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Sunday spin: The American people want…what?

It was difficult to catch any member of Congress on the television last week who wasn’t talking about doing what the American people want.
The American people, it seems, want them to cut the deficit, increase jobs, not to raise taxes and to balance the budget. Or to stimulate the economy, increase jobs, and make the wealthy pay their fair share. (You can guess which parties’ members say which.)
Just how members of Congress divine the wishes of the American people isn’t always clear. Elected officials dare not listen too closely to polls, for fear of being accused of holding their finger to the political winds and then being blown in that direction. It’s also possible to get just about any answer one desires from a poll by the way one words the questions.
There was a time when they’d check their mail. Not personally of course, but Washington is magnet for eager young interns who come hoping to change the world and get issued a letter opener and a desk in a small dark room. Later, interns would check voice mail and the fax machine.
In the 21st Century, they also check the congresspersons’ Facebook page, their Twitter account and the e-mail inbox, all of which provide more immediate communication than paper, pen, an envelope and a stamp ever could.
Except, of course, when cyberspace fails…

Local reps get some air time on the debt

 

 

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who is often behind House Speaker John Boehner at public statements, was out front on CNN Thursday night being interviewed on the GOP plan by Piers Morgan.

Who? You know, the guy with the British accent who replaced Larry King. (He manages perhaps the worst pun ever on a serious subject in his introduction, but maybe that's what they mean by dry British wit. At least he doesn't wear a different pair of suspenders every night. Or should we say braces?)

Coming up on the tube: Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador's staff says he will be on “Meet the Press” this Sunday.

Dear Congressperson…

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner both suggested contacting Congress in speeches Monday.

That's fine. Contacting your congressperson is a right guaranteed under the First Amendment freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances. But exercising that right now may prove difficult.

One of the most common ways to send such a message is by e-mail, with a link found on a member of Congress's website. But Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' website was down for at least half of the day, her spokesman reported.

“There was too much traffic on account of the Boehner and Obama speeches,” Todd Winer said. “It pretty much crashed the system.”

Websites for Washington Reps. Doc Hastings, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dave Reichert and Adam Smith, and Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson were also down for much of the day.

Members of local progressive groups, including MoveOn.org, staged a protest outside McMorris Rodgers’ Spokane office at noon Tuesday. When one of the protesters told a McMorris Rodgers staff member her efforts to send an e-mail to either Boehner or Majority Leader Eric Cantor have been met with a “permanent failure” message, the staff member said GOP leadership e-mail servers had been down for more than a week.

Winer said he wasn’t aware of problems with leadership e-mail, and suggested calling Boehner or Cantor’s offices. A call to the speaker’s office was routed to patriotic music with an intermittent message to hold for a staff member who didn’t pick up for more than 10 minutes. A call to Cantor’s office asked the caller to leave a message, then connected to a voice mailbox that was full.

Kind of makes you wonder, though. Members of Congress say they are listening to the American people, and responding to their wishes. If the American people can't get their make their wishes known threw one of the easiest and most ubiquitous forms of instant communication, how can they back up that claim?

McMorris Rodgers got to answer Obama

The president gives a regular radio address on the weekend. In the interests of fairness, Republicans get a few minutes of “equal time” to rebut, refute or otherwise try to counter what he has to say.

While the president's address is rarely big news, the GOP response often goes completely unnoticed, unless it happens to be picked up by the network news on a slow weekend.

The GOP passes the honor around so that no one person gets all the good face time. Last weekend, it was U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Eastern Washington's 5th Congressional District. Her topic: So, hey, Mr. President. How about those jobs you're always talking about? Where the heck are they?

Obama's address was a bit more wide ranging, talking about his Twitter Town Hall, talks to lift the debt ceiling and things he's doing to try to get more jobs.

Wait a minute, you say. It's radio so how can there be face time?

Well, they usually have a camera rolling to send out a video version, and post something on Youtube.

This is the video version of the McMorris Rodgers weekend radio address.

To see Obama's radio address, or to comment, click here and go inside the blog.

