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Spin Control

Archive for August 2010

6th Lege Dist: Swing district or spendy district?

Click on the image to get to the PDC’s interactive map on  legislative campaign spending.

A Spokane legislative district is tops in the state for money raised by candidates, and near the top for spending that money before the August primary.

The 6th Legislative District – which curves around central Spokane’s core from the Whitworth and 5 Mile arreas to the South Hill – is often a pricey political battleground. Its last three state Senate races have been the three most expensive Senate races in state history, with the 2008 contest between Democrat Chris Marr and Republican Sen. Brad Benson at the very top of the list with nearly $818,000 spent for a seat that pays just over $42,000 per year.

This year is likely to follow that trend …click to go inside the blog and read the rest of this story or leave a comment.

State getting bad rap on military voting waiver

Have you heard about how lunkheads in Washington state are trying to take the most precious right of all away from our brave men and women dodging bullets in Iraq and Afghanistan? And how those commie pinkos in the federal government are going to let them because it will help Democrats win some tight races in November?
Or something like that. It gets better – or, worse – with each retelling of the reports that Washington state received a waiver from the federal law requiring military and overseas voters to be sent their ballots a month and a half before an election.
If it’s making your blood boil, congratulate yourself on your concern for military personnel. And take a chill pill, as the kids would say.
We’ll explain why, inside the blog….

Murray v. Rossi on veterans

OLYMPIA–Candidates with at least half a brain rarely pick a fight they cannot win. So it seemed odd last week when a Seattle television station had Dino Rossi challenging Sen. Patty Murray on veterans’ issues and alleging the federal government was “spending recklessly” on veterans programs.
Not only does Murray have a campaign commercial with a slew of veterans from around the state singing her praises, but she has a reputation for actually working on an issue to which most members of Congress merely pay lip service. It’s a recognized strength, sort of like recruiting point guards at Gonzaga.
And saying Uncle Sam is spending recklessly on veterans is a bit like saying mothers are spending recklessly on milk and medicine for their children.
Yet a story on Seattle’s KOMO-TV on Tuesday seemed to have Rossi dissing Murray and veterans programs. But did he?…

Come to WA. There’s no income tax…yet

OLYMPIA –Washington state touts its lack of an income tax in a current magazine supplement designed to attract business to the state. Not mentioned in the special section in Fortune Magazine is the fact that could change in a few months.
In three different places in an “advertorial” in the current issue of Fortune, prospective businesses or new residents are told that along with a well-educated work force and access to the great outdoors, one reason to come to Washington is the state has no individual or corporate income tax.
It’s even a factoid graphic when the 8-page supplement lists advantages in Washington By the Numbers:

Dino Rossi: Champ of Freedom?

Dino Rossi has a new title to add to  his resume along with state senator, Ways and Means Committee chairman, gubernatorial candidate, U.S. senate candidate, businessman…

Champion of Freedom.

Rossi is so listed on the program for Friday night’s FreedomWorks Take Back America convention in Washington, D.C. No information from the group — led by former U.S. Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas — on what series of contests one must win to earn the title. But other champs of freedom on the agenda include Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul and Florida Senate candidate Mark Rubio. It’s possible C of F is a title given to speakers who don’t currently hold federal office, as U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachman of Minnesota is listed as “congresswoman” rather than C of F.

The convention should not be confused with the Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, which happens Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial. Two separate things entirely.

And it may be just because it’s Friday of a long week, but does anyone else think the convention logo has an odd, 1930s Soviet Realism feel to it?

WA state gets waiver for military ballots

OLYMPIA — The federal government has signed off on Washington state’s request for a waiver to the time limit for mailing ballouts to troops and other state voters who are overseas.

The state actually gives those voters more than the 45 days required by federal law to get ballots back because of the way Washington handles mail-in ballots.

The question arises because federal voting laws require states to get ballots to voters at least 45 days before election day, which this year is Sept. 18. Ballots can’t be prepared  until the results of the August primary are certified on Sept. 7, and nine business days isn’t enough to print ballots and prepare packets for some 65,000 military and overseas voters, the state said. Some jurisdications won’t have that done before the beginning of October, which is what state law requires.

But the state allows overseas voters to vote by e-mail, so that option is available to overseas and military voters. And unlike most states that rely on mail-in ballots, Washington doesn’t require ballots be at the elections office on election day; it only requires they be voted — that is, marked and mailed, by Nov. 2. Any ballot received up to 21 days afte election day will still be processed and counted.

So Washington really has a 51-day window — 30 days before the election plus 21 days after it, the state said in requesting it’s waiver.

Okey-dokey, the feds said. Several other states which have primaries in August and September weren’t so lucky, and have more ‘splaining to do before they get waivers. 

WA Sen race: Murray accepts 2 debates

Sen. Patty Murray’s re-election campaign said it is accepting two debate invitations, one in Spokane and one in Seattle, both to be televised around much of the state.

Both would likely occur in October, after the Senate recesses. The Spokane debate would be sponsored by KSPS-TV and KXLY-TV, and air on stations in Yakima and the Tri-Cities. The Seattle debate sponsored by KOMO-TV would air simultaneously in Spokane and several other cities.

The Rossi campaign replied that the Republican challenger still wanted six debates, and suggested Murray was sticking to a safe strategy, hiding behind consultants and negative ads. But they stopped short of saying they wouldn’t agree to the two debates Murray has accepted.

Jennifer Morris, a spokeswoman for Republican Dino Rossi’s campaign said he “looks forward to debating Sen. Murray more than twice” and is still reviewing the letter from the Murray campaign.

Last week Rossi challenged Murray to a total of six debates — five in the state and one “national debate” — to occur once a week starting in early September.The campaign has multiple requests for debates and has not committed to any of them yet, including the ones mentioned in the Murray campaign letter, Morris said.

“We’re not dodging,” Morris said. “We’ve just received the letter.”

While the Rossi campaign may continue to push for more debates, the Murray campaign indicated that was unlikely.

“We have accepted these two debates. We do not plan on accepting any further debates,” Murray campaign spokeswoman Julie Edwards said.

Murray debated only twice in 2004, when she ran against then U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt and once in 1998, when running against then U.S. Rep. Linda Smith. Both times, the Republican opponents called for more debates, but she declined.

To see the back and forth between the campaigns, go inside the blog.

O’Quinn calls for GOP unity, says job prevents her from endorsing Ahern

Shelly O’Quinn, a Republican who lost her bid in the highly contested battle for state House representing the 6th Legislative District, said Wednesday that she is not allowed to endorse any candidates in the general election because of her job.
Incumbent Democratic state Rep. John Driscoll and former state Rep. John Ahern, a Republican, won the primary and will face off in November.
O’Quinn is the workforce development manager for Greater Spokane Inc., the region’s Chamber of Commerce. She said after the election she restarted her full-time work schedule.
“Due to the nonpartisan nature of our organization, I’m prohibited from making any political endorsements,” O’Quinn said. “I definitely hope that the Republican Party can unify. It’s important for the Republican Party and it’s important for the community.”
O’Quinn said because of her job, she did not endorse any candidates during the primary – though she was listed, as of Wednesday morning, on the endorsement list of state Senate candidate Republican Michael Baumgartner.
Baumgartner said Wednesday O’Quinn was listed as an endorser because she was one of more than 20 Republicans who were filmed saying, “We like Mike” or “I like Mike” for this youtube campaign ad.
Baumgartner said he understands O’Quinn’s job obligations and that her name will be pulled from his list of endorsements.

