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Spin Control: McKenna’s dance moves could wrap up the nerd vote

The first rule of campaigning in 2012 should be: Think twice before you do something. There’s always a video camera around.

This might be something the staff of gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna should write down, have enlarged to second-coming type, and posted around the headquarters after last weekend.

That was when McKenna, who was attending a Korean Day celebration in Seattle, decided to join some young dancers on the stage for some Gangnam-style dancing, the kind that has made a pop star out of a South Korean man who goes by the name of PSY.

The blurry video, possibly shot using a cellphone far back in the room, shows navy-blazered McKenna trying mightily to keep up, and when he couldn’t, improvising some steps perhaps half-remembered from a junior high sock hop.

It was posted on YouTube and political blogs, and eventually got a mention on Geek Wire, which suggested it was going viral. McKenna’s wife, Marilyn, who joined him on stage and showed that at least one person in the family has some rhythm, later tweeted that one child said the video takes parental embarrassment to a new level and another offered her $10 if she would promise to never do that again.

On the other hand, this may not have been a momentary lapse in judgment for the candidate and his campaign. Earlier this year, McKenna was caught on camera telling a young Democratic activist who was pressing him on his stance on reproductive rights to “get a job,” and that video also made the rounds. So perhaps the campaign was not only aware of, but counting on, the prospects of a camera in the hall when he got up to dance. Maybe this was a very clever maneuver to sew up a key demographic, the dork vote.

If so, well done.

Former feds for pot

Initiative 502, the “legalize marijuana for adults as long as they aren’t too stoned to drive” ballot measure, unveiled a new commercial last week that features three federal law enforcement types urging a yes vote.

Kate Pflaumer was the U.S. attorney for Western Washington under Bill Clinton, and John McKay had the job under George W. Bush. Also on the ad is Charles Mandigo, who was once the FBI special agent in charge in Seattle. McKay and Mandigo both testified at a legislative hearing earlier this year in favor of the change in law.

The fact that they are from the West Side is probably not surprising. It would be hard to imagine Jim McDevitt, McKay’s counterpart for Eastern Washington, making such a pitch.

This helps answer one of the big questions of the campaign: what the pro side, New Approach Washington, will do with the money it is sitting on. The group has collected more than $4.8 million but has spent only about half of it so far.

Public Disclosure Commission records show that total is driven in part by some big out-of-state donations, including $1.7 million from Peter Lewis, of Mayfield Village, Ohio, the retired board chairman of Progressive Insurance, and $1.3 million from Drug Policy Action, the political arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, a New York-based group working on changing drug laws. The biggest Washington donor is Rick Steves, noted travel writer and marijuana activist, who’s in for $350,000.

That’s a big contrast to the other side. One “vote no” campaign, Safe Access, has raised about $9,300, much of it from medical marijuana operations that oppose the law; another group, No on I-502, has raised just under $6,800.

Who’s minding the store at Obama HQ?

President Barack Obama’s performance in the first debate prompted big-time questions about whether the wheels were coming off the campaign. Last week, there was a smaller incident that underscored the re-election operation is not paying close attention to detail.

On Tuesday, the campaign sent out emails and tweets telling potential Washington voters who weren’t yet registered that this was the deadline to sign up online.

Trouble was, the deadline for such registration in the Evergreen State was Monday. Anyone who signed up online Tuesday would not be eligible to vote in the general election. To do that, you’d have to go to the county elections office in person and fill out the form.

Spin Control, a weekly column by political reporter Jim Camden, also appears online at www. spincontrol/, with daily items and videos, including the McKenna dance video.