Protesters could add to excitement at health care conference

The Washington Policy Center will do a reprise of its health care reform conference today in Spokane at the Red Lion Inn at the Park, complete with a keynote speech from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

The Seattle version of the conference was reported in this morning's paper. Something new for Spokane, however, will be protesters outside the conference demonstrating against McMorris Rodgers' support for the GOP proposal to change Medicare.

The group incorrectly describes the event as McMorris's “$500 a table event,” with “her supporters.” It's actually the policy center's event, and while many of the people in the room maybe McMorris Rodgers supporters, the money doesn't go to her.  It's also $200 for a table of eight; the $500 charge is for company sponsors who want a table for lunch, information packets and display space at the conference.

Details, details.

Bethany Heath, the organizer of the protest, said she thought it was still a fair way to characterize the event.

“We're not trying to go after her,” Heath said, then proceded to discuss the votes McMorris Rodgers has taken in favor of the Ryan Medicare proposal and against the Affordable Care Act which suggested that yes, they were going after McMorris Rodgers.

It wasn't personal, Heath added. “I just don't like her voting record.”

McMorris Rodgers on Weiner: ‘I had no idea’

SEATTLE — Weeks ago, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers co-wrote a guest column with the co-chairman of a new group of congresspersons concerned about local pharmacies staying in business. It sat around for until Monday, when it got published at a time when her caucus co-chairman was getting maximum exposure.

But not the good kind.

That co-chairman is Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who on Monday admitted that he'd been lying for about 10 days by denying he never sent a suggestive photo by Twitter to a woman in Seattle. He fessed up and said not only had he sent that photo, and lied about it, but he'd sent others by Twitter or Facebook, and engaged in other behaviof of which he is now ashamed.

“I had no idea,” she said Tuesday in Seattle, where she's the keynote speaker at the Washington Policy Center's conference on health care.

McMorris Rodgers said she wouldn't call for Weiner's resignation, adding she wanted to see what else comes out in an upcoming ethics investigation. “I hesitate to say when someone should resign.”

But other Republican members of Congress have resigned when facing similar scandals, and she supports Speaker John Boehner's admonition to the GOP caucus: “You are held to a higher standard when it comes to being a member of Congress.”

McMorris Rodgers has been one of the prime movers at getting Republicans in Congress to use Twitter and Facebook to communicate with constituents and supporters. While Weiner's problems point out the possibilities of misuse of the social media, that's not a reason to stay off Twitter.

” I think there are a lot more positiives about opening up communication,” she said. providing that one is careful about what kind of communication one is opening up.

McMorris Rodgers, Weiner get together for drugs

Although probably not what you're thinking. (Get your mind out of the gutter.)

Reps. Cathy McMorris and Anthony Weiner co-wrote a guest column in Roll Call, a Washington, D.C., publication, about the importance of independent pharmacies in cities, towns and rural America and explained three key pieces of legislation they are pushing this year a co-chairwoman and co-chairman of the newly re-established Community Pharmacy Caucus. A copy of the guest column can be found here.

But maybe this co-chairmanship could help Weiner, a New York Democrat, out in another area.

Weiner is probably better known for something other than making sure Mr. Gower's Drug Store stays open in Bedford Falls. He has gotten much attention in the last week for allegedly sending a photo, via Twitter, of his underwear (with him in it) to a woman in Washington state who is not his wife. Last week, Weiner said his Twitter account was hacked and  he didn't send the photo, but he couldn't say for sure that the photo wasn't him. It was been a gift to late night comedians.

Today he admitted that he did, after all, send that photo to the woman in Washington, as well as some other photos to other women, also not his wives, on Facebook.

McMorris Rodgers is, among other things, the GOP House Caucus's tech guru. She was among the first on Twitter and is constantly pushing other Republicans into social media cyberspace. She ought to be able to help Weiner brace up the security for his Twitter account and go over some tips on what to send and what not to send, an explanation how something sent out on Twitter never stays private for very long.

