Latest from The Spokesman-Review
While voting to re-elect Barack Obama, please help keep Republicans from taking control of the Senate, Patty Murray asked delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
Murray, Washington's senior senator who also leads the organization dedicated to electing Democrats to that chamber, got an early evening speaking slot to boost Obama, knock GOP nominee Mitt Romney and make a pitch for a Democratic Congress.
She reiterated the Democrats line of the night, that Obama believes in "an economy that's built from the middle out, not from the top down." That Republican proposals could turn Medicare into a voucher system, repeal health care reforms and take away abortion rights.
"To them, every problem is a nail and the onlly hammer they have is cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires," she said. "With a Republican Congress riding shotgun, Mitt Romney will put the middle class on the roof and take our country on a long ride."
'About an hour after her speech, the Republican National Committee issued a statement that Democrats were resorting to “false attacks to distract from their abysmal record” that includes high debt and employment above 8 percent for 42 months. “Nothing the Democrats can say will change the fact that voters know they are not better off after four years of failed policies and leadership,” Ted Kwong, a GOP spokesman, said.
Sen. Patty Murray has a pre-prime time speaking role at the Democratic National Convention today.
Washington's senior senator will be the third scheduled speaker in the block of speakers on tap from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time.
Convention schedule says it will be AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, Rep. Steve Israel of New York, then Murray. She'll be followed by Rep. Pedro Pierluisi and a video on Energy.
Take all 535 members of Congress, and select out 30 for special recognition via a "Best of Congress" award.
In that group of 30, place Washington Sen. Patty Murray and Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dave Reichert and Adam Smith, and Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo.
That kind of list was just announced. Who gave them the award, and for what?
Last week, like most weeks, among the hundreds of e-mails that made it through the spam filter were some cheery yet urgent missives from politicians.
Among them was one from Patty Murray, Washington’s Democratic senior senator, andanother from Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican. Not surprisingly, they both wanted the same thing. Money.
To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.
The U.S. Department of Transportation will give the state $10 million for the North Spokane Corridor, to be used to help relocate some railroad tracis and extend a bike trail.
A joint announcement from U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers says the state will get the money from the feds on Friday.
The money is known as a TIGER grant, which stands for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery. It will be used to relocate 7.5 miles of BNSF rail lines near the Freya Street interchange, and to extend a bike and pedestrian trail for 1 mile into Hillyard.
All three members of Congress described the North Spokane Corridor — also known by some as the North-South Freeway — as a top priority for them and the community.
The Air Force released the criteria today for deciding which of its bases will get the first new air refueling tankers, and Fairchild will be among about 60 bases being considered.
That means the Air Force won't limit those first KC-46As to a base that already serves as a current home for tankers, but will look at most facilities in the continental United States. The main criteria for making this first list for consideration?
"A runway," a spokeswoman for the officer of the Secretary of the Air Force said after a short description of the criteria was released. That's essentially all bases with airplanes, although not every Air Force base has planes, Ann Stefanek said.
From that most basic of necessities for a jet patterned after the Boeing 767 commercial airliner, the Air Force will consider other important details, such as the capacity of the fueling system, available space on the runway, size of hangars, proximity to planes needing to be refueled, airspace availability, environmental considerations and costs.
The Air Force expects to have scores for all the potential bases sometime this summer, Stefanek said, and narrow the list further to a small group of top scorers from which the preferred site and reasonable alternatives will be chosen late this year.
The Air Force began briefing members of Congress and posted the criteria briefly on its website this afternoon. It later removed the criteria, even though it kept a link with a picture of a prototype of the new tanker refueling a cargo plane that promised information about the criteria.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said she believes the criteria puts Fairchild Air Force Base in a " very competitive position" to be an early home for the new planes, which will be built in Everett: "I'm confident that Fairchild's long tanker history, strong community support and joint operations between the Active Duty and Guard place it in an ideal position to succeed."
The West Plains base has a new runway and a new wing headquarters under construction, Murray said in an e-mail. A letter from the state's congressional delegation to Air Force leaders on how the base stacks up to the criteria could be sent as soon as Tuesday.
To read the Air Force announcement of criteria for the first two new tanker bases, and the tanker "formal training unit, click here to go inside the blog.
The New York Times recently discovered a phenomenon about Washington that most state residents take for granted. We tend to elect women to office.
