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4. Voters at Fairchild Air Force Base support expanded background checks for gun sales – resoundingly.
3. The days of calling the 6th Legislative District a swing district are gone.
When working on an election story recently, I was about to refer to the 6th as a swing district when my colleague, Jim Camden, reminded me that it only really swung for two elections. I might argue that the closeness of some other races besides the 2006 and 2008 cycles when Democrats won seats in the district made it a legitimate swing district longer than that, but his point is accurate; the 6th Legislative District, especially since redistricting, is Republican territory even when Democrats attract a well-known candidate and spend big.
2. Spokane loves its parks and loves its smooth streets even more.
Recent controversies about salaries of Mayor David Condon and other administrators at City Hall made many city leaders worried that voters would turn against the street levy and, especially, the park bond.
But whatever griping you might hear about City Hall, city leaders apparently have earned the trust of voters when it comes to streets and parks. Considering that voters under Mayor John Powers rejected a street tax at a time when streets clearly were in much worse condition, passing the street levy with nearly 78 percent support is a major turnaround. I’m guessing that the voters’ mood reflects that the city kept its promises after voters approved a street tax in 2004 under Mayor Jim West.
OLYMPIA – With control of the state Senate in the balance, legislative candidates could pull in record amounts of money. Some ballot measure campaigns also are spending heavily as the election deadline approaches.
Their fates may be decided by a relatively small number of voters. Early turnout is light throughout the state, and less than half of Spokane County’s eligible voters are expected to return their ballots. . .
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Only a few legislative races in the hinterlands merit a story in the esteemed Washington Post. So the candidates in the 6th Legislative District Senate race might count themselves lucky.
Or maybe not. The story spends quite a bit of time on zombies.
It details Democratic challenger Rich Cowan's work with North-by-Northwest, which brought Z Nation to Spokane, and Republican Sen. Mike Baumgartner's questioning of the state tax preference that helps bring film projects to Washington. It also makes assorted various references to zombies that have become part of the political lingo in recent months.
At times it seems as though the Post thinks folks in the 6th might actually mark their ballots based on their feelings about the undead.
But at least it has a reference to a scintillating story about a zombie-themed protest at the state Capitol a few years back. So we give it a thumbs up.
Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner's campaign will refund $63.48 to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture Foundation after the nonprofit organization learned that a check it thought was simply to cover the cost of breakfast for two employees had been recorded as a political contribution.
"We'll certainly take care of that," Baumgartner said today after questions about the contribution from a tax-exempt 501c3 organization were raised by Democratic challenger Rich Cowan's campaign. "We're big supporters of the MAC."
The foundation, as well as the museum, enjoy federal tax exempt status from the IRS but because of that are prohibited from contributing to political campaigns. Museum officials are asking the Baumgartner campaign to refund the money and clarify with state elections officials that it wasn't intended to be a contribution.
The museum's executive director, Forrest Rodgers, said he and Development Director Betsy Godlewski attended an April 3 breakfast event, dubbed the "Keep Working Kick Off," after receiving an invitation as museum representatives from Baumgartner. Rodgers said he knew that the event was a re-election kickoff announcement but thought the $30 per person charge was to cover breakfast — not a contribution.
"We attend events and support all of our elected officials," Rodgers said, explaining that museum staff has worked closely with Baumgartner and other legislators to secure state funding to help keep the MAC open. "We go to many of their events on behalf of the museum."
Meanwhile, state campaign finance records show numerous 501c3 organizations as contributors to various political candidates across Washington. Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the state Public Disclosure Commission, said the state has few limitations on who can contribute to political campaigns but leave it up to organizations to determine whether it might run afoul of obligations or restrictions imposed by others, such as the IRS in the case of nonprofits.
The gloves are off in the 6th legislative district Senate race.
After trading jabs for the past few months, Republican incumbent Michael Baumgartner and Democratic challenger Rich Cowan now are pummeling each other in a series of back-and-forth sound bites and other insults triggered by a new attack ad.