Bill would remove lead tackle, bullets from EPA rule

ENVIRONMENT — Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Wash., is co-sponsoring a bill in Congress that would protect fishing and hunting gear from environmental lawsuits, according to a report in Northwest Sportsman Magazine.
 
Washington's 5th District Congresswoman is among 37 representatives cosponsoring “The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act, HR 1558, introducd in mid-April.  Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., is among one of four co-sponsors of a companion bill, S 838, in the upper chamber.

The bills would modify the Toxic Substances Control Act to exempt bullets, shot, weights, lures and hooks, among other items, from EPA regulation.

Today’s fun video: Who’s that in the background?

 

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
For a Few Dollars More
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

One of the perks and/or consequences of being in congressional leadership is your face shows up in some of the darnedest places. So it was for a certain Eastern Washington congresswoman Tuesday night on the Daily Show, for a significant part of Jon Stewart's bit on budget negotiations.

On health care reform birthday, not everyone happy

The federal Affordable Care Act, aka health care reform, aka Obamacare, turns one year old today.

Those who would like to celebrate with a cake and a candle include Gov. Chris Gregoire, who said in a prepared statement that it's doing good things including providing some 45,000 seniors with $250 toward prescription drug costs and keeping kids from being denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions.

Those who would be more likely to blow out the candle and wish the law would go awayh or be changed dramatically include Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who called it a disaster that is more expensive than suspected a year ago.

Somewhat coincidentally, the House Health Care Committee passed a bill to begin the process, albeit slowly, to set up health exchanges, one of the provisions of the act.

Want to read the full comments from Gregoire and McMorris Rodgers, or comment on them? Click here to go inside the blog…

McMorris Rodgers starting 2012 campaign

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers will kick off  her 2012 re-election campaign next month with fund-raisers in Spokane, Walla Walla and Colville.

Traditionally, McMorris Rodgers' campaign starters are around St. Patrick's Day, and have Irish green theme. But they're also usually in the year of the election. This time around, they'll be around Easter week, but quite a bit earlier.

Having coasted to victory last November and moving up in a GOP leadership returned to the House majority, there's little doubt McMorris Rodgers will be a tough incumbent to beat in 2012. After giving birth to her second child last year, the early announcement may at least quiet GOP hopefuls who like to speculate she'll give up her House seat to spend more time being a mom.

In other McMorris Rodgers' related news, the Eastern Washington congresswoman got a pat on the back from the Washington Post for her explanation of a budget problem. The Post has what it calls the Pinocchio Test for pronouncements by public officials, and the more factually challenged a statement is, the more Pinocchios it receives.

If, however, the statement is true, it receives a “Gepetto Checkmark” (It's not clear why it doesn't receive a Jiminy Crickett checkmark, since it was the the singing insect that was so big on truthiness.) McMorris Rodgers received a checkmark for her explanation that the federal government borrows $7 for every $10 it spends. The full article can be found by clicking here.

Today’s video: McMorris Rodgers on YouTube

 

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is among the House of Representatives most active social media-ists. This is her monthly YouTube video, which may be most notable for all the different places and different people the camera catches her smiling in or with as the background music plays relentlessly on.

McMorris Rodgers introduces bill on health care mandate

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington has introduced legislation that would prohibit the IRS from hiring new employees to enforce the individual health care mandate included in the 2010 health care law.

McMorris Rodgers, a Republican and vice chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, cited recent federal rulings finding that “the individual mandate is clearly unconstitutional, and the IRS – just like every government agency - has a duty to uphold the Constitution.”

“Our bill will protect the constitutional right of every American to decide what health care is best for themselves and their families, while also saving taxpayers about $10 billion by preventing yet another unnecessary increase in the number of government employees,”  she said in a press release today.

Who’s your speech date?

Being watched almost as closely as what President Obama says tonight are the locations of where the honorable members of Congress will sit.

Put another way: Who's your date for the State of the Union?

Traditionally, the Democrats sit on one side of the House and Republicans on the other, which explains why sometimes half the crowd gives a standing ovation and the other half sits on their hands at various points.

