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October 31, 2008 7:49 PM

Inslee for Interior secretary?

Posted by Richard Wagoner

Politico, the online newspaper about politics, lists U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, as a possible secretary of the Interior should Barack Obama win the presidency. Also named as a candidate for that post is Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Politico fills out the entire cabinet and White House leadership team in an Obama administration with names "being widely discussed in Democratic circles." You can read the story here.

Inslee is a champion of environmental causes in Congress, particularly in efforts to fight global warming and promote alternative energy sources.

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October 31, 2008 3:08 PM

Reichert says he's resolving over-the-limit contributions

Posted by Emily Heffter

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, says his campaign is already working on resolving several over-the-limit campaign contributions he recieved this cycle. Darcy Burner, his Democratic opponent in the 8th Congressional District, says it's taking a long time.

Burner pointed out $10,480 in donations that exceeded the federal limit of $2,300 per individual, per election. Of those, the Reichert campaign said they have already returned $500 to one donor.

The campaign has 60 days to resolve donations that are over the limit. Amanda Halligan, a Reichert campaign spokeswoman, said the campaign is within that limit, but two of the over-the-limit donations were dated August 31, so they hit 61 days today.

"They're grasping at straws on Friday before the election," she said.

Instead of returning the money, Reichert has requested donors "reattribute" the money -- by making it a donation from someone else. That's a legal and common process under federal election law. A campaign needs a signed letter from the donor approving the change, an Federal Election Commission spokesman said. They might make the donation from the other partner on a shared checking account, for example.

The Burner campaign has returned about $9,000 in campaign contributions that were over the limit. They said the reattribution process shouldn't take so long.

"It shouldn't take 60 days if they're striving to be in compliance with FEC rules," said Sandeep Kaushik, Burner's spokesman.

UPDATE: The Reichert campaign says it is is refunding money to the donors who sent their contributions more than 60 days ago. The campaign also provided to me the letters they sent to donors, asking for a signature confirming "reattribution." The letters aren't dated, so it's difficult to know when they were sent out. Halligan pointed out that it's in the campaign's best interest to send the letters right away, improving the chances donors will sign the forms and make the contributions valid.

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October 31, 2008 11:33 AM

Sound Transit catches a ballot break

Posted by Mike Lindblom

Light-rail supporters have worried that pro-transit voters (especially younger voters) would miss Sound Transit Proposition 1, at the end of a lengthy ballot. Campaign mailings went so far as to tell people to read the bottom first -- then proceed to the presidential race and others near the top. The Seattle ballot contains more than 30 races and measures.

But it turns out that when the ballots were printed, Sound Transit landed at or near the upper right-hand corner of the back page, in both Seattle and Bellevue. The top right is considered prime position -- at least in the newspaper business -- to catch someone's attention.

"It's not a bad place to be," said Alex Fryer, spokesman for Mass Transit Now. "Maybe there's a silver lining to it."

Mark Baerwaldt, treasurer of, downplayed the effect of the top-right slot. "It's not going to be close," he said, predicting a rout by his side.

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October 31, 2008 10:46 AM

Scary clowns for Rossi

Posted by Jim Brunner

The Republican Governors Association, which already has tried to scare voters with its sex offender ads, has released a web-only spot for Halloween, featuring a clown who says you should vote against Christine Gregoire... or else.

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October 30, 2008 11:06 AM

Republicans say Gregoire accepted illegal contributions

Posted by Emily Heffter

The state Public Disclosure Commission is investigating a complaint that $12,200 worth of donations to Gov. Christine Gregoire's re-election campaign were illegal under a 1992 state law. The complaint was filed Oct. 22 by the Washington State Republican Party.

Gregoire's campaign is also looking into the allegations and has already returned one check, spokeswoman Debra Carnes said this morning.

The contributions are from five out-of-state political action committees, or PACs, and Washington has specific rules governing such donations. Out-of-state PACs must have recieved at least $10 from at least 10 Washington state voters within 180 days of the donation.

"Our goal is 100% compliance, but because we’re talking about different states, we are relying on them (the PACs) to follow their laws and be in compliance on their end,” Carnes said.

The Republican Party complaint points out that the law, which voters passed in 1992, forbids candidates from accepting donations that don't meet the 10-contributor requirement. Carnes said it's complicated to look up each PAC's compliance, but the campaign is doing it as fast as possible.

Several of the PACs included in the complaint are re-election PACs from other states' officials, including the governors of Pennsylvania, New York and Colorado.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for Gov. Christine Gregoire's campaign said the governor has returned donations to all the PACs noted in the Republican complaint. Before the Republicans filed the complaint with the state Public Disclosure Commission Oct. 22, the campaign had already returned donations to two of the PACs. They returned the rest after the complaint was filed.

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October 29, 2008 3:36 PM

Lawyers battle over "obstructive" Rossi deposition

Posted by Jim Brunner

UPDATE: Read the entire deposition here, here, here, here, here and here.

This is ugly.

The Rossi deposition started out combative and went downhill from there, according to the transcript of the morning session released by the Rossi campaign.

Rossi's attorney, Mike Patterson, objected to just about every question asked by plaintiffs' lawyer Mike Withey (who represents former State Supreme Court Justices Faith Ireland and Robert Utter, who filed the suit.) Patterson said many of the questions went way beyond the scope of what the judge said the deposition could cover.

More than once, Patterson accused Withey of giving him dirty looks. "Mr. Withey, Mr. Withey, this is supposed to be a very good decorum. You don't need to stare at me in disdain."

Withey said he did not stare.

During his testimony, Rossi repeated his earlier assertions that any contacts he had with BIAW prior to declaring himself a candidate for governor were legal. He claimed his conversations about political fundraising were general in nature -- that they were about mending a personality "rift" between different BIAW factions -- and that he was not illegally coordinating fundraising with the group.

Whenever he could, Rossi tried to turn Withey's questions around to attack the Democrats.

For example, Withey asked whether Rossi understood the purpose of the public disclosure law in the state was to prevent groups with lots of money from having a "disproportionate or controlling influence on the election of candidates?"

Rossi responded: "Oh you mean like SEIU helping pay for lawsuits like this, Fuse and other ones that are paying for sham lawsuits like this one, is that what you're talking about?" (Fuse is a liberal activist group that has pushed what it calls the "Buildergate" scandal.)

After a heated exchange this morning, Withey said he'd had enough and that he'd be asking Judge Paris Kallas for sanctions against Patterson for obstructing the deposition.

"For the record, I've been in practice for 36 years. This has been the most obstructive deposition I've ever participated in. It's made a mockery of the four hours that we've arranged for. We are going to move the court to impose sanctions upon Mr. Patterson, we'll move the court to allow us additional time to depose Mr. Rossi in light of this obstruction. We will -- let me finish. We will make a transcript of this proceeding available to the judge immediately, and we will then ask her to give us a call back when she's had the chance to review it so that she might determine what sanctions if any should be imposed and whether this deposition should be continued further."

Patterson fired back.

"Mr. Withey, I'm going to state that I've been in practice just about as long as you have and I'm going to say this. I probably participated in more depositions than you ever thought of participating in and I've certainly tried more cases than you ever have, okay? And I'm going to tell you that... I am not here to have the due process and constitutional rights of my client overrun and I'm not here to see that lawyers that are being paid by Christine Gregoire... to ask questions that are geared toward the press. I'm not here to have Mr. Lowney hold a press conference and to otherwise try to influence this election. My objections will stand for the record. I will have anybody take a look at those. I'm happy to have the judge take a look at those objections."

Knoll Lowney, the other plaintiffs' attorney in the case, accused Patterson of "defaming" him by saying he was being paid by Gregoire. (While the lawsuit has been pushed by Gregoire supporters, her campaign is not paying for it.)

No word yet on whether the judge intervened in the dispute.

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October 29, 2008 2:00 PM

Rossi deposition - Part 1

Posted by Jim Brunner

UPDATE: Read the entire deposition here, here, here, here, here and here.

The Rossi campaign just released a rough draft transcript of the first part of his deposition today in the lawsuit over the Building Industry Association of Washington's political fundraising.

You can view the deposition here.

A quick look shows the session to be about as hostile as you'd expect for such a politically charged lawsuit just days before the election, with Rossi's attorney frequently objected to the scope of the questions being asked.

Rossi maintained that his contacts with the BIAW prior to declaring his intent to run for governor were legal. In fact, he said he was leaning against running at the time, precisely because of hardball politics like the lawsuit.

" the time all that happened, I was about 75 percent sure I would not run for office, and the reason I was pretty sure at that point in time, pretty close that I would not run for office, is because of this sort of thing, us sitting here today. You know, the fact that you folks served subpoenas at my home pounding at 9:30 at night on my door, serving my teenage daughter with a subpoena, this is the kind of nonsense that you have to go through for someone to run for public office."

Mike Withey, the attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, moved to strike Rossi's answer as "nonresponsive."

Rossi shot back: "I answered your question. Why don't you want me to answer your question?"

Democrats contend Rossi illegally coordinated fundraising with the BIAW prior to officially declaring himself a candidate.

We'll have the rest of the deposition and more excerpts later.

