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Spin Control

Posts tagged: 2012 Washington elections

Ahern stepping out; Keller, Holy and Dellwo in 6th District race

A pair of Republicans will compete against a former Democratic legislator for a newly open seat in the state House in Spokane’s 6th Legislative District.

Larry Keller, the superintendent of the Cheney School District and Spokane attorney Jeff Holy will try to keep a seat Rep. John Ahern’s seat in Republican hands while Dennis Dellwo will try to return to the Legislature after a 16-year absence, and in a new district.

Ahern, who as recently as last Tuesday said he planned to run for re-election, announced over the weekend he will step down at the end of this term but may run for Spokane City Council next year.

McKenna calls for budget reforms, slams Chopp

OLYMPIA –Washington should reform its employees' pension systems now and other spending rules down the road to avoid annual problems with budgets that don't balance, Attorney General Rob McKenna, the likely Republican candidate for governor, said Monday.

As the Legislature entered the third week of a special session without a budget agreement, McKenna took several swipes at Democratic leaders, particularly House Speaker Frank Chopp: “What is holding this up is the speaker's refusal to allow votes on the reform bills,” McKenna said.

He later accused Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown of Spokane of “not supporting reforms.”

But Chopp and Brown fired back, saying a new budget proposal will be unveiled later this week. Other bills tied to that budget, including some of the reform topics McKenna mentioned, are set for hearings on Wednesday.

“We’re going to come in and try to pass the budget,” Brown said in an interview with The Spokesman-Review. “The speaker has not derailed the process at all.”. . .

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


GU professor could challenge McMorris Rodgers

A former dean of Gonzaga University Law School is among Democrats considering a campaign against Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers next year.
Dan Morrissey, who served as dean from 2001-04 and now teaches corporate law at the school, said he is exploring his prospects for a race and expects to decide by next month.
“I’m testing the waters,” he said, which includes speaking to party gatherings in Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District and discussions with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a group that recruits and raises money for candidates.
 Morrissey, 63, is one of several Democrats that party sources have named as a potential challenger to McMorris Rodgers, a member of the House GOP leadership who would be seeking a fifth term in 2012.
Also among the potential candidates: outgoing Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, longtime Spokane television reporter Daryl Romeyn, who won the Democratic primary in the 5th Congressional District last year but lost to McMorris Rodgers in the general election, and Rich Cowan, chief executive officer of North by Northwest productions.
Whoever runs could face an uphill battle…

NYTimes profiles Cantwell

Tim Egan of the New York Times profiles Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington in today's edition.

It's an overall flattering piece, characterizing her as a populist warrior against Wall Street villains.

OK, it has one unflattering jab:

“Through two terms, she has been almost an invisible senator. In person, she underwhelms, a charm deficiency that has given rise to a nickname of “Senator Cant-smile.”

It also concludes with a look at the 2012 election to which some Republicans might object: “She faces no significant opposition in her run for a third term next year.”

This might cause state Sen. Mike Baumgartner, a Spokane Republican who has announced a campaign, to remark something like: “So, what am I? Chopped liver?”

Apparently in Egan's assessment, the answer would be yes.

Jumping into 2012 races

OLYMPIA — Five days left in this election cycle, but here's some candidates for the 2012 election.

Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, said today he'll run for State Auditor. Longtime Auditor Brian Sonntag announced more than a month ago he wouldn't seek re-election, and Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal Way, got in the race in October, and Rep. Chris Reykdahl, D-Olympia set up “an exploratory committee” to consider the run. One possible factor in Pridemore's decision: Sen. Lisa Brown, the Senate Majority leader from Spokane, said earlier this week she would not run for auditor.

Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, is running for Secretary of State. That seat is also open, as longtime Sec. State Sam Reed announced this summer he was retiring.  State Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, and Republican Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman are already in that race.

All the state reps will give up their seats if they stay in the race. So will Pridemore and Kastama, because they face re-election in 2012. So the dominoes could start falling in legislative districts around the state.