Last week, “All the News that’s Fit to Print” included a story about the evolving nature of women in politics that focused on Gov. Chris Gregoire and Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. That’s because Washington is the only state with women in all three of those statewide positions. That will end next year, the Times noted, because Gregoire’s not seeking re-election and the likely replacements are men.
It also mentioned the state had a woman as chief justice of the state Supreme Court, an earlier woman governor, Dixy Lee Ray, and Seattle has a woman for mayor back in the 1920s.
Had it looked just a tad east, the Times might have discovered Eastern Washington residents are even more prone to female representation, with a woman as their U.S. Representative, and until the beginning of this year when Spokane’s chief executive left office, many city residents north of the river had a woman as mayor, a city councilwoman and a state senator.
The fact that Mary Verner lost to David Condon doesn’t suggest residents are any less likely to elect a woman. Rather, it suggests that women may have achieved something close to equality in local politics, where their gender wasn’t a major factor in their election or unelection.
Still, it’s a decent article, with a great photo.
Whether there’s a War on Women being waged by politicians around the country is open to debate. There is definitely a War over the War On Women, and Washington has a top commander on both sides of the battle lines. Field marshal for the Democrats is Sen. Patty Murray, who has been using the phrase “War on Women” for months, often in fundraising appeals for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. In simple military terms, the committee’s strategy is to elect as many Democrats to the Senate as possible; its tactic, raise as much money as quickly as possible. … Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers became the new brigadier general in the field last week, assigned to turn the tide for the Republicans. Trying to switch to offense from defense, she wrote a guest column for a conservative news website, took to the microphone at the House GOP leadership press conference and went on “Hardball with Chris Matthews” to declare there is no Republican WOW/Jim Camden, SR. More here.
Question: Is the "War on Women" a reality or a propaganda ploy to raise funds and congressional seats?
OLYMPIA — You never know who will show up in the "wings" of the Senate or House chambers.
That's the area behind the curtains, off the main floor, where members come and go, chat, discuss legislation.
On Monday, two former legislators who have now gone on to bigger things bumped into each other as Sen. Maria Cantwell was leaving the Senate Democratic Caucus room, and Sen. Patty Murray was going in.
Both are in the state during the Presidents' Day recess in Congress.
Sen. Patty Murray, in the state Senate wings on Monday.
Sen. Patty Murray is getting some mileage out of a recent e-mail she sent out as head of the group that raises money to elect or re-elect Democrats to the Senate.
In it, Murray denounces both a comment by a prominent Rick Santorum supporter on "old-style" birth control and an all-male panel discussing contraception in a House Committee.
I feel like I woke up this morning on the set of “Mad Men.” Republicans have set their time machine for the 1950s – back when, according to one prominent Republican, women could just “put aspirin between their knees” to avoid getting pregnant.
According to a follow -up from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Aspirin Agenda appeal was a big hit on the money-raising circuit. Murray got mentioned on Meet the Press in a discussion of the controversy which is sometimes framed as being over contraception and other times being about religious freedom.
Talking heads can argue that point on TV through the election if they want. It's your typically breathless, the sky is falling, "please give us your money before some deadline passes" appeal for campaing cash.
But Spin Control wants to point out one slight flaw in Murray's e-mail.
"Mad Men" is not set in the 1950s. It is set in the 1960s.
True, the '50s is probably considered a more Republican decade, with Ike in the White House, Joe McCarthy in the Senate and men in gray flannel suits. The '60s is probably viewed as the more Democratic decade, with JFK and LBJ, Civil Rights and anti-war protests, flower children, hippies and yippies.
But the adventures of Don Draper, et al, start in 1960, when the ad firm is hired to work on the presidential campaign of a young candidate, a World War II vet that many people see as his party's next generation of leaders. Richard Nixon.
The full e-mail is inside the blog, for those who aren't on the DSCC list.
It's official: The Supercommittee isn't super. It's a bust
A press release from Sen. Patty Murray and her supercomm co-chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling acknowledge as much today.
Of course, they tried to put the best face on it possible, saying that they hope Congress can build on the work the supercomm did "and find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and the economy."
And in honor of Thanksgiving, they thanked the American people "for sharing thoughts and ideas and providing support and good will as we worked to accomplish this difficult task."
Not sure how much good will is likely to continue, considering that the task was not accomplished. But, you know, they did need some kind of holiday reference, and it would've probably been inappropriate to suggest that this whole thing was a turkey.
