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Spin Control

Archive for September 2010

McCaslin: Won’t run for Senate in 2012

State Sen. Bob McCaslin plans to serve out his current term in the Legislature, then quit. Not to just lie around the house and do nothing…he says he wants to devote time to his other elective job, that of Spokane Valley city councilman.

He told S-R colleague Nina Culver Tuesday he’s not planning on stepping away from the council position.

McCaslin told Culver he thought about resigning the Senate seat earlier this year when he had heart problems that knocked him out of Olympia for much of the session, but decided not to. That cogitating may have been the start of the rumor that he was going to step down and trigger a series of domino-style openings and appointments.

Marr, Baumgartner debate freeway spending; Does Seattle take more than its fair share?

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Democratic state Sen. Chris Marr and his Republican opponent, Michael Baumgartner, debate funding for the North Spokane Corridor in the latest in a series of Spokesman-Review candidates videos.

Both support the freeway’s extension south of Francis Avenue but have different thoughts about paying for it.

So is Spokane shortchanged in transportation funding, as some candidates believe? Does Seattle and the Puget Sound hog all the money? The answers are in a state report found here. It details how each county has done in attracting transportation money.

Considering all expected state transportation funding from 2004 through 2017, including the 2003 and 2005 gas taxes, the report estimates that Spokane County gets only 70 cents of investment for every tax dollar its residents contribute. Only three counties did worse — Benton, Yakima and Franklin.

King County gets 98 cents of investment for each dollar it contributes. Pierce County, home of Tacoma, gets 90 cents. Snohomish County, home of Everett, gets 89 cents. Clark County, home of Vancouver, gets only 81 cents.

What places get more than they invest?

Marr campaign warned to display party affiliation

The state Public Disclosure Commission plans to send a warning letter to the campaign of state Sen. Chris Marr for not mentioning his Democratic Party affiliation in a TV ad.

Phil Stutzman, the PDC’s director of compliance, said the commission decided not to open a formal investigation because Marr’s campaign agreed to change the advertisement.

The PDC received a complaint about the ad from Curtis Fackler, vice chairman of the Spokane County Republican Party, on Sept. 23.

Stutzman said he viewed the ad and agreed it violated campaign law that requires candidate ads to list party affiliation.

Marr said the lack of a party affiliation in the ad was “an oversight” and corrected as soon as the campaign learned of it. A copy of it on YouTube was still available as of 5 p.m. today, but was pulled by 5:45 p.m.

Baumgartner said Marr is hiding his party affiliation, despite his position as the Majority Whip in the state Senate.

“It just seems that Marr is for some reason embarrassed to be running as a Democrat,” Baumgartner said. “The law says you should put your party affiliation on there and you should.” 

Marr said he isn’t running from his party and said all his other advertising has listed the correct affiliation.

“If Baumgartner wants to make a big issue of it, I suppose they can,” Marr said. “I would say that there are more substantive things to talk about.”

Younger voters stayed away in droves in primary

If you don’t like the choices produced by Washington’s Aug. 17 primary, you have two choices:
* Blame voters over 55, who cast most of the ballots.
* Blame under 35, who cast hardly any of them.
Figures released Tuesday by the Washington Secretary of State’s office show more than 60 percent of the ballots were cast by voters 55 and over. Only one voter in 10 was under 35.
While older voters are always more likely to cast ballots than younger voters, the primary numbers were more skewed than usual, state elections officials said.
“They’re not good,” Nick Handy, state elections director, said.
Broken down into age brackets, the turnout for the primary looks like this for the state (and Spokane County, which are nearly identical, are included in parenthesis)

18-24  4%  (4%)
25-34  6%  (6%)
35-44 10%  (10%)
45-54 19%  (20%)
55-64 26%  (27%)
65+     34%  (34%)

Older citizens have long been known to be more likely to register, and vote, Handy said. The rule of thumb is that 20 percent of 20 year-olds vote, 30 percent of 30-year-old, 40 percent of 40-year-olds, and so on.
The correlation between age and voting is pretty easy to understand, he added. Younger voters are less likely to be invested in political decisions because they don’t own property and don’t have children in school, and they tend to move around more.
And not much changes that from one year to the next. For all the talk about how Barack Obama energized young voters in 2008, the results didn’t really bear that out, Handy said.
“There was a small blip in turnout, but not anything dramatically out of the historic patterns.”
Still, the fact that only 10 percent of voters in this year’s primary were under 35 was a surprise to state officials. It may be that the primary ballot just didn’t have much to draw them in, Handy said.

Motorcyclists want candidates’ attention

A Spokane group of motorcyclists is fighting for attention among local politicians.

The Inland Empire Chapter of ABATE, a motorcyclist rights organization that opposes helmet laws and other restrictions on motorcycle riding, has been hosting a series of candidate forums that are restricted to one topic: motorcycle law.

Tonight, Democratic nominee for Congress Daryl Romeyn and state House candidates Democrat Andy Billig and Republican Morgan Oyler will participate. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at The Ticket, 1221 N. Howard St.

Steve Puccio, the legislative affairs director for the Inland Empire chapter, said the group works to keep politicians in contact with motorcyclists. He said ABATE stands for A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments.

“They enact legislation and regulations taking away our rights, and they’ve never talked to us,” Puccio said.

In the 6th Legislative District, it has endorsed Republican Michael Baumgartner over Democratic incumbent state Sen. Chris Marr.

In an interview on Tuesday, Baumgartner declined to say if he supports the law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. He said he has “no plans” to sponsor legilsation that would repeal the helmet rules, but added he is ”sympathetic to the personal liberties” of motorcyclists.