Primary turnout tops 40 percent

OLYMPIA — Washington voters turned out in impressive numbers — impressive for a primary, anyway — in last week’s election.

With a few thousand ballots still to count, turnout stands at 40.46 percent, which state elections officials say is better than expected for an even but non presidential year primary. They’d been predicting 38 percent, but aren’t unhappy about being wrong on the low side.

Two years ago, with a bunch of statewide offices on the primary ballot and the excitement of a presidential race in the air (albeit not on the primary ballot), primary turnout hit 42.6 percent. That was the state’s first foray into the Top Two primary system; the primary in 2006, which like this year featured a U.S. Senate race, was 38.8. The 2002 primary, which had no Senate race, was 34.4 percent.

Something else happened in that interim: All the counties except Pierce County gradually went to all mail balloting.

So it would seem that  having a big statewide contest like a U.S. Senate race is good for an extra 2% or so in generating turnout, and mail balloting may be good for another 2%.

But the overall turnout suggests that the national pundits talk about disaffected voters may be as valid as their talk about anti-establishment trends, at least in Washington. If anything, ballots came in a little stronger than normal, and in the Senate race, more pro-establishment than anti-establishment, considering Republican Dino Rossi handily defeated insurgent Clint Didier, and Democrat Patty Murray pulled down 46 percent of the vote.

Looking forward to the general election, there may be one worrisome statistic for Rossi: He won three of the four counties with the highest turnout rates, but they’re fairly small counties as far as population and votes don’t have much room to grow in the general. Three of the four counties with the lowest turnout are where Murray did better, and they have the state’s highest population. One of them is King County, where she got twice as many votes, and only 37 percent of the voters cast ballots in the primary. 

Ahern makes lunch plans with O’Quinn

Former Republican state Rep. John Ahern said today that his former Republican opponent, Shelly O’Quinn, called him on Monday to congratulate him on his second-place finish.

Ahern said he’s grateful O’Quinn, who finished third, ran for the seat and that she made him a better candidate.

O’Quinn told Ahern that she will not be able to make a formal endorsement in the race for the November election because of her job with Greater Spokane Inc., the region’s Chamber of Commerce, Ahern said.

Ahern said he plans to take O’Quinn to lunch next week at the Chalet Restaurant, near 29th and Grand Boulevard.

“I’m going to encourage her to run for another office,” Ahern said.

Ahern faces the top finisher in last week’s primary, incumbent Democrat John Driscoll, in the general election race for state House representing the 6th Legislative District.

Here’s more on attempts to unify the parties after last week’s primary.

Akers endorses Rossi

Republican Paul Akers, who finished a very distant fourth in last week’s U.S. Senate primary, is endorsing Dino Rossi in the race against Patty Murray.

“We have an unusual opportunity. The wind is at our back. We must unite and not allow our opponent to have even one more day to relish in any division that is amongst us,” he said in a press release issued Tuesday morning.

Akers is doing it without pre-conditions, unlike third-place finisher Clint Didier, who last week said he’d like to endorse Rossi, but first Dino would have to make an unequivocal statement against abortion, sign a pledge not to raise taxes and promise not to increase federal spending. Rossi’s campaign said he’s not going to “submit to a list of demands” from anyone, even someone he generally agrees with.

Of course with just 2.56 percent of the vote, one might argue that Akers is hardly in any position to issue demands.

And for those curious about the latest count in the Senate primary:

Murray   46.32%
Rossi     33.34%
Didier    12.68%
Akers      2.56%

11 other people split the rest

Salvatori concedes, says Holy could top French

In an e-mail to supporters on Friday, Spokane County commissioner candidate Steve Salvatori said a recount is likely in the primary battle for commissioner.

But he added that he doesn’t expect to be in the running.

“We made a valiant comeback effort on the Thursday ballot count, reducing our gap from 4 percent to 2 percent. But our hat is off to Jeff Holy, who did even better, and is now within 150 votes of Al French (we are 500 votes back). If the final ballots which will be counted Monday, hold true to their ratios from Thursday, Jeff will catch Al, and we will end up 300 – 400 votes behind. It looks like Jeff and Al may end up so close, that it may trigger a recount,” said Salvatori’s message to supporters.

The county election’s office will count almost all of the remaining estimated 10,000 ballots today. About 3,600 of those are in the county’s 3rd County Commissioner District where French, Holy and Salvatori were on the ballot along with Democratic incumbent Bonnie Mager, who easily won the primary and a spot on the November ballot.

French’s lead for second place over Holy fell from 434 to 158 from the first count on Tuesday to the most recent tally on Thursday.

To trigger a recount, French’s and Holy’s tallies must be within .5 percent of each other without considering the tallies of other candidates, said Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton. As of Friday, 9,172 people had voted for either French of Holy. French had 4,665 of those votes, giving him 50.9 percent of the ballot that voted for him or Holy. Since Holy has only 49.1 percent of those votes, the gap currently is well above the .5 percent required for a recount.

If the gap falls below .25 percent, the ballots must be counted by hand.

Here’s a map showing the areas won by the GOP candidates in the primary.

To read Salvatori’s full message keep reading this entry.

WA Senate race Friday update

As predicted yesterday, Clint Didier did not endorse Dino Rossi this morning at a Seattle press conference. He did, however, lay down conditions under which he would endorse Rossi.

Rossi, who declined to submit to what his campaign called “a list of demands”, meanwhile, issued a challenge to Sen. Patty Murray to debate him six times before the primary, five in Washington state — with two in Seattle and the others scattered around to other cities — and one nationally televised debate. This might seem surprising to people who recall that Rossi declined to debate Didier and fellow Republican Paul Akers before the primary.

“Of course there will be debates,” replied Alex Glass, deputy campaign manager for Murray. The number and timing will depend on the schedule of the Senate, which returns to session in September. But Murray isn’t inclined to debate anywhere outside the state, Glass added. “This election is about the voters of Washington state.”

Didier said he would endorse Rossi if the Republican nominee would make an unequivocal anti-abortion stand, make a no-new-taxes pledge and promise not to increase federal spending. They weren’t a stretch for Rossi, Didier insisted, and they’re part of the party platform.

The Rossi campaign responded that he would work to reduce spending, improve the economy and put Washington residents back to work. But, the campaign added: “Dino will continue to campaign on the things he believes, and will not submit to a list of demands made by anyone, even people with whom he agrees, in Washington State or Washington, D.C.”

Before Didier’s morning press conference, there was some speculation he would announce a write-in campaign for the seat. But state law prohibits a person who is eliminated in the primary from mounting a write-in campaign in the general. Didier said he’d received messages from people encouraging him not to quit, and he and supporters plan to start a new organization called Taking Back Washington, which he’d explain at some future date.

Chadez endorses Billig

Lousie Chadez, who won about 20 percent of the vote in the four-way primary for the state House seat representing central Spokane, said this week she will endorse follow Democrat Andy Billig for the general election.

Billig finished second and will face the likely winner of the primary, Republican Dave White, in the November election. Here is a map showing where the Democrats in the race won their support.

