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Spin Control

Archive for October 2010

Happy Halloween from the Gov’s Mansion

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire is dressing as Morticia Addams this year for Halloween, and husband Mike is dressing as Gomez.

They’re hosting Halloween at the governor’s mansion, an annual event at the state capital. Kids get candy, and five will find they have tickets to the Holiday Tour of the Mansion later this year.

OK, that’s it from the capital for Oct. 31, 2010. Go ahead and make comments about the governor’s choice of costume.

What do you consider rich?

The Washington Poll, which is discussed in greater detail elsewhere on the website, had a question that says a lot about all of us. When 500 voters were asked how they define “rich,” they had a wide range of answers.

For 3 percent, rich could be less than $100,000.
For 16 percent, it was $100,000 to $199,999.
For 22 percent, it was $200,000 to $299,999.
For 10 percent it was $300,000 to $499,999.
For 23 percent it was $500,000 to $1 million.
For 15 percent it was more than $1 million.

The rest either didn’t know, or wouldn’t answer.

Professor Matt Barreto of the University of Washington said rich is a relative concept. People rarely consider themselves rich and often feel strapped regardless of their income because expenses rise to meet (or exceed) income. It’s almost always someone else who makes more than they do.

So if you were asked, what would you say should be considered “rich”?

How about a little honesty in PAC naming?

Here’s a modest proposal on campaign finance reform that might meet constitutional muster with the U.S. Supreme Court: Let’s have a truth-in-labeling law that requires political committees to say what they really are up to.

Democrats got in trouble last week – potentially big enough trouble to void an election – while playing the old “hide the hit money behind nice-sounding PACs” game in a Snohomish County legislative race. They’re facing sanctions for deliberately not reporting the money and hiding the donors to a conservative state Senate candidate, all part of an effort to whipsaw a moderate incumbent Democrat the unions didn’t like.

Not reporting the donors on time could result in big fines. But the part of their scheme that’s annoying but perfectly legal is the regular practice of giving money to one nice-sounding PAC, then moving it into a second nice-sounding PAC, and concealing for a short time whom the money is coming from. Thus the commercials say this ad paid for by Very Concerned Citizens for Great Communities, funded by Concerned Citizens for Very Great Communities.

Or something like that. There are dozens of these shadow PACs, set up by Democrats and Republicans, every year. How about a law that says they must say what they really are, like Unions Trying to Defeat Sen. Schmoe or Businesses Against Rep. Snerd.

It would be so much easier for the voters to tell who’s spending the big bucks to sway their vote, and let them judge for themselves if those unions or businesses are really concerned citizens interested in great communities. And yes, I know that hiding things from the voters is the whole point of these PACs, but does freedom of speech include the right to be sneaky?

Murray, Rossi in Spokane Saturday

Washington’s U.S. Senate race comes to Spokane Saturday as both Patty Murray and Dino Rossi are scheduled to make stops on their final campaign swings through the state.

Murray, the Democratic incumbent, has a get out the vote bus tour across the state that starts in Spokane at 8 a.m. at Hamilton Studios, 1427 W. Dean (also known as Toad Hall, that’s the site where Democrats will be gathering in advance of the “Rally to Restore Sanity” at Riverfront Park at noon, to watch the Washington, D.C., version.) She also has a 12:30 p.m. rally at Walla Walla Community College’s Center for Enology and Viticulture; a 3 p.m. rally in the Tri-Cities at the Highlands Grange Hall, 1500 S. Union St. in Kennewick; a 6 p.m. rally in Yakima at Essencia Artisan Bakery & Chocolaterie,  4 N. 3rd St.

Rossi, the Republican challenger, stops four places in Eastern Washington, starting with a 1:30 p.m. rally at the Quality Inn, 110 E. 4th Ave. He’ll also be in Colville at 4 p.m. at Stephani’s Oak Street Grill, 157 N. Oak St.; in Republic at 6:15 p.m. at Diamond K Guest Ranch, 15661 S. Highway 21; in Omak at 8 p.m. at Koala St. Grill, 914 Koala.

Both sides misstate income tax positions of Baumgartner, Marr

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Claim: “With (Marr’s) tax increases, it’s hurting my employees and my business and the last thing I need right now is an income tax,” said Julie (who doesn’t give a last name and claims to be a Spokane business owner).

Source: TV ad from “Spokane Families for Change,” a group made up this year. It is funded completely by Working Families for Change, which is funded completely by The Leadership Council, a committee aimed at electing Republicans to the state Senate. Among the top contributors are the Washington Health Care Association, the Building Industry of Washington and the Washington Hospital political action committee. By diverting money like this, the true source of the money does not have to appear on ads.

Truthfulness: Perhaps true if Julie sells cigarettes. False as it applies to income tax.

Analysis: Incumbent Democrat state Sen. Chris Marr voted this year to increase the tax on cigarettes from $2.03 to $3.03 a pack. He voted against the other taxes that the Legislature used this year to balance the budget.

It should be noted, however, that even though Marr voted against the final budget, he voted for an earlier version of the budget that assumed new taxes would be approved, saying he wanted to move the process forward.

Marr and his Republican challenger Michael Baumgartner both have taken strong stands against the income tax in general and the proposed income tax on next week’s ballot. The ad cites the Democratic Party platform as the source for its allegation that Marr backs an income tax. But Marr never signed or took a pledge to the party platform.

Claim: Baumgartner “supports corporate income tax that would harm small businesses.”

Source: Mailer from Marr campaign

Truthfulness: Half-truth, maybe even quarter-truth.

Analysis: What Marr doesn’t say is that Baumgartner would only support the creation of a new business tax if the state’s unpopular business and occupation tax were eliminated. And, technically, Baumgartner is supportive of a single-business tax, which is similar to a corporate income tax, but different.

Baumgartner has endorsed the Washington Policy Center’s proposed single-business tax, which is based on a tax in Texas. It’s a hybrid between the business and occupation tax, which is a tax on revenue, and an income tax, which would be a tax on profits. The proposed tax would be a tax on revenue, but businesses could deduct their cost of labor or cost of materials or $60,000 under the proposal from the police center, said Carl Gipson, who co-authored a report for the policy center about the single-business tax.

Businesses have long called the B & O tax unfair because businesses have to pay it even if they’re not profitable. Gipson said the group looked for alternatives a corporate income tax, in part, because of constitutional and other challenges to the creation of a corporate
income tax. Marr has said he opposes the policy center’s proposal.

Poll roundup in the Senate race

Three polls of Washington’s U.S. Senate race released in the last 24 hours have different numbers, but actually conclude the same thing: The race is very close.

Rasmussen Research late Thursday had the race at 47 percent Dino Rossi, 46 percent Patty Murray. It’s a survey of 750 voters, has a margin of error of 4 percent. So in other words, it’s tied, although Rasmussen notes that Murray was up 49-46 in a similar poll last week.

Also on Thursday, SurveyUSA had the race in an actual tie at 47 all in a poll it did for KingTV.  It’s a survey of 678 voters, with a margin of 3.8 percent.

At noon today, the Washington Poll, conducted by the University of Washington, had two figures from two sets of 500 voter surveys. For all voters, they  have the race at 49 percent Murray 45 percent Rossi; among likely voters, they have it at 51 percent Murray, 45 percent Rossi. Their margin of error is 4.3 percent for each of the 500-person surveys.

More on the Washington Poll results, which asked about issues important to voters, later on Spin Control and Sunday morning in The Spokesman-Review.

When mailing your ballot? Remember the stamp

Hundreds of thousands of ballots in Washington state are going to be mailed in the next four days.

Here are a few reminders:

Sign the outer envelope. If you live in a home with more than one voter, be sure you are signing your envelope, because the signature has to match the name on the envelope.

Put a 44-cent stamp on the envelope. And before you start complaining about this as an unfair cost of democracy, please note that in Idaho, mailing in a ballot cost 61 cents…there’s was bigger.

Get it postmarked by 8 p.m. Tuesday. That suggests that you should not just toss it in a pickup box at 7:59 p.m. If you’re waiting until Tuesday, take it to a post office, go inside and have them postmark it. Ofr save yourself 44 cents and take it to a drop-off box that your county elections office has set up in strategic spots around your county. In Spokane County, they’re in all public libraries. Several “Voter Service Centers” will also be open on Election Day. We’ll have a list on Tuesday for those who have waited that long.

Marmots emerge as the surprise issue in the Baumgartner-Marr battle

Claim: “Chris Marr (D) has wasted too much time in Olympia. (He) voted to designate the Olympic Marmot the official endemic mammal of the State of Washington, voted to create Christmas tree inspectors, voted to require truth in music advertising (and) voted to designate the Lady Washington as the official ship of the State of Washington.”

Source: Mailer from “People for Jobs,” a group that gets all its money from Enterprise Washington’s Jobs political action committee, which gets its money mostly from business interests. Contributors include Comcast, Farmers’ Insurance and Puget Sound Energy. By diverting money like this, the true source of the money can be concealed on the mailers.

Truthfulness: The first sentence is for voters to decide. The second sentence is 100 percent true and could also be said about almost all Washington legislators from both parties.

Analysis: People for Jobs mailed at least three mailers targeting Marr so far this campaign season. All of them make some questionable connections to Marr, including one that talks about how someone stole $431,376 from a victims’ compensation fund - as if Marr had anything to do with it. He didn’t.

