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Spin Control

Posts tagged: 2011 Washington Elections

Mapping the Undervotes in 4th Senate race

A hand recount of 10 precincts in the state Senate race between Mike Padden and Jeff Baxter gets underway on Wednesday. Baxter, who is paying for the recount, won't say at this point why he's seeking the recount.

But there is one unusual thing about the race. Well, one unusual thing beyond the fact that the race had two Republicans and takes place in an odd-numbered year.

That is the level of “undervotes”, which is what elections officials call a ballot that has no candidate marked for that particular race. About one 4th District voter in five, or 7,900, didn't pick a candidate in the race.

By comparison, only 765 voters in all of Spokane County didn't pick a side on the Initiative 1183, which ended the state's monopoly on liquor sales. OK, so that may not be a fair comparison, because one is about something really important, like booze, and the other…well, you know.

One key factor may have been the lack of a Democratic candidate. Some Ds might've just been unable to mark their ballots for an R when they got to that race.

But the map above shows where undervotes were heaviest, and they aren't all in traditionally Democratic precincts. Nor do they coincide with the precincts that Baxter has asked to be recounted: 4016, 4025, 4026, 4200, 4404, 4406, 4408, 4418, 4426 and 4436.

For a more detailed (and in most cases easier to read) version of the above map, click on the document link below.


Documents:

Union files suit to block liquor initiative

OLYMPIA — A union that represents some of the workers who will lose their jobs at state liquor stores is suing to block Initiative 1183, which will begin dismantling the state control of liquor sales next year.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 sued today in King County, saying I-1183 violates a state requirement that an initiative have only one subject. The ballot measure had more than that, the union contends: privatizing the state liquor system, changing laws for selling and distributing wine, changing the ability of the Liquor Control Board to regulate alcohol advertising; and creating new franchise protections for spirits distributors.

The union contends the initiative's sponsor, Costco, focused on the issue of privatizing the state system with its record advertising campaign and avoided the other points, which are designed to benefit the retail giant.

Costco may have spent the big bucks to get the initiative passed, but state taxpayers will pay the cost of defending it.

State law says the Attorney General's office defends an initiative the voters approve. Dan Sytman, a spokesman for Attorney General Rob McKenna, said the office “will vigorously defend this initiative” like other state laws.

4th District will get new senator on Day 2 of session

Because of a quirk in state law, Spokane’s 4th Legislative District will have one senator for the first day of the upcoming special session, and a different senator for the rest of it.
Republican Mike Padden is the apparent winner of the race to fill a seat that came open earlier this year when veteran Sen. Bob McCaslin resigned for health reasons. Padden has a mathematically insurmountable lead over Jeff Baxter, a fellow Republican appointed to the seat earlier this year.
Padden, a former state representative and district judge, leads Baxter by 3,628 votes. The Spokane County elections office estimates there are fewer than 3,000 votes left to count in the 4th District.
  

Bell tolls for I-1125

OLYMPIA — Initiative 1125, which would have placed restrictions on how tolls can be levied and spent, is officially a loser.

Although the fate of the proposal seemed fairly likely when it ended Election Night behind, The Associated Press night called it for the No camp Wednesday evening after another day of ballot counting in some of the state's biggest counties.

Among them, a 71,000 vote margin on the side of the opposition in King County. Other counties voting No included Spokane, Snohomish, Thurston, Whitman, Garfield and Adams. Overall, I-1125 is down by about 40,000 votes out of nearly 1.3 million cast, or about 51.5 percent No and 48.5 percent Yes.

For a map of the county-by-county results on I-1125, click here.

Uh-oh. Some ballots might not have been mailed

OLYMPIA — Nearly 21,000 residents who either signed up to vote or updated their registration by using a state web site might not  have been mailed a ballot or may have been sent a ballot for their old address.

The Washington Secretary of State's office said late Monday that some voters who used the Department of Licensing's web site to register or change their address may not have received a ballot because the DoL computer wasn't sending that  information to the SecState computer.

Nearly 15,000 voters who tried to update their registration address when they updated their drivers license address filled out a form online and on time, but that information wasn't forwarded to the Secretary of State's office until last Friday. Some of those voters may have received ballots that were sent to a previous address and forwarded to them; others may not have received a ballot

Almost 6,000 who weren't registered may have filled out the “update your voter registration” form which doesn't have enough information for a new registration.