The chapter has declined to endorse either incumbent Democrat state Rep. John Driscoll or Republican John Ahern in the 6th District state House race, Puccio said.

The group has endorsed Oyler and Billig’s opponent, Republican Dave White, in the state House races in the 3rd Legislative District.

Puccio said Oyler and White support the repeal of the state law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets.


Obama jabs Clinton on wives

Barack Obama got a few quick laughs at Bill Clinton’s expense recently by noting that both of them more or less “married up.”

More looks at the ‘Pledge’

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was on CNN’s Sunday morning talk show, explaining/defending the “Pledge to America” to Candy Crowley with Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

Meanwhile, was dissecting the pledge, and found it some facts don’t check out in a report that can be found here.

WA may add a congressional seat

Washington state could be in line for a new congressional district when the numbers from the 2010 Census become final.
A private organization that analyzes census, election and political data said Monday the state could just make the cut for adding a seat if the once-per-decade national headcount comes out as expected.
That would give Washington 10 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and give the state Redistricting Commission more to do than just adjust the current nine congressional districts and 49 legislative districts…

To read more, click here to go inside the blog.

“Sanity” rally coming to Spokane

Jon Stewart’s mock protest gathering, the Rally to Restore Sanity, will have a Spokane version on Oct. 30 in Riverfront Park.

As seen below, Stewart announced a send-up earlier this month of the Glenn Beck rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Whether intended or not, it struck a nerve and people started making plans to go to the National Mall and setting up satellite rallies around the country. Local organizers have set their gathering at Riverfront from 9 a.m. to noon.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rally to Restore Sanity
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Possible discussion topic: Would it take more work to restore sanity to Spokane than elsewhere? Would we be a better location for a satellite version of Stephen Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive?

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
March to Keep Fear Alive Announcement
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Real voter fraud is bad, but it’s rare

Mention “voter fraud” and the politically righteous thunder how it won’t be tolerated. How nothing is more important than protecting the ballot. How only the lowest of the low – usually connected with the opposing party – would stoop to such a thing.

So when elections officials fingered a Stevens County man for voting twice in 2008, the system swung into action. A sheriff’s detective interviewed Alan Christensen about the fact that his signature appeared to be on documents for two ballots, one in Washington and one in Oregon.

Christensen didn’t remember voting twice. But unfortunately for the recent Marine Corps retiree who left the service in 2008 after his second tour in Iraq, he couldn’t definitively say he didn’t.
He was charged with “making a false declaration as a voter”, a class C felony.

Christensen’s story isn’t pne of Chicago-style ballot box stuffing, but an example of how efforts to make it easier to register and vote can contribute to confusion and possibly bad balloting…

Biden to campaign with Murray in Tacoma

Vice President Joe Biden will attend a rally in Tacoma on Oct. 8 with Sen. Patty Murray, her campaign said today.

All details of the rally aren’t available yet, but it will be at the University of Washington Tacoma campus and registration starts at 9 a.m.

First Lady Michelle Obama is expected in Seattle later in the month.

McMorris Rodgers makes GOP ‘Pledge’

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was among House Republican leaders unveiling their 2010 campaign strategy, the “Pledge to America” at a lumberyard in Virginia.

She’s the easiest to distinguish person in the photo above, considering she’s the only woman. Also in the photo, left to right, are Eric Cantor, John Boehner (holding pledge) Kevin McCarthy, Mike Pence and Jason Chaffetz.

She’s getting a fair amount of exposure from the Pledge, including a long segment on CNBC last night.

Reminiscent of the 1994 Contract with America, which helped Republicans take control of the House after 40 years, the Pledge contains a series of campaign positions, from repealing health care reform to limiting the federal government. The foreward can be found inside the blog.

The Contract was 10 succinct points and small enough that candidates could carry it around in their jacket pockets, pulling pull it whenever necessary to recite to crowds (and they did, repeatedly). The Pledge is a 45-page report, complete with color photos of the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, average folks and Republican members of Congress in action. (McMorris Rodgers appears on page 26). It’s downloadable in PDF form, but it may not be memorizable.

Knezovich says he wouldn’t sign platform

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich won party backing for his current reelection bid last year.

Had he waited to seek an endorsement, Knezovich may not have won that endorsement. That’s because, he says, he will not sign the party’s pledge to support the county platform.

“If you don’t agree with certain things, how can you sign it?” Knezovich said.

In March, the party began asking candidates to consider signing a promise to support the platform, though GOP leaders stress they don’t expect candidates to agree with each of the nearly 120 policy statements in the document.

“I’ve taken an oath to serve the community,” Knezovich said in an interview on Tuesday. “I can’t take an oath on top of that.”

The Republican pledge also includes a line where candidates must check yes or no next to the statement: “I will not vote in favor of a tax increase, new or increased fees, or increase spending beyond the rate of inflation or the consumer price index.”

Technically, its county commissioners, not the sheriff who would have a final say on tax increases or rising budgets. Even so, the sheriff said agreeing to that that statement would be hypocritical because he believes a property tax package will be necessary to replace the aging Geiger Corrections Center — a priority he describes as critical to the community.

(Knezovich, state Rep. Matt Shea and former state Rep. John Ahern were listed incorrectly as signers of the platform in a list of Republican candidates that ran in The Spokesman-Review on Sunday. Those candidates won party endorsements last year — before the party asked candidates to consider the platform.)

Baumgartner, Marr talk budget cuts

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Here’s the second in a series of videos with incumbent Democratic state Sen. Chris Marr and his Republican opponent, Michael Baumgartner.