But in the new spirit of bipartisanship, members of Congress are asking colleagues of the other party to cross the aisle and sit with them. This is what we know so far about with whom members from Washington and Idaho will be sitting:

Patty Murray, Washington's senior Democrat in the Senate, will be sitting with Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican. Maria Cantwell, the state's junior Senate D, will be sitting with Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican. They've been working together on some climate legislation, an aide said.

Mike Crapo, Idaho's senior Republican in the Senate, will be sitting with a group that is regional as well as bipartisan. He, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., have an area staked out that they all prefer when watching a presidential speech. They'll be joined by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Word is that they like the place because it's possible to make a quick exit as soon as the president says “Thank you, and goodnight.”

James Risch, Idaho's junior Senate R, said he was sitting in an area surrounded by Democrats and Republicans, but that's not too unusual, he added.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, an Eastern Washington Republican who is part of the GOP leadership in the House, invited Lucille Roybal-Allard, a California Democrat to watch with her. McMorris Rodgers said she ran into Roybal-Allard earlier in the day, and they noticed that they were wearing similar outfits. She asked if the Los Angeles congresswoman wanted to sit together, and when Roybal-Allard asked if there'd be room, McMorris Rodgers assured her they'd make room.

No word yet on seating partner for Rep. Raul Labrador, North Idaho's freshman Republican.

The bipartisan seating was first mentioned by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Various sources on Capitol Hill have described this as something akin to asking or being asked to homecoming or Sadie Hawkins Dance. At least they don't have to pass notes in Study Hall to find out if some one just likes them or REALLY LIKES them.

McMorris Rodgers swaps committees

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers moved onto the House Energy and Commerce Committee and off the Armed Services, Natural Resources and Education and Labor committees.

She'll serve on three E & C subcommittees: Energy and Power, Environment and the Economy, and Health. From those, the Eastern Washington Republican said, she'll be involved in issues that include health care, technology and energy independence.

E & C has oversight for the departments of Energy, Transportation, and Health and Human Services, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency.

McMorris Rodgers has a girl

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers gave birth to an 8 pound, 4 ounce baby girl just after midnight today in Washington, D.C.

McMorris Rodgers, who is among the House Republicans’ leading users of social media, announced the birth with a message on Twitter and a Facebook post headlined “It’s a girl.”

“Brian and I are overjoyed by the birth of our daughter,” she wrote. “Both the baby and I are doing well at the hosptial.”

Their son Cole is 3 1/2. McMorris Rodgers is the first member of Congress to give birth twice while in office.

McMorris Rodgers: Let’s vote on tax cuts

Speaking at the House GOP leadership press conference, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said today that Congress should hold an up or down vote on continuing all tax cuts before year’s end.

Democrats have been angling for a vote that extends tax cuts to everyone but those making $250,000 or more, or for extending the upper income tax cuts for two years while making the rest of the cuts permanent. Republicans, including McMorris Rodgers, want them all to be extended permanently, arguing that uncertainty over taxes is a drag on the economy.

The tax cuts are due to expire at the end of the year, so without passing some kind of extension, they will all go away.After a White House meeting with leaders of both parties, a small group was appointed to find some middle ground over the next few days.

McMorris Rodgers’ office was kind enough to send out the YouTube clip of this morning’s appearance.

The Hill: McMorris Rodgers to move up?

The Hill, a Washington, D.C., newspaper that focuses on Congress and politics, speculates today that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers would move up in GOP leadership next year.

It assumes a couple of things, including that Rep. Mike Pence, the person above her in the Republican leadership, would step down, and of course that McMorris Rodgers will win re-election next Tuesday. (One is probably much more likely than the other.)

But it’s interesting for those who love that inside the Beltway, behind the curtains kind of stuff. It can be found here.