To read the whole statement, go inside the blog.
Super committee co-chairwoman Patty Murray gets more money from defense contractors than any other member of the panel assembled to find ways to cut the budget deficit.
So says Common Cause, a public watchdog organization and longtime critic of the campaign financing system, in a new report.
Murray, D-Wash., has received more than a quarter million dollars from the defense industry since 2004, $247,000 to her re-election campaign and $29,000 to her "leadership PAC" a separate campaign fund that funnels money to other candidates.
Of course, one could argue that's not surprising, considering one of the nation's biggest defense contractors is also one of Washington state's biggest employers, Boeing.
Common Cause looks at it another way: That military spending doubled in the last decade and contracts to defense suppliers went up even faster. And 20 percent of all those contracts went to just five companies, one of which was Boeing.
"These companies are pooling their resources – working through vehicles such as their trade group, the Aerospace Industries Association – in an attempt to keep Pentagon spending as high as possible in the face of pressures to reduce the federal deficit," the report contends. "Their most immediate goal is to keep defense spending out of the super committee’s deficit reduction proposal."
Those wondering when the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — a.k.a. the Supercommittee — will get up and running need wonder no more.
A press release from Sen. Patty Murray and her Supercommittee Co-chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling announced the panel will have its "organizational meeting" next Thursday, Sept. 8. Members will "make opening statements and consider proposed committee rules."
Sept. 8. Hmmm. Why does that date seem familiar?
Oh yeah, that's when House Speaker John Boehner invited President Obama over to the Capitol to address a joint session of Congress on jobs. So look out recession. Between the Supercommittee and Obama, all this speechifying is sure to do knock you for a loop.
The committee also has a hearing scheduled for Sept. 13, which will feature the head of the Congressional Budget Office and focus on "The History and Drivers of Our Nation's Debt and Its Threats."
Hopefully, this will consist of more than "We've been spending more money than we take in, for a very long time, and it's not a good thing to keep doing."
So what's the Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, aka the supercommittee, doing two weeks after it got set up? Tons of stuff, according to co-chairpersons Patty Murray and Jeb Hensarling.
Engaging in serious discussions. Deciding on the rules.Setting a schedule. "And exploring how to build a committee staff that will help us achieve success" the Washington Democrat in the Senate and the Texas Republican in the House said in a joint statement today.
Oh, and committee members and staff are "eager to engage one another as we begin our work."
Good thing, too, considering there's only three months left before the committee's recommendations for cuts or taxes is due.
Want to read the full statement? Click here to go inside the blog.
Sen. Patty Murray is getting flak from all sides after her appointment as co-chairman of the budget cutting supercommittee.
Republicans and government watchdog groups continue to complain that she's also the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has as its sole raison d'etre the raising of money for the electing of Democrats to the Senate. It's a reasonable complaint that will probably only be silenced if the committee comes back with budget proposals that go against entrenched interests AND pass Congress.
But Grover Norquist, the leader of Americans For Tax Reform — which gets candidates to sign pledges to never, never, never raise taxes, ever — levelled one that seemed a tad uninformed in a recent issue of The New York Times.
"The lady from Washington doesn't do budgets," Norquist reportedly told the Times.
As genteel as it is for Norquist to refer to Murray as a lady (a term that probably sends some of her feminist supporters up a wall) the real problem is that the premise just isn't true. She's on the Budget Committee. She's on the Appropriations Committee. She has been and continues to be the head of Appropriations subcommittees. The main criticism of her by opposing Republicans has been that she uses the budgeting system too well and taps it with earmarks. That requires strong knowledge of the system, not a lack of knowledge of the system.
One must allow, of course, for the prospect that a commie, pinko publication like the Times misquoted Norquist — on the budget part, if not the lady part. But if not, researchers for Americans For Tax Reform might want to try a Google search before firing their next salvo.
Staff and wire reports
WASHINGTON — Sen. Patty Murray will be the co-chairwoman of a powerful “supercommittee” charged with finding more than $1 trillion in deficit cuts this fall.
The Washington Democrat was one of three named Tuesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. He also appointed Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Max Baucus of Montana to the panel.
In a prepared statement announcing the appointments, Reid said Murray's years of experience on the Budget and Appropriations committees “have given her a depth of knowledge on budget issues and demonstrated her ability to work across party lines.”