Chadez’s decision isn’t a huge surprise. She and Billig shared many of the same positions during the campaign.

Meanwhile, third-place finisher, City Councilman Bob Apple, said Thursday that he has no plans to endorse either candidate.

Siddoway wins Appeals Court seat

Laurel Siddoway of Spokane will win the Appeals Court seat to which she was appointed this spring, ballots tallied Thursday show.

Siddoway, 56, consistently led Spokane attorney Harvey Dunham since Tuesday’s ballot counts, and with most ballots counted in the six-county district Thursday evening her election seems certain. She leads Dunham by more than 2,800 votes for the Division 3 position.

Dunham leads in four counties, but they have only about 1,800 ballots left to count. Spokane elections officials estimate they have about 10,000 more ballots to count, and Siddoway is collecting about 53 percent of the ballots in the district’s most-populous county.

The outcome is similar to a 2008 Appeals Court race between Dunham and Kevin Korsmo. Dunham won in most surrounding counties, but Korsmo won handily in Spokane County and retained the seat he received by appointment from Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Siddoway was appointed this spring by Gregoire to a seat that became open with Judge John Schultheis’ retirement.

Mager opponent still unknown; Holy gains signficant ground on French

Hold on tight.

Results this from the third day of counting in Tuesday’s primary show Republican Jeff Holy only 158 votes from Republican Al French’s current standing in second place.

The second place finisher will face Democrat Bonnie Mager in the November election.

There are about 10,000 ballots left to count, according to the election’s office. Those won’t be counted until Monday.

After Wednesday’s count, Holy was 434 votes behind French.

Didier to announce…something…Friday

Unsuccessful Republican Senate candidate Clint Didier will hold a press conference Friday morning in Seattle. To announce what isn’t exactly clear.

Candidates who finish out of the winners’ circle in the primary often announce within the week that they are endorsing the party’s winner. It usually involves grasping the winner’s hand, patting him or her on the back,  and announcing that “whatever our differences may have been during primary, they are minor — miniscule, infinitessimal in fact — compared to our differences with the incumbent.” This is followed by a promise to do everything possible to see the former opponent who is now a trusted ally and valued friend, applause, kind words from the former opponent, smiles, more handshakes, raising grasped hands overhead and the blessing of party elders who   have prevailed upon the two former enemies to make nice and bury the hatchet for the good of the party.

So is that what’s going to happen on Friday? …

Shenanigans in the 6th? Numbers suggest no

Shelly O’Quinn’s legislative race, like nearly every political race worth a darn, may be leaving some supporters with hard feelings, nagging questions and what ifs.

Wednesday’s ballot count showed O’Quinn has no real hope of moving out of third place, which is no doubt vexing to supporters who believed she was a candidate with great potential to be a rising GOP star. While they try to figure out why she lost, some apparently  have come up with a theory that it was Democratic perfidity that helped do her in.

The theory, recounted by one supporter, is that Democrats were afraid that freshman incumbent John Driscoll would  have a much harder time in the general against O’Quinn than John Ahern. There’s some logic to that speculation:

Driscoll beat Ahern, a well-entrenched encumbent, two years ago, so history is on their side.

Ahern outpolled O’Quinn, but she outspent him.

The Gallatin Group, a regional public affairs organization that has people who follow politics the way others follow Gonzaga basketball, opined as such in an election eve epistle titled “Pondering Politics in the Inland Northwest”: Here’s our prediction. In an Ahern vs. Driscoll match-up, Driscoll wins. However, the Gallatin office is split in our prediction that if O’Quinn manages a win tomorrow the seat will return back to its Republican roots with an O’Quinn victory in November against Driscoll.

So wily Democrats could try to sway the outcome of the primary by voting for Ahern now, then switching to Driscoll in November. Or so the speculation goes.

Speculation is one thing. Facts are something else.

One, it assumes Democrats are organized enough to hatch the plan, and execute it by having willing Driscoll voters cast ballots for Ahern. Democrats have shown themselves to be anything but organized this year. Were they that organized, they’d have fielded candidates in the 4th, and recruited a congressional hopeful who could win at least one county in the 5th District.

B, it ignores the fact that Washington voters love to split tickets on their own.

Lastly, if there was some kind of plot that could overcome the ticket-splitting tendencies of the electorate, it would show up in the vote totals when comparing the votes for the House race with those in the 6th District Senate race. Democrat Sen. Chris Marr pulled down about 2,000 more votes than fellow Democrat Driscoll, while Ahern and Quinn combined for about 4,000 more votes than Republican Senate hopeful Mike Baumgartner. Considering that Marr and Driscoll  have similar voting histories that would attract the same partisan support, if something fishy is going on, a pattern would likely emerge. Ahern would consistently do much better in precincts that Marr won handily as Democrats crossed over to vote for him to help Driscoll down the road; O’Quinn would consistenty run stronger in precincts where Baumgartner ran far ahead of Marr.

As the maps below show, that ain’t what happened. At least not consistently.



Setting aside the fact that there were much bigger swings in the Marr-Baumgartner race, which is common in a two-person contest, what happened was this: Ahern did very well in some of the precincts where Baumgartner did very well, but O’Quinn also ran strong in some strong Baumgartner precincts. And both had successes and failures in precincts that Marr won handily.

What the maps show more conclusively is that Ahern won because he won more of those same Republican-leaning precincts that Baumgartner won, and by bigger margins. It’s a pretty simple equation. Win more votes in more places, and you win the election.

Murray kicks off general election campaign in Spokane

Sen. Patty Murray on Thursday stressed her support for programs in Eastern Washington and new financial regulations approved by Congress as she opened her general election campaign on Thursday with a stump speech in Spokane.

“I’m here to tell you Wall Street’s and big bank’s money cannot buy my vote now or any day ever. I will always fight for you,” she said in her 20-minute speech.

Murray criticized her Republican opponent Dino Rossi for his stance on the financial overhaul law. Last month, Rossi told The Washington Post and ABC News that the rules should be repealed, in part, because he said they will hurt small business.

Murray’s campaign has heavily criticized Rossi’s position since his announcement and has featured the issue in a campaign ad on TV.

 ”He is promising to repeal Wall Street reform,” Murray said in her Spokane speech. “Maybe he thinks we should reward those who recklessly put our country in peril … but I say not on my watch.”

About 200 supporters attended the rally in West Central Community Center’s courtyard.

Murray also criticized Rossi’s stance on the extension of tax cuts that are set to expire this year. Murray has taken a stance similar to President Obama, arguing that the tax cuts should expire only on the wealthy.

“it really concerns me that Mr. Rossi says he wants us to take us back to the days of President Bush’s unpaid-for tax cuts. Unpaid for for the rich. We’ve seen where that got us before — into a huge whole,” Murray told the crowd.

Primary over. Lessons learned?

Thousands of votes are still to be counted from Tuesday’s primary, but along with most races, some lessons are clear.
Lesson 1: It may be uncomfortable to be an incumbent this year, but it’s not fatal. Few incumbents were eliminated in the state’s unusual Top Two primary, but some clearly have their work ahead of them.
Count among them state Sen. Chris Marr, a Spokane businessman who received party acclaim four years ago as the first Democrat to win the seat in Spokane’s 6th District in six decades, but trails GOP challenger Mike Baumgartner in this primary.
Or ask Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker, a three-term Republican incumbent who faced two party challengers and finished second to Democrat Frank Malone.
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and most sitting House members had an easy primary night, five-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen is trading the lead with Republican challenger John Koster in northwestern Washington’s 2nd District.
For all the knock against establishment candidates…

Catch the candidates: Murray, McMorris Rodgers

The primary is over, the general is approaching…and so are the candidates.

