Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Sunday Spin: Gov campaign heads for Spokane

Spokane will be in the political limelight Tuesday as Washington’s first gubernatorial debate of the season takes the stage at the Bing Crosby Theater.

The Association of Washington Business and Greater Spokane Incorporated are co-hosting the premier head-to-head between Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee at 3:30 p.m., the second debate on a two-event card. Two guys who want McKenna’s current job of state attorney general, Republican Reagan Dunn and Democrat Bob Ferguson, are the warm-up debate at 2 p.m.

Usually the AWB waits until the field is winnowed to two by the primary, but this year they wanted a draw for their quarterly meeting in Spokane. Of the seven other gubernatorial hopefuls, the only person who has a semi-legitimate complaint of being shut out is Shahram Hadian, a Republican from Mill Creek who has a full-fledged if underfunded campaign but the misfortune not to be the person his party thinks can put them back in the governor’s mansion for the first time since 1984.

The two business groups have given away all their tickets for the debates, but the four campaigns each got 100 tickets and might have some left, AWB spokeswoman Jocelyn McCabe said.

The Inslee campaign scheduled a debate watch party at the Saranac Public House, 21 W. Main Ave., and Republicans will likely have one, too, although at press time they hadn’t picked a venue. Check with them early this week at (509) 838-6162.

Or watch from home or other favorite location on TVW, which will carry both forums live, with several political reporters offering insightful comments before and after the debates – and me trying not to say anything too embarrassing.

The debate has been an ongoing source of political fodder for months. .  .

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, go inside the blog

Inslee campaign complains about AWB donor

OLYMPIA — The campaign for Jay Inslee said it was concerned about a big donation an oil company gave to the sponsor of next week's gubernatorial debate in Spokane. But the Association of Washington Business said he needn't be.

The $100,000 isn't for use in the governor's race. It's dedicated to an initiative campaign that would try to keep the two-thirds supermajority requirement on all tax votes the Legislature might want to take for at least the first two years of the next governor's term, the AWB says.

AWB got the money from the Tesoro Company, which is the company that operates a refinery in Western Washington as well as gas stations around the state. The refinery was the site of a fire in 2010 that killed seven workers, the Inslee campaign said. The company also gave $1,600 to the campaign of his opponent, Republican Rob McKenna.

"As you can imagine, accepting $100,000 from a major oil company openly supporting Mr. McKenna leaves the impression that the money is intended for eventual use on behalf of Mr. McKenna and against Jay Inslee," Campaign Manager Joby Shimomura wrote. "This raises serious concerns for us, and we imagine it will raise concerns for many viewers and voters as well."

To make sure the public considers everything is fair in next Tuesday's debate, which AWB is co-sponsoring with Greater Spokane Inc., the business organization should give the money back.

Not going to happen, AWB says. The money from Tesoro isn't going to candidates. It was a pass-through, coming in to AWB and out to the Initiative 1185 campaign, as Tesoro and several other big money donors requested.

"None of these funds were allocated toward any candidates. Our PDC filings indicate as much," Don Brunell, president of AWB wrote back. "Moreover, we are not in a position to dictate where our members choose to donate their own political funds. We only control those funds given to us, and in this case, they were received and then transmitted to the I-1185 campaign for the purposes of signature gathering."

To be fair, the PDC records, some of which were filed by AWB the same day the Inslee campaign sent its letter, aren't crystal clear on this. Tesoro money came in on April 24 and was part of a total of $185,000 reported to the PDC on May 15 as earmarked for I-1185, although nothing was said about signature gathering on that report.

No such amount shows up on the I-1185 campaign reports, and AWB's Tuesday filing doesn't mention the initative, it says it paid the $185,000 to Citizen Solutions, a signature gathering firm, but doesn't say for what. The I-1185 campaign, which does use Citizen Solutions, has yet to report the $185,000 as an in-kind contributions.

But Brunell has a point. AWB couldn't spend that kind of money on McKenna, or any other candidate. The only place where a PAC can dump six figures is in an initative campaign.

