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Spin Control

Archive for November 2010

Gregoire smoking mad over Camel promo

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire is blasting the makers of Camel cigarettes for its use of Seattle as one of 10 “cool” locations in an ad campaign.

The “Breaking Free” campaign, which will use 10 locations on which the iconic dromedary and standing in front of an artistic rendering of Pike Place Market and Mount Rainier. “Home of grunge, a coffee revolution and alternatives who’ll probably tell you they’re happy when it rains. It’s the smell of vinyl in that hidden record store, that worn t-shirt and a ticket stub with a scribbled phone number — all with the spirit of our Gold Rush ancestors who didn’t think twice before breaking free for the glowing future ahead.”  (Note to RJ Reynolds: You’d have to be smoking something much stronger to see the mountain, Pike Place and the skyline like that.)

“I am alarmed and disappointed at R.J. Reynolds’ new marketing campaign which exploits the name and image of Seattle to recruit young smokers,” Gregoire said in a prepared statement today. “Special edition cigarette packs featuring Washington landmarks, including the Pike Place Market and Mt. Rainier, are being co-opted to sell a product that is responsible for killing about 7,500 people in our state every year.”

The glowing future is “a one-way ticket to disease and addiction,” she said.

Reynolds contends it is not a program aimed at teens. The locations they picked are adult themed, such as Las Vegas, Sturgis, S.D., which is the site of an annual motorcycle gathering, and Route 66. The contest is connected to a website that is designed for adults, asking for date-of-birth information as well as name, street and e-mail address, phone number and brand preference. (None/non-smoker is not an option.)

And of course, teen-agers never lie about their age to get something they want.

Gregoire is not alone in her ire. The city of San Francisco is unhappy that one of the other break away destinations is The Haight. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has called on Reynolds to cancel the campaign.

The company has thus far refused.

McMorris Rodgers: Let’s vote on tax cuts

Speaking at the House GOP leadership press conference, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said today that Congress should hold an up or down vote on continuing all tax cuts before year’s end.

Democrats have been angling for a vote that extends tax cuts to everyone but those making $250,000 or more, or for extending the upper income tax cuts for two years while making the rest of the cuts permanent. Republicans, including McMorris Rodgers, want them all to be extended permanently, arguing that uncertainty over taxes is a drag on the economy.

The tax cuts are due to expire at the end of the year, so without passing some kind of extension, they will all go away.After a White House meeting with leaders of both parties, a small group was appointed to find some middle ground over the next few days.

McMorris Rodgers’ office was kind enough to send out the YouTube clip of this morning’s appearance.

Murray takes campaign job

Sen. Patty Murray has formally accepted the job as the head of the Senate Democrats’s campaign operation.

A statement from outgoing Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez is congratulating Murray on her selection. It says all the standard things, such as she’s the best choice to head the committee and she ran a good campaign this year against a tough opponent.

Not mentioned is the fact that several folks didn’t want the job, and Murray had to be talked into it.

The DSCC is in charge of getting Democrats elected or re-elected to the Senate in the coming campaign cycle.

Today’s fun video: Stewart takes on media punning

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
You’re Not Punny
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When he’s right, he’s right. Jon Stewart last night challenged the news media to stop using stupid puns in their stories.

All in favor, raise  your hand.

DelBene new state Revenue Director

OLYMPIA — Suzan DelBene, an unsuccessful congressional candidate in this year’s election, was named today as the new director of the state Department of Revenue.

DelBene takes over the state’s tax-collecting agency at a time when Washington is facing revenue shortfalls for at least the next 30 months. Gov. Chris Gregoire said she’ll be leading the department as it seeks to simplify the state tax code for businesses and collect money from companies that aren’t paying their taxes.

To handle the latter assignment, the state will be hiring more auditors and tax examiners, contacting businesses in and out of state that are not paying taxes. Gregoire will also ask the Legislature to approve a four-month tax amnesty which would allow businesses to pay delinquent taxes in full, without penalty or interest between Feb. 1 and May 31. 

The state could see an extra $44 million, and local governments a total of $6 million, from those efforts, Gregoire said.

DelBene is a former Microsoft executive who ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in suburban King County’s 8th Congressional District. She lost to incumbent Republican Rep. Dave Reichert.

Murray expected to lead campaign group

Sen. Patty Murray will be announced as the new chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee later today, sources in the other Washington are saying this morning.

Roll Call, a newspaper and website that covers almost every move in Congress, says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to make the announcement this afternoon. Murray’s office is saying officiallly only that an announcement is coming around noon Pacific time..

But Murray has been under pressure to take the job as the head of the committee working to elect more Democrats to the Senate, or at least make sure fewer Democrats get un-elected to the Senate. Democats have 23 seats to defend in 2012.

Murray had the job for the 2002 campaign cycle.

Gregoire: Time of essence on budget fix

Gov. Chris Gregoire says the budget gap is large, but the options for closing it are small, during a press conference Monday.

OLYMPIA — Warning that every month is critical in solving the state’s looming budget deficit, Gov. Chris Gregoire tried to prod legislators into suggesting their budget cuts for the rest of the fiscal year.

Gregoire said that three of the legislative leadership groups she’d ask for budget-cutting suggestions by today have asked for more time. She has no time table yet for deciding when or whether to call a special session to address a projected $385 million gap between state revenue and state expenses.

Last week, she proposed a series of cuts to state programs that are on the books, including the Basic Health Plan and Disability Lifeline. But many can’t be changed without at least 30 days of notice to recipients; it’s required by law, and it’s fair, she said.

“We’re taking away people’s livelihood,” she said. “We’re taking away people’s health care.”

Every dollar put off now means more money that has to be cut near the end of the budget cycle, Gregoire said. “For every inaction, there is going to have to be a counter action.”

Oh. Tannenbaum.

Jim Bensley (right) and Wes Kline of General Administration direct the raising and securing of the Holiday Kids Tree in the Capitol Rotunda Monday.

OLYMPIA — The Holiday Kids Tree was hoisted into its stand in the Capitol Rotunda at lunchtime Monday.

At about 25 feet, it’s a slightly smaller tree than in recent years. But the state got a great deal on it…free. It came from the yard of a couple of retired state employees who said the state could have it if someone would come get it.

Still, 25 feet is pretty tall for putting something on the highest bough, so state workers who are decorating and erecting it on their off-hours put ornaments and lights on the top tier before raising it and setting it in the stand.

The state shares the tree with the Association of Washington Business, which has sponsored the Holiday Kids Tree since 1989. Official tree lighting ceremony is 6 p.m. Friday.

