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Spin Control

Archive for August 2012

McLaughlin to Billig: I’m sorry

Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin publicly apologized this week to her opponent in her race for state Senate for using false information on a campaign mailer she sent before last month’s primary.

Her apology was made as the state Public Disclosure Commission began inquiring about the mailer in response to a formal complaint.

McLaughlin, a Republican, now acknowledges that state Rep. Andy Billig, McLaughlin’s Democratic opponent for the seat being vacated by Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, never sponsored bills for an income tax that didn’t also include repeal of business and occupation taxes or reductions in sales taxes, as she claimed on her flier.

Watch McMorris Rodgers’ speeches at GOP convention

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has kicked off the last two nights of the Republican National Convention as the gathering's host.

She hasn't generated much national attention, though as the host, she probably isn't supposed to.

Here is her first night's speech:

Click inside this post to watch her speech from Wednesday.

Gov debate: Who’ll bring more change?

VANCOUVER – Washington voters unhappy with their state government won’t see much change unless they stop a 28-year string of Democrats in the governor’s office, the Republican attorney general contended in a debate here Wednesday night.
“I’m not the one who’s been in Olympia for the last seven years,” the Democratic former U.S. representative congressman countered.
In their first debate since the primary, Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee clashed over coal trains, the need for a supermajority on tax increases and the need for light rail on a new bridge over the Columbia River. . .

To read the rest of this post, click here to go inside the blog.

McKenna to Inslee: two-thirds majority

Why do you think the two-thirds majority is undemocratic when voters have approved it repeatedly

Inslee: I believe in democracy. It gives people who vote no more power than people who vote yes.

McKenna: Voters are going to have the fourth opportunity, likely to pass it again. He'd be likely to overturn the voters will again. Another example of people in charge of Olympia for years not getting it.

People of this state have the right to decide how they're going to govern.

Rapid fire questions:

Huskies or Cougars: Both Huskies

DB Cooper dead or alive: Both dead

Aplets or Cotlets: Both Applets

Umbrella in rain: No Inslee, Yes McKenna

Clams or Mussels Clams Inslee; mussels, McKenna

Privatize liquor working:

Wazzu vs. Oregon ducks? Both Cougs.

Inslee to McKenna: Make Washington like Wisconsin?

Governor of VA said you'd do to Washington what Walker did to Wisconsin

McKenna; He's talking about fiscal issules Balance the budget, restore solvency. He knows Washington is different from Wisconsin.I support collective bargaining. I've been trying to get this debate to talk about fiscal issues. instead you want to talk about

Inslee: What Walker did in Wisconsin was my way or the highway politics instead of looking for compromise. If we're going to get together, we've got to find people that will bring us together, not tear us apart

McKenna: It was several Democratic Senators that took to the highway to avoid votes.

McKenna to Inslee: Democrats in charge for years

What two or three policies of the governor would you reverse to help us avoid endless deficits?

Inslee: We should be using leaner management. I have not been the person who has not been in Olympia for the last seven years. I'm not beholden to people. I can bring in new blood.

We need to have a system of preventative health care. I intend to adopt a system to have efficiencies in dual eligibles.

McKenna: The governor would be surprised to hear there's no Lean management in government. DSHS has it, my office has it She'd be surprised to hear there haven't been efforts to bring down health care costs.

Inslee to McKenna: tax returns

I've disclosed five years of my tax returns. Other politicians have released Why do you feel you're exempt from this expectation?

McKenna: I'm exempt from many of your expectations. I've disclosed my finances for 16 years. Top issue is not jobs or education for you, it's taxes.

I've provided far more financial information. This is a distraction

Inslee: If this is a distraction, let's remove it. Just reveal your tax returns.

Let's make this clear: I am not for the income tax. I will not be for the income tax.

Gov debate question 7: Raise taxes

Inslee: I do not support raising taxes. I do support looking at some older corporate loopholes that were approved 60 years ago and may not make sense now. We are going to continue to grow, and as we grow we get older, demand additional health care and home care services. We need to be judicious when we make promises and stop providing seniors home care.

McKenna: That's certainly not what I'm proposing. I'm proposing we put some reasonable limits on non-education. He says he's not proposing raising taxes. Gregoire and Lowry said they weren't proposing during the election, they did it when they got in office. I'm not proposing, and I will not propose tax increase. People are hurting out there. Voters aren't accepting (higher taxes) and I'm not accepting it.

I

Gov debate question 5: Liquor prices

Why is the cost of liquor so high?

Inslee: I wish people would have listened to me (on last year's initiative.) It's maybe a lesson that when we get initiatives we need to think really hard and not just listen to TV commercials.

McKenna: We're early in this process and I don't think the prices have shaken out yet… It's pretty early to judge where prices are going to settle out. But I think it's pretty clear voters wanted to move into the 21st Century and get the state out of the liquor business

Gov debate question 4: Coal trains

Where do you stand on coal ports

McKenna: The state does not get to stop coal shipments, that's government by federal law. They need to go through strict environmental standards… People in ports are hurting, they're desperate for good-paying jobs, they want these jobs recognizing the projects need to meet strict standards. Wouldn't we rather have these jobs when they're going to come here or go to Canada.

Inslee: There are pluses and minuses. Pluses in the jobs for construction and in the ports. Some minuses from long trains bisecting communities. In Washougal, they're concerned about 2-mile long trains running through town 18 times a day. We need to have a cummulative assessment, up and down the line, and for multiple ports. That is the direction we are going.

McKenna: I agree the transportation impacts have to be analyzed. If the ports are here, we are more likely to get crossing improvements.

Inslee: It's not a slam dunk they'd go to Canada. It costs more money there

Gov debate Question 3: Education

Would you be brave enough raise taxes for education?

McKenna: The voters have been very clear on not supporting higher taxes. Not raising tax rates is not the same as raising tax revenues. Revenues are projected to go up. We need to prioritize. (Democrats) running Olympia for the last 28 years haven't directed the increases to education.

Inslee: I have a plan to find a way to get more financial resources for education. We are first in the high-tech jobs that we have, but 46th in production of students to take those jobs. I've focused like a laser beam to get people back to work, that will create revenue.

What about higher education?
Inslee: We need a job creation program to create more resources and have money for colleges. We need to use the Lean Management that businesses use and put them to work in government….and take that money and put it into higher education and K-12.

We need to bring down health care costs or it will “eat us alive.”

McKenna: Talk about higher revenues by having more people employed. But that hasn't happened in Olympia. The people running Olympia have cut funding for higher education and ratcheted up tuition…They've cut the share going to higher education from about 16 percent 20 years ago to about 8 percent today. We need to get back to at least 50-50 (between the state and education.) We need to dedicate more of the state revenue that we have.

Inslee: I've heard my opponent talk about giving money back to education. First time Republicans had control of the Legislature, they cut money out of education… The fact is, as an attorney general, six times in a row, he asked for additional money for his bureaucracy while we were leaning out colleges. As for numbers, we are going to do hundreds of millions of dollars on lean

McKenna: I did not support their education cuts. I called Republican leaders and said any cuts to education would be wrong. When we asked for more money it was for work the Legislature had asked us to take on.

Question 3: What will you do about Medicaid

Inslee: I'm glad the lawsuit was rejected by the Supreme Court…Breast cancer survivors can get access to health care. On Medicaid expansion, we know everyone is paying about $1,000 a year to pay for people who don't have insurance…a hidden tax in our insurance bill.

I believe we should use Uncle Sam to take that burden off us.

McKenna: My mother had breast cancer…and I deeply resent politicizing breast cancer. Supreme court didn't reject the case. They told us we were right on taking away Medicaid funding, and the individual health insurance mandate is not constluttional under the commerce clause. Instead they called it a tax.

Nearly one in three Washington residents would be eligible for Medicaid. Is that the safety net we want? I think that is not the vision we want.

Inslee: That's like Custer won the Little Big Horn. If this lawsuit had succeeded, women with breast cancer would not be able to buy health insurance.

McKenna: Women of the state would not get to choose the policy they want. Now the federal government gets to tell you what kind of insurance you get.

Gov debate question 2: How will you increase jobs in SW Washington

Inslee: Building the bridge is one of the most direct things we can do.

