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Spin Control

Archive for October 2012

Gov. ‘Alice’ offers treats

Gov.Chris Gregoire as Alice, and husband Mike greet trick or treater Jack Kesler, age 2 1/2 at the Governor's Mansion.

OLYMPIA — One thing Gov. Chris Gregoire is likely to miss when she leaves office at the end of this year is Halloween trick or treat at the Governor's Mansion.

This year, Gregoire dressed up as Alice of Wonderland fame, husband Mike was the White Rabbit and various staff were characters from Lewis Carroll's books like Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee or the Queen of Hearts.

Kids in Olympia might miss it too. She gives out the big, full-sized candy bars.

Ref 74 gets $25,000 from Brad Pitt

The campaign to pass same-sex marriage in Washington state got a contribution Wednesday that is far from it's biggest, but may be from one of its most celebrated donors: Actor Brad Pitt.

And you thought he was busy making perfume commercials.

Pitt recently gave $100,000 to the Washington, D.C., based Human Rights Campaign, which divided that among the four states where same-sex marriage campaigns are being waged: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.

It's like one of those public radio pledge drive match arrangements. Pitt is promising to match contributions from other donors. HRC says he sent this message by e-mail: “If you're like me, you don't want to have to ask yourself on the day after the election, what else could I have done?”

It’s Halloween. Take your signs down

It's Halloween, which is great for the candy manufacturers, fun for the kids, but often terrible for campaign signs.

Those placards on a stick are among the easiest targets for Halloween mischief. Mustaches and devils horns get spray-painted onto candidate faces, obscenities get scrawled on issue signs and some just flat disappear, never to be seen again.

While it may infringe slightly on your First Amendment rights of political speech, it might be wise to uproot your signs and store them in a garage, basement or backyard until Thursday.

If you're reading this in the morning, go do it NOW. Don't think you'll remember when you come home from work, because there's a chance you won't. If you're reading it at work, call home and have your spouse, significant other or responsible offspring do it.

If you don’t, and something happens to them, don’t call the newspaper to report some deep plot by the opposing candidate or issue campaign to steal your sign.

Where to take your ballot

In Spokane County, there's a drop box at most public libraries, as well as a couple  other spots. For a list, go inside the blog.

For other Washington counties, click here to find the information on your county

Baumgartner tied with Cantwell? Well, yes; but no

One of the dozens of e-mails in today's Inbox had this tantalizing subject line: “Cantwell/Baumgartner tied in Social Media Buzz”

A nice person from a public relations firm said she had some data on that race that might interest us: “According to a new media index from Temple University and LexisNexis, Maria Cantewell and Michael Baumgartner are in one of the tightest races in the country. The candidates are tied in social media buzz, as well as print and broadcast media mentions of the candidates.”

Wha-what?? as Scooby Doo might say.

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

Registration up but ballots coming in slower

Spokane County has record voter registration this year, but it may not be on track to have a record turnout.

Or “turn-in” if you prefer the more accurate description of how Washington states.

A comparison of the rate of ballot returns up to today shows Spokane is significantly behind the rate in 2008. It is, however, ahead of the rates in the last two non-presidential years with other partisan races, 2006 and 2010.

State elections officials, who are expecting this year to fall behind the 2008 record for ballots cast, now say they may have to revise their forecast upwards. Turn-in statistics in some of the state's other large counties have Washington elections officials are in line with four years ago. 

Today is significant in Spokane County for two reasons. One, it's a week before the deadline for mailing or depositing ballots in drop boxes. The second is that this is the day when Spokane County turn-in figures show the ballots placed in drop boxes over last weekend, so there's usually a significant bump from Monday.

Right now, ballot turn-in stands at 31.1 percent, or 88,326 of the county's 282,139 registered voters ballots. Four years ago it was 36.3 percent, or 95,369 of the county's 258,162 registered voters. In other words, it's off by about 7,000 ballots.

County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin doesn't think this is necessarily a sign that voters are less interested in this year's presidential election.

“They're voting later,” McLaughlin said. “I think the initiatives are slowing some people down.”

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

Spokane County voters rolls grow by 11,000 since Sept. 1

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First, let me use this opportunity to promote the first of six election videos in the race for state House to replace state Rep. John Ahern. Look for the other videos featuring candidates Democrat Dennis Dellwo and Republican Jeff Holy throughout the week.

Now on to some news ….

The last day to register to vote in time to participate in the November election was substantially slower than expected in Spokane County.

About 400 people came to the Spokane County elections office to register on Monday. That’s down from about 1,700 people who registered on the last day in 2008 – the year of the previous presidential election.

But County Auditor Vicky Dalton doesn’t believe the decline is a sign of weakening participation. There are just fewer procrastinators this year, she said.

Washington residents: Register by today or sit this one out

Today is the absolute, no fooling, last day to register to vote in Washington. Any Washington citizen not registered by today will have to sit out this year's general election, which is kind of a shame, considering all the political ads you'll have to endure, for naught.

 To register, you have to show up in  person at your county elections office with a state-issued ID or supply the last four digits of your Social Security number.. Don't know where your county elections office is? Click here to find out.

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton also suggests showing up early. In 2008, there was a big rush at the end of the last day. The office at 1033 W. Gardner closes at 4 p.m., and anyone not in line by then won’t be allowed to register.

If you live in Idaho, you can relax. It allows registration on Election Day.

Today’s fun videos: Long versions

Although television is full of 30-second campaign commercials, the Internet is awash in longer videos from diferent groups that have so much to say and show that it won't fit in that restricted time frame.

With a little extra time, they can go above and beyond… sometimes way beyond … what the campaigns are .doing. Here are a couple.

The first is from an independent SuperPAC, Winning our Future, which predicts the first sign of the Apocalypse will be an Obama re-election.

 

 

The second is from an anti-Romney group that collects the comments of the Republican presidential candidates from primary season.

Obv 2012 - watch more funny videos

Both are entertaining from a purely political standpoint. Which one you like better will probably be based on how you plan to vote for president.

Election reminder: Save your signs

Wednesday is Halloween. While it is mostly a holiday devoted to raising the blood sugar levels of small children, it is also a time when older youths wander around looking for trouble to get into.
Among the easiest targets for such mischief are campaign yard signs. Mustaches and devils horns get spray-painted onto candidate faces, obscenities get scrawled on issue signs and some just flat disappear, never to be seen again.

While it may infringe slightly on your First Amendment rights of political speech, it might be wise to uproot your signs Tuesday, store them in a garage, basement or backyard until Thursday.

If you don’t, and something happens to them, don’t call the newspaper to report some deep plot by the opposing candidate or issue campaign to steal your sign.

Election Reminder: Monday is registration deadline

Monday is the last day to register to vote in Washington. You may think you’ve heard this warning before, and in a sense, you have because the state closes down its registration process in steps. The deadline for registering by mail or online has long passed. Monday is the deadline to register in person at your county elections office.

To do so, you must show up with a state-issued ID or supply the last four digits of your Social Security number.

County Auditor Vicky Dalton also suggests showing up early. In 2008, there was a big rush at the end of the last day. The office at 1033 W. Gardner closes at 4 p.m., and anyone not in line by then won’t be allowed to register.

Sunday Spin: Democrats flip-flop and denounce donor

Several court decisions make clear that political contributions are protected political speech, so in most cases donors are free to make them. Missing from all the discussions about the kinds and limits of the donations, however, is the responsibility of the people on the other end of the campaign money train.

Along with the right to take gobs of money, don’t recipients have a duty to check out who is giving?

