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Spin Control

Archive for July 2010

WA Senate race: One man pays up, speaks out

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Tom Clark Murray ad

The American Action Network’s television commercial against Patty Murray – the dirty tennis shoe ad, as it is sometimes called – ticked off more than a few Democrats and Murray supporters.

But probably none had their ire rise to the level of Deer Park’s Tom Clark.

“I’m tired of hearing the negative campaigning. It’s interfering with legitimate discussion of some very serious issues,” he said. “I want to hear what people are going to do.”

The retired engineer considers himself an independent, and said he’s probably voted for more Republicans than Democrats over the years. But he is a supporter of Murray, and is tired of outsiders – the network is a conglomeration of former congress types and business leaders, none apparently from the Northwest – telling Washington voters what to do. (Click here to see the AAN ad.)

So he countered with an ad of his own.

Gregoire’s office says governor missed Spokane budget hearing to give speech at global health forum

NOTE: This is an updated version of an earlier post that had incomplete information. — Jonathan

Gov. Chris Gregoire missed Spokane’s public forum on the state budget on Thusday to speak at a forum on global health public policy, her office said Friday.

Gregoire spoke in Seattle at the forum, which was sponsored by the Center for Strategic and Interactive Studies, said Gregoire spokeswoman Karina Shagren.

At last night’s state budget hearing in Spokane, Gregoire apologized for not being in attendence, saying she “had a long standing commitment that has kept me away.”

Shagren said the commitment she was referring to was her speech that included information about life science companies in Washington.

Later in the evening Gregoire was scheduled to have a campaign fundraiser at a Seattle restaurant, according to That event was advertised on invitations as “an intimate dinner and discussion” with donors who were asked to pay $1,000 a plate, reported.

O’Quinn video on YouTube causes stir in GOP

It’s the case of the unknown videographer, and it highlights the tension between the campaigns of John Ahern and Shelly O’Quinn.

A low-tech video of O’Quinn speaking to the Friday Morning Republican Breakfast Club was posted on YouTube on May 4. O’Quinn said she was unaware she was being filmed.

O’Quinn and Ahern are competing against incumbent Democrat John Driscoll in next month’s primary for a state House seat representing the 6th Legislative District.

“It’s not the content that bothers me,” O’Quinn said in an interview earlier this month. “It’s the fact that it was taken under the table.”

The clip shows O’Quinn standing before the group and giving some of her opinions on the environment and abortion.

But when the video was first posted, it included a picture of O’Quinn’s campaign logo with a President Obama logo superimposed on it, O’Quinn said. She called Ahern and told him that the video violated election rules.

“The whole point of the video was to say I was not Republican enough,” she said. “I have chosen to run a positive campaign in spite of the way they chose to run their campaign.”

Ahern said the video was not from his campaign.

“She threatened me with (Public Disclosure Commission) violations,” Ahern said. “I don’t respond very well to threats.”

Ahern said he agreed, however, to make some inquiries and he asked some people he knew to take down the video if they were responsible. The video was taken off of YouTube soon after. But it soon was reposted without O’Quinn’s or Obama’s logos.

Ahern said he suspects he knows who posted it, but he declined to name him or her and said people have a free speech right to post candidate comments. He also questioned why O’Quinn remains concerned that the video remains on YouTube.

“She shouldn’t be concerned about it. It’s her own voice,” he said. “She could pick up some votes from that I would think. Then again, she could lose some, too.”

Congressional candidate says he asked for sex, got assaulted

A Democratic candidate for Congress told police he was assaulted Sunday night near downtown Spokane after making sexual advances to another man.

David R. Fox, a Port Angeles attorney who moved to Spokane recently to run against Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, told police he wasn’t injured in the altercation but he is pressing charges against his alleged assailant, Nathaniel Washington.

Washington, a 32-year-old Spokane resident, is out on $100 bond after being charged with misdemeanor assault and obstructing an officer.

Fox, 49, one of four Democrats in the Aug. 17 congressional primary, is an unconventional candidate who entered the race in the final hour of filing week, and has no known campaign office or website. The phone number listed on his candidate petition and the state’s online voter’s guide rings at his former Port Angeles residence, where the person who answered Thursday said “I really, honestly don’t know” how to contact Fox.

The cell phone Fox used at the beginning of the campaign is no longer in service, and efforts to contact him by e-mail were unsuccessful.

Local Democratic officials say they don’t know Fox, and the party has endorsed Clyde Cordero.
An attorney who primarily performs pro bono work, Fox has a checkered history that includes …

Candidates for 6th District House seat appear to be camera shy

There have been no debates for one of the most contested primaries in Eastern Washington, the race for a state House seat representing the 6th District.

The one debate that was scheduled for incumbent Democrat John Driscoll and Republicans Shelly O’Quinn and John Ahern was cancelled after Driscoll and Ahern decided not to participate.

O’Quinn sent a news release criticizing both her opponents for not appearing at The League of Women Voters of the Spokane Area forum on July 13.

“While their reluctance is a testament to the momentum that this campaign has developed, it is unfortunate that the voters will not have the opportunity to see the candidates next to one another talking about the issues,” she said in her news release.


Ahern said he decided not to show up after he got word that Driscoll wasn’t going to be there. He said he questioned if O’Quinn would participate because O’Quinn earlier declined to participate in video interviews with The Spokesman-Review.

“She might just get scared and not even show up for the forum,” Ahern said. ”That definitely went through my head.”

He said he attended a campaign event in Spokane Valley instead.

“There was uncertainty whether she would show up or not,” Ahern said. ”I decided I got better things to do.”

NOAA: That’s one hot decade

As you head for the air conditioning or reach for the ice tea today, consider this: Today may be hot, but the last decade was the hottest one on record.

Or at least that’s what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says in a report released today.