So what's a wouldbe voter to do? On Election Eve, the Secretary of State's office says if you believe you registered but haven't received a ballot — or if you changed your address but received a ballot for your old location — go to your county elections office or a Voter Service Center to fill out a registration form and cast a provisional ballot.

For information on the location of county elections offices and voter service centers, click here.

I-1183: More stores, less variety?

One angle of Initiative 1183 that has not been the subject of millions of dollars worth of commercials for and against is choice – as in will my choice of liquor be better or worse if the measure passes?

With campaigns arguing over whether people will or won’t drink significantly more liquor, get into significantly more traffic accidents and have significantly more problems with alcohol abuse, it’s probably not surprising that neither side has the campaign equivalent of “Dos Equis Guy” saying “I don’t always drink single malt 20-year-old scotch, but when I do, I like shopping at Washington State liquor stores.”

But selection is likely to change, at least initially…

One-third of Spokane ballots in

Spokane County Elections Office says it has received slighly more than 89,500 ballots, or 33.66 percent of all the ballots it sent out a couple weeks ago.

That's counting nearly 10,000 that came in today's mail or the pickup of weekend deposits in drop boxes.

For those who think a hot candidate race will definitely spur turnout, the numbers so far would suggest otherwise.

For example, the city of Spokane has a hotly contested mayor's race, a council president race and three contested city council races. It's turnout is 33.4 percent. The City of Spokane Valley has some contested council seats, turnout there is 33.24 percent.

The 4th Legislative District has one of the state's few off-year senate races. Turnout is 33.76 percent.

Town of Spangle, which has five council races on the ballot, but only one that's contested, turnout 45.8 percent. Orchard Prairie School District, three board seats on the ballot, none contested, 40.4 percent turnout.

Of course, one could note that Spangle and O.P. School District  registration numbers are so small that a handful of ballots boosts the turnout numbers. That's true, but the top part or the ballot is the same for everyone, with five statewide ballot measures and one county-wide proposal. And the process is the same for everyone: Fill out the ballot, put it in an envelope and mail it in or drop it off. For info on where to drop them, go here.

Where do I take my ballot?

You have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to mark your ballot, place it in the proper envelopes, seal and sign the envelopes and take it to a drop box or mail it. Be sure if you mail it on Tuesday, it will be postmarked that day, so taking it to the post office is a good idea, dropping it in the neighborhood mailbox in the afternoon, not so much.

If you're wondering where the drop boxes in Spokane County are, go inside te blog. If you live in another county, click here for a map that has phone numbers for all the county elections offices.

2011 elections: Who’s spending what

OLYMPIA – Led by a multi-million dollar battle for who controls liquor sales in Washington, initiatives and candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot have spent more than $18 million on trying to sway voters in the last three weeks.

This may come as no surprise to state residents who can’t turn on the television without seeing firefighters argue whether voters’ lives will be better or worse if state-run liquor stores go the way of the Model T. Other state initiative campaigns have their own TV messages, and campaigns big and small are filling mail boxes with slick mailers.

Campaigns were required this week to report all spending through Tuesday to the State Public Disclosure Commission. While more money will be spent by some campaigns that remain flush with cash, that won’t be reported until Dec. 12, when most bills are paid and many campaigns tally their final account.

Tuesday’s deadline covers some of the most intense spending of any campaign season…

Click to go inside to read the rest of this item.

State liquor monopoly: All in or all out?

OLYMPIA – It’s apparently all in, or all out, for Washington state’s involvement in the liquor business.

After studying two proposals to take over the state’s liquor distribution system, the Office of Financial Management is calling for a pass on both. Voters could still order that system sold, and remove the state’s involvement in wholesale and retail liquor sales, by passing Initiative 1183.

If that measure fails, the system stays as is, at least for a while.

In a letter Wednesday to the Liquor Control Board, OFM Director Marty Brown said the two proposals from private companies to take over the liquor warehousing system “do not represent ‘net positive benefit’ to the state or local governments.” Because of that, OFM officials say, state law doesn’t allow the board to accept either proposal….