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October 29, 2008 1:30 PM

White violated county ethics, ombudsman says

Posted by Emily Heffter

A King County Ombudsman's Office report released this morning says Legislative candidate Scott White used a public computer and the fax machine for his campaign while he was a county employee. Then White and his attorney told an elaborate story blaming the apparent violations on a glitch in his Treo personal digital assistant, the investigation says.

An independent expert couldn't find evidence of any Treo bug. The expert's investigation found, instead, that White likely opened and modified the campaign documents intentionally using his King County-owned computer.

It's the latest turn in what has been an ugly and hard-fought race between two Democrats: White, a former King County employee, and environmental activist Gerry Pollet. They are running for the 46th District seat in North Seattle being vacated by state Rep. Jim McIntire, who is running for state treasurer.

The ombudsman investigated about six complaints against White and found evidence he violated the county ethics code in three ways: He used a county fax machine to transmit an official campaign document, he made 12 campaign-related entries in his county computer calendar, and he opened and worked on 11 campaign-related files on his county computer.

White was an employee in the county's Department of Transportation before he resigned this summer.
The two Democratic candidates rumbled first over who earned the 46th District Democrats' endorsement. Pollet won the vote at a May meeting, but then White claimed victory after a ballot-counter found an additional White vote after returning home.

Then in June, the two candidates went to court to determine whether White had legally withdrawn from the race. He filed a withdrawal form, then changed his mind. A judge agreed with White that he had missed the deadline for his withdrawal -- perhaps by just minutes -- and could stay in the race.

More recently, Pollet has been calling White a hypocrite for claiming to be an environmentally friendly candidate but accepting campaign contributions from the Building Industry Association of Washington.

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October 29, 2008 11:15 AM

Rossi: Deposition is nonsense

Posted by Bob Young

It was billed as a press conference before Dino Rossi's deposition.

But the reporters and photographers jammed into a conference room this morning didn't get a chance to ask the GOP candidate for governor any questions.

Instead they mostly listened to Rossi and former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton decry the deposition as a frivolous partisan attack. Rossi and Gorton also complained that the four-hour grilling would keep him from speaking to the Seattle Rotary Club at lunch time.

Former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton spoke first, mostly reading from a statement he issued Tuesday. Gorton said a ruling by King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas allowing a pre-election deposition was a "political decision."

Rossi spoke briefly. He called the deposition and underlying lawsuit against the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) the work of "Christine Gregoire's operatives." He said it was the "type of nonsense" that made his decision to run for governor less than easy. He said the messenger who served him a subpoena banged on his door at 9:30 p.m.

Rossi reiterated that his conversations with BIAW members in early 2007 -- when they were discussing fundraising for his possible campaign -- occurred before he was a candidate. Therefore, as he has said in the past, he couldn't have conducted illegal campaign coordination with the BIAW -- because he wasn't a candidate.

Rossi said he would meet with reporters after he was done with the deposition, which could be late in the afternoon. Both sides said they'd make transcripts available. "It looks like some of you might be interested," Rossi said.

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October 29, 2008 9:13 AM

Rossi deposition: pure politics or necessary legal step?

Posted by Bob Young

It seems to be all about the perp walk this morning -- or avoiding it.

At 10 a.m. Dino Rossi is ordered to testify about allegations that he had engaged in illegal campaign coordination with his biggest backers, the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW).

His inquisitors wanted the press to be there. Rossi objected and a judge agreed with him.

But liberal activists working with the lawyers grilling Rossi sent out a press release Tuesday providing precise directions to a "hallway just outside the law offices that anyone who goes to the law office must pass through." There, photographers might snap of photo of Rossi -- appearing to slink?! -- as he came to and from his deposition.

Then, the activists and lawyers might generate their October surprise -- photos and headlines about what Rossi said he said to builders when they were discussing fundraising for what one of their brethren called an "anatomy to the wall" campaign against Gov. Christine Gregoire. BIAW has dropped $6.3 million on that effort at last count.

Rossi has to counterattack.

So he's holding a press conference at 9:30 a.m. No slinking in and out of a lawyer's office for him.

He may have some friends with him. Former U.S. Attorney Mike McKay and former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton sent out a press release Tuesday blasting Judge Paris Kallas for allowing a pre-election deposition of Rossi. The duo demanded that Gregoire call off the lawsuit by two supporters of hers that underlies the deposition drama.

To Rossi and his supporters this is now a political ambush by Gregoire operatives and the loony left.

The legal case against the BIAW, they note, is brought by Knoll Lowney, who sued Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick late in his 2006 campaign. That suit stirred stories. But coverage was less visible seven months later when a federal judge dismissed the suit.

Lowney also represented the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which contributes heavily to Evergreen Progress PAC, the union equivalent of the BIAW. Evergreen Progress PAC gave $35,000 to Fuse, Republicans point out. Fuse is a liberal group that helps Lowney with public relations; they're his mouthpiece. The circle of liberal complicity is complete in the plot against Rossi.

Lowney says he's not being paid in this case. He's working on contingency. He has a class action suit against BIAW alleging the group breached its fiduciary trust with its members. That suit could pay big fees, he says. That's why an Arizona firm is helping with his case. Not because they're Gregoire fans, he says, but because they can see the potential payday.

Lowney does have a history of liberal activism. And he was on the winning side in at least one big case, getting the state Supreme Court to overturn Tim Eyman's Initiative 747. He says his case alleging improper coordination and his pre-election deposition of Rossi are crucial to putting teeth into the state's campaign finance laws.

Judge Kallas agreed with him on Monday, giving us today's deposition -- and another day of political theater.

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October 28, 2008 6:10 PM

Salty's owner says he'll redo anti-Gregoire ads

Posted by Jim Brunner

Salty's owner Gerry Kingen, who launched the new round of anti-Gregoire ads I wrote about earlier, just called to say he's pulling them down temporarily.

Kingen said he was not aware that the use of the state seal in political ads is illegal. (I confess I didn't know that until today either.) And he said he'll also recast the ads to show the top five donors to his political committee, another requirement has says he misunderstood.

Kingen said the reworked ads will be back up in a day or so.

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October 28, 2008 4:19 PM

McKay, Gorton blast Rossi deposition

Posted by Bob Young

Two prominent Republicans, former U.S. Attorney Mike McKay and former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, blasted the decision by a local judge to force a deposition of Dino Rossi before the election.

Calling the decision by King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas "outrageous," McKay and Gorton said Kallas is giving attorneys who will grill Rossi tomorrow at 10 a.m. "license to abuse the court system."

In a three-paragraph statement, the duo were particularly rankled by the judge's reasoning that a pre-election deposition allows Rossi to "confirm -- or dispel -- " allegations of illegal campaign coordination. "Any judge knows that a deposition taken by a hostile lawyer won't prove the truth of anything. We have never seen a judge issue an order for immediate depositions in any other case of this nature."

McKay and Gorton might also be trying to add some counter-spin to the deposition story, which captured headlines today, and probably will tomorrow when transcripts of Rossi's testimony are expected to be released.

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October 28, 2008 3:40 PM

Salty's owner launches anti-Gregoire ads

Posted by Jim Brunner

A new round of attack ads in the governor's race is hitting Gov. Christine Gregoire's deals to expand Indian casinos and her comments about the merits of a state income tax.

The ads, running on local TV and on a Web site, are being run by That's Just Not Right, a new political action committee created by Gerry Kingen, the owner of the popular Salty's restaurants (he also founded the Red Robin chain). He and his wife have contributed $3,200 to Dino Rossi's campaign.

***Update: Kingen apparently tapped Floyd Brown, best known as the creator of the 1988 "Willie Horton" ads which helped derail the Michael Dukakis campaign, to produce the Gregoire ads. We profiled Brown, who now has an office southwest of Tacoma, earlier this year. Kingen cut a $10,000 check to Brown's company on Oct. 14.

One ad asks voters to "retire Gregoire and her corrupt cronies" because of her deal to expand Indian gambling without any revenue sharing for the state. The other shows state government as a pig and says "a vote for Christine is a vote for a Washington State income tax" over a soundtrack of oinking. (Dino Rossi has been hitting Gregoire's comments on the income tax as well. She has spoken favorably about the idea, but says the public isn't ready for it yet. Her campaign's response ad is here.)

Kingen is a man of strong opinions who describes himself as "a libertarian centrist with right leanings."

He has been controversial at times. The Stranger noticed earlier this year that a Kingen family van was driving around West Seattle painted with slogans and quotes, including one from Adolph Hitler. (Kingen says the Hitler quote, "who owns the youth owns the future," was intended as a warning, not as admiration. But he had it removed after the flap.)

In 2004, Kingen was slammed by the Seattle P-I editorial board for commissioning cartoons that depicted Indians in loincloths and headbands and included the phrase "keep 'um cigarette tax, keep 'um sales tax, keep um gas tax, too." Kingen was campaigning in favor of an initiative that would have broken the tribes' monopoly on slot machines.

The casino issue has been somewhat of an obsession for Kingen, who blamed competition from tribal casinos for the failure of his Funsters Grand Casino, which filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and closed in 2003.