The federal agency that monitors the weather has a new report that quotes scientists from 48 countries saying that 10 key indicators show that the ‘00s were hotter than the ‘90s, which were hotter than the ‘80s, which were hotter than the ‘70s.

“Based on comprehensive data from multiple sources, the report defines 10 measurable planet-wide features used to gauge global temperature changes. The relative movement of each of these indicators proves consistent with a warming world. Seven indicators are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, air temperature over oceans, sea level, ocean heat, humidity and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the Earth’s surface. Three indicators are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the Northern hemisphere.”

Of course, these are just 300 scientists from 48 countries saying that global warming is real. Who you gonna believe? Them, or some members of the Spokane City Council and a handful of folks who protest things like turning off the lights for “Earth Hour”?

6th initiative makes ballot, would cut taxes

OLYMPIA — The sixth initiative to the people qualified for the Nov. 2 ballot this afternoon. Initiative 1107 asks voters to repeal taxes the Legislature levied earlier this year on soda, candy, bottled water and some processed foods.

That means voters will have two chances to undo things the Legislature did: repeal some of the taxes the Democrats passed as a temporary measure to ease the state’s budget problems, and reinstate a two-thirds majority for any tax increase (I-1053).

And they’ll have four chances to do things the Legislature has been asked to do several times, but  has never had the votes to accomplish: end state-run liquor stores (I-1100 and I-1105); add private insurance to the workers compensation system (I-1082); and pass a state income tax for the upper income levels (1-1098).

There will also be three referenda on the ballot: R-52 to approve bonds for energy efficiency projects at schools and colleges; HJR 4220, to amend the state constitution to expand bail requirements and HJR 8225, to change the constitution’s rules on debt limits for the state.

McCaslin discounts retirement rumor

Some folks, primarily Democrats it seems, are floating a rumor that state Sen. Bob McCaslin, the Spokane Valley Republican, plans to hang it up at the end of this year and name a successor.

Old rumor, says McCaslin of any mid-term retirement. “I’ve heard that for the last five or six years.”

McCaslin is recovering from heart surgery, which required him to miss much of the last regular and special sessions, but says he is getting a bit better every day and has been able to attend recent meetings of the Spokane Valley City Council, on which he also serves.

McCaslin said he’ll make a decision on next year’s session closer to its January start date.

As for the second part of the rumor — that he’d name Rep. Matt Shea as his replacement — McCaslin was more emphatic: “I would never do that.”

He points out that the officeholder has no real say in his replacement. The 4th Legislative District’s precinct committee officers would select up to three nominees, and the Spokane County commissioners have the final say by picking among that list. As several interim appointments have shown, commissioners don’t feel bound by the wishes of the PCOs.

Legislature’s website wins award

OLYMPIA — The Legislature’s website, which provides links to bills, statutes, offices and other information, won an award from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The NCSL, which is having its annual convention this week in Louisville, Ky., gave the website its Online Democracy Award for providing extensive information in a simple format, easy search functions, Web services and pages that are geared to different age and grade levels. The site previously won recognition from for having one of the best websites in the country.

Gregoire to make special session decision next week

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire could decide by next week whether to call a special session to cut the state budget or apply across-the-board cuts of as much as 4 percent to many areas of the state’s general fund budget.

She’ll talk with the Democratic and Republican leaders of both legislative houses on Thursday, seeking a commitment that they would get in and out of a special session in two to three days and “make the decision before Congress goes on recess.”

“I want to know tomorrow where they are,” Gregoire said of Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown and Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, House Speaker Frank Chopp and Minority Leader Richard DeBolt. “I’ve had legislators saying don’t call uis back…They don’t think they can get it done.”

But Sen. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield, the Senate Republican’s point man on budget matters, said Tuesday a special session would be much better than across the board cuts because it would allow the state to reduce the budget in a thoughtful way, get some long-term savings and create a reserve. The only reasons not to  have a special session, Zarelli said, are “political expediency” and “legislative incompetency.”

State law allows a special session to last 30 days, but Gregoire said she wants them to come to Olympia with a plan they can pass in two or three days, then adjourn. To do that, Democrats, who  hold large majorities in both houses, will need a consensus before they arrive, she said,

At the end of this year’s regular session, the supplemental budget was not finished and Gregoire called a special session, asking legislators to wrap it up in no more than seven days. They finished after midnight on the 30th day.

State law does not allow the governor to vary the cuts for different agencies, or single out some programs for elimination while sparing others from all cuts. “I think it’s a ridiculous tool,” Gregoire said.

She will urge the Legislature to change the law, but not in the special session. She will offer to give legislators a blueprint of budget cuts, asking Democratic leaders, “If I give you a proposed budget, could you come in and get it done?”

The state is facing a budget shortfall, in part because Congress has yet to approve extra money for Medicaid patients the states had been told early this year to expect. The anticipated $480 million was to be used as the state’s ending fund surplus, but no legislation with that money has made it through both chambers of Congress, and prospects are fading as members of Congress take heat for a ballooning federal deficit.

The state’s revenue projections also have dropped since the Legislature passed its supplemental budget in April. Without a special session, Gregoire can cut to eliminate the projected shortfall of more than $345 million to pay for existing programs and salaries, but can’t make cuts to leave additional money for a ending fund surplus.

Corker, Sandifur make it official

City Councilman Steve Corker and his longtime significant other, Helen Sandifur, are officially married.

Corker, who sometimes referred to Sandifur as his wife over the past few years, said in an interview this week that they were legally married in Las Vegas on June 29.

Sandifur is the ex-wife of disgraced former chairman and CEO of now-defunct Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co., C. Paul Sandifur Jr. The couple legally separated in 1994, Corker said.