I want to build a working Washington. I want to get up every single morning figuring out how to jump start the economy. I have a plan on the internet. It's not partisan. Need a research and development tax credit. Innovation based businesses need to get access to research from Washington State University. I want to remove those restrictions.

McKenna: 7 percent of the jobs have gone away. I remember what it was like when my dad was unemployed (in the 1970s) Focus on private sector job creation. They need ongoing relief: B&O tax relief for small businesses. Regulatory relief.  Workers comp. Unemployment insurance relief. Not another agency..

Inslee: Washington state's very unique … on airplanes and software. We need to lead on clean energy and agriculture. We need to protect intellectual property.

They don't need government picking winners and losers. They need relief across the board.

Question: What's the problem with your opponent's plan.

McKenna: ;It's not the state's job to structure the economy.

Inslee: The plan for Labor and Industries is not going to fly, it's been rejected three times… We need a governor to do some common-sense things…like access to broadband. I'd help consumers and businesses get access to financing…We are not picking winners, except for Washington..

Governor’s debate question 1: Columbia River Crossing

VANCOUVER —  Do you support the new bridge over the Columbia River and how will you pay for it?

Rob McKenna: Everyone agrees the crossing is too important to jeopardize. important for regional and national commerce. … How it's going to be paid for. The heaviest burden falls on Washington taxpayers. Clearly the burden will fall more on washington commuters than oregon's. We need to slow down and make sure we have a sustainable plan. It's one-third each from Washington, Oregon and feds. Need to slow down and have a good plan.

Jay Inslee: It is a national imperative for the economic wellbeing of this country. .. Failure is not an option in building this bridge. All of us are going to do some hard work on building some consensus on the financing package. Clark County residents need to weigh in… This bridge will not be built unless we figure out how to get light rail on it…I will do that.

McKenna: Light rail is not necessarily the priority of Washington. It is in Oregon. We'll see in November.

Inslee: It is a reality of federal law. We'll need to find a consensus on light rail.

Governor’s debate: Could be a slight delay.

VANCOUVER — Waiting for Paul Ryan to finish his speech to the GOP convention before the debate goes live on Portland television.

Judge dismisses birther challenge to Obama

OLYMPIA — A trial judge quickly rejected an effort to keep President Barack Obama off Washington's general election ballot, saying such “birther” allegations have been around for years, and rejected for years as well.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee dismissed the challenge brought Monday by Linda Jordan of Seattle, who tried to block Secretary of State Sam Reed from putting Obama on the ballot, in part because she challenged the validity of his birth certificate. Jordan claimed Obama wasn't a “natural born citizen” as required by the U.S. Constitution.

McPhee devoted six pages of his opinion to dismantling Jordan's claims based on findings in other courts that rejected similar challenges. “I do not usually devote so much time quoting the decisions of other courts in other cases. I do so here to make the point that just as all thhe so-called evidcence offered by (Jordan) has been in the blogosphere for years, in one form or another, so too has all the law rejecting plaintiff's allegations. I can conceive of no reason why this lawsuit was brought, except to join the chorus of noise in that blogosphere.”

Gov debate at 8 p.m.

VANCOUVER — Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna are set to debate at 8 p.m. at the Washington State University campus here. Organizers are checking the lights and sound levels and tossing out practice questions.

First question: What will you do about the Columbia River crossing. That's the big transportation issue here as commuters move back and forth between Vancouver and Portland.

It was also the first question guessed in a carpool full of reporters driving down from Olympia. We also guessed it might be the second and third question, too.

We'll see if it's the first question in the debate.

Format is pretty simple: No opening statements. Alternating first answers to questions from a moderator, with each candidate getting 90 seconds to respond. Each candidate gets to ask the other two questions.

Debate scheduled to last one hour.

One of the organizers said they were happy but a bit surprised to land the debate a few weeks ago. The last gubernatorial debate in Vancouver was in 2004, she said..

Wi-Fi connection seems good, so Spin Control will live blog the debate.

McMorris Rodgers: I’ll debate 10 times if Cantwell will debate 39

Democrat Rich Cowan and Republican Mike Baumgartner seem to have a shared problem of getting the incumbents they want to unseat to debate with them as many times as they want. Or at all.

Cowan, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives against Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers, proposed 10 debates, one in each county for Eastern Washington's 5th Congressional District. McMorris Rodgers agreed to two, both in Spokane. One would be sponsored by Greater Spokane Inc., the other by KSPS-TV, which has handled a 5th District debate for years, even in those elections when no one else cared to.

Baumgartner has proposed 39 debates, one in each county of Washington state, against Democrat Maria Cantwell. So far, Cantwell hasn't agreed to any, although there are several invitations pending.

In replying to Cowan's letter requesting 10 debates, McMorris Rodgers used Cantwell as her leverage in accepting two: “I contemplated following the lead of our junior senator and only schedule debates with my opponent when she has scheduled debates with hers.”

But folks in Eastern Washingo deserve to hear a discussion of the issues, so she was agreeing to the GSI and KSPS invitations. “Additionally, if you are able to encourage Senator Cantwell to debate Mr. Baumgartner in all 39 counties, I would be happy to debate you in all 10 counties located in the 5th Congressional District. We could arrange our debates in tandem with senate debates as well.”

A spokesman for the Cantwell campaign said she has dozens of invitations for a variety of forums, debates and editorial boards, as well as “a large chunk of September” that will be taken up by the Senate's work schedule.

“We will debate,” Kelly Steele  said, but there's no commitment at this time on how many times, when or where. That will likely become clear in early September, he added.

This leaves us at Spin Control pondering the question of which is stranger: Ten debates in Eastern Washington, which would essentially be one a week between now and the election? 39 debates across the state, which would essentially  be one every other day between now and the election? Or one candidate conditioning her debate schedule on her opponent convincing a candidate for another office to debate an opponent of another party?

Feel free to weigh in, in the comment section.

Gov debate tonight at WSU-Vancouver

Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee have their first post-primary debate tonight in Vancouver, at the Washington State University branch campus there.

Word is the auditorium for the one-hour debate is relatively small — about 200 seats — and expected to be full. Vancouver hasn't been the site for a gubernatorial debate since no one is sure when.

The 8 p.m. debate will air live in Vancouver on KATU-TV and in Seattle on KOMO's second digital station, but apparently no one is picking it up live in Spokane. KATU will stream it live on their website, which you can reach by clicking here.

The sponsors promise good Wi-Fi coverage, so Spin Control will live blog it if at all possible. Check in later this evening.

The two last debated in Spokane in June, at a forum sponsored by AWB and GSI Inc., at the Bing Crosby Theater.

‘Birther’ claim challenges Obama spot on WA ballot

OLYMPIA — Barack Obama makes jokes about people who question his birth certificate, and his campaign even is selling a coffee mug with the presidential face on one side and a reproduction of the certificate on the other.

Mitt Romney tried to make a joke about birth certificates in Michigan last week. Some people laughed, some people didn't.

But Linda Jordan of Seattle apparently is not joking in court action filed this week in Thurston County Superior Court against the Washington secretary of state, asking the court to keep Obama off the November ballot because, she contends, his birth certificate is forged and he is not a “natural born citizen.”

The state Attorney General's office was also serious in its reply today that Jordan's lawsuit is flawed for several reasons, all of which could lead to its dismissal: It doesn't name Obama as a plaintiff; it's a federal issue, involving the U.S. Constitution; the secretary of state doesn't have the authority to check on the eligibility of candidates and toss one off if he or she doesn't measure up.

Beyond that, Deputy Solicitor General Jeff Even says in a court filing, Jordan doesn't provide any proof that Obama isn't a natural born citizen. “She merely claims to have offered evidence of a forged birth certificate — a birth certificate that has never been requested by or submitted to, the secretary of state — and to have offered additional suspicions regarding a social security number.”

Hearing tomorrow afternoon before Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee. Some pertinent documents are “submitted for your approval,” as Rod Serling used to say.


Documents:

ACLU maps cost of marijuana enforcement

Washington spent more than $200 million on enforcing and prosecuting marijuana laws and incarcerating the folks that violated them, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington estimates.