Imagine the ad that could have been produced if Marr had voted against naming the Olympic marmot the state endemic animal. Here’s a possibility: “Chris Marr hates school children. Marr viciously stomped on the dream of fourth- and fifth-graders at Wedgwood Elementary School when he voted against their proposal to honor the Olympic Marmot, which is found only on the Olympic Peninsula.” (Note to campaign operatives: It would be unfair to pullout the first sentence, use an ellipsis and post it on a mailer so it says: ” ‘Chris Marr hates school children ….’ — Spokesman-Review 10-29-2010.’ “)

The “marmot issue” really didn’t seem like a prominent campaign topic until this gem arrived in mailboxes. So let’s quickly review Senate Bill 5071 from 2009. Kelly Clark’s fourth-grade class had lobbied the Legislature for years on several proposals as part of her civics lessons. The marmot bill was the first to gain traction and pass. Final votes were 43 to 4 in the Senate and 84 to 13 in the House.

Ad check: Union-funded flyers misstate Baumgartner’s positions

Claim: “Michael Baumgartner pledged to outlaw all abortions - and to not allow women and their families to decide what’s best when facing serious medical complications in their pregnancies.”

Source: Mailer from Healthy PAC, which is funded completely by Safety PAC, which is funded mostly by Service Employees International Union and Planned Parenthood. By diverting money like this, the true source of the money can be concealed on the mailers.

Truthfulness: False

Analysis: This mailer is similar to a few other mostly misleading mailers against Baumgartner paid for mostly by unions through tactics that allowed them to be anonymous on the ads.

This claim is attributed to a Spokesman-Review article about the Spokane County Republican Party platform and to Human Life of Washington. The platform, which was signed by Baumgartner, defines life as from “conception until natural death,” but it does not specifically address if abortions should be allowed in cases when a woman’s life is at risk. Human Life of Washington CEO Dan Kennedy said his organization, which endorsed Baumgartner, does not ask candidates about their position about making an exception in cases when a woman’s life is in danger.

Baumgartner said he would support allowing exceptions in cases when the mother’s life is at risk. He said he would not support making exceptions in cases of rape. (Marr supports abortion rights and says he agrees with the state’s current laws related to abortion, which do not require minors to notify parents before receiving an abortion.)

Baumgartner added that he supports safety testing of children’s products (a similar ad falsely implied he didn’t. That mailer was paid for by Strong PAC, which is funded completely by CARE PAC, which is funded mostly by the Washington Federation of State Employees).

More Marr and Baumgartner ad fact checks are here and here.

And here’s one from today’s paper about false claims made by backers of Al French, who is running against Bonnie Mager for county commissioner.

The Hill: McMorris Rodgers to move up?

The Hill, a Washington, D.C., newspaper that focuses on Congress and politics, speculates today that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers would move up in GOP leadership next year.

It assumes a couple of things, including that Rep. Mike Pence, the person above her in the Republican leadership, would step down, and of course that McMorris Rodgers will win re-election next Tuesday. (One is probably much more likely than the other.)

But it’s interesting for those who love that inside the Beltway, behind the curtains kind of stuff. It can be found here.

PDC violations could void legislative primary

A Democratic political strategist active in shadowy independent ads in a Spokane legislative campaign faces court sanctions for campaign violations in an Everett primary race.

Lisa MacLean’s tactics to hide who was contributing to efforts to sway the 38th District state Senate primary were so “reprehensible” that election may have to be overturned, the Public Disclosure Commission said Thursday. It voted 3-0 to refer the case to Attorney General Rob McKenna.

MacLean and her firm Moxie Media have set up a series of political committees this year to funnel money from unions, abortion rights groups and trial lawyers into hard-to-track independent campaigns all over the state, including two committees that attacked GOP challenger Mike Baumgartner this month.

Read more  inside the blog….

PDC asks AG to take Dem strategist to court

OLYMPIA — The state Public Disclosure Commission voted today to ask Attorney General Rob McKenna to seek civil penalties prosecute a liberal political strategist for concealing the sources of money that helped defeat a Democratic incumbent in the August primary. The violations are so severe, the board said, the primary could be overtuned and the election redone.

The PDC voted 3-0 to reject an offered settlement of $30,000 from Lisa MacLean for disclosure violations in the campaign against state Sen. Jean Berkey of Everett. MacLean helped set up political action committees that concealed that labor unions were helping to fund a Republican challenger as well as a Democratic opponent to Berkey in the primary.

MacLean’s firm, Moxie Media, helped set up Progress PAC and Stand Up For Citizens PAC, which collected money from labor unions to support Democrat Nick Harper over Berkey, whom the unions opposed because of votes against key legislation in the last session. Moxie also set up two other groups, Conservative PAC and Cut Taxes PAC, which sponsored mailer ads and robocalls in support of Republican Rod Rieger. Pre-election reports didn’t disclose the source of the money for the pro-Rieger ads.

Harper finished first in the election and Rieger finished second, 124 votes ahead of Berkey.

A PDC investigation showed MacLean deliberately obscured the source of the money for the independent campaign helping Rieger. Contributions that should have been revealed before the election weren’t disclosed until almost a month after the election. MacLean kept her name off the ads, also, using the name of another member of the firm “because he has a lower profile,” the PDC staff reported. She created secondary PACs to move money around, and told donors it was unlikely they’d be linked to it before the election.

MacLean was willing to settle the complaint for $30,000 but the PDC board said the violations were, in the words of Commissioner Jane Noland “reprehensible.” They turned the case over to the attorney general under a statute that allows for a court to overturn an election if it finds violations by political committees may have effected the outcome. It also allows for fines of $10,000 for each violation of state campaign laws, and treble punitive damages if a judge determines they were intentional.

So why should readers in Spokane care about all this? Because MacLean and her company, Moxie Media, have been busy in the 6th District Senate race, too. More on that later, and in Friday’s Spokesman-Review.

Today’s voter turn-in: 10,745

Spokane County Elections Office reported collecting 10,745 ballots this morning, bringing the total to 87,854 for the general election. Turn-in stands at 33.65 percent countywide, although a bit  lower in the city of Spokane and significantly lower in the 3rd Legislative District, a Democratic stronghold.

The overall total means turn-in is running slightly stronger in this second week of voting than in 2006 mid-term election, although nowhere near the levels of the presidential election year in 2008.

Here’s a numbers geek factoid: In both of those years, half the folks who were going to vote had turned in or mailed their ballots by the Thursday before election day. Projecting that trend onto this year (admittedly a somewhat shaky hypothesis) Spokane County would be on track for a turnout of about 67 percent.

Lots of help for undecided voters

Voters who need a bit more information about a candidate or an issue before marking their ballot need not despair – or, worse yet, rely on the latest negative commercial or attack mailer they’ve seen.

Voter information is actually in plentiful supply for voters with access to the Internet. There are also a couple of old standbys for folks who like to hold paper in their hands and read ink on pages.

One is — are you ready for the shameless plug? — The Spokesman-Review Voter’s Guide, which appeared in the Oct. 12 newspaper. The newspaper still has copies of that edition available at its circulation counters in downtown Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.

The other is the state Voter’s Pamphlet, which was mailed to voter households early this month. Even if you didn’t keep your copy, the public libraries have a supply; check with the reference desk.

Both of those are available online as well.  The newspaper’s online voter’s guide includes recent stories on many of the campaigns. The online version of state voter’s pamphlet can be found here. To zero in on local races or ballot measures, you may have to go to a county elections website; for Spokane County, the voter’s guide can be found here.

Looking for the Idaho Voter’s Pamphlet? It can be found here.

Other groups have compiled different voter guides, with varying degrees of success.

Ballotpedia, which calls itself an interactive almanac of state politics, is a somewhat uneven compilation of state races and state measures. Clicking on the map on its home page will take you to Washington or Idaho; the Washington page provides links to information on the legislative races and the statewide initiatives, but not the congressional races. The Idaho page doesn’t offer direct links to the statewide and legislative races. They exist on the site, but are difficult to find.

Imagine Election, a nonpartisan group, offers an easy-to-use site for information on federal and state candidates, and statewide initiatives. Entering a ZIP code brings up the names of candidates, and it correctly flags legislative districts that are in only part of that ZIP code. It’s not very good at determining which district you live in, based on your address. For statewide initiatives, it links to Ballotpedia.

VoteEasy, new feature from Project VoteSmart offers assistance in choosing between U.S. Senate and House candidates. It has 12 topics for you to select a position, then tells which candidates are closest to you on that issue. It’s fun, but limited: for crime, the only question involves capital punishment; for the economy, the only choice is whether federal funds should be used as stimulus. VoteSmart also has its political courage site for candidates, but so few Washington candidates of either party take the survey it’s not much help.

VoterMind, a website that debuted Wednesday, asks participants their stands on a series of issues, then picks the candidate that best matches those stands. But its choice of candidates is limited: for Washington, it’s just the U.S. Senate race; in Idaho, the U.S. Senate and governor’s races. Information about the candidates it does have is thin.

Facebook offers an app to its members called MyBallot, that will link you to a page with brief descriptions and links for the U.S. Senate candidates and the state ballot measures. The ballot measures lines seem to be written by someone with a decidedly liberal outlook and most links weren’t working Wednesday. The one that was sent viewers to Protect Washington, a group supporting the state income tax and school energy bond measures, but opposing the rest. A possible plus, lets you see how others on Facebook are voting; a possible minus, it can let them see how you’re voting.

