Perennial candidate challenging Reed

OLYMPIA – Until this week, the state’s top election official – a guy who spends a lot of his time touting the importance of voting and civic involvement – had no one running against him.

Not anymore. On Saturday, Clifford Mark Greene, chairman of a fledgling political party called the Party of Commons, has filed campaign finance paperwork to challenge Secretary of State Sam Reed.

“No automatic coronation for Sam,” Greene wrote on his blog.

Not that the minimally-financed Greene and his “word of mouth campaign strategy” are likely to be a major threat. A perennial federal candidate, Green was planning to run for Congress for a sixth time, but apparently was $500 short for the filing fee.

“It’s no coincidence that Mark’s campaign financial wherewithal to file for Secretary of State as opposed to Congress is an approximate difference of $500,” he wrote. Besides, he said, no incumbent should be unopposed in an election.

His party’s based in Bellevue.

“A bold and dynamic new national party has taken hold,” reads its Web site, which spells out a platform of “economically progressive, culturally traditional, noninterventionist” planks. Among them: trade protectionism and mandatory labeling of genetically modified food.

Local bishop weighs in on I-1000

The Catholic Diocese of Spokane is one of those taking sides in the assisted suicide measure that proponents are trying to get on the ballot this year.

In a recent letter to parishioners, Spokane Bishop William Skylstad urged church members not to sign the petitions to put the measure before voters.

I-1000, modeled on Oregon’s unique death-with-dignity law, would allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to competent, terminally ill patients who request it. Among its backers: former Gov. Booth Gardner, who is suffering the effects of Parkinson’s disease.

Proponents call the measure a carefully-safeguarded way to give dying people who want it a say in their departure from life. And it’s not suicide, they argue, for an already-dying person to choose how and when to go.

“Certainly we do have fears about death, pain, the resulting loss of control in our lives, and becoming a burden on others,” Skylstad wrote. “We recognize these fears as part of our existence, yet in embracing the Resurrection of Christ we can confront these challenges and live in faith and hope.”

The letter also urges church members to discuss the measure with their friends and neighbors – and provides several talking points. Among them: that the measure would mushroom into euthanasia, threatening disabled people and doctors’ role as healers.

Look for lots more of this debate between now and Election Day. Initiative 1000 is well-funded and highly likely to make it to the ballot. Similar debates in other states – only Oregon’s has passed – were emotional, expensive and hard-fought.

Being an incumbent, even if you’re not …

The state Supreme Court famously has ruled – repeatedly – that it’s not the state’s place to police candidates lying about each other. But now, it seems, they can lie a little more.

Meeting last week, the state’s campaign watchdog, the Public Disclosure Commission, decided to stop enforcing a state law banning candidates from falsely claiming to be an incumbent or for lying about who endorsed them.

The decision comes in the wake of a recent high-court ruling throwing out part of the law as unconstitutional. On the advice of its lawyers, the PDC decided not to press the rest of the issue.

In other words, someone who’s never held any office can now put up “re-elect” signs without fear of a PDC fine. The same goes for endorsements, although you might draw a group’s ire. (And in either of these cases, people like me are likely to write about candidates lying.)

This may, however, be a narrow window of opportunity. The PDC will ask state lawmakers to fix the law in January.

Campaign roundup …

•Superintendent of Public Instruction: As we noted in the paper over the weekend, Washington Education Association-endorsed candidate Rich Semler has bowed out of the race to be with his wife as she deals with a health problem. A strong campaigner and popular Richland superintendent, Semler was running as a Washington Assessment of Student Learning reformist.

His departure from the race is a boost to Randy Dorn, who’s now the presumptive frontrunner to challenge incumbent Terry Bergeson. Bergeson, who staved off a strong challenge in 2004 by former schools chief Judith Billings, has angered many lawmakers by defending the test as a measure of accountability for schools.

•Suprising no one, Sen. Mark Schoesler announced this week that he’ll run for another term in the state Senate. A strong fundraiser, he filed his campaign paperwork two years ago.

Schoesler has served in the Legislature for 16 years. He’s helped pass bills dealing with water law, capping undergraduate tuition hikes at 7 percent a year, and cracking down on bogus degrees from diploma mills. During the next legislative session, we’re going to be facing some of the most significant challenges in our state’s history,” the Ritzville Republican predicts.

•Fellow farmer Rep. Joe Schmick, after a year as an appointee, is running for his state House seat.

Schmick, R-Colfax, owns and runs a 900-acre wheat, barley and bean farm as well as a vending-machine business. Among his victories this past session: a bill to promote computerized instruction to help high schoolers get college credits for advanced work.

Senator hospitalized …

State Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, was in critical care at an Olympia hospital early this week after a “cardiac episode” at home Saturday night. Swecker is vice chairman of the Republicans in the Senate.

An echocardiogram test showed that Swecker, who recently turned 61, has a congenital heart valve abnormality that requires open heart surgery, according to his office. Surgery was slated for this week.

Swecker had just gotten out of the hospital after hip replacement.

Puyallup man files for assessor … no, sheriff …

In Pierce County, campaign finance records show, a person named Rajendra Prasad Kollu has discontinued his run for Pierce County Assessor/Treasurer to instead run for sheriff.

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