The organization released an interactive map today of what it estimates each county spent on marijuana law enforcement. Although not specifically tied to Initiative 502, which gives voters a chance to legalize marijuana use for adults under some circumstances, ACLU is a supporter of the ballot measure.

Regardless of one's stand on I-502, the map is fun to play with.

County racetrack financials in question. Again

Spokane County Raceway has an oval track, on which people drive very fast in circles, record mileage and wind up where they started.

Which seems a pretty apt metaphor for the raceway since the county bought the property in 2008. The original operator, Bucky Austin, got into trouble with renovations and contractor payments in 2009. The county had to find a new operator and settled with contractors in 2010 for $850,000. 

The new operator, Raceway Investments, went through two iterations in ownership/management, and this year's new managing partner said they were going to give the facility a new image. Raceway Investments leases the oval to Full Blown Promotions and this week, as colleague Mike Prager reports in today's Spokesman-Review,  Raceway Investments said Full Blown is behind on its rent and said the rest of its season was cancelled. The county announced the change in management for the oval at a press conference Monday.

Most notable line from the press conference goes to Commissioner Todd Mielke: “I stuck my neck out to save racing.”

Today’s fun video:GOP convention Day 1, in 1 minute

After all, they really didn't do much. How hard can it be to reduce it to a minute?

McMorris Rodgers GOP convention “host”

Tropical Storm Isaac might be bad news in general for the Republican National Convention, but the storm clouds at least have a silver lining for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

The storm is shortening the convention by one day, by knocking out all but the official opening from today's agenda. McMorris Rodgers was among the long list of people scheduled to speak from the podium tonight on the theme of “We can do better.”

Now, the Eastern Washington congresswoman won't be making that speech, but will be on the stage for the three remaining nights as the convention's “host.” This may sound a bit strange when one considers her district is pretty far from Florida — you can't get much farther without leaving the lower 48. When one throws a party, the “host” is usually the person whose house the party is at, or who is paying the bar tab at the restaurant, and neither of those descriptions fit.

“I wouldn't look at it from a geographic perspective, but from a national political perspective,” her spokesman Todd Winer said.

McMorris Rodgers has been involved in the Mitt Romney presidential campaign for months, and is currently campaign co-chairwoman for Washington state, campaign liaison to the House of Representatives, co-chairwoman of Farmers and Ranchers for Mitt and co-chairwoman of Women for Mitt.

The title of convention host is a new rule for this GOP national convention, Winer said. McMorris Rodgers, who had been slated for a seven-minute speech in the original game plan, will speak from three to five minutes at the beginning of each night's events, explaining who the speakers are and the evening's theme. (There's a different theme for each night.) . She'll be on the stage a fair amount, throughout the convention, Winer said.

For the complete “Order of Business” for the convention, click here.

Local notes on GOP convention

UPDATE: U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, has been given an expanded role at the Republican National Convention.

 

The Republican National Convention is in Tampa this week, if Hurricane Isaac doesn’t blow the GOP into the next county. They just released a revised schedule, because Monday is going to be a quick opening and then folks will mostly hunker down.

That moves the speech by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, of Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District, to Tuesday. She still has a prime-time speaking gig, at least on the East Coast, sometime between 7 and 8 p.m. The original speech was going to go 7 minutes, her staff said. We'll see if she has to cut back.
State Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, who would like to be U.S. Sen. Baumgartner, R-Wash., also will be in Tampa. No speaking slot, but his campaign says he’ll be available for interviews through Tuesday. Not sure if the national press corps knows to use a five-second delay on live broadcasts, in case they need to bleep out anything.
Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed and his brother Roger Reed, a Spokane attorney, are both Romney delegates to the convention. Sam is an avid Coug, so look for WSU colors during shots of the state delegation.

  

Sunday Spin: How to pick most important election ever?

If you haven’t heard this yet, sometime soon you will. A politician will proclaim this the Most Important Election in your life time.
Or in a generation. Or since World War II. They might say “of the century” but that’s really not much, because the century is only 12 years old, so they’ll probably substitute “of the last hundred years.”
But there will be pronouncements that this year’s election – for the White House, for Congress, for governor, for anything above dog catcher – is the Most Important Election for some time span that will make you sit up and take notice.
One doesn’t have to be the great Karnak to make this prediction. With the Republican National Convention next week and the Democratic National Convention the next, there will be no shortage of hyperbolic superlatives.
The Most Important Election – by which a candidate often means “because you can vote for me” – occurs without fail at a minimum of every four years. At the risk of sounding as old as Methuselah, I can’t recall a presidential election reaching back to 1972 in which at least the candidate of the out-party didn’t make that claim.
So where does 2012 land on the important-ometer of the last 40 years?
To read the rest of this post, go inside the blog.

Fiscal note on I-1185 stands, judge rules

OLYMPIA — The fiscal note on the latest initiative requiring a supermajority in the Legislature for tax increases will remain in the voters pamphlet, even though it is different from a nearly identical initiative that passed in 2010, a judge ruled today.

That might not have much effect in the upcoming election, but could be a point of contention in next year's Legislature if Initative 1185 passes, sponsor Tim Eyman said

The fiscal note prepared by the Office of Financial Management for Initiative 1185 — requiring a two-thirds legislative approval of any tax increase and a legislative vote on fee increases — says passage may cost the state between $22 million and $33 million in lost toll revenues in 2017 and some other costs in other agency fees.

Eyman challenged that assessment, arguing that I-1185 merely continues the initiative voters passed in 2010, so it doesn't change anything. Calling the fiscal note a “gross injustice” stemming from “a complete lack of accountability,” Eyman, who is not an attorney, represented the initiative's sponsors in a hearing on a request to have the fiscal note removed or altered.

I-1185 has the same ballot title as I-1053, he told Thurston County Superior Court James Dixon. It should have the same fiscal note, which in 2010 said I-1053 had no direct fiscal impact.

But since 2010, a pair of attorney general's opinions that looked at I-1053 concluded that the new law could require addiltional authorization by the Legislature for certain fees,  Steve Dietrich, a deputy attorney general said. OFM had to take those opinions into account when it made its assumptions about the effect of continuing the law.

“This isn't the same situation they faced when they wrote (the fiscal note for) 1053,” Dietrich said.

The Legislature might have to authorize new fees, but that doesn't cost anything, Eyman countered. At the very least, the voters pamphlet should contain a line that says the fiscal note is disputed by sponsors, he said.

Eyman's arguments were “largely political” not legal, Dietrich said. State law allows for someone to challenge the wording of an initiative's ballot title, but doesn't  provide a mechanism for challenging the fiscal note for an initiative, he added.

“You simply don't have the power to order OFM to rewrite in the way he would like,” said Dietrich told the judge.

Dixon agreed the order Eyman was seeking, a writ of mandamus, didn't apply to the case. If it had refused to write any fiscal note, that option might be available, but OFM has the discretion on how it prepares a fiscal note, he said. If it came up with conclusions that were “arbitrary and capricious”, the court might also be able to step in.

“It is not arbitrary and capricious to review a law and come up with new conclusions,” Dixon said.

After the hearing, Eyman said he didn't know how much effect the fiscal note will have on voters, and many probably won't study it. “I think voters have seen this issue before, so they're pretty well-educated on it.”

But politicians do pay attention to things like the fiscal note, and Eyman and other initiative supporters will raise the part of the analysis that talks about the Legislature needing to approve at any opportunity during the next session.

The campaign has no plans to spend money on ads to rebut the fiscal note, he said. But the court challenge was important for creating a record of the sponsors' objections, if questions about the fiscal impact come up in debates or interviews.

McMorris Rodgers agrees to two debates

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has decided to debate her Democratic opponent twice before the November election.

After this month's primary, Democrat Rich Cowan challenged McMorris Rodgers to debate him in each of the 5th Congressional District's 10 counties. After her town hall meeting on Thursday in Spokane, McMorris Rodgers said that she responded to Cowan in writing by agreeing to his request - but only if Washington's Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell agrees to debate her Republican rival in all 39 of Washington's counties.

So, in orther words, her answer was no — though it's worth noting that her decision to debate twice is twice as many as she agreed to in 2010.