Here are some upcoming candidate appearances in Spokane and around Eastern Washington.

Thursday, Aug. 19
7:30 a.m. Patty Murray at the West Central Community Center, 1603 North Belt, Spokane

Friday, Aug. 20
9 a.m. Cathy McMorris Rodgers tours the Whitman County Library, Main Street, Colfax

Saturday, Aug. 21
11 a.m. McMorris Rodgers in the Lentil Parade, Walla Walla

How the Ds split the 3rd Leg District

The three Democrats running for the open House seat in Central Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District had very different bases of support.

The map shows the vote totals without Republican Dave White, who also seems set to advance to the general election from the Top Two primary. City Councilman Bob Apple ran strongest in his council district, which stretches east from Division, from the river to the northern city boundaries. Andy Billig ran stronger to the west of Division and up onto the South Hill. Louise Chadez ran strongest in West Central, and near Gonzaga University.

GOP commissioner candidates split county

Second place in the Spokane County commissioner District 3 race seems up for grabs as the three main Republican candidates drew their strength from different parts of the district.

Incumbent Democrat Bonnie Mager won most  precincts, and Republican David Elton trailed the pack in most. After subtracting their votes out, we get a picture of an interesting split among Al French, Jeff Holy and Steve Salvatori.

Not surprisingly, French, a former Spokane city councilman from the Northeast Council District, ran strong in the City of Spokane’s northern precincts. Salvatori outpolled him in some of the heavier voting southern city precincts and Holy ran strongest in the southwest precincts of the county.

The general election is a new ballgame, however, because the entire county votes.

Marr wins city, Baumgartner wins county

This map of the Senate race between incumbent Democrat Chris Marr and Republican Michael Baumgartner indicates that voting went as usual in the 6th Legislative District. The Democrat won precincts closest to central Spokane; the Republican won Indian Trails, the far South Hill and areas outside city limits.

(Map by Jim Camden)

Treasurer write-in candidate likely will earn place on ballot

Looks like Spokane County Treasurer Skip Chilberg may end up with a challenger in the general election after all.

Real estate agent Rob Chase, who ran for Congress as a Libertarian in 2002, had 1.21 percent of the vote as a write-in candidate for treasurer after Tuesday’s ballot count. If he holds on to at least 1 percent, his name will appear on the November ballot.

Chase is running as a Republican.

White has tough task in facing Billig

The top photo is Andy Billig’s reaction to the announcement that he would advance to the general election.

The next photo is Billig’s response to finding out he will face Republican Dave White in the general election.

It’s hard to blame Billig for appearing to be more jubilant when learning that he will face a Republican in the general election. The 3rd Legislative District is heavily Democratic.

Asked about his response, he said he was most excited to just move on.

“Our goal was to make it to the general election, and we achieved that goal,” Billig said.

An unusual call for lunch

Just off the phone from following:

Cell phone rings. Caller ID blocked.


“Yeah. I thought today was election day.

“Yesterday was election day.”

“Yeah, well I wondered. I thought they were jumping the gun in this morning’s paper. But maybe with mail in ballots they were counting already.”

“No. Yesterday was election day. Election days are always on Tuesday.”

“Yeah. For some reason I got it into my  head it was the 18th. Thanks.”

Gotta love this job.

O’Quinn not saying if she will back Ahern

After last night, it looks like it will be round two for John Driscoll and John Ahern as they appear likely to advance to the November election.

At the Democratic Party celebration last night, Driscoll said he would start today reaching out to supporters of the third place finisher, Republican Shelly O’Quinn. Driscoll took the seat from Ahern two years ago in a vote so close it had to be recounted.

Driscoll, who won 41 percent of the vote, told the crowd that he’ll need to gain 9 percentage points to win in November.

“We’ve got to take those from Shelly O’Quinn followers, and we’re going to start tomorrow,” Driscoll said as he addressed the crowd at the Democratic celebration at Hamilton Studios.

At an election party last night for O’Quinn and candidates for county office, Chris Bugbee and Steve Salvatori, O’Quinn wasn’t conceding.

“Obviously, I was disappointed. It still can go either way,” she said.

O’Quinn was reluctant to say who she will back for November if her third-place finish doesn’t change.

“I’m willing to support the candidate who will put Washington on the right track,” O’Quinn said.

Reporter Tom Clouse contributed to this report.

Protests on the right…

SEATTLE — Supporters of Lyndon Larouche protested against President Obama during his visit Tuesday.

Protests on the left…

SEATTLE — Some demonstrators outside the Westin Hotel thought Obama hadn’t done enough to help immigrants, the environment or gay rights.

On the Obama menu

President Obama considers his lunch choices Tuesday at the Grand Central Bakery in Pioneer Square.

SEATTLE — President Barack Obama arrived in Pioneer Square hungry … and not just for some political talk and economic discussions.

He was looking for lunch. Fortunately, the first stop was at the Grand Central Bakery, where he perused the menu and ordered a half of a turkey special, described by the person behind the counter as Thanksgiving on a sandwich, and a small Skagit Valley salad.

His stomach was still on East Coast time, which meant it was getting toward 3 p.m., when he sat down with Sen. Patty Murray, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and three local business owners.

Later at a Murray fund-raiser at the Westin Hotel, Obama brought up food again — or something close to food — in criticizing Republican opposition to his economic plans.

Democrats went into the ditch to rescue the economy after Republicans had driven it in. They pushed it out, “and it’s muddy and there are bugs and we’re sweating and shoving, pushing hard. And there all standing there sipping Slurpees and watching (saying) ‘you’re not pushing hard enough, that’s not the right way to push.’”

Obama lauds Murray, takes shot at Rossi

President Obama and Sen. Patty Murray talk with small business owners Tuesday morning at a  Pioneer Square cafe.

SEATTLE – President Barack Obama accused Republicans of driving the economy “into the ditch” then asking for the keys back now that Democrats have pulled it out in an election day visit to help raise money for Sen. Patty Murray.

Obama met with small business owners in Pioneer Square, then attended two fund-raisers in or near downtown which raised an estimated $1.3 million to be split between Murray and the state Democratic Party.

Obama repeated his standard attack on Republicans as wanting to return to the policies of the Bush Administration, using the now familiar metaphor of a car in the ditch. Democrats went into the ditch, pushed it out, he said, to laughter and applause, “and it’s muddy and there are bugs and we’re sweating and shoving, pushing hard. And there all standing there sipping Slurpees and watching (saying) ‘you’re not pushing hard enough, that’s not the right way to push.’”

The economy is now about to go forward, and Republicans can’t have the keys back, he said

He praised Murray as someone who stands up for veterans, aerospace workers and health care reform and criticized Dino Rossi, the Republican most likely to make it through Tuesday’s primary, without mentioning him by name, for calling for the repeal of recently passed Wall Street reforms.

