May 18, 2014 in City

Spin Control: Millennials could hold power at election polls

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The latest hot thing in politics seems to be Millennials.

Last week the Youth Engagement Fund and Project New America released a poll that said voters aged 18 to 29 will determine the fall elections. It delves deeply into the political psyche of Generation M and suggests they are a progressive Democrat’s dream.

Strong majorities say women and men should be paid equally, same-sex marriage should be legal, women should make the decision on abortion, small amounts of marijuana should be legal, utilities should produce more energy from renewable sources and taxes should be raised on people making more than $250,000 a year. So except for that last one, they kind of reflect the way Washington votes on initiatives.

And they’d be more likely to vote Democrat than Republican in the upcoming congressional elections, if they vote. But that’s a big if. About 70 percent in that survey said they were registered to vote but only 28 percent said they will definitely vote this fall.

A week earlier, the Harvard Institute of Politics released its own poll of Millennials, in which only about 23 percent said they would definitely vote. Those definite voters were better news for Republicans than Democrats: more said they voted for Mitt Romney than Barack Obama in 2012; more said they were conservative than liberal.

As with all hot things in politics, they will probably be studied, sliced and diced for their politics and proclivities until something new comes along.

But given their voting proclivities, the biggest political question on Millennials no one seems to ask is: Are they worth the effort?

Bring in the Zamboni

Judicial races in Washington usually are notable for having very little notable to report. Candidates compare resumes, look for people to place in long lists of endorsements in their newspaper ads and generally avoid controversy in an effort to seem judicious.

One state Supreme Court candidate may have stirred up controversy just by filing. John “Zamboni” Scannell filed against incumbent Justice Debra Stephens. He’s notable for more than just his nickname, earned from driving the ice-smoothing machine for a Seattle hockey team.

Scannell was disbarred in 2010. The Bar Association yanked his license for several violations that included allegedly defending a husband and wife without making it clear to them that they might want to be represented by separate attorneys. Most lawyers would have received lighter punishment, but the bar association brought the hammer down on Scannell because it said he thwarted and delayed the investigation.

He appealed to the Supremes, who in a 6-3 decision upheld the disbarment, with Stephens writing the majority opinion. In the minority opinion, then-Chief Justice Gerry Alexander said Scannell was being punished too harshly, essentially for “being a pain in the neck.”

His candidacy raises a constitutional question of whether a disbarred lawyer can be a justice. Language in the state constitution isn’t clear, said Katie Blinn of the secretary of state’s office. It says a judge “shall have been admitted to practice in the courts of record of this state.”

Under that interesting verb tense, a disbarred attorney may qualify; a legal challenge would have to be filed to put Scannell’s challenge on ice. Otherwise, he’ll be on the November ballot against Stephens because only two candidates filed for that seat.

Party time

The top-two primary continues to give candidates a chance to show creativity to dream up political parties. Under the old law, a candidate claiming to be a member of a minor party with a clever name had to take the rudimentary steps of forming it, collecting signatures at a special gathering.

Because candidates no longer run as a member of any party, the ballot merely says which they prefer. This leads to some Republicans saying they prefer the GOP Party (yes, it’s a redundancy, but never mind) or the Independent R Party. Some who say they are independent, and put that down in the box on their candidate form, get listed as preferring the Independent Party, which sounds like something else entirely. Ronnie Rae, a candidate in the 7th District, listed his preference as Centralist Party but said there’s not really any party, it just describes his middle-of-the-road philosophies.

Other candidates just seem to let ’er rip on party preferences. Candidates in congressional races list the National Union, the Work and Wealth and the Human Rights parties. Legislative candidates list Independent Dem, Framers and Republicanspirit parties. Then there’s a legislative candidate from Graham who listed his preference as the Marijuana Party, although maybe he really just wants to attend one.

Spin Control, by political reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items at www.spokesman.com/blogs/spincontrol.


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