Romney on WA ballot, judge rules

OLYMPIA — Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will be on Washington’s presidential ballot this fall because the Republican Party meets the rules for being a major party in the state, a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled this morning.

Judge Thomas McPhee denied a request by the state Libertarian Party to keep Romney’s name off the ballot, which argued Republicans hadn’t complied with rules for nominating Dino Rossi as the official GOP nominee in the 2010 Senate race during their state convention that year.

Republicans were split between Rossi and Clint Didier, who was popular with Tea Party elements of the GOP, and didn’t get a chance to nominate either at their convention. When Rossi qualified for the general election in the Top 2 primary, the party’s State Central Committee endorsed him and all other Republican candidates who made it through the primary.

Political parties have control over selecting the candidates they will support, McPhee said in denying the motion to keep Romney’s name off the ballot. The state also has a valid argument that Republicans are a major party based on the results of the 2008 presidential election, he added.

The decision won’t be appealed, J. Mills, an attorney for the Libertarian Party, said. But it could make minor parties change their strategy for 2016… .

To read the rest of this item, click here to go inside the blog.

Baumgartner: No apology for expletive

OLYMPIA — U.S. Senate candidate Mike Baumgartner said Wednesday he never apologized to a Seattle reporter for suggesting the reporter “(bleep)” himself, even though his campaign released a statement Tuesday quoting the Spokane Republican doing just that.

“It went out before I'd seen it,” Baumgartner said of the press release that contains a direct quote of him offering an apology to Josh Feit of PubliCola. Later that day, Baumgartner told a Seattle television station he wasn't apologizing.

Campaign staffers said there was an “internal glitch” in communication in preparing the press release.

In a phone interview with The Spokesman-Review, Baumgartner attempted to clarify the on-again, off-again apology to Feit over an e-mail the candidate sent the reporter on Monday night after a question-and-answer item appeared on the Seattle-based blog.

The item was an expansion of Baumgartner's position on abortion for rape victims, coming on the heels of a Missouri Senate candidate's comments over the weekend that women rarely get pregnant from a “legitimate rape.” Baumgartner called U.S. Rep. Todd Akin's comments ignorant and inexcusable, as he had in an earlier press release issued that day. The blog item noted that Baumgartner also opposes abortion in cases of rape. He said he believes rape victims should be treated with compassion and empathy, but that life begins at conception so he opposes abortion on those grounds. Extremists on the abortion rights side of the debate are not questioned about their positions on late term abortions or blocking parental notification, he added.

The article went on to quote Baumgartner as saying his campaign isn't about the culture wars but about jobs and ending the war in Afghanistan. That tracked with comment in the campaign's press release on the Akin comment, that he wished everyone would “call a truce in the culture wars and get back to finding real solutions needed to balance our budget and create real job growth.”

Late Monday, Baumgartner sent Feit an e-mail with a picture of him standing next to a Navy SEAL who had recently been killed in Afghanistan. He suggested Feit “take a good look and then go (bleep) yourself”, using an all-too-common Anglo-Saxon word.

Feit posted the photo and e-mail's contents on PubliCola.

Baumgartner said he considered the e-mail personal and a followup to an ongoing personal discussion he'd had with Feit about Afghanistan. Feit wrote that's not the case, that the Afghan war comments came during an on-the-record conversation about the Akin situation, which was “the news of the day.”

 By late Tuesday afternoon, the Baumgartner campaign was clearly scrambling to put out an official response to the back and forth. His spokeswoman sent out a press release quoting Baumgartner as apologizing to Feit. It also said he believed the news media don't want to talk about the men and women being killed in Afghanistan and Cantwell's stance on the war.

Baumgartner later told KIRO-TV on camera that he wasn't apologizing, and that Feit had it coming.

Spokeswoman Jami Herring said Wednesday the campaign discussed a range of responses that included an apology for the strong language. Asked if Baumgartner saw the press release with a direct quote from him before it went out, she replied “We thought he had, apparently he did not. We got the quote wrong.”

Herring and Campaign manager Dan Bisbee called the press release “an internal glitch.”

In an interview Wednesday, Baumgartner repeated his contention that the news media isn't spending enough time holding members of Congress from both parties responsible for backing poor strategy on the war in Afghanistan. He believes the initial decision to invade Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks was correct, but more recent expansions of the war are the wrong strategy and the United States should withdraw troops from the country as soon as possible.

It’s a wrap: Primary vote certified

Even the closest of races have been over for more than a week, but the process of reaching the final election tallies for the Washington state primary just concluded on Tuesday afternoon.

The final turnout: A lower than forecast 38.5 percent statewide, and 38.85 percent in Spokane County.

For a look at the race-by-race results, click here.

Baumgartner to Publicola: Go (bleep) yourself

U.S. Senate candidate Mike Baumgartner thinks too much attention is being paid to comments by another Republican candidate running for another Senate seat in another state.

As noted yesterday, Baumgartner, who is running against U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, called the comments of Todd Akin ignorant and inexcusable. This was after Akin, who is running against U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, defended his stance against abortion for cases of rape by telling a St. Louis radio station that women rarely get pregnant from a “legitimate rape” because their bodies have a means to “shut down the whole thing.”

His campaign even put out a press release detailing his views on why Akin's comments were insensitive, and suggested it was time to stop focusing on the culture wars and get back to substantive issues like the economy and fiscal problems.

Publicola, a Seattle-area political and public affairs blog, followed up and asked for further details on how Baumgartner's views differed from Akin's views, because they both oppose abortion for cases of rape and incest. The Spokane state senator provided them more details, but again said his campaign is not based around culture wars, and that's not why he's running against Cantwell. He's running on issues about the economy and ending the war in Afghanistan.

Later in the evening, Baumgartner — apparently unhappy with the follow up — sent the writer Josh Feit a picture of picture of a friend who recently died in Afghanistan. He suggested Feit “take a good look, and then go (bleep) yourself.” (This word is used freely by today's teenagers as a noun, a verb, an adjective, an interjection and even a conjunction, but this blog is still run by a family newspaper, so we don't print it.)

This afternoon, Baumgartner's campaign released a statement in which he said he thought the e-mail to Feit was personal, but nonetheless apologized “for my strong language.” He reiterated criticism that the news media aren't talking about ways to end the war or Cantwell's support of it.

For a copy of the statement, click here to go inside the blog.

GOP chair now wants Shea photo removed

It may have started as a joke but the controversial photo of state Rep. Matt Shea standing on his Democratic challenger’s property has become a political hot potato for Republicans.

The chairman of the Spokane County Republican Party, who was characterized in The Spokesman-Review and other media last week as backing Shea’s decision to post the photo to his Facebook page, now says his position was misunderstood and that he’d actually been trying to persuade Shea to remove the photo.

“It is an extremely minor issue that has come to the forefront of the campaign,” Matthew Pederson said Monday.

Pederson said he asked Shea, a Republican from Spokane Valley seeking his third term in the state House, to remove the photo on Aug. 10. It was still posted on Monday.

Last week, Pederson called Democratic hopeful Amy Biviano’s request that the photo of Shea standing in the driveway of her Spokane Valley home be removed from the Internet an attempt to avoid addressing the important issues facing the state.

“I did try to return a call to Amy last week. She did not respond,” Pederson said in the statement he issued on the dustup last week. “This looks like a fabricated issue following a poor primary performance. Elected officials should be door belling all precincts in their district and that will include their opponent's precinct.”

Pederson said he now wants to correct the mischaracterization of him standing behind Shea’s posting of the photo.

He said Monday that he’d told The Spokesman-Review last week that he’d asked Shea to pull the photo off of Facebook but that it was during a cell phone call with a reporter in which reception was so poor that the reporter had asked him to try calling back. Pederson later sent the prepared statement instead that included no mention of his efforts to get the photo removed from the Internet.

Asked Monday why he asked Shea to remove the photo when he felt it was a “fabricated issue,” Pederson said Biviano is exaggerating safety concerns she has based on her husband’s former job as a federal deputy prosecutor. The photo was taken while Shea was door-belling the neighborhood where Biviano lives and came across his opponent's home.

“It could be construed as immature at best, but to say that it’s intimidating is just a stretch of the campaign narrative,” Pederson said Monday.