The salvo opened late last week with a misleading Cowan TV spot accusing Baumgartner of being a stooge for out-of-state corporations enjoying state tax breaks that siphon money away from Washington's school children.
Baumgartner quickly called foul on the claims, filed a complaint with the PDC over an apparent technical omission in the TV ad, and accused Cowan of being a hypocrite for owning a company registered out of state that benefits from millions in state tax breaks for the film industry.
"It's inaccurate, illegal and hypocritical," Baumgartner said, explaining that Cowan's ads fail to include a spoken reference to his partisan affiliation: "He's trying to hide that he's a Democrat."
The Cowan campaign fired back that Baumgartner talks a lot about supporting private business and bringing jobs to Spokane but doesn't appear to have ever owned his own business nor personally ever created a new job here — choosing instead to attack an established Spokane company that's actively bringing higher-wage jobs to the region.
"Mr. Baumgartner is trying to slander a beloved local business that has paid millions of dollars in Washington state taxes to deflect attention from the fact that he has failed to create jobs," Cowan campaign manager Alex Clardy said.
Baumgartner, who holds a substantial fundraising advantage, has yet to unleash any TV attack ads, though he's got a shelf full of mostly image-building issue spots touting his Olympia accomplishments, including greater government efficiency and sustainable budgets.
Like the tax breaks spot, Cowan's repertoire of ads tend to be more adversarial and focused on potential wedge issues, which tends to be a standard strategy for campaigns looking to try closing double-digit gaps.
With ballots set to begin arriving in voter mailboxes later this week, the slugfest is likely to continue.
Former Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna will headline an Oktoberfest fundraiser in Spokane next month for state Sen. Michael Baumgartner.
McKenna lost his bid for the governor's office two years ago but produced perhaps one of the campaign season's most memorable moments when he and his wife, Marilyn, joined a Washington Korean Association dance troupe performing Korean pop star Psy's over-the-top video hit Gangnam Style, which at the time was sweeping U.S. pop charts.
The former AG holds his own to the very end but Marilyn, who joined in from the sidelines, is clearly the better dancer.
No word from the Baumgartner camp on whether McKenna will be reprising an Oktoberfest version of the crowd pleaser, though.
The fundraiser comes as Baumgartner prepares for the final November push in his race against Democratic challenger Rich Cowan for the 6th Legislative District seat. Baumgartner already is leading in the money race, having raised $410,520 to Cowan's $216,147 according to the latest campaign finance reports.
Tickets for the Oktoberfest fundraiser range from $40 to $320. Lederhosen optional.
Any other time, a press release from one candidate complaining that his opponent was lying about his stance on an issue would likely go straight to the delete file. Lying in campaigns is, after all, a time-honored political tradition constitutionally protected by the state Supreme Court.
But Democrat Rich Cowan’s complaint that Republican state Sen. Mike Baumgartner was lying about Cowan’s stance on a state income tax came with an interesting wager: If Baumgartner could prove Cowan supported a state income tax, he could plant one of his campaign signs in Cowan’s yard. . .
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Somewhere in the great beyond, James “Big Jim” Farley is having a good day.
The former Tammany Hall boss and political strategist for Franklin Delano Roosevelt may have been pulled out of celestial poker game late last week when word drifted heavenward about a press release from state Sen. Mike Baumgartner. The Spokane Republican came up with a solution to the fix Washington could find itself in after Boeing’s union machinists voted down a contract extension that would have guaranteed the 777X be built in the state.
Call a special session to turn Washington into a “right-to-work” state, Baumgartner said.
Such a suggestion must’ve made Farley spit out his cigar, if smoking is allowed in whatever suburb of the afterlife old pols inhabit. . .
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The head of a local movie production company said he will challenge an incumbent senator in Spokane’s 6th Legislative District next year.
Democrat Rich Cowan, chief executive officer of North by Northwest, said Tuesday he will run against Republican Sen. Mike Baumgartner, contending the incumbent’s views on some issues are too extreme for the district.