Despite that, Kingen says he's got no axe to grind against the Indian tribes.

"I don't begrudge the tribes their good fortune. I begrudge every one else in the state's misfortune. The only people who benefit from it are the tribes, bless them, and some of the politicians who are on the take."

Kingen calls the fortune made by Washington's Indian casinos (estimated at $1.4 billion last year) "the largest transfer of wealth and political influence benefiting the fewest number of citizens" in state history. He says Washington should move to a system like Oregon, where the state lottery runs video gambling terminals in bars, generating millions for the state. The money here could be dedicated to education or roads, he said.

As for those cartoons, Kingen says people should lighten up, and that he was just "using humor to point out the obvious."

I'm not sure how long the ads will run in their current form. It's a fairly small buy so far. Kingen has reported raising $25,000 from five donors who gave $5,000 each, according to the Public Disclosure Commission. (Because it's so close to election day, donors can't give any more than $5,000. Kingen isn't listed among the donors as of today, but said he made an "in-kind" contribution for production of the ads, which will be reported.) That's in addition to his own $10,000 check, which he reported today as being from his wife too.

Kingen said his effort will surely pale in comparison to the millions of dollars unions have poured into the race in support of Gregoire. It's bound to be just a drop in the $40 million race.

But his ads could run into legal trouble.

Kelly Steele of the Washington State Democrats points out that one of the ads, as well as Kingen's Web site, use the official state seal, which is expressly forbidden by state law in political ads.

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October 27, 2008 3:41 PM

Polls show Gregoire way ahead, nearly tied or ....

Posted by Andrew Garber

Several polls have weighed in on the governor's race in recent days and, depending on which one you want to believe, Gov. Christine Gregore has a big lead, a moderate lead, or the race is nearly tied.

The Washington Poll, done by the University of Washington came out today. It shows Democrat Gregoire leading Republican Dino Rossi by 6 points - 51 percent to 45 percent with 4 percent still undecided. The poll has a 4 percent margin of error.

Seattle pollster Stuart Elway released a poll last week showing Gregoire with a 12-point lead, 51 percent to 39 percent with 10 percent undecided. And Rasmussen Reports last week showed Rossi trailing Gregoire by only two points, 48 percent to 50 percent.

Matt Barreto, director of the Washington Poll, said in a statement that the UW poll suggests "Gregoire is benefiting tremendously from Obama's popularity in Washington. Her decision to endorse Obama back in February is now paying dividends with many Obama supporters also supporting Gregoire."

Still, he said, there's a week to go "and Dino Rossi has run a very effective campaign, so we could still see the race tighten down the stretch."

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October 27, 2008 2:13 PM

Judge: Rossi must testify

Posted by Bob Young

Dino Rossi must testify under oath before the election about his alleged role in fundraising for his biggest supporters, the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW.)

King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas today in handwritten orders denied motions by Rossi and the BIAW to quash a subpoena compelling his testimony.

Kallas said that while a pre-election deposition unduly burdens Rossi by depriving him of critical campaign time, "it is precisely because Mr. Rossi seeks public office that he must bear the burden of the contemplated deposition."

Kallas said the Rossi's deposition, scheduled for Wednesday, "shall be limited to a reasonable length, as well as limited in scope..."

Rossi's testimony is part of a lawsuit alleging improper campaign coordination between the GOP candidate for governor and the BIAW, which has spent more than $6 million supporting Rossi. Attorneys who filed the lawsuit for two former state Supreme Court justices who support Gov. Christine Gregoire's re-election say the public needs to know before the election if Rossi coordinated his campaign with the BIAW.

Rossi is not a defendant in the lawsuit, which seeks to halt the BIAW's political spending in the campaign.

Stay tuned for more details.

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October 24, 2008 5:02 PM

Gregoire: avoid 2004 repeat

Posted by Jim Brunner

Al Gore's appearance at Christine Gregoire's fundraiser today was a chance for Democrats to remember two elections they'd rather not repeat -- Gore's close loss in 2000 and Gregoire squeaker of a victory in 2004.

The latest polls in Gregoire's race suggest she may be pulling ahead, but Gregoire said she doesn't want anyone to let up given the massive amount of money backers of Dino Rossi have left to spend in the final weeks.

"Let there be no regret on Nov 5th," Gregoire said. "You remember 8 years and the regret we have lived with because we didn't elect Al Gore President of the United States."

Gregoire said this time, "There are no recounts, we're going to win."

It would be much easier for Gregoire to govern if she wins this one without the cloud of recounts and lawsuits. It was the changing vote totals and news of management problems in King County's elections department (though no fraud was found by the judge who ruled on the election) that have kept many Republicans eager for revenge.

Not everyone was totally on message about winning cleanly though.

At one point, Gregoire asked for a show of hands on how many people already had voted. Perhaps a quarter of the hands in the room went up.

Someone piped up: "Vote again!" drawing laughs from the crowd.

"No, no... That's not our message," Gregoire said.

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October 24, 2008 12:26 PM

Guess where Gregoire gets most of her money?

Posted by Andrew Garber

New figures released by the state Public Disclosure Commission show that Republican Dino Rossi has raised more money than Gov. Christine Gregoire in 35 of the state's 39 counties. The exceptions are King, Pacific, San Juan and Thurston counties.

Even so, Gregoire has raised more money overall in-state than Rossi. State figures show she has raised about $10.2 million in Washington compared to about $9.5 million for Rossi

It should be no surprise that the bulk of Gregoire's in-state contributions -- 66 percent -- come from King County. Rossi got about 40 percent of his donations from the county.

Overall, including out-of-state and in-kind contributions, Gregoire has raised almost $12 million. Rossi has raised about $10.4 million.

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October 24, 2008 10:00 AM

Gore here today for Gregoire

Posted by Jim Brunner

Former Vice President Al Gore will headline a Seattle fundraiser at noon today for Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Gore, a Nobel Peace prize winner for his global warming activism, is expected to pack a 1,500-seat ballroom at the downtown Sheraton. Tickets for the sold-out event started at $150 a person, with some "captains" expected to raise up to $2,500 for Gregoire's campaign.

The Gregoire campaign notes this is the second Nobel Laureate the governor has shared a stage with this year.

In April, she appeared with the Dalai Lama himself. So she's got that going for her.

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October 23, 2008 10:51 AM

Congressional Web site misstates Reichert's degree

Posted by Emily Heffter

As I reported in a story today, Democratic Congressional candidate Darcy Burner has a bachelor's degree in computer science from Harvard, with a "special field," or concentration, in economics.
Her Republican opponent, Dave Reichert, says he has a two-year associate's degree from Concordia Lutheran College in Oregon.
I did find one Web site that misstates his degree. This congressional directory lists that he has a B.A. He doesn't.
The Congressional Directory is a government site managed by the Office of History and Preservation. A person who answered the phone there wouldn't be quoted, but he said they get their information from "public sources" like newspapers, members' Web sites, and almanacs.
The Burner campaign just sent out a list of five other Web sites that also claim Reichert has a B.A. from Concordia. None of the Web sites are affiliated with the Reichert campaign.
His campaign and Congressional Web sites say simply that "he graduated."

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October 22, 2008 4:57 PM

Burner files complaint over Reichert TV time

Posted by Emily Heffter

Democratic Congressional candidate Darcy Burner has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over the way U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert is paying for his television ad buys.
Or rather, the way he isn't paying for them. At least not yet.

Most political advertising is paid for in cash up front. That's how Burner has been paying for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of television advertising that is running now. But Reichert hired a local company called Media Plus+ to buy his advertising, and Media Plus+ has an arrangement with most of the local television stations to pay later -- as much as a month later.

Media Plus+ is on the hook for the money if the Reichert campaign doesn't raise enough to cover it.
Burner's campaign said Media Plus+ is essentially extending Reichert a huge loan. It's hard to tell how much money his campaign has left, but he's reserved more than a half-million dollars worth of television ads in the last two weeks before the election.

The Burner campaign cited the Federal Election Campaign Act, which “prohibits corporations from making contributions or expenditures in connection with Federal elections,” according to the complaint.
"Media Plus+ is taking on the risk of having to pay back all the money that the Reichert campaign is spending on these ads," Burner campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said in a press release. "That means they are loaning the Reichert campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars of television time with the very real possibility that Congressman Reichert will not be able to pay them back after the election."

Reichert campaign spokeswoman Amanda Halligan said Media Plus+ pays for the ads and then sends the campaign a bill. They pay it, she said, "like any other business."

"There's no loan associated with it," she said.

I wrote a story this week about the ad time in which an FEC spokesman told me payment arrangements are legal as long as the television stations aren't doing any special favors. The spokesman wouldn't comment on the specifics of Reichert's arrangement.

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October 22, 2008 11:09 AM

Beren finally gets his debate

Posted by Emily Heffter

Since Republican Steve Beren took second place in the 7th Congressional District primary, he's been trying to get longtime congressman Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, to debate him. Their meeting is finally scheduled: the two candidates will debate at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at the Maple Leaf Community Council at Olympic View Elementary School, 504 NE 95th St.