Taken a step farther, if some company wants to give AWB $100,000 to pass along to an initiative campaign, who is AWB to say "no way, Jose"? People who don't like this kind of money maneuver should take it up with the Legislature, not the poor PACs.

Brunell added the business group is "pleased to know that Mr. Inslee remains committed to our debate … and look forward to hearing him articulate his ideas about the key issues facing our state."

Just as Inslee's letter could be seen as lobbing a few shells before the big battle, that line from Brunell could be seen as just the tiniest dig, because AWB and the Inslee campaign had a minor dust up over the debate scheduling earlier this year that almost led to the organization giving the stage to McKenna, solo.

But maybe it was just a heartfelt, "see you in Spokane."

That debate, and a head-to-head for the two main attorney general candidates, occurs Tuesday afternoon at The Bing. They will also be televised live on TVW.

Speaking of convention speakers

OLYMPIA — State Democrats and Republicans sparred today over the scheduled banquest speakers for their upcoming conventions, trying to one-up each other with digs at the incoming guests.

Democrats invited Newark Mayor Corey Booker to address their assembled delegates for a Friday evening banquet. This was before Booker suggested the Obama campaign lay off Bain Capital and others of its financial ilk, but Booker is still a hot ticket in Democratic circles, and the controversy probably makes him even better known among the incoming delegates.

Booker is also a supporter of charter schools, which many Washington Democrats, who have strong allies among the Washington Education Association, are not. Gov. Chris Gregoire is not. Legislative leadership is  not. Rep. Jay Inslee is probably not, although when asked questions about it, he talks about other ways to bring innovation to schools without actually coming out and saying.

So what did the Republicans do? They announced that the conservative Freedom Foundation has invited Booker to attend its forum on charter schools at the GOP convention in Tacoma on Thursday. Don't expect hizzoner to show up; he's not due at the Democratic convention in Seattle until Friday evening.

Not to be out-played, the state Democrats decided to challenge the state GOP's banquet speaker, Michelle Malkin, to endorse gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. The TV pundit has endorsed some pretty conservative folks in the past, including Rick Santorum's presidential bid this year and Dan Liljenquist, the Utah legislator who challenged U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch from the right.

Apparently the Democrats think getting an endorsement from a person who has a significant television following, and would shore up a candidate's street cred with the conservative bloc of his party, is a bad thing. And it might be, if the governor's race is so close that it comes down to the moderate independents in November…if they care about what someone like Malkin says at the end of May. At the convention, however, it's likely to burnish McKenna's image among the the more conservative delegates.

The state GOP convention starts Wednesday in Tacoma and runs through Saturday. The state Democratic convention starts Friday in Seattle and runs through Sunday. But the real action for both is Friday and Saturday. Between now and then, expect more of the same.

Gregoire pushes education funding to center of debate

Get Adobe Flash player
Jay Inslee talks charter schools to WEA
Get Adobe Flash player
Jay Inslee talks collective bargaining to WEA

 

Job creation may be the main talking point of the two main candidates for governor, but another topic is rivaling jobs as a top issue in the campaign.

That’s thanks in part to outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire, who has loudly backed the creation of new taxes to support the state’s Constitutional requirement to provide quality basic education.

The state Supreme Court ruled early this year that the state hasn’t met its obligation to adequately fund education programs.

But both Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna, and Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee — Gregoire’s pick to succeed her — disagree with her assertion that more taxes are necessary.

Gregoire spoke strongly last week to the Washington Education Association for the need for “new revenue” to raise an extra $1 billion in the next two-year budget. The teachers union held its annual convention at the Spokane Convention Center.

The next day, however, Inslee addressed the WEA convention and largely avoided the topic of how to address the the Supreme Court ruling.

In an interview before the speech, Inslee said he would focus efforts to improve education funding on improving the economy, which would increase tax revenue.

“The most fundamental thing we need to do is get people back to work in this state,” he said. “That’s the real driver of revenue creation in our state.”

Inslee said he also would find savings by instituting efficiency programs that have grown popular in corporate America as well as in some city’s like Spokane under former Mayor Mary Verner.

McKenna says growing the economy is important, but says Democratic administrations have allowed the percentage of the state budget devoted to education to shrink as other programs have grown. He said he would reverse that trend.