McMorris Rodgers gets speaking part at GOP convention

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is doing about everything she possibly can to make sure Mitt Romney gets elected.

She's his campaign co-chairwoman for Washington state. She's is the campaign liaison to the House of Representatives.  She's a co-chairwoman of Farmers and Ranchers for Mitt. She's a co-chairwoman of Women for Mitt.

Later this month, she'll get to make a prime-time pitch for Romney at the Republican National Convention.

McMorris Rodgers is on the list of speakers announced today for the first day of the convention. She'll be following House Speaker John Boehner and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky,  and preceeding Mike Huckabee, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Ann Romney. Announced theme for the night: We can do better.

The evening schedule starts at 7:45 p.m. Eastern, so that's 4:45 p.m. Pacific.

Earlier in the day, viewers can see the “roll call of the states” for president. That's when people in funny hats stand at a microphone and say things like “Madam Chairman, the great state of West Dakota, home of a buncha things you never heard of but we think are damn special so we're going to take this opportunity to list them all…cast their six and one-third votes for the next president of the United States Mitt Romney, 2 and one-third votes for the other next president of the United States Ron Paul, and one-third vote for the bartender at our Holiday Inn who made the best margaritas we ever had last night.”

T-Mobile kicks in to Ref. 74 campaign

OLYMPIA — T-Mobile dialed in support of the ballot measure that would legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state.

The cellphone service is giving $25,000 to the main campaign to pass Referendum 74, Washington United for Marriage.

The company said in a press release it was part of “a long-standing focus on creating an inclusive workplace environment for our employees.”

It's a big donation, but not among the top 10 for the yes campaign, which has about $5.8 million with the T-Mobile money added in.

Preserve Marriage Washington, the primary no campaign, has slightly under $440,000.

McMorris Rodgers back from other Washington

Got a question for U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers?

The congresswoman, a Republican, will be meeting with constituents this week across parts of the sprawling 5th congressional district, including a town hall event Thursday in Spokane.

Here's the details:

WALLA WALLA — 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Port of Walla Walla, Airport conference room, 310 A St.

DAYTON — 3 p.m. Wednesday, Weinhard Hotel, 235 E. Main St.

SPOKANE TOWN HALL — 6 p.m. Thursday, Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln.

Mo. rape comment ripples into Wa.

Waves from a comment by a Missouri politician Sunday that women are rarely pregnant from a “legitimate rape” rippled across country to Washington state today, with fellow Republican Senate candidate Mike Baumgartner calling it ignorant and Democrats trying to tie a link to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, who won a primary for the right to challenge U.S. Claire McCaskill in Missouri, stepped in it Sunday during a radio interview. According to an Associated Press report, he was asked if he would support abortion for a woman who was raped, and replied: “It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

He later  said in a statement he misspoke and insisted he has “deep empathy for the thousands of women who are raped and abused each year.”

But some Republicans were already calling for him to get out of the race, GOP presidential nominee-in-waiting Mitt Romney termed the comments offensive and other candidates were quick to follow suit.

Among them was Baumgartner, who this morning issued a statement that the comments were inexcusable: “To belittle the trauma rape victims go through is extremely offensive and I am horrified that he would show such little empathy.”

He also suggested candidates “call a truce on the culture wars” and go back to talking about the economy and fiscal problems.

That's probably not going to  happen soon. Sen. Maria Cantwell's campaign quickly fired back that Baumgartner signed on to a Spokane County GOP platform that defined life as stretching from conception to natural death, and said he would make an exception for abortion in cases in which a woman's life is in danger but not an exception for rape cases.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was trying to tie Akin's comments around McMorris Rodgers' neck, saying they co-sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which as originally written tried to change an exclusion in the law from rape to “forcible rape.” That suggests that some kinds of rape and incest are consensual and health care could be restricted accordingly, the group said. Wouldn't be surprised if the DCCC was sending out a cookie-cutter press release in most of the bill's 227 co-sponsors.

GOP leader backs Shea’s decision to post photo

The chairman of the Spokane County Republican Party is standing behind state Rep. Matt Shea’s decision to post a picture of himself standing on his election opponent’s property on Facebook.

But Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, a Republican, says he wishes Shea would have pulled the picture at Biviano’s request.

Shea, a Republican from Spokane Valley, posted a picture of himself standing in front of the home of Democrat Amy Biviano on Aug. 4. Along with the picture of himself in her driveway, he wrote that he was doorbelling in the area and wanted to welcome the precinct to his district. The neighborhood was placed into the 4th Legislative District as part of the state’s redistricting in response to the 2010 Census.

Council may fight Condon on Burns’ dismissal

The Spokane City Council appears ready to challenge Mayor David Condon’s decision to release the city’s police ombudsman.

Condon has decided not to renew Ombudsman Tim Burns’ three-year contract. His last day is Oct. 31, though he’ll be using up vacation for the last month.

Council President Ben Stuckart said Friday that he is sponsoring a resolution requesting that Condon keep Burns on as ombudsman at least until a new police oversight system is in place. He hopes to win at least five votes for the proposal so a vote can take place on Monday.

Lawsuit would keep Romney off Washington ballot

OLYMPIA — A political party is seeking to keep Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan off Washington's Nov. 6 general election ballot. And it's not the Democratic Party.

The Libertarian Party of Washington argues in a lawsuit filed this week in Thurston County Superior Court that the GOP, like the LPWA, is not a “major party” under state law but a “minor party.” This isn't an instance of the parties comparing various parts of their anatomy, but a distinction in law that decides how candidates for president make it on the ballot.

J. Mills, a former state LPWA chairman and the attorney who filed the lawsuit, said it's a matter of making everyone play by the same rules.

Kirby Wilbur, state GOP chairman, calls the lawsuit “a silly nuisance” and has no doubt that Romney and Ryan will be on the ballot. . .

To read the rest of this item, click here to go inside the blog.

Local GOP opening ‘Victory Center’

Spokane area Republicans are apparently pooling their resources for the fall campaigns to open a “Victory Center” where GOP candidates and their supporters, from the presidential level on down the ballot, can set up.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said statewide candidates and campaigns will run their Eastern Washington operations out of the center, to “reach out to voters and to make certain Republican voters mail in their ballots.”

They're holding a grand opening at 5 p.m. Monday at the center, which is in the Pier 1 Building, off Division oat 111 West North River Drive.

Baumgartner picks up ‘D’ endorsement

OLYMPIA — With the primary over for everything except the certification, losers are apt to be endorsing winners who will move on to the general.

So it's no surprise that U.S. Senate candidate Art Coday, who finished third, has endorsed fellow Republican Mike Baumgartner in his run against incumbent Democrat Maria Cantwell. Republicans endorsing other Republicans, or Democrats endorsing other Democrats don't qualify as news, even in the dog days of summer.

But Baumgartner picked up the endorsement of another of his primary rivals. Democrat Timmy (Doc) Wilson.

Wilson finished fourth. He ran on what some people would consider a “progressive” platform, calling for an immediate end to wars and higher taxes on the upper income segments, more investment in infrastructure and technology. This week he endorsed Baumgartner, who doesn't share his views on taxes, over fellow Democrat Cantwell, saying he thought the challenger would do a better job of working with both parties to get things done.

So that's good news for Baumgartner. Bad news: adding Coday's votes and Wilson's votes to his total — and all the rest of the challengers, for that matter — still leaves Baumgartner about 150,000 votes behind Cantwell.

Little stroll down the dome

A worker from Western Waterproofing Co. of Seattle makes his way down the dome Tuesday.

OLYMPIA – Things are looking up at the Capitol. Up to the dome, that is, where a $1.1 million restoration project is cleaning off some eight years of grime, mold and moss on the outside surfaces of masonry and sandstone.

The cleanup, scheduled to continue through November, was delayed briefly last week when one of the platforms holding two workers gave way about 40 feet off the ground just as they were preparing to pressure wash part of the building. The workers were wearing safety harnesses and were unharmed, although one was suspended in the air for a couple minutes until a co-worker pulled him back to the fourth-floor roof.

Work stopped until all the equipment was checked and workers got additional safety training.