In 10 terms, McDermott has never come close to losing a re-election contest, and Beren is trailing the popular liberal Congressman. But that hasn't stopped Beren from running an active campaign, running a radio ad and challenging McDermott's views on energy supply and foreign relations.

McDermott's campaign has been less active, and the candidate forum isn't even listed on his campaign Web site. But a spokesman for his campaign said he plans to be there unless something comes up.

"So far, we're scheduled to be there," the spokesman said.

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October 22, 2008 9:28 AM

Rossi says he'll delay roads and estate-tax plans

Posted by Jim Brunner

Republican Dino Rossi is acknowledging the state's looming $3.2 billion shortfall means he won't be able to follow through right away on two major promises he's been making on the campaign trail.

In interviews with the Everett Herald's Jerry Cornfield, Rossi said he'd have to delay pursuit of his $15 billion road-expansion plan as well as his desire to eliminate the state's inheritance tax on wealthy families.

Rossi told Cornfield he'd have to delay those promises for at least the next two years given the state's budget problems.

"First off we have to right the ship, financially," Rossi said.

Rossi has been criticized by Gov. Christine Gregoire for talking up his estate tax and roads plans, which she said would only increase the size of the projected hole to $4.5 billion.

Gregoire's campaign is seizing on the latest shift from Rossi. Her spokesman Aaron Toso tells the Herald: "Rossi is breaking his campaign promises before the campaign is even over."

Rossi's roads plan relies largely on sales taxes that now go to the state general fund to pay for education and other services.

The state's estate tax was implemented by Gregoire and Democrats in the Legislature in 2005. Voters rejected an effort to repeal it a year later. The tax brings in about $100 million a year, money that is dedicated to education. The tax applies only to estates worth more than $2 million ($4 million for couples.)

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October 21, 2008 11:25 AM

Spinning the Viaduct's broken guardrail

Posted by Mike Lindblom

Seattle street crews had barely patched a broken piece of the Alaskan Way Viaduct on Monday afternoon, when the Dino Rossi campaign pinned the blame on Gov. Chris Gregoire.

"While Gregoire continues to flip-flop on her Viaduct position, Rossi has clearly stated that he supports a tunnel," said a press release.

After being hit by a vehicle on the Seneca Street exit ramp, a 25-foot piece of guardrail broke and fell onto the street below Monday morning.

Gregoire has said she'll propose whether to replace the aging waterfront highway with an elevated, surface, or underground design, or some mix -- after the Nov. 4 election. But the state is ready next year to begin replacing the less controversial south segment, from South King Street to South Holgate Street.

Her campaign spokesman Aaron Toso comments: "“Republican Dino Rossi blames the governor when it rains in Sammamish. The incident on the Viaduct today was caused by a driver who hit a guard rail. That said, Gov. Gregoire is committed to safety on our roadways and is moving forward with her plan of taking down the Viaduct by 2012." (Rossi lives in Sammamish.)

Guardrail breaks are commonplace on the old highway. They attract little news coverage because drivers tend to smack guardrails in the wee hours. One such wreck, just after midnight on Super Bowl Sunday 2006, sent broken concrete flying into a Pioneer Square apartment.

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October 21, 2008 10:25 AM

Newspapers agree?

Posted by Emily Heffter

The Darcy Burner campaign has a new ad running that claims, "newspapers agree that the attacks on Darcy Burner are false."

Two articles flash onto the screen. One, a Seattle P-I story from September, details Burner's tax plan. It doesn't say anything about attacks. The other article is a Times story I wrote in September. It calls an ad the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ran in support of Reichert "half-true" for saying Burner would raise taxes on families with children when her tax plan says she supports the opposite.

Reichert's campaign says the two ads are being misused, because neither specifically references attacks by the Reichert campaign. Only The Times story references an ad at all.

Burner campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said the two articles counter Reichert's No. 1 attack of this campaign -- his claim that Burner plans to raise taxes.

"It's clear that their strategy is to spend millions of dollars in television advertising making the false claim that Darcy Burner intends to raise taxes on families in the 8th Congressional District," he said.
The Burner campaign has released an economic plan that proposes tax cuts for the middle class.

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October 20, 2008 2:28 PM

"Don't be lame, ride the train!"

Posted by Mike Lindblom

It wasn't the kind of student protest you see on the History Channel.

With cardboard cutouts of a rocket, a pogo stick and a banana, students gathered at the University of Washington to support Sound Transit Proposition 1, the $17.9 billion plan that includes light rail lines to the suburbs.

"Don't be lame, ride the train!" chanted the group of about 20.

"We want to show everyone how ridiculous our transportation system is now, and that we want to make it better," said UW junior Kirk Hovenkotter, a cardboard light-rail train suspended from his shoulders.

The spectacle didn't draw a crowd. "If there's a lack of reaction, I think it's because people don't know what we're running around for," said Greg Johnsen, an organizer with WashPIRG, which backs the measure.

People are focused on the presidential race instead, forcing transit backers to seek attention, he said.
Proposition 1 supporters count on a surge of young voters this year, after a larger Roads & Transit measure lost badly in the off-year 2007 election.

WashPIRG says it signed up 500 people to vote at UW this fall. Student backers will gather again at 4 p.m. Wednesday, just north of Red Square, before a debate on campus between Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels for Proposition 1, and Eastside developer Kemper Freeman against it.

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October 20, 2008 10:55 AM

GOP group helps AG McKenna

Posted by Bob Young

John Ladenburg was already facing a steep climb in his campaign for attorney general. Incumbent Rob McKenna holds a 3-1 fundraising advantage and ran 14 points ahead of Ladenburg, the Pierce County executive, in the Aug. 19 primary. Plus, McKenna is sitting on $650,000 in cash for the final weeks of the campaign, while Ladenburg is down to $47,000.

Then the Republican State Leadership Committee, a Virginia-based group, dropped $900,000 on pro-McKenna TV ads that started airing last week. Why does the RSLC see a need to help McKenna? Is it worried about Ladenburg, a Democrat, riding a Barack Obama surge to victory? Does it want to save McKenna, a rising Republican star, money so he can put it toward his next campaign?

"This election year you take nothing for granted. You never know what's going to happen, especially in down-ticket ballot races. We're not taking a single poll or single vote for granted," said RSLC spokeswoman Carrie Cantrell.

The RSLC touts itself as a group that helps elect Republicans at the state level in order to develop GOP prospects for national politics. "A lot of people focus on races for Congress and governor but we work to elect down-ticket candidates to build the farm team for the future," Cantrell said.

She said she couldn't comment on helping McKenna's campaign save money because the RSLC ads are an "independent expenditure" which means it can't be coordinated with a candidate.

The RSLC reported almost 200 donors from Washington state earlier this year; mostly small contributors giving less than $100 each. But overall, the group's funders look like a who's-who of corporate America, with companies from Annheuser-Busch to Waste Management writing checks for $25,000 and more. The pharmaceutical industry led donors with $450,000 to the RSLC.

The group's ad praises McKenna for battling identity theft and methamphetamine. It criticizes Ladenburg for wanting to raise taxes by $18 billion last year -- without specifying the ad is referring to the Prop. 1 "Roads & Transit" measure on last November's ballot ($18 billion is the estimated cost used by Prop. 1 advocates). Ladenburg was chairman of Sound Transit's board of directors last year and supported the measure to build 50 miles of light rail lines, 186 miles of new road lanes, and a new Highway 520 bridge.

Both Ladenburg and McKenna are running their own TV ads.

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October 17, 2008 7:16 PM

Is Biden visit a Gregoire boost?

Posted by Jim Brunner

I know I'm not the only one who's been wondering why Joe Biden is doing a rally and fundraiser here Sunday. (The Stranger's Eli Sanders pondered it earlier today.) Washington isn't what you'd call a battleground state in the presidential race.

The fundraiser part makes sense. Seattle Democrats have a lot of money. And their dollars can be spent in Ohio and Florida.

But the rally at Tacoma's Cheney Stadium seems tailor-made to benefit Gov. Chris Gregoire more than Obama-Biden. Despite Obama's lead here, Gregoire can't seem to shake Republican Dino Rossi, who says Olympia needs change, too.

Gregoire will introduce Biden at the rally, according to her campaign. She endorsed Obama during a huge February rally at Seattle's KeyArena.

For the record, Joshua Field, Obama's Washington communications director, downplayed the Gregoire connection. In an e-mail, Field said "neither Governor Gregoire nor her staff requested a public event." The event had been planned for some time, but couldn't release details until they were finalized, he said.

"The public event was put together because the Obama/Biden campaign wants to reach out to Washingtonians and give them an opportunity to hear directly from Senator Biden about the issues that mean the most to them."

State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz told me that local Obama organizers pushed the Chicago headquarters hard for the public rally to fire up their volunteers for the final few weeks of the campaign. "I don't think the governor was a factor in this," he said.

But another well-placed Democratic source told me Gregoire's staff indeed had asked to make sure Biden's schedule included a public event. It wasn't like they had to beg. The Obama people were happy to do it. But if it weren't for Gregoire's race, "they just would have swooped in, got the money and released a statement," said the source.