They describe cuts that they think should be made to state government to help balance the budget.

The first video, where they answer: “Would you support raising taxes to help balance the budget?” is here.

Check back later this week to hear them giving their positions for paying to extend the North Spokane freeway south of Francis Avenue.


Tanker contract fuels Senate campaign

The nation’s nine-year debate on how to replace Air Force tankers became a talking point in two places Tuesday: the floor of the U.S. Senate and the Senate campaign in Washington state.

An amendment to next year’s Defense Authorization bill would have banned Airbus from getting a $35 billion contract to build the first round of replacements for the aging KC-135s, a move that would essentially seal the deal for Boeing. That amendment, co-sponsored by Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, crashed and burned along with some other high-profile amendments like an end to the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy when threat of a filibuster blocked the authorization bill.

Back in the airplane giant’s native state, Murray is clashing with Republican campaign rival Dino Rossi over whether a World Trade Organization ruling against Airbus should be considered when the Air Force decides which plane is best. In a joint appearance in Tacoma Monday, Rossi was asked about the WTO rulings should be a factor in awarding the contract, particularly if Airbus got hit harder than Boeing did.

His short answer was “No.”

That prompted the Murray campaign to hit Mach One in record time, saying that Rossi essentially didn’t care if the next generation of tanker was built by the French instead of good old American workers in the Puget Sound. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, chairman of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee and a longtime Murray ally, pronounced himself stunned with the answer and contended Rossi “clearly doesn’t understand the issue.”

“Does Rossi want to make Bastille Day a national holiday, too?”  Sadie Weiner of the state Democrats asked sarcastically.

By late morning, however, the Rossi campaign said he intepreted the question differently than others are. He thought the TNT was asking if about Boeing sanctions, not Airbus sanctions, when saying they shouldn’t be considered.

Just Rossi trying to cover his tracks because he doesn’t understand the issue, the Murray camp responded. Just Murray trying to distract attention from her record, the Rossi campaign countered.

Beyond the political back and forth, there was a question as to whether Rossi would have supported the Defense Authorization amendment to require the Pentagon to take unfair advantages into account.

Jennifer Morris, his campaign spokeswoman, said yes: “The Brownback amendment? He would have supported it.”

(Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, is another cosponsor of the amendment.)

So after about 24 hours of back and forth, Murray and Rossi are essentially in the same position on whether Airbus should have a chance to bid on the new tankers if it got unfair subsidies.

How did all this start? A look at the tape shows Rossi was asked two questions about the sanctions, the first of which was prefaced with a statement about how sboth sides are getting adverse WTO rulings and assumed the Airbus sanctions would be worse, and a follow-up when the questioner apparently felt he hadn’t answered the question. It was to the second question that he answered “No. Not a factor as far as I’m concerned. No.”

Murray quickly responded that she believed the sanctions should be a factor and , was introducing the amendment today to make the Pentagon take them into account. The editorial board then moved on to another topic, so Rossi didn’t follow up to clarify.

You can read the transcript of the questions, the Dicks’ and Rossi press release inside the blog, and decide for yourself who’s right (or at least who’s more right):

Michelle Obama will campaign in Washington

First Lady Michelle Obama will campaign in Washington state for Sen. Patty Murray in the coming weeks, a Murray spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

Neither a date or a place can be confirmed at this point, Julie Edwards of the Murray campaign said.

The Associated Press is reporting that Mrs. Obama will be attending fund-raisers in six states for Murray and five other Democrats. Also on the list: Sens. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Barbara Boxer of California, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias of Illinois.

Reed says voters prefer Washington’s top-two primary system

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Sam Reed on top-two primary system, Sept. 10, 2010

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed defended the mail-in voting system in this Q & A that appeared in today’s paper. The local GOP recently raised questions about the post office’s handling of the ballots.

We didn’t have space for all our questions that asked when Reed sat down with us earlier this month, but we posted some audio clips of him talking about the top-two primary system. Reed has championed the system, which recently was copied by California.

Reed said he figured voters would like the system in the primary because they wouldn’t be limited by party but that he would get a lot of complaints during the general election in districts where the final two choices turn out to be from one party. But Reed believes voters in ”single-party districts” have especially liked the system because it gives them competitive races to consider in November.

For clips of Reed talking about challenges to the system and the effects of the system, click here.

What Rossi needs for lightning to strike again

Washington voters tend to stick with incumbents, with notable exceptions.
They ousted Sen. Warren G. Magnuson in 1980, when he was among the most powerful members of the Senate. They ousted Speaker Tom Foley in 1994, when he was the most powerful member of the House. They replaced three-term Sen. Slade Gorton with Maria Cantwell in 2000.
Republicans are hoping for anti-incumbent lightning to strike again in 2010 with Republican Dino Rossi’s run against Sen. Patty Murray.
To do so, however, Rossi’s going to need to change more minds in King County and get more votes out of Eastern Washington; get more men to vote or improve his standing among women.
Or change some hearts and minds of people who right now plan to vote for Murray.
Those are some conclusions to draw from a recent poll by Elway Research Inc….

Marr, Baumgartner debate taxes

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Here is the first of what should be several videos showing incumbent Democratic state Sen. Chris Marr and his challenger, Republican Michael Baumgartner, give their stance on the issues.

Meanwhile, the videos produced before the primary focusing on the other hotly contested race in the 6th Legislative District remain relevant.