One of his main goals if elected, Cowan said, would be to find a way to complete the North Spokane Corridor, a roadway that has been discussed for more than a half century and under construction for more than a decade. . .
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Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers easily won re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, and defeated Democrat Rich Cowan in all the counties in the Eastern Washington District, including Spokane County.
For a closer look at the Spokane County results, check out the PDF version of the map below
Washington state politicians are getting some ink in other publications. Politico has a long piece today assessing Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' prospects of moving up in House GOP hierarchy.
It mentions she's been travelling around to other congressional districts to help Republicans campaign…something her Democratic opponent Rich Cowan has criticized.
Thursday he said the story just confirms his criticism: "Her actions show she spends much of her time being a professional fundraiser for the Republican Party, not our representative. It’s clear she is everywhere in the country but here, pushing her partisan political agenda instead of helping Eastern Washington.”
About 150 gathered for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s campaign rally this evening in Spokane at the Lincoln Center.
There wasn’t much we haven’t heard on the trail before, so here are a few miscellaneous thoughts:
— The Democrats appear enthused about the race for Congress. Sure, it’s still somewhat of long-shot for them and Democrat Rich Cowan did not come near to raising the $1 million he said was his goal when he began his campaign for the seat in Washington’s 5th Congressional District.
But he’s not Daryl Romeyn, who was the party’s nominee two years ago and who was not embraced by the party. Cowan has raised enough to advertise on TV and he even got a mention recently in the Capital Hill newspaper, Roll Call.
Both candidates for Congress in Spokane's 5th Congressional District oppose the initiative that would legalize marijuana under many circumstances. But they differ on an issue over which they may have some say.
That's the proposed reclassification of the drug to allow it to be prescribed by doctors. That stance is increasingly supported by many in Washington, including the Republican-leaning Spokane City Council which voted unanimously in January in support of a nonbinding resolution requesting classification.
Click on the video above to hear Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democrat Rich Cowan state their positions.
The Democratic opponent of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the November election used much of the first debate for Congressional seat representing Spokane working to portray the incumbent Republican as an engrained fixture in a bickering Congress.
But McMorris Rodgers used her time to defend her record, which she said proves that she fights for Eastern Washington and can work with Democrats. She noted her work on bipartisan legislation on hydroelectric power.
Democrat Rich Cowan and Republican Mike Baumgartner seem to have a shared problem of getting the incumbents they want to unseat to debate with them as many times as they want. Or at all.
Cowan, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives against Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers, proposed 10 debates, one in each county for Eastern Washington's 5th Congressional District. McMorris Rodgers agreed to two, both in Spokane. One would be sponsored by Greater Spokane Inc., the other by KSPS-TV, which has handled a 5th District debate for years, even in those elections when no one else cared to.
Baumgartner has proposed 39 debates, one in each county of Washington state, against Democrat Maria Cantwell. So far, Cantwell hasn't agreed to any, although there are several invitations pending.
In replying to Cowan's letter requesting 10 debates, McMorris Rodgers used Cantwell as her leverage in accepting two: "I contemplated following the lead of our junior senator and only schedule debates with my opponent when she has scheduled debates with hers."
But folks in Eastern Washingo deserve to hear a discussion of the issues, so she was agreeing to the GSI and KSPS invitations. "Additionally, if you are able to encourage Senator Cantwell to debate Mr. Baumgartner in all 39 counties, I would be happy to debate you in all 10 counties located in the 5th Congressional District. We could arrange our debates in tandem with senate debates as well."
A spokesman for the Cantwell campaign said she has dozens of invitations for a variety of forums, debates and editorial boards, as well as "a large chunk of September" that will be taken up by the Senate's work schedule.
"We will debate," Kelly Steele said, but there's no commitment at this time on how many times, when or where. That will likely become clear in early September, he added.
