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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Bob McCaslin

So long, Sen. Bob McCaslin

The Senate debates a resolution honoring Bob McCaslin, courtesy of TVW

Many years ago, when I’d written something he enjoyed about low voter turnout, Bob McCaslin sent me an oversized reproduction of an editorial cartoon that summed up his feelings on the topic.
A disheveled, cigar-smoking man slouches in an easy chair, beer can in hand, watching TV. His better-groomed wife is behind him in a coat, apparently just returned from the polls and talking on the phone. “No,” she says, “Mr. ‘Perfection’ didn’t vote because neither of the candidates met his high standards.”
I called to thank him and we shared a laugh, which was pretty standard for talking with the Republican Valley legislator who died last week. George M. Cohan may have believed one should always leave them laughing when you say good-bye. McCaslin believed in getting them laughing from the get-go.

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

Padden running for 4th District Senate seat

Former Rep. Mike Padden is running for the 4th District Senate seat that he was shut out of in the recent appointment process.

Padden announced today that he'll run this fall for the seat formerly held for 30 years by Bob McCaslin, and to which Jeff Baxter was recently appointed by Spokane County Commissioners. His announcement came with endorsements from some Valley GOP heavyweights like McCaslin and former state Rep. Lynn Schindler.

A 14-year legislator and 12-year Spokane County District Court judge, Padden was among more than a half dozen Republicans interested in the appointment when McCaslin resigned on Jan. 5 because of health problems. But when Republican precinct committee officers met later that month to nominate three potential replacements, supporters of state Rep. Matt Shea elected a slate that kept Padden off the list.

4th District Republican Leader Jeff Baxter, a Valley businessman, was appointed to the seat until a special election this fall. He was sworn in last week, but said he wants to wait a few week before deciding whether he'll run for the position in the upcoming special election.

Although Padden can begin campaigning and raising money now, state law prohibits Baxter, Shea, or any sitting legislator from raising money for an election campaign while the Legislature is in session.

He said Monday he left the Legislature in 1995 because he had young children at home, and the district court appointsment was “a great opportunity and allowed me to return here fulltime.

“I always missed the Legislature.”

He currently serves as judicial outreach liaison to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission.

Everyone was politicking…not that there’s anything wrong with that

Now that most dust has settled from filling the Spokane Valley’s 4th District Senate seat, it may be safe to answer the question of who was guilty of committing politics to fill that spot.

Answer: Everyone.

While it’s generally true if everyone’s guilty, no one can claim the moral high ground, the problem seems to be that some people don’t like to be thought of as resorting to politics to get what they want. They believe there’s something inherently evil or icky about it. For them, here are two words of advice:

Grow up… .

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

Baxter named to 4th District Senate seat

Bulletin: Republican District Leader and small businessman Jeff Baxter was named to replace state Sen. Bob McCaslin this afternoon by Spokane County Commissioners.

My colleague John Craig has full details here, but not everyone who reads Spin Control checks The Spokesman-Review's Web page, so we thought we'd give him a plug.

Shea: Attacks anti-Christian, anti-veteran

The process to fill an empty Senate seat in the Spokane Valley’s 4th Legislative District has resulted in “vicious personal attacks” aimed at himself, his family and “our constitutional foundations and Christian principles,” state Rep. Matt Shea, one of the candidates for the opening, said.
In a written statement to supporters over the weekend, Shea and his wife Viktoriya attempted to answer a claim that he’d gone back on an agreement to allow former legislator Mike Padden to be among the nominees sent to Spokane County commissioners. Former state Sen. Bob McCaslin, who resigned from the seat he’d held for 30 years because of health problems, said Shea couldn’t be trusted because he’d broken that agreement.
Padden and state Rep. Larry Crouse, Shea’s seatmate in the 4th, said they believed after a conversation with him that there was such an agreement, although they couldn’t say for sure that Shea believed that as well.
Shea said in the statement he “steadfastly refused to acquiesce to a backroom deal” to appoint someone to the seat.
“In our Republic, a self-appointed aristocracy who ‘know better than the voters’ has always been shunned,” he wrote in the statement obtained by The Spokesman-Review.
Shea’s office confirmed that he had sent the statement to supporters, but he did not return a request for further comment. (To read the full statement, click here to go inside the blog.)                
County Commissioner Todd Mielke said he also received a copy of the statement, and the board is trying to determine how to handle it. The deadline for submitting comments ended Friday, so some people could say it’s unfair to the other candidates to add something to the record but others could argue it’s unfair to Shea to leave it out.
Mielke denied the board was being, in Shea’s words “anti-Christian and anti-veteran” in questioning his qualifications. The board has tried since last week to schedule an interview with Shea for Friday. “He still has not returned our phone calls,” Mielke said.
Republican precinct committee officers in the 4th District nominated Shea, Jeff Baxter and Roy Murry for the open seat on Jan. 15. County commissioners, who under the state Constitution must pick from those three, asked for resumes and statements from the nominees by Feb. 5 and began examining their qualifications before interviews and a possible decision scheduled for this Friday.
As part of that process, documents from Shea’s divorce from his first wife became part of the record, including a restraining order and sworn statements from his first wife that he has problems controlling his temper. At one point, she said, he was relieved of his weapon during a deployment with the National Guard in Iraq.
Shea contended in the statement the allegations were made in an attempt to gain leverage in the divorce negotiations and “I will not dignify those untrue allegations with a response, as I believe they dishonor Viktoriya” his current wife.
They surfaced in his first legislative campaign in 2008, and voters found them to be “without merit and a non-issue,” he added in the statement to supporters. “With regards to my military service, my numerous medals, decorations, commendations, and citations speak for themselves,” he wrote. “This includes a Bronze Star for service that I was awarded on the final day of my tour of duty in Iraq by my Battalion Commander.”
Mielke said that still doesn’t answer whether what his first wife said did happen, and commissioners are merely trying to determine the truth of a sworn statement filed in court. Murry and Baxter are scheduled for interviews on Friday morning and the board is scheduled to begin deliberations at 3 p.m.
Commissioners have until March 5 to fill the seat, or the appointment to replace a Republican senator in the strongly Republican district would go to Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat.
“I don’t see any scenario where that will happen,” Mielke said. “We want to finish this process up and move on.”