Long freeze coming for some candidates

OLYMPIA — The upcoming special session of the Legislature may complicate campaign cash-grabbing for some candidates, but give others a leg up.

State law bans state elected officials from accepting campaign contributions during a special session and from 30 days before a regular session until that session ends.

The freeze, as it's called, starts on Nov. 27, the day before the special session starts, and continues until that session ends. If the special session lasts past Dec. 10 (something for which you could get really good odds, if Vegas bookmakers were foolish enought to bet on Legislatures) the 30-day ban in front of the regular session kicks in, so the freeze continues into January, February … and however long it takes for the Legislature to finish the rest of its business.

Will they need a special session to get everything done? Who knows. But they've need them for the last two years.

So incumbents up for election in 2012 might not be accepting checks from Thanksgiving weekend until sometime in mid March, at the earliest. Their challengers who aren't in office can.

Also affected are state elected officials who will be running for some other state office. So State Attorney General Rob McKenna's campaign for governor is frozen out, starting Nov. 27. But his chief Democratic challenger, Rep. Jay Inslee, isn't because the law doesn't — in fact, can't — cover federal officials.

That principle that a state can't put limits on federal candidates works in reverse, too. State Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, for example, isn't barred from raising money for his campaign for U.S. Senate against incumbent Maria Cantwell. Neither are any of the other legislators who might run for Inslee's old seat, once they know where the boundary lines are.

Lisa Brown staying put

OLYMPIA — State Sen. Lisa Brown is dropping any plans to run for statewide office in 2012

Democrat Brown, the Senate majority leader from Spokane, has been rumored for two possible statewide posts on next year's ballot, lieutenant governor and state auditor.

The auditor's seat is open with long-time incumbent Brian Sonntag deciding last month he wouldn't seek re-election. The lieutenant governor's seat isn't, with incumbent Brad Owen showing no sign of giving up the job of presiding over the Senate and standing in when a governor leaves the state.

Brown said Monday she'll be concentrating on leading the Senate Democrats during the upcoming special session that starts Nov. 28, and the regular session that starts in January.  Although that would still leave some time to put together a campaign in March or April, “I'm not planning on running for statewide office in 2012,” she said.

Her current term is up next year, so she'll have to seek re-election to the Senate in 2012. While that's a relatively safe seat right now, there's no telling what Spokane's legislative seats will look like after the Redistricting Commission gets finished with redrawing the lines.

Reykdal looking at auditor race

State Rep. Chris Reykdal is officially thinking about running for state auditor.

That is, he announced today he's formed an “exploratory committee” to look into the possibility of running for the job being vacated by Brian Sonntag.

Reykdahl, D-Olympia, is the second Democrat to talk about getting into the race. Rep. Mark Miloscia of Federal Way is also in.

If you're thinking that there was a time when only presidential candidates announced exploratory committees instead of just saying “I'm running”, you're right. And you're probably kind of old.

Baumgartner ‘officially’ in Senate race

State Sen. Mike Baumgartner made his “official” announcement today that he's running against Maria Cantwell next year.

If that sounds familiar, it's because he was on television Friday evening, and in this newspaper Saturday morning, saying he'd run. That may have seemed pretty official to most folks.

Baumgartner previously said he'd make an announcement today, but did an interview with KING-TV on Friday for that station's weekend public affairs show. He said he was running with cameras running; KING and its Spokane sister station KREM had it at 5 p.m. Friday, and KXLY had a brief mention by 5:30 p.m. Generally speaking, The Spokesman-Review does a single story about a candidate's announcement and  will wait for an “official” announcement that we know is coming as long as the candidate doesn't make some other kind of public pronouncement. When that happens, as it did in this case, we posted  Friday and published  Saturday that we would have posted today and published tomorrow.

So let's call today the official unveiling of his campaign website and the unveiling of the obligatory campaign video on YouTube. And there's nothing more official for a campaign than having a web site and a video, no?

