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Spin Control

Posts tagged: 2010 election

Mapping the vote: 6th District House race


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

Marr concedes to Baumgartner

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

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

His campaign just released this statement:

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

Mapping the vote: Spokane County assessor race

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

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

Mapping the vote: Spokane County commissioner race


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

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

Mid-term turnout highest in Spokane County since 1970

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both sides misstate income tax positions of Baumgartner, Marr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Mailer from Marr campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Truthfulness: False

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s voter turn-in: 10,745

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

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

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

Last chance to register

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

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

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

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

GOP vice chairman voted for Democrat Malone for prosecutor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ahern skips televised debates

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

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

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

 

Ferris hosting next battle between Baumgartner and Marr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Baumgartner will halt campaigning temporarily this weekend

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

They will be wedding bells.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What places get more than they invest?

Marr campaign warned to display party affiliation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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