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Postman on Politics

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

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August 25, 2008 5:13 PM

Republicans agree to $15,000 PDC fine

Posted by David Postman

The Washington State Republican Party has agreed to pay $15,000 for failing to tell candidates about nearly $300,000 worth of last-minute campaigning the party did for them.

The party filed the right paperwork in 2004 and 2006 to the Public Disclosure Commission, but didn’t send the information to the candidates, including gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi. That meant that the candidates’ PDC reports failed to show, for example, $92,000 of expenditures for Rossi in ’04 and as much as $32,000 spent on behalf of a legislative candidate.

Staff of the Public Disclosure Commission negotiated a proposed stipulated agreement with the state Republican Party. The commission will consider the proposal at its meeting this Thursday.

The agreement calls for the party to admit multiple violations of the public disclosure law by not informing candidates that it had done work on their behalf. That work included a mailing done on behalf of Rossi in the weeks of his campaign against then-Attorney General Chris Gregoire. Gregoire won the governor’s race and the two are now facing off in a rematch.

There were also 13 Republican legislative candidates who were given in-kind contributions they say they didn’t know about. At least most said they didn’t know anything about the work done on their behalf. Toby Nixon, who lost his 2006 race for state Senate, told PDC staff he was aware of the contribution. The staff report says:

However, in the confusion of closing a campaign and without the information from the WSRP the reporting of the contribution was overlooked.

Why didn’t the party tell the candidates the money had been spent? No one could really answer that question for the PDC staff. Party officials said they believe the notices to the candidates were prepared, “but they have been unable to locate copies of those notices.”

The agreement also says the party has “instituted specific written procedures to make certain timely notice is now given to the candidates.”

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August 25, 2008 11:02 AM

Blogging the convention

Posted by David Postman

The Washington State Democratic delegation is blogging about what they see and hear in Denver.

What I wrote yesterday was about the lack of unity among the delegation. I see that the Democratic Party’s officially sanctioned delegation blogger says I was on the wrong track.

So if my colleagues in the press are looking for a good “disunity” story, I don’t think they’ll find one in the WA delegation. No doubt there are some unhappy folks in the room, but there is also a concerted effort to get everybody in line behind “the second best Democrat.”

But after listening a bit to what delegates were saying in Denver, David Goldstein had to moderate his advice for colleagues:

So while I don’t think there is much of a disunity story here, don’t expect anywhere near a unanimous vote from the WA delegation.

The “good story” that Goldstein dismisses is not about a party in trouble or anything that dramatic. But as he found, you only need listen to Clinton delegates to find very strong feelings about the role Hillary Clinton played in the primary season and a real yearning among her supporters that the convention pay proper homage to that.

One of my favorite convention stories that we see every four years is how there is no news at the convention; it is all staged and there are thousands of reporters who don’t know what to do. There isn’t “news” in the sense we know who the nominee is. But I’ve always said - I’ve covered six conventions - that if you’re a political reporter in an arena packed with political activists and you can’t find a story, you need to look for another line of work.

And when all else fails, interview each other:

In the absence of actual news, so far most of the media coverage seems to be media interviewing other media, and that includes the blogger tent (”The Big Tent”), which opened today.

You mean like this?

Today’s podcast from the Democratic Convention is something of a blogger- covering-the-media-covering-a- blogger- covering-the-media report.

MORE: The Blue Scholars are in Denver, too, and Slogging about it here.

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August 25, 2008 9:14 AM

The Democratic convention

Posted by David Postman

Danny Westneat is in Denver to cover the Democratic National Convention for The Seattle Times.

Danny opens his coverage with a piece today James Yee, delegate, Muslim, and well-known former Army chaplain.

His story is a useful reminder, he says, of the danger of America chucking aside civil liberties.

But his presence at the convention, which opens today, is also a test of sorts. Will the Democrats allow Muslims to be out and proud for Obama? Even one who was once under a cloud of treason, vilified as a traitor at the time by some leading Democratic politicians?

Also, in yesterday’s paper I wrote an advance on the convention that looks at the state of relations between Clinton and Obama delegates. I talked with some very interesting people on both sides, political newcomers with similar backgrounds but very different feelings on the eve of the convention.

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August 21, 2008 10:38 AM

An opponent reassesses Reichert

Posted by David Postman

This is from Emily Heffter, the Timeswoman covering the 8th congressional race:

Conservative Democrat Jim Vaughn shared a podium with U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert yesterday to announce his support for the congressman's re-election campaign, saying that Reichert has "stood up to the president."