Well, nothing except maybe drawing a first strike from the opposing party. State Democrats were quick to brand Baumgartner as a far-right extremist for signing the 2010 Spokane County Republican platform which calls for such things as withdrawing from the United Nations, eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, returning to the gold standard and repealing the Endangered Species Act.

Baumgartner did sign the platform, but said it has about 120 planks; he agrees with some but has spoken out against others, such as withdrawing from the UN.

Expect the platform to come up on a regular basis as Baumgartner tries to get some name identification on the West Side.

Baumgartner to run for the other Senate?

Sen. Mike Baumgartner at his desk on the Senate floor this spring. File photo.

OLYMPIA — State Sen. Mike Baumgartner of Spokane is being discussed for the political equivalent of an upgrade, as a candidate for U.S. Senate against Democrat Maria Cantwell.

Baumgartner said Wednesday evening he's “taking a strong look at it” after being urged to get into the race by some supporters. He said he and wife Elinore will make a decision “in the next few weeks.”

It would be a big jump for Baumgartner…

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

Sonntag not running for re-election

Brian Sonntag. File photo

OLYMPIA – State Auditor Brian Sonntag, the longest serving state executive in office, will retire at the end of next year from a 20-year stint at the head of the office that keeps an eye on the other state offices.

Sonntag, a Democrat, surprised members of both parties Monday in announcing he wouldn’t run for another term in 2012. He was briefly mentioned earlier this year as a candidate for governor, although he declined to get into a primary battle against U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee or a general election race against likely GOP nominee Rob McKenna.

Now he says he's made the difficult decision not to run for auditor, either…

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

WA Gov’s race: Still No. 1

OLYMPIA — The 2012 Washington governor's race may have seemed pretty quiet this month to the voters who will decide it. But it remains on top of the list of gubernatorial contests compiled by Politico.

The likely matchup between Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna and Democratic U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee got a mention for the ongoing debate over Inslee's campaign funding and a brief dustup over a Dem operative being barred from a McKenna speech. It beats out races in Montana, North Carolina, Missouri and West Virginia, which are ranked 2 through 5. See the whole story here.

But the real question seems to be, if Washington can stay on top with so little going on, how terribly boring must those other states' races be?

GOP challenger for McKenna

OLYMPIA — Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna may be the most prominent, best known and best-funded Republican running for governor. But he is not the only one.

Shahram Hadian, an Everett minister, is in the race, and making a cross-state campaign swing this week from Walla Walla to Tacoma.

A native of Iran who came to the United States just before the shah fell, then moved to Canada, then back to the United States, Hadian touts his unique background. That point is pretty hard to argue. He converted from Islam to Christianity, travels the country warning of the dangers of radical Islam and Shari'ah law, led the fight against scantily clad barristas in Everett, where he now lives.

His political experience is a bit thin. He ran for the state House of Representatives in 2010, in the 44th District, for the seat held by Democrat Hans Dunshee. Hadian finished a distant third in the primary, which is not much of a springboard for a statewide race.

But like all good beginning candidates, he has a website. Those so inclined can read more about him here.

Although he's got a website, an artsy logo, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, he apparently hasn't gotten around to filling out his Public Disclosure Commission registration form. But we're sure that'll be coming soon.

WA gov race goes nuclear

OLYMPIA — The likely leaders in Washington's 2012 governor's race “went nuclear” today, although on slightly different aspects of the nuke waste issue.

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, the likely Republican nominee for the job, announced in Seattle that he was filing new court action over the federal government's decision to step away from the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. He filed a writ of mandamus with the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., arguing that the Department of Energy is improperly “withholding action” on finishing off the repository.

“It’s the federal government’s responsibility to clean up Hanford,” McKenna said in a prepared statement. “This lawsuit seeks to compel the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to immediately resume consideration of the application to build and operate a repository at Yucca Mountain.”