“He wants to go back to the old rules and the lack of oversight that caused the worst crisis since the Great Depression,” Obama said. “I mean, I could see him saying well, there are certain provisions I might modify. But to just say we didn’t need it when we almost had a complete financial meltdown – he’s counting on amnesia.”

The Rossi campaign responded quickly, saying that Obama had gone on the attack because he couldn’t defend Murray’s record of 18 years in the Senate.

“We witnessed how quickly this politics of hope can turn to the politics of desperate partisan attack,” Jennifer Morris, Rossi campaign spokeswoman, said. “If someone as eloquent as President Obama can’t defend her 18-year record of spending, taxing and growing government, who can?”

Rossi himself was in the Westin Hotel, where the fund-raiser was being held, for an interview with Chuck Todd of MSNBC. As he left, he said the president’s election day visit was a sure sign Murray was in truouble.

“Obviously, it confirms our polling or else he wouldn’t be here,” Rossi said as an aide hurried him to his next television interview.

Outside the hotel, a crowd of supporters gathered, but so did a potpourri of protesters. Some wanted Obama to end deportations for immigration violations, others wanted the U.S. to end wars in the Middle East or audit the Federal Reserve. Some members of the Tea Party unfurled “Don’t Tread On Me” flags and supporters of Lyndon LaRouche, a regular presidential candidate, held a large sign that showed Obama’s face with an Adolph Hitler-style mustache.


Last minute election details and tidbits

Spokane County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said he expects to post election results around 8:15 p.m. and doesn’t expect further counting until Wednesday.

Check for election updates. We’ll get them posted as soon as we get them.

One-third of ballots have been returned

The county received more than 14,000 ballots in the mail today. That takes the ballot return rate to 33 percent. Elections officials have guessed that turnout would be around 40 percent.

Election workers being watched

About 125 people this year volunteered to be election observers. About 80 are Republicans, and about half that many are Democrats, McLaughlin said.. One is independent. One represents the Louise Chadez campaign. A couple represent the Shelly O’Quinn campaign.

McLaughlin said observers bring “a second pair of eyes,” and are appreciated.

“The more poeple we have who know the process, the better off we are,” McLaughlin said.

More election parties

At the elections office casting his ballot Tuesday afternoon was Daryl Romeyn, former weatherman and current Democratic candidate for Congress. He said he plans to attend Chadez’s election night party at Working Class Heroes and the official Democratic gathering at Toad Hall.

City Councilman Bob Apple, who is hoping to capture the state House seat of retiring Rep. Alex Wood, said his celebration will be held tonight at Churcill’s Steakhouse.

Obama: Pass jobs bill

SEATTLE — President Obama called for Senate Republicans to stop “playing politics” and pass a jobs bill when they return to work in September that would cut taxes and waive fees for small businesses.

After meeting with three Western Washington business owners who have managed to expand despite the recession and problems obtaining credit, Obama, with Sen. Patty Murray in tow, made brief remarks at the Grand Central Bakery in Pioneer Square.

Obama said he wanted an up or down vote on the bill in September: “There will be plenty of time between now and November to play oplitics. When Congress regures, this jobs bill will be the first one out of the gate.”

The president went from the bakery to the Westin Hotel, where his motorcade was greeted by a potpourri of protesters. Some called for him to change immigration policy, others called for an audit of the Federal Reserve, others still called for him to end wars in the Middle East. Some members of the Tea Party waved “Don’t Tread on Me” while supporters of Lyndon Larouche held a large photo of Obama that sported an Adolph Hitler-like mustache.

Obama talking job growth at bakery

SEATTLE — After ordering a sandwich because “I’m on East Coast time” President Barack Obama sat down with three Western Washington business owners, Sen. Patty Murray and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke late this morning at a bakery on Pioneer Square.

Obama arrived with a gaggle of national press, swept into the Grand Central Bakery located on the ground floor of a historic hotel building and perused the menu. He opted for a half turkey sandwich, described as Thanksgiving on a sandwich by the person behind the counter, and a small “Skagit Valley salad” with local ingredients as cameras clicked and whirred. Then he went out to the dining area to discuss job growth with bakery owner Gillian Allen-White, Tiffany Turner, co-owner of the Inn at Discovery Cove in Long Beach, Wash., and Joe Fugere, founder of Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzaria in Seattle.

All three have grown, adding locations or employees during the recession. Obama mentioned that fact, adding “see, I read my briefing papers.” He also chatted about Pioneer Square, throwing out tidbits of tourist trivia he said he learned from Locke.

Obama next heads to the Westin Hotel for a campaign fundraiser for Murray, who is on the ballot in today’s state primary.

Crowds gathering for Obama visit

SEATTLE — City police have blocked off one corner at First and Main while awaiting the arrival of President Barack Obama at the Grand Central Bakery.

Crowds are gathering across the street, cell phones and cameras in hand, waiting for Obama, who is due to arrive at  Boeing Field around 11:15 a.m. Meanwhile, reporters and photographers were ushered into the building after their gear was sniffed by a police dog. (Note to self: Always bring a towel to wipe the dog slobber off the camera after the security sniff.)

Obama is expected to be greeted by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Reps. Norm Dicks and Jim McDermott, King County Executive Dow Constatine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.

Murray and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, a former Washington governor, will sit in on a discussion of the economy with the owners of the Grand Central Bakery, located in a historic hotel building on the edge of Pioneer Square, as well as the owner of Tutta Bella Neopolitan Pizzaria in Seattle and the owner of the Inn at Discovery Coast at Long Beach, Wash. All have stories to tell of adding employees during the recession.

Republicans responded to Obama’s visit with a video contending it was a sign that Murray is fighting for her political life in this year’s election:

“President Obama comes to Seattle today because Senator Patty Murray is in the fight of her political life,” State GOP Chairman Luke Esser said. “After voting for bailouts, a fizzled “stimulus,” higher taxes, enormous debt, and bigger government, her popularity has dwindled and the president is coming to give her campaign bank account a bailout of its own. After the results of today’s primary election, Republicans look forward to uniting behind Murray’s replacement who will guide us towards less government, less spending and put us on the path towards economic prosperity.”

Murray is one of 15 candidates for U.S Senate on today’s primary ballot. She’s expected to be one of the candidates to advance under the state’s Top Two system. Republicans Dino Rossi, Clint Didier and Paul Akers are fighting for the second slot, with Rossi, a former state senator and two-time gubernatorial candidate, thought to be the likely nominee.

Obama in Pioneer Square, downtown Seattle today

SEATTLE — President Barack Obama will make a stop today in Pioneer Square to talk about adding jobs in the tough economy, then head up the hill to the Westin Hotel to talk about not subtracting Patty Murray from the state’s congressional delegation.

Obama has a primary election day visit to Seattle that is expected to tie up traffic on the city streets, draw a crowd around the Grand Central Bakery at the corner of First Avenue and Main Street where he meets with local business owners, and raise money for Murray’s re-election campaign at the Westin and at a private home.

Murray is one of 15 candidates on the ballot in the U.S. Senate primary, which is widely expected to come down to a general election contest between her and one of three serious Republican candidates, former state Sen. Dino Rossi, former NFL player turned Eltopia farmer Clint Didier and Bellingham businessman Paul Akers.

Ballots must be postmarked or dropped into a county elections collection box by 8 p.m. today.