Seems like your classic two birds with one stone event to me. Fire up the volunteers, and reward Gregoire for her early Obama endorsement.

Pierce County is also a strategic spot for Gregoire. She lost the state's second largest county by more than 12,000 votes in 2004 (though she outpolled Rossi there in this year's primary.) Gregoire will be touring some small businesses and a farmers market in Tacoma on Saturday.

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October 16, 2008 1:49 PM

It's official: Everyone is offended by campaign ads

Posted by Jim Brunner

Almost everyone** is now claiming to be offended by attack ads in the governor's race.

Indian tribes, cops, prosecutors, and even a lobbyist have all registered shock that campaign ads are telling lies or painting candidates in an unfavorable light. The candidates also expressed their outrage over each others' ads in last night's debate.

Now you can add mail carriers to that list.

The National Letter Carriers Union (NLCU) National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) says it is angry over a new Republican Governors Association ad targeting Gov. Chris Gregoire over monitoring of sex offenders.

In the ad, a concerned mother is shown worrying about her daughter's safety with all the sex offenders roaming the streets.

A man walking dogs and a letter carrier wearing sunglasses appear in the ad, standing near children gathered by an ice cream truck. Over spooky music, the mother intones "We know they're out there, but thanks to Gregoire, we have no idea where."

The NLCU NALC fired off a press release today calling the ads "beneath contempt" and called on the RGA to take them down.

NALC President William H. Young said in the release:

"It is ludicrous and shameful that the Republican Governors Association would stoop so low as to portray America's most trusted government agents in this manner just to pump up a specious political argument against the incumbent governor."

But Chris Schrimpf, spokesman for the RGA, e-mailed me to say Young has it all wrong and that the RGA has "the utmost respect for letter carriers." The mailman in the ad, said Schrimpf, is helping the mother look out for her daughter by keeping an eye on the creepy guy walking the dogs.

Said Schrimpf:

"It's disappointing that the head of the National Letter Carrier's Union chose to misconstrue our ad in an attempt to help his preferred candidate."

The letter carriers union, which represents 300,000 city letter carriers, is politically active and has endorsed Democrats including Barack Obama for President and Darcy Burner for Washington's 8th Congressional District.

No word yet from the ice cream truck driver or dog walker unions.

**Except for the News Tribune's Peter Callaghan, who doesn't buy all the faux outrage and says those involved in political campaigns should "stop whining."

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October 16, 2008 11:42 AM

Biden to headline Obama fundraiser in Seattle

Posted by Richard Wagoner

Sen. Joseph Biden, Barack Obama's running mate, is scheduled to headline a fundraiser Sunday in Seattle.
Details are sketchy, but Obama's Web site says the event at the downtown Seattle Sheraton also will feature musician Dave Matthews. It's being billed as "a reception and performance benefiting the Obama Victory Fund."

Donors are being asked to pay $1,000 to attend the reception or $25,000 for a "VIP" event.
Josh Field, Obama's Washington communications director, said details haven't yet been worked out.

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October 15, 2008 5:06 PM

McCain vs. Obama and Gregoire vs. Rossi: Live-blogging the final debates

Posted by blog

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama will face off tonight at 6 p.m. PDT in the last of their three debates.

The Republican and Democratic presidential nominees will focus on domestic issues in a one-on-one debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. CBS anchor Bob Schieffer will moderate. All network news and cable news channels will broadcast the debate.

After the final presidential debate, the two candidates vying to be Washington state's next governor, Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi, will engage in their final debate. Stick around to weigh in on the governor's race debate.

Visit this post during the debate to weigh in on the candidates' performances and to see what others are saying.

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October 15, 2008 3:43 PM

Burner raises $1 million in three months

Posted by Emily Heffter

Congressional candidate Darcy Burner raised more than $1 million in the third quarter of 2008, her campaign announced today, the federal filing deadline for fundraising reports.
Burner $1,192,930 in new money between July and September more than doubles the amount she raised in each of the previous two quarters of 2008. The latest filing brings her total contributions to more than $3 million.
Burner came close to beating her opponent, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, in the 2006 election. In their rematch, if polling is to be believed, the race is close again. Polling over the past couple of months has shows Reichert with a slight lead, but two new polls this week -- including one done by the Burner campaign, show her ahead slightly.
Throughout, however, Burner has excelled at raising money. She has outpaced Reichert in fundraising quarter after quarter, which is rare for a challenger. Reichert hasn't released his most recent figures yet.
The two campaigns are spending liberally on television ads as the election draws near, and some outside groups are investing in the campaigns, as well. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business have bought time for Reichert, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running an ad supporting Burner.

UPDATE: Reichert's filing with the Federal Election Commission today shows that, in the same time period, he raised about half as much money: $527,595 in the third quarter.

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October 15, 2008 2:30 PM

Reichert's new ad winks at Obama voters

Posted by Emily Heffter

A new television ad by Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert's campaign zeroes in on Reichert's allegation that his opponent, Democrat Darcy Burner intends to raise taxes.
(That claim is partly true. Burner supports removing some of the Bush tax cuts, in particular on corporations and the wealthy, but her tax plan would lower taxes for middle-class families. The ad cites a Seattle P-I story about last week's CityClub debate as proof of their claim, but in the story, Burner is quoted saying she would cut taxes.)

If you look closely at the ad, you can see that one of the women featured shaking her head disapprovingly at Burner is wearing an Obama/ Biden button. Not something you'd expect to see in a Republican ad, but it shows that Reichert knows he can't win unless some Obama voters in the 8th Congressional District cross over and vote for him, too. That kind of cross-over vote happened in 20064, when Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry won the district, along with Reichert.

On our political caucus blog this week, University of Washington professor David Domke wrote that Reichert and Republican governor candidate Dino Rossi seem to have escaped the "Obama effect" that is lifting down-ballot Democratic candidates across the country and hurting their opponents.

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October 15, 2008 1:10 PM

Dino Rossi and backers flush with money to spend

Posted by Andrew Garber

Documents filed Tuesday night in the governor's race indicate Republican Dino Rossi and his supporters have four times more money to spend in the final weeks of the election than Gov. Christine Gregoire and her supporters.

The latest filings show Rossi and independent groups supporting him have about $8 million left in the bank, compared to about $1.8 million for Gregoire and her supporters. The breakdown for Rossi and his backers: Rossi has about $1.5 million left to spend. The Republican Governors Association has $2.5 million and the political action committee It's Time for a Change has $4.1 million. It's Time for a Change is funded largely by the Building Industry Association of Washington.

By comparison, Gregoire's campaign has about $1.4 million and the labor-supported group backing her, Evergreen Progress, reported about $377,000 remaining.

All those campaigns combined have raised more than $39 million.

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October 14, 2008 3:50 PM

Reichert wasn't involved in $25 million "earmark"

Posted by Emily Heffter

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert office now says the congressman was not involved in an effort to get $25 million for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory into a homeland security appropriations bill.
The report by the Tri-City Herald that Reichert was one of a number of members of the state delegation to get the earmark was erroneous, said Reichert's press secretary, Abbey Shilling.

I wrote in a post this week that Reichert's staff said the funding was not an earmark. They still don't believe it was an earmark, but regardless, they said, Reichert had nothing to do with it.

The distinction is important because Reichert took a pledge this spring not to ask for any earmarks for the 2009 budget. He wants to wait for earmark reforms to be in place.

Since no one took credit for the funding proposal in the appropriations bill, it's impossible to know who is responsible for it.

UPDATE on Oct. 15: The Tri-City Herald ran a correction today and changed the language in their online story to say that Doc Hastings was the only member of Congress to seek the $25 million.

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October 14, 2008 1:45 PM

Reichert says Burner flat out wrong about Social Security

Posted by Emily Heffter

In the 8th Congressional District race, challenger Darcy Burner says her opponent, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, supports Social Security privatization. But Reichert opposes privatization.

At a candidate's forum last Friday, Reichert said he supports Social Security "accounts" for American employees, so they know where their money is going when it's taken out of their paycheck. But he also said he opposes privatizing Social Security, and supports leaving the system more or less the same. You can read more about his position in his answer to a question in today's online forum on

After the debate, the Burner campaign put out a press release saying:


In a debate taping at KCTS 9 this morning, Congressman Dave Reichert twice expressed support for the privatization of social security, endorsing the idea of diverting social security payments into "personal accounts" of the sort advocated by President Bush in 2005 during his misguided effort to privatize social security.

"They've changed the lingo of how they talk about it, but that doesn't change the underlying policy," Burner campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said today in a phone interview.

The Burner campaign is trying to tie Reichert's position to Bush's 2005 proposal that Social Security money be injected into the economy in private retirement accounts. That's different from Reichert's proposal, which would keep the money in the Social Security system. He does not support putting the money in the stock market, he said.

Reichert was emphatic -- in the debate and in my interview with him this afternoon -- that he has never supported privatizing Social Security. "That's just another attempt by her to connect me to this Bush, Republican's message," he said. "I didn't agree with him (Bush) then. I don't agree with it now."

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October 14, 2008 11:20 AM

Rossi backers put millions more into race

Posted by Andrew Garber

Republican Dino Rossi, for the first time, has more money backing his candidacy than Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire.