To read the full statement, go inside the blog.

Gov popped in on McCaslin

When Gov. Chris Gregoire made the trip to Spokane last Friday, the main purpose was a briefing on the MLK Day parade bomb. But the secondary goal was for Gregoire and the small contingent from Olympia to visit former State Sen. Bob McCaslin, who is in rehabilitation after having a leg amputated.

McCaslin, a Republican, and Gregoire, a Democrat, didn't agree on much legislatively over the years. But that didn't matter Friday.

“I was so proud of her coming to visit a retired state senator,” McCaslin said today. “I gave her a hug and a kiss and she gave me a hug and a kiss.”

Gregoire made the trip over for the bomb briefing with Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown of Spokane and Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla. She also brought along longtime McCaslin legislative assistant Mike McCliment, a particularly nice gesture, McCaslin said.

McCaslin won't be around for the legislative headaches over the short-term and two-year budget, but that doesn't mean he didn't offer some advice.

“I told them two words: 'Work together.' That's the only way you're going to get out of this.” McCaslin was the last legislator around to work through the state's recession of the early 1980s.

McCaslin resting after amputation

Spokane Valley City Councilman Bob McCaslin was in satisfactory condition Wednesday evening at Deaconess Medical Center after having his leg amputated earlier in the day.

A hospital spokeswoman listed the former legislator's condition as satisfactory, the best of three one-word conditions in the limited information a hospital is allowed to release about a patient.

McCaslin's former colleagues in the state Senate were told he was undergoing surgery to amputate his leg during the morning floor session in the state Capitol. The 30-year veteran of the Senate resigned his legislative post on Jan. 4 because of health reasons and was hospitalized last Wednesday for a circulatory problem.

McCaslin, 84, said when he resigned his Senate seat that he intended to continue serving on the Spokane Valley City Council, to which he was elected in 2009.

McCaslin replacement slowed by call for ‘flash mob’

The number of contenders to replace state Sen. Bob McCaslin is growing but efforts to get the seat filled quickly were derailed Thursday.

Saturday’s meeting to nominate possible replacements was postponed after a group supporting a leading contender, Rep. Matt Shea, called for a major demonstration outside the gathering to make sure County Commissioners heed the will of the people.

A group called Spokane Patriots Minutemen sent out an e-mail to members calling for a “flash mob for liberty” to gather outside the New Life Assembly Church Saturday morning, where 4th Legislative District precinct committee officers had been scheduled to nominate three possible replacements for McCaslin, who resigned Jan. 4 for health reasons after 30 years in the Senate.

Members of the group were encouraged in the e-mail to form a large, vocal crowd holding signs with a common theme: “Commissioners, listen to the people! Defy us and you WILL be voted out of office!”

McCaslin retiring from state Senate

OLYMPIA — Sen. Bob McCaslin, the most senior member of the Legislature who has represented Spokane Valley's 4th District for 30 years, is retiring because of health problems.

In a prepared statement, McCaslin said health problems have resurfaced that have changed his plans to serve out his term, which ends in 2012.

“I’ve always tried not to let the years slow me down or affect my ability to serve the people of the 4th District, but as my doctors have made clear to me, that can no longer be the case,”

Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, confirmed that McCaslin called him this morning to say he would not be returning to Olympia for the upcoming session, which starts Monday.

“I'm going to miss him,” Hewitt said, adding that McCaslin served as both the institutional memory of the Senate Republican caucus and a calming influence during contentious times.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, said she would miss McCaslin's wit and knowledge of legislative procedure: “He was a real gentleman on the floor, and really humorous.” Although a conservative from a conservative district, McCaslin's work with Sen. Jeanne Kohl Wells, a Seattle liberal, on medical marijuana research was an example of how people who disagree 90 percent of the time can find common ground, she said.

Brown recalled when she was first elected to the House and went to meet McCaslin, who was already a senior member of the delegation. “He shook my hand for the first time, looked at me and said 'I know you're a Democrat, but you've got to get a stronger  handshake.'”