Spokane City Council meeting during anthrax scare may have violated state law


The Spokane City Council on Monday likely violated state law by meeting during an anthrax scare which closed City Hall to the public.

Firefighters and police were called to City Hall just prior to the council meeting’s scheduled 3:30 p.m. start after an employee found white powder in a package of office supplies. City spokeswoman Marlene Feist sent a news release at 3:25 p.m. that said the session would go on even though the public was no longer allowed to enter City Hall.

The building reopened about an hour later, after firefighters determined the power to be corn starch. The council meeting ended about the same time.

State law stipulates that City Council meetings be open to the public.

Feist noted that there was no public testimony scheduled and that the meeting was carried live on the city’s cable station.

Greg Overstreet, former open government ombudsman in the state attorney general’s office, said state law allows members of the public to be barred from a council meeting only for an executive session or for unruly behavior. Monday’s meeting wasn’t an executive session, during which council members could meet privately to discuss certain matters like the purchase of real estate. Even if no votes are held, meetings must be open, he said.

“It would be a terrible precedent if local governments could lock the doors and tell people to just watch it on TV,” said Overstreet, a private attorney who focuses on public access issues.

County, city at odds over tab fee increase

Spokane County commissioners are taking umbrage at something said by a Spokane city official.

What? You say we’ll have to be a bit more specific, because the county and city are almost always in a state of mutual umbrage?

OK, let’s start again: Last week’s comment by City Council President Joe Shogan that the county has been slow to respond to the idea of higher license tab fees does not sit well with the commissioners. They have fired back with an indignant letter, the text of which can be found inside the blog.

Last week, Shogan was quoted in an S-R news story about the council’s decision to pull a proposed $20 license tab fee from its weekly agenda. The city is looking at the fee hike as a way to avoid some layoffs.

Shogan said he’s been discussing a countywide tab increase for two or three years with the commissioners, but so far county leaders have balked at the idea.

They’ve been talking up a regional transportation benefit district for years (which would be a way to get a countywide tab fee increase) and asked the local jurisdictions to sign on, commissioners said in today’s letter.  But city officials have yet to put anything down on paper or adopt a resolution to do that.

Or to keep it in baseball lingo, we can’t balk if you can’t get to first base.

Where they’ll be on election night

Not sure if this says more about Spokane’s two major party organizations than anything we could, but, both have plans for gatherings on primary election night.

Spokane County Republicans will be at the New Life Assembly of God Church, 10920 East Sprague, starting about 6:30 p.m.

Spokane County Democrats will be at Toad Hall, their frequent gathering spot which by day goes by Hamilton Studios, 1427 W. Dean.

Not all candidates for either party will be at those locations, however.

Republicans Shelly O’Quinn, Steve Salvatori and Chris Bugbee will be at the Plechner Building, 608 W 2nd Ave.

Democrats Louise Chadez, Sadie Charlene Cooney and Daryl Romeyn will be at Working Class Heroes Bar and Grill, 1914 N. Monroe St.


Playing the lower expectations game

Democrats in the other Washington are already trying to lower expectations for the kind of votes  incumbent Sen. Patty Murray will pull down on Tuesday, and raise expectations for Republican Dino Rossi.

A press release from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are contending that Rossi should outpoll Murray in the primary, but not to worry, she’ll win in November. Rossi got 46.35 percent of the primary vote in 2008 when he ran the second time for governor and “we expect him to earn at least that much in tomorrow’s primary,” the campaign committee’s exec director JB Poersch said earlier today. That plus Murray only got 45.9 percent in the 1998 primary, but went on to win the general by 16 percentage points.

This is an interesting example of using selective data to bolster a really bad argument by people who clearly don’t know very much about Washington primaries.

We explain, inside the blog

Catch the candidates: McMorris Rodgers, Parker on Monday evening

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and state Rep. Kevin Parker will be making presentations to the Republicans of Spokane County at 6:30 tonight.

McMorris Rodgers’ plans to explain “Where America is Headed” and Parker will discuss “The Condition of Our State.” (Haven’t seen advanced copies of either speech, but am guessing the subtitle to the first is “the wrong way” and the second “not good.”)

But the R of S C promise wine, beer and dessert along with the talk, in exchange for a donation of $10 - $20. It’s at the Quality Inn Valley Suites, Argonne and I-90.

Where’s my ballot?

The Spokane County Elections Office has an on-line tracking system that allows you to know where your ballot is in the processing system.

You can reach it by clicking here and filling in the appropriate information.

The office also reports that 27.6 percent of the ballots have been received as of this morning. So for most people, the answer to the question in the headline is “Still around the house, somewhere.”

Time running out to cast primary ballot

8 p.m. Tuesday.

That’s the deadline for getting your primary ballot on the way to the elections office in Washington state.

And by on the way, that means postmarked, not just dropped in some random mail box at 7:59 p.m. If you are mailing it in today or tomorrow, it usually makes sense to drop it off at the post office to ensure that it will be post marked.

Of course, that means you’ll have to know when your local post office closes, because they don’t necessarily pick up from the mail boxes outside their doors if they closed for the day.

But you can save a stamp and be sure of getting it in by depositing it in an official county drop box. Most public libraries in Spokane County have drop boxes. For a full list, go inside the blog.

A party for the cast-aside Democrats

The Democratic Party’s decision to endorse Andy Billig has made state House candidate Louise Chadez — despite her longtime affiliation with Democrats  — feel somewhat of an outcast in the party.

At the party’s recent salmon feed, Chadez said, she and other Democrats who didn’t win official endorsements weren’t allowed to address to the crowd. So Chadez is organizing a victory party on Tuesday for her and some other Democrats who didn’t win party backing.

Among the invitees are Spokane County assessor’s candidate Sadie Charlene Cooney and Congressional candidate Daryl Romeyn. Chadez said she didn’t ask Bob Apple to attend because he’s competing in the same race as her. Also not on the list: David Fox, the Congressional candidate who has made recent headlines.

Chadez said her party will be at Working Class Heroes on Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Spokane County Democratic Party Chairwoman Amy Biviano said the Democrats official victory party will be held on Tuesday at Hamilton Photography. Biviano said Democrats not endorsed weren’t given a chance to address the crowd at the salmon feed because the agenda already was full. Candidates not nominated were welcome and used the event for one-on-one networking, Biviano said.

Apple not running for grammarian

We don’t want to get too picky about grammar, but this mailer from Bob Apple is worth noting, if only because one of the errors occurs while making the point that “Washington States first priority is to education.”


White, Chadez, Billig and Apple take stands on budget cuts

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Here’s the latest video of candidates from the 3rd Legislative District vying to replace retiring state Rep. Alex Wood.

French ad on raceway sparks response from Salvatori

My in-laws were in town last week and asked, “Who is Al French?”

It was another indicator that French has been effective in getting his name out in the community.

With eight years on the Spokane City Council, French already had an advantage in name recognition — at least over his GOP rivals.

Now French has mailed a flyer that takes aim at his Republican competitors over the Spokane County Raceway. This morning, it sparked a response from Steve Salvatori, one of his Republican opponents who also hopes to represent the county’s 3rd Commissioner District. Salvatori accuses French of “deliberately” misstating his position.