New filings with the state Public Disclosure Commission show that supporters running independent campaigns that back Rossi have raised an additional $8 million this month. Combined with the money Rossi has raised, that puts more than $22 million behind his candidacy. The total includes about $9.7 million raised by Rossi's campaign, $7.2 million raised by the political action committee It's Time for a Change, and $5.5 million raised by the Washington state Republican Governors PAC. It's Time for a Change is funded largely by the Building Industry Association of Washington.

Gregoire has close to $16 million backing her, about $10.8 million raised by her campaign and another $5.1 million raised by Evergreen Progress, an independent campaign largely funded by labor groups.

Combined, the two campaigns and their supporters have raised more than $38 million. It's hard to say what impact this could have on the governor's race in the final weeks of the election, but Rossi's backers have built a substantial lead when it comes to money.

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October 13, 2008 4:23 PM

Reed predicts biggest turnout since WWII

Posted by Andrew Garber

Secretary of State Sam Reed predicts an 83 percent voter turnout for the general election. If he's right, that would be the highest turnout since 1944. The statewide average turnout since 1936 is 78.85 percent.

Reed expects the presidential race and the close contest between Gov. Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi to boost numbers this election. Rossi lost to Gregoire in 2004 by 133 votes after two recounts.

More than 3.5 million people have registered to vote, the largest number in state history. Voters will begin getting their mail-in ballots next week.

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October 13, 2008 3:19 PM

Police officers back Rossi on sex-offender issue

Posted by Emily Heffter

A group that represents police officers in Seattle, King County and several other jurisdictions weighed in on Gov. Christine Gregoire's record regarding sex offenders today. The group -- the Law Enforcement Coalition for Dino Rossi -- held a lightly attended news conference in Seattle to talk up Rossi's plans to keep track of sex offenders via GPS tracking devices and release a new web ad featuring police officers.

Rossi advertisements have criticized Gregoire's handling of homeless sex offenders. There are 1,300 homeless sex offenders in the state, and the Department of Corrections only recently started using GPS tracking bracelets on the most violent offenders for the first month after their release. After Rossi began criticizing Gregoire on the issue, a group of law enforcement officials and prosecuting attorneys held a press conference to defend Gregoire's record.

Rich O'Neill, the president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, said at today's press conference that Rossi, if elected, would "set the tone" of more accountability for sex offenders. He tied the homeless sex offender issue to other problems with DOC oversight: at least three police officers have been killed by felons under state supervision.

"We need a governor who will think of the rights of the victims and who will err on the side of keeping the felons where they belong -- behind bars," he said.

The new ad can be viewed here.

UPDATE: The Gregoire campaign e-mailed me to say: "Not only does Gov. Gregoire support GPS monitoring of sex offenders, but she has been a leader on the issue. She has expanded the program in our state and has given more resources to local law enforcement to track sex offenders."

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October 13, 2008 2:34 PM

Someone's hidden earmark

Posted by Emily Heffter

UPDATE: The original headline to this post was "Reichert's hidden earmark." After the post appeared, Reichert's press secretary contacted me to say Reichert wasn't involved in getting the $25 million. The story from the Tri-City Herald was incorrect on that point, she said. Since no one took credit for the $25 million funding request, it's impossible to know who did ask for the money.

UPDATE on Oct. 15: The Tri-City Herald ran a correction today and changed the language in their online story to say that Doc Hastings was the only member of Congress to seek the $25 million.

Here's the original post:

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, took a pledge last March to voluntarily stop asking for earmarks until Congress completed more thorough reform. In a video explaining his decision, he said, that although he supports earmarks for some projects, he felt Congress needed to create a trustworthy and open process for them.

"Sometimes you have to do what you think is right, no matter what the consequences are," he said.

But this summer, Reichert worked with other members of the state delegation to get $25 million for a lab near Hanford, as reported by the Tri-City Herald.
His campaign said the $25 million for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory was not an earmark. It was "programmatic funding," because the money was intended to ensure the program was "being administered correctly," said Reichert's campaign manager, Mike Shields.

"His name isn't on it," Shields said. "No one thought that this was an earmark."

He's referring to a reform in the House that requires members to put their names next to any earmarks they ask for. Essentially, he's saying that since Reichert didn't list it as an earmark, it's not an earmark.
In a story in The Seattle Times Sunday, reporters David Heath and Christine Willmsen wrote that despite the reform, members of Congress are spending millions on "hidden earmarks" -- member projects for which they aren't taking credit. The Hanford lab is an example.

Shields disagrees, and said the project is "definitely not an earmark." He says the fact that the Burner campaign is pointing fingers about earmarks shows "how desperate" her campaign is. (Burner's spokesman, Sandeep Kaushik, sent me a link to the Tri-City Herald story).
Congressman Norm Dicks, a Democrat, helped get the money for the lab, as well, and his spokesman, George Behan, said that, "under the technical definition, I guess that is an earmark."

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October 10, 2008 4:30 PM

AG weighs in ... sorta

Posted by Bob Young

In the latest legalistic twist in the governor's race, the state Attorney General's Office says a lawsuit alleging illegal coordination between the Building Industry Association of Washington and Dino Rossi did not appear to follow proper procedure and should be investigated by state watchdogs first.

"They are not following the proper process," says the AG's spokeswoman Janelle Guthrie about a lawsuit filed by two former Supreme Court justices in King County Superior Court on Monday. Guthrie was trying to clarify a five-paragraph letter from the AG's office on Thursday that the Rossi campaign spun into a statement that "the AG says this lawsuit cannot go forward."

Not quite true, the AG's office said. It's up to a King County Superior Court judge to decide if the lawsuit has merit and should proceed. "The lawsuit commenced in King County Superior Court will continue unless and until the judge in that case dismisses it," the AG's office stressed in a Friday statement.

The BIAW's lawyer, Tim Harris, agreed: "The lawsuit isn't dismissed until the judge says it's dismissed."

So little has changed. The lawsuit might go forward; Rossi might be deposed before the election to testify under oath about his role, if any, in helping the builders group to raise campaign funds. The Rossi campaign continues to say the lawsuit is political harassment by Gregoire supporters (former justices Faith Ireland and Robert Utter have contributed $2,575 total to Gregoire's campaign). And Knoll Lowney, the lawyer who filed the justices' suit, said the AG's letter "appears designed to assist" Rossi.

At issue are mind-numbing rules and timelines governing so-called "citizen action" suits. Under an interpretation of state law by Senior Assistant Attorney General Linda Dalton, the Public Disclosure Commission should have 45 days to investigate the justices' complaint about coordination and recommend action, such as penalties, before the lawsuit can proceed in King County Superior Court.

Why? Because the AG's office is already suing the BIAW based on an earlier complaint by Lowney that did not include the claim that Rossi coordinated with the builders' group on fundraising. If Lowney introduces a new "citizen action" complaint, the process calls for the state to have first crack at it, by investigating and acting in 45 days before Lowney can file a suit. "It's the government's job to enforce those laws. He can't enforce the public disclosure act on his own," Harris said.

Lowney disagreed in a written response to Dalton. He contends that his earlier complaint did claim "improper coordination" but the AG's office opted not to include that in a lawsuit it filed Sept. 19 accusing the BIAW of not reporting campaign contributions of $584,000 in timely fashion.

Harris says Dalton's interpretation could be a "big help" in urging the judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

But in the meantime, the two sides are expected to first argue in court next week about whether Rossi can be forced to testify under oath before the Nov. 4 election. His lawyers are seeking a protective order to prevent depositions before the election because the lawsuit, they say, is politically motivated.

And a final note for now: John Ladenburg, the Democrat running against Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna, called to say this only supports his argument that McKenna should've handed this case to an independent counsel. "Given the time of year and the politics I suspect a lot of people will think the AG's weighing in for Rossi. If he had just taken my advice of getting an independent counsel nobody could say that."

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October 10, 2008 11:48 AM

Anti-Gregoire mailers include photos of sex offenders

Posted by Jim Brunner

An update on the Republican Governors Association ad campaign we mentioned yesterday.

RGA Communications Director Chris Schrimpf sent along a copy of a mailer that hundreds of thousands of Washington voters will begin receiving today.

The mailer includes photos of sex offenders, including child rapists, who are among the 1,300 the RGA accuses the state of losing track of under Gregoire's watch.

The ad claims the state failed to verify addresses of sex offenders prior to their release from prison. Others were allowed to register as "homeless." (The Seattle Times wrote about the issue in this 2005 investigative story.)


"Caution: sex predators roaming our streets," the mailers say next to a photo of the governor.

Update: Here is a copy of the letter from prosecutors and other law enforcement leaders defending Gregoire's record.

The RGA has poured more than $2 million into the Gregoire-Rossi race so far.

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October 10, 2008 12:14 AM

Burner and Reichert Q&A

Posted by blog

UPDATE: The completed Q&A with Dave Reichert can be found here.

UPDATE 2: The completed Q&A with Darcy Burner can be found here.

Next week, the Democratic and Republican candidates vying for the 8th U.S. Congressional District seat will visit The Seattle Times to answer questions submitted by readers.