McMorris Rodgers, Romeyn go head-to-head


Democratic challenger Daryl Romeyn painted Cathy McMorris Rodgers as a do-nothing incumbent who has no solutions for federal deficits, illegal immigration, high school dropouts or childhood obesity.
McMorris Rodgers suggested Romeyn was someone who didn’t understand complex forest issues and would tax small businesses out of existence and set off a trade war with China.
In their first – and likely only – televised debate, the three-term congresswoman and the former television reporter agreed on very little Tuesday except for the importance of the American dream and the need to secure the nation’s borders before addressing other problems with illegal immigration. Those few seconds of agreement on immigration were closed off with Romeyn’s suggestion that she should’ve done something about it already: “She’s been there six years.”
Asked how to cut unemployment and boost the region’s economy, Romeyn suggested programs to boost the timber and farm communities and manufacture airplane parts. McMorris Rodgers said it’s not government programs but government stability on taxes, regulations and health care costs that will get businesses hiring again.
“We need to calm the waters, first of all,” she said.

Debate reminder: McMorris Rodgers v. Romeyn tonight

In what may be the most anticipated 5th District Congressional debate in years, Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democratic challenger Daryl Romeyn go head-to-head tonight on television.

They’ll be answering questions from a panel that includes Spokesman-Review reporter and Spin Control contributor Jonathan Brunt, public radio’s Doug Nadvornik, and KXLY-TV’s Robin Nance. KXLY-TV’s Nadine Woodward is the moderator. (So Nance and Woodward are switching roles from last week’s U.S. Senate debate.)

The anticipation isn’t because the race is thought to be particularly close, or because the two are recognized as master debaters, but because at various times they both refused to do this debate, the only televised matchup proposed for the race. The agreement wasn’t reached until early Monday, which is way quick for a televised debate.

Because the debate is being taped earlier in the day, there are two chances to see it: 7 p.m. on KXLY-TV and 8 p.m. on KSPS-TV. KXLY will also stream it live on the station’s web site.

And, of course, there will be coverage on spokesman.com this evening, and in Wednesday’s newspaper. 

 

5th Cong Dist debate back on (really)

Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Daryl Romeyn will debate after all on Tuesday, it seems.

The incumbent Republican congresswoman and the Democratic challenger, who each at one point turned down an invitation to debate for scheduling reasons, reportedly have cleared their respective calendars for Tuesday afternoon. They’ll tape a debate in the afternoon that will be aired at 7 p.m. on KXLY-TV and 8 p.m. on KSPS-TV.

“Both sides have agreed to be there tomorrow,” Jill Johnson, the producer of the debate, said Monday morning.

Each candidate came under fire last week for turning down the debate, which has been under discussion since mid August. McMorris Rodgers’ campaign declined to participate last Monday, citing “scheduling constraints,” prompting Romeyn to say her refusal was denying him a chance to be heard.

McMorris Rodgers staff contacted Johnson Friday morning, saying they would clear her schedule for the debate. But on Friday evening, Romeyn told KXLY-TV that he wouldn’t agree because he’d scheduled something after she turned down the debate and he couldn’t get out of his commitment. If McMorris Rodgers wanted to debate him, she should appear at one of the places he intended to be, he said.

Sunday night, however, Romeyn contacted Johnson and said he’d be willing to debate after all. After contacting the two stations sponsoring the debate, she said the debate could be taped at 3 p.m. for broadcast that evening

Congressional debate off, again (or still)

Just days after saying Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ refusal to debate was denying him a voice, congressional challenger Daryl Romeyn refused to debate when she changed her mind and offered to debate next week.

Whether the two candidates will meet face-to-face before the Nov. 2 election seems doubtful, but one thing seems sure. There will be no televised debate next week on KSPS-TV and KXLY-TV.

McMorris Rodgers’ campaign contacted debate organizers on Friday,saying she wanted to withdraw her withdrawal from the Oct. 19 debate. The campaign said earlier in the week that she wouldn’t participate due to “scheduling constraints.” Producer Jill Johnson got tentative approval from the two stations, but couldn’t contact Romeyn until the evening after he’d been interviewed on KXLY-TV’s 6 p.m. newscast where he said he wasn’t going to agree to the new offer.

To read more about the debate over a debate that turned into a non-debate, read this morning’s story.