Here are links to videos showing incumbent Democratic state Rep. John Driscoll and his challenger, former state Rep. John Ahern, talking about:

1. Recently approved taxes on candy and soda.

2. State budget shortfalls.

3. Completion of the North Spokane freeway and Attorney General Rob McKenna’s decision to challenge the federal health care law.

4. Global warming, abortion and bargaining related to having a police ombudsman.

Tea Party plans rally on Floating Stage

The Tea Party of Spokane has scheduled a gathering for Oct. 2 that will feature Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders and several Republicans running for local office.

State Rep. Matt Shea will serve as master of ceremonies and Sanders is the key speaker. Other GOP candidates on the agenda are Mike Baumgartner, John Ahern, Morgan Oyler and Rob Chase.

They’re planning on being at the Floating Stage of the Convention Center from 2 p.m to 4 p.m.

Rossi agrees to 2 debates, calls for more

Republican challenger Dino Rossi accepted a debate in Spokane and another in Seattle that Democratic Sen. Patty Murray had previously agreed to do. But in doing so, Rossi repeated his call for additional head-to-head matchups, saying voters deserve more.

Murray accepted debate invitations about three weeks ago from KSPS-TV/KXLY-TV for a mid-October debate in Spokane, and another from KOMO-TV for a debate in Seattle around the same time. Rossi, who had pressed for at least six state debates and one nationally televised one, held off accepting any until today. (Full disclosure: I’ve done several debates at KSPS over the years and have been asked to take part in the Spokane debate, although the format hasn’t been set.)

Rossi called Murray’s two debates and raised her four, issuing “an open letter to Washington voters” that said he was also accepting invitations from KING-TV and KIRO-TV in Seattle, the Greater Tacoma Rotary and KCTS-TV/Yakima Herald.

Murray doesn’t appear likely to take him up on it. Deputy Campaign Manager Alex Glass said Murray was glad Rossi had accepted the two with statewide broadcasts, and that Murray will be in communities throughout the state during the campaign to talk with voters.

It’s unclear whether a debate over debates will ensue. To read Rossi’s letter, go inside the blog.

Signature fraud case filed against I-1098 worker

OLYMPIA — King County will prosecute a state worker for signature fraud in a case involving at least 19 phony signatures on Initiative 1098, the income tax proposal.

Claudia McKinney, a member of Service Employees International Union who was paid by the union for the time she took off work to gather signatures, is  being charged with forging other people’s signatures on some of the petitions she turned in.

Elections workers doing random checks of petitions found several signatures that didn’t match and others for people who weren’t registered votes on petitions McKinney submitted. All the petitions she turned in were then pulled from the piles, and about 300 of the 349 signatures she submitted were questioned. A Washington State Patrol investigation contacted 19 of the people who said the signatures on the petitions weren’t theirs.

An attorney for SEIU told the patrol that McKinney was not paid by the signature but was among union members who were paid out of a union fund for the time they took off work to gather signatures. McKinney declined to talk to patrol investigators and referred them to her attorney.

McKinney, who lives in Burien, is being charged in King County with signature fraud, a Class C felony with a maximum penalities of five years in prison and $10,000 fine.

Elway Poll: Tax initiatives ahead, but not winning

Three initiatives that would change the state’s tax policies — instituting an income tax, dropping a series of consumer taxes or requiring supermajorities to pass new taxes — have more support than opposition among voters, a new poll by Elway Research Inc. indicates.

But none of the three has a majority of voters saying they’d vote yes if they were casting ballots right now.

One of the proposals, which would require any new tax imposed by the state to get a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Legislature, seems to have lost support over the summer, pollster H. Stuart Elway said.

Three other initiative to change the way the state handles liquor sales or the compensation system for injured workers also have less than half the voters polled saying they will definitely or probably vote yes.

“I think the initiatives are in trouble,” Elway said. “You bette be well over 50 percent before the heavy campaign season starts, because support tends to erode” when the opposition starts its advertising push.

I-1053, which would require a two-thirds majority in the Legislature to pass any tax increase, has lost support from a similar survey in June. The current poll has 48 percent of voters saying they would definitely or probably vote yes on that measure; in June, 65 percent said they would probably or definitely vote yes. The opposition stayed relatively the same in both polls, with about a fourth of voters in both surveys saying they’d probably or definitely vote no. The real shift was in undecided voters, which jumpted to about one in four voters now, up from about one in 10 voters in June.

Also of note: Many of the initiatives have significant numbers of voters who are undecided on those initiatives. That could be because some are confusing — for example, there are two separate proposals to end the state monopoly on liquor store sales, although in slightly different ways.

“One old adage is that confused voters tend to vote  no on ballot measures,” Elway said.

For details on the Elway Poll for initiatives, click here to go inside the blog.

Marr campaign exaggerates Baumgartner’s absence from forum

The campaign of state Sen. Chris Marr this week falsely accused his Republican opponent of withdrawing from a weekend candidate’s forum “at the last minute.”

The candidate’s forum was held on Saturday at the North Spokane library, 44 E. Hawthorne Road, and was sponsored by the American Association of University Women.

Marr, the Democratic incumbent, is in a high-spending battle with Baumgartner to retain his seat representing one of the most competitive districts in the state.

Judy Blair, public policy co-chairwoman of the association, said Baumgartner never accepted an invitation because of a scheduling conflict.

“He wasn’t able to attend from the beginning,” Blair said. 

Here’s what Marr’s campaign said in a news release: “Recent Spokane resident and 6th District political candidate Michael Baumgartner today withdrew at the last minute from a non-partisan forum set up by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) of Washington, in what was supposed to be an informative session with Baumgartner and 26 year Spokane resident and longtime business leader Chris Marr.”