Corker said he and Helen Sandifur participated in a Buddhist commitment ceremony in 2001, but decided not to civilly tie the knot until now because of lawsuits surrounding Metropolitan.

 ”I just love her very much. It’s been a wonderful 10 years that we’ve spent together and I’m just very proud to have her as my wife,” Corker said.

Your ballot: It’s in the mail. No. Really. It is.

Ballots for the Aug. 17 Top Two primary are being dropped in the mail today and Thursday.

That explains why the number of political commercials on television and the radio are starting to increase, and campaign signs are sprouting like dandelions all over the community.

Rules are the same as always. Mark the ballot anytime between the moment you receive them and the evening of Aug. 17. Follow the directions, because some inks drive the computer scanners crazy.

Put the ballot in the double-envelope system. Sign the outer envelope. If you are mailing it in, put a stamp on it, and if it’s like Aug. 16 or 17, make sure that the box where you’re putting it has pickup before the election day so it can get postmarked in time.

Or save yourself a stamp and take it to a drop-off box. Generally speaking, they’re at public libraries, with a few other spots thrown in. A full list of locations is inside the blog.

Today’s video: Rossi on ABC blog

Republican Senatorial Candidate Dino Rossi was the featured guest Tuesday on ABC’s “Top Line,” a daily political Webcast the network does with The Washington Post.  It was a huge hit, at least with Democrats who were quick to send out excerpts in which Rossi calls for the repeal of healthcare reform and the recent financial reform packages.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent out four different e-mails, of different blog posts, each with the same basic content, that Rossi called for those repeals. The Rossi campaign was relatively late to tout the appearance, sending out a notice around 2:30 p.m.

Not surprisingly, the Rossi campaign spun the appearance a bit differently, saying the two bills should be repealed and replaced with something better.  And then only after noting that Rossi touted his budget-writing experience.

A Cliff Notes version of the interview (which starts at 4:22 at the above link) goes like this:

* The National Republican Senatorial Committee is reserving television time in the fall for Washington, but that’s news to Rossi, who is in D.C. today.
* Rossi has more Facebook friends than Patty Murray.
* Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Clint Didier isn’t such a big deal, and she did it before Rossi got into the race.
* He balanced the state budget in 2003 with bipartisan support.
* He’s signed on to support an across-the-board flat tax, although he hedges by saying what the country needs is a fairer, simpler tax and this is one way to do it. But the real problem is uncertainty over what the government’s going to do, which is discouraging businesses from investing.
* As a small businessman, if elected, he’d be one of the few senators who “had signed the front side of a pay check.”
*He’d repeal the health care bill and replace it with something that would allow businesses to buy medical insurance across state lines.
* He’d repeal the financial reform bill, and replace it with “reforms that actually help the public.”
* He’s against earmarks, and thinks everything should get full congressional scrutiny.

To read samples of the Democratic response and the Rossi press release, go inside the blog.

Gregoire, others try to put best face on Race To Top loss

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire, Schools Superintendent Randy Dorn and others were trying to make lemonade Tuesday morning out of the federal government’s announcement that Washington didn’t make the list of finalists for Race To The Top.

All that work that was put into the application process can now be used as a roadmap to make Washington schools better, Gregoire, Dorn and state Education Board Chairman Jeff Vincent said in a prepared statement:

“When we put together our application, we were committed, win or lose, to making sure we would carry out education reform our way, the Washington way. Race to the Top enabled us to spend time creating a road map to our education reform efforts through a draft plan that reflected the work of many diverse groups as well as the good work started by our most recent education laws. We will finalize the plan this fall and use it to prioritize and allocate resources as we move ahead with our state education reform efforts.”

Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, the chairwoman of the Senate Early Learing and K-12 Education Committee, also was putting the best face on it:“Although we were not identified as a finalist in the RTTT competition, we will not waver in our work towards successful education reform.”

And from Washington Education Association President Mary Lindquist:“…the steps we have already taken in preparation for Race to the Top money set a framework for investing in a stronger public schools system. The application process itself proves that we can and will continue to work together to continuously improve public education across Washington.”

Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center, issued sort of a “told  ya so” statement, calling Washington’s cut from the team no surprise. The bill passed by the Legislature didn’t allow for innovative or charter schools, she said, create a rigorous enough evaluation process for teachers, make it easy enough for the state to turn around failng schools or assign good teachers to poor schools.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan talked about a quiet revolution in naming the finalist states, she noted: “Well, that revolution has clearly not reached the borders of Washington state, which continues to trap generations of children in second-rate schools.” 

Race to the Top is a competitive program, and states have to submit plans to meet certain goals to improve their schools. Tuesday morning the feds announced that 18 states and the District of Columbia are finalists and move on to further competition for the $3 billion.

Murray to vote for Kagan

Sen. Patty Murray gave her official endorsement today to Solictor General Elana Kagan for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

It may be the least surprising news of the morning that the state’s senior Democratic senator will back the pick of a Democratic president to fill what’s considered a liberal seat on the nation’s highest court. But there you have it.

Full statement of Murray on Kagan can be found inside the blog.

WA doesn’t make cut for Race to the Top

Washington state isn’t in the running for the Race to the Top.

The federal government announced that 18 states and that other Washington (the one with all the statues, monuments, politicians and lobbyists) are finalists.

But Washington state didn’t make the cut. We’re off the track team, so to speak. Maybe we should go out for a different sport? Or the chess team?

But all kidding aside, the feds will pass out about $3 billion to states that win the competition, to help improve schools.

Gov. Chris Gregoire pushed hard to get schools to join the competition. A statement from her is expected shortly.

Budget session Thursday

Got a thought on how to help solve the state’s budget woes?

Thursday may be your chance in Eastern Washington. That’s when the Office of Financial Management brings its road show to the Lair Student Center auditorium at Spokane Community College, for two hours, starting at 5 p.m.