This week, some workers from Western Waterproofing Co. of Seattle, the contractor hired for the cleanup, seem to be rappelling down the dome on their way to cages attached to ropes that snake down the curved sides. Others are making their way along narrow ledges, power-washing or hand-scrubbing the many curves and crevices on the exterior ornamentation. . .

To read the rest of this item, click here to go inside the blog.

To get to the state Department of Enterprise Services webpage that follows the restoration project, click here.

Creepy or cute? Shea posts pic of himself standing on opponent’s property

State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, is refusing to remove a picture of his election opponent's home from his Facebook page.

Amy Biviano, the Democrat who is challenging Shea's election bid, said Friday that she left voicemails with Shea and with Spokane County Republican Party Chairman Matthew Pederson requesting that the photo be pulled but hasn't received a call back. She said she and others also have posted comments on Shea's Facebook page asking that the photo (left) be removed, but those comments have been deleted.

Late last week Shea posted the picture of himself standing on Biviano's property along with the comment: “I wanted to give a special thanks to all of those in the newest 4th District Precinct ….Thank you all for the overwhelming show of support, what a great neighborhood! Oh…and that's my opponent's house in the background. =)”

His post listed the intersection near where she lives.

Mapping the vote: Another way to look at the U.S. Senate race in Spokane

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell easily finished first in last week's state primary, and topped Republican challenger Mike Baumgartner in many Spokane County precincts, as the map below shows.

But when one considers the ABC vote — Anyone But Cantwell — she won fewer precincts, as the map above shows.

For a closer look at the map, click on the PDF version below.


Documents:

Mapping the vote: One way to look at the U.S. Senate race in Spokane

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell easily topped the field in last week's state primary, and finished on top in Spokane County, which is the home of her general election challenger, state Sen. Mike Baumgartner.

Using Monday's ballot report, here's a look at how Cantwell did against Baumgartner in Spokane County.

For a closer look, check out the PDF version of the map.


Documents:

Mapping the vote: Another way to look at the 6th Dist race

Former state Rep. Dennis Dellwo came out on top in many of the precincts in last week's four-way contest for an open state House of Representatives seat.

But Republican Jeff Holy, who finished second overall and moves on to the general election against Democrat Dellwo, might have more to cheer about when one considers how the total GOP vote stacks up against Dellwo's total.

The winner of each precinct is in the map above. A map of Dellwo vs. the GOP field can be found in the post below.

For a closer look, click on the PDF version of the map.


Documents:

Mapping the vote: One way to look at the 6th District House race

Former state Rep. Dennis Dellwo came out on top in many of the precincts in last week's four-way contest for an open state House of Representatives seat.

But Republican Jeff Holy, who finished second overall and moves on to the general election against Democrat Dellwo, might have more to cheer about when one considers how the total GOP vote stacks up against Dellwo's total.

A map of Dellwo vs. the GOP field can be foundin the map above.  A map of the winner of each precinct can be found in the post above.

For a closer look, click on the PDF version of the map.


Documents:

Benn secures spot on November ballot; Snyder endorses Riccelli

Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder ended his campaign for state House on Thursday and endorsed Marcus Riccelli in the November election.

Snyder conceded after the third day of counting in Tuesday's primary showed that Republican Tim Benn's hold on second place getting more secure.

Riccelli, a Democrat, was the top-vote getter in the race for an open House seat in Spokane's 3rd Legislative District. The top two candidates face each other in the general election.

The Spokane County Elections Office counted about 500 ballots in the race today. Out of the more than 24,000 ballots cast in the 3rd Legislative District, only about 1,500 are left to count.

In today's count, Benn's lead for second place over Democrat Snyder grew slightly to 426. His lead over former Spokane City Councilman Bob Apple, also a Democrat, increased to 565.

After the first day of counting, Benn, Snyder and Apple were within 100 votes.

The election's office won't resume counting until Monday.

2,000 votes left to count in tight Spokane House race

With only around 2,000 votes left count in Spokane's 3rd Legislative District, Republican Tim Benn nearly has a lock on a second-place finish to compete for a state House seat in the November election.

Democrat Marcus Riccelli easily topped the four other candidates running for the seat, but Benn and Democrats Bob Apple and Jon Snyder were within 100 votes of each other for the right to move on with Riccelli iin the general election after the first round of counting on Tuesday.

In Wednesday's count, Benn surged and now has a lead of more than 400 over Snyder and more than 500 over Apple. The third round of counting will be completed later today.

Mapping the vote: 3rd District House race

Marcus Riccelli is comfortably in first place in the 3rd District House race, but three candidates are bunched up in the race for second place and a spot on the general election ballot.

As this map shows, Riccelli owes his first place standing to doing well in the western and southern precincts of the district.  Bob Apple ran strong in the northeast portions of the district, which correspond closely to his old council district. Tim Benn won a few of his precincts big, and Jon Snyder was strongest in the precincts in or near his south Spokane Council District.

For a closer look at the map, check out the PDF file.


Documents:

Looking ahead: 4th District House race

For candidates in a two-person primary like Republican Matt Shea and Democrat Amy Biviano, this week's election gives them a snapshot of how they are doing right now with voters.

This map shows the precincts that each won, and demonstrates that Shea piled up larger margins of victory in many of his precincts.

For a closer look, check out the PDF.


Documents:

Looking ahead: 3rd District Senate race

For candidates in two-person primary races, like Democrat Andy Billig and Republican Nancy McLaughlin, the primary offers them a chance to see how they stack up, head to head, right now.

This map shows the margin of victory for each candidate in the 3rd Legislative District precincts. Billig owes his 19 point margin in part to the fact that he won some precincts with much higher vote totals than McLaughlin.

For more detail, check out the PDF.


Documents:

Dellwo confident; Keller endorses Holy

Unlike the close battle for a central Spokane House seat, the other local legislative race in Tuesday's primary with more than two candidates came to a decisive conclusion early.

Democrat Dennis Dellwo, a former state representative, easily topped three Republicans to advance general election. He'll face Republican Jeff Holy, an attorney, who almost doubled the tally of third-place finisher Ben Oakley, a former aide to state Rep. Kevin Parker.

Despite his first-place finish, Dellwo faces a significant challenge in the district if Republicans unite behind Holy. More than half the voters in the 6th Legislative District voted for a GOP candidate in the race.

But Dellwo said Wednesday that he likes his chances.

“The experts tell me that when you have three formidable contenders on the other side, as we did, they believe I would be able to pick up between 6 and 8 percent,” Dellwo said.

Thousands left to count in Spokane House race

About 24,000 people voted in Spokane's 3rd Legislative District in Tuesday's primary election, according to election statistics that include ballots received in today's mail.

So far, about 17,000 of those votes have been counted. That means the second-place battle for state House among Democrats Bob Apple and Jon Snyder and Republican Tim Benn to determine who will face Democrat Marcus Riccelli hinges on more than 7,000 uncounted votes.

The second round of counting will start at 3 p.m., Spokane County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said. New results will be posted after 5 p.m.

McKenna ahead of Inslee? In Spokane yes; statewide, no

An irate reader called this morning to ask what were we smoking last night at The Spokesman-Review that led us to report that Democrat Jay Inslee was ahead of Republican Rob McKenna in the governor's primary.

This is a smoke-free office, so the answer is “Nothing.” He insisted he'd heard on the radio, and the television early this morning that the results are actually reversed, and that McKenna was ahead of Inslee. We checked the Secretary of State website, and the Associated Press lists, which should be the same sources that all news outlets are using.

Nope, we assured him. Right now, Inslee is ahead of McKenna. No, he insisted, the nice couple on the radio, whom he listens to every morning, must've got it right.

Not being up and listening to the radio at 5 a.m., we couldn't say for sure whether he'd mis-heard or the station misspoke. But here's one possibility:

If you click on the Spokane County election website, you get results for all the races, but only from this county. McKenna has a sizable lead. Perhaps that's what the folks on the radio and television were looking at.

If you click on the Secretary of State's website, you get the results for the whole state, and can find a map with county breakdowns. McKenna has most of the Eastern Washington counties, Inslee most of the Western Washington counties…and the lead statewide.

We still aren't smoking anything. Can't vouch for the folks on the radio or television.