McMorris Rodgers, Romeyn may debate after all

A few days after saying they couldn’t fit a debate into Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ schedule, the Republican incumbent’s campaign has shifted course and asked if she could debate Daryl Romeyn after all.

The campaign called KSPS-TV producer Jill Johnson this morning, asking if the offer to debate on Channel 7 and KXLY-TV next week was still open. Johnson said she would check with the two stations, and Romeyn, to see if it could be arranged. 

Nothing definite yet, Johnson said, because she now needs to contact Romeyn, who’d been told the debate was off. “We’re interested in making it happen,” she said.

Earlier in the week, the campaign had declined that matchup, the one proposed televised debate for the 5th Congressional District, because of “scheduling constraints.”

A post Wednesday in Spin Control and a story in the Spokesman-Review on Thursday noted that McMorris Rodgers had turned down that debate and no others were scheduled, which suggested Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District might be without a face-to-face debate for the first time in decades. That story apparently struck a chord with readers, and is currently the most-commented story on the newspaper’s Web site.

UPDATE: McMorris Rodgers’ campaign issued a press release this afternoon saying she has agreed to the debate, although Johnson said she had yet to contact Romeyn to confirm that he could schedule it. The text of the McMorris Rodgers press release can be found inside the blog.

 

No debate in the 5th Congressional District

For the first time in decades, there will be no debate or face-to-face forum for candidates in Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District race because the incumbent is refusing to participate.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ campaign said Wednesday she will not debate Democratic challenger Daryl Romeyn “due to scheduling constraints.”

McMorris Rodgers, seeking her fourth term in the House where she holds a GOP leadership position, declined this week to participate in the one proposed televised debate, a one-hour question-and-answer session next week on KSPS-TV and KXLY-TV, after more than a month of discussions.

She also turned down other forums with Romeyn, a novice candidate whom she outpolled nearly 5-to-1 in the primary and holds a 100-to-1 advantage in campaign contributions in the latest spending reports.

“I don’t think that’s the way American democracy works,” Romeyn, a former television weatherman and outdoor reporter, said. “They must feel putting her out there (in a debate) would do more damage than holding her back.”

McMorris Rodgers said Wednesday  her campaign waited to commit to debates because Romeyn was slow to file reports with the Federal Election Commission after the primary and “we weren’t sure how serious of a candidate he was.” The campaign later tried to identify some dates but couldn’t fit them in with other scheduled events…to read more, click here to go inside the blog.

More looks at the ‘Pledge’


U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was on CNN’s Sunday morning talk show, explaining/defending the “Pledge to America” to Candy Crowley with Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

Meanwhile, FactCheck.org was dissecting the pledge, and found it some facts don’t check out in a report that can be found here.

McMorris Rodgers makes GOP ‘Pledge’

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was among House Republican leaders unveiling their 2010 campaign strategy, the “Pledge to America” at a lumberyard in Virginia.

She’s the easiest to distinguish person in the photo above, considering she’s the only woman. Also in the photo, left to right, are Eric Cantor, John Boehner (holding pledge) Kevin McCarthy, Mike Pence and Jason Chaffetz.

She’s getting a fair amount of exposure from the Pledge, including a long segment on CNBC last night.

Reminiscent of the 1994 Contract with America, which helped Republicans take control of the House after 40 years, the Pledge contains a series of campaign positions, from repealing health care reform to limiting the federal government. The foreward can be found inside the blog.

The Contract was 10 succinct points and small enough that candidates could carry it around in their jacket pockets, pulling pull it whenever necessary to recite to crowds (and they did, repeatedly). The Pledge is a 45-page report, complete with color photos of the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, average folks and Republican members of Congress in action. (McMorris Rodgers appears on page 26). It’s downloadable in PDF form, but it may not be memorizable.

Republicans absent from corridor celebration

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Ray LaHood on Obama transportation plan, 9-7-2010
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Sen. Patty Murray on Obama transportation plan, 9-7-2010
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Sen. Patty Murray speaks at freeway ceremony, 9-7-2010

The following is a corrected version of an earlier post.