Baumgartner and Marr would not have appeared in the same forum, anyway. Blair said she split candidates who face each other on the November ballot into two events to keep the discussion civil. Eight candidates appeared in two different forums.

Marr said Tuesday that he heard secondhand that Baumgartner cancelled soon before the event.

Today’s fun video: Passionate candidate, take 2

Remember last week’s video of the passionate candidate? Wonder what happened to him? Wonder if he popped a blood vessel and keeled over?

Here’s Phil Davison on Good Morning America where he seems like a calm, fairly reasonable guy. And a good sport about his inadvertent 15 minutes of fame.

Tucker still not backed by own party

The Spokane County Republican Party announced over the weekend that it was endorsing Dino Rossi for U.S. Senate, Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Congress and Al French for county commissioner. Those aren’t surprising moves given the results of the August primary.

But at least one GOP candidate who made it through to November remains without party backing: three-term incumbent Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker. He faces Democrat Frank Malone in the general election.

County Party Chairwoman Cindy Zapotocky said the party hasn’t considered whether to back Tucker because he hasn’t requested an endorsement. The party backed Dave Stevens, who serves as the county party’s vice chairman, in the primary. Zapotocky said Tucker could still request consideration in time for the party’s board to take up the issue in October.

Elway Poll: Murray 50%/Rossi 41%

OLYMPIA — Democrat incumbent Patty Murray leads Republican challenger Dino Rossi in a “highly partisan” race, a new poll by Elway Research Inc., suggests.

If they were voting today, half of the 500 likely voters contacted by the company late last week or over the weekend said they’d vote for Murray, who is seeking her fourth term; 41 percent said they’d vote for Rossi, a former state senator and two-time gubernatorial candidate.

While Democrats were strongly for Murray and Republicans strongly for Rossi, the GOP challenger had the edge among independent voters and stronger leads in Eastern Washington, in Pierce and Kitsap counties and among voters making more than $75,000 a year. Murray was doing best in King County and among women, Baby Boomers, retirees, and those making less than $50,000 a year.

Jennifer Morris, a spokeswoman for Rossi, said she considered the results “a little iffy” considering other polls had a closer race. “Even the Democrats put out a poll last week that had it closer,” she said.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had a poll last week that pegged the race at 50 percent Murray, 45 percent Rossi.

Murray’s campaign refused to comment on the poll. “Sen. Murray is focused on reaching out to the voters, not on the polls,” spokeswoman Julie Edwards said.

Some previous polls have had Rossi ahead. H. Stuart Elway said some variation may be a result of the ways the various surveys are conducted; some pollsters use recorded scripts that ask respondents to press a number on the phone to answer questions while his used live interviewers and only interviewed likely voters.

Seven percent of the voters — enough to decide the election — remain undecided, Elway said. If they split evenly, Murray would win handily, but a more conservative approach suggests that about three fourths of those undecided voters would be likely to vote for Rossi because if they were going to vote for the incumbent they’d already know it. That would make it a much closer race, but still in Murray’s favor.

But any path to victory for Rossi means he’ll have to go after voters who currently support Murray, Elway said. “And you thought this campaign has been hard-hitting so far.”


WA Senate candidates mark 9/11

A previous item mentions that one’s view of U.S. Senate candidates raising money on Sept. 11 may depend more on your opposition to the candidate than anything else.

But it would seem that both Sen. Patty Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi are equally respectful of the day. How else can one explain their statements on the 9th anniversary of 9/11 being transmitted about eight minutes apart on Friday evening. We print them verbatim below.

“Tomorrow marks the 9th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.  I want to take this opportunity to send my prayers to the families and friends of those murdered at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and on Flight 93.  I also want to express my thanks for all those men and women who have defended us and protected us from further attacks since 9/11.  And, of course, my deepest gratitude goes to those who gave their lives in service to our country.

“Time heals many wounds, but it is my deepest hope that the passage of time does not see America lose her sense of purpose or realism about the extremists who seek to destroy us.  As long as the threat of terrorism exists, we must continue to stand ready to fight our enemies and defend our country.”


“Like all Americans I will never forget the grief, pain, and horror the senseless and cowardly terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 brought upon our nation. For far too many families this day will be a solemn occasion to remember their loved ones and to mourn lives that were lost too soon. My thoughts and prayers are with these families at this difficult time.

 “But like all Americans I will also never forget the response that day summoned from those who will always be regarded as true American heroes. From our police officers, firefighters, and first responders who ran straight into the fire to save lives. To strangers who donated blood, their time, and anything they could to help their fellow Americans. To the passengers of Flight 93 who gave their lives to spare countless others. And of course, to the thousands upon thousands of service members who have been sent to defend our nation in the wake of those attacks.

 “September 11th is a day to not only honor the service and lives of these men and women but also to learn from their selflessness and dedication to the common good.  As we continue to fight terrorism, protect our homeland, and make our nation a better place for our children, the examples of the heroes of September 11th should always inspire and guide our work.”


So which candidate goes with which statement? Answer inside the blog.





Spokane’s answer to burning Korans

If you’re getting tired about the amount of coverage some Florida preacher with a congregation smaller than a high school football team can get by saying he’ll burn some Korans, join the club.

So without mentioning the questionably reverend by name, we’ll mention that the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane has a counter demonstration scheduled for Saturday in downtown at the Main Street Fair, on Main between Division and Brown.