The League of Women Voters recently debuted, which it bills as “one-stop-shopping for voter information. But some of the information about Washington, such as the in-person registration deadline, is wrong, and entering your address into the On Your Ballot page will tell you what congressional or legislative district you’re in, but not who’s running for those seats on your ballot. For that, they give you a link to the Washington Secretary of State.

Ballot stats: Turn-in jumps on Tuesday

Here’s something for numbers geeks and political wonks to debate in discussing whether voter turnout (or turn-in) in Spokane County may be trending up. Tuesday’s ballot count is the highest so far in this election.

As mentioned last week, the Tuesday after ballots go out is traditionally the heaviest day for ballots arriving in the county Elections Office until Election Day. That trend holds pretty steady in elections through 2006, and the theory is that voters who know who they want to cast a ballot for (or against) mark ‘em and mail ‘em right away. The rest of us delay for a number of reasons: We want to study the voters guide to figure out the difference between the two “get the state out of the liquor business” initiatives; we can’t decide whether to write-in a drinking buddy’s name for an uncontested race; we’re waiting to see which Murray v. Rossi ad ticks us off most.

This year, however, today’s count of 15,707 ballots was higher than last Tuesday’s count of 12,104.

While that didn’t happen in 2006, the last time there was a mid-term election, Elections Supervisor Mike McLaughlin did note there was a surge four years ago in the combined ballots from the first Monday and Tuesday (20,873)  compared to the combined ballots of the second Monday and Tuesday (23,876). (The first two days of the week can be significant because voters may be doing their research on the weekends and mailing or dropping off ballots right after that. Tuesday figures include the ballots picked up at drop boxes on Monday.)

This year the surge is bigger, up from 18,259 ballots on Monday and Tuesday last week to 25,575 this week.

This could be a result of both parties urging their members to mark their ballots and send them in as soon as possible. Or it may be a move by exhausted voters to send off a ballot so they will be spared more robocalls and mailers targeted at slackers who haven’t yet voted. (The campaigns get lists, you know.)

Raw numbers are one thing, percentages are something different, however. The total number of ballots received at this point in the two elections is within a few hundred. But there are about 25,000 more voters now, thanks in part to the big voter registration drives of 2008.

At this point in the 2006 election, 28.4 percent of the voters had cast ballots; final turnout was 68 percent. Thus far in 2010, 25.4 percent of the voters have cast ballots, and extrapolating a similar trend would have turnout in the range of about 61 percent.

Poundstone in the Park Saturday

The Spokane version of Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” will feature comedian Paula Poundstone Saturday, organizers said.

Poundstone is in Spokane for a couple of shows. Organizers asked her to come by Riverfront Park for the event. She said yes.

The rally is Stewart’s send-up of the Glenn Beck gathering at the Lincoln Memorial last August. Groups around the country (including Spokane Democrats) are sponsoring their local versions.

The Spokane rally is at noon, apparently designed to give participants a chance to watch the D.C. version (which starts at 9 a.m. Pacific) on the tube before heading downtown.

Still unclear: Just when did we have this sanity folks are talking about restoring?

Blasts from the past: Archived campaign lit

OLYMPIA — The Secretary of State’s Office blog has a daily feature this week on campaign literature from past campaigns in Washington state collected by the State Archives. It’s in honor of something or other that happens next Tuesday.

Today’s comes from Dan Evans’ 1964 campaign for governor, with a very earnest Evans looking out from a bumper sticker or mailer. (The shape conforms to a bumper sticker, but the photo suggests it’s printed on something a bit higher quality.)

Monday’s was an ad from one of Scoop Jackson’s presidential runs.

Kind of makes one wonder: What campaign materials would be worth archiving from 2010?

Washington gets $11.7 million

OLYMPIA - Most days, the revenue news out of the state capital is grim. But Tuesday state officials had a bit of good news: the state is getting $11.7 million in a settlement over the way some accounts in the state pension funds were handled.

State Treasurer James McIntyre and Attorney General Rob McKenna said the state reached a settlement with State Street Bank over a contract dispute for transactions between 1997 and 2007 involving foreign exchanges.

The money goes into the state’s Comingled Trust Fund, which holds pension money for a wide range of public employees, including teachers, cops, firefighters and judges.

The fund has about $53 billion in it, so $11.7 million is a small percent. Still, anything with eight figures can’t be considered chump change.

Michelle Obama: Get fired up

First Lady Michelle Obama campaigned for Patty Murray today in Bellevue.

The Spokesman-Review didn’t send a reporter. No disrespect to the First Lady, but our closest reporter is in Olympia, and while he made the trip to Seattle for the president, and another to Tacoma earlier this month for the vice president, the accountants are starting to wonder about all this mileage he’s been racking up, plus the 2+ hours it takes to crawl up I-5 at any time between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

But we do have what’s known as the FLOTUS Pool Report, which is the local reporter assigned to write what the First Lady Of The United States did at her events open to the press gaggle. The Associated Press’s Curt Woodward was assigned the task, and we have every confidence that he represented it accurately.

It’s designed to be more chronological than standard news style, so don’t look for the knock your socks off lead. It can be found inside the blog.

Today’s fun video: A gleeful spot from IL

Are campaign videos getting more creative or more derivative? With this one, it’s a tossup. Or maybe it’s both.

McCain: Murray part of ‘corrupt process’

U.S. Sen. John McCain tried to give a boost to Republican Dino Rossi’s chances of joining him in the Senate by saying Democrat Patty Murray “engages in a corrput practice.”

McCain stepped an inch back from calling Murray, a three-term incumbent with whom he’s had significant disagreements, corrupt.

“I think (use of earmarks) is a corrupt practice. She engages in that corrupt practice. Whether she is corrupt or not, I’ll let others decide,” McCain said in a telephonic press conference arranged by the Rossi campaign Monday morning.

The Murray campaign was quick to label McCain as “anti-Boeing”, noting the long-running fight over awarding the bids for a new Air Force tanker in which the Arizona senator pushed to open the bidding, which resulted in European-based Airbus briefly getting the nod for the plane to replace the KC-135 tanker. That was later pulled back because of contract irregularities, and Boeing and Airbus are again vying for the contract. Murray says the Pentagon shouldn’t award the contract without taking into account the subsidies Airbus gets, and is criticizing McCain for protesting that stance and Rossi for campaigning with someone who “worked against Washington state’s interests at every turn.”

Monday’s teleconference was designed to highlight earmarks, federal spending directed by members of Congress which are a key element of Rossi’s campaign against Murray, on a day when First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, are in Bellevue campaigning for Murray. It was supposed to have two GOP heavy hitters, McCain and Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, but Coburn didn’t get connected to the call and McCain was cut off before the last question could be asked.

Rossi wasn’t on the call, although his staff quickly arranged another teleconference for him to reiterate his opposition to earmarks, although he declined to say whether he was in the state.

McCain blasted earmarks as “the gateway to corruption” and “a disgraceful process.” He said Congress should do away with them permanently. This is slightly different from Rossi’s position that he will not seek earmarks until the federal budget is balanced, and at that point might consider them along with changes in the budgeting process.

“I don’t know why that should be a criteria,” McCain said. “I respectfully disagree with my friend Dino on that.”

In his later press conference, Rossi indicated that he and McCain have further disagreements on earmarks as well. McCain said such locally directed spending should only come from the Administration or the authorizing committees in Congress. Members of the Appropriations Committees shouldn’t be adding things into their bills, he said. States and districts aren’t really helped by earmarks, he added: “It’s like welfare.”

Rossi said that while he’d be happy with eliminating earmarks altogether, he thinks the executive branch has too much power in deciding where the money goes right now.

That seems to put him somewhere between McCain and Murray, who has said that it’s better for members of Congress to direct money to worthy projects supported by people in their states than leave the decisions up to unelected “bureaucrats.”


Last chance to register

Washington voters have until close of business today to register to vote, and they’ll have to go to their local county elections office to register in person.

You’ll need some form of identification that lists the address of your residence, like a driver’s license or a utility bill in your name at your residence.

You can’t register on line or by mail. You have to show up in person. If that seems a bit inconvenient, well, you may as well just sit this one out.

In Spokane County, you’d have to go to the Elections Office at 1033 W. Gardner by 4 p.m.

Monday’s it. Get registered or sit election out

Monday is the last day to register to vote in Washington state for the Nov. 2 election.

Honest. No kidding. That’s it.

And if you aren’t registered now, but want to vote, you’re going to have to do a little bit to be able to exercise your voting rights.

Not shed blood, or sell your first-born child or anything like that.

You’re going to have to go to theCounty  Elections Office, in person, and fill out the form. None of this clicking on a Web site or mailing it in. We’re thinking that if it’s worth it to you to vote, you can make the trip.

In Spokane County, the Elections Office is at 1033 W. Gardner, which is a few blocks north of the County Courthouse.

(The courthouse? It’s that building that looks like a castle, just off Monroe on Broadway. You can’t miss it, really.)

Elections office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bring some ID, and you can get registered to vote.

To avoid any questions, next time Obama should come to Spokane

After President Barack Obama stopped in a Seattle neighborhood for a “backyard conversation”, the Washington State Republican Party complained that this was nothing but a political event for which Sen. Patty Murray’s re-election campaign should be charged.

Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. The 35 or so folks gathered in the Wedgwood backyard were polite – Seattle nice, was the phrase some local reporters used – and while several said their questions weren’t pre-approved by White House staff, many prefaced their remarks with praise for what he’s done or thanks for coming to town.

Murray was on the deck with him, and while Obama didn’t mention her opponent Dino Rossi, he did suggest folks be skeptical of people calling for big cuts in the federal budget without saying what they’d cut. (Technically, that criticism could be leveled at both candidates.)