This leaves us at Spin Control pondering the question of which is stranger: Ten debates in Eastern Washington, which would essentially be one a week between now and the election? 39 debates across the state, which would essentially be one every other day between now and the election? Or one candidate conditioning her debate schedule on her opponent convincing a candidate for another office to debate an opponent of another party?
Feel free to weigh in, in the comment section.
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has decided to debate her Democratic opponent twice before the November election.
After this month's primary, Democrat Rich Cowan challenged McMorris Rodgers to debate him in each of the 5th Congressional District's 10 counties. After her town hall meeting on Thursday in Spokane, McMorris Rodgers said that she responded to Cowan in writing by agreeing to his request - but only if Washington's Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell agrees to debate her Republican rival in all 39 of Washington's counties.
So, in orther words, her answer was no — though it's worth noting that her decision to debate twice is twice as many as she agreed to in 2010.
We have posted the answers to a Spokesman-Review candidate questionnaire from each of the four candidates for the Congressional seat representing Eastern Washington.
You can read the candidates' opinions on 15 topics, including taxes, same-sex marriage, immigration, marijuana, abortion and the North Spokane freeway at the following links:
As his Republican opponent continues to call for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Democratic congressional candidate Rich Cowan said it's time to "put aside the partisan bickering.""
Cowan's likely opponent in November, four term Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, was one of the go-to commentators for the House GOP on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision today and called for Congress to "repeal and replace the law" in the face of the narrow decision that said the law is constitutional. She also blasted some scatological messages she said that came from national Democrats in the wake of the decision, and sent out a fund-raising appeal for the National Republican Congressional Campaign that asked those who also find the messages crass to donate $3 to "show Democrats what Mom-power looks like."
Cowan said the court "did the right thing for our health care today" and cited some popular features that will continue, such as extended coverage for young adults on their parents' insurance and an end to coverage denials for pre-existing conditions. And he played the "I understand these things because I'm in the private sector" card.
"As a business owner I have experienced first hand how important basic, affordable health care is to employees," he said in a press release. "here are parts of this law that can be improved, like cost containment and access issues, but it is time to put aside the partisan bickering and put America back to work."
National political groups try to find deep meaning in local elections, so it's not surprising the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wants to spread Tuesday's victory in Arizona over as much of the country as possible.
But they may need a new calculator before they use it as a bellwether for Eastern Washington's 5th Congressional District.
Wednesday afternoon the group dedicated to electing Democrats to the U.S. House sent out a press release with this headline:
Democrats Win Special Election in More Republican District Than Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers’
That, not surprisingly, had us at Spin Control scratching our heads. Didn't the district in question, Arizona's 8th Congressional District, have a Democratic congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, for the last five years? Whereas Eastern Washington's 5th hasn't had a Democratic congressperson since 1994.
How do ya figure "more Republican"? Spin Control asked Steve Carter, the DCCC representative for western states.
There's no one way to rate how partisan a district is, Carter said. "That's one way to look at it," he said when we brought up the 18-year gap for electing a Dem to the House. The DCCC, however, chose to look at it a different way…
Everyone thinking about running for political office this year, take note: You have less than a week to make up your mind. Everyone talking about running and acting like they’re already a full-fledged candidate, take note: It’s not official until you file your paperwork and pay your fee.
Candidate filing week starts Monday morning, and ends when the office where that paperwork and fee must be deposited closes on Friday. Here’s a tricky part – because of budget cutbacks, some county elections offices close as early as noon on Fridays, others at 4 p.m., and some stay open until 5 p.m. Anyone planning to wait until the very last minute to build suspense would be wise to make a phone call to the appropriate office and check when that last minute is.
For some positions that’s the county elections office in the county seat; for others, it’s the Secretary of State’s office in Olympia. How do you know what goes where?
Go inside the blog to read more, or to comment.
Washington candidates are scrambling to announce endorsements this week as filing week approaches.