The mailer shows two racecar drivers, one labeled Steve (for Salvatori) and one labeled Jeff (for Jeff Holy). The text says, “Steve says Zoom” and “Jeff says V-room.”

French’s ad says he’s the only GOP candidate that “says stop wasting tax dollars on a raceway.” In a Spokesman-Review questionnaire last month, French wrote that the county should “develop a strategy for getting the racetrack back into the hands of the private sector.”

The flyer is accurate if his point is that he’s the only Republican candidate currently advocating the sale of the track — at least based on the candidates’ responses to the newspaper survey. But the flier appears to exaggerate his opponents’ enthusiasm for the track. Here’s what Holy, the Spokane County Republican Party’s preferred candidate, told The Spokesman-Review about the raceway: ”I would not have purchased the racetrack when other essential services weren’t being adequately funded. It’s all about failing to make the priorities of government a priority. To protect county tax dollars, we now must avoid the mistake the city of Spokane made with the purchase and subsequent desperation sale of Playfair Race Course, where lack of adequate planning caused a multimillion-dollar loss.”

That’s a position that may be hard to equate to ”V-room.”

Here’s an excerpt from Salvatori’s news release: “The mailer implies that both Jeff Holy and I advocate spending tax payer dollars on the Spokane Raceway and that Al is the only republican candidate against it. I want to make clear that Mr. French is free to distribute as many mailers as he can afford, but he does not have the right to deliberately misstate the positions of his opponents.”

Salvatori says his position is to convert the track to “an enterprise fund. That would ensure it breaks even on an operating basis, and prevent any further outlay of taxpayer money.”

Republicans on the county commission bought the track in hopes of the raceway generating enough revenue to pay for its operations, but the track has thus far struggled to pay its own way.

To read all the candidates’ responses to The S-R’s questionnaire, click here.

(As a member of City Council, French supported the purchase of Playfair for sewage treatment and later fought the selling of the land, arguing that it should be used as a train-loading center to spark commerce. When that proposal didn’t gain support, French said he would support the sale of the land to a business.)

The race for county commissioner is one of the most competitive in Tuesday’s election. As the only Democrat, incumbent Bonnie Mager has the easiest path to the November election. If French’s campaign fliers are any sign, she also could benefit from her strong stance against the raceway. One of her recent mailers highlights her opposition to the track as well as her criticism of the cost of plans to replace Geiger Corrections Center.

Light blogging ahead

Spin Control’s main contributor Jim Camden is taking a few days of vacation, getting a bit of rest before the Aug. 17 primary.

So get those ballots marked and mailed or dropped off, and stay tuned for election day coverage.

Just how far West does the 5th District go?

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers recently assured constituents she was working to make sure the government delivers on its payments to school districts that have large hunks of federally owned land in them, like national parks, military bases or tribal lands.

She sponsored legislation to require the feds to pay up, and promptly, on this so-called impact aid. But in conveying her assurances to constituents, some staffer who drafted the letter (little secret: congresspersons rarely write their own letters) apparently forgot to look closely at the map.

I know first-hand the impact that the budget deficits have had on our schools,” McMorris Rodgerswrites in a Dear Friends letter.  ” Late payments by the Department of Education have only exacerbated the situation in many school districts.  The bill that I am supporting will remedy the chronically late distribution of Impact Aid payments many school districts receive from the Department of Education.  For example, the Oak Harbor school district that I represent received a payment of nearly $1 million to conclude their Impact Aid payments due from Fiscal Year 2006 – three years after the initial award

Oak Harbor? That’s a mountain range and a ferry ride away from the westernmost outpost of Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District. Unless they know something about redistricting that the rest of us don’t.

WA SEN: Republicans busy, busy

Dino Rossi announced he’s picked up the endorsement of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is one of the most visible and vocal fiscal conservatives in the Senate.

Paul Akers has a “meet and greet” later this week at a private residence in Spokane. It’s scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at 7411 E. 44th Ave.

Clint Didier released over the weekend a tough Internet video attacking Rossi, which seems to get some of its inspiration from that SNL Weekend Update routine: “Really”.

Random trivia: It is sequential day

At the risk of sounding nerdy, this is one of those rare days when numbers line up in a nice sequence.

It is 08/09/10.

These things happen every 13 months and one day. Next nerdy numeric day comes in October, when we will mark 10/10/10. Start planning your party early.

County turnout nearing 16 percent

Spokane County turnout — OK, turn-in if you prefer — is nearing 16 percent after this morning’s ballot sort.

The county had its heaviest day last Tuesday, when it got more than 11,000 ballots in the mail. The Tuesday after the first weekend ballots are in voters’ hands is a fairly typical peak day because folks usually get the ballots just before or on the weekend. That’s probably because the most dilligent and those who have already made up their minds on candidates and issues mark their ballots and send them back. Since last Tuesday, the daily count has totaled about 6,000 ballots per day.

Ballots must be postmarked or dropped in a pickup box by 8 p.m. Aug. 17 (next Tuesday). For a list of boxes, go inside the blog.

Gives us an F, give us a MAP…

For weeks, the prospects for another special session in Washington state to deal with a budget crisis revolved around an acronym that became a four-letter word: FMAP.

Pronounced EFF-map, never fuh-map, it stands for federal medical assistance percentages, but was generally referred to as extra Medicaid money. It may have been the most important word in state politics last week as Washington got perilously close to a special session or across-the-board budget whacks. How that happened provides state officials with a valuable lesson in what not to do.

WA Senate race: Rossi outraises Murray in July

The Associated Press’s Rachel La Corte notes that Republican challenger Dino Rossi raised more money in July than Democratic incumbent Sen. Patty Murray. Almost twice as much.

But Patty Murray has far more in the bank, even though she outspent Rossi more than 20-to-1 in July.

La Corte’s story can be found inside the blog. But the question to debate is this: Who has the better bragging rights for July: The one who raised the most money, or the one who spent but still has the most money?

Feel free to click the comment button and weigh in.

Today’s fun video: Stewart gives up

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
I Give Up - 9/11 Responders Bill
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Jon Stewart opened last night’s Daily Show with a new feature called “I Give Up” — a sentiment we’ve all  held from time to time.

While it seems like he’s pounding mainly on Republicans at the beginning, stick with it to the end to see that he’s pretty bipartisan in his contempt.

More woes for would-be congressman David Fox

Last week, Spin Control reported on the travails of David Fox, one of five challengers in the 5th Congressional District primary. Turns out he’s got a financial problem as well. Here’s the story from this morning’s Spokesman-Review print edition:

A Democratic candidate for Eastern Washington’s congressional seat is getting a past-due notice from the state this week because the check for his $1,740 filing fee bounced.

David R. Fox, a Port Angeles attorney who moved to Spokane to run against Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, is being warned to pay up in 30 days or see a 1 percent per month interest charge tacked onto the filing fee.

If he doesn’t pay in 60 days, the state will send the bill to a collection agency, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said.

The state Elections Office has been trying to get the filing fee from Fox since early July, when the check he wrote was returned for insufficient funds, e-mail correspondence between the office and the candidate indicates. After the check bounced . . .


Didier on FMAP: More pork

While state officials were breathing a sigh of relief that the additional Medicaid money seemed to be moving through Congress months with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray’s help — staving off a state budget problem and the need for a possible special session in Olympia — one of her campaign opponents was blasting it as another “bail out.”