Intriguing possibilities for Spokane House race

After an intense three-month campaign, the race for a state House seat representing central Spokane only revealed the first- and last-place finishers.

The three candidates in between will have to wait at least through the end of the week  – and perhaps through a round of recounting – to determine who will face top vote-getter Democrat Marcus Riccelli in November.

Two of the three possible challengers to Riccelli also are Democrats and offer intriguing general election matchups.

Former Spokane City Councilman Bob Apple, a Democrat and former Republican, appeals to some Republicans and even won the endorsement of the Spokane Home Builders Association during the primary. With a solid base of support in northeast Spokane, he could offer a formidable challenge to Riccelli – though he would have to massively step up his efforts to match Riccelli’s financial support and professional organization.

Current Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder holds nearly identical views on the issues as Riccelli and is popular with the Democratic Party, but faltered as the party’s establishment fell in line behind Riccelli, who was Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown’s choice. Republicans would struggle to choose between the two, and Snyder would have to successfully woo them to win.

Day care center co-owner Tim Benn, as a Republican and first-time candidate likely would have significant difficulty in a race against Riccelli, as shown in two-person races between Democrats and Republicans in the district, including Tuesday’s primary for state Senate between Democrat Andy Billig and Republican Nancy McLaughlin. Billig has a nearly 20 percentage point lead over McLaughlin, who has won big in her nonpartisan races for Spokane City Council.

Races we can call, and some we can’t

No surprises yet:

Governor: Rob McKenna v. Jay Inslee

AG: Bob Ferguson v. Reagan Dunn

Lands Commish: Peter Goldmark v. Clint Didier

Leaders in the rest:

Lt. Gov: Brad Owen and Bill Finkbeiner

Sec. State: Kim Wyman and Kathleen Drew

Auditor: James Watkins and Troy Kelley

SPI: Randy Dorn (not quite at 50%) and Ron Higgins

Insurance Commissioner: Mike Kreidler and John Adams (this would the third time they've faced each other in the general)

Spokane County reports on primary night

Spokane County primary results are in, and can be found inside the blog.

Some things to note:

Republican Mike Baumgartner is running way out front in the “rest of the pack” in the U.S. Senate race, but Democrat Maria Cantwell is still in first. Considering this is Baumgartner's home county, that could signal a tough run for the general.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is running slightly behind her district average in the 5th Congressional District, but still strong at 52 percent. Not such good news for Democrat Rich Cowan.

Republican Rob McKenna is comfortably ahead of Democrat Jay Inslee in the local governor's count. It's much closer statewide.

That 3rd Legislative District House race could take a while to sort out. Marcus Riccelli is comfortably in first, but three candidates — Bob Apple, Tim Benn and Jon Snyder — are less than 100 votes apart in the race for seconed.

First county to report: Clallam

Clallam County gets a prize for the fastest ballot count of the night. They have the governor's race very close, and a lot of other interesting numbers.

To get the details for the statewide races, click here to go inside the blog.

For regular updates, click here.

Procrastinators note: 8 p.m. is ballot deadline

When that ballot came in the mail several weeks ago, some of you may have thought: “Oh, plenty of time.”

And when those political commercials started coming hot and heavy during the Olympic games' opening ceremony, you may have looked toward the counter where that ballot sat and thought: “Oh, plenty of time.”

And when the campaigns started calling asking you to mark your ballot for this candidate or the other, you may have hung up the phone thinking: “Oh, plenty of time.”

Well, guess what? You are almost out of time.

8 p.m. today is the deadline for getting those ballots in. They must be deposited in a drop box, or mailed with today's postmark. To make sure it's postmarked, it might be best to take it to a Post Office. For a list of public libraries and other locations for Spokane County drop boxes, check inside the blog.

Oh, and if you forgot where you put the ballot, or threw it out with the junk mail, or maybe the dog ate it, and now you need another one, you can get that at a voter service center. Here's a list of voter service centers for Spokane County.

 

Downtown  Elections Office 1033 W Gardner Ave
Downtown STA Transit Plaza   701 W Riverside Ave
Northside  North Spokane Library   44 E Hawthorne Rd
South Hill  St. Mark’s Church    316 E 24th Ave
Spokane Valley  CenterPlace  2426 N Discovery Pl
West Plains   Cheney Library

610 First St

Lowry, Munro weigh in on Spokane Tribe casino

Former Gov. Mike Lowry and former Secretary of State Ralph Munro are against the Spokane Tribe's plan to build a casino near Airway Heights.

So much so that they wrote a guest column published today in the Seattle Times. It's “not good for tribes, our communities or for our state,” they said.

Want to read this bipartisan argument of former state officials against the casino proposal? It can be found here.

Still trying to decide among Apple, Benn, Oyler, Riccelli and Snyder?

Tuesday is the last chance to mail your Washington primary ballot. If you live in central Spokane and are having a hard time deciding who to choose among the five candidates for the position 1 House seat in the 3rd Legislative District, try studying their stances on 15 issues in the following links:

Bob Apple

Tim Benn

Morgan Oyler

Marcus Riccelli

Jon Snyder

And here are their responses to one of the questions The Spokesman-Review questionnaire:

8. Do you support the legalization of marijuana for adults, including for recreational purposes? If not, do you support the legalization of marijuana for medical use? How would you address the conflict that currently exists between state law allowing marijuana for medical use and federal law banning it?

Still trying to decide among Dellwo, Holy, Keller and Oakley?

Check out each 6th District House candidate's stance on 15 issues facing the state at the following links:

Dennis Dellwo

Jeff Holy

Larry Keller

Ben Oakley

And here are their responses to one of the questions:

Do you support the state law that allows local governments to install red light enforcement cameras?

Spokane bishop: Vote no on Ref. 74

Spokane’s Catholic bishop is urging members of his diocese to vote against the same-sex marriage law that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
In a letter to parishioners available at weekend services, The Rev. Blase Cupich contends that if Referendum 74 passes, it will redefine marriage and create “a major shift in an institution that serves as the foundation stone of society.” He called same-sex marriage a passionate issue, and called for respectful debate that would “generate light rather than heat.”
Zach Silk, campaign manager for the pro-referendum group Washington United for Marriage, said Cupich’s letter comes as no surprise, because the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops has a long-standing opposition to same-sex marriage. Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartrain urged Catholics in that archdiocese to sign the petitions to put Ref. 74 on the ballot, Silk noted.
But lay Catholics don’t necessarily agree with their clergy on the issue, he said. . .

To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.

Time running out for voters

If you haven't voted in the Washington state primary, but have been meaning to, you are running out of time.

The deadline to get those ballots marked, sealed and mailed, or sealed and deposited in a drop box, is 8 p.m. Tuesday.

If you are mailing it in, remember that it's not when you drop it in the mailbox that counts. It's when the U.S. Postal Service post marks it.

So rather than dropping it in a remote maibox on Tuesday afternoon on the way home from work, you might want to stop by the Post Office and have them postmark it. Or save yourself a stamp and put it in a drop box.

In Spokane County, drop boxes can be found at the public libraries, as well as the STA Plaza in downtown Spokane, and county Elections Office at 1033 W. Gardner.

On Tuesday, Spokane County will also have voter service centers at key locations where you can go for help if you lost your ballot, never got a ballot even though you are registered, or spilled coffee on your ballot or did something else to it that could keep the scanner from reading it.

Locations of the voter service centers can be found inside the blog.

How excited are voters for the primary?

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell talks with Daryl Romeyn, a candidate for Spokane County commissioner, at the county Democratic Party's fund-raiser in Riverfront Park.

Every couple of weeks, some national pundit or cable news talking head ruminates about the “enthusiasm gap” for a certain set of voters.

Sometimes the gap is diagnosed among Democrats, who were oh so excited to vote for Barack Obama in 2008, but now, not so much. Other times the gap is prognosticated among Republicans who backed a different candidate in the primaries and now the best they can say about Mitt Romney is “at least he's better than Obama.”

If there is an enthusiasm gap in Spokane, it may be for a primary that takes place the first full week in August. This observation comes not from polling or deep analysis of ballot returns (cursory analysis, however, says they are nothing to brag about) but from a brief stop at the Spokane County Democrats' salmon bake and Obama birthday celebration Saturday night.