Kreidler: Limit insurance co. surpluses

OLYMPIA — Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler wants authority to limit the amount of surpluses insurance companies can amass when considering their requested rate hikes.

He’ll ask the Legislature for the authority to take those surpluses into account, and deny rate hikes of an insurance company had surpluses that totaled more than three months worth of claims expenses.

Under current law, surpluses, which include investment income, can’t be considered when deciding a request for a rate increase, Kreidler said in a press release today. “Some non-profit insurers have built up hundreds of millions of dollars in surpluses in recent years, while still seeking double-digit rate hikes.”

He also wants the law changed to let the public see what percentage of a rate request goes to profit, to medical costs and to administrative costs.

Coming today: Order from gov, cuts from legislators?

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire is announcing an executive order to “enhance accountability” on state contracts at noon.

By the end of the day, legislative leaders from the two parties in the two houses are supposed to be reporting their proposals for cutting the state budget to keep it from going in the red by the end of the fiscal year.

DTK, as reporters used to write on bulletins in the days of typewriters and paper, which meant “details to come.”

May all your turkeys be the edible kind

We here at Spin Control wish all readers a Happy Thanksgiving, where blessings are counted as many and varied, and everything else fades away to nothing.

While it’s true that the year has produced its share of political turkeys, we hope Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, progressives and Tea Partiers can set that aside and raise a glass together, break bread and enjoy each others company. Politics at the dinner table is fine in moderation…no food fights out there or you’ll be forced to sit at the kids’ table.

Light blogging ahead through Monday, when we’ll be back with news of proposed budget cuts and other leftovers from this week.

Obama pardons turkey and other T-Day readings

One of the great American Thanksgiving traditions occurred this morning, as President Obama pardoned a turkey presented to him from the turkey growers association.

Actually, he pardoned two. The winner of a national turkey competition, Apple, and understudy Cider. They’re off to Mount Vernon to live out their days in relative luxury, escaping the fate of winding up on the White House table tomorrow.

A copy of the president’s turkey pardoning declaration, fresh from the White House press office, can be found inside the blog. And a link can be found here to a story that suggests the whole basis of current presidents pardoning turkeys because Harry Truman did it back in 1947 is about as credible as Santa Claus.

Want to read more about Thanksgiving traditions and traditional myths. Check out this page at History News Network.

State turnout record? Missed it by that much

OLYMPIA — Turnout for the 2010 mid-term election will be about 71.18 percent of the state’s registered voters, the Secretary of State’s office said today.

That’s shy of the record in 1970, which was 71.8 percent, but higher than anything since, and better than the second best modern mid-term turnout of 1958, which was 71.15 percent.

It’s also better than 2006, which was 64.55 percent, and 2002, a measly 56.35 percent, and better than Secretary of State Sam Reed’s prediction of 66 percent. Elections officials, however, are never unhappy when their turnout predictions turn out to be low.

In all, about 2.6 million ballots were cast.

There will be mandatory recounts in three close legislative races, but not in the state Supreme Court race in which challenger Charlie Wiggins topped incumbent Richard Sanders.

Spokane County turnout is at 71.29 percent right now, but could go up a one-hundedth of a percent or two after the canvassing board meets at 12:30 this afternoon. No recounts in Spokane County — and essentially no changes from election night.

Today’s fun video: Red state, blue state

This is an interesting depiction of the presidential vote for Democrats and Republicans over the last 90 years compiled by David Sparks of Duke University.

Anyone want to suggest a sound track to go along with it?

E. Washington gets several GOP leadership spots

OLYMPIA — Members of the Eastern Washington legislative delegation were chosen for several Republican leadership spots today.

Rep. Joel Kretz of Wauconda, whose 7th District stretches from Okanogan County to northwestern Spokane, was reappointed to the No. 2 spot, deputy leader of the House GOP caucus.  (Fact check: Earlier version of this post had Kretz in the 9th.)

Reps. Kevin Parker of Spokane and Matt Shea of Spokane Valley were named assistant floor leaders.

The top House spot, House Republican leader, went to Rep. Richard DeBolt of Chehalis.

On the Senate side, Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla was re-elected Republican leader. Mark Schoesler of Ritzville was re-elected Republican floor leader.

State wants to reopen union contracts

OLYMPIA — Thursday’s worse than expected revenue forecast prompted Gov. Chris Gregoire to order state employee unions back to the bargaining table to renegotiate contracts.

With a proclamation, Gregoire invoked a state law that allows her to ask the unions to reopen existing contracts. A separate declaration by Office of Financial Management Director Marty Brown about the forecast for the 2011-13 biennium says the contracts reached for those years are also unfeasible and must be reopened.

Most of the major contracts for 2011-13 are still under negotiations, a spokeswoman for Gregoire said.

Gregoire had resisted declaring an emergency and trying to renegotiate the current contracts during the past session.

Ho, ho, ho. Time for some Xmas controversy

OLYMPIA – Thanksgiving is still nearly a week away, but the annual Christmas controversy over religious displays in the Capitol has begun.
A tree will go up in the Rotunda at the end of the month, as it has for at least two decades. But a crèche won’t.
Earlier this month the Catholic League sent crèches to governors’ offices in all states asking that the Nativity scenes be displayed somewhere inside each capitol building.
But Washington bans displays by private groups inside its Capitol – an outgrowth of a controversy that erupted two years ago when atheists put up a sign to counter a Nativity scene in the Rotunda. 


Revenue down. Chance of special session up

OLYMPIA — The revenue forecast is grim. The chance for solving the problem with across-the-board cuts is almost non-existent. The chance of a special session of the Washington Legislature is growing, by the day if not the hour.

You can read about it in today’s report on the quarterly revene forecast by clicking here.

But the chance that a special session will be a one- or two-day affair, in which legislative leaders agree on the solution ahead of time and come to Olympia to merely ratify it…well, that’s considerably less than the chance for a special session.

Gov. Chris Gregoire wants proposals from the leaders of both parties in both chambers by Nov. 29, which is the Monday after Thanksgiving. Legislators are due in Olympia the first full week of December for a committee week.

But even if their leaders think they’ve got a solution, there’s nothing that binds the Legislature to keeping to a one-day, two-day or even one-week time line. They’ve got 30 — count ‘em, 30 — days once a session starts.

The only thing that may break things up could be a desire get out for the Christmas holiday.

Most years, legislators are asked to name a song that they think will exemplify the theme for the session. “I’ll be home for Christmas” may become the theme song of a December special session.

Supreme Court ponders: Who is the state?