Vetting  everyone who gives $10 obviously isn’t practical, and it might take the great minds of politics to determine what the trigger for a background check should be. But certainly when one accepts a five-figure check, someone on staff should be ordered to find out the bare bones 411. That may have saved the state Democratic Party some headaches, and a case of the flip-flops, last week over some $60,000 it received in recent months from J Z Knight…

 

To read the rest of this post, see videos of Knight or comment, go inside the blog

Saturday night: Goodman at SFCC

For those who crave politics on a Saturday night rather than football, a movie or bad television, Spokane Falls Community College will be the place to be this week.

Amy Goodman, whose columns appear in The Spokesman-Review (her most recent is here), will be at the Music Building as part of her Democracy Now! tour. Goodman has been on the road since the Republican National Convention in August, and plans to keep going until Election Day. She's spent a fair amount of time in swing states, and while neither Washington nor Idaho fall linto that category, the trail brings her here at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets are $15 for general admission, $5 for students with an ID. Proceeds go to help support KYRS-Thin Air Community Radio.

Did Shea break pledge to Republican group?

In August, state Rep. Matt Shea appeared to be mending bridges in the local Republican Party.

He attended a meeting of the Republicans of Spokane County and won the group's endorsement. The Republicans of Spokane County is an organization that formed a few years ago among some Republicans concerned that the official Spokane County Republican Party had been taken over by Libertarians and Constitutionalists not dedicated to party unity after the primaries.

Shea, who was an effective leader in the Ron Paul for president campaign, has been outspoken in his criticism of “mainstream Republicans.” In the primary, he declined to offer a recommendation for incumbent Republican and nationally recognized GOP leader, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the race for Congress. For governor, he supported Shahram Hadian over Attorney General Rob McKenna.

Time is fading for new Washingtonians to register to vote

 

Register to vote today, or wait in a really long line on Monday.

That’s the message from Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton for those who want to vote in the November election but still aren’t registered.

Monday is the deadline to register, but Dalton warns that in 2008 — the last presidential election year, the county elections office was slammed on the deadline date.

Notes from a Democratic rally

About 150 gathered for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s campaign rally this evening in Spokane at the Lincoln Center.

There wasn’t much we haven’t heard on the trail before, so here are a few miscellaneous thoughts:

— The Democrats appear enthused about the race for Congress. Sure, it’s still somewhat of long-shot for them and Democrat Rich Cowan did not come near to raising the $1 million he said was his goal when he began his campaign for the seat in Washington’s 5th Congressional District.

But he’s not Daryl Romeyn, who was the party’s nominee two years ago and who was not embraced by the party. Cowan has raised enough to advertise on TV and he even got a mention recently in the Capital Hill newspaper, Roll Call.

Wonderland at Gov mansion? 1 day only

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire and her husband Mike have picked out their costumes to greet trick-or-treaters next week.

The governor will be appearing as Alice, of Wonderland fame. Mike Gregoire will be dressed as the White Rabbit.

During Gregoire's tenure, the mansion has been open to trick-or-treaters for a couple hours on Halloween, with the first couple basing costumes on everything from Sesame Street to the Addams Family. This year, they'll be answering the door from 6 to 8 p.m.

Obama backs Ref. 74

OLYMPIA — President Obama gave a thumbs up to Referendum 74, the ballot measure in Washington that would legalize same-sex marriage, supporters said today.

Not a huge surprise, considering Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage earlier this year, a few months after the Legislature passed the law behind Ref. 74 and Gov. Chris Gregoire signed it. So it was generally known he favors the concept.

Thursday he went a step further. Obama campaign spokesman Paul Bell said the president doesn't weigh in on every state ballot measure, but will on this one: “Washington’s same-sex marriage law would treat all Washington couples equally, and that is why the President supports a vote to approve Referendum 74.”
  

Gregoire to successor: You’ll need a tax increase

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire served warning today to her two would-be successors that the budget plans they push on the campaign trail won't work, and they'll need to find some sort of new revenue — usually translated as a tax increase — to balance the budget and meet the demand for better public schools.

At a press conference to announce a new federal waiver that will help the state save money by developing a new program for residents eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, Gregoire said she was looking at a revenue increase for the 2013-15 budget she will propose next month.

Former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, a fellow Democrat, and Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, both have said they will not raise taxes if they are elected. Gregoire essentially dismissed that talk as standard campaign rhetoric.

“I'm not running for office,” she said. They're candidates and “I'm a realist.”

“I'm telling both candidates I don't know how you can meet your obligations for McLeary without new revenue,” she said, referring to a state Supreme Court ruling that says the state needs to spend more to meet its constitutional requirements to fund basic education.

Inslee has said he can avoid a tax increase, in part, by finding savings in the state budget through the use of better management, known as “Lean” management. But Gregoire has already institute Lean management, and attended a conference earlier this week to discuss the progress made so far. It won't provide enough savings to free up the $1.1 billion needed to meet the needed improvements to public schools in 2013-15, she said, adding that she still supports Inslee, even though she disagrees with him on this.

McKenna is also wrong when he says he can find the money for better schools by capping the growth of other state programs, she said. Many programs aren't scheduled to grow as much as his proposed cap, and when costs go up in some programs, driven by a growing number of children in schools, families on social services or felons in prisons, the state doesn't have the flexibility not to pay.

“When your case load goes up, you have to match it,” she said.

Both candidates have mentioned closing tax loopholes — credits or exemptions offered to certain businesses or industries to stimulate the economy and increase jobs. Gregoire said she said the same thing in 2004, when she was a first-time candidate for governor. But each exemption has a constituency that lobbied the Legislature to approve it, and will fight to keep it.

“You better be ready with a two-thirds vote” in both houses, which is what is currently required for removing any exemptions, she said. 

Gregoire does  have her budget staff reviewing ways to increase state revenues to include in the 2013-15 budget that she will propose later this year. “I have to, as part of my budget, put forth a solution.”

They're looking for something that has the capacity to grow, would be considered fair, and survive a vote of the public, she said.

“I don't know what that is,” she said. “Nothing is off the table.”

Complaint filed against flyers targetting McLaughlin

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Dozens if not hundreds of fliers left on cars and doorsteps against Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin’s campaign for state Senate could violate state disclosure law.

The black-and-white fliers that appear to be printed with a copy machine or computer printer criticize McLaughlin, a Republican, for her vote in support of revoking the alcohol impact area in the West Central neighborhood. One version of the flier said, “Nancy McLaughlin voted for fortified malt liquor sales over safe neighborhoods. We don’t need that kind of representation in Olympia.”

Ethics Commission quickly dismisses complaint against McLaughlin

The Spokane Ethics Commission ruled quickly on Wednesday against a complaint filed against Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin.

 

Rev. James CastroLang, who leads the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Colville, filed a complaint alleging that McLaughlin violated city ethics rules when her campaign took an image from the city’s Webpage or Facebook page and used it in a campaign mailer.

 

McLaughlin, a Republican, is running against state Rep. Andy Billig, a Democrat, for the state Senate seat now held by retiring state Sen. Lisa Brown. CastroLang, a Spokane resident who supports Billig’s campaign, said he acted independently of the Billig campaign. He argued in his complaint that McLaughlin used city resources for her personal gain.

Listen to McMorris Rodgers and Cowan make case on pot

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Both candidates for Congress in Spokane's 5th Congressional District oppose the initiative that would legalize marijuana under many circumstances. But they differ on an issue over which they may have some say.

That's the proposed reclassification of the drug to allow it to be prescribed by doctors. That stance is increasingly supported by many in Washington, including the Republican-leaning Spokane City Council which voted unanimously in January in support of a nonbinding resolution requesting classification.

Click on the video above to hear Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democrat Rich Cowan state their positions.

Inslee ad features Spokane

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee is attempting to make points with Spokane voters with a new television commercial that touts his ties to Eastern Washington, and features several local scenes.