There were no complaints from the GOP a few weeks ago when a woman at a similar gathering said she was tired of having to defend his policies, and wondering whether things would ever get better,

To avoid any complaints in the future, the president might want to think about holding his backyard conversation in Spokane the next time he comes to this Washington, and having a random draw for seats on the lawn. It might go something like this:

Obama: Ask them what they’d cut

SEATTLE — President Barack Obama said skeptical voters should challenge Republican candidates who are calling for smaller  budgets, demanding  that they explain how they’d shrink the government.

Appearing in a northeast Seattle neighborhood for a “backyard conversation” with about 35 local residents, Obama defended policies his administration and Congressional Democrats have pushed through in the last 21 months. But he acknowledged the effects of some things like health care reform are just starting to be felt, and might not seem like a good idea for years.

But Sen. Patty Murray, who joined Obama on the deck behind Erik and Cynnie Foss’s remodeled home, doesn’t have years. She’s locked in a tough re-election battle with former state Sen. Dino Rossi, who is one of those Republicans criticizing Democrats for health care and the stimulus programs while calling for smaller government and less spending.

Rossi continually hammers at Murray for federal spending and deficits while noting he helped engineer a balanced budget in the Legislature in 2003.

Without mentioning Rossi by name, Obama said voters should ask anyone calling for less government “what exactly do you mean to cut. If they can’t answer the question, they’re not serious about it.”

In fact, Rossi and Murray — who also acknowledges the budget must be cut and the deficit brought down — were both asked that question at a recent debate. Neither offered many specifics.

The stimulus package “did cost money and it added to the deficit,” Obama acknowledged, but he defended it as necessary: “Had we not taken those steps, had we dropped into a depression, the deficit would have been even worse.”

The theme of the conversation was helping women in the difficult economy, and Obama used it as a chance to highlight some emerging Seattle businesses owned or operated by women who are growing, with government help, despite the economy. Jody Hall, owner of Cupcake Royale, said she was able to open a fourth and fifth shop in the last 18 months, adding 30 workers, in part because of a Small Business Administration loan that she secured at more favorable terms than she’d get from the bank. Christina Lomasney of Modumetal, a high-metals manufacturer, said her company received a U.S. Energy Department contract through the Recovery Act.

At a previous backyard conversation in Ohio, Obama came under fire from a supporter who said she was struggling and getting tired of defending him and his administration. There was none of that in Seattle, where most people prefaced their question or remarks with thanking him for coming or praising the job he was doing. Instead he had supporters of recent health care reforms questioning why the changes are be blasted by Republicans with no checking by the news media on who’s distorting the facts.

The health care changes are complicated, but will become more popular as they take effect, Obama predicted: “We’re going to look back 20 years from now and say this wasabsolutely the right thing to do.”

He blamed the drop in the popularity of health care reform to the need to push on to other problems as soon as it was passed. “I had to move on so fast…we didn’t always think about making sure we were advertising properly what we were doing.”

Asked if he had seen the movie “Waiting for Superman”, a documentary about the struggle of students trying to win rare slots for charter schools, Obama said he had: “That’s another good deal from being president…We get (movies) on DVD before they hit the theaters.”

He said the administration is trying to spur innovation in schools through its  Race to the Top competition that will give money to states that offer the best plans for improvement. Washington state’s applied for Race to the Top money, but did not make the cut.

After an hour in the Foss’s backyard, Obama and Murray headed to the University of Washington’s Hec Edmundson Center for a get out the vote rally.

Rossi is in Seattle today, too. He has a press conference this afternoon to discuss wasteful earmarks.

Obama: Women made strides, still at disadvantage

SEATTLE—Women have made great strides, so they make up half the workforce, but still face problems with lower wages, President Obama told participants in a “back yard discussion.”

Women, like men, have trouble getting loans, he said. They know that the middle class has been under pressure for a decade, not just during the recession.

The economy isn’t shrinking any more, and jobs are growing, however slowly he said.

“We’ve still got a long way to go,” he said. “It’s going to take us some time to turn it around”

Jody Hall of Cupcake Royale, a Seattle bakery, said she’s been able to expand to a fourth and fifth location in the last 18 months, adding 30 employees, in part because she could get a much more favorable rate than at a bank.

Asked by a supporter of health care reform why more isn’t being done to defend that program, Obama said that as more people see the benefits, it will become more popular.

“We’re going to look back 20 years from now and say this was the right thing to do.”

He also defended stimulus spending: “People have a legitimate concern about the debt and deficits…It did cost money and added to the deficit. Had we not taken those steps, had we dipped into a depression, the deficit would have been even worse.”


Obama heading for Seattle neighborhood

SEATTLE — The streets of the Wedgewood neighborhood in northeast Seattle are lined with people hoping to catch a glimpse or a photo of President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to hold a backyard discussion here shortly after 10 a.m.

Parents have children in patio chairs and Halloween costumes in front of houses decorated with jack o’lanterns. On Interstate 5 heading toward the area, however, protestors are holding a sign saying “Lost Jobs” with the first “o” the Obama 2008 logo.

Obama has two stops in Seattle today. The backyard discussion on women and the economy, which will take about an hour, and a rally  for Sen. Patty Murray at the Hec Edmundson Pavillion on University of Washington campus.

He apparently made an unplanned stop in downtown, Seattle, too, at a donut shop.

Republican challenger Dino Rossi has an event, too, after Obama leaves town. He’ll hold a press conference denouncing earmarks, the federal spending he’s been hammering Murray for using to bring federal funds to Washington.

Organizers just asked the 30 or so people in the damp backyard of Erik and Cynnie Foss to take their seats because Obama is appare

Trick or what?

Young voters who might be slacking off on their civic duty might be prompted to mark and mail their ballots on Halloween with a get out the vote effort organizers are calling “Trick or Vote.”

Washington Bus and NextUp Spokane, a pair of non-profits, will be doiong several things young voters may like better than voting — going to a bar, wearing costumes around neighborhoods, going back to a bar for music — on Oct. 31 in Spokane.

They’ll gather at the nYne Bar and Bistro, 232 E. Sprague at 3 p.m. for some pointers, then head out with “walking lists” of key precincts which will tell them where voters aged 18-35 who haven’t voted are living. (You can get lists like this from the Spokane County elections office.)

They’ll knock on those doors, greet residents with “trick or vote” and hand over some information on who supports and who opposes the ballot measures. Nothing on the candidates, but if asked they’ll be able to mention the voters go to the on-line guides.

Alayna Becker of Washington Bus says the number one excuse for young voters who don’t vote is “I just forgot about it.” This gives volunteers a chance to remind them to grab the ballot off the desk or counter (or fish it out of the trash) and get it done.

Volunteers will return to the bar at 7 p.m. for a Halloween party.

As mentioned previously in this space, Spin Control is skeptical of efforts to boost young voter turnout. But this item does allow us to post the video above that spoofs the Christine O’Donnell “I’m not a witch” ad (even though it is a stretch.

Ballot measures rake in big bucks

A startling statistic, courtesy of the state Public Disclosure Commission and Secretary of State’s offices: Neary three times as much money has been raised by the campaigns for and against the ballot measures as the combined total raised by all legislative, judicial, county and city candidates this year.

Money raised for and against the ballot measures: $60.2 million.
Money raised by all candidates: $21.5 million.

Many readers may have sensed that, based on the commercials flooding the airwaves, the mailers clogging the mail boxes, and the robo calls tying up the phone lines.

But it’s possible you ain’t seen nothing yet. That’s because the initiative campaigns have only reported spending $41.6 million of the money they took in. And they’ve got a fairly small window of opportunity to convince you to vote yes or no. The window closes a little bit more each day until Nov. 2, when it shuts all together.

There was a huge influx of money last week because of limits placed on donors in the final three weeks of the campaign.

Today’s ballot turn-in: 7,650

As suggested yesterday, Tuesday was likely the high-water mark for ballots being received in Spokane County for the next two weeks.

Today’s count was 7,650, down about 4,500 from Tuesday’s 12,104.

Highest turnout right now is in central Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District, which is at about 11.2%, compared to 10.4% for the 4th District, 9.6% for the 6th District. 9.1% for the 7th District and 8.7% for the 9th District.

The 3rd District typically leads in turnout at the beginning of the turn-in, but drops to the bottom by election day.

Deja vu fight: Who pays for Obama’s stop in Seattle tomorrow

President Barack Obama’s trip to Seattle Thursday for a backyard chat and a political rally at University of Washington is bringing up a dispute Spokane folks can relate to.

No, not health care reform. Or Wall Street reform. Or birth certificate provenance.

It’s a cost fight, as in “Who picks up the tab?”


GOP vice chairman voted for Democrat Malone for prosecutor

Dave Stevens, a Republican who lost his bid this summer for Spokane County prosecutor to incumbent Republican Steve Tucker and Democrat Frank Malone, said Wednesday that he cast his vote for Malone in the November election.

The vote is a reversal from where Stevens stood after the primary, when he said he supported Tucker because he was concerned that Malone didn’t have the necessary experience for the job. Stevens, who worked under Tucker until Tucker fired him after he announced his candidacy, said he changed his mind after talking to Malone on the phone.

He said Malone assured him that he wouldn’t shake up the staff of deputy prosecuting attorneys.

Stevens is the vice chairman of the Spokane County Republican Party. Asked about his party leadership spot, Stevens said he did not consider his openness about how he voted as an endorsement.