OLYMPIA — The federal lawsuit in Florida over health care reform raises many interesting questions about state’s rights and federal mandates. But it also sparked some interesting debates today in the Washington Supreme Court over who represents the state in a legal dispute, and even, what is the state.

Read today’s report on City of Seattle v. Rob McKenna by clicking here.

Today’s fun video: The case for un-friending

Wednesday was National Unfriend Day (who knew?). And Spin Control feels bad about missing it.

In an effort to make up for this holiday observance faux pas, we present the holiday song which may convey some broadly held feelings about Facebook friends…Not our Facebook friends, of course, but some people’s Facebook friends.

Gregoire: Quit making some of those rules

OLYMPIA– Washington state agencies will stop making so many rules that affect the daily lives of its citizens and businesses under an executive order issued Wednesday by Gov. Chris Gregoire.
The order exempts some rules still in the making, such as those necessary for public health and safety or other critical functions, or those required by state or federal law. Rules that don’t qualify for an exemption are to be set aside until the end of 2011, with staff time that would have been spent drafting or updating rules redirected to helping businesses comply or enforcement.
“In these unprecedented economic times, this action will provide businesses with stability and predictability they need to help our state’s recovery,” Gregoire said in announcing the moratorium.
Although state agencies were having some difficulty Wednesday identifying which rules would be put on hold, conservatives applauded the measure while some progressive groups were critical.

Today’s fun video: NPR rap

It is debatable whether white guys can’t jump. But this NPR music video probably proves that they can’t — or more precisely shouldn’t — rap.

It is kind of fun, in a geeky, nerdy way.

Gregoire named NGA head

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire was elected to fill the opening as the chairwoman of the National Governors Association, her office announced today.

Gregoire will step into the job left vacant when West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin was elected to the U.S. Senate this month. She serves until next July. She said she would continue the organization’s initiative “Complete to Compete” that pushes college students to graduate and get degrees or certification.

In a prepared statement released by her office, Gregoire said she was honored to be selected by her peers for the job.

For the full press release, go inside the blog.

Health care reform keeping lawyers busy

OLYMPIA – As Attorney General Rob McKenna prepares to convince the state Supreme Court why he can fight federal health care reform, a state legislator joined a group trying to tell a federal court that he shouldn’t.
McKenna is scheduled to be in the state’s highest court Thursday morning, defending against a challenge by the City of Seattle, the governor and others to his decision to add Washington to a federal lawsuit trying to stop portions of the new health care law.
The state’s highest court will be asked to decide whether McKenna could make Washington state a party to the federal challenge to a law that Gov. Chris Gregoire and others contend is good for the state and its residents.
“The attorney general has gone forward over the objections of the legislative leadership and the governor,” state Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, said Tuesday.
But it’s mainly the Democratic leadership who object….

Brown says seat Harper, fix campaign law

OLYMPIA — The winner of a disputed Senate election in Snohomish County should take his seat despite questions over how he won the primary, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said today.

Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt suggested Monday that Democrat Nick Harper not be seated until a court case over the primary is resolved, and offered not to vote as long as Harper was on the sidelines.

But that’s not fair to Harper, who wasn’t involved in the independent campaign fined by the state Public Disclosure Commission, or the voters of his district, Brown said. She wants the Legislature to consider changes to campaign financing laws that could head off such tactics in the future.

Read more about the controversy inside the blog…


Bragging rights go to Washington Poll

OLYMPIA — Remember all those polls in the U.S. Senate race that were all over the place in the last week of the election?

Democrat Patty Murray was up by 4. No, Republican Dino Rossi was up by 3. No, they’re tied.

Turns out the most accurate poll in the race, according to Matt Barreto of the Washington Poll was…

The Washington Poll.

Barreto compared 11 polls released within a week of the election in the Murray-Rossi race, which right now is separated by about 4.42 percentage points.

The WashPoll of Registered Voters, released Oct. 28, had Murray up 4 points.

Depending on the remaining ballots, YouGov might lay claim on the best call. It’s Oct. 30 poll of registered voters had Murray up 5 points, and her margin might grow because so many of the remaining ballots are from King County.

Other comparisons can be found inside the blog.

2012 Senate campaign starts…today?

After regular missives for months from the folks at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, things had been quiet for two whole weeks.

In other words, since the election in which the NRSC’s guy, Dino Rossi, lost to Democrat Patty Murray.

They didn’t call, they didn’t write.  After months of sending us clips of national stories about what a great guy Rossi was, diatribes about Murray or links to polls that showed he was beating her, it seemed like they’d forgotten about this Washington.

Not so. Today they’re back, with an e-mail blasting…Maria Cantwell. She committed the cardinal sin of voting for Democratic leadership. Imagine that, a Democrat voting for a Democratic leadership team. A senator from Washington voting for a leadership team that includes Patty Murray, the other senator from Washington.

The press release contains most of the standard stuff, such as a suggestion that Cantwell “put her party bosses’ reckless, job-killing agenda ahead of the best interests of her constituents.” The best interest of Washington state voters is debatable, even if it is usually debated by people in Washington state.

But the curious thing in the NRSC statement is the assertion that Cantwell’s vote for Democratic leaders “puts her at odds with her state’s voters.”

Considering that the state’s voters just re-elected Murray by at least 100,000 votes over NRSC recruit Rossi, wouldn’t it put Cantwell at odds with Washington state voters to vote against the Democratic team?

The real purpose of the e-mail is contained in the final line, however: “Washingtonians will no doubt elect a fiscally responsible leader as their next U.S. senator in 2012.” No hint yet as to the identity of said fiscallly responsible leader.

Washingtonians shouldn’t feel too special, however. The NRSC prepared 13 similar press releases targeting Democrats up for re-election in 2012. They just swapped out the name of the senator and the state.

So there you have it. The first shot in Washington state’s 2012 senate race.

Murray re-elected — to Democratic leadership

Sen. Patty Murray achieved her second re-election in two weeks today, winning another term as the Senate Democratic Conference secretary, the Number 4 position in Democratic leadership.

There were no changes, on either side of the aisle, in leadership positions. Harry Reid of Nevada is the majority leader and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is the minority leader.

The rest of the Democratic leadership is Dick Durbin of Illinois as assistant majority leader, Charles Schumer of New York as vice chairman of the conference.

The rest of the Republican leadership is Jon Kyl of Arizona as whip, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee as conference chairman and John Barrasso of Wyoming as conference vice chairman.

Wiggins up by nearly 7,800

OLYMPIA — Ballot counting continues, if somewhat sporadically, around the state and the margin in the Supreme Court race grew slightly Monday.