Standing on the Cliff Drive overlook to downtown Spokane, Inslee tells viewers “my wife Trudi and I raised our three boys here in Eastern Washington, and as governor, I won't forget about this side of the state.”

Viewers shouldn't assume from thatcombination of comment and background, however, that the Inslees lived in Spokane.

In releasing the commercial, the campaign explained the Inslees raised their sons in Selah, Wash., which is just north of Yakima.

“He represented the region in both the state Legislature and Congress, where he helped open up the Japanese market to Washington apples and worked on the Yakima River Basin Enhancement Act,” the campaign said.

Inslee's legislative district for two terms was the 14th, in and around Yakima. He also served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives for Central Washington's 4th District, not Eastern Washington's 5th District.

He promises to support Spokane's growing aerospace industry and the Riverpointe Campus, where the state is building a new biomedical and health science facility, which also appears in the commercial. But campaign spokeswoman Jaime Smith said the shot of Inslee with factory workers is probably from a Seattle factory.

Debates will feature county commission candidates, Biviano

Candidates for Spokane County Commission will face off Wednesday evening in student-led debates hosted by the Central Valley High School’s Government Club.

The club also has invited the candidates in the hotly-contest Spokane Valley race for state House between incumbent Republican Matt Shea and Democrat Amy Biviano. Biviano is scheduled to attend. Shea has not responded to phone calls and emails inviting him to participate, said Central Valley teacher Bill Gilchrist.

Non-scientific surveys in the presidential race

Every four years at this time, businesses of almost every stripe try to piggy back on the presidential race to get a little publicity.

Thus do we have the quadrennial report from the Halloween costume industry announcing which candidate is selling more masks. Right now, it'sBarack Obama over Mitt Romney, almost 2-to-1. Argue among yourselves whether that means the president is more popular than the former governor…or scarier. 

A hamburger chain called Smashburger released the results of a survey on which candidate people would rather have a burger with. That survey came back about 60-40 in favor of Obama, but it's not clear whether some survey subjectsthought the burger came with a trip to the White House, or whether those who don''t eat meat were given the option of a veggie burger.

More on silly surveys, as they develop.

Fact-checking Prez Debate III

President Obama and former Gov. Romney kept the fact-checkers busy last night in their final debate. Here's some of the analysis:

Politifact found quite a few partial truths, but called the Romney claim that Obama went on an apology tour a “pants on fire” lie.

Factcheck.org found some false claims on both sides.

Fox News had Chris Wallace doing instant analysis.   

The Washington Post deployed its Pinocchio logos                       

Think, Drink, talk politics (not necessarily in that order)

Do you think today's political campaigns are more negative than “the good old days”?

Do you recall a really nasty commercial or mailer from a previous election?

Come down to the No-Li Brewery this evening and join the discussion for “Dirty Business: A History of Negative Campaigns” which is being sponsored by Humanities Washington.

Full disclosure: This is a shameless plug, because both main contributors to Spin Control are on the panel. Jim Camden, who has covered politics for some 30 years in Washington state, is a panelist, along with Travis Ridout, a professor of politics, philosophy and public affairs at WSU; Jonathan Brunt, who covers city government, is the moderator.

We'll have some of our favorite examples of negative campaigning, including the classic you may have heard about but never seen, the 1964 LBJ “Daisy” commercial.

It is only partly true we agreed to participate because of the name of this series of discussions, Think and Drink, and were assured that all the thinking doesn't have to happen before any of the drinking.

Think and Drink on negative campaigning starts at 7 p.m. at the No-Li Brewhouse, 1003 E. Trent.

Condon relents on ombudsman

Spokane’s first police ombudsman will keep his job for another year.

Mayor David Condon decided in August not to renew Ombudsman Tim Burns’ three-year contract. The move angered some City Council members, who questioned why Condon was willing to let the city go without an ombudsman even as the city works through recent scandals involving police misconduct.

Condon argued that it didn’t make sense to rehire Burns for three more years until the city’s Use of Force Commission makes its final recommendation about a new oversight model. The city’s ombudsman law only allowed for three-year terms.

After outcry from the City Council, however, Condon soon reversed course, offering to let Burns stay until the end of the year, and the council changed the law to allow flexibility in the length of ombudsman’s tenure.

On Monday, the City Council approved unanimously a deal between Condon and Burns that allows Burns to continue leading the city’s police oversight program until Aug. 2.

Big money continues to roll in to campaigns

With just two weeks left for voters to return their general election ballots, large amounts of money are flowing into some Washington campaigns for top offices and measures that propose major changes to state law.

The state Democratic Party reported a $350,000 contribution Monday to its gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee, who a local poll suggests is tied with Republican Rob McKenna, and campaign disclosure records show is running behind in the money race. . .

A poll of 500 Washington voters conducted by 360 Strategies said McKenna and Inslee are each supported by 46 percent of those surveyed through the weekend. McKenna has raised about $12.1 million and Inslee about $10.6 milllion, although the Democratic former congressman’s totals don’t yet include Monday’s contribution from the state party, or a $93,000 contribution last week.

At this point in the campaign, state law requires candidates and donors to report any contribution of more than $1,000 as a “last-minute contribution” on a special form.  To see the latest update of the PDC last-minute contribution list, click here.

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, go inside the blog

Condon approves repeal of West Central alcohol zone

Spokane Mayor David Condon has agreed to dissolve the zone that could have led to restrictions of high-octane beer sales in the West Central Neighborhood.

The Spokane City Council voted 4-3 earlier this month to remove the neighborhood’s designation as an Alcohol Impact Area. The close vote meant that Condon had the power to veto the decision.

WA poll: Gov race tied, ballot measures ahead

Washington's gubernatorial race was tied in a recent poll of state voters, while ballot measures for same-sex marriage, legalized marijuana and charter schools were all leading.

The poll of 500 voters last week as the ballots hit the mail had Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee each with support from 46 percent of those surveyed. Inslee is ahead in King County and North Puget Sound, while McKenna leads in other parts of Western Washington and in Eastern Washington. McKenna's ahead among men, Inslee among women.

In other words, it looks like your typical tight Democrat vs. Republican race.

The pollsters didn't ask a “horse race” question on the U.S. Senate race, but it did ask about voters opinions of incumbent Maria Cantwell and challenger Mike Baumgartner. Good news for Cantwell: While Congress has pretty low approval ratings in the country, 53 percent said they had a favorable opinion of her, slightly better than seatmate Patty Murray's rating of 51 percent.

Bad news for Baumgartner: Relatively few voters surveyed — 22 percent statewide and 29 percent in Eastern Washington — had any opinion , good or bad, of the Spokane legislator. The rest were either unfamiliar with the name or had no opinion of him.

Initiative 502, which would legalize marijuana for adult use, Referendum 74, which would legalize same-sex marriage, and Initiative 1240, which would allow public charter schools, all had support from more than half of those surveyed. But with the poll's margin of error of 4.4 percent, all could be close to pulling down a majority in the election.

 

Sunday spin: Times wades into McKenna, Ref. 74 campaigns

OLYMPIA – The biggest news in the state’s political campaigns last week probably was not made by a politician or group working for or against a ballot measure.

It was made by the Seattle Times Co., with a decision to run a full-page ad in support of Republican Rob McKenna’s gubernatorial bid, at no cost to the McKenna campaign.

The newspaper said it is paying out of its own coffers for McKenna ads and for others supporting the same-sex marriage measure, Referendum 74. It’s an effort, the great minds in the Times’ business offices say, to prove how effective newspaper advertising can be for a campaign.

To be clear, this is not merely a reprint, in giant type in case anyone might have missed them, of editorials the Times has already published endorsing McKenna and Referendum 74. These are ads with art and graphics and color that someone, or several someones, in the newspaper’s ad department conceived and labored over.