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, the leading Democrat for the nomination, meanwhile laid into a special commission set up to figure out what to do about nuclear waste. The Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future (yes, blue ribbon is part of the official name) released its draft report on nuclear waste with some really terrific recommendations — find a repository site through a “consent-based approach” build a permanent repository promptly, build at least one interim repository promptly, do some innovative stuff in nuclear energy. 

Thanks for the hard work, Inslee said, but the report is “deeply flawed” and will lead to the United States wasting billions of dollars more.

“The Commission declares that a lack of community support killed Yucca and that a new ‘consent-based approach’ for future facilities is required,” he said in his prepared statement.  “The Commission admits that a consolidated geologic disposal facility is the solution, but seems unable to admit that a solid, scientifically assessed site already exists which could mean billions more in cost for ratepayers.”

So it would seem McKenna and Inslee agree on at least one thing: Washington should get to ship the nuclear waste at Hanford to Nevada, and keep it there for centuries.

WA gov race: We’re No. 1?

Although the election is still 15 months away, Washington's gubernatorial race has a lofty ranking of No. 1.

On the Politico list of top governor's races in the country.

The political website put the match between Attorney General Rob McKenna and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee at the top of the best 10 state executive races for 2012, even though it notes there is no current polling.  It was No. 1 in June and No. 2 in May.

Democrats continue to poke McKenna over 9-1-1 calls

State Democrats are trying to get the most mileage possible out of an incident last week that prompted King County Young Republicans to call 9-1-1 to report — ohmagawd! —a Democrat in their midst.

The whole thing started on July 7 when the Young Rs rented out the North Bellevue Community Center to hear a speech from Rob McKenna, the attorney general who would be governor. Dems sent a person with a videocamera to record the event for posterity, and likely for slicing and dicing to use in various anti-McKenna campaign ads.

The videographer was asked to leave, he refused, saying it was a public meeting in a public place. McKenna refused to speak, someone from the Young Rs called 9-1-1 for assistance. The dispatch operator asked if the videographer posed a threat to people in the room, or had weapons or drugs. When told no on all points, the dispatcher said it could be as much as an hour before they could free up an officer to get there. Someone from the Young Rs called back twice to ask when would the cop get there.

By the time an officer arrived, McKenna had left, the meeting was pretty much over and there wasn't much for her to do.

To keep poking McKenna, State Democrats posted the transcripts of the 9-1-1 calls on Wednesday, which they say show the Young Rs were invoking the name of the state AG in an effort to improperly roust their videographer. On Thursday they sent out links to various media sites that bit on Wednesday's release.

Minor spats over opp-research videographers aren't new. A Democratic cameraman was tossed from a Seattle Police Union meeting with Dino Rossi during the 2008 gubernatorial run. The video showed up rather quickly on YouTube, complete with a sound track.

WA Gov race: $1 mill in 1 month

OLYMPIA — Washington's nascent gubernatorial race between Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna and Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee pulled in more than $1 million in its first official month.

Both Inslee and McKenna formally announced their campaigns and started collecting campaign money in June. Candidates must report last month's contributions this week, and the first tally in the gubernatorial race shows McKenna ahead for total dollars collected, but Inslee ahead for cash-on-hand.

Public Disclosure Commission reports show McKenna with almost $668,000 in contributions, about $26,000 of it moved over from money collected by his re-election campaign for state attorney general. He's spent about
$190,000, with more than $110,000 going for direct mail advertising or contribution requests.

Inslee has raised about $513,000, and paid out about $21,000 in expenses, most of it wages for campaign staff. But his PDC reports also list bills for about $42,500 for consulting, legal and accounting services the campaign owes but had not been paid at the time the reports were filed.

How did they get so much, so fast? In part by getting the maximum amount the law allows — $3,200 total for the primary and general elections — from big donors. Inslee and McKenna each have 32 donors who have already maxxed out with $1,600 for the primary and $1,600 for the general.