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

I-1125: Good democracy or bad economics?

For Spokane residents who haven’t dealt with a local toll way since the booths came down on the Maple Street Bridge in 1990, Initiative 1125 might seem like a ballot measure more important to the west side of the state.

Not so, say supporters and opponents of the initiative that occupies the top spot on the Nov. 8 ballot. They don’t agree, however, on the key reason it’s important to Eastern Washington…

Go inside the blog to find out why.

Catch the candidates: Valley races tonight

Got questions about a particular candidate or race in the Valley? Tonight's the night.

Central Valley High School Advanced Placement Government class is hosting a debate and forum for the 4th Legislative District Senate race, Valley City Council, Liberty Lake City Council Position 5 and Liberty Lake Mayor.

The students get to ask the questions, but don't let that deter you. In the years of watching a similar debate by the Spokane Youth Commission, it has become clear that Art Linkletter had it wrong. Kids don't say the darnedest things; they ask some of the toughest questions.

It starts at 5 p.m. at the CVHS theater.

Longtime Dem backs Condon, blasts Verner over Zehm

Former Democratic County Chairman and one-time congressional candidate Tom Keefe said today he is reaching outside his normal partisan boundaries to endorse David Condon in the mayor's race.

Officially, municipal races in Spokane are non-partisan. But sometimes the county organization or prominent party members endorse candidates who are politically well aligned. When that happens, it's sometimes considered news, but rarely is it NEWS.

But this is not one of those cases. Instead, it's an instance of a longtime Democrat endorsing a known Republican. Keefe is a former congressional aide whose service goes all the way back to Warren G. Magnuson; he ran for Congress against Republican Rep. George Nethercutt in 2000.

Condon is the former district manager to Nethercutt's successor, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and a GOP campaigner before becoming a candidate.

The reason for the cross-party endorsement? The Otto Zehm case…

Sunday Spin: Ads give up the right to remain silent

The campaigns for and against the get-the-state-out-of-the-booze-biz initiative seem in a competition for “first responders” willing to endorse their stance.

It started with the ad by Protect Our Communities, the official name of the No on I-1183 committee, which enlisted a county sheriff, a city police chief and a pair of firefighters to denounce the proposal…

Biz groups turn thumbs down on I-1125

OLYMPIA — Washington business groups, including Greater Spokane Inc., are taking turns dissing Initiative 1125, a proposal that would put restrictions on the way state sets and spends tolls on roads and bridges.

The Association of Washington Business recommended a vote against I-1125 last week at its annual “policy summit.”

GSI, the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, Greater Seattle Chamber, Renton Chamber, Washington Roundtable and state Realtors Association also urged a “no” vote, using words like irresponsible, dangerous and — horror of horrors! — politicizing.

AWB: No on tolling init; yes on liquor init

OLYMPIA — The Association of Washington Business, which is occupies the role of the state's chamber of commerce, likes the ballot measure to turn the state's liquor business over to private business.

It doesn't like the ballot measure to restrict tolling policies on roads and bridges. Nor does it like a measure to require extra training and background checks for long-term care workers.

At its “policy summit” meeting in Suncadia — that's a lodge on the eastern slope of the Cascades near Cle Elum — the AWB decided to come out in favor of I-1183, which would end the state monopoly on wholesale and retail liquor operations. Better than previous attempts, the group says, by keeping sales out of convenience stores in cities and bringing in more revenue for the state.”

It doesn't like I-1163, which applies to health workers. Too expensive at a time when the state's budget is “$2 billion in the hole” and can least afford it.(Technically, the budget isn't $2 billion in the hole. The gap between projected revenue and scheduled expenses is $1.4 billion, or $1.27 billion if the state were to blow through its reserves in an effort to head off red ink. Gov. Chris Gregoire is asking the Legislature to come back starting Nov. 28 to cut $2 billion because by then the revenue projections may be worse and the state really needs to have reserves. But $2 billion probably is easier to remember.)

And it's against I-1125, which would restrict the use of tolls to the roads or bridges where they are levied, ban variable tolls for different times or days, and require tolls be set by the Legislature.  It would jeopardize some big projects and cause “more delays and traffic headaches for Washington drivers,” the group said.