The gubernatorial candidates are taking turns touting nods from "first responders." Former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, the likely Democratic nominee, is in Spokane today to pick up the endorsement of Fire Fighters Local 29. They'll have a formal laying on of the hands at 2:15 p.m. at the union hall, 911 E. Baldwin.
Attorney General Rob McKenna, the all-but-certain Republican nominee, announced Monday that he'd been endorsed by the Washington State Troopers Association.
The State Labor Council weighed in over the weekend with its endorsements, which were, depending on one's point of view, strongly pro-Democrat or anti-Republican. The council is backing Rich Cowan against U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the 5th Congressional District, and picked a D in eight of the other nine districts. For District 3 in Southwest Washington, they didn't have a good Democratic option, so they came out opposed to Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.
In Spokane Legislative races, the labor council showed an ability to shift quickly to the winds of Sen. Lisa Brown's surprise retirement last week. endorsing Andy Billig for the now open Senate seat and Marcus Riccelli for Billig's former House seat. One problem with the quick turnaround: They misspelled Riccelli's name. Also on their list: Amy Biviano in the 4th District and Dennis Dellwo in the 6th.
Speaking of that potentially crowded 3rd District House race, Democratic leaders seem eager to jump in line behind Riccelli. Brown endorsed her former aide this morning, as did former state Sen. Chris Marr, former Reps. Alex Wood, Jeff Gombosky, John Driscoll and Don Barlow, and most recent past county party chairpersons.
That's a pretty quick closing of the ranks, considering the seat became open less than a week ago, and at least two other candidates — Spokane businessman John Waite and Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder — have expressed interest in filing.
Filing week, by the way, begins Monday morning.
As a political novice running against a member of the congressional leadership, Rich Cowan said he hopes to use what some would consider his weakness against what many would consider Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ strength.
“This is the worst Congress ever, and she’s part of the leadership of it,” said Cowan, who opened a campaign headquarters Tuesday in Spokane.
Former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner won't challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers this year.
Verner emailed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Jan. 30 revealing her decision not to run, said Dwight Pelz, chairman of the Washington State Democratic Party.
Verner had talked to Democratic officials late last year and early this year about a possible run.
McMorris Rodgers has used a possible a Verner challenge in fund-raising letters.
"Former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner is considering a run against me, too. My former aide, David Condon, defeated her last November, so we should expect she'll pull no punches in trying to defeat me also," McMorris Rodgers' letter from March 14 says.
(That's a pretty interesting analysis of Verner's mayoral campaign, which some might argue barely lifted a finger in response to Condon's effective campaign ads.)
Verner's decision about Congress isn't surprising. A Democratic candidate for Congress in eastern Washington would have to win big in the city of Spokane in order to win. Given that she lost a city-wide election so recently, Democratic leaders weren't eager about her candidacy and have lined up mostly behind Rich Cowan, the founder of North by Northwest, a local film production company.
Asked in an email about McMorris Rodgers' fund-raising letter and if she might run for office this fall, Verner said that she is "keeping her options open."
Of course, Verner could be referring to other offices, such as county commission. No Democrat has announced for Spokane County Commission District 2 (Mark Richard's district), and that's where Verner lives.
A former dean of Gonzaga University Law School is among Democrats considering a campaign against Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers next year.
Dan Morrissey, who served as dean from 2001-04 and now teaches corporate law at the school, said he is exploring his prospects for a race and expects to decide by next month.
“I’m testing the waters,” he said, which includes speaking to party gatherings in Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District and discussions with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a group that recruits and raises money for candidates.
Morrissey, 63, is one of several Democrats that party sources have named as a potential challenger to McMorris Rodgers, a member of the House GOP leadership who would be seeking a fifth term in 2012.
Also among the potential candidates: outgoing Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, longtime Spokane television reporter Daryl Romeyn, who won the Democratic primary in the 5th Congressional District last year but lost to McMorris Rodgers in the general election, and Rich Cowan, chief executive officer of North by Northwest productions.
Whoever runs could face an uphill battle…