Challenger Charlie Wiggins has 955,298 votes compare to incumbent Richard Sanders’ 947,618.

As previously reported, Wiggins lead is mathematically secure, even though there are about 76,000 ballots yet to be counted. That’s because more than half — an estimated 40,000 — are in King County, where Wiggins has been leading Sanders throughout the counting. Sanders hasn’t officially conceded, but he has sent an e-mail to supporters acknowledging that the race appears over.

In other close election news, Republican challenger has a 28 vote lead over Democratic Rep. Dawn Morrell in Pierce County’s 25th District, a race where the lead has changed hands several times in the last week.

Try your hand at cutting the deficit

Think you can cut the federal deficit better than those bozos in Congress? Here’s your chance to do it…at least on paper.

The New York Times has a new budget game with a series of options for various cuts. You might notice that some of the most popular solutions, such as eliminating earmarks or instituting medical malpractice reform, don’t get you very far, but reductions to entitlements like Social Security and Medicare do.

We’ll get the ballots counted — just chill

One sure sign that fall is easing into winter is that political types are complaining about how long it takes to count ballots in Washington state.

This rant usually starts about three days after an election, when the results of most races have been known for two days but a few close contests hang in the balance. This year, the main target of the whining is a state Supreme Court race, which on Friday was still somewhat in doubt.

If only Washington could be sensible like Oregon, the argument goes, and require mailed ballots to be at elections offices by Election Day, as opposed to simply post-marked by Election Day.

Since when did Oregon become such a paragon of electoral virtue? But it wouldn’t really help to make that switch, at least not without more money…Read why inside the blog.

Washington state does well in photo finish

Images of Washington state show up in three of the 11 finalists for a National Park Service photo contest, including the top spot, which went to the photo above of Mount Rainier.

That photo, of the mountain in the morning, was shot by Matthew Bell of Olympia and took first place. In the honorable mentions were a shot of the schooner Adventuress in the Seattle harbor and another of the Columbia River. All the photos can be seen here.

On guard, at the Capitol

OLYMPIA — Veterans Day brought out a few historic uniforms, including this World War II U.S. Army military police uniform, complete with rifle and fixed bayonet.

Butch Ayala of Olympia was on hand for a concert in the rotunda, taking up a post at one of the columns insided the north entrance. Ayalay said he’s a member of the Friends of Willie and Joe history group that provides a living history of the war.

A veteran himself from 1979 to 2003, Ayala said he’s always had enormous respect for the generation that fought in WWII. “It’s my way of saying thanks to a generation that saved the planet.”

Everything in his ensemble, including rifle and bayonet, were originals. Wonder if Ayala would be available to keep order next year during the session?

Veterans Day at the Capitol

Uniforms everywhere. Campaign caps on senior citizens and neckerchiefs on Boy Scouts.

The American Legion band playing in the Capitol Rotunda.

Speeches of duty. Speeches of thanks.

It’s Veterans Day in Olympia. And since Veterans Day started out as Armistice Day, here’s the capitol’s memorial to the War to End All Wars.

Happy V Day, Happy B Day

Veterans Day is 91 years old or 56 years old today, depending on how you want to count it.

Washington state is 121 years old, and there’s no two ways to count it.

Veterans Day started as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919. It marked the one year anniversary of the end of World War I, which was in those days was know as “The Great War” because people didn’t have to foresight to number their world wars. The Armistice was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. After we’d had another world war, plus a contained war in Korea, President Eisenhower decided to honor all veterans in 1954 and rename the holiday Veterans Day.

For information about Veterans Day events around Spokane, click here.

Washington went from being a state to a territory on this day in 1889, when President Benjamin Harrison signed the law at 5:27 p.m. A copy of the telegram from Harrison to territorial Elisha Ferry can be seen here.


Democrats want probe of AFPWA spending

Washington state Democrats want the Public Disclosure Commission to go after a group that spent money against some of their legislative candidates but hasn’t revealed where the money comes from.

They filed a complaint today against Americans For Prosperity Washington, an offshoot of the national Americans For Prosperity, for campaign ads against Sens. Tracie Eide, Rodney Tom, Eric Oemig and Randy Gordon. The group has yet to file any contribution or spending reports or registration forms with the Public Disclosure Commission.

“This organization is purposely concealing who they are and who their funders are,” state Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz said. “In effect, these efforts amount to creating a secret political organization spending hudreds of thousands of dollars attempting to influence our elections and mislead the voting public.”

The state is currently investigation possible sanctions against Democratic consultants for filing misleading reports that hid the source of funding for candidates in a primary that helped knock out a Democratic incumbent that labor unions opposed, Pelz said. It also should go after a group like AFPWA for filing no reports.

Gregoire, McKenna back ban on alcoholic energy drinks

The state Liquor Control Board announced a ban on alcohol laced energy drinks like Four Loco, and quickly received backing from Gov. Chris Gregoire and Attorney General Rob McKenna.

The board issued an emergency 120-day ban Wednesday, and is looking at a permanent ban next year. The action follows an incident in which nine Central Washington University students became violently ill after drinking caffeinated alcoholic beverages at a party last month.

“Quite simply, these drinks are trouble,” Gregoire said in joining Board Chairwoman Sharon Foster for the announcement of the ban. “By taking these drinks off the shelves we are saying ‘no’ to irresponsible drinking and taking steps to prevent incidents like the ones that made these college students so ill.”

“This dangerous combination results in young people drinking way too much, way too fast — and waking up in local hospitals with alcohol poisoning,” McKenna said, noting that he and other a-g’s have been working for a nationwide ban on the drinks nicknamed “blackout in a can.”

Three other states have banned sales in the last week.

But if the state is banning all sweet-tasting, caffeinated alcohol drinks, can a crackdown on Irish coffee be far behind?

Wiggins takes lead, has voting trends on his side

Former Appeals Court Judge Charlie Wiggins took a narrow lead over incumbent Justice Richard Sanders in Washington’s tight Supreme Court race Tuesday afternoon.
An analysis of voting patterns suggests Wiggins will finish ahead of Sanders and take his place on the state’s highest court when all remaining ballots are counted.
Sanders, an outspoken jurist with libertarian leanings, was first elected to the state’s highest court in 1995 and re-elected twice since. He has held a narrow lead since the Election Night.
But he has consistently trailed in King County, which has about one-third of the state’s voters, and a handful of other counties, mostly west of the Cascades. On Tuesday, King County tabulated about 45,000 of its outstanding ballots, and Wiggins inched ahead. Thirteen other counties also added to their totals, but Wiggins ended the night with a lead of about 3,600 votes.

