OLYMPIA – Close races usually mean big spending, and Washington’s gubernatorial race is no exception.
Along with candidates Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee, who have a combined total of $18 million with one month left to raise and spend, outside groups have kicked in another $12 million thus far. The main sources of independent money are the Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association. These are not, as the casual observer might surmise, subdivisions of the National Governors Association, an organization which arranges regular meetings at which state chief executives can, in the words of Oz, hobnob with their fellow wizards.
The RGA and DGA are political groups that raise and spend money – one might say lavishly – in pursuit of keeping a governor’s mansion in their hands, or wresting it from the other side. They are likely to be the source of the hardest-hitting commercials and mailers that will grace Washington this season.
The RGA has set up the Republican Governors Association Washington PAC, into which it has poured almost $6.9 million. The DGA has pumped $3 million into a PAC calling itself Our Washington, which could be deemed a misnomer, considering nearly three-fourths of the group’s $6 million comes from outside the state.
Our Washington described itself in a news release last week as “a coalition representing more than 500,000 Washington state voters and their families.” Pressed for details, a spokesman for the PAC said that includes teachers, nurses, health care professionals and public employees, but conceded the half-million figure might be a bit squishy. Most money from within the state comes not from individuals but from unions that represent some of those aforementioned groups.
This is also the time of the campaign season when candidates show off their endorsements and awards. Some readers and campaign staffs ask why the newspaper pays scant attention to them. The answer is we look for endorsements that are so surprising as to constitute news.
For example, the National Federation of Independent Business announced several top of the state ticket endorsements last week, to go with earlier endorsements in legislative races. The NFIB almost uniformly endorses Republicans, and this list was no exception. Almost any incumbent or challenger in a competitive race with an R after his or her name has the A-OK from the NFIB.
Similarly, Fuse, which is a progressive organization that includes some social service groups and unions, passed out its Sizzle and Fizzle awards. The former are for exemplary efforts in the Legislature, the latter for the opposite. All the sizzles went to Democrats, all the fizzles to Republicans. What’s the surprise in that?
Republican says yes to a tax
Early last week, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mike Baumgartner may have raised some eyebrows by endorsing Initiative 502, the ballot measure that would legalize marijuana for adults in Washington. Later in the week he offered up another surprise.
He called for a tax increase.
Baumgartner said he would support a 1 cent per gallon tax hike on gasoline, provided the money went to a special fund for veterans care. The Spokane Republican made the statement after a visit to Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Madigan Medical Center, and said he would help ensure returning troops get the care they need.
“Equally important, this small tax will remind each and every American every time they fill up at the pump there is still a war going on with nearly 70,000 troops in harm’s way,” he said. “War isn’t free.”
With the way the price of gas fluctuates these days, drivers might not notice an extra penny. But the no-new-tax crowd probably would. He may get a nasty-gram from them.
Maybe he’ll get a chance to talk about it later this week in the one debate he has scheduled with Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell. That debate will air Oct. 16 on KSPS-TV.