“I get to vote for anyone I want, just like anybody else,” he said.

McMorris Rodgers, Romeyn go head-to-head

Democratic challenger Daryl Romeyn painted Cathy McMorris Rodgers as a do-nothing incumbent who has no solutions for federal deficits, illegal immigration, high school dropouts or childhood obesity.
McMorris Rodgers suggested Romeyn was someone who didn’t understand complex forest issues and would tax small businesses out of existence and set off a trade war with China.
In their first – and likely only – televised debate, the three-term congresswoman and the former television reporter agreed on very little Tuesday except for the importance of the American dream and the need to secure the nation’s borders before addressing other problems with illegal immigration. Those few seconds of agreement on immigration were closed off with Romeyn’s suggestion that she should’ve done something about it already: “She’s been there six years.”
Asked how to cut unemployment and boost the region’s economy, Romeyn suggested programs to boost the timber and farm communities and manufacture airplane parts. McMorris Rodgers said it’s not government programs but government stability on taxes, regulations and health care costs that will get businesses hiring again.
“We need to calm the waters, first of all,” she said.

Two GOP funders criticize anti-Marr ad

Two associations that gave money to a Republican group that is funding an ad against incumbent Democratic state Sen. Chris Marr criticized the spot and say they will reevaluate their political donation strategies in light of the commercial.

The Washington Health Care Association gave $30,000 to The Leadership Council, which is the fund dedicated to the election of Republicans to the state Senate. The Washington Hospital Association gave $20,000 to the council.

Leadership Council money has funded Spokane Families for Change, a political action committee created this month that paid for a commercial highlighting a 2005 sexual harrassment lawsuit against Foothills Automall. At the time, Marr was a co-owner of the dealership and a named party in the lawsuit. On Saturday, Dawn Fowler, the woman who filed the suit demanded that the ad to be removed from the air, called Marr “a good boss,” and said specific allegations regarding Marr in her suit that was quoted in the ad were untrue. She said she contacted Marr after seeing the ad.

“While we cannot stop the misleading and dishonest anti-Marr campaign ads, we want to make it abundantly clear that WHCA did not contribute money to the Republican Leadership Council for the purpose of preventing the re-election of Senator Marr,” said Washington Health Care Association President and CEO Gary Weeks in a letter to The Spokesman-Review.

Randy Revelle, treasurer of the hospital association’s political action committee, called Marr a “true champion of health care and hospitals,” in a letter to The Spokesman-Review. 

The hospital association and health care association, which represents nursing homes, also gave money to the Roosevelt Fund, which is dedicated to electing Democrats to the state Senate. The health care association gave $800 to Marr’s re-election campaign.

Revelle said when his group gave to The Leadership Council, he did not know that the money could be transferred to political action committees that would target individual candidates.

Asked why the organization doesn’t simply give its campaign money to individual candidates, Revelle said the group has found it important to give to party leadership funds, but that policy will be examined.

“If you want to have access to the leadership, you need to participate in their funding programs,” Revelle said. “We just have to decide in the future if we should take that risk again.”


Today’s an important day for this election

Today isn’t marked in red on calendars, but it is an important day for political candidates and the people who work for them.

It’s the first Tuesday after ballots were mailed out in Washington state. And it is traditionally the high-water mark for ballots coming into the county elections office until the actual election day.

Generally speaking, about a third of voters who are going to mark and cast ballots do so as soon as they get them or over that first weekend. So today is the day that ballots from people who live in the county and mailed by Monday are most likely arrive. Returns will trail off until the day before Election Day, if this year is at all typical (which, admittedly, is assuming facts not in evidence.)

Today’s count: 12,104 out of Spokane County’s 260,597 voters, or about 4.6% of those eligible.

In 2008, the first Tuesday ballot count for the presidential election was 18,965 ballots, or about 7.2 percent of 262,569 registered voters. The county went on to experience record-setting turnout with 222,065 ballots cast. The difference in first Tuesday ballot totals could numeric evidence that an “enthusiasm gap” does exist.

But there are two other sets of numbers to examine when looking at ballot returns and enthusiasm, the vote totals in the primaries.

In this August primary, the first Tuesday count was 11,083 out of the county’s 260,160 voters, or about 4.2%. By the end of the election, 113,090 people voted. In August 2008 (which, like this year did not  have a presidential race on that ballot, 8,665 out of the county’s 243,568 voters sent in their ballots, and 113,837 voted.

Catch the candidates: Oct. 27 at downtown library

The Riverside Neighborhood Council has a candidate forum at 5 p.m. Oct. 27 at the downtown Spokane Library that will feature Democratic congressional candidate Daryl Romeyn, 3rd District legislative candidates Timm Ormsby, Morgan Oyler and Andy Billig, and county commissioner candidates Bonnie Mager and Al French.

Organizer Gary Pollard said they invited the other candidates in those races but were turned down. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ campaign said no just this week because of a scheduling conflict, he said.

Oct. 27 is fairly late, considering ballots went out last week, Pollard agreed. But that was when they could book the room and get the largest number of candidates to show, he said.

Debate reminder: McMorris Rodgers v. Romeyn tonight

In what may be the most anticipated 5th District Congressional debate in years, Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democratic challenger Daryl Romeyn go head-to-head tonight on television.

They’ll be answering questions from a panel that includes Spokesman-Review reporter and Spin Control contributor Jonathan Brunt, public radio’s Doug Nadvornik, and KXLY-TV’s Robin Nance. KXLY-TV’s Nadine Woodward is the moderator. (So Nance and Woodward are switching roles from last week’s U.S. Senate debate.)

The anticipation isn’t because the race is thought to be particularly close, or because the two are recognized as master debaters, but because at various times they both refused to do this debate, the only televised matchup proposed for the race. The agreement wasn’t reached until early Monday, which is way quick for a televised debate.

Because the debate is being taped earlier in the day, there are two chances to see it: 7 p.m. on KXLY-TV and 8 p.m. on KSPS-TV. KXLY will also stream it live on the station’s web site.

And, of course, there will be coverage on this evening, and in Wednesday’s newspaper. 


WA Senate race: Rossi in Seattle, Murray in Vancouver today

Sen. Patty Murray joins Vice President Joe Biden in Vancouver today for a campaign rally, marking the second time in two weeks the veep has come to the state to campaign for Murray. Former president Bill Clinton was in Everett on Monday, and President Obama will be in Seattle Thursday.

Republicans, not surprisingly, have a less than positive take on this, calling this Day 2 of the “D.C. Bosses Tour.”

Murray takes a break from appearances with national figures on Wednesday for a campaign stop in Spokane. Unless one considers the executive vice president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare a national figure. It’s at the West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt, at 10 a.m.

Dino Rossi, meanwhile, is in Seattle today accepting the endorsement from the Council of Metropolitan Police and Sheriffs.He’ll make stops in Moses Lake, Yakima and Olympia on Wednesday.

Today’s fun video: You think our ads are bad…

For those not sick to death of the television commercials for races in Washington state and Idaho, we offer Slate e-magazine’s compilation of the best/worst ads from around the state.

5th Cong Dist debate back on (really)

Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Daryl Romeyn will debate after all on Tuesday, it seems.

The incumbent Republican congresswoman and the Democratic challenger, who each at one point turned down an invitation to debate for scheduling reasons, reportedly have cleared their respective calendars for Tuesday afternoon. They’ll tape a debate in the afternoon that will be aired at 7 p.m. on KXLY-TV and 8 p.m. on KSPS-TV.

“Both sides have agreed to be there tomorrow,” Jill Johnson, the producer of the debate, said Monday morning.

Each candidate came under fire last week for turning down the debate, which has been under discussion since mid August. McMorris Rodgers’ campaign declined to participate last Monday, citing “scheduling constraints,” prompting Romeyn to say her refusal was denying him a chance to be heard.

McMorris Rodgers staff contacted Johnson Friday morning, saying they would clear her schedule for the debate. But on Friday evening, Romeyn told KXLY-TV that he wouldn’t agree because he’d scheduled something after she turned down the debate and he couldn’t get out of his commitment. If McMorris Rodgers wanted to debate him, she should appear at one of the places he intended to be, he said.

Sunday night, however, Romeyn contacted Johnson and said he’d be willing to debate after all. After contacting the two stations sponsoring the debate, she said the debate could be taped at 3 p.m. for broadcast that evening

Woman who claimed harassment calls for anti-Marr ad to be pulled from air

The woman whose sexual harassment lawsuit was highlighted in a recent campaign commercial against state Sen. Chris Marr demanded Saturday that the ad be pulled from TV.

In a hand-written letter released by the Marr campaign, Dawn Fowler said she was outraged when she saw the ad.

“I want voters to know (Marr) a was good and responsible boss,” Fowler said in the letter. “I have never contended that he was guilty of sexual harassment, as the ad claims. My issue was with co-workers and others at Foothills Auto, not Chris Marr.”

Marr is a Democrat in the midst of a heated re-election bid against Republican Michael Baumgartner.

In a brief interview Saturday afternoon, Fowler said that she reached out to Marr after seeing the ad and that all the words in the letter are hers.

“The families involved have worked to put this troubled issue behind us and move forward,” she wrote. “It’s too bad Chris’ opponents can’t just focus on real issues rather than bring up things to hurt other people.”


Congressional debate off, again (or still)

Just days after saying Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ refusal to debate was denying him a voice, congressional challenger Daryl Romeyn refused to debate when she changed her mind and offered to debate next week.