AWB endorses Baxter

OLYMPIA — The Association of Washington Business endorsed Jeff Baxter Friday in the race for the state Senate seat in Spokane Valley's 4th District.

The AWB is meeting this week at Suncadia lodge — a resort near Cle Elum — for its annual “policy summit”. Among the policies are endorsements…mostly for initiatives in this odd-year election.

But with a contest between two Republicans in the 4th, the group went with the incumbent Baxter, who was appointed to the seat this winter after Bob McCaslin retired for health reasons. He faces another Republican, former state Rep. and County District Judge Mike Padden in November because no Democrats got into the race.

The AWB said it was backing Baxter because of his business experience. “The private sector needs to lead our economic recovery efforts,” the group said.

Corker endorses Stuckart

While most of the political news is swirling around City Hall this morning with the press conference over the Otto Zehm case (read about that here), there was a development in the Council President race.

Councilman Steve Corker, who finished third in the primary for the job last month, announced he was endorsing former opponent Ben Stuckart for the job: “Ben represents a bright, new voice for Spokane.”

Stuckart thanked Corker for the endorsement and “for his many years of service to the City of Spokane.”

Corker also pointed out the key element of the primary results as the city looks ahead to the Nov. 8 election. Unlike the mayor's race, in which incumbent Mary Verner essentially lapped the field, no one got a majority in the council president's race. Dennis Hession, the former council president and mayor, finished on top, with 37 percent, but Stuckart got 30 percent and Corker 27 percent.

One other interesting stat: 2,175 voters “skipped” that race. That is, they marked their ballots in other contests, but not for council president. Had they voted for Corker, he would've finished second; had they voted for Stuckart, he would've been almost tied with Hession; had they voted for Hession, the race would now be seen as pretty much over.

For maps on how the candidates fared across the city's precincts, click here for Hession. here for Stuckart, and here for Corker. For a look at where the undecideds were, click here.

State GOP: Yes on I-1125

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Republican Party announced Wednesday it is endorsing Initiative 1125, the proposal to limit the use of money collected for road and bridge tolls.

The proposal is this year's offering by Tim Eyman and allies to rein in some aspect of state spending. The endorsement can't be considered that surprising, because it's hard to think of a time when the state GOP didn't back a measure by Eyman to limit state spending.

In other I-1125 news, the Washington Policy Center, a research group that supports “market solutions”, has issued a long report about the eight different questions the initative raises, and the way supporters and opponents answer them.

More booze outlets, but ‘not the Wild West’

OLYMPIA — Washington would go from having the second fewest liquor stores per capita to the fifth fewest if voters approver a ballot measure this fall, a new study concludes.

Initiative 1183 would likely result in a four-fold increase in the  number of retail liquor stores, the Office of Financial Management has said, and an increase of about 5 percent in total liquor sales. That would mean there'd be about one liquor store for every 4,709 persons, rather than one store for every 20,502 persons as it is now, the Washington Policy Center study concludes. That would be fewer stores per capita than any other western state.

“The bottom line is that the number of retail liquor stores would increase in Washington under I-1183 but this would not result in the state becoming the wild, wild west of liquor retail stores or sales,” the center's Jason Mercier writes.

I-1183 is this year's attempt to end the state's monopoly control of distribution, wholesale and retail liquor operations. It is backed by Costco, Trader Joe's and Safeway, Inc. Unlike I-1100, which voters rejected last year, I-1183 sets minimum size requirements for retail liquor stores that in many communities would confine sales to supermarkets, discount stores and other larger retail outlets and exclude mini-marts.

Washington is currently second only to Utah among 11 western states in terms of liquor stores per capita. Idaho, which also has state controled liquor stores, is fifth. It has 163 stores, but spread over its population that's one store for every 9,600 Idahoans.

OFM estimates the number of liquor stores in Washington would jump from the current level of 328 to 1,428 if I-1183 passes.. Sales would also go up slightly, based on the experience of Alberta, Canada, when that province ended its monopoly.

But Washington would have fewer stores per capita than Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado or Hawaii — other western states that don't have state-run liquor stores, the policy center concludes.

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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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