The hearings are proving pretty popular — or at least well-attended. The first session in Tacoma drew 450 people and the second in Everett close to 400. The governor’s office moved the Spokane session to a larger venue to accommodate a similar response in Spokane.

Because of the big crowds, people who speak will be asked to keep their comments to two minutes to allow as many other speakers as possible. They’ll take written testimony, and people who want to offer ideas but don’t want to speak will be allowed to submit comments in writing.

And if you’ve got other plans for Thursday, but want to submit your ideas, you can do it online, by clicking here to go to the governor’s budget web site .

Gov. Chris Gregoire assigned OFM to hold the hearings to keep them focused on budget matters, but she stopped by the first two. There are no plans for her to show up in Spokane, despite what you may have heard on TV.

And, we’re back…

A week of vacation over, Spin Control returns today…as soon as we can figure out what’s been going on in the political and government scene in last week.

Might be some clues in the 400 or so e-mails in the in-basket, or those messages on voice mail.

Catch the candidates: Spo. Co. commissioner’s race

The Constitution Party is sponsoring a candidate forum for Spokane County commissioner candidates Thursday evening in the Spokane Valley.

The party doesn’t actually have a candidate in this race, which features four Republicans and a Democratic incumbent Bonnie Mager. They’ve invited all five, and as of last week they had committments from three Republicans: Al French, Jeff Holy and Steve Salvatori. Organizer Christine Snow said they were still trying to contact David Elton.

Forum is open to the public. Starts at 6:30 p.m. at New Life Church, 10920 East Sprague, and is scheduled to go about two hours.

Light blogging ahead

It’s vacation time, and Spin Control will be “light” for the rest of the week.

Look for occasional posts from Jonathan Brunt, but nada from Jim Camden until next week.

Enjoy the sunshine, and rest up for the primary homestretch.

Catch the candidates: GOP assessor race

Republicans of Spokane County are bringing the two GOP assessor candidates together for a question-and-answer session Monday evening in the Valley.

Incumbent Ralph Baker and challenger Vicki Horton will appear at the club’s meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Quality Inn, Mission and Argonne. The club uses the sessions to help it decide endorsements, but the forum is open to the public. 

Some readers might wonder why the groupe doesn’t have all the candidates in the primary there, considering the race also has two Democrats and two independents. Explanation is in the first name of the organization. If you want to see the field, check out the League of Women Voters forum, being replayed regularly on Cable Channel 5. Listings are inside the blog.

U.S. Senate race: The rest of the pack

For sheer variety, it’s hard to beat this year’s U.S. Senate race. And I’m not talking about the candidates you’ve probably heard of.

There’s a doctor, a lawyer, a physicist, a retired bank worker, a retired postal worker, a retired iron worker. Some are serious people in a first try for office; others are less serious, have run many times and never won.

All plunked down $1,740 to be on the ballot, which, for most people is not chump change. They may campaign a little or a lot. Some had hope when they paid their money and took their chances that lightning would strike and the vagaries of Washington’s primary – theoretically, party doesn’t matter and you just need to finish in the Top Two – would push them into the general election.

Want to find out more about them? Go inside the blog.

Signature fraud evidence goes to State Patrol

OLYMPIA —In a case that may involve the most careless or most blatant example of signature fraud in Washington political history, elections officials turned over petitions with as many as 349 bogus signatures to the State Patrol Forensics Lab. The volunteer who submitted them in could face felony fraud charges.

The suspect’s name is being withheld, but elections officials have confirmed this much about her: She is a member of the Service Employees International Union, which is backing Initiative 1098, but wasn’t being paid for her efforts.

(The I-1098 campaign paid for signatures, too, but there’s no apparent problems with those petitions, nor on any of the other petitions that have been checked so far for proposals that paid for sigs. That tends to support the contention of Eddie “Spaghetti” Agazarm, signature gathering professional, who insists his checkers can spot a forgery across the room and it’s the true believers, not the paid workers, who have the motivation to cheat the system.)

The suspect may have misunderstood the verification process, which is often referred to as a “spot check” when initiative drives pass a certain milepost. Before the spot check of 3 percent of the signatures is conducted, however, all the sheets are examined for names that are illegible, have missing signatures or addresses or other obvious errors.

It was during that process that elections workers noticed six sheets that stood out because they were all in the same ink, and seemed to be in the same handwriting, David Ammons, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said: “There was no real effort to have the look and feel of a petition sheet, which is normally quite varied.”

Think about it, folks. Twenty different people sign a standard petition sheet, often with different pens, at diferent times and in different places. They usually look a bit ragged by the time they get to the elections office.

Elections workers noticed that the same gatherer’s name was on the back of each sheet. They pulled all of  her sheets, and found more that seemed to be in the same handwriting. Some appear to be actual voters, but the signatures are bogus, others have bad addresses, Ammons said. In the end, 89 percent of the signatures that gatherer submitted were bad; the average failure rate is about 18 percent.

Forensics experts will look at the sheets before the case is turned over to the King County prosecuting attorney, who would have the first call on filing criminal charges because that’s where the signature gatherer lives.

The questioned signatures represent about one-tenth of 1 percent of the total submitted and the remaining petitions for I-1098 checked out, Ammons said. They had a failure rate that was on track with the average for ballot measures.

“There seems to be no systematic effort to stuff the ballot box,” he said.

Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for the campaign, said the motive behind the alleged fraud “is still a mystery at this point.”

As far as he knows, the SEIU wasn’t offering any prizes or bonuses for signature gathering, so he doesn’t know of any financial motive for turning in phony signatures, if that’s in fact what happened, Kaushik said.

“We had more than 1,000 volunteers across the state,” he said. “I don’t want this to cast a cloud over that effort.”