Whether the two candidates will meet face-to-face before the Nov. 2 election seems doubtful, but one thing seems sure. There will be no televised debate next week on KSPS-TV and KXLY-TV.

McMorris Rodgers’ campaign contacted debate organizers on Friday,saying she wanted to withdraw her withdrawal from the Oct. 19 debate. The campaign said earlier in the week that she wouldn’t participate due to “scheduling constraints.” Producer Jill Johnson got tentative approval from the two stations, but couldn’t contact Romeyn until the evening after he’d been interviewed on KXLY-TV’s 6 p.m. newscast where he said he wasn’t going to agree to the new offer.

To read more about the debate over a debate that turned into a non-debate, read this morning’s story.

McMorris Rodgers, Romeyn may debate after all

A few days after saying they couldn’t fit a debate into Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ schedule, the Republican incumbent’s campaign has shifted course and asked if she could debate Daryl Romeyn after all.

The campaign called KSPS-TV producer Jill Johnson this morning, asking if the offer to debate on Channel 7 and KXLY-TV next week was still open. Johnson said she would check with the two stations, and Romeyn, to see if it could be arranged. 

Nothing definite yet, Johnson said, because she now needs to contact Romeyn, who’d been told the debate was off. “We’re interested in making it happen,” she said.

Earlier in the week, the campaign had declined that matchup, the one proposed televised debate for the 5th Congressional District, because of “scheduling constraints.”

A post Wednesday in Spin Control and a story in the Spokesman-Review on Thursday noted that McMorris Rodgers had turned down that debate and no others were scheduled, which suggested Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District might be without a face-to-face debate for the first time in decades. That story apparently struck a chord with readers, and is currently the most-commented story on the newspaper’s Web site.

UPDATE: McMorris Rodgers’ campaign issued a press release this afternoon saying she has agreed to the debate, although Johnson said she had yet to contact Romeyn to confirm that he could schedule it. The text of the McMorris Rodgers press release can be found inside the blog.


Senate Debate aftermath: Claiming victory

After last night’s Senate debate, the two combatants — er, candidates — came out for the obligatory post-event press conference to answer questions. The obligatory first question was, how do you think you did.

Surprisingly, each thought they did well, but their opponent? Not so much.

“I feel great about it,” Sen. Patty Murray said, reiterating what she repeated several times, that she had answer questions but her opponent had not.

“I think it went well,” challenger Dino Rossi said, grousing slightly that they didn’t get a question about the bailouts. But he answered the questions, he added, and Murray didn’t.

(An aside: From the debate set, it seemed each had instances where they preferred to answer the questions they wanted to be asked, rather than the questions they actually were asked. Don’t know if it looked like that on television.)

Both campaigns were attempting to “fact check” the opponents answers during the debate, sending out e-mails questioning the veracity of some part of an answer.

First to declare victory was the Washington State Republican Party, for Rossi. Amazingly enough, they declared victory at 8:01 p.m. with a written statement quoting state chairman Luke Esser. So folks at the state GOP can either type really fast or were predisposed to declare Rossi the victor. We’re guessing the former.

Rossi’s campaign declared victory at 8:08 p.m., and the Murray campaign at 8:18 p.m., because they first issued one more challenge to something Rossi said in the closing minutes.

Strangely enough, the Rossi and Murray camps agreed on one key point: that the debate offered the voters a “clear choice” in the election. Considering that both sides have commercials suggesting the opponent is so low they’d have to climb an extension ladder to be equal to pond scum, that may be welcome news to voters thinking there’s not a dimes worth of difference between these folks.

If you want to decide for yourself, click on the box above to see the debate, courtesy of KXLY-TV’s website.


Senate debate: Candidates in, cleaver out

Sen. Patty Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi have arrived for the first televised debate in Washington’s state Senate race.

That means the partisans who arrived to cheer one or jeer the other have dispersed, but not before a person taking issue with their demonstration was detained by police for brandishing a cleaver at the Murray demonstrators.

The man had driven past several times, flashing half of the old “Peace” sign and eventually waving a cleaver out his car window. From inside the studio, it’s not immediately clear if he was just detained, cited or taken to that buildilng behind the courthouse for a discussion about the right and wrong time to flash cutlery.

Say what you will, I’ll bet there won’t be any cleavers brandished at the debate in Seattle on Sunday.

Debate starts live at 7 p.m.

Group funding anti-Marr TV ad — Spokane Families for Change — not funded by Spokane families

A new TV commercial began running this week criticizing state Sen. Chris Marr for running an auto dealership that settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with an employee.

The issue popped up in Marr’s first run for office in 2006. Marr, a Democrat, is in a heated reelection battle with Republican Michael Baumgartner.

We at Spin Control haven’t seen the ad yet, but we are told it was financed by a group called “Spokane Families for Change.”

According to the Public Disclosure Commission, Spokane Families for Change raised $80,000 from one donation from a Kirkland-based fund called “Working Families for Change.”

The Kirkland group’s $200,000 came entirely from three donations this year from “The Leadership Council.”

The Leadership Council’s has raised $827,000. The biggest donations are from the Republican State Leadership Council, Washington Health Care Association, the Building Industry Association of Washington, the Washington Hospital Association political action committee, Sabey Corp., Katsam, Anheuser-Busch, Bank of America, Comcast and MillerCoors.

Only four individuals with Spokane addresses are listed as contributors to the Leadership Council. They each gave $500: John Condon, Terrill Hunt, David Moore and Larry Moran.

Ahern skips televised debates

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John Ahern on 10-13-2010
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John Driscoll 10-13-2010

Tonight’s annual televised Chase Youth Commission debate will have a noticeably absent candidate: John Ahern.

While Ahern has appeared with his opponent, incumbent Democratic State Rep. John Driscoll, at several other forums, Ahern also missed last month’s debate sponsored by the League of Woman Voters of the Spokane Area. That event was the only other televised forum that would have featured the two side-by-side. 


Live tonight from Spokane: Rossi v. Murray

The first debate in Washington’s U.S. Senate race between Patty Murray and Dino Rossi comes to you live from Spokane at 7 p.m.

It will be carried on KXLY-TV and KSPS-TV in Spokane and surrounding communities, on public television stations throughout Washington including KCTS Channel 9  in Seattle, and on the second digital channel for KOMO-TV in Seattle. [Update: KXLY also will be streaming the debate.]

Candidates arrive at the KSPS studio on the South Hill between 5:30 and 6 p.m., and the campaigns can be expected to have folks to cheer their candidate and jeer the opponent on the sidewalk, so be advised if your normal commute takes you up Regal at that time.

Partisans will likely leave shortly after 6, because there won’t be much to see after the candidates get inside, and they want to get somewhere to watch. Democrats and Republicans each have their own debate watch parties: Rs at the Quality Inn Valley Suites at I-90 and Argonne; Ds at Toad Hall at 1427 W. Dean.

Format is a one-hour session with questions e-mailed in from the public and from a panel of reporters. (Full disclosure: I’m on the panel so this might be considered a shameless plug. Jonathan Brunt will be covering the debate for Friday morning’s S-R.)


No debate in the 5th Congressional District

For the first time in decades, there will be no debate or face-to-face forum for candidates in Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District race because the incumbent is refusing to participate.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ campaign said Wednesday she will not debate Democratic challenger Daryl Romeyn “due to scheduling constraints.”

McMorris Rodgers, seeking her fourth term in the House where she holds a GOP leadership position, declined this week to participate in the one proposed televised debate, a one-hour question-and-answer session next week on KSPS-TV and KXLY-TV, after more than a month of discussions.

She also turned down other forums with Romeyn, a novice candidate whom she outpolled nearly 5-to-1 in the primary and holds a 100-to-1 advantage in campaign contributions in the latest spending reports.

“I don’t think that’s the way American democracy works,” Romeyn, a former television weatherman and outdoor reporter, said. “They must feel putting her out there (in a debate) would do more damage than holding her back.”

McMorris Rodgers said Wednesday  her campaign waited to commit to debates because Romeyn was slow to file reports with the Federal Election Commission after the primary and “we weren’t sure how serious of a candidate he was.” The campaign later tried to identify some dates but couldn’t fit them in with other scheduled events…to read more, click here to go inside the blog.

GOP in Tacoma in 2012

Active Republicans  might want to start looking for good deals on rooms in Tacoma at the end of May 2012. That’s where the Washington State Republican Party will hold its convention.

The state GOP announced today it chose the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center for its biannual gathering. They drew some 1,700 delegates to Vancouver this year, and considering 2012 is a presidential year, an even larger crowd can be expected in Tacoma.

Been 25 years since the state GOP held a convention in Tacoma, party officials said.

They’re in the mail. Honest.

Ballots to Spokane County voters go into the mail starting today.

It’s a two-day process to mail out some 255,000 ballots in Spokane County, so ballots to the 3rd Legislative District (central Spokane) and 4th Legislative District (Spokane Valley) are being mailed today, and those to the 6th (curving from northwest Spokane around to the South Hill), the 7th (Deer Park and the northern tip part of the county) and the 9th (the West Plains and the southern third of the county) go out Thursday.

If you don’t get your ballot by Oct. 21, you can figure that something may be amiss, and you should call the elections office at 477-2320.

Ballots have to be marked, signed and sent by Nov. 2. That means a postmarked by that day, or — for those wishing to save a stamp — dropped in a pickup box. Drop boxes can be found at most county libraries. A list of locations and addresses can be found inside the blog.