"He's earned my respect," Vaughn said. "Dave Reichert has my full endorsement."
(There's a story about it here.)

But Vaughn was far less supportive of the congressman on his campaign Web site a few months ago, writing:

Continue reading this post ...

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August 19, 2008 10:35 PM

Gregoire sees mandate of sorts in narrow lead

Posted by David Postman

The statewide vote count tonight shows Gov. Chris Gregoire with a lead of two percentage points over Republican challenger Dino Rossi. Gregoire just told TVW that Rossi should look for meaning in the returns:

I hope this is a message to him and his friends that negative campaigning isn’t going to work.

Gregoire won her office by 133 votes, so maybe those two points look like a mandate. I'll stick with my prediction that tonight's results won't predict much at all.

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August 19, 2008 9:17 PM

Guess what? Gov's race looks close

Posted by David Postman

When I last checked there were about 746,000 voies counted in the governor's race. I bet that's more than half the votes we'll get tonight. Gregoire has 48 percent of those and Rossi has 46 percent.

It's enough for Rossi to issue a statement:

We had a strong showing in the primary tonight. Current returns show we have received over 45 percent of the vote. To put these results into perspective, during the 2004 campaign I received just 34 percent of the vote in the primary and the General Election turned out to be significantly closer.

Fewer than half of the voters who will vote in November cast their ballots in this primary. Independent polls of all voters show this race is a statistical dead heat and I feel confident going into the General Election. I’m happier having 45 percent tonight than the 34 percent we got in the 2004 primary.

What matters is that we placed in the top two and now the General Election begins. We still have a long way to go until November and I will continue to talk about the issues that matter most to the people of Washington state, like addressing the budget deficit, fixing our transportation system, improving education, and keeping our communities safe. ...

In the expectations game, this could be the low-water mark: "What matters is that we placed in the top two ..."

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August 19, 2008 8:39 PM

Court incumbents look strong in early returns

Posted by David Postman

Two Supreme Court justices and a Court of Appeals judge facing challenges appear to be doing well with a couple hundred thousand primary night ballots counted.

Supreme Court Justice Mary Fairhurst is leading Michael Bond 60/40. Justice Charles Johnson is only a little bit behind that, with 58 percent to James Beecher's 31 and Frank Vulliet's 11.

On the Division II Court of Appeals, Judge Robin Hunt has 65 percent of the vote and challenger Tim Ford has 35 percent with a little more than 85,000 votes counted.

Yep, real early to make any calls on these races. But after an unusually quiet primary these court races are among the more interesting things to watch tonight.

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August 19, 2008 8:04 PM

Primary night: No forecast for November

Posted by David Postman

Good evening all. I had hoped to be able to use our live-blogging and chat software but we’re having some technical difficulties. So I’ll start here, the old-fashioned way and try to post through the evening as news warrants.

Let me start by saying I don’t think it makes sense to read too much into tonight’s results in the race for governor, other statewide officials except SPI or the 8th District Congressional race.

There is just too many differences between primary voters and general election voters.

I’ve heard from a lot of campaigns with their pre-spin and expectations. But history is on my side here.

Take the governor’s race. in 2004, Chris Gregoire 504,018 votes and Dino Rossi got 444,337. In addition, Democrat Ron Sims got 228,306 votes. That could have led Democrats to think they had a pretty good showing. Gregoire alone polled more votes than Rossi and those Sims votes could have been assumed to go Gregoire’s way come November.

But we all know what happened in November. Rossi and Gregoire were in a dead heat. So maybe all the Sims votes went to Gregoire. But of those who didn’t vote in the primary, enough backed Rossi to show him the winner come election night.

We can learn something from the Lands Commissioner race that year, too. In the primary Democrat Mike Cooper got 600,495 votes. Republican Doug Sutherland got only 433,077 votes. But there’s no Commissioner Cooper this year. Sutherland won in November with 1.3 million votes to Cooper’s 1.22 million.

If you look at this video of Democrat Darcy Burner, you can see she put a lot of importance on doing well tonight.

But two years ago Burner got a few thousands votes more than Reichert in the primary. Both ran unopposed for nomination. And in November, Reichert beat Burner by about 7,000 votes.

So if, for example, Burner finishes behind Reichert tonight, would it make sense for national Democrats - and that’d be her fear - to stop putting money into the 8th District? I just can’t see that, or the reverse, unless someone really just bites it tonight.

A note on the 8th: Reichert Chief of Staff Mike Shields told me this afternoon he will be taking a leave from the official office to run Reichert’s general election campaign.

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