Wiggins takes lead…can he keep it?

Challenger Charlie Wiggins has taken the lead of about 3,500 votes over Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders on the strength of King County ballots tabulated at 4:30 p.m. Pierce and several other counties,  where Sanders has been ahead since election night, are scheduled to report at 5 p.m. or slightly later.

Stay tuned.

Miloscia to challenge Chopp for speaker

OLYMPIA — Rep. Mark Miloscia, a seven-term legislator from Federal Way, announced today he will run for speaker of the House, challenging current speaker Frank Chopp of Seattle.

In a prepared statement, Miloscia said Democratic leaders haven’t been offering hope, fision or plans to address the faltering economy. “Not one significant piece of government reform has passed the last two years…This failure cannot continue.”

Miloscia currently serves as chairman of the House Audit Review and Oversight Committee. His challenge comes after Democrats have lost seats in the House, but still have a strong majority.

Senate Democrats, who also lost seats but retained their majority, re-elected Sen. Lisa Brown of Spokane over the weekend to majority leader in the upcoming session.

State Supreme Ct Race: Wiggins closes gap, Sanders warns of ‘theft’

OLYMPIA — With challenger Charlie Wiggins closing the gap on Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders— and some media outlets predicting Wiggins will win the race — Sanders’ campaign sent out a plea to supporters for money for a possible recount.

“Don’t let Wiggins steal this election” is the subject line of the e-mail asking for money for a fund “to get all the ballots counted.” It notes there are some 17,000 ballots that need to have voters clear up questions with signatures.

In an interview with AP’s Rachel La Corte, Sanders said he didn’t authorize the headline on the fund-raising e-mail and says it shouldn’t say that. (AP report can also be found inside the blog.)

If the phrase “The Don’t Let –- Steal This Election” sounds familiar, maybe it’s because the Building Industry Association of Washington used it on billboards in 2008 to generate support in Eastern Washington for Dino Rossi’s second gubernatorial run. Back then, the alleged thief was Seattle.

It’s pretty much the same sentiment, because Wiggins has nothing to do with counting ballots or validating signatures. If he wins, it will be on the strength of heavy turnout in King County, particularly the city of Seattle, where Sanders came under fire for comments some considered racist regarding the proportion of African Americans in prison compared to their representation in the state as a whole. After those comments he was “unendorsed”  by the Seattle Times about a week before the election.

Brown re-elected Senate majority leader

OLYMPIA — Despite legislative losses in last Tuesday’s election, Lisa Brown was re-elected majority leader by Democrats in the state Senate.

Brown, who represents central Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District, was re-elected Senate majority leader, a job she’s held since 2005. A press release from Senate Democrats said Brown ran unopposed and was re-elected unanimously by the caucus.

Brown faces the session with a smaller majority than last year, when Democrats held a 31-17 edge in the Senate. Although some races remain close, Democrats appear to have a 27-22 majority at this time. The current split is more common, she said recently, and could lead to more bipartisan cooperation.

First elected to the state House of Representatives in 1992, Brown was elected to the Senate in 1996, and served as minority leader from 2002 to 2004, when Democrats won a majority in the chamber.

Self-financed campaigns faltered

Trying to buy an election by self-financing a campaign is a bad investment, a study from the Center for Responsive Politics says.

Only about one  in five candidates who poured a half-million dollars or more into their own campaigns came out a winner last week. If they spent more than $3.5 million, the odds got worse, to one in seven. Some spent seven figures and ended up with zip.

Among them:

California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who spent $141.5 million of her own money and lost to Jerry Brown.

Linda McMahon, who poured $46.6 million on a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut. It should be noted that her opponent, Richard Blumenthal, spent $2.2 million of his own money into the race.

Carly Fiorino, who spent $5.5 million of her money in a run against U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

Jeff Greene, who spent $24 million of his money and lost Florida’s Democratic primary for a U.S. Senate seat to Kendrick Meek, who in turn finished third in the Senate race last week.


Today’s fun video: Obama remix

President Obama hasn’t had much call to dance in the last week, but during a stop in Mumbai, India, earlier today he was invited to join a troupe of children dancers. So he did, and the video was very quickly cut and remixed with “In da Club” and hit the Internet.

Watching the video, it seems the president  is using American steps for the Indian dance, and ending it with the politician’s handshake, which is a step unto itself.

Playing dress up for women’s suffrage

OLYMPIA — Dozens of Washington residents appeared in turn-of-the-century costume — and by that we mean the turn of the 20th, not the 21st, Century — at the Capitol today to celebrate the centennial of women receiving the right to vote in the state.

Here Talcott Broadhead handles daughters Clementine, age 5, and Henrietta, age 15 months on the steps of the Capitol Rotunda next to Darrell Holt and Carole Rambo Holt.

Capitol does the time warp

One hundred years ago today, women in Washington state received the right to vote through a measure that passed on that year’s ballot. In honor of the centennnial, women in men in period attire, some of them driving or riding in vintage autos, flooded the Capitol campus for music, speeches and celebrating.

Here, dozens listen to the New Horizons Band as they await a re-enactment of the delivery of the Nov. 8, 1910 election results.