They go down in the Public Disclosure Commission’s books as independent expenditures: between now and Nov. 6, the company plans to spend $75,750 for McKenna and $75,000 to help get a yes vote on the ballot measure. Although the newspaper endorsed both on its editorial pages, the decision to run the ads was made without consultation or even advance notice to the news side of operation.

Not surprisingly, the Inslee campaign, the state Democratic Party to which he belongs and the group opposing same-sex marriage reacted negatively. So did some journalism organizations. More than 100 Times staff members signed a letter protesting the decision, saying it threatened to compromise the paper’s integrity by making it “part of the campaign machinery.”

Publisher Frank Blethen said the letter just proved that there was a separation between the business and editorial sides.

Maybe for Blethen, but probably not for much of the rest of the political world or the news-consuming public. The fact that newspapers endorse a candidate or an issue on their editorial pages, while common, nonetheless creates a problem for some voters. Even some candidates or campaign workers ask: How can a reporter be fair to us when his or her editors are supporting the opposition?

The quick answer: We don’t care about endorsements, and most of us don’t even read the editorial page during campaign season. I usually know who The Spokesman-Review has endorsed in a race I cover, because for 24 hours afterwards they’re treating me like their new best friend, and the other side isn’t returning my phone calls. After a while, both sides get over it.

If anyone asks about endorsements, I tell them two things: I don’t have input, let alone a vote, in the process, and an endorsement carries as much negative juju as positive juju. Depending on where you’re running in the Spokane area, it can be the kiss of death.

But the Times’ campaign takes this friction to a whole new level and seems bad on a couple levels. First, newspapers are struggling through declining staffs and shrinking news holes, so tossing around more than $150,000 is not chump change.

The other is, McKenna currently is behind in the polls. If he doesn’t win, what, if anything, does that say about the effectiveness of campaign ads in the Times?

Referendum 74 is an even bigger gamble. It’s slightly ahead in the polls, and if it wins there’s no way to measure the impact of the ads. If it goes down, the supporters of same-sex marriage are going to look for someone to blame. They might draw a bull’s-eye on the Times.

Today’s fun videos: Obama, Romney trade jokes at charity dinner

Both candidates appeared at the Al Smith dinner, and practiced their comic delivery.

Mitt Romney went first:

 

Followed by Barack Obama:

Think, drink, talk dirty politics Tuesday

The problem with negative politics, an old pol once told me, is it works best when it's at its worst.

You can agree or disagree with that statement on your own. Or you could agree or disagree with other people who might have other thoughts on it.

If the second option interests you more, consider checking out “Dirty Business: A History of Negative Campaign”, a discussion sponsored by Humanities Washington Tuesday night at Spokane's No-Li Brewhouse.

You can consider this a shameless plug, because both main contributors to Spin Control are on the panel. Jim Camden, who has covered politics for some 30 years in Washington state, is a panelist, along with Travis Ridout, a professor of politics, philosophy and public affairs at WSU, and Jonathan Brunt, who covers city government, is the moderator.

It is only partly true that they agreed to participate because of the name of this series of discussions. Think and Drink, and were assured that all the thinking doesn't have to happen before any of the drinking.

Think and Drink on negative campaigning starts at 7 p.m. at the No-Li Brewhouse, 1003 E. Trent.

WA voter rolls hit record, still growing

OLYMPIA — Washington has a record 3.88 million voters registered for the Nov. 6 general election, and the number continues to grow by several hundred a day.  That's up by nearly 150,000 voters just since the state primary in August.

“We've never been in this range before,” Katie Blinn, co-director of elections for the Secretary of State's office, said. “It's actually growing as we talk.”

In Idaho, voter rolls are down slightly from their peak in 2008, although voters can still register at their county elections office, and can register and vote at their poll site on Election Day.

In Washington, the deadline passed last week to fill out a paper registration form and mail it in, or to register online. But wouldbe voters can still go to their county elections office in person until Oct. 29, fill out a form in person and turn it in. Military and overseas voters can continue to register online.

Between the “walk-in” registrations and the paper forms mailed before the deadline but still being processed in some county elections offices, the voter rolls are still growing by several hundred a day, Blinn said.

Mail-in registration closed Friday in Idaho so the counties can prepare the voter lists for the poll sites, currently has 784,137 registered voters. But residents of that state who aren't yet registered can still sign up by going to their county clerk's office during business hours. They'll receive a ballot at that time.

Or they can go to their local poll site on election day with valid photo identification and proof of residence — a lease, utility bill or other document that shows the address — register and cast a ballot.

Washington votes exclusively by mail. Most of voters should receive their ballots in the next few days as county elections offices have until Friday to get their ballots in the mail. Spokane County finished its mailings today.

Those ballots must be marked, placed in envelopes that are properly signed, and either mailed or deposited in drop boxes located at key locations. Each county chooses the locations for its drop boxes; to find a phone number or website for your county elections office, click here.

To see a list of drop box sites for Spokane County, go inside the blog.

Election officially begins in Washington

Washington's Election Day, which is actually a nearly three-week period, began today as county elections offices around the state began mailing out ballots. Some have so many that the process will continue through Friday to meet the statutory deadline for getting all ballots in the mail.

In Spokane County, elections officials mailed out some 153,000 ballots today, or slightly more than half of the total. Those ballots are going to voters in the 3rd and 4th Legislative Districts, while ballots to the 6th, 7th and 9th districts will be mailed Thursday, Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said. At 8.7 cents per ballot — a bulk rate for pre-sorted, non-profit mail — Wednesday's trip to the post office cost the county $13,277.57

Spokane County has a record number of registered voters, at 280,301.

Ballots typically take a few days to reach a voter's mailbox. Voters who haven't moved from the residence listed in their registration could call the elections office if they haven't received a ballot by next Tuesday, McLaughlin said. Voters who recently moved or are out of town, and having the mail forwarded to another address, should contact the office if they haven't received their ballot by Oct. 25. The number is 509-477-2320.

Ballots must be marked, placed in the signed envelopes and either mailed back to the county elections office or deposited in a drop box by Nov. 6. In Spokane County, drop boxes are located at public libraries as well as the elections office at 1033 W. Gardner and the STA Plaza in downtown Spokane.

Today’s fun video: Debate set to music

Tuesday night's debate, if the questioners, moderator and candidates could sing.

Spokane Labor Rally Wednesday

Many of the state's Democratic candidates will be appearing Wednesday afternoon at the Spokane Labor Rally at the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds.

The Labor Rally is one of the iconic events on the political calendar in even-numbered years. The speeches rarely reach the level of great oratory, but it gives candidates a chance to “press the flesh” with average folks while the union members and their families eat burgers and sip beer or sodas at rows of tables. Hundreds of people drop by after finishing their shift and picking up the family.

It's about as close to a must-show for an endorsed candidate as there is in Spokane Democratic politics. About the only acceptable excuses for not showing up would be being in jail on a nonbailable offense, or dying. Both U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee are on the list of scheduled speakers.

There was once an axiom among the state's political reporters that a chili dog consumed at the Labor Rally will occupy a spot in one's stomach until Election Day. True or not, labor organizers in recent years have stricken chili dogs from the menu in favor of more  healthy food and perhaps a chance to show the labor movement has moved into the 21st Century.

One other nod to present day: Attendees this year are being asked to bring a donation to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Today’s fun video: Warmup for tonight

 

A website known as “Bad Lip Reading” has taken clips from the first presidential debate and substituted new words. Worth a watch, and one can only wonder what they'll do with tonight's debate.

Triple-header debate night

Political junkies can watch a debate triple-header tonight, or as much of three different matchups as they can stand.