Incumbent Dave Reichert will answer readers' questions at noon Tuesday, Oct. 14. Democratic challenger Darcy Burner will answer readers' questions at 11:00 a.m. the next day, Wednesday, Oct. 15.

Click here to submit a question to Darcy Burner.

Click here to submit a question to Dave Reichert

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October 9, 2008 4:54 PM

Two new ads support Reichert

Posted by Emily Heffter

The National Federation of Independent Business has invested $207,000 in an ad supporting 8th Congressional District Rep. Dave Reichert, who is running for re-election. NFIB vice-president Lisa Goeas said the group is weighing in on four races nationally this year, all Republicans that the nonpartisan group feels pass small-business friendly legislation.

Reichert scored high in the group's rating system, voting its way 87 percent of the time. The TV spot will start running Tuesday.

Another independent group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has also purchased about $150,000 in television time to support Reichert. U.S. chamber spokesman J.P. Fielder wasn't willing to give me many details, except to say that the ad outlines Reichert's health-care position.

The chamber is invested in about two dozen House races nationally. In 2006, the group spent $20 million advocating for candidates across the country, and Fielder said he expects it will spend at least that much this year.

A radio ad the chamber ran in support of Reichert earlier this month attacked Reichert's opponent, Darcy Burner, for her positions on taxes and energy. The ad was only partially true, and you can read my analysis of it here.

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October 9, 2008 4:22 PM

Gregoire fights back on sex-offender ads

Posted by Jim Brunner

A group of prosecutors and other law enforcement types gathered at Gov. Christine Gregoire's Seattle campaign headquarters this afternoon to denounce a new round of attack ads from the Republican Governors Association, which portray Gregoire as soft on sex offenders.

You can watch the RGA ads at a Web site

Over a foreboding soundtrack, the ads claim that 1,300 sex offenders are on the loose thanks to the Gregoire administration. "We know they're out there, but thanks to Gregoire, we have no idea where," says a mom in one ad. Another shows a smoking, shady looking sex offender being let out of jail.

At today's press conference, Mark Roe, senior deputy prosecutor in Snohomish County, said he was "quivering" mad over the ads because they made Gregoire sound like she's soft on sex-offenders -- which he said is 180 degrees from the truth.

Roe has some credentials on the subject. He's spent most of his career prosecuting sex offenders, as has his wife and his sister.

"In my family we know the truth about prosecuting sex offenders. The ads that have been recently run by Governor Gregoire's opponent are not the truth," Roe said. "Many of us ask questions: are you better off than you were four years ago? Sex offenders in Washington aren't, because of Chris Gregoire."

Roe and others at the press conference demanded that Rossi and his allies take the ads down.

Gregoire has signed into law new efforts to better track sex offenders, including DNA testing and electronic monitoring. Her campaign already has released an ad countering the latest RGA attacks. See it here.

House Republicans last year called for a special legislative session on sex offenders following the slaying of 12-year-old Tacoma girl by a sex offender who had failed to register his address with police.

Democrats declined the special session. Instead, Gregoire appointed a task force, which recommended the strengthened sex-offender monitoring efforts she signed into law.

I spoke with Kitsap County Prosecutor Russell Hauge, who chaired that task force. (He was not at today's press conference.) Hauge said Gregoire also pushed to get $5 million in the state budget to give to local police and sheriff's departments so they can dedicate officers to track the whereabouts of sex offenders.

"That's the most practical solution to the problem I heard and that money is being spent," said Hauge, a Democrat.

UPDATE: I got a different perspective from Jim Hines, a Gig Harbor activist who has championed tougher sex offender laws. Hines, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for state senate on the issue a few years back, gave Gregoire some credit for the recent changes to the law and for the added law-enforcement funding.

But Hines said Republicans had proposed similar plans before Gregoire. Hines said the governor didn't act until after the high-profile Tacoma murder dominated local headlines. "She hasn't led on it. She only did it when it was politically expedient."

When Gregoire appointed her task force, Hines said, she took care not to appoint the Republican lawmakers who had been pushing the issue.

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October 9, 2008 10:02 AM

Reichert's post-debate analysis

Posted by Emily Heffter

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert's re-election campaign sent out a news release last night that continued a line of attack he used during yesterday's debate:

"The public will be left with two key takeaways from today's debate: Darcy Burner is for raising taxes on families during an economic crisis when they are struggling with high costs; and Dave Reichert is the candidate most likely to bring change to Washington DC with his bipartisan approach to solving problems."

Reichert's campaign has continually said Burner wants to raise taxes by letting the so-called "Bush tax cuts" of 2001 and 2003 expire. If Congress were to let all the tax cuts expire, it would increase taxes. But Burner wants to leave most of the tax cuts in place. And the tax plan she released last month said pretty clearly that she supports doubling the child tax credit and the standard deduction, which would lower taxes for most families.

The Reichert news release also said this: "In a bizarre turn, Burner's post-debate message focused on campaign materials the Reichert campaign handed out to the media." Namely, they're talking about a "Burner Bingo" card Reichert's staff gave to me at the debate.

Burner's campaign didn't put out any formal "post-debate message." In fact, I showed Burner staffers the Bingo card after the debate and asked for a response.

The release did offer an explanation for the Bingo card:

"Burner Bingo" is a lighthearted attempt to raise the discourse in the campaign from the negative attacks of the first two Burner TV ads.

"Darcy Burner recently described Reichert as a 'white-haired war monger' in Seattle Magazine," Halligan said. "Frankly, that is beneath all of us. So we thought we would inject a little humor into the campaign with this bingo card of her scripted quotes - lighten things up a bit. But I guess when you lose a debate you'd rather talk about anything - including a bingo card - other than your plan to raise taxes on the American people."

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October 8, 2008 1:43 PM

Reichert goes on the offensive in debate with Burner

Posted by Emily Heffter

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert was on the offensive today at his first debate of the campaign season with second-time challenger Darcy Burner. Reichert attacked Burner's position on ending the Iraq war, her beliefs about trade and her tax plan.

The candidates battled over Reichert's contention that Burner would raise taxes. The Reichert campaign says Burner's support for a pay-as-you-go rules in Congress, which would require lawmakers to show how they planned to pay for every expenditure, would lead to higher taxes.

"Pay-go is a great concept, but there are only three ways to make it work," Reichert said. "You can raise taxes, you can make drastic cuts or you can borrow more money. Which one will my opponent do? I believe she will raise taxes."

Burner shot back: "I want to repeat, I will cut middle-class taxes. Let me repeat that again. My plan cuts middle-class taxes to put money back on main street where it belongs."

The candidates sparred mostly over their foreign and economic policies during the lunch-hour debate at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. They got only one minute to respond to each question, and there were no rebuttals, leaving several issues half-discussed. Reichert, especially, was cut off mid-sentence several times.

Burner ended almost every response by saying there's a need to "send new people to Washington, D.C." She said it so many times that at one point, Reichert reminded her that Democrats hold the majority in Congress.

Reichert's campaign passed out a "Burner Bingo" game to the crowd of about 250 people. It included terms like "tech-savvy" (which Burner did say) and "anti-choice" (which she didn't) as well as other campaign buzz-words.

Burner's campaign spokesman said the bingo card was "childish and frankly offensive."
The two candidates are scheduled to meet for another, final debate on Friday.

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October 7, 2008 5:18 PM

Burner releases two new TV ads

Posted by Emily Heffter

Congressional candidate Darcy Burner has released two more television ads she's putting on the air this week.

One is about education and hints at her position that public schools should have tougher standards for teachers and perhaps merit pay for good teachers. The national and state teachers union endorsed her opponent, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, in part because of Burner's position on merit pay.

The other ad is about the economy. It ties Reichert to the unpopular president and says Burner will cut middle-class taxes and create jobs that can't be outsourced. Those are both part of the economic plan she released a month ago. I wrote a story about it at the time.

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October 7, 2008 11:35 AM

McCain vs. Obama: live-blogging tonight's debate

Posted by blog

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama will face off tonight at 6 p.m. PDT in the second of three debates.

The Republican and Democratic presidential nominees will focus on domestic issues in a town hall-style debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. NBC anchor Tom Brokaw will moderate. All network news and cable news channels will broadcast the debate.

Visit this post during the debate to weigh in on the candidates' performances and to see what others are saying.

Continue reading this post ...

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October 7, 2008 10:49 AM

The Palin Amendment?

Posted by Jim Brunner

Republican VP candidate Sara Palin's continued encasement in a no-press-conference bubble has led The Atlantic magazine's James Fallows to draft a 28th constitutional amendment:

"No Person shall be elected President or Vice President without accepting a session of questioning by the press, such session to last no less than one hour and to be open to normally accredited members of the press in the same fashion as at Presidential news conferences. The questioning shall occur and the results shall be made freely available to the public at least one week before an Election is held."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post's Dan Balz reminds us that Palin has a running mate who faces a big challenge tonight.

Every debate, every encounter, every moment of Campaign 2008 is its own mini-drama. Tuesday's debate at Belmont University is no exception. The focus is all on John McCain.

Read the rest of Balz's take on tonight's debate here.

