September 16, 2012 in City

Spin Control: Cantwell agrees to first debate with Baumgartner

By The Spokesman-Review
 

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell will debate her Republican challenger, state Sen. Mike Baumgartner, at least once this fall.

The Cantwell campaign announced last week it has agreed to an Oct. 12 debate in Seattle on its public television station, which will be taped and shown on other public television stations around the state. The station and the League of Women Voters of Seattle, which are co-sponsoring the debate, will each provide a moderator.

Up to this point, her campaign had been, to say the least, noncommittal about debates. She’d do some unspecified number, at some unspecified time, her spokesman said last month.

This, of course, has frustrated the Baumgartner campaign, whose candidate once proposed a debate in each of Washington’s 39 counties, but later pared down the challenge to 10, spread around the state.

The Cantwell campaign remains noncommittal about more debates, saying in the announcement press release it “continues to review a number of outstanding invitations” but insists it is happy to fit the Seattle debate into her busy schedule.

“While Senator Cantwell’s focus remains squarely on fighting to pass legislation like the Veterans Job Corps Act and an extension of the sales tax deduction, she looks forward to discussing her record of tireless advocacy for Washington jobs, from apples to aerospace, along with her vision to grow jobs and boost Washington exports in the future,” spokesman Kelly Steele said.

Baumgartner has something else in mind besides some salutary comments about Cantwell’s “tireless advocacy.” Responding to the fact that she had finally “conceded that she has a responsibility to Washington’s voters” to debate, he suggested in a news release the debate start on another area that’s currently a hot topic: foreign policy.

“She needs to explain her record in the Middle East and her support of the war in Afghanistan,” he said.

He’s still pushing for more debates, but with days falling off the calendar toward the election, he’s winnowed it down to a total of three: one in Spokane and one in Southwest Washington to go with the Seattle debate. Stay tuned.

Campaigning on YouTube

The lieutenant governor’s race doesn’t garner anywhere near the attention that goes to the state’s top executive spot. While many people can’t name the current lieutenant governor without a hint or two, it’s rare for an incumbent to get ousted.

Facing that challenge in his run against Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, Republican Bill Finkbeiner decided to set his campaign peregrinations to music, tapping some musician friends, rewriting the lyrics to “I’ve Been Everywhere” and using shots of him standing in front of signs or icons for cities and towns around Washington. (Spokane’s near the end.) It won’t make you forget the Johnny Cash version, but it is entertaining.

This could start an interesting trend, because Owen himself is part of a musical group. Maybe he could record and post up his own music video, and the lieutenant governor’s race could double as a Battle of the Bands.

Top of the ticket question

Possible bragging rights for Washington over Idaho: We have more presidential candidates on our ballot than you have.

Possible bragging rights for Idaho over Washington: We have fewer presidential candidates hardly anyone’s ever heard of on our ballot than you do.

As colleague Betsy Russell reports at Eye on Boise, the Idaho presidential ballot was set last week: Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, of course, plus Libertarian Gary Johnson, the Constitution Party’s Virgil Goode and independents Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein.

Washington’s ballot, which was set about a month ago, lists all six of those, though it identifies Anderson as being with the Justice Party and Stein with the Green Party. Washington also has Peta Lindsay of the Socialism and Liberation Party and James Harris of the Socialist Workers Party.

The question this raises: Is it better to have more presidential candidates on the ballot or fewer? We’d come down on the side of more, but it would be nice if they were candidates the majority of voters recognized.

Spin Control, a weekly column by political reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items and videos like the Finkbeiner music video, at spokesman. com/spincontrol.


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