I-1098 got about a third of its signatures, around 120,000, from volunteers and the remainder from paid collectors.

Republicans and Democrats finally unite: Don’t steal campaign signs

The leaders of the local Democratic and Republican parties issued a rare joint statement today on a topic that each election cycle leads to an incredible amount of finger-pointing.

They’re message: Stop stealing signs, stop vandalizing them and stop trespassing.

To see their letter, read the full post:

U.S. Senate race: Murray ad hits air; poll shows challengers ahead

Sen. Patty Murray enlisted some veterans to help her with a campaign commercial that could help counter the ad blitz by a conservative business group.

A new poll suggests she has a reason to get out on the airwaves: Rasmussen Reports says Republican challengers Dino Rossi and Clint Didier both have 48 percent and she has 45 percent in head-to-head matchups.

Murray’s new ad hit the airwaves about a day after the American Action Network, a group that bills itself as a non-profit “think tank” to promote center-right policies, unleashed its “dirty tennis shoes on our backs” spot. The group’s board includes former Republican senators George Allen and Norm Coleman, and some executives from investment or drug firms, but it’s not technically a campaign ad because it only talks about Murray, not any of her opponents, and asks viewers to sign a petition to her. (You can read more about it, and see it,at this previous post.)

It’s not just on TV, it’s got prominent spots on some political blogs.

Murray’s ad features veterans from all the uniformed services who talk about things she’s done to help them either in the military or after they got out. Some are people Murray met during her terms, others came to the campaign offices and asked what they could do to help, a spokeswoman said.

And, unlike the think tank ad, Julie Edwards said, all are real people, none are actors.

The Rasmussen poll suggests a slight shift since June when “Murray and Rossi were tied as they have been in virtually every survey this year. Since the beginning of the year, Murray has earned 46% to 48% of the vote, while Rossi’s support has ranged from 46% to 49%.  Incumbents that fall short of 50% at this stage of a campaign are considered potentially vulnerable, but worrisome for Murray is that this is her poorest showing of the year. She was reelected to a third term in 2004 with 55% of the vote.”

The biggest shift is that Murray led Didier last month. Rasmussen also tested her strength against Republican Paul Akers, and Murray came out on top, 46% to 41%, but a slight shift from June’s 48-38 lead. The poll was conducted on July 14, which was after the dirty tennis shoe ad aired, but before Murray brought out the vets ad.

And then there were 3…initiatives for sure on the ballot.

OLYMPIA — Initiative 1098, which would place an income tax on individuals who make more than $200,000 a year, and couples who make more than $400,000, has enough valid signatures to make the ballot.

This despite having about 350 signatures pulled out because the person who gathered them is suspected of fraud.

The state Elections Office said it checked 11,876 signatures and 10,090 were good. The rest were people who weren’t registered, or the signature on the sheet didn’t match the one on file, or they were duplicates. That’s a validation rate that’s fairly normal for petition drives.

The campaign turned in about 385,000 signatures, and needed less than 242,000 good ones.

So I-1098 becomes the third of six initiatives that to go from  almost certain to for sure. I-1100, the first of two proposals to get the state out of the liquor business, qualified first. I-1082, which would add private insurance to the mix for workers compensation coverage in Washington, qualified on Tuesday.

Signature fraud suspected on I-1098

OLYMPIA — State elections officials say they suspect some of the signatures turned in for Initiative 1098, the proposed state income tax proposal, may be phony.

Elections Director Nick Handy said the office suspects 20 petition sheets, with about 350 names, are being investigated. All the sheets were signed by the same signature gatherer, Handy said in a press release.

The office notified the state patrol, the state attorney general’s office and local law enforcement authorities, and expects to have a thorough review of all the names completed in a few days. It would “vigorously pursue” any violation of the fraud laws, Secretary of State Sam Reed said.

Because the state is involved in several legal battles over the public release of initiative petitions, it can’t make the sheets public. The people on the petitions will be contacted.

The questioned sheets are a small fraction of the 24,817 sheets turned in by I-1098 supporters. Not counting the sheets with questioned signatures, they have 385,061 signatures, and the required minimum is 241,153. Checkers are working at “heightened awareness” of possible fraud, Handy said.

“At this point, it looks like an isolated problem with one gatherer submitting 20 bad petition sheets, and this should not affect the underlying initiative check,” Handy said.

Goldmark v. McKenna and the Methow power line

OLYMPIA – The fight over a proposed power line in the Methow Valley pits Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark against Attorney General Rob McKenna.

Goldmark gets a chance later this year to persuade the Supreme Court to order McKenna to continue representing him in an ongoing legal battle over the proposed route for an Okanogan Public Utilities District transmission line.

McKenna says the legal work to appeal a case the state lost in May isn’t worth the time and energy it would take. Goldmark says McKenna’s office has the duty as the state’s legal counsel to continue the fight.

With each accusing the other of politicizing the case, the Supreme Court this week ordered attorneys for Goldmark and McKenna to file legal briefs this fall and to argue in November whether they should issue McKenna a writ of mandamus – an order from a court to a government official to do something because it’s his or her legal duty.

To read more on the dispute, click here to go inside the blog

Ad smacks Murray in the sneakers

A business group is launching a television ad against Sen. Patty Murray, trying to scuff up her image as a “mom in tennis shoes.”

The ad which hits the airwaves this week, from the American Action Network, shows a woman from the knees down with shiny white tennis shoes that get dirtied up as she steps on a prostrate man, woman and child, a not too subtle attempt to represent businesses, families and children. The group calls the ad a “small business advocacy campaign” and offers viewers at the end a website where they can sign a petition to Murray and view a two-page list of legislation that she supported and they oppose, or she opposed and they supported.