From 4:15 to 4:30 p.m., and again from 5:15 to 5:30 p.m., they plan to offer “two short programs of readings and prayers from faiths and secular traditions from around the world calling for inclusion, respect and peace… Community members will deliver readings from Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Humanist and other traditions and will read the First Amendment of the Constitution. ”

Proof that wise people do not fight fire with fire. They fight fire with water.

Didier still not endorsing Rossi

Clint Didier, who placed third in last month’s U.S. Senate primary, just released a long letter to supporters explaining why he still can’t endorse fellow Republican Dino Rossi.

Although from the letter, one might argue that Didier doesn’t necessarily consider Rossi a fellow Republican, at least not until Rossi makes certain statements about taxes, federal spending and abortion.

Didier is headed to Washington, D.C., his spokeswoman Kathryn Serkes said, to take part in several events in the nation’s capital over the 9/11 weekend. But today he posted “An Open Letter to All Republicans” on his recently created website, .

In the letter,  the former NFL football player says he wants incumbent Democrat Patty Murray to lose as much as any Republican. But he feels he owes it to his supporters to endorse only a candidate who believes in limited government and individual liberty. He recounts the previously reported call he made to Rossi last month in which he asked Rossi to promise three things…,

Raising money on Sept. 11

If one stays around politics long enough, one will see things flip 180 degrees. Case in point: the suggestion that if a candidate for the U.S. Senate holds a fund-raiser on Sept. 11, it is a crass move that shows a lack of sensitivity for the lives lost to terrorism in 2001.
Thus was it labeled in 2003 by conservatives, when Sen. Patty Murray held a fund-raiser on the second anniversary of the attacks. “Says a great deal about Sen. Murray’s judgment and priorities,” huffed then-state GOP Chairman Chris Vance. Some members of the conservative blogosphere voiced – sometimes thundered – their opprobrium.
Republicans offers no such condemnation, however, for the s “Let’s Roll on to Victory” fund-raiser Saturday to be sponsored by a Gig Harbor GOP group featuring Dino Rossi.
(Note: An earlier version of this post described it as a Rossi fund-raiser; it’s not. His staff said he was just accepting an offer to speak.)
Not surprisingly, the other side does. Liberal blogger David Goldstein of Horse’s Ass suggested Rossi’s event will “cheapen the memory of the attack by expropriating it for political gain.”
Who’da thunk Goldy would someday channel Vance?

Today’s fun video: Getting excited about politics. REALLY excited

While some big political races — for president, for governor, for Congress — often bring out strong emotions in candidates, it’s a fact that there are plenty of offices on every ballot that cause voters, and even candidates to yawn. After all, does the average voter know what the county assessor or the state lands commissioner does, let alone feel passionate about who holds the job.

But Phil Davison apparently really, really wanted to run for county treasurer in Stark County, Ohio. How much did he want the chance? Here’s his speech asking for the county Republican Party to nominate him.

Unfortunately for him (and possibly bloggers everywhere) they did not.

Brown challenges Rossi on earmarks

Republican Dino Rossi’s latest television commercial repeats an objection to certain types of federal spending known as earmarks that has become a hallmark of his campaign against incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.
That seems odd, state Sen. Lisa Brown, a Spokane Democrat, argued Thursday. When Rossi oversaw the state’s budget as a member and eventually chairman of the state Senate Ways and Means Committee, it had the legislative equivalent of earmarks and he didn’t object.
“He’s attacking Sen. Murray for a process that’s very similar to what we do in Olympia,” Brown said.
But there’s a difference between federal earmarks and state spending, Rossi’s campaign countered Thursday…

Spokane’s still the Avis of Washington

OLYMPIA — Rest easy Spokane, you’re still No. 2.

Population figures released from the state Office of Financial Management pegs your head count at 205,673. It’s an estimate, and adjusted from 2009 only because of a small annexation of 173 persons early this year.

Seattle is first at 602,000, all of whom can be found any given morning driving a car on I-5. Tacoma remains third at 203,400, nipping at Spokane’s heels as it has for decades.

Spokane Valley dropped from 7th to 8th, at 89,440 but not because of anything the county’s second city did. The citiy of Kent annexed territory with almost 25,500 residents, catapulting it from 9th to 6th.

These are just estimates. Better numbers from the U.S. Census are due out until early next year.

What’s missing from this commercial?

Labor Day weekend is often the point when campaigns kick into high gear with television commercials, and seveal initiative campaigns did so this year.

Among them was a television spot in favor of Initiative 1098, which would make some significant changes in state tax law. That is to say it would impose an income tax on people making more than $200,000 a year, or couples making more than $400,000 a year.

Missing from the commercial, however, is any use of the phrase “income tax.” It talks about removing the business and occupation tax for some operations and lowering overall taxes for many people. But the I-T phrase doesn’t come up.

Opponents say that’s a significant omission. They have a new radio ad, which uses the phrase “income tax” at least six times.

So are the Yes on 1098 folks trying to hide the fact that? No, says spokesman Sandeep Kaushik. “We think that’s one of the things people know about 1098. What a lot of people don’t know about 1098 is the benefits. The point of the ad is to inform the people about the benefits.”

How one gets those benefits, however, is by placing an income tax on the so-called “high earners.”

To see the commercial and judge for yourself, go inside the blog.

Gregoire won’t stop Cal Brown execution

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire said this afternoon she will not commute the sentence of Cal Brown for the torture, rape and murder of Holly Washa.

Brown, who confessed to the murder, was convicted and sentenced to death in 1994, and has lost subsequent appeals to overturn the sentence. The Clemency and Pardons Board split 2-2 last year on whether to commute the sentence; Gregoire said she reviewed the request and the record of the case and “found no basis to reverse his conviction or change the death sentence imposed by the jury.”