Ferris hosting next battle between Baumgartner and Marr

The Ferris High School debate team will host a debate Wednesday between incumbent Democratic state Sen. Chris Marr and his Republican opponent, Michael Baumgartner.
The two candidates, who are fighting one of the most expensive state Legislative battles this year in Washington, hope to represent the 6th Legislative District, which surrounds central Spokane on the north, west and south.
The debate starts at 7 p.m. in the Ferris High School auditorium. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the Ferris Jazz Orchestra will play until the political forum starts.

(If you’ve seen the two debate so far this election season, you’ll find the boxing poster imagery quite relevant.)

Biden making another trip for Murray

In a sign of just how much the Obama administration wants Patty Murray to hold onto her Senate seat, Vice President Joe Biden is making a second campaign stop in Washington this month.

Biden will attend a rally with Murray in Vancouver next Tuesday at the Pearson Air Museum. That’s just 11 days after he attended a rally with Murray in Tacoma. And two days before President Obama attends a rally with Murray at the University of Washington campus in Seattle. And six days before First Lady Michelle Obama attends a luncheon and fundraiser for Murray in Bellevue.

Dino Rossi’s campaign called the visits “a lineup of D.C. insiders comoing into town to bailout her campaign.” 

Dems to party, too, for debate

Not to be out-partied by Republicans, local Democrats have scheduled a debate watch party for the live televised face-off between Dino Rossi and Patty Murray.

Democrats will be snacking and cheering at one of their favorite hangouts, Toad Hall, not far from the County Courthouse north of downtown Spokane.

As mentioned previously, the Republicans of Spokane County will be debate-watching (excuse the terrible verb construction) at the Quality Inn in Spokane Valley, I-90 and Argonne.

Spokane takes step closer to vehicle tab tax

Spokane City Council members on Monday decided to give themselves new taxing authority.

The council voted 5-2 to create a “Transportation Benefit District.” The decision means the council will have the ability to enact a vehicle tab tax up to $20. Higher tab taxes would require public votes.

The decision did not enact any tax. Council members said they likely will hold a hearing on a proposed fee as early as November.

While the money raised would have to be spent on street and transportation projects, the law allows the city to divert other revenue currently spent on streets.

Council members Bob Apple and Nancy McLaughlin voted against the proposal. Council members said they likely will dissolve the district if the county forms a regional district at a later date. Apple said any fee should go on a ballot.

KHQ says Baumgartner deleted questions from station’s Facebook Q & A

KHQ is reporting that Republican state Senate candidate Michael Baumgarter deleted questions to him from Facebook users during a KHQ Facebook interview last week.

Mark Billings, executive assignment producer at KHQ, said the Baumgartner campaign admitted to deleting questions they felt were biased and likely written by supporters of his opponent, incumbent Democrat state Sen. Chris Marr.

This campaign season, KHQ’s Facebook page has hosted question and answer sessions with almost 10 candidates. Billings, who has organized the events, said candidates come to the KHQ newsroom and are signed on using KHQ’s Facebook account.

Billings said the session was monitored by a KHQ staff member, but that person was looking for cuss words and vulgarity. The moderator didn’t notice that some questions had been deleted.

Baumgartner, who was the 7th candidate to participate in the KHQ Facebook feature, was told that he had the right to “answer or not answer any question.” Billings said. He also was told that a moderator would be watching the posts and to check with the moderator if problems arose.

Billings said he did not specifically tell Baumgartner that he was not allowed to delete posts, but that ”I felt that was pretty clear.”

Here is a bit of what KHQ posted on Facebook earlier today about the incident:


Obama making return trip for Murray

President Obama will return to Washington next week to campaign for Sen. Patty Murray’s re-election. The two will appear at a rally at the University of Washington’s Hec Edmundson Pavilion on Oct. 21.

Obama was in Seattle on Aug. 17 to talk about small business assistance and attend two fund-raisers for Murray and the state Democratic Party. Vice President Joe Biden was at a rally for Murray last Friday at the University of Washington Tacoma branch campus and First Lady Michelle Obama is scheduled for a campaign stop on Oct. 25.

Details for the Michelle Obama event haven’t been released but a Murray campaign source confirmed it is still on the schedule.

Expect Rossi forces to say soon (if they haven’t already) that all this attention shows how well he’s doing and how worried Democrats are that she’s losing.

Today’s fun video: SNL spoofs Emmanuel

Saturday Night Live opened this weekend with a shot at Rahm Emmanuel’s departure from the Obama Administration last week

Commissioner’s forum cancelled

If you were planning to get up early to catch a candidate forum between Bonnie Mager and Al French on Tuesday morning, you can sleep in.

The Greater Spokane Inc., which was sponsoring the forum at Family Home Care in Liberty Lake, said today that forum is cancelled. Mager had to bow out because of a family obligation, GSI said.

Mid-term turnout prediction for WA: 66%

OLYMPIA- About two out of three voters in Washington will cast ballots in the general election, Secretary of State Sam Reed predicted today.

That would be above average for the last four decades, and the most for a mid-term election since 1970. Four years ago, the mid-term general election turnout was 64.6 percent.

Reed and Elections Director Nick Handy have several reasons for guessing on the high side.

—There’s a hot U.S. Senate race between Patty Murray and Dino Rossi.
—There’s a lot of voter interest in general around the country.
—There’s a boatload of statewide initiatives.
—The primary generated a modern record in September.
—King County, the state’s most populous, has switched over to all-mail voting.

It’s still off considerably from 2008, when the state hit a record of 85 percent.

GOP group holding debate party

The Republicans of Spokane County don’t have the word “party” in their club’s name. But they plan to make up for that on Thursday with a party in fact.

They’ll be hosting a party at the Quality Inn Valley Suites, Argonne at I-90, to watch the first live debate between their fave, Dino Rossi and Sen. Patty Murray, the incumbent Democrat.

The “social” part of the event starts at 6:30 p.m. The debate starts live at 7 p.m.

Although they are a partisan group, they should be commended for using equally mediocre photos of the two candidates for their invitation.

Liquor initiatives could take us into the known unknown

Getting the state out of the liquor business is such a popular idea that voters have two chances to do it in the Nov. 2 election.
Based on their ballot titles, Initiatives 1100 and 1105 may seem close enough that anyone in favor of state-operated liquor stores could reasonably vote no on both.
One can make an argument for voting yes on one but not the other. Costco card holders, for example, might be more fond of I-1100, on the theory that if their favorite discount house spent millions pushing the intitiative, they may see some great deals on a case of booze.
But anyone who thinks the state should stick to core services – things like schools, prisons, roads and drawing numbers for the Lottery – may decide to fill in the “yes” ovals on both to double their chances of buying their liquor from someone not on the state payroll.
Then what happens? Suddenly, after decades of talking about getting the state out of the liquor business, we have not one but two laws ordering it out.
The short answer is – and we reporters love this because it’s like the political writers’ full employment act – no one knows.
Seriously. No. One. Knows…

Biden: stick with Murray and Ds despite recession

TACOMA – Despite Friday’s reports of unemployment stuck at 9.6 percent and a net loss of jobs nationwide, Vice President Joe Biden urged voters to stick with Sen. Patty Murray and other Democrats next month.
Jobs are returning in the auto industry and other parts of the private sector, he said, and the economy is growing – “not enough, but it is growing.” He tried to shift the blame to the Bush administration and said Republicans would return to those policies if they take back Congress.
“These Republicans put us in such a god-awful hole and we’re just beginning to crawl out of it,” Biden told a crowd estimated at 1,000 that gathered in light sprinkles on the University of Washington Tacoma campus mall. “We have seen this movie before and it’s a horror movie.”
Even before Biden and Murray stepped on the stage in Tacoma, however, her Republican challenger Dino Rossi was pointing to Friday’s stagnant unemployment figures as a failure for the Obama administration and Democrats like Murray who supported their policies.
Democrats had touted a “recovery summer” just a few months ago, and claimed last year’s economic stimulus package would keep unemployment from going above 8 percent, Rossi said. It has been above 9.5 percent for 14 straight months.
“Instead of admitting she was wrong to support this $1.2 trillion jobless stimulus, Sen. Murray is holding a rally with Vice President Biden who has touted this bill as a rousing success,” he said. “We know that passing tax relief, paying down the national debt will get our economy back on track and encourage small business to expand.”

Biden: Not your father’s GOP

TACOMA — Vice President Joe Biden tried to make the case today that Democrats, not Republicans, represent real change and coax young voters to make another trip to the polls for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray in her close race against Republican Dino Rossi.

“You turned out for Barack and me two years ago, you’re going to turn out again for Patty this year,” he told a crowd of about 1,000 at the University of Washington Tacoma branch campus mall.

While acknowledging several times that the recovery needs to produce more jobs, Biden defended the policies passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Democratic president. Financial reform will keep banks from gambling on risky investments and “the cowboy mentaiity on Wall Street will come to an end.”

Investments in green energy will create jobs and lower the use of fossil fuels and incentives to schools will get more students ready yfor college.

“This is not your father’s Republican Party,” he said of Rossi and other GOP candidates seeking to take control of Congress. “This is the Republican Tea Party.l This is the party of repeal and repeat.”

Murray pounds Wall Street

TACOMA — Wall Street played “Russian roulette” with the nation’s future and shouldn’t be allowed to do it again, Sen. Patty Murray told a cheering crowd of about 1,000 here.

“I vowed on my watch Main Street will never again be left holding the bag by Wall Street,” she said.