That was the campaign that was

With the 2010 election all over but the counting – admittedly the counting still is important in a few races – it seems appropriate to look back over the campaign.
It was an avalanche of nasty ads, debates over debates commercials and visits from out-of-state big shots played out against a backdrop of voters worried about their next paycheck, house payment or bag of groceries. And that’s looking at things as an optimist. Maybe the best that can be said about it is, it’s over. But before it fades from memory, here are some of the highlights and lowlifes of the Campaign 2010.
Get me Don Draper. In trying to explain why health care reform and other Democratic initiatives weren’t more popular, President Obama suggested during a backyard gathering in Seattle that “We had to move so fast… We didn’t always think about making sure we were advertising properly what was going on.” Like the crew from “Mad Men” could have quelled the Tea Party revolt.
 Stretching too far. Patty Murray campaign staff was practically gleeful when Republican challenger Dino Rossi mishandled a poorly asked question about trade subsidies in a Tacoma editorial board session and seemed not to know much about sanctions involving a new Air Force tanker. But then they over-spun it for a commercial that made Rossi sound like he’d have tankers built in France, prompting news organizations to castigate her campaign and giving fodder to his campaign for – you guessed it – an attack ad of their own.
He doth protest too much. Asked how his first debate with Murray went, Rossi seemed unhappy that too many questions were “regional” and rather than national in scope. Some were about the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and dams, but others were about the economy, cutting the deficit, the war in Afghanistan and “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Rossi said he’d expected a question about bailouts – perhaps because that was one of his key talking points.
Silly meme. To counter Rossi’s charge that Murray was an 18-year incumbent, the Murray campaign called him “an 18-year candidate.” Catchy, but not true. Was Murray a candidate when she was in office, too?
 In need of a farm team. Eastern Washington Democrats picked a candidate for Congress who finished third in the primary. OK, so Daryl Romeyn, the Democratic winner, is well-known from stints as a weatherman on Spokane television. But hand-picked candidate Clyde Cordero finished behind Barbara Lampert, a perennial candidate who’s run for different jobs for a dozen years. At least Cordero beat David Fox, who moved from Port Angeles to Spokane after filing for at the last minute, then lived out of his car, got assaulted for propositioning a man for sex in downtown and got a reputation for skipping out on bills at local eateries.
 Most likely to resurface. Clint Didier came off his Eltopia farm, got Tea Party backing and Sarah Palin’s endorsement for his run for Senate before finishing third behind Rossi. He may have overplayed his hand by conditioning an endorsement for Rossi on demands over taxes, spending and abortion, but he did well enough to be back in the mix in 2012 if he wants.
Who wants to be a millionaire? Spokane has the distinction – dubious as it is – of being home to the state’s first million-dollar legislative campaign. The 6th District Senate race often tops spending in years when the seat is on the ballot, but if the candidates, parties and their allies will spend a million dollars fighting over a job that pays $42,000, it’s little wonder the state has budget problems.
 Sinking deep. The 6th also produced one of the nastiest ads, an independent group that accused Marr of sexual harassment at his old company, something the victim of the harassment said wasn’t true. But what do you expect from a group calling itself Spokane Families for Change, a shadow PAC that consisted of no families and no one from Spokane?
Coming out of nowhere. At the end of filing week, Spokane County Treasurer Skip Chilberg appeared a lock for re-election. He was the only one who filed for the job. In August, Libertarian-turned-Republican Rob Chase filed as a write-in, got enough votes in the primary to qualify for the Nov. 2 ballot, and appears to have won the seat. Prior to that, Chase had run – the traditional way – for the Legislature and Congress without success.

Seeing ones: Today’s vote count

Spokane County tallied 11,111 move ballots Friday from the Nov. 2 election. An unusual looking number that didn’t create any unusual twists in the standings.

Republican challenger Al French leads Democratic County Commissioner Bonnie Mager by about 1,100 votes.

Republican challenger Rob Chase leads Democratic County Treasurer Skip Chilberg by about 1,000 votes.

Former State Rep. John Ahern, a Republican, leads Rep. John Driscoll, a Democrat, by about 1,500 votes.

After Republican Dino Rossi conceded the race to Sen. Patty Murray on Thursday night, the one remaining statewide race yet to be decided is a state Supreme Court seat.

Incumbent Justice Richard Sanders currently leads former Appeals Court Judge Charlie Wiggins by just under 10,000 votes out of nearly 1.6 million counted so far.

Turnout higher than expected

OLYMPIA — Turnout for last Tuesday’s election is higher than expected and may set a record for a mid-year election, Secretary of State Sam Reed said today.

State elections officials were projecting a turnout of 66 percent for the mid-term, but are now revising that upwards to 70 percent or more. Both political parties had massive get out the vote efforts, both when ballots first arrived in mailboxes in mid October and again in the closing days of the campaign.

Coupled with a hot Senate race, some controversial tax and government limitation issues on the ballot and competitive congressional and legislative races around the state, turnout is pushing up toward the record for a mid-term set in 1970 of 71.85 percent.

Mapping the vote: Spokane County prosecutor’s race

The race between Steve Tucker and Frank Malone shows some very noticeable splits between precincts insided the city and outside the city.

These numbers come from the vote totals released Thursday evening.

Fun video bonus: Two different views of the election

President Barack Obama and Sen. Mitch McConnell had two very different takes on what the American people were saying on Tuesday, and what they plan to do about it.

Today’s fun video: It’s the first day…of the 2012 elections

For those of you jones-ing for some campaign stuff, tired of the boredom of an election like the counting of ballots and the actual winning and losing, we present what may be considered your first Campaign 2012 video.

Listen carefully as Sarah Palin borrows a phrase from The Gipper. Can you guess which one it is?

And for those of you expecting to catch a break between this election and the next, we can only offer condolences.

Mapping the vote: City Prop 1’s failure

The City of Spokane’s Proposition 1 was pretty unpopular, as the map above shows.

It had some small “yes” margins around the downtown core and a few precincts to the north and south. But it went from no to “hell no” as the precincts got further and further from the core, demonstrating what a tough election this was for anything to do with taxes.

Mapping the vote: 6th District House race

Republican challenger and former state Rep. John Ahern is comfortably ahead of incumbent Democrat in the 6th District House race. As this computer mapping of their vote totals shows, Ahern has large vote margins on the edges of the City of Spokane and beyond, while Driscoll’s strength is inside the city limits, particularly on the lower South Hill.

Marr concedes to Baumgartner

Democrat state Sen. Chris Marr made up some ground in Wednesday’s counting against Republican Michael Baumgartner, but Marr said it won’t be enough.

Marr conceded defeat a few moments ago in an interview with KHQ.

His campaign just released this statement:

“No matter the outcome of this election, our hopes and aspirations have not changed. Our belief in the people of Washington and this great city has not diminished. Our responsibility to offer ideas instead of attacks and compromise instead of gridlock has not gone away. Our dedication to serve our community has not waivered.  I ask all of my supporters to join me in congratulating State Senator-elect Michael Baumgartner and committing to work with him to advance the common interests of the citizens of Spokane and the Sixth Legislative District.”

Mapping the vote: Spokane County treasurer’s race

Republican challenger Rob Chase holds a narrow lead over Democratic County Treasurer Skip Chilberg in the vote counting. But an analysis of the vote shows that Chilberg ran strongest in the city of Spokane, while Chase built his margins in the Valley and unincorporated areas.

Dare to dream …

The GOP tidal wave is being credited with delivering election night victories to candidates at all levels of the political spectrum.

Here’s how Kootenai County Coroner-elect Debbie Wilkey described the 2-to-1 trouncing of her co-worker and Democratic opponent, chief deputy coroner Jody DuLuca Hissong, for the open position:

“If residents of the county came out to make a change, I’m glad I’m part of that change,” Wilkey, who ran as a Republican, said. “I’m so fully looking forward to doing the job of coroner, it is a true dream come true.”