The Murray campaign fired back today that it’s nothing but a campaign plug for Republican Dino Rossi from his “Wall Street friends.” Among the legislation that she supported and they don’t like are health care reform, expanded child health care programs and increases to the minimum wage. Those are policies that actually help businesses, workers, families and children, the Murray campaign says.

By one account, the group is spending $750,000 to air the ad in Washington state, a month before the Aug. 17 primary.


Catch the candidates: At Emerson-Garfield

The Emerson-Garfield Neighborhood is hosting a candidate forum at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday for the county commissioner race and 3rd District legislative races. Sponsors say they have all the candidates confirmed for the forum at the Corbin Senior Center, 827 W. Cleveland.

Commissioner’s race features three Republicans — Al French, Jeff Holy and Steve Salvatori — looking to replace Democrat Bonnie Mager, a first-term incumbnet.

There are two Lege races: An open House seat features three Democrats — Louise Chadez, Andy Billig and Bob Apple — plus Republican Dave White. House Position 2 has incumbent Democrat Timm Ormsby facing Republican Morgan Oyler and independent Hector Martinet.

And lest we forget, the League of Women Voters candidate forum starts at 5 p.m. today at Spokane City Hall, in the council chambers. For full details on this, click here to go to the previous post.

Today’s video: Politico on 2010 elex

Politico’s 3 minute take on what to look for in the 2010 mid-term elections is a bit long, but overall a good summary.

Catch the candidates: Live Tuesday at City Hall

The League of Women Voters is sponsoring candidate forums on Tuesday at Spokane City Hall.

It may be the single biggest chance for voters and political junkies to catch candidates for various offices in one sitting.

They start at 5 p.m. in the Council Chambers, with the 5th District Congressional candidates, 3rd District state House candidates and 6th District legislative candidates.

At 7 p.m. they start a series of county and judicial candidate forums with the 3rd Commissioner District candidates, followed by assessor, prosecuting attorney, appeals court and district court position 6.

The forums are being taped for later rebroadcast on Cable Channel 5, starting Saturday. To see a schedule of broadcast times, go inside the blog.

I-1100 officially on Nov. 2 ballot

OLYMPIA — Initiative 1100, the first of two proposals to knock the state out of the liquor business, is for sure on the general election ballot.

Not that there was really muhc doubt after they turned in an estimated 396,000 signatures on their petitions.

Elections workers doing a spot check of signatures last week said it had more than enough valid signatures, and Secretary of State Sam Reed gave I-1100 the official greenlight this afternoon. Staff began checking signatures for I-1082, which would allow private insurance companies access to the workers comp system.

I-1100 is the state out of the booze-biz proposal backed by retailers because it allows them to deal directly with distilleries for their supplies. I-1105, which requires retailers to deal with wholesalers or distributors, will have its signatures checked in a week or so.

In all, six initiatives are thought to be in line to join the three referenda already on the ballot.

Today’s video: Holocaust survivor dances

It may sound like an oxymoron, an uplifting vacation video shot at concentration camps. But this “vacation video” of a Holocaust survivor visiting concentration camps and other sites in Europe with his granchildren and essentially dancing on grave of Hitler’s final solution is pretty inspiring. 

Steele says he supports Afghan War 1,000%

Michael Steele addresses state GOP rally in Tacoma.

TACOMA – The embattled national chairman of the Republican Party insisted he is behind American troops in Afghanistan “1,000 percent” as he urged GOP faithful here to fight for election victories in November.

Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee chairman who drew criticism from some of his party’s senior congressional leaders last week for describing Afghanistan as “a war of Obama’s choosing,” sought to mute that criticism in an area with a heavy military presence.

“I am 1,000 percent for victory for our men and women in the service,” Steele told about 100 people gathered for an event called the Republican Resurgence Rally. “We cannot leave them on the battlefield.”

English-only only gets you so far

In the latest example of genuflecting to the supremacy of the English language, the Bonner County Republican Central Committee objected last week to the theme of the local county fair, which is “Fiesta at the Fair.”

Fiesta isn’t a good enough English word for them, so they decided to substitute “Celebrate” in their booth, which is their right. Just as the First Amendment guarantee of Free Speech includes the right to shut up, the guarantee of a Free Press surely includes the right to play editor and change someone’s wording. To complain that they chose a verb to replace a noun seems inordinately picky.

Before anyone shrugs their shoulders and writes this off as one of those quirky North Idahoisms, it must be noted that Clint Didier, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Washington, got big applause in Puyallup last week when he mentioned one of the planks of his platform: “English is the only language.”

Ron Paul endorses Didier

Former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul endorsed Clint Didier in the U.S. Senate race in Washington state.

Paul, a Republican congressman from Texas who battled Sen. John McCain for the presidential nomination in 2008, called Didier a “dynamic leader who understands our Constitution and will fight against out-of-control government to restore our liberty.”

Paul’s announcement comes about two months after Didier received an endorsement from former Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Although Paul didn’t win the nomination, it could carry weight in Washington state, where he did well in the precinct caucuses. It could also come with money from Paul’s political action committee, Liberty PAC.

Didier is trying to knock off Sen. Patty Murray, a three-term incumbent Democrat, but first has to finish first or second in Washington’s Top Two primary on Aug. 17. Because Murray is the only “name” Democrat in the race, she’s assumed to be a shoo-in for one spot in the 15-candidate field. That means Didier will have to beat out a field that includes former state Sen. Dino Rossi, a Republican with high name recognition from two previous statewide runs for governor.

Didier and Palin have called Rossi the GOP establishment candidate, and Didier has attempted to position himself as an outsider who is a true instrument of change. In a similar battle of establishment versus outsider candidacies in Kentucky, Paul’s son, Rand Paul, captured the GOP nomination.

Ron Paul’s endorsment press release can be found inside the blog.