He is scheduled to be executed Thursday night.

Republicans absent from corridor celebration

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Ray LaHood on Obama transportation plan, 9-7-2010
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Sen. Patty Murray on Obama transportation plan, 9-7-2010
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Sen. Patty Murray speaks at freeway ceremony, 9-7-2010

The following is a corrected version of an earlier post.

Noticeably absent from the ceremony on Tuesday that celebrated the start of construction of a portion of the North Spokane Corridor were any elected Republican officials.

It was Spokane Mayor Mary Verner who served as master of ceremony (though the freeway still hasn’t reached city limits). The speakers besides honored guest U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, included U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and state Sen. Chris Marr — both Democrats facing tough reelection battles.

Besides the speakers, among those who were given gold-colored shovels to “break ground” were state Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, and state Rep. John Driscoll, D-Spokane.

Officials said the event was organized by Murray’s office and the federal transportation department. So were Republicans shunned?

Maureen Knightly, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Transportation, said Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers received an invitation to the event last week.

(An earlier version of this post quoted a Murray spokesman who said McMorris-Rodgers likely wasn’t invited because of her stance against the stimulus bill.)

McMorris-Rodgers was not invited to a ceremony in February where it was announced that the state won the $35 million grant for the project. The freeway lanes are being funded through the controversial $787 billion federal stimulus legislation that McMorris-Rodgers opposed and Murray supported.

Other Republicans who were invited included Spokane County commissioners. Commissioner Todd Mielke confirmed that county leaders were invited but couldn’t attend because of a previously scheduled public hearing. He said commissioners participated in a later meeting at the Spokane International Airport with LaHood and several local and state transportation officials.

LaHood, who arrived in a white Suburban escorted by two Spokane Police cars, spent much of his speech praising Murray for her vote in support of the stimulus bill and for her work to create the competitive grant program using stimulus funds that ultimately funded the southbound lanes.

Watch for yourself: State’s waiver on military ballots

Sunday’s newspaper column, and a post Tuesday, discusses Washington state’s waiver of a federal rule requiring ballots be mailed to troops overseas no later than 45 days before the election.

Both deal with an exchange between FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly and state assistant attorney general Katie Blinn over whether Washington is shortchanging military voters. If you want to watch and judge for yourself who’s right, click here for the video.

Money pours into initiative campaigns

Soda pop sellers, liquor distributors and discount retailers are pouring millions of dollars into Washington to convince you how to vote on a slew of statewide ballot measures.
Some $30 million so far – the majority from out of state – has flooded the coffers of campaigns for or against a wide array of initiatives to the people, a process in Washington that lets voters enact laws they feel their legislators won’t.
While that right was initially given to the public in 1914 as a way to counterbalance the influence of powerful interests on the Legislature, this year’s campaign contributions illustrate how it has increasingly become the province of special interests, big business and unions.
“The old purpose of the (initiative) process is being subverted,” Blaine Gavin, professor of political science at Gonzaga University, said. “Interest groups recognize there’s another way to make law, and big powerful interests know how to conduct good advertising campaigns.”
To read more, go inside the blog…
Or check the list of the Top 25 contributors to all initiative campaigns, and the Top 10 Spokane area donors in the post below.

The top donors to initiative campaigns (so far)

Here are the Top 25 donors to Washington state initiative campaigns:

 $1,196,033    COSTCO, ISSAQUAH For I-1100
$1,000,000    WA BEER & WINE WHOLESALERS ASSN PAC, TACOMA Against I-1100&1105
$1,000,000    BEER INSTITUTE, WASHINGTON, DC Against I-1100& 1105
   $522,502    UFCW LOCAL 21, SEATTLE Against I-1100&1105
   $500,000   GATES WILLIAM H., SEATTLE For I-1098
   $416,000    SEIU WASHINGTON STATE COUNCIL, SEATTLE For I-1098 & Against I-1107
   $305,000    LIBERTY MUTUAL GROUP, DOVER, NH For I-1082
   $267,511    SEIU HEALTHCARE 775 NW, FEDERAL WAY For I-1098
   $200,000    WA FEDERATION OF STATE EMPLOYEES, OLYMPIA For I-1098, Against I-1082
   $200,000    WYCKOFF ANN P., SEATTLE For I-1098
   $105,000    BARER JOSEPH, SEATTLE Against I1098
   $100,000    DON’T INVEST IN MORE EXCUSES PAC, SEATTLE Against I-1082
   $100,000    MARLER CLARK LLP, SEATTLE For I-1098
   $100,000    AEROSPACE MACHINISTS INDUSTRIAL Dist. 75, SEATTLE Against I-1082
   $100,000    RUNSTAD JON, SEATTLE, Against I-1098
   $100,000    NORDSTROM JOHN, SEATTLE, Against I-1098

For the Top 10 Spokane area donors, go inside the blog.

Judge allows initiative signatures to be released

OLYMPIA — Washington state can release the signatures on initiative and referendum petitions for all ballot measures except the one still tied up in federal court, a state judge said Friday morning.

Thurston County Superior Court Richard Hicks, dissolved an injunction that was keeping the Secretary of State’s office from filling public records requests for 11 different petition drives, most of them for initiatives sponsored by Tim Eyman. The U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled in a separate case there is no basis for a blanket ban on releasing the names on initiative petitions and  has sent  that case back to federal court in Seattle on whether the sponsors of Referendum 71 can prove there are special circumstances regarding their ballot measure to block the release of names.

