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Spin Control

Posts tagged: 2010 elections

Michelle Obama: Get fired up

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

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

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

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

Today’s fun video: A gleeful spot from IL

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

McCain: Murray part of ‘corrupt process’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday’s it. Get registered or sit election out

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

Honest. No kidding. That’s it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama: Ask them what they’d cut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama: Women made strides, still at disadvantage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Obama heading for Seattle neighborhood

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trick or what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ballot measures rake in big bucks

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s ballot turn-in: 7,650

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


McMorris Rodgers, Romeyn go head-to-head

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

Today’s an important day for this election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catch the candidates: Oct. 27 at downtown library

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

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

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

Debate reminder: McMorris Rodgers v. Romeyn tonight

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5th Cong Dist debate back on (really)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congressional debate off, again (or still)

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

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

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

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

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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