County GOP endorses Christian, Dunham

The Spokane County Republican Party is endorsing Leonard Christian for County Auditor and Harvey Dunham for Appeals Court Judge.

At first glance, it may seem the first is logical, and the second a bit surprising, because the auditor’s office is partisan and Christian is the only Republican running, but judicial races are non-partisan.

Technically, that’s true about judicial races. But in practice, it’s ignored whenever convenient.

Dunham is a longtime Republican who serves as a judge pro tem and has run several times for various judicial positions, although never successfully. He was appointed to the County District Courty in 2005, but his inability to win the election the next year may have been hampered by partisanship. That is, an all-Republican board of county commissioners voted 2-1 to appoint Dunham to an opening, even though he wasn’t on the list of recommended appointees from a panel the commissioners set up. When questioned about the appointment, then-commissioner Phil Harris said he had a right to make a political appointment, and was going with Dunham, who was a friend.

GOP to gov: Get agreement before spec session

OLYMPIA — Senate Republicans want Gov. Chris Gregoire to call the Legislature’s leadership and budget heads together before any special session and get an agreement on what should be cut.

In a letter today to Gregoire, Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt and GOP Senate Budget Committee Leader Joe Zarelli, said a pre-session meeting that would “develop a general framework for possible cost savings before the full Legislature is brought back to Olympia” would be extremely valuable.

Such an agreement could result in changes that would help reduce the budgets in the next two biennia, which also are projected to be in the red, and would increase the likelihood of a “short and efficient session.”

Gregoire’s office said she’s travelling today and hasn’t had a chance yet to see it. But the governor has repeatedly said she wouldn’t call the Lege back unless she could get an agreement that they’d get in, get business done and get out in a day or two. So Hewitt and Zarelli’s letter seems in line with that.

The Republican leaders couldn’t resist a little “we told ya so” in their letter. The state’s budget problem is a result of assuming the federal government would provide an extra $480 million in higher Medicaid money, and that money is now in doubt as Congress struggles to pass anything that could add to the deficit.

“At the time the budget was written, members of our caucus warned against depending upone one-time moneys and assumed federal payouts to balance the budget. Unfortunately, it appears that our worst fears may be played out over the next few months and our state budget may be plunged into an instant deficit,” they wrote.

City of Spokane take note: Red light cameras on Mukilteo ballot

OLYMPIA — City of Spokane officials might be watching one election result from across the state pretty closely on Nov. 2. Or if not, they should.

The City of Mukilteo has an initiative that severely limits the use of red-light cameras and speeding cameras which issue tickets to motorists they catch running lights or driving too fast. It would require a two-thirds majority of that city council AND a simple majority of voters to approve the devices, and reduce the cost of a fine to the amount of the lowest parking ticket.

The ballot measure, sponsored by Tim Eyman, had huge numbers of signatures at its turn  it, and qualified for the ballot. When one combines the universe of voters unhappy with their government with the universe of voters who don’t like to make it easier for police to issue them speeding and traffic tickets, it’s would seem this proposal has at least a decent chance of passage. (Note deliberate understatement as an literary device.)

A successful campaign in Mukilteo could spread across the state like  BP oil in the Gulf.  It’s also important to note that Eyman’s two chief lieutenants, Jack and Mike Fagan, are Spokane residents.

WA budget woes: cuts can only go so far

OLYMPIA — One of the state’s top budget hawks points out today that Gov. Chris Gregoire’s ability to order across the board budget cuts only goes so far if the federal government doesn’t come through on Medicaid funding.

In other words, if Congress punts on FMAP, a special session would be needed to allow the state to have something in the bank at the end of the biennium, Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center says.

That makes the prospect of a special session more likely if Congress doesn’t vote to approve some $480 million to Washington state for higher federal medical assistance percentages, Mercier contends.

The Office of Financial Management confirms that Mercier is right about the limits on why a governor can order cuts in the face of budget problems. The governor has the authority to order cuts to avoid a projected deficit, Glenn Kuper of OFM said. There’s some leeway for the size of a deficit based on economic projections or forecasts, so if all the signs point to a downturn, the ordered cuts could take that into account.

But the governor can’t order cuts to create a surplus, which is really what an ending fund balance is — the money left over at the end of one budget cycle that carries you into the next budget cycle, when expenses are immediate but income might be slow in showing up.

The state budget has an ending fund balance of about $450 million, which was going to be provided by the FMAP money. Gregoire said last week that she was willing to wait until Congress goes on its August recess to see if the two chambers can pass FMAP before deciding on what route to take.

That’s still her plan, Gregoire’s staff said today. Without FMAP across-the-board cuts are a real possibility but a special session isn’t automatic, spokeswoman Karina Shagren said. The governor won’t call the Legislature back unless she gets some assurances they’ll be in and out in one or two days.

“The last special session, though, lessened her confidence that the state Legislature can follow that timeline,” Shagren said.

OFM will be watching projections in August as Congress approaches its recess, and should have updated figures available for Gregoire to consider when making the decision. The next state Revenue Forecast isn’t until Sept. 16.

Republicans endorse Christian

Republicans of Spokane County endorsed Leonard Christian for county auditor.

Which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, considering Christian is the only Republican running against a Democratic incumbent, Vicky Dalton.

But as Sunday’s story explained,  this year has proven that nothing involving Republican endorsements can be taken for granted.

And remember, Republicans of Spokane County is the club, not the party.

Today’s graphic: Taxes go up…in smoke

The National Conference of State Legislatures compiled a map of state cigarette taxes that shows Washington at No. 3, and may wear out the road between Spokane and Idaho for smokers.

Click on the map for a clearer view, or go here to read the post on the NCSL webpage

State worker furloughs start next Monday

OLYMPIA — Many Washington state employees will get another three-day weekend after this Friday, but this one will be without a paid holiday.