The second presidential debate, this one a Town Hall style matchup, starts tonight at 6 p.m. Pacific. The 90-minute debate is live on the three major networks, the cable news channels and C-Span. If you have the TV on, you'll actually have to work a little bit not to see it.

At 8 p.m., the final Washington gubernatorial debate takes place in Seattle at KING-TV, and will be carried in Spokane on KREM-TV Channel 2, which is part of the Belo network. At 9 p.m., KSPS-TV Channel 7 will air the U.S. Senate debate; it was taped last Friday afternoon (our story is here) and aired in Seattle that evening, but this is the first time it has been broadcast in Spokane. (Editor's note: An early version of this post listed the wrong time for the Senate debate.)

Democrats are gathering to watch the presidential and gubernatorial debate at the Obama campaign Spokane field office, 239 W. Main. No word yet on a Republican gathering to watch the festivities.

PDC: Inslee campaign followed rules

The state’s campaign watchdog on Monday rejected complaints about contributions and spending by Democrat Jay Inslee.

 Just days before Washington’s voter get their ballots in the mail and just over three weeks before the deadline to mail them back, the Public Disclosure Commission voted unanimously to reject a complaint against Inslee filed by McKenna’s campaign manager, Randy Pepple…

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, go inside the blog.

McKenna: Too many permits, not enough help

Washington has too many licenses and permits for business, and doesn't do a good job of making it easy for companies to find out what they need to get them, Rob McKenna said today.

The Republican attorney general running for governor promised to do more to streamline the state's processes for obtaining all that paperwork.
  

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

S-R Video: Billig, McLaughlin consider the electric bus

Get Adobe Flash player

And the North Spokane freeway.

Senate debate: Did all of America go to war, or just a few?

SEATTLE – Republican Mike Baumgartner repeatedly criticized Sen. Maria Cantwell on Friday for “going to war on a credit card” in Iraq and Afghanistan, and called for a 1-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline to help fund the troops.

“The country has not gone to war,” Baumgartner said, trying to turn much of the only debate in Washington’s U.S. Senate campaign into a discussion about Afghanistan. The military, and their families, bear the brunt of the two conflicts, he said.

“All of America did go to war,” Cantwell shot back at one point. “We support our troops and we thank them. That’s why I’m working to make sure (veterans) have jobs.”

Fuel taxes should be used for roads and other infrastructure, she added.

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

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Today’s fun video: If you missed the veep debate…

 

…This video gives you most of the highlights in 2:45 minutes, rather than 90.

Gov debate 4: Fights continue over school funding, partisanship

Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna clashed over same-sex marriage, Medicaid and the best way to get more money to the state’s public schools Thursday night.
Each accused the other of ignoring the “will of the voters” when it was convenient. Each claimed the ability to forge bipartisan consensus while contending the other was tainted by their recent government service.
But neither broke completely new ground in a televised gubernatorial debate in Seattle sponsored by most of the city’s television stations.
  

Gubernatorial debate tonight; U.S Senate Friday

Joe Biden and Paul Ryan aren't the only debate on the schedule tonight for Washington voters.

In a sense, they are the opening act for Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna, who will debate in Seattle at 9 p.m. (Although some people might argue the governor's debate is more like the second movie at the drive-in double feature, the one many people don't bother to stay up to watch all the way to the end. But it's all about personal preferences.)

The debate is such a huge deal in Seattle that it is on most of the city's broadcast stations, and most are supplying a moderator or questioner to the show. In Spokane, KREM-TV is carrying it.

Ryan v. Biden is a 90 minute event, which starts at 6 p.m. local time. McKenna v. Inslee is scheduled for 60 minutes.

Speaking of debates, what is likely to be the only debate of the U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell and Republican challenger Mike Baumgartner occurs Friday, also in Seattle at KCTS-TV, the public television studio. The Spokesman-Review will be there for same day coverage on the web and print coverage the next morning. It will air in Spokane next Tuesday, on KSPS-TV, channel 7.

The folks at KSPS worked mightily to bring a second Senate debate to Spokane, but the Cantwell people have so far only agreed to one debate, total.

There's a precedent for Cantwell agreeing to a late debate in Spokane. That happened in 2000, in her run against incumbent Slade Gorton, when no one was sure until the last minute whether she'd appear at a Rotary-sponsored debate. Her campaign said no, then it said yes, but she almost didn't make it because fog was delaying flights that morning at Spokane International Airport.

If something similar happens this year, it may not appear on the tube. Late commitments are hard to work into a television schedule.

McKenna dance video goes viral

On the eve of Washington's next gubernatorial debate, a video featuring Republican Rob McKenna doing Gangnam style dancing apparently has gone viral.

That's according to Geek Wire which also suggests McKenna may have an edge on capturing the dork vote with his performance at a Global Korean Day celebration in Seattle last weekend.

Not all reviews are positive, however. The candidate's wife, Marilyn McKenna, tweeted that one child says it takes embarassment of one's parents to a whole new level, and another is offering her $10 to never do this again.

McKenna will debate Democrat Jay Inslee at 9 p.m. Thursday in a Seattle meeting that will air on KREM-TV in Spokane, as well as most broadcast stations in Seattle. It will start about an hour after the vice presidential debate and the “post-game” analysis by television talking heads. 

I-502 puts former feds in TV ad

Those wondering what the Initiative 502 would do with that boatload of money it is sitting on have at least part of an answer. Today they unveiled a television ad that features three federal law enforcement types — two former district attorneys and one former FBI agent — arguing that legalizing marijuana would be a good thing.

A copy of the ad can be found here.

Kate Pflaumer was the U.S. attorney for Western Washington under Bill Clinton, and John McKay had the job under George W. Bush. Also on the ad is Charles Mandigo, was once the special agent in charge in Seattle. McKay and Mandigo both testified at a legislative hearing earlier this year in favor of the change in law.

I-502 would legalize marijuana use in Washington for adults in many instances. The pro campaign, which is called New Approach Washington, has collected more than $4.8 million, but has spent only about half of it so far.

A check of the Public Disclosure Commission records shows that total is driven in part by some big out-of-state donations, including $1.7 million from Peter Lewis of Mayfield Village, Ohio, the retired board chairman of Progressive Insurance, and 1.3 million from Drug Policy Action, the political arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, a New York based group working on changing drug laws. Biggest Washington donor is Rick Steves, noted travel writer and marijuana activist, who's in for $350,000.

The No campaign, which goes by the name Safe Access has raised about $9,300, much of it from medical marijuana operations which oppose the law, Another group, No on I 502, has raised just under $5,800. Those totals are a bit dated, because neither has reported any contributions or expenditures since the end of August.

Gregoire video appears on anti Ref 74 blog

 

The National Organization for Marriage, which is opposing the ballot measure which would let Washington recognize same-sex marriage, posted a video on its blog that suggests President Obama was hiding his support for such unions for several months.

It's a clip of Gov. Chris Gregoire telling a group that when Obama visited Washington state in February right after she'd signed the bill that's behind Referendum 74, the president whispered in her ear to thank her for that and said “history will be on our side.”

Note the use of the first person plural.

It wasn't until May that Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, saying up until then only that his position was “evolving.” Gregoire's remarks suggest the evolution was complete months before, NOM contends, wondering if other politicians also were receiving “secret support” from the president to change marriage laws.

So where does this video come from?

Read the rest of this item inside the blog.

Watch Billig, McLaughlin make their pitch

Get Adobe Flash player

Today, we launch a series of videos on local election, giving candidates a chance to explain their platform and positions on several issues. We'll start with the race for state Senate in central Spokane between state Rep. Andy Billig and Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin.