McCaslin, 84, missed much of the 2010 legislative session because of heart surgery in February. He returned to Spokane for treatment, and in March resumed work at his other elective position on the Spokane Valley City Council.

He was first elected to the state Senate in 1980, and has easily dispatched Democratic challengers every four years since. He ran against then-Mayor Rich Munson and won a seat on the Valley Council in 2009.

His retirement means Republican precinct committee officers in the 4th Legislative District will choose up to three nominees as a replacement. Spokane County Commissioners would then select one of the nominees by a majority vote. If the commission were to deadlock, the seat would be filled by the governor.

State Rep. Larry Crouse, the Valley's senior House member, said McCaslin had talked about retiring after last November's election, but had been feeling well enough in the fall that he had made plans to return for the 2011 session. At dinner on Monday night, Crouse said, McCaslin told him his doctor advised him not to do that.

Crouse said he was not going to apply for the Senate seat, because it would involve trading his seniority in the House, where he is among the most senior members, for freshman status in the Senate. “It's the same work, the same hours, the same pay. I just feel I could do more for the district in the House.”

Four or five Republicans may seek the appointment, Crouse said, including state Rep. Matt Shea.

McCaslin tops seniority list

OLYMPIA — The list of state senators and their years of legislative service came out today and, while it’s not unexpected, it does offer a reminder that state Sen. Bob McCaslin, R-Spokane Valley, is the most senior member of the Senate.

By quite a bit.

McCaslin took office in 1981. The next closest senator, in terms of seniority, is Republican Pam Roach, who came in in 1991. Five Democrats are tied for third after getting elected in 1993.

To see the full list, go inside the blog.

McCaslin: Won’t run for Senate in 2012

State Sen. Bob McCaslin plans to serve out his current term in the Legislature, then quit. Not to just lie around the house and do nothing…he says he wants to devote time to his other elective job, that of Spokane Valley city councilman.

He told S-R colleague Nina Culver Tuesday he’s not planning on stepping away from the council position.

McCaslin told Culver he thought about resigning the Senate seat earlier this year when he had heart problems that knocked him out of Olympia for much of the session, but decided not to. That cogitating may have been the start of the rumor that he was going to step down and trigger a series of domino-style openings and appointments.

McCaslin discounts retirement rumor

Some folks, primarily Democrats it seems, are floating a rumor that state Sen. Bob McCaslin, the Spokane Valley Republican, plans to hang it up at the end of this year and name a successor.

Old rumor, says McCaslin of any mid-term retirement. “I’ve heard that for the last five or six years.”

McCaslin is recovering from heart surgery, which required him to miss much of the last regular and special sessions, but says he is getting a bit better every day and has been able to attend recent meetings of the Spokane Valley City Council, on which he also serves.

McCaslin said he’ll make a decision on next year’s session closer to its January start date.

As for the second part of the rumor — that he’d name Rep. Matt Shea as his replacement — McCaslin was more emphatic: “I would never do that.”

He points out that the officeholder has no real say in his replacement. The 4th Legislative District’s precinct committee officers would select up to three nominees, and the Spokane County commissioners have the final say by picking among that list. As several interim appointments have shown, commissioners don’t feel bound by the wishes of the PCOs.

Bob McCaslin, champion of unions?

OLYMPIA —Bob McCaslin scored 100 percent on the state Labor Council’s legislative report card.

Which is a little like Bart Simpson scoring 100 percent on the SATs. You gotta know something strange is going on.

But organized labor’s report of the late legislative session does give the Spokane Valley Republican, who has a lifetime score of 10 percent on votes the unions pick as their most important, a 100 percent for 2010. No liberal Democrat had a percentage that high.

You think the Labor Council is just trying to cheer McCaslin up during his recovery from heart surgery? Not exactly, although that’s a couple steps down the road to the real explanation. Turns out because McCaslin had to miss much of the session because of cardiac surgery and recovery, he was only around for one of the unions’ key votes, a Jan. 22 roll call involving furloughs for state workers. McCaslin and most Republicans voted no, while most Democrats voted yes. Shortly after that, McCaslin was hospitalized and excused from other votes. The seven other tracked votes don’t count against his score, so he’s 1-for-1, not 1-for-8.

Come to think of it, the shock of getting a perfect score from the unions might not be the best thing for McCaslin. Maybe next time the AFL-CIO could just send a card?

WA Lege Day 60: McCaslin out of surgery

OLYMPIA — Sen. Bob McCaslin is out of surgery for a heart bypass and valve replacement, the Senate was just told.

Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, asked for a “point of personal privilege” to read an e-mail that said McCaslin came through surgery well and is expected to be out of intensive care in 24 hours.

Candidate alert: Possible hot council race in Spokane Valley

Spokane Valley residents who were worried about a dirth of interesting council races this year can rejoice.

State Sen. Bob McCaslin filed Friday afternoon against incumbent Rich Munson for the No. 5 Council Position. Munson currently serves as Spokane Valley mayor, although that position is chosen by the council, not the voters.

McCaslin is a Republican legislator who has served in the Senate for 28 years. Munson has been on the council since initial election after incorporation.

Filing closes at 5 p.m. We’ll update the list then.

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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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