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Eye On Olympia

Archive for October 2004

Going man-to-man with a cardboard cutout of Elvis…

“I personally think he’s a gutless weasel.”

– Initiative promoter Tim Eyman, trying to goad Mark Ufkes into a debate. Ufkes, who works for Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, had reportedly offered an anytime-anywhere “smackdown” debate over Eyman’s Initiative 892. The measure would allow businesses throughout Washington — not just tribal casinos — to have slot-style gambling machines.

Ufkes didn’t show up for Wednesday’s “debate.” But Eyman, always looking for free publicity, did. He brought along a lifesize cardboard cutout of Elvis Presley, who stood in for Ufkes.

We were curious about what happened. Was the offer just a joke? Or a hoax? Was Ufkes talked out of any debate by the anti-I-892 campaign, of which he’s not a member? Did tribal leaders not want him publicly taking on Eyman, who revels in any attention?

No way to know. Ufkes didn’t return our repeated messages on his voice mail, nor messages left with staffers.

We always take everything with a grain of salt — but we’re running out of salt…

With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, we’re now getting a new political email every four minutes. An increasing percentage — no surprise — are of the don’t-believe-everything-you-read variety.

Case in point: Gubernatorial candidate Christine Gregoire’s campaign today issued this summary of a recent Spokesman story:

“He (Gregoire opponent Dino Rossi) defended himself against questions about his dealings with lobbyists by saying that the partnership was checked out with the Ethics Board. However, the Ethics Board has no record of issuing any such opinion. (Spokesman Review, 10/21/04).”

Wow. Sounds damning. And we’d love to take credit for a nice scoop like that. But although the above is technically true, here’s what the story really said. (We added the italics here):

“The ethics board’s Mike O’Connell on Wednesday said he could find no record of such a ruling, but that oral advice on such issues is fairly common. In general, he said, there’s no conflict of interest unless a lawmakers lobby, sell their votes, or benefit from legislation more than someone else in the same industry.

`If the senator had a business relationship with a lobbyist, that wouldn’t, per se, present an ethical problem,’ O’Connell said.

Rossi’s campaign sent out a press release of their own yesterday.

“Stop lying, Christine,” it read.

We pause to consider North Carolina…

Even this year, it’s rare to see a political ad with a disclaimer like this one: “Dancing man not actually Gov. Easley.”

The ad in question is from the Republican Governors’ Association . Scroll down to get to the North Carolina video.

The ghost of Reagan…

“Dino, there you go again…”

-Gubernatorial candidate Christine Gregoire, borrowing a debate line made famous during a Carter-Reagan debate in 1980. She was responding to candidate Dino Rossi’s charges that she’s done a poor job of defending the state against lawsuits.

And the Strunk and White Award for Brevity in Political Rhetoric goes to…

“More water in a broken bucket will not fix the bucket.”

–Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington, D.C.-based group opposing Initiative 884, which would boost the sales tax to raise $1 billion more per year for Washington’s education system.

A Battle in Seattle, minus the tear gas…

Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi were apparently holding their fire for Seattle.

Tuesday night’s debate in Yakima was surprisingly mild-mannered, with few direct clashes. (Maybe it was the environment — the Yakima Herald-Republic held the event inside the city’s ornate Capitol Theater.)

That changed Wednesday night, however, when the two candidates traded jabs and barbs before a Seattle crowd — and TV viewers across the state.

Among the lines: “It’s item after item after item with mismanagement in that office,” Rossi said of Gregoire’s 12-year stint as attorney general. “If you can’t manage an office with 1,000 people, how are you going to manage a state?”

“Dino, I have to say either you don’t understand how the system works or you’re intentionally misleading the public,” Gregoire said, after Rossi said the state had paid out more in lawsuit settlements during her tenure as AG than in the rest of state history. (Gregoire’s point: that individual state agencies pay those bills, not her office. Rossi’s point: she’s the state’s lawyer, and should be doing better defending her client. But he missed a chance to get in the obvious rejoinder: that it’s taxpayers who end up paying, regardless of which state agency cuts the check.)

Gregoire also noted that she’d raised $4.5 billion for the state as lead negotiator on the tobacco settlement, an amount that she said far eclipses what the state has paid out during her watch as AG.

The next debate is Sunday. In Seattle.


“Listen, Vance — the way things are going, we don’t need to steal.”

-Washington Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirstin Brost, gloating over GOP chairman Chris Vance after a series of recent Republican campaign setbacks. Vance alleges that a break-in and computer theft at Bush-Cheney re-election headquarters in Bellevue last week was politically motivated.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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