Watch for videos later this week in which McLaughlin and Billig answer questions on energy, transportation and education funding.

Fun video2: McKenna tries his hand at Gangnam dancing

 

While the Democrats tried their hand at comedy, Republican Rob McKenna tried his feet at dancing last weekend.

Appearing at the Global Korean Day Celebration in Seattle on Saturday, McKenna joined some young dancers on the stage for some Gangnam style dancing. From the video, it would appear that he sometimes substituted some Western style moves for the steps he couldn't quite emulate. From the video, it would also appear that his wife Marilyn (on the other side of the stage) is the one with rhythm.

 Should he lose the November election, will McKenna go for a spot on “Dancing With the Stars”?

One interesting side note: According to The Atlantic, Gangnam style dancing, and its main practicioner, is somewhat subversive, mocking class and wealth in contemporary South Korean society. Of course, the way McKenna is doing it, it may just be a good cardio workout.

Wednesday Update: Geek Wire says the video has gone viral, and suggests McKenna may have locked up the dork vote. Marilyn McKenna tweeted that one child says it takes embarassment of one's parents to a whole new level, and another is offering her $10 to never do this again.

McMorris Rodgers, Cowan debate for first time

The Democratic opponent of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the November election used much of the first debate for Congressional seat representing Spokane working to portray the incumbent Republican as an engrained fixture in a bickering Congress.

But McMorris Rodgers used her time to defend her record, which she said proves that she fights for Eastern Washington and can work with Democrats. She noted her work on bipartisan legislation on hydroelectric power.

Today’s fun video: Brown, Cantwell try comedy

 

Washington Democrats got together recently to give out awards, and the prize for “Rising Star” went to former legislative and congressional aide Marcus Riccelli, a current candidate for the state House of Representatives.

One might think that Democrats might want to hold off on proclaiming stardom until Riccelli actually beat Republican Tim Benn for that seat — imagine something akin to the political equivalent of the Sports Illustrated cover jinx — but apparently they believe the 3rd Legislative District is blue enough that winning the primary makes him a sure bet in November.

To mark the occasion, two of his former bosses, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and state Sen. Lisa Brown, performed a Saturday Night Live “Weekend Update” style tribute to Riccelli. While it has a few good lines and cute bits — notice the big map behind them is a state map — it makes clear that Cantwell and Brown should not quit their day jobs.

But wait a minute. Brown actually did quit her day job as Senate Majority leader, and the dominoes that fell, with Rep. Andy Billig running for her seat created the opening that Riccelli is trying to fill. So cancel that. Let's just say that when Brown figures out her next career, it probably won't be in standup comedy.

WA ranked No. 6 for biz climate

Candidates trying to make points this year by decrying Washington as a terrible place to do business, take heed: One national organization rates Washington No. 6 for its “business tax climate.”

That's sixth from the top, or best state (Wyoming), not sixth worst (New York).

The Tax Foundation, which also alerts us when we have passed the “tax freedom day” when we are no longer working for the government and the taxes levied upon us, gives Washington good marks. Which it usually does, because it gives high scores to states that don't have a personal income tax, a corporate tax or a sales tax. Because Washington doesn't have the first, even though it is near the bottom on the third, it gets a huge boost over, say, Idaho, which has all three and is No. 20 on the list.

Washington was No. 6 last year, also, and No. 8 the year before.

Of course, there is more to business climate to taxes, just as there is more to weather climate than temperature. Transportation, education and regulations all play into the mix. Unemployment remains  higher in Washington than the national average, so if you don't  have a job, something like the business tax climate is, at best, a secondary concern.

Still, this must be disconcerting to campaigns that are predicated at least in part on telling voters how bad the economy is, in order to get them to vote for or against someone or something.

Perhaps that's why the folks for Initiative 1185, a ballot measure to re-up the two-thirds majority for taxes, didn't send out a copy of a map showing Washington as No. 6 on the business tax climate list. Instead, they sent out a Tax Foundation map from last April, that showed Washington as among the later states to reach the tax freedom day.

That map can be found here.

Bad tweet from Obama camp on voter signup

The tweetster for the president — we're guessing Barack Obama is too busy to be sending these things out himself  — urged people this morning to fill out and mail in a voter registration form by today to meet deadlines. 

Fill in your name, e-mail address and ZIP Code, and it will direct you to a place that will supposedly let you do that.

If you are a would-be Washington voter, Don't Get Your Hopes Up.

The deadline for registering online was yesterday. The deadline for filling out a form and mailing it in was Saturday.

You can still register to vote, but to do so, you will have to go to your county elections office, in person, to fill out the form, sign it and hand it in. If you click through enough pages, it will eventually tell you that.

The other suspicious thing is the request that you supply your e-mail address, but not your physical address. Nothing tied to voter registration requires an e-mail address, because those can be as impermanent as a Kardashian wedding. Could it be the e-mail address is really for the campaign, and not for the process of securing voting rights for citizens?

Cantwell outraises Baumgartner 3-to-1

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell raised more than three times as much money for her re-election campaign in the last quarter as her Republican challenger, state Sen. Mike Baumgartner, raised in his effort to unseat her.

The Cantwell campaign reported last week she had raised more than $1 million in the three-month reporting period that ended Sept. 30. That brought her total to about $11.5 million for this election cycle, and she has about $2 million on-hand for the last five weeks of the campaign.

The Baumgartner campaign said today he had raised almost $312,000 in that same three-month cycle, which would bring his total contributions for the campaign to slighly over $1 million. Totals for expenses aren't yet available, a campaign spokeswoman said.

The two U.S. Senate candidates are scheduled to  debate on Friday at the studios of Seattle's public television station, KCTS-TV. The debate will be taped, and will air in Spokane on KSPS-TV, Channel 7, on Oct. 16, after the second presidential debate. It's the only debate in the U.S. Senate race scheduled thus far.

Update: Both sides of Ref. 74 campaign in Spokane Tuesday

Expect some action tomorrow for the forces for and against Referendum 74, the ballot measure to affirm the law allowing same-sex marriage in Washington.

The Family Policy Institute of Washington, which is opposing Ref. 74, has invited Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator and GOP presidential candidate, to speak at a luncheon at the DoubleTree Hotel at noon. Tickets are $36, and more info is available by calling 425-608-0242.

Update: Clergy members supporting Ref 74 will hold a “rally for love” in the nearby Convention Center Plaza, with the Rev. Happy Watkins as the keynote speaker, starting at 11:45 a.m.  The local pro-Ref 74 folks are planning a rally starting at 11:15 a.m. at the “grassy area in front of the DoubleTree.”

Meanwhile, Washington United for Marriage, the main campaign organization, is releasing a new ad to counter Santorum. It features state Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, who spoke passionately in favor of the bill when it was in front of the House earlier this year.

Online voter registration closes tonight in WA

OLYMPIA — Time is running out for  Washington residents who want to vote for president, governor, for or against legalized marijuana, same-sex marriage, charter schools or any or all of the other things on the Nov. 6 ballot. Tonight is the deadline to sign up online and still be eligible to vote in the general election.

You can't just fill out a paper form and mail it in, because today is a federal holiday, and your application won't get post-marked in time. But you can register by computer over the Internet — which presumably you have, considering you are reading this blog post — by going to the different secretary of state website, My Vote. It will walk you through the process and save you a stamp. But only until the end of the day.

For those who want the experience of going to the elections office in person  filling out the form and handing it to another human being, that option is available until Oct. 29. But call the elections office first to check their hours; because of government reductions, different counties have different closing times. To find a number for you county elections office, click here.

 

Sunday Spin: A Republican says yes to a tax hike

Early last week, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mike Baumgartner may have raised some eyebrows by endorsing I-502, the ballot measure that would legalize marijuana for adults in Washington. Later in the week he offered up another surprise.