Vice President Joe Biden continued the theme, saying big money is pouring into the state to defeat Democrats because some people are frightened that “we’re beginning reassert the right of the middle class, to have a middle class.”

People are underestimating Democrats nationally, writing their politica obituaries too soon, Biden said.

“They said the Huskies couldn’t beat USC  on Saturday, but they did,” said Biden, who was sporting a purple UW hat.

Gregoire: “I know Rossi…”

TACOMA —Signalling how close Washington’sSenate race is, Gov. Chris Gregoire told a crowd at the University of Washington branch campus that control of Congress is at stake in the election that’s just 25 days away.

Gregoire took shots at a series of Republican candidates around the country before turning to the state contest.

“I happen to know Dino Rossi,” said Gregoire, who ran twice against the Republican for governor. “He does not represent our values.”

Biden rally: Remind people how we got into this mess

TACOMA — Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, warming up the crowd this morning for Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Patty Murray, hit the themes of the Democratic Party for the mid term election.

She drew jeers from the partisan crowd for Sarah Palin, Karl Rove and Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, and cheers when she urged them to vote against Republicans who would take the country “back to the George W. Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.”

Biden campaigning with Murray in Tacoma

TACOMA — Vice President Joe Biden campaigns with Sen. Patty Murray here this morning on the University of Washington branch campus.

The Murray campaign apparently trusts the weather, or the crowd’s willingness to stand in the rain. It’s outside, and drops are starting to fall.

Republican Dino Rossi’s campaign says Biden’s appearance, as well as upcoming visits by First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton, are signs that Murray is in a tough race and desperate.

We’ll be blogging live from UW Tacoma campus as things happen.

9th Circuit reverses felon voting order

OLYMPIA— Inmates in Washington state prisons don’t have a constitutional right to vote in elections, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today.

Washington doesn’t allow felons to vote unless they have their rights restored, and attorneys argued that’s discriminatory against minorities, whose percentage of the prison population is greater than the population in general.

A federal trial court agreed there is discrimination in the state’s criminal justice system.

But the federal appeals court said today that’s not a violation of the Voting Rights Act. There’s no evidence that the law requiring felons to get their rights back before voting was enacted with the goal of disenfranchising minorities.

In fact, laws in Washington denying the vote to felons go back to 1866, while the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.

WA Senate: Playing the ‘Big Union’ card

Dino Rossi and state Republicans are leveling a charge against Patty Murray that Republicans often use on Democrats, that she’s kowtowing to the union bosses. But they may have picked the wrong backdrop to launch this attack.

As recounted today by S-R reporter Chelsea Bannach, the Spokane Labor Rally, a biannual feature of the local political scene, was held Wednesday at the Spokane County Fairgrounds.

For those unfamiliar with the labor rally, it’s a chance for union members, their spouses, kids and miscellaneous family members and friends to have some food and drink after work while listening to candidates the unions’ endorse – mostly Democrats – make a pitch for votes and news media types try to take the temperature of the blue collar voters.

(There is a myth among the state’s political reporters that a chili dog ingested at the Labor Rally will sit uncomfortably in one’s stomach until election day. This is not true; it has never been known to last past Halloween. And Beth Thew of the Spokane Labor Council advises that there weren’t any chili dogs at Wednesday’s rally, but there were veggie burgers. One has to wonder what the labor movement is coming to. But I digress…)

Today’s fun video: No seal of approval

For presidential speeches, one would think there’d be scrupulous attention to the small things…like securing the presidential seal on the podium.

But apparently, one would not always be correct in that assumption.

Baumgartner will halt campaigning temporarily this weekend

The ding dongs Michael Baumgartner will hear this weekend won’t be from ringing the doorbells of potential voters.

They will be wedding bells.

(OK, that was dumbest lede ever, sorry.)

Republican Michael Baumgartner will get a break this weekend from the state’s costliest legislative race to get married.

He and his fiancee, British citizen Eleanor Mayne, aren’t just going to the Courthouse. They’re getting hitched in front 200 or so people on Sunday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in downtown Spokane. Reception to follow at the Spokane Club.

The unusual timing, Baumgartner said, is related to Mayne’s citizenship. She was granted a fiance visa in August, giving them three months to make it official. 

Baumgartner acknowledged at a debate that will air tonight on KSPS that wedding planning has taken him from the campaign trail. But he says he doesn’t regret having to take time from the contentious race.

“I’m excited to be getting married to the love of my life,” Baumgartner said after the debate.

The race between incumbent Democratic state Sen. Chris Marr in the Sixth Legislative District has been highly contentious. Both sides accuse the other unfair, negative campaigning.

Baumgartner said he met Mayne when both worked for Civilian Police International, a company that had a contract to run a wheat seed distribution program in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. Baumgartner was there from December 2008 until August 2009.

2nd WA Senate debate set

The second, and likely last, debate between Dino Rossi and Patty Murray is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 17 in Seattle at the KOMO-TV studios.

Murray and Rossi will debate the week before in Spokane, at 7 p.m. Oct. 14, in a debate jointly sponsored and broadcast live by KSPS-TV and KXLY-TV. Getting the two campaigns to reach agreement for timing on the second debate was a bit of a problem until Tuesday evening, a KOMO spokesman said.

Both will be live. The Spokane debate features a moderator, a panel of reporters and a studio audience. The Seattle debate will have two moderators, a pair of KOMO anchors, and no panel.

Like the Spokane debate, the Seattle debate is soliciting questions from viewers.To suggest a question for the Spokane debate, click here. To suggest one for the Seattle debate, click here.

The Seattle debate will be broadcast on a delayed basis in Spokane on KXLY-TV. We’ll report the time and date when that information becomes available.

9th Circuit keeps donor restrictions on ballot measures

OLYMPIA — Washington’s $5,000 limit on donations to initiative campaigns in the last three weeks of the election should remain in place for now, a federal appeals court ruled.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton ruled last month the state’s limit on contributions was an unconstitutional infringement on free speech, although he kept in place a requirement that anyone giving more than $25 be named.

Family PAC, an arm of the socially conservative Family Policy Institute of Washington, had argued that the monetary limit clearly violated a person’s right to free speech, which includes the right to make contributions to causes they want to advance.

With the November 2 election looming and nine measures on the statewide ballot, the state asked for a temporary stay of that ruling as it presses its appeal. The 9th Circuit Court agreed this week, saying Washington and its voters “have a significant interest in preventing the state’s longstanding campaign finance laws from being upended by the courts so soon before the upcoming election.”

Under the rule, a campaign can’t receive a contribution from any donor in the last three weeks before an election that would bring that person or group’s total contributions to more than $5,000. There is an exeption for state political party committees.

FBI protest — of sorts — in Oly

Protesters carry a sign to the steps of the state Capitol.

OLYMPIA — About 50 people marched through the Capitol campus this evening to protest FBI “sweeps” of activists in Minneapolis and Chicago.

As protests in Olympia go, it wasn’t very big. And the signs, like the one above,left a bit to be desired, from a literary standpoint. Thanks to a bullhorn, however, it was at times loud.

They used some of the more common chants, like “The people, united, will never be defeated.” 

They ended with a verse from the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” You know, the one about going down to the demonstration,”to get my fair share of abuse.”

Which is a bit ironic, because no one here got any abuse. The state troopers watched from a respectful distance as they chanted from the steps of the Insurance Building, and the north side of the Legislative Building.

Got a question for Murray or Rossi?

The first — and so far only — televised debate to be scheduled in Washington’s U.S. Senate race takes place in Spokane next week.

Live, from the South Hill, it’s Thursday night.(That is to say, it will be at KSPS-TV Channel 7’s studio, and it will air live, starting at 7 p.m.)

Sponsors of the debate, KSPS and KXLY-TV, are soliciting questions from the public to throw into the mix of things the candidates will be asked. Some of the details of the format aren’t set yet, so it’s unclear how many questions will come from the public and how many from a panel of journalists.

But if you have a question you’re dying to ask one or both of them, you can send it in by clicking here.

Another televised debate has tentatively been planned for Seattle on KOMO-TV, but the details of that remain uncertain.

Voters guides coming soon

OLYMPIA — Washington state voter’s guides will be hitting the mailboxes soon, although when you get yours will depend on where you live.

The Washington Secretary of State’s office says it will begin mailing voter pamphlets later this week for some counties. That will continue through Oct. 16, when the King County pamphlets go in the mail.

Of course, if you’re reading this, you could read the voter’s guide on-line. Don’t want to wait? Click here.

And, if you’ll excuse the shameless plug, The Spokesman-Review’s Voter’s Guide will be delivered in next Tuesday’s newspaper. We’ll have online links for that soon.

Sorry for the light coverage

Spin Control went on an unexpected hiatus over the last weekend because I was out of town and the laptop program that allows the VPN to connect up with the Spokane mainframe stopped working on me.

Or something like that. It was a computer thing.

As Shakespeare said, “To err is human. To get really messed up, you need a computer.”

But we’re back.

Courting the Youth Vote? Let’s get real

After listening to decades of hype about young voters, I have a request.

Don’t bug me about Rock the Vote, unless it’s something akin to “Rock Around the Clock” the Vote. You got a program for Swing the Vote or Jitterbug the Vote or even Charleston the Vote, I’ll listen. They’re the ones who vote.

Statistics for the Aug. 17 primary released last week by the secretary of state’s office suggest that, to paraphrase Sam Goldwyn (a guy young voters probably have never heard of), voters under 35 stayed away in droves….

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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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