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October 7, 2008 9:48 AM

Reichert's first television ad

Posted by Emily Heffter

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert released his first television ad today, a 30-second spot in which he calls himself "an outsider."
In the ad, he criticizes his opponent, Darcy Burner, for being a "partisan politician who puts party above all." He also reiterates two criticisms he lodged against Burner in 2006, when he beat her narrowly: He says she has "no record and no experience" and plans to raise taxes.

Burner, a former Microsoft manager, has never held elected office. The only post she has held was a brief stint as president of her homeowners' association. Since running in 2006, she also served on the Committee for a Two-Newspaper Town.

Burner released a tax plan in September that said she would lower taxes for the middle class while raising some taxes for the wealthy. To support the ad's statement about Burner wanting to raise taxes, the Reichert campaign cites Burner's support for a pay-as-you-go requirement in Congress. If Congress uses so-called "Pay-go" rules, they would have to show how they could pay for every expenditure. That's impossible without allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, the Reichert campaign says. Letting the tax cuts expire would mean a major tax increase.

Burner says she supports some of the Bush tax cuts -- the ones that help the middle class.
The new Reichert ad joins a Burner ad her campaign released last week calling Reichert ineffective.

That relies on a claim that Reichert hasn't passed a bill during his four years in Congress, a claim I looked into in a profile of Reichert that ran last week in The Seattle Times.

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October 3, 2008 3:05 PM

Gore to headline Gregoire fundraiser

Posted by Bob Young

Nobel-prize winner, former vice-president and Saturday Night Live spoof target Al Gore is coming to Seattle Oct. 24 to help raise campaign money for Gov. Christine Gregoire, who has already shattered the state fundraising record she set in 2004.

Gore will give a luncheon speech at the Sheraton, according to the Gregoire campaign, with donations starting at $150.

The increasingly rancorous campaign between Gregoire and Rossi could use some humor like Gore's 2006 appearance on SNL in which he imagined he had been president for six years: Michael Moore was a Supreme Court Justice, we had too much gasoline, and the country's budget surplus was a "perilously low" $11 trillion. ("And don't get any ideas. That money is staying in the very successful lockbox," Gore deadpanned.)

The 2008 governor's race, the most expensive in state history, now exceeds $19 million in contributions directly to Gregoire and Rossi ($10 million to Gregoire, $9 million to Rossi). Independent groups, such as the Building Industry Association of Washington and the union-backed Evergreen Progress PAC, have already spent another $6 million attacking Gregoire or Rossi -- and those groups and others are sitting on several million more likely to bankroll additional attacks.

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October 3, 2008 11:04 AM

McDermott switches vote, says no to Senate bailout plan

Posted by Richard Wagoner

Seattle Congressman Jim McDermott voted against the Senate's version of financial bailout plan today, after supporting the House version on Monday.

The rest of the Washington congressional delegation voted as they did on Monday, when the House rejected the bailout plan. The revised plan passed today.

According to the AP, voting in favor were Democrats Brian Baird of Vancouver, Norm Dicks of Bremerton, Rick Larsen of Lake Stevens, and Adam Smith of Tacoma.

Voting no were Democrats McDermott and Jay Inslee of Bainbridge Island, and Republicans Doc Hastings of Pasco, Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane and Dave Reichert of Auburn.

The new plan extends a program that pays rural counties hurt by federal logging cutbacks and allows Washington state residents to continue deducting state sales taxes on their federal income tax returns. It also includes tax credits for renewable energy production.

Here are the remarks McDermott delivered from the House floor explaining his vote.

Mr. Speaker,

On Thursday morning, the morning after the Senate passed a very different bailout bill, two things happened.

The filings for new unemployment benefits hit a seven year high, and a number of telephones melted in my congressional office as my constituents called in with their opinions.

By the thousands, the people of the 7th Congressional District are absolutely enraged by what the Senate did.

Senate Republicans blocked Senate Democrats from legislation that delivers for Main Street.

Senate Republicans demanded the pot be sweetened. But they left out the millions of Americans who can't find a job and are running out of benefits. And they left out a lot of other Americans too.

With economic times getting tougher by the day, Senate Republicans have no problem telling the American people to go it alone.

Continue reading this post ...

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October 3, 2008 10:52 AM

AG McKenna files lawsuit against state Republicans

Posted by Bob Young

Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, today filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court against the Washington State Republican Party for illegally spending $212,967 to advocate for Dino Rossi, the GOP candidate for governor.

Following up on the Public Disclosure Commission's findings, McKenna's lawsuit says the state party used unlimited "soft money" contributions for three mailings that criticized Gov. Christine Gregoire and urged people to "Vote for Dino Rossi." Soft money can only be used for administrative and party-building activities. Only "hard money" contributions, which are limited by state law, can be used to expressly promote candidates.

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) is the biggest contributor ($420,000) to the state party's soft money account. Bob Perry, a Texas home-builder who was the largest financier of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that attacked John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign, is the biggest contributor ($400,000) to the RGA, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

John Ladenburg, McKenna's opponent in this year's race for attorney general, has argued that McKenna has a conflict-of-interest and should hand over the case against the state party to an independent counsel.

McKenna has rebuffed Ladenburg, saying his office has good lawyers that will prosecute the case objectively. McKenna notes that his Democratic predecessor, Gregoire, won lawsuits and hefty settlements against the Democratic Party ($250,000) and the state teachers' union ($430,000), which had supported her campaign for AG.

UPDATE: McKenna made the decision to file the suit but will not be further involved in the case, said his spokeswoman Janelle Guthrie. Instead, McKenna's chief deputy, Brian Moran, will be responsible for the case. "In an abundance of caution" McKenna has "screened" himself from the case because of his long relationship with Luke Esser, head of the state Republican Party, Guthrie said. Esser has worked for McKenna and the two have known each other since college, she said.

Moran will not seek an injunction to stop the GOP from repeating its violations, she added. The party has said in a letter to the attorney general it would refrain from improperly using soft money again. "Absent an imminent threat that the behavior will continue we don't have enough evidence to file for an injunction," Guthrie said. "But should we have evidence we stand ready to file for an injunction."

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October 2, 2008 4:54 PM

Biden vs. Palin: Live-blogging the debate

Posted by blog

Note to readers: Thank you for participating in tonight's live-blogging of the VP debate. We had some technical problems, but many still managed to weigh in on the discussion.

Join the debate about the debates.

Six Caucus Blog participants are live-blogging tonight's highly anticipated showdown between vice presidential nominees Sen. Joseph Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin.

The panel of participants will weigh in on any gaffes, the candidates' performances and surely that view of Russia from Alaska.

The panel consists of three people who identify as Democratic voters and three who identify as Republican voters. Don't let them hog the dialogue. Hop in and share your views.

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October 2, 2008 9:27 AM

'C'mon, vote Republican for a change!'

Posted by Emily Heffter

7th Congressional District candidate Steve Beren has released a radio ad that acknowledges the difficulty of getting elected as a Republican in Seattle. His 30-second ad, which he is running on local radio channels starting this week, urges Seattle's heavily Democratic voters: "C'mon, vote Republican for a change!"

He's running against 10-term incumbent Jim McDermott, a liberal Democrat who has never gotten less than three-quarters of the vote in a re-election run.

I wrote a story about McDermott's challengers before the primary, in which Beren admits he's a long-shot for the seat.

Still, he's running an active campaign and has been trying in vain to get McDermott to debate him.
Beren finished the primary better than McDermott's other four challengers -- with almost 15 percent of the vote. McDermott had 73 percent.

His radio ad, which you can hear here, is about Beren's plan to drill more domestic oil. "I'll help John McCain and Sarah Palin shake things up," he says.

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October 1, 2008 8:04 PM

Gregoire looks to turn the tables on budget shortfall

Posted by Jim Brunner


At their third debate in Yakima tonight, Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire and Republican challenger Dino Rossi continued to spar over the state's expected $3.2 billion budget shortfall.

As they should. The projected deficit will certainly be the most pressing issue confronting the next governor when the Legislature convenes in January to write the next two-year budget.

Rossi says Gregoire created the problem by spending too much money. (The budget has grown by $8 billion under her watch.) The projected shortfall comes despite an expected 8 percent increase in revenue, Rossi said.

But Gregoire turned the responsibility point around on Rossi at one point during the debate.

Continue reading this post ...

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October 1, 2008 10:14 AM

McCain down as early voting starts in Ohio

Posted by Jim Brunner

Whether it's the financial bailout, Sarah Palin's interviews. or the first debate, the McCain-Palin ticket appears to be in trouble right now.

According to the electoral-vote calculator at RealClearPolitics, Obama-Biden would win convincingly if the election were held today. (For another electoral map, with similar conclusions, check here.)

Update: Obama is also making gains in five key swing states, according to a new CNN/Time poll of likely voters in Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada and Virginia. See those numbers here.

Meanwhile, early voting already has started in the key battleground state of Ohio.

Washington's mail ballots go out by Oct. 17, according to Dave Ammons, spokesman for Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed. (Military and overseas ballots must be mailed by this week, Ammons says.)

Can McCain turn it around in the next month?

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Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

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