Mapping the vote: Spokane County assessor race

Challenger Vicki Horton is leading incumbent assessor Ralph Baker in many precincts throughout the cities of Spokane, Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake, as well as much of the unincorporated area.

For this map, because both candidates are Republicans, we opted out of the standard red and blue format (we didn’t want to decide which Republican deserved the red shades.) Instead, we used green for Horton and brown/tan for Baker, with gray for precincts where they are currently tied.

Mapping the Vote: 6th District Senate race

Republican challenger Mike Baumgartner is beating Democratic incumbent Sen. Chris Marr in Spokane’s 6th Legislative District by strong showings in precincts outside the city of Spokane.

This map shows vote percentages from the end of election night.

Mapping the vote: Spokane County commissioner race

The race for Spokane County commissioner, between incumbent Democrat Bonnie Mager and Republican challenger Al French, is currently close, with French holding a lead of about 1,000 votes.

But it wasn’t close all over the county. As the map of the ballots counted Tuesday night, French scored victories in much of the suburban and rural areas while Mager did better in many Spokane city precincts.

Mid-term turnout highest in Spokane County since 1970

Election officials say a big surge of votes in the final day likely will push voter turnout over 70 percent in Spokane County.

Election drop boxes in a few cases filled up, and election workers had to make extra trips to collect them, said Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton. About 30,000 ballots were collected from the drop boxes on Tuesday. The drop boxes, which hold about 1,600 ballots, are located at all libraries, the elections office and at the downtown Spokane Transit Authority Plaza.

Turout in the 2006 mid-term was 67 percent. It was only 59 percent in 2002 and 1998. In the last large GOP wave, in 1994, turnout was 68 percent. The last time mid-term turnout topped 70 percent was in 1970 when 72 percent cast ballots.

More voters in this election opted to use ballot boxes than usual. Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said he expects that once all the ballots have been received that about 40 percent of them will have been dropped off in the boxes.

The drop boxes offer voters the opportunity to cast ballots without buying stamps.


Baumgartner’s lead appears insurmountable; City isn’t underrepresented in vote totals

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At the end of counting last night, many local Democrats said they suspected that votes from the city of Spokane were under-represented in Tuesday’s counts.

Since the city leans strongly in favor of Democrats, that would bode well for the party in later counts. But Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said Wednesday that as of the end of counting on Tuesday, city votes were counted around the same rate as those from outside city limits.

That was true even in the 6th Legislative District, she said. That’s where Republican Michael Baumgartner is beating Democratic state Sen. Chris Marr, 56 percent to 44 percent. It’s also where Republican John Ahern was beating Democratic state Rep. John Driscoll, 54 percent to 46 percent.

In the Republican-leaning 4th District, 59 percent of the ballots received as of yesterday have been counted. In the Democratic-leaning 3rd, about 57 percent of the ballots have been counted. In the 6th, 54 percent have been counted.

Unlike Marr and probably Driscoll, County Commissioner Bonnie Mager and County Treasurer Skip Chilberg are within striking distance. Republican Al French is leading Mager with 50.8 percent of the vote. Republican Rob Chase is leading Skip Chilberg with 50.5 percent of the vote.

History, however, could pose a challenge to them. Late votes in the mail-voting era in Spokane County have trended Republican.

This year, the county received a bigger surge then normal on the final day, and it’s hard to know what that means. Democrats say that bulge may be partially the result of their late get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of Sen. Patty Murray’s reelection bid.

Or, it could just be more conservative voters seeking change.

How close for recount?

The tight race for U.S. Senate would have to get noticeably tighter to trigger a mandatory recount.

Although tens of thousands of ballots have yet to be counted statewide, including more than 100,000 in King County alone, incumbent Democrat Patty Murray’s current lead over Republican challenger Dino Rossi (722,396 to 708,391 as of the latest election night tabulation) is beyond the one half of 1 percent margin that would trigger a mandantory machine recount under state law.

A machine recount also can triggered in statewide races if the the margin between the candidates is less than 2,000 votes. A mandatory hand recount is conducted if the margin falls below 1,000 votes and one quarter of 1 percent of total ballots cast.

The state Elections Division has a fact sheet on recounts that can be found at this link.

Next year’s Legislative split, if trends hold

Democrats will hold a three-seat majority in the state Senate and an eight-seat majority in the state House if current trends in election results hold.

That’s a fairly big if, considering several of the races are within a couple percentage points and subject to change. One, Snohomish County’s 44th, has Democrat Steve Hobbs leading Republican Dave Schmidt by just eight votes.

Both sides in Senate race ‘figure’ on a win

Patty Murray and Dino Rossi both think the numbers are on their side for a win in Washington’s close U.S. Senate race.

Republican challenger Rossi’s campaign released a statement late Tuesday night citing his favorite statistics that would make the race go his way. Among them are that Republicans usually gain a couple percent in ballots counted after election day and that he’s doing very well in Spokane County, which still expects to count large numbers of ballots.

Democratic incumbent Murray’s campaign countered just after midnight with a different analysis, noting that King County, where she was polling about 62 percent of the vote, may have as many as 350,000 votes left to count.

As morning dawns Wednesday, they are separated by about 14,000 votes, or 1 percent of those counted so far. New numbers won’t be rolling in until this afternoon. To borrow a phrase from Bette Davis, Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

To read the full analyses, go inside the blog.

Two vote totals tonight in Spokane County

Spokane County will release two rounds of vote totals tonight, one shortly after voting closes at 8 p.m., and another between 10:30 and 11 p.m.

Old election hands can remember when the county had poll site voting and would release up to a dozen updates on election night. After switching to all-mail balloting, the county has had election nights where it released one tally, and others when it released two.

Other than keeping people in suspense, what this means is that folks at the election parties will have a reason to stick around and have a new round of results to either cheer or boo.

Run for prosecutor ignores law

Deputy Kootenai County Prosecutor Jim Reierson has been campaigning for write-in votes for the top prosecutor spot in Spokane County, but it’s a race he can’t legally win.

Running as a candidate who prefers the “Law and Order” Party, Reierson lost his bid for that job in the primary. Washington state has statutes and administrative law that prevent a primary loser from filing a petition for a write-in campaign in the general, and without such a petition on file, write-in votes aren’t tallied.

“The votes will not be counted,” State Elections Director Nick Handy said.

“No write-in vote for that candidate is valid,” Katie Blinn, legal adviser to the Secretary of State’s office said. Two state statutes and a section of state administrative code spell that out, she added.

Reierson recently complained that the newspaper was ignoring his write-in campaign, and the fact that he’s not supporting either candidate for that office in the general. In  a weekend e-mail, he noted the newspaper has carried stories about other write-in campaigns, including Lisa Murkowski’s write-in campaign for U.S. Senate in Alaska.

