first said she wouldn't return money from clients associated with the disgraced lobbyist. But then she announced she would give about $17,865, which included "any funds from organizations or individuals that have ever been connected to Abramoff based on media reports."

Sen. Patty Murray, though, kept the $35,000 in campaign donations she got from Abramoff tribal clients, saying at the time, "I will not rush to scapegoat those tribes who have already been victimized by Jack Abramoff."

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Senate race roundup

Posted by David Postman at 9:31 AM

On this first day of the rest of the 2006 campaign season there's a plethora of news and views about the state's U.S. Senate race between Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican challenger Mike McGavick.

  • At MSNBC, Tom Curry says Joe Lieberman's defeat in the Connecticut Democratic primary has rich liberals here wishing they had run against Cantwell.

    Longtime state Democratic leader Karen Marchioro told Curry: "You could have a fundraiser with all the Microsoft people who must be kicking themselves by not seeing what happened in Connecticut. How many people are just saying, 'Why didn't I think of that?'"

  • A leading conservative PAC has endorsed McGavick. The Club for Growth has money that could follow its declaration that McGavick "has very strong free-market credentials and knows that limited government and low taxes lead to more jobs and more opportunity for workers."

    In a Michigan Congressional race this year the group says it raised over $600,000 for the campaign of Republican Tim Walberg who knocked out Republican Congressman Joe Schwarz in the primary. The Club for Growth spent an additional $500,000 in independent expenditures which the group said included "hard-hitting TV and radio ads."

  • State Democrats today launch a new effort to try to tie McGavick as close as possible to President Bush with "Vote Bush-McGavick" events in 12 cities.
  • In the Tacoma News Tribune Sean Cockerham tells us a bit about others in the race, including said Michael Goodspaceguy Nelson, "who advocates orbital space colonization." Nelson tells Cockerham:
    "People make fun of what I say. But they made fun when some people said the Earth was round - or that people will fly."
  • Mike the Actuary's Musings are, in fact, musings of an insurance actuary named Mike. He describes himself as something of a centrist, watered-down Libertarian or moderate/liberal Republican. And he's been following Safeco's fight with the Democratic Party over release of information related to credit scoring.
    Many of us who were working with insurance scoring were very upset with how over-aggressively Safeco adopted scoring a few years ago. The complaints generated by the company's initial blanket policy of canceling the lowest-scoring quintile of their book prompted a wave of regulation across the country, which in turn made my life mighty entertaining for a couple of years.

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Ed Murray endorses Jamie Pedersen

Posted by David Postman at 8:55 AM

Over oatmeal and tea this morning Rep. Ed Murray told The Stranger's Eli Sanders that he has decided to weigh into the 43rd District race to replace him in the House.

Given the marriage decision from the supreme court, and given, in particular, the reprehensible language used in the decision, I believe that the political ground under the gay and lesbian community has shifted significantly. It was an earthquake of a setback and the need to move forward united and strong every place we can is the reason I'm endorsing Jamie ...

Sanders says Murray's endorsement could decide the race in the crowded Democratic primary.

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September 1, 2006

When worlds collide

Posted by David Postman at 5:40 PM

Fashion blogger The Manolo has taken up a weekly assignment at Politics Central to write about fashion in politics, or the lack thereof. As he says in his first installment:

This intersection between the politics and the fashion it would appear to be at the corner of the Dull Street and the Boring Boulevard.

I'm off for a three-day weekend. Play nice, and I'll see you Tuesday when the election season officially begins.

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The police report on McGavick's DUI

Posted by David Postman at 9:10 AM

Jerry Cornfield of The Herald in Everett gets the first look at the Maryland police report about Mike McGavick's DUI. He writes this morning, "A Maryland police report obtained Thursday offers four pages of details that include McGavick's alleged failing of roadside sobriety tests, falling asleep during processing and registering a 0.17 blood alcohol level 90 minutes after being stopped."

McGavick said in his on-line confession that he was pulled over in the 1993 incident after he "cut a yellow light too close." According to the police report, the officer saw McGavick's Mazda Miata "drive through a steady red signal."

The McGavick campaign told Cornfield McGavick did not plan to talk any more in the campaign about the DUI.

UPDATE: Here's the report.

And here's The Seattle Times story on the police report.

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Campaigning for Pluto

Posted by David Postman at 8:02 AM

Erik Kilk, a Vancouver engineer, says he can understand that scientists might have had a good reason for decertifying Pluto, but he says on

I grew up with Pluto as a planet, many of us grew up with Pluto as our ninth planet, and I think it should be grandfathered in or given honorary planetary status. Re-elect Pluto !!

Kilk's campaign has drawn quick media attention, including a mention on last night's Countdown with Keith Olberman on MSNBC. Here's the Columbian story that started what Kilk said has been "a little bit overwhelming but fun for me."

Kilk, a 45-year-old engineer at Hewlett-Packard, told me this morning he's also hearing from lots of regular folks ready to sign up for the campaign.

One woman wrote Kilk, "I have a 5 year old who was hilariously distraught about Pluto not being a planet anymore. How can we get a sign?" He's working on that.

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Apology watch II

Posted by David Postman at 7:36 AM

As reported here the other day, the New York Times confirms, "These are sorry days in American politics."

The Times includes Mike McGavick's recent confession among the surge of apologies it says is "remarkable in its frequency and sweep."

But it may all be for naught:

"None of these apologies are effective because no one believes them anymore," said Chuck Todd, editor of the daily political tip-sheet, Hotline.

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