He backed a tax increase. Seriously. A Republican. Not making this up.

Baumgartner said he would support a 1 cent per gallon tax on gasoline, provided the money went to a special fund for veterans care. The Spokane Republican made the statement after a visit to Joint Base Lewis McChord’s Madigan Medical Center, and said would help ensure returning troops get the care they need.

“Equally important, this small tax will remind each and every American every time they fill up at the pump there is still a war going on with nearly 70,000 troops in harm’s way,” he said. “War isn’t free.”
With the way the price of gas fluctuates these days, drivers might not notice an extra penny. But the no-new-tax crowd probably would. He may get a nasty-gram from them.

Maybe he’ll get a chance to talk about it later this week in the one debate he has scheduled with Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell. That debate will air Oct. 16 on KSPS-TV.
  

Sunday Spin: Endorsements galore

This is also the time of the campaign season when candidates show off their endorsements and awards. Some readers and campaign staffs ask why the newspaper pays scant attention to them. The answer is we look for endorsements that are so surprising as to constitute news.

For example, the National Federation of Independent Business announced several top of the state ticket endorsements last week, to go with earlier endorsements in legislative races. The NFIB almost uniformly endorses Republicans, and this list was no exception. Almost any incumbent or challenger in a competitive race with an R after his or her name is A-OK with NFIB.

Similarly, Fuse, which is a progressive organization that includes some social service groups and unions, passed out its Sizzle and Fizzle awards. The former are for exemplary efforts in the Legislature, the latter for the opposite. All the sizzles went to Democrats, all the fizzles to Republicans.

What’s the surprise in that?
  

Sunday Spin: What’s in a name?

OLYMPIA – Close races mean big spending, and Washington’s gubernatorial race is no exception.

Along with candidates Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee, who have a combined total of $18 million with one month left to raise and spend, outside groups have kicked in another $12 million thus far.

The main sources of independent money are the Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association. These are not, as the casual observer might surmise, subdivisions of the National Governors Association, an organization which arranges regular meetings at which state chief executives can, in the words of Oz, hobnob with their fellow wizards.

To read the rest of this post, go inside the blog

 

  

Vote Smart guide on line

One more tool for the voter trying to figure out how to mark a ballot for president:

Project Vote Smart has released its Voters Self Defense Manual for 2012, which features the stances of the five most common presidential candidates — Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, of course, along with Libertarian Gary Johnson, Constitution Party's Virgil Goode and Green Party's Jill Stein — on 20 issue questions.

The group sends questionnaires to candidates and lists them as “has political courage” if they answer. If not, they check public statements and other records to infer the answers, and lists them as having “no political courage.”

That rating system seems a bit over the top, but the guide has plenty of information. It also lists key votes of members of Congress, along with their ratings from different interest groups. Check it out by clicking here.

Cantwell has big lead in poll, fundraising

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell's re-election campaign was crowing about two bits of good news for her:

Federal Election Commission reports filed this week showed she raised more than $1 million fo the third quarter of this campaign year. And a new poll by Rasmussen Reports shows her with a 20-point lead over Republican challenger Mike Baumgartner.

Rasmussen also has President Obama up by 11 points over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, and Washington's gubernatorial race in a virtual dead heat, with Democrat Jay Inslee at 46 percent and Republican Rob McKenna at 45 percent. (Editor's note: Earlier versions of this post had the numbers for the governor's race reversed.)

A spokeswoman for the Baumgartner campaign says they expect to have a figure for third quarter contributions by Friday.

Today’s fun video: Debate in 120 seconds

If you missed Wednesday's presidential debate (and let's face it, some of us had other things to do last night) you can get enough of it to join in today's water cooler and coffee break discussions with a video from BuzzFeed.

Sorry, but the embed coding has problems, and won't load for all browsers. It seems to be working fine on the BuzzFeed site, however, If you don't see it below, it can be found here.

 

Fact-checking the presidential debate

Viewers of the presidential debate Wednesday night might have felt like they were drowning in facts and figures at some point.

There were $5 trillion deficits and $2 trillion defense expenditures and $716 billion Medicare cuts and a question of whether Medicare was going to go to vouchers and . . .

So who was telling the truth, and who was stretching it? Both candidates had challenges with their facts, or so conclude several organizations that began dissecting the statements before the debate even finished.

For a round-up of fact checking, click here. 

Baumgartner endorses marijuana initiative

State Sen. Mike Baumgartner, who is running for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Maria Cantwell, today announced support for a state initiative that would legalize marijuana for personal use in Washington.

The Spokane Republican said it was time for a new approach to the nation's drug policy, and called Initiative 502 a “thoughtful step forward.” Time spent as an advisor to a counternarcotics team in Afghanistan convinced him that drug cartels are gaining from the United States approach to criminalizing marijuana for adults, he added.

“By failing to regulate and tax marijuana in a responsible manner, we are allowing billions of dollars to flow into their coffers,” he said. “And American lives are put in danger at  home and abroad.”

Cantwell supports the state’s medical marijuana law, which is already in conflict with federal drug regulations, but said she does not support I-502. In a statement released by her campaign, she said it should not be “legalized for recreational purposes based on concerns from law enforcement”.

“Whatever the result, I will honor the will of the voters’ decision in November,” she said.

Baumgartner said the states should have more independence to experiment with drug laws. . .

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

Debate watching, in a group

For some people, watching the presidential debate is a private affair. For others, it's a good excuse for a party.

If you are among the latter, there are two “debate watch parties” in the Spokane area for this evening's presidential debate.

Democrats will hold their party at the Obama campaign field office, 239 W. Main, Suite A, in downtown, starting at 6 p.m.

GU College Republicans will hold their party at Coughlin Hall on the Gonzaga campus, starting at 5 p.m.

The debate itself starts at 6 p.m., and is scheduled to go for 90 minutes.

McKenna v. Inslee, round 3, in Yakima

Rob McKenna began his opening statement in Spanish. Jay Inslee talked of “bucking hay” and working to pass a levy to build a local high school.

And while Washington’s two gubernatorial candidates mostly continued long-running arguments over jobs, health care and school funding, Tuesday night’s debate in Yakima at least gave them a chance to air new disagreements over immigration and driver’s licenses.

Appearing before the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce which are meeting in the Central Washington city, state Attorney General McKenna managed a long introductory comment in Spanish about how happy he was to be appearing in front of a group with which he’d previously worked.

Former U.S. Rep. Inslee stuck with a simple “Buenas noches” before mentioning he’d been a farmer, lawyer and legislator in the area.

Despite the new venue, and some new topics, the candidates exhibited some of the same animus. Asked about solutions to the region’s farm labor shortage, Inslee said it would help to have a governor who understood the issue.

“We have to have leaders who won’t use immigration as a wedge issue. One of the parties uses immigration, and the fear of immigration, as a wedge issue,” said the Democratic nominee, who clearly meant the Republicans.

Immigration is primarily a federal issue, McKenna said. If Inslee was really interested in it, “he should’ve stayed in Congress…rather than quitting, halfway through his term.”

Asked whether the state should change current law and only issue driver’s licenses to legal residents, McKenna said yes: “The idea that you can obtain a driver’s license … without proving you’re a legal resident of the country does not make sense.”

Inslee said it should only require that a person applying for a license “is who he says” and lives in Washington. “I don’t think we should make it impossible to drive.”

As usual, they clashed over the possible expansion of Medicaid, which provides health care for low-income residents and could be expanded under the federal Affordable Care Act if the state chooses. It’s a good idea, said Inslee, because the cost of people without health insurance is really a “hidden tax” passed on to people who have insurance. He managed to sneak in a mention that his sons were born at the local hospital.