Republican Clint Didier said Murray was rewarding state Democrats, who control the Legislature and the governor’s office for fiscal irresponsibility.

“So now we have Sen. Murray passing another bail-out, but this time she’s bailing out her own Democrat Party in Washington state, and rewarding them for their fiscal irresponsibility. It’s what we’ve come to expect from an incumbent ‘bring home the pork’ politician. It’s hard to read it as anything other than another calculated move by a Senator whose reelection is in jeopardy. She’s not only trying to save some for votes for herself, but also reward the irresponsible spending by the State Democrats who dug themselves into a budget crisis in the Legislature. We wouldn’t have this budget crisis here if the state legislators had done their job and made the budget cuts that are needed.”

Didier suggested that cuts could have been made lots of places, not just in Medicaid services. But if they were going to cut Medicaid expenses, they should start with abortion.

To read today’s story on the Senate’s decision to cut off debate on Murray’s amendment to give the states an extra $16 billion in federal medical assistance percentages (FMAP) and $10 billion in education assistance for teachers’ salaries, click here.

Didier is trying to beat out another Republican, former state Sen. Dino Rossi and businessman Paul Akers, for the chance to go head-to-head against Murray in the fall. Rossi said previously he he wouldn’t support extra FMAP money unless it was offset by spending cuts. Wednesday night in Vancouver, he said he still didn’t support this measure: “It was done in a hasty manner. She put a permanent tax in place for a temporary fix, and she’s taking money from our troops,” he told The Columbian without elaborating. For more on Rossi, click here. 

Chase enters treasurer’s race as write-in

Rob Chase, a Libertarian turned Republican party activist, is running for Spokane County treasurer as a write-in candidate.

Chase said Tuesday he is entering the race against incumbent Skip Chilberg, a Democrat, because the job is too important to go uncontested. He describes himself as a “Realtor, local talk show host and champion of open and  honest government.”

Chase is no stranger to campaigns, although his previous ones have been more conventional runs in which he filed before the candidate deadline. He unsuccessfully ran for the state Senate in 2000 and the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002, both times as a Libertarian. In 2008, he supported another sometime Libertarian, Ron Paul, in the Texas Congressman’s run for the Republican presidential nomination. He’s now a 4th Legislative District leader for the Spokane County Republican Party.

Voters will have to fill in an oval and write his name in the space on the ballot for the treasurer’s position. If he gets at least 1 percent of the votes cast, his name will appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot along with Chilberg.

City on ducks: Let ‘em get their own food

For the umpteenth time, the City of Spokane’s Parks Department has a message for walkers and loungers at Manito Park.

Don’t feed the freaking ducks. Or the geese either, for that matter.

The city’s been trying to get folks to stop feeding the ducks for several years. The bread that is the most common food people bring to the park isn’t good for them, the ducks get fat on empty calories, they don’t get enough exercise and they foul the pond water.

But then, you’ve heard that all before. And YOU are probably not doing it. So the next time you’re at Manito Park and see SOMEONE ELSE feeding the ducks, feel free to read them the riot act.

Or maybe just point to one of the signs that say don’t feed the ducks.

McMorris Rodgers: Expecting in December

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers will be “campaigning for two” this fall. She announced to followers on Twitter last night that she and husband Brian are expecting their second child late this year.

“Cole will have a baby sister for Christmas,” she tweeted. Cole, 3, is the Rodgers’ first child.

McMorris Rodgers, a Republican, is seeking her fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. She’s on the Aug. 17 ballot with five challengers.

Ahern, Driscoll give their views on police oversight, global warming, abortion

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A fourth in a series of videos of Rep. John Driscoll and former Rep. John Ahern giving their thoughts on election issues is now available at

The two are campaigning for a House seat in the highly competitive 6th Legislative District. Driscoll, a Democrat, won the seat against Ahern, a Republican, two years ago in a close battle.

A third candidate, Republican Shelly O’Quinn, declined to be filmed when she was interviewed by The Spokesman-Review.

Rossi: Would vote no on Kagan

Dino Rossi has taken a stand, apparently in part after prodding by the Everett Herald, on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

The short answer is he’d oppose her nomination. The long answer, which can be found inside the blog, notes he might back her for a lower court but doesn’t think she should get a spot on the Supremes without prior judicial experience.

Jerry Cornfield, political reporter for The Everett Herald, had ask Rossi’s staff last week whether he’d support or oppose Kagan. At the time, incumbent Patty Murray was on record as supporting Kagan, and another Republican challenger, Clint Didier, was strongly against.

Rossi’s staff said they’d send word, but didn’t. At lunchtime, Cornfield noted Rossi was still mum on Kagan:It could be they’re busy. More likely, they’re weighing the strategic value of letting anyone know until it’s too late for anyone to care…If Rossi opposed the nomination he’d have made a big deal of it by now. Many conservatives around the country oppose Kagan’s nomination and it could only have helped him in that crowd. Republican Clint Didier opposes her nomination and he gets loud cheers at events when he makes it known. “

Then the Democratic campaign operatives picked up the chant, recirculating the blog post to poke Rossi.

FMAP vote delayed until Wednesday

The U.S. Senate was poised to give Washington and other states a hint today at whether they should keep counting on extra Medicaid money. That could have signaled whether Gov. Chris Gregoire would be calling a special session to handle an expected budget shortfall.

But the vote on a special amendment on Federal Medical Assistance Percentages was delayed until at least Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray was going to sponsor the amendment and speak on it Monday afternoon, but Majority Leader Harry Reid bumped it back two days on the calendar. A spokesman for Murray said they are double checking figures that explain how the money will be paid for without adding to the deficit, which Republicans are demanding. They’ll also be using the time  to try to round up  more votes.

Even if the amendment gets introduced, gets killed by a filibuster or doesn’t pass the Senate, that may be the last shot the Senate will take before going on its August recess. Gregoire will have to decide — special session or across the board cuts.

If it survives any attempt to filibuster it to death and passes the Senate, there’s another small problem: The House of Representatives is on recess until September. They could be called back for a vote, but then again, they’re pretty busy doing the things reps do when not in the other Washington…like running for re-election.

Washington needs the FMAP to fill in a projected budget gap and provide an ending fund balance to move into the 2011-12 biennium. Gregoire said she hoped to decide this week about a special session.

Reed predicts 38 percent turnout

OLYMPIA — Slightly more than one Washingotn voter in three will mail back that ballot that arrived in the mail today or over the weekend, Secretary of State Sam Reed estimates.

Reed issued a turnout prediction of 38 percent for the Aug. 17 primary, which would be up toward the high end of the historic range. The average for a non-presidential even-year primary  is 34 percent, but the turnout in 2006 was 38 percent and conditions were pretty comparable to this year, he said.

Working in favor of better than average turnout is a hotly contested U.S. Senate race, an open Congressional seat in Southwest Washington’s 3rd District, some good legislative races around the state and some state Supreme Court races that can be decided in the primary, he said.

And there’s the energy the Tea Party movement seems to be bringing to the electorate and an anti-incumbent mood, State Elections Director Nick Handy added.

Spokane County Elections Office reports nearly 6,000 ballots back as of this morning, which is 2.3 percent of the 260,192 sent out.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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