As for incumbent Chris Gregoire, who announced last month she would not run for a third term, her campaign fund is essentially empty after returning about $26,000 of the $367,000 she'd raised. The rest had been spent on pre-campaign expenses like consultants and mailings.


Candidates who claim some tie to Spokane: We’ve got a few questions for you

People who want to be elected to statewide office in 2012 are already wandering around the state, announcing their campaigns and trying to establish their bona fides with the good folks hereabouts.

Most candidates for state office have to come from Seattle, or at least the greater Pugetopolis, to have a chance of getting enough votes from the West Side of the state. This is not surprising, because to paraphrase Willy Sutton, that’s where the votes are.

But to prove they seek to represent the whole state, they must also campaign on the dry side of the Cascades, and cite their ties to Spokane or Walla Walla or Curlew, whether they be strong or tenuous. Jay Inslee’s swing through Yakima and Spokane last week as he kicked off the gubernatorial campaign was an example of someone with real, if somewhat dated, ties to the East Side. Inslee represented Central Washington’s 4th District for a term in the U.S. House, in 1993-’94.

Some candidates try to do more with less. I recall one candidate for statewide office who talked about his fond memories of Spokane, where the family always stopped on their way to the lake cabin when he was a child. Being remembered as the gateway to Idaho or a pleasant pit stop never seemed like much of a vote-getter.

When candidates start laying claim to knowing Spokane and understanding its people and their issues, then do something foolish like saying how they’re such a big fan of Gon-ZAH-ga basketball, it sometimes helps to give them a pop quiz on issues a real Spokanite would know. We've put some inside the blog.

Maybe you can think of other questions to test a candidate’s true ties to Spokane. Click to go inside the blog and leave them in a comment box.

Wyman running for Sec State

Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman announces 2012 campaign for Secretary of State.

OLYMPIA — After waiting a respectable 48  hours after her old boss got out of the 2012 Secretary of State race, Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman got in it Thursday.

Wyman told a press gaggle in Olympia she would be running to replace Sam Reed, who also preceded her as Thurston County Auditor. She said she wants to modernize the voter registration by moving from paper registration to a more computer-based system, one that would eventually jibe with other states, allowing for better checks of voter rolls across state lines.

She said she has few disagreements with Reed, who is retiring after 12 years in the post. She doesn't agree with him that all ballots in the state's vote-by-mail system should be in elections officials' hands by 8 p.m. on Election Night to be counted. She would let the ballots continue to be received and counted as long as they are mailed by then, as the law now allows, but thinks the delays in reaching a final count could be reduced by making the system more efficient.

Wyman said she doesn't agree with the Legislature's decision to take money set aside for a Heritage Center in Olympia to help keep the Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane and the State History Museum in Tacoma open. That decision has put the planned Heritage Center on hold.

“I was disappointed they chose to sweep the funding for the Heritage Center,” she said. “You've robbed Paul to pay Peter. But the Legislature has the ability to do that.”

The state doesn't have a widespread problem with illegal immigrants and other ineligible residents registering to vote, but it does have to address a “perception” that problem exists, Wyman said. It's unlikely that most illegal immigrants would  walk into a government agency to register to vote and risk being caught and deported, she said.

Wyman, 48, was the Thurston County elections manager before being appointed county auditor in 2001 when  Reed was elected to the state job. She has held the auditor's post ever since, with her last re-election in 2010, and currently is the only Republican in county office in Thurston County.

Ladenburg: Sup Ct yes, AG no

Former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg says he's made up his mind on what state office he wants to seek in 2012 and it's…

State Supreme Court justice.

Not state attorney general.

Ladenburg's campaign operation sent out word that he is shutting down his “exploratory committee” for AG, and starting up a campaign committee for the high court. One reason, he says, is that hundreds of lawyers around the state have urged him to run for the court “because of my broad experience in law.” Ladenburg was Pierce County prosecutor before he was county executive.

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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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