Treating the expansion like it’s “free money” and growing Medicaid to cover one in three state residents would be a mistake, countered McKenna. “Medicaid is a good safety net, but it is not insurance, it’s welfare,” he said, accusing Inslee of a “Washington, D.C., mentality.”

Both insisted that they would find more money for public schools without raising taxes, although Inslee said McKenna is already suggesting a state increase in the property tax. McKenna replied that’s really a tax “swap” – an accounting maneuver involving state and local property tax levels, suggested by legislators of both parties to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling. It’s Democrats like Inslee who have the record of raising taxes in recent years, McKenna countered.

Inslee v. McKenna, tonight at 7

Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee go mano-a-mano tonight at 7 p.m. in Yakima in front of the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce convention.

It will be the third gubernatorial debate, the second since the primary election, and the first in Yakima that anyone can remember.

You can watch it live on KSPS-TV, Channel 7 on your TV dial, or on the website of the co-sponsor Yakima Herald here.

And of course you can read all about it in tomorrow's Spokesman-Review, and on spokesman.com

International Walk to School Day

Bet you didn't know Wednesday is International Walk to School Day. The Spokane Regional Health District says it is, and it's the district's job to keep track of such things.

It's an effort to get more parents to tell their kids to use their own power to get to school, as opposed to driving them from the front door of the home to the front door of the schoolhouse. It's apparently the 11th such day, although they didn't start out with “international” in the title…perhaps because in many countries, walking is about the only way that kids get to school.

According to the official Walk to School website, it is also OK to have kids bike to school. It may be OK to have them scooter or skateboard to school, or, if school is across a body of water, to swim. Flying on one's own power should be acceptable, although taking a helicopter would not.

In any case, if kids don't walk to school at least sometimes, how are they going to tell their kids about the good old days when they walked two miles to school through three feet of snow. Uphill. Both ways.

So make them walk, for their current health and for their future nagging ability. They'll thank you for it. Someday.

Deadlines approaching for WA voter registration

OLYMPIA — Washington residents who are would-be voters but aren't registered still have time to sign up and be eligible to cast a ballot for president, governor or any or all of the other offices and measures on the state's long and interesting ballot.

But not a lot of time.

Those who are planning on filling out a registration form and mailing it in have until Saturday to do so. That's because by state law, mail-in ballots must be post-marked by Oct. 8… but Oct. 8, which is  next Monday, is also Columbus Day, on which no mail is going to get post-marked. So Saturday, Oct. 6, is the last day you can get the necessary mark on the envelope.

Registration forms can be found at many government offices, including the county elections offices and some public libraries. They can also be printed out from this page on  the secretary of state's website.

Of course, if you're going online, anyway, you might consider doing the whole thing by computer at a different secretary of state website, My Vote, which will walk you through the process and save you a stamp. The other advantage is that the deadline for online registration is still Oct. 8, because the post office isn't involved in this.

For those who want the experience of going to the elections office in person  filling out the form and handing it to another human being, that option is available until Oct. 29. But call the elections office first to check their hours; because of government reductions, different counties have different closing times. To find a number for you county elections office, click here.

In Idaho, the deadline to “pre-register” — that is, get on the voter rolls at your precinct polling place, is Oct. 12. For a copy of the Idaho voter registration form, which can be printed out, filled out and mailed in, click here.  Idaho also has same-day registration at the polling station.

Today’s fun video: Anti-Pelosi Zombie ad

 

This may be the most off-the-wall campaign ad of the 2012 cycle.

It's from Republican John Dennis, a long-shot challenger to Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, and features a sheep, some Zombies and, well, just a lot of unusual stuff. 

Dennis apparently decided to use his long-shot status to his advantage…or at least, to the ad-makers advantage.

Snip-snip: N. Spokane Corridor photo op today

Break out the giant scissors. We're having a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the North Spokane Corridor.

Make that another ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Today at 11 a.m., the powers that be will be holding a “Celebration of Progress” for the much-discussed roadway, a thoroughfare so deeply ingrained in the Spokane mythos that Mike Lowry once said that the oldest politician was the one who could claim the oldest date when he first made a speech mentioning what was then called the North-South freeway.

The celebration is to mark the opening of the northern half of the corridor. So that would be the North North Spokane Corridor, presumably.

This being an election year, the celebration will include politicians, including Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who disagree on many things, but not on whether the roadway deserves federal money.

It's at 11 a.m., where the corridor intersects with Parksmith Road. For directions, go inside the blog. (One interesting thing to note in the directions: “The event cannot be reached from the North Spokane Corridor. You must use Market Street.)

Let's hope the scissors have been sharpened, because nothing ruins a good photo op like a ribbon that refuses to be cut.

Gov debate Tuesday in Yakima

Gubernatorial candidates Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee debate tomorrow evening in Yakima.

The debate is being co-sponsored by the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, and is happening during their convention. The other co-sponsor is KCTS-TV, the public television station in Seattle.

It will be carried live in Spokane on KSPS-TV, channel 7.

This debate may seem like an appetizer for the first presidential debate on Wednesday evening. The next gubernatorial debate, however, may be more of a dessert — it will take place right after the Oct. 11 presidential debate.

That Seattle debate is being described as unprecedented because it will be simulcast on all four Seattle broacast stations — KING, KIRO, KOMO and KCPQ — as well as Northwest Cable News and other stations across the state.

It may also have an unprecedented number of Seattle news-types, a total of four reporters or anchors, on the stage with the candidates along with the moderator, Glenn Johnson of Washington State University's School of Journalism.

“This is a rare moment for competitors to set aside rivalries and work together as colleagues,” Mark Ginther, executive news director of KING and NWCN, said.

That, plus the rest of network programming on Oct. 11 is shot, anyway, because of the presidential debate that will happen during the previous 90 minutes. So it was either this or reruns of “Jeopardy” and sitcoms.

GOP group to emphasize ‘differences’

A local GOP group will use billboards, cable TV and newspaper ads in an effort to highlight their differences with Democrats this campaign season.

The Republicans of Spokane County — which is not to be confused with the official Spokane County Republican Party, although it often is — will spend about $20,000 on the campaign, chairman Kent Clausen said today.

The first salvo in the campaign actually came this summer, when the group bought a full-page ad in The Spokesman-Review to tout some of the historical highlights of the GOP, like being the party of Lincoln, of voting rights for African-Americans and women's suffrage.

Recently they paid for a billboard on Division Street urging “vote responsible, vote Republican”, and will follow up with commercials on cable television channels contrasting the two party's approach to economic issues, plus an ad in the Pacific Northwest Inlander that will discuss trends in job creation and unemployment under the Clilnton, Bush and Obama administrations.

It's designed to counter what Clausen and other members of the group believe are misconceptions about the party, and portray it in a “positive light.” They don't intend to attack specific candidates.

This might strike one as a fairly basic strategy, one for which a group could go to RepublicanCampaigns.com and order up some ready-made designs and verbiage. Not so, said Clausen.

“We didn't attempt to find something off-the-shelf,” he said. “We've created it ourselves.”

To see a copy of the full-page ad in The Spokesman-Review, click on the link below.


Documents:

Veep candidate makes local stops

A vice presidential candidate is making stops in Spokane tonight and Cheney tomorrow.

But it's not Joe Biden or Paul Ryan.

Instead, it's Libertarian Party nominee Jim Gray, a former California judge, who shares that party's ticket with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. Gray was featured prominently in a story on the third-party candidates on the Washington ballot several weeks ago.

He will be at:

Spokane Events and Catering, 15012 E. Sprague in the Spokane Valley from 7-9 p.m. tonight.

EWU's Pence Union Building, on 5th Street, in Cheney, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday.

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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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