(Alaska doesn’t have a law that prohibits a losing primary candidate from running in the general, so Murkowski’s votes can actually be counted and credited to her in that race. For the record: Reierson isn’t supporting either incumbent Steve Tucker or challenger Frank Malone.)

Efforts were unsuccessful this week to contact Reierson to explain why he’d be running for the county’s top legal position by asking voters to cast ballots that are invalid under state law. On Monday he called briefly to return a message and ask for a delay until Tuesday morning because he was tending to a gravely ill friend. On Tuesday, he e-mailed that he preferred “to relax and think about more pleasant memories on a nice sunny day, after dropping off an overdue book at the library. I apologize for not calling you this morning, but I just did not feel like it.”

He did close, however, with this comment on his campaign: “Unlike some candidates, I feel I stand for something positive.”

So as a previous post notes, voters can write in any name they choose on a ballot. But not every name will, or even can, be counted.


Candidates race to finish line

Candidates for Washington’s top electoral prize, a U.S. Senate seat that could determine which party controls that chamber of Congress for the next two years, started their full final day of the campaign at dawn, on opposite sides of the state.

Republican challenger Dino Rossi had breakfast at a downtown diner, greeting the morning crowd at the counter and telling eight longtime supporters “We’re getting there.” Rossi said he tries to stop at Frank’s Diner just south of the Maple Street Bridge whenever he’s in town. After fueling up with a full breakfast, Rossi caught a plane to the Tri-Cities, where he’ll be waving signs in Kennewick mid-morning then attending a lunchtime “meet and greet” in Everett before attending the vote-watch party in Bellevue this evening.

Democratic incumbent Patty Murray was on “dawn patrol”, greeting ferry commuters at the Seattle docks at 6:30 a.m. She’s scheduled to  meet volunteers in Everett mid-morning, in Tacoma at 11:15 a.m. and attend the election night party at the Westin Hotel in Seattle.

Around Spokane, morning commuters passed candidates and their supporters waving signs at intersections in a last attempt to drum up extra votes. Washington state election officials estimate that more than half the voters who are going to vote have already sent in their ballots, but that still leaves a large bloc of voters who still have ballots that were mailed to them sitting around the home somewhere.

Idaho voters go to the polls, which are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and under a new law must show ID when getting their ballot.  Residents who have not registered, but who have lived in the state for at least 30 days and are American citizens, can register and vote by bringing a government-issued photo identification and proof of residency to their local polling place.

For information on polling locations, drop boxes, voter service centers, and phone numbers for local county elections offices, click here.

This is it: Last day to vote

Months of television commercials, weeks of campaign mailers and days of street-corner sign waving end today. The election is now out of the hands of the candidates and the consultants, and in the hands of the voters.

In Washington, which has all-mail voting in all counties except Pierce County, today is the day voters must have their ballots postmarked, or placed in a deposit box before 8 p.m. Voters who have misplaced their ballots can get a replacement at a voter service center.

Drop boxes can be found at most public libraries in Spokane County. A full list of drop boxes and voter service centers for Spokane County, and phone numbers for elections offices in surrounding counties, can be found inside the blog.

In Idaho, voters can go to the polls between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to cast a ballot; under a new state law, all voters must present valid identification before receiving a ballot. A valid driver’s license or state ID card, a U.S. passport, a tribal identification card, a current student ID card issued by a state high school or a college in the state will be accepted.

Those who have been Idaho residents for at least 30 days, but have not yet registered, can register and vote at a polling place with  valid picture identification and a document that contains a valid address in the precinct.

A link to precinct polling stations in Kootenai County can be found here .

Tonight you can follow election results at for the latest results and reaction, live updates on Twitter from Spokesman-Review and KHQ reporters, photos from the election night gatherings. And go to @spokesmanreview on Twitter for breaking news on the election and more.

Not all write-ins will — or can — count

Voters who are unhappy with their choices for a particular office and are thinking of writing in another candidate should take note: You’re free to write in any name you want in any race on the ballot if you think it will “send a message.”

But that doesn’t mean that ballots will be counted for that race, and whatever message you’re sending may not get delivered.

Write ins are only counted if there are enough to affect the outcome of the race between the candidates on the ballot, and only candidates who file a petition of write-in candidacy before election day have their ballots counted in Washington state.

Washington also has what’s often referred to as a “sore loser law” in state statute and administrative law.

Candidates who ran in the primary but didn’t advance to the general election aren’t eligible to file as write-in candidates for that office, Katie Blinn, attorney for the state Elections Office, said: “No write-in vote for that candidate is valid. The votes will not be counted.”

So if you’re thinking that you’d like to vote for that candidate who really wowwed you in the primary but didn’t make it to November, just remember: That vote won’t count. Except maybe in your heart.

The last frenetic days of the Murray-Rossi race

Washington’s U.S. Senate candidates spend Election Day eve attacking the Puget Sound from different directions.

Republican challenger Dino Rossi started south and moved north along the I-5 corridor. He began with a morning rally in Vancouver, had a noon rally in Puyallup and a Bellevue rally in the evening.

Democratic incumbent Patty Murray started north and worked her way south along the corridor. She started in Bellingham, had a noon rally in Mount Vernon, a mid afternoon rally in Everettin the morning, a late afternoon rally in Edmonds and an evening rally and concert in Seattle.

You might think that they’re finished…but you would be wrong. They’ll get up and do it again on Tuesday, with more stops, including a Spokane visit by Rossi.

Murray  will be greeting ferry commuters at the Seattle Docks before dawn Tuesday, then meet volunteers in Everett mid morning with another meeting in Tacoma at 11:15 a.m. and attend the election night party at the Westin Hotel in Seattle Tuesday evening.

Rossi has a “meet and greet” at 7 a.m. in Spokane at Frank’s Diner, 1516 W. 2nd Ave. He’ll be waving signs at an intersection in Kennewick at 9:30 a.m., and meeting supporters in Everett around 12:30 p.m., then attend the election night party in Bellevue.

Today’s fun video: That was the campaigns that were

It’s been a long road to election day, and there have been some ground breaking and mind boggling videos.

One site rates the top 13 videos of the political season, from Jimmy McMillan’s “The Rent is Too Damn High” speech to Christine O’Donnell’s “I’m not a witch, I’m you” commercial to a wolf in sheep’s clothing in California. None of them are from Washington or Idaho, although a few of them have shown up on local blogs. To see the best/worst videos, click here.

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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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