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My, what big endorsements you have

Thu., July 17, 2008

OLYMPIA – The Pierce County sheriff’s deputies’ union recently endorsed Attorney General Rob McKenna for re-election over his challenger, Pierce County executive John Ladenburg.

Political reporters get a lot of “endorsed by” press releases this time of year. Most, of narrow interest, go straight to the round file. And still they come. Candidates enjoy the stamp of approval and likely fundraising boost, and the groups get a sense of political clout.

As the McKenna announcement illustrates, endorsements also offer a way to publicly one-up an opponent.

That’s why McKenna’s three-paragraph statement last week carefully noted – in the first sentence – that the deputies’ endorsement was “right in (Ladenburg’s) backyard.”

For a local example of these political noogies, see the 6th Legislative District, a crescent around western Spokane.

Fellow Republicans Kevin Parker and Mel Lindauer, as strong, well-funded members of the same party, are largely running against each other in the district’s four-way August primary.

So it was an obvious shot across the bow of Lindauer – a proud optometric physician – when Parker last month announced his endorsement by the Washington Academy of Eye Physicians.

“In a race which has drawn the attention of physicians across Washington, particularly eye doctors, I am honored and humbled by this strong statement of support,” Parker said at the time.

Firing back, Lindauer recently announced that the state’s Optometric Physicians of Washington had “pledged its full support” to his campaign.

Poll: Gregoire lead over Rossi holding steady

That’s according to Rasmussen Reports, a polling company whose latest phone survey shows already-decided voters favoring Gov. Chris Gregoire 49 percent to Republican challenger Dino Rossi’s 43 percent. If you include the voters who are just leaning toward one candidate or another, Gregoire’s lead rises to 52 percent to Rossi’s 44 percent.

Rossi says he’s not worried. For Gregoire to be below 50 percent after nearly four years in office, he says, suggests that Washington voters haven’t warmed up to her. Rossi’s also counting on his high name recognition from their 2004 face-off.

Still, one political expert warns, it’s very hard to unseat an incumbent. And polling, he said, suggests that Gregoire has gained ground among independents.

“Lacking any big scandals and with an economy that’s not tanking, an incumbent governor has a strong advantage,” said Todd Donovan, a political science professor at Western Washington University. “We wouldn’t expect it to be as close as it was four years ago, everything being equal.”

In office, elected officials gain name recognition, clout and campaign contributions that are very hard for challengers to match, he said.

“There are reasons why incumbent members of Congress never lose,” he said.

This day in history…

From the “This Day in History” function on the Secretary of State’s Web site last week:

“July 11, 1889: People living on the North Side of Spokane complained that unsupervised prisoners from chain gangs were roving around the city, bothering and frightening people. Some had roved so far that no one could find them.”

Governor’s race forecast: a hot summer

The governor’s race continues to be a slap-fest. Democrats recently posted a new video showing their video “tracker” being barred from recording one Dino Rossi speech after another.

“Of course we don’t allow Democratic party operatives with cameras to crash our events,” said Rossi spokeswoman Jill Strait. She said Rossi’s statements are being used out of context in attack ads.

“Dino has always said he welcomes anyone who’s willing to work in good faith to help fix our state’s problems,” she said. “Democratic partisan operatives with recording equipment don’t exactly meet that standard.”

In contrast, Gregoire campaign spokesman Aaron Toso says the Republicans’ video guy has been welcomed at Gregoire’s public events.

“I have personally said hello to the Republican/Rossi tracker at multiple public events,” he said. “I’ve even cleared space on the media riser for him. It is our policy to be transparent.”

Happy with your roofer?

State officials want to hear about how you’ve been treated by home contractors, including roofers, landscapers, electricians, framers, remodelers and painters.

State lawmakers are considering toughening the consumer-protection laws and licensing rules for the residential construction industry. In an effort to see if problems are widespread, they’re holding hearings throughout the state this summer, including one July 22 in Spokane.

The meeting’s slated for 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the council chambers of Spokane City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. Or you can fill out a state survey online at sunrise.html.

Scammers targeting elderly

The attorney general’s office is warning of a new scam targeting senior citizens.

The so-called “grandparent scam” consists of con artists posing as relatives calling elderly people and trying to convince them to wire money for some fake emergency.

An 87-year-old Richland woman nearly fell for the scam, the AG’s office says, after a young man called. He said he was her grandson. He told her he’d been in a car wreck in Canada and needed $3,000.

To foil such scams, the attorney general’s office says, avoid filling in the blanks for a suspicious caller. If the caller says “It’s your granddaughter,” for example, say “Which one?”

Also, do whatever you can to confirm the whereabouts of the family member. In the case of the Richland woman, she became suspicious, hung up the phone and dialed family members. Her grandson was safe at home.

Richard Roesler can be reached at (360) 664-2598 or by e-mail at

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