Noticeably absent from the ceremony on Tuesday that celebrated the start of construction of a portion of the North Spokane Corridor were any elected Republican officials.

It was Spokane Mayor Mary Verner who served as master of ceremony (though the freeway still hasn’t reached city limits). The speakers besides honored guest U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, included U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and state Sen. Chris Marr — both Democrats facing tough reelection battles.

Besides the speakers, among those who were given gold-colored shovels to “break ground” were state Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, and state Rep. John Driscoll, D-Spokane.

Officials said the event was organized by Murray’s office and the federal transportation department. So were Republicans shunned?

Maureen Knightly, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Transportation, said Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers received an invitation to the event last week.

(An earlier version of this post quoted a Murray spokesman who said McMorris-Rodgers likely wasn’t invited because of her stance against the stimulus bill.)

McMorris-Rodgers was not invited to a ceremony in February where it was announced that the state won the $35 million grant for the project. The freeway lanes are being funded through the controversial $787 billion federal stimulus legislation that McMorris-Rodgers opposed and Murray supported.

Other Republicans who were invited included Spokane County commissioners. Commissioner Todd Mielke confirmed that county leaders were invited but couldn’t attend because of a previously scheduled public hearing. He said commissioners participated in a later meeting at the Spokane International Airport with LaHood and several local and state transportation officials.

LaHood, who arrived in a white Suburban escorted by two Spokane Police cars, spent much of his speech praising Murray for her vote in support of the stimulus bill and for her work to create the competitive grant program using stimulus funds that ultimately funded the southbound lanes.

Primary over. Lessons learned?

Thousands of votes are still to be counted from Tuesday’s primary, but along with most races, some lessons are clear.
Lesson 1: It may be uncomfortable to be an incumbent this year, but it’s not fatal. Few incumbents were eliminated in the state’s unusual Top Two primary, but some clearly have their work ahead of them.
Count among them state Sen. Chris Marr, a Spokane businessman who received party acclaim four years ago as the first Democrat to win the seat in Spokane’s 6th District in six decades, but trails GOP challenger Mike Baumgartner in this primary.
Or ask Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker, a three-term Republican incumbent who faced two party challengers and finished second to Democrat Frank Malone.
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and most sitting House members had an easy primary night, five-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen is trading the lead with Republican challenger John Koster in northwestern Washington’s 2nd District.
For all the knock against establishment candidates…

Catch the candidates: McMorris Rodgers, Parker on Monday evening

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and state Rep. Kevin Parker will be making presentations to the Republicans of Spokane County at 6:30 tonight.

McMorris Rodgers’ plans to explain “Where America is Headed” and Parker will discuss “The Condition of Our State.” (Haven’t seen advanced copies of either speech, but am guessing the subtitle to the first is “the wrong way” and the second “not good.”)

But the R of S C promise wine, beer and dessert along with the talk, in exchange for a donation of $10 - $20. It’s at the Quality Inn Valley Suites, Argonne and I-90.

Just how far West does the 5th District go?

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers recently assured constituents she was working to make sure the government delivers on its payments to school districts that have large hunks of federally owned land in them, like national parks, military bases or tribal lands.

She sponsored legislation to require the feds to pay up, and promptly, on this so-called impact aid. But in conveying her assurances to constituents, some staffer who drafted the letter (little secret: congresspersons rarely write their own letters) apparently forgot to look closely at the map.

I know first-hand the impact that the budget deficits have had on our schools,” McMorris Rodgerswrites in a Dear Friends letter.  ” Late payments by the Department of Education have only exacerbated the situation in many school districts.  The bill that I am supporting will remedy the chronically late distribution of Impact Aid payments many school districts receive from the Department of Education.  For example, the Oak Harbor school district that I represent received a payment of nearly $1 million to conclude their Impact Aid payments due from Fiscal Year 2006 – three years after the initial award


Oak Harbor? That’s a mountain range and a ferry ride away from the westernmost outpost of Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District. Unless they know something about redistricting that the rest of us don’t.