Normally, if you put together a warm clear summer night on the north bank of the Spokane River, offered baked salmon and  liquid refreshments whose containers must reveal their alcoholic content, you could draw a decent crowd of Democrats. Throw in the chance to see the party's U.S. Senate candidate, the wife of its gubernatorial candidate and a passel of other local office seekers, and offer cupcakes to mark the president turning 51, you could count on what used to be called a rip-snorter of a time. 

Saturday's turnout was, in the view of several longtime Ds there, disappointing. Not abysmal, but not outstanding, either. Sen. Maria Cantwell and other candidates dutifully worked the crowd. Supporters of one or another of the Democrats in that crowded 3rd Legislative District state rep race eyed each other warily, and asked those on the sidelines “Who do you think will win?”

(My answer at various times: 1. I live 300 miles away; I don't know. 2. It may come down to turnout. 3. It's possible the two Republicans could split the GOP vote in such a way that two Democrats will make it into the general. 4. The wild card could be the Tea Party vote. 5. The wild card could be the Christian Conservative vote. 6.  It could depend the independent vote in Hillyard, or the lower South Hill, or the northwest part of the district. 7. Ask me who will win the state treasurer's race. There's only one candidate in that one. I actually believe any combination of 2 through 6 could happen, but 1 and 7 are the only things I'm sure of.)

The real problem for the salmon bake may be the problem for the primary. It's summertime, and the living is easy, as “George Gershwin once astutely observed. Easy living does not often galvanize people to political action. (Editor's note: Earlier version of this post wrongly attributed the lyricist of the song until an alert reader pointed out our mistake.)

 A weekend political event must compete with a trip to the lake place or the favorite campsite or that promised trip to grandma's, or even a backyard barbecue. Yes, the ballots were mailed out some two weeks ago, but for voters who've been gone on some multi-week peregrination and are just returning from the mountains or parks or beaches or Disneyland or wherever, they are tucked in among the bills, the offers of new credit cards, back-to-school ads and outdated magazines.

Some uncast primary votes could easily be lost in the summer shuffle. If that's the case,  pundits may spend much time dissecting the upcoming returns for an enthusiasm gap. 

Sunday spin: Is this tanker tout accurate?

 

A reader had a question about a claim in a recent campaign commercial for Sen. Maria Cantwell, in which the incumbent Democrat touts her record on expanding aerospace jobs: “I also helped Boeing win the Air Force tanker contract worth billions.”

What gives? wrote a reader, who wondered if the contract even had been awarded.

It was, in 2011, after a torturous back and forth between Boeing and Airbus. It’s for more than $30 billion, so they pulled out all the stops, including heavy lobbying by officials of the places that stood to gain from the contract. Everyone from the Spokane business community to Gregoire to the state’s congressional delegation, Democrat and Republican, linked arms and said that the plane Boeing would use for the new tanker, a modified 767, was a wonderful aeronautical marvel and that Airbus A330 was a flying hunk of foreign junk.

Under the axiom that success has many fathers, Cantwell was a part of that lobbying effort.

But as taxpayers and people who may someday have the KC-46A flying over Spokane, we should fervently hope that the Air Force paid no attention to the lobbying, and picked the best plane for the mission. Or is that too naïve?

Ringside convention seat

Chelsea Brown. Photo courtesy Salilsbury University

The results of the Republican and Democratic national conventions may not be in doubt, but for political junkies, they are still the equivalent of the Olympics as far as attending or participating.

So a Coeur d’Alene college student is understandably excited to be picked as an intern to the Democratic National Convention next month. Chelsea Brown, a University of Idaho grad working on her masters at Salisbury University, got the call as part of arrangement between the conventions and the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. She won an essay contest to get the gig.

Brown has a couple of goals: to re-establish the College Democrats club on the Maryland university’s campus, and to meet President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her stint at the convention. Could be a tossup which would be easier. But if she were talking about boosting support for Democratic candidates back in her hometown, we all know which would be the tougher task.

A look at the average WA State worker

The average state worker, if such a person existed, would be white, 47, and making $50,304, but no raise in the last three years.

She or he – it’s almost a tossup, with 50.6 percent of state workers women and 49.4 percent men – would have been working the state for 12 years, have a full-time position and be in a union. More likely than not, she or he works for Social and Health Services, Corrections or Transportation, the three departments that employ more than half the government workforce.

Chances of being a minority: Slightly less than 1 in 5.

Chances of having a disability: About 1 in 33.

Those are some of the figures released this week in the annual Work Force Data and Trends report from the state’s Human Resources office.

Those figures also show that state government workforce is older than the civilian workforce in the rest of the state, and the country. Only 3 percent are under 20, compared to 12 percent nationally and statewide; nearly a third are 55 and older, compared to about 1 in five nationally and statewide.

To see even more details on the state government workforce, click here.

McMorris Rodgers: ‘I voted to save Medicaid’ with block grants

 

In defending her budget votes to a group of activists this week, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said Gov. Chris Gregoire and legislators are in a better position to know what’s best for Medicaid, the program that provides medical care for low-income residents.

“I voted to save these programs,” McMorris Rodgers said of her vote for a House GOP budget plan crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

But the budget plan she supported makes a significant change to Medicaid that Gregoire strenuously opposes. It would turn the federal share of that program into a “block grant”, a lump sum payment.

“I remain strongly opposed to any congressional effort to impose Medicaid as a block grant program in Washington,” Gregoire wrote in a recent letter to the Wall Street Journal. . .

Today’s fun video: Stewart smacks Harry Reid

 

Jon Stewart delivers a well-deserved smackdown of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for passing on a Romney rumor.

More words for the Nov. 6 ballot

OLYMPIA — Voters get to weigh in on two more ballot measures in November, a pair of advisory votes on changes to tax law the Legislature approved this year.

One involves petroleum taxes, the other involves a tax break for large banks on mortgages.

They're advisory votes, so the Legislature isn't bound by them. They're required by Initiative 960.

They will add about 16 pages to the state Voter's Guide, which will be coming out in the fall.

To read the ballot language, go inside the blog.

Mayor plans to take full $169k salary next year

Spokane Mayor David Condon is proposing to eliminate 100 City Hall jobs to avoid raising taxes next year.

But he wants to boost spending in at least one area: his own paycheck.

Condon, who agreed to hold his annual salary to $100,000 in his first year, intends to begin taking the full mayoral salary of about $169,000 beginning in 2013.

City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said Condon was advised by the city's legal staff to take the full amount rather than continue former Mayor Mary Verner's pledge to hold the mayor's annual salary at $100,000, which has created accounting and other problems for the potential problems for the city.

The city charter specifies that the mayor should be paid equal to the highest-paid city employee, which currently is Fire Chief Bobby Williams at $169,000. Condon agreed to accept the lower amount for 2012, saying that he would abide by the amount included in the budget that was in place when he took office but he made no promises for the remainder of his four-year term.

Meanwhile, the job cuts are necessary to avoid raising property taxes, he said.

Most of the 100 positions on the chopping block, including 19 in the police department, already are vacant but as many as 35 employees could be looking at layoff notices next year to close an estimated $10 million shortfall. Condon said none of the layoffs would come from the police or firefighting forces.

“This is a flat budget,” he said during a noon rollout of the proposed $164.5 million general fund budget, which essentially is the city's discretionary spending plan. Condon expects to unveil a separate capital budget later.

Governor to come east

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire will make a two-day swing through Central and Eastern Washington this week, with visits scheduled to highlight irrigation projects, flood damage victims and wine research.

Gregoire is scheduled to stop in Yakima Thursday morning to discuss an irrigation project on the Yakima River, and in Sunnyside to tour crop damage sustained by local farmers from recent storms. In the afternoon she has a tour of the Washington State University Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser and a meeting with the Potato Commission in Richland.

Friday she'll attend a groundbreaking for a pump station near Benton City, visit the Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser and stop at another groundbreaking ceremony for a new shipping warehouse, in Burbank.

Throw me a line

Worker atop the Capitol Dome eases a rope down the side as the state prepares for a major cleaning of the Legislative Building Wednesday.

The cleaning is scheduled to continue into next week.

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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.

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