But the names on petitions for the other initiatives requested by Bryan Wahl, a Mountlake Terrace lobbyist, Hicks said can be released. State attorneys had argued some 2 million  names of petition signers had been released over the last six years without incident.

David Ammons, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, said the names would be released sometime Friday or early next week.

State has map for legislative campaign funds

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

Drug company settles over migraine medicine

OLYMPIA — Makers of the drug Topamax agreed to pay the state about $1.2 million for pushing the drug for stuff it’s not licensed to treat, Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office said Wednesay.

Topamax, made by Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, is approved to treat epilepsy and migraines. But it was also being marketed to physicians in Washington state for bipolar disorder, and drug and alcohol dependency, which it is not approved to treat.

But doctors did proscribe it for those conditions, and for patients who were on Medicaid and other government health care programs were covered for those prescriptions. The state’s Medicaid program will get nearly $200,000, the state general fund will get about $400,000 and the rest will be sent to the federal government to cover its share of the Medicaid money that shouldn’t have been paid out for Topamax prescriptions.

Washington was among a group of states that sued the drug company and got a recent settlement.

Bozo tops Jesus in county treasurer’s race

It may be the upset of the year.

In the race for Spokane County Treasurer, Bozo garnered more support than Jesus.

Bozo – presumably Bozo the Clown – had three write-in votes, to Jesus’ two.

Bozo and Jesus were just two of nearly 1,500 different people or other creatures, real and fictional, who received votes in the treasurer’s race in the August primary. Most of write-in candidates got just one vote each.

Election observers discourage people from writing in candidates unless they seriously want that person to serve in that office. That’s because in some races, write-ins can cause significant extra work and headaches when tallying the vote.

The elections office keeps an eye on all races to make sure it catches any write-ins that receive 1 percent of the vote. Officials kept a tally this year for each write-in vote for treasurer because Republican Rob Chase filed officially to run as a write-in candidate. He won 1,500 votes – more than the 1 percent required for him to advance to the general election ballot. He is challenging incumbent Democrat Skip Chilberg.

After Chilberg and Chase, the next popular write-in choice was “None” with 70 votes.

(Next time, remember: If you want to vote for none of the candidates in a particular race all you have to do is leave the ovals blank for that office. There is no need to write-in “None” or other write-in choices made this year for treasurer, including “None of the Above,” “No One,” or ”Mr. Nobody.”)

The next popular selections were: “Anyone else” with 54 votes, “Mickey Mouse” with 50 votes, “Other” with 32 votes, “Any Republican” with 37, “Republican” with 26 votes, Ralph Baker” (apparently the current county ASSESSOR) with 25 votes and “John Doe” with 23.

To see the full list of write-ins for county treasurer click here.

State develops one-stop for outdoor resources

Washington may spread its outdoor responsibilities among many departments, but it has gathered them into one place on the web for people who want to use them.

So if you’re planning on going camping for a week, need a fishing license and a hunting license, and wonder what sort of events are happening near the campsite, you could reserve a site, buy your licenses and check out a calendar, all starting from the same page.

You can also find out about air quality, water pollution, salmon recovery, shellfish seasons, burning permits and dozens of other things connected to the environment, natural resources, public lands, fish, wildlife and parks.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark announced the site today. A test drive reveals it to be practical, not particularly glitzy but practical and easy to use. The “How do I?…” feature is particularly good.

Primary results: All over but the signing

Spokane County and other counties around the state are set to certify their primary election results today. There’s no big surprises or reversals in the results that were essentially finalized Tuesday night.

But of course, there is trivia that can be gleaned from the Spokane numbers. For example:

Race with the biggest “I don’t care” factor: Uncontested Supreme Court Position 5, in which 42,250 people didn’t mark a ballot for Barbara Madsen or write in another name. But that wasn’t solely because she was running unopposed. The three way race for Position 6 also had 32,125 voters refusing to choose among Bryan Chushcoff, Charlie Wiggins and Richard Sanders.

Having plenty of options also didn’t seem to help voters in some county races. Despite five candidates in the prosecutor’s race, 184 voters wrote in someone else and 8,810 voters just left it blank. And having six assessor candidates — two Republicans, two Democrats and two independents — was either not enough for 158 voters, who wrote someone else in. And possibly too many to choose from for the 7,140 voters who just left it blank.

Race that will be most different in the general election: County treasurer’s race, because incumbent Skip Chilberg will have an opponent. Rob Chase ran as a write-in and got enough to move on to the Nov. ballot. (Sure, you could argue that the Senate race will be more different because it will shrink from 15 candidates to two. But the names that remain are the ones that we’ve known about for months.)

Closest race: Second place in the county commissioner’s race went to Al French with 5,215 votes compared to Jeff Holy with 5,102, a difference of .37 percent of all votes cast. Numerically, there was a closer race for Republican precinct committee officer in Precinct 3134 in which Kirk Smith got 87 votes and Bill Mann got 85, but technically Smith one by more than a full perecentage point.

Most surprising showing: Norma D. Gruber got 898 votes in Spokane County, and about 9,150 statewide, in the U.S. Senate race, which was more than Mohammad Said, Goodspaceguy, Mike The Mover, Mike Latimer, Schalk Leonard, William Chovill or Will Baker. Although most of the aforementioned were less-than-serious contenders, what’s remarkable about Gruber is that unlike the others she did not campaign AT ALL. Gruber’s husband was diagnosed with a serious illness just after filing week, and she suspended her campaign, went to no forums or fairs, put up no signs, spent no money. But she did better than half the field.

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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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