Next Monday is the first of 10 unpaid “furlough” days the Legislature mandated this spring as it battled over ways to close a looming budget deficit. Most non-essential personnel will stay away from work next Monday and nine other designated days without pay. Estimates from the Office of Financial Management say that all-told, that will save the state about $70 million.

A state employees union challenged the furloughs, but a judge  has declined to issue an order that would block them.

If you’re thinking about zipping across the state at 100  miles an hour without having to worry about being caught by a state trooper,  however, think again. Law enforcement personnel on the streets are exempt from the furloughs.

So are corrections officers, emergency public heath and safety personnel And while the state Liquor Control Board offices are closed, the liquor stores will be open.

Next furlough day will be Aug. 6.

For a list of all the offices, agencies, boards and commissions that will be taking the day off, go inside the blog.

Go Fourth, and take the Independence Day trivia quiz

The Founding Fathers set us on the path 234 years ago to the political system we have, but even they wouldn’t spend the holiday arguing politics. In keeping with tradition, Spin Control takes a holiday from politics and offers a July Fourth quiz to test readers’ knowledge of Americana, trivial and otherwise.

Independence Day > Make A Quiz

More on Rossi, Murray, sinners and saints

As noted below, the Murray campaign was forced to pull its video jabbing Dino Rossi for his sinners and saints comment because it was using a copyright song without permission.

It all stemmed from a comment Rossi made to the National Journal about attracting undecided voters:”In the old adage, there are saints and sinners and those who can be saved. The saints are with us, the sinners are not. And the ones that can be saved are the ones we will be talking to.”

What seemed strange about that comment was not its content, but the fact that Rossi considers it an old adage. It doesn’t sound like any old adage I’d ever heard, despite a Catholic upbringing and 12 years in parochial school. A search in Bartlett and Google didn’t turn up anything, either.

Has anyone else ever heard that saying, or anything remotely resembling it. And no, the Billy Joel song that the Murray campaign used in the video it had to pull does not count.

Murray campaign pulls ‘Sinners & Saints’ video

Patty Murray’s Senate campaign was forced to pull a video that jabbed GOP challenger Dino Rossi because it was using a Billy Joel song without legal permission.

“We have not received any complaints,” campaign spokeswoman Alex Glass said today. “We did it out of an abundance of caution.”

The one-minute video that was being circulated by the campaign and Democratic sources, and posted on YouTube, took a swipe at Rossi for comments attributed to him in a recent National Journal article. In describing his chances of winning over uncommitted voters, Rossi was quoted as saying: “In the old adage, there are saints and sinners and those who can be saved. The saints are with us, the sinners are not. And the ones that can be saved are the ones we will be talking to.”

That prompted Democrats in Washington state to respond with “who you calling a sinner?”

The Murray campaign produced a quick video with some big business GOP supporters, questioning their sainthood, and Murray with veterans, moms and kids, asking if they were sinners.

In the background, they played portions of Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young,” including the lyrics:

They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it’s better but I say it ain’t
I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
The sinners are much more fun.

“It did seem to be the perfect song,” Glass said…

City: Fireworks to be the Full Monty

The City of Spokane is out to squelch a rumor that the fireworks display in Riverfront Park will somehow not be up to snuff.

It just sent out a press release assuring people that any suggestion that the display will be only 10 minutes long, as opposed to the standard 20 minutes for “oooh-ing” and “aaaahh-ing”, just ain’t so.

Here’s what they have to say:

We have received calls from some of the public saying they have heard that Riverfront will be cutting the Fourth of July fireworks show to 10 minutes due to a lack of funding.  This is not the case!  Our show will run a full 20-plus minutes thanks to the generosity and support of Larry H. Miller Dealerships and revenue from Park reserved seating which helps offset the cost.  The fireworks show begins at approximately 10:00 pm on Sunday, July 4th.

I-1053 turn-in: 333,000-plus signatures

OLYMPIA — Supporters of the initiative to restore the two-thirds majority required for any tax increase are the latest to do a signature drop.

This morning they turned in what sponsor Tim Eyman estimated was more than 333,000 signatures. Like the other petitions turned in so far, that all but guarantees them a spot on the ballot because the threshold is just over 241,000, and a margin like that allows the Secretary of State’s office to do the simpler “spot-check” for validation.

They followed on the heels of I-1107, a plan to repeal most of the temporary consumer taxes (soda, candy, bottled water, but not beer) enacted by the Legislature this spring, which turned in an estimated 395,000 signatures.

That makes five for the ballot: One to privatize liquor sales, one to add private insurance to the mix on workers compensation, one to institute an income tax on people who make more than $200,000, one to repeal taxes that have gone into effect in the last month, and the two-thirds majority.

Another proposal to privatize liquor sales is due in around lunchtime. The proposal to legalize marijuana use didn’t get enough signatures and has cancelled its 4:20 appointment.

Income tax initiative petitions in, others to come

OLYMPIA—Supporters of Initiative 1098, which would place an income tax on so-called “high earners” turned in signatures Thursday morning, making them the third statewide ballot measure to haul bozes of petitions into the Secretary of State’s office.

Four other campaigns say they’ll be there before 5 p.m. Friday, which is the drop-dead date for any statewide initiative to come up with 241,153 valid signatures from registered Washington voters.

Among those scheduling a petition drop on Friday are supporters of Initiative 1068, which would legalize adult use of marijuana. It’s tentative, because they told the Secretary of State’s office earlier this week they had about 200,000 signatures, but were getting more every day. They have a tentative appointment for 4:20 p.m. 

Get it? 4:20? If you do, you’ll probably vote yes on I-1068 if it makes the ballot.

To review the status of what’s in, and what’s coming in, go inside the blog.