The three issued a joint statement calling the committee’s work “long overdue to step beyond the partisanship and politics that have overwhelmed these discussions for months.”
Kerry and Baucus are two of the Senate's most experienced legislators, Reid added. In naming the trio, the Associated Press noted he bypassed Democrats like Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad who have been more forceful in advocating curbs on Medicare spending and Social Security benefits.
Washington state and national Republicans were quick to denounce Murray's selection. Even before the appointments were official, but after they had leaked out from congressional sources to hit political websites, state GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur contended Murray's selection proves Reid wasn't taking debt reduction seriously.
“Appointing Senator Murray as the co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is like asking a fox to guard a hen house,” Wilbur charged in a press release. “Senator Murray has absolutely no history of cutting spending, ever.”
(That's right, Kirby Wilbur just called Patty Murray a fox, which is probably inappropriately sexist…but, we digress. To read the rest of this post, click here to go inside the blog.)
Washington Sen. Patty Murray is being named to the national debt reduction supercommittee, according to unnamed sources quoted by Politico, the National Journal and the Associated Press.
Murray's staff just confirmed it by sending out the press release from the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Even before that confirmation, the Washington state Republican Party was already saying that this was a terrible, awful, no good, really bad appointment. It's like asking a fox to guard the henhouse, state chairman Kirby Wilbur said.
So there's something we never even thought we'd hear: Kirby Wilbur thinks Patty Murray's a fox.
SEATTLE — Sen. Patty Murray's annual fundraiser-cum-good deed recognition luncheon today features a top Obama campaign strategist.
The 16th Annual "Golden Tennis Shoe Awards" luncheon has David Axelrod, the top strategist for the Obama re-election campaign, to rouse the crowd. The 2012 election is, after all, only 17 months away.
Award recipients are:
— Isaac Pope, a Centralia pediatrician who converted a two-story house into a clinic and day care center for severely disabled children:
— Denise "Cookie" Bouldin, a Seattle police officer who organized a chess club for disadvantaged youth, where they learn non-violence skills, self-esteem and the consequences of their actions:
— Mike Brown, a Vietnam era veteran who beat a meth addiction and now works with other veterans to get them into vocational training, stable home settings and community involvement.
The name of the award is a derivative of the story told of Murray's early political career, when she reportedly decided to run after a politician told her she couldn't get things done, she was "just a mom in tennis shoes."
Sen. Patty Murray has been one of the leading voices on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee for years. Now she's the actual leader.
The Washington Democrat, who has been on the panel since 1995 and has built a huge constituency among veterans who regularly support her for re-election, was named chairwoman of the committee today, taking over for Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, who moves over to be chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee.
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.
One of Sen. Patty Murray's first public appearances since the shootings in Tucson, Ariz., will be in Spokane Wednesday afternoon at a very secure location.
The Spokane Police Academy.
Murray and Mayor Mary Verner have a 1:30 p.m. tour of the facility and a 2 p.m. roundtable discussion on energy with folks from Avista, SIRTI and various city agencies. Subject of discussion: investing in clean energy.
The location has nothing to do with the slayings in Arizona, however. The police academy received federal money through the Recovery Act to help retrofit it to be more energy efficient, a spokesman said, and was chosen to serve as an example of clean energy. The location also was chosen before Saturday's shootings.
Still, it might be hard to find a more secure site outside the confines of Fairchild Air Force Base for a member of Congress to hold a meeting.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray agreed recently to take the job of chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a group dedicated, as its name suggests, to getting more Democrats elected to the Senate.
Considering last month’s election results, it’s not surprising there wasn’t a long line of aspirants to the job. Murray herself had to be talked into it.
She doesn’t take over until the first of the year, a spokeswoman said. So she is not responsible for the DSCC’s latest plea for cash: For a donation of at least $5, they will send you a special set of “poetry magnets.”
You know, the kind with a few words that can be rearranged on the refrigerator to make endless variations of bad free verse. Among the magnetized words and phrases: Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, birthers, filibuster, crazy, extremist, donkey and elephant.
Sen. Patty Murray has formally accepted the job as the head of the Senate Democrats’s campaign operation.
A statement from outgoing Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez is congratulating Murray on her selection. It says all the standard things, such as she’s the best choice to head the committee and she ran a good campaign this year against a tough opponent.
Not mentioned is the fact that several folks didn’t want the job, and Murray had to be talked into it.
The DSCC is in charge of getting Democrats elected or re-elected to the Senate in the coming campaign cycle.
Sen. Patty Murray will be announced as the new chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee later today, sources in the other Washington are saying this morning.
Roll Call, a newspaper and website that covers almost every move in Congress, says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to make the announcement this afternoon. Murray’s office is saying officiallly only that an announcement is coming around noon Pacific time..
But Murray has been under pressure to take the job as the head of the committee working to elect more Democrats to the Senate, or at least make sure fewer Democrats get un-elected to the Senate. Democats have 23 seats to defend in 2012.
Murray had the job for the 2002 campaign cycle.
OLYMPIA — Remember all those polls in the U.S. Senate race that were all over the place in the last week of the election?
Democrat Patty Murray was up by 4. No, Republican Dino Rossi was up by 3. No, they’re tied.
Turns out the most accurate poll in the race, according to Matt Barreto of the Washington Poll was…
The Washington Poll.
Barreto compared 11 polls released within a week of the election in the Murray-Rossi race, which right now is separated by about 4.42 percentage points.
The WashPoll of Registered Voters, released Oct. 28, had Murray up 4 points.
Depending on the remaining ballots, YouGov might lay claim on the best call. It’s Oct. 30 poll of registered voters had Murray up 5 points, and her margin might grow because so many of the remaining ballots are from King County.
Other comparisons can be found inside the blog.
Sen. Patty Murray achieved her second re-election in two weeks today, winning another term as the Senate Democratic Conference secretary, the Number 4 position in Democratic leadership.
There were no changes, on either side of the aisle, in leadership positions. Harry Reid of Nevada is the majority leader and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is the minority leader.
The rest of the Democratic leadership is Dick Durbin of Illinois as assistant majority leader, Charles Schumer of New York as vice chairman of the conference.
The rest of the Republican leadership is Jon Kyl of Arizona as whip, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee as conference chairman and John Barrasso of Wyoming as conference vice chairman.
A Spokane man arrested outside a U.S. senate candidates debate with knives and a meat cleaver has been charged in federal court.
John Jay Sieler, 50, is accused of threatening to kill U.S. Senator Patty Murray on Oct. 14 as he drove by her supporters waving a meat cleaver and shouting profanities.
Sieler was arrested outside KSPS studios, where Murray and Republican candidate Dino Rossi were scheduled to debate later that night. Police found other weapons (pictured) in his car.
Sieler was given $500 bail at the Spokane County Jail for misdemeanor charges but rearrested Wednesday evening on a federal warrant.
He appeared in U.S. District Court today on one count of threatening a federal official and was ordered to remain in jail until a bail hearing on Monday.
Sen. Patty Murray has defeated Republican challenger Dino Rossi, according to
The Seattle Times analysis of vote returns. Murray’s victory gives Democrats 53
seats in the Senate/Seattle Times. Story here.
The tight race for U.S. Senate would have to get noticeably tighter to trigger a mandatory recount.
Although tens of thousands of ballots have yet to be counted statewide, including more than 100,000 in King County alone, incumbent Democrat Patty Murray’s current lead over Republican challenger Dino Rossi (722,396 to 708,391 as of the latest election night tabulation) is beyond the one half of 1 percent margin that would trigger a mandantory machine recount under state law.
A machine recount also can triggered in statewide races if the the margin between the candidates is less than 2,000 votes. A mandatory hand recount is conducted if the margin falls below 1,000 votes and one quarter of 1 percent of total ballots cast.
The state Elections Division has a fact sheet on recounts that can be found at this link.
Patty Murray and Dino Rossi both think the numbers are on their side for a win in Washington’s close U.S. Senate race.
Republican challenger Rossi’s campaign released a statement late Tuesday night citing his favorite statistics that would make the race go his way. Among them are that Republicans usually gain a couple percent in ballots counted after election day and that he’s doing very well in Spokane County, which still expects to count large numbers of ballots.
Democratic incumbent Murray’s campaign countered just after midnight with a different analysis, noting that King County, where she was polling about 62 percent of the vote, may have as many as 350,000 votes left to count.
As morning dawns Wednesday, they are separated by about 14,000 votes, or 1 percent of those counted so far. New numbers won’t be rolling in until this afternoon. To borrow a phrase from Bette Davis, Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
To read the full analyses, go inside the blog.