“Moving forward we have to focus on reform and on spending more of the state budget on education,” McKenna said in an interview last week. “That means we’re not going to spend as much on other parts of the budget – that we won’t allow other parts of the budget to grow as fast as they have been growing.”

State gets piece of Skechers settlement

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Rob McKenna says state residents shouldn't be taking advice from Kim Kardashian, at least not about shoes that supposedly help build you up without a trip to the gym.

The state got a piece of the settlement between Skechers shoe manufacturers for several models of "Shape Up" footwear that don't deliver what Kardashian promises in the above ad.

“Advertising materials claimed that consumers may ‘get in shape without setting foot in a gym’ even though there’s no good evidence to show the shoes work as advertised,” McKenna said in a press release. “Don’t cancel your gym membership. File these sketchy footwear claims under ‘too good to be true.’”

The state gets about $117,000 in the settlement, which will go for legal costs and education programs for health and fitness for women and girls. Consumers who bought Shape Ups, Tone Ups or Resistance Runners can apply for a partial refund by going on the Federal Trade Commission site.

A spokesman for McKenna's office says the refund is about $20, because the shoes weren't completely worthless. They still covered your feet, they just didn't work as advertised.

Filing week is nearly here. Candidates take note

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.

Making hay in Eastern Washington

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee spent today in Spokane reminding Eastern Washington voters that he's the only candidate with political and professional experience on both sides of the state's Cascade Curtain.

"Every race needs one candidate who knows how to buck hay," Inslee joked over coffee at Chairs Coffee house in North Spokane, explaining that he grew hay on part of his property while living and working in the Yakima area for nearly 20 years.

It's both a figurative and literal description of what Inslee is bringing to a tough race pitting him against Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican with two successful statewide campaigns under his belt.

"I have an understanding of Eastern Washington's economy," Inslee said, adding that he's also toured the region's growing aviation industry and its alternative energy companies.

In the weeks ahead, look for Inslee to continue pushing his jobs plan, which he describes as being built around strengthening Washington's middle class families by focusing on key industries and the training needed to supply the workers. McKenna has a competing jobs plan, which both candidates say they're eager to compare and contrast, point by point if necessary.

Into endorsements

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.

Roskelley edges McKenna among Bloomsday politicians

Among the elected leaders and politicians running for office, it should be no surprise that John Roskelley won the race.

Roskelley, a candidate for Spokane County Commission, had the best Bloomsday time among all elected Spokane and Spokane Valley city leaders; state House and state Senate candidates for districts within Spokane County; Spokane County commissioner candidates; and gubernatorial candidates.

Roskelley is, afterall, a world-renowned mountain climber.

Here is the list of local politicians (plus a governor hopeful) who completed Bloomsday:

  1. John Roskelley, D, candidate for Spokane County Commission, 0:59:00
  2. Rob McKenna, R, candidate for governor, 1:00:21
  3. Amber Waldref, Spokane city councilwoman, 1:07:52
  4. Marcus Riccelli, D, candidate for state House, 1:08:27
  5. Steve Salvatori, Spokane city councilman, 1:17:00
  6. Amy Biviano, D, candidate for state House, 1:17:16
  7. Dennis Dellwo, D, candidate for state House, 1:20:08
  8. Tom Towey, Spokane Valley mayor, 1:28:14
  9. Brenda Grassel, Spokane Valley city councilwoman, 2:13:47
  10. David Condon, Spokane mayor, 2:41:52
  11. Michael Baumgartner, R, state Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate, 2:47:31

Sunday Spin: Cameras part of campaign trail, candidates should act accordingly

 

OLYMPIA – Cameras are everywhere.
That’s the lesson of a 30-second exchange between Rob McKenna, the state attorney general who would-be governor, and a young woman on a Seattle sidewalk that went from pointed conversation to Youtube video overnight, and resuscitated an issue Republicans were probably glad to have killed during the Legislative session.
McKenna was coming out of the Red Lion Conference Center last week when Kendra Obom, tape recorder in hand, approached and asked what his stance is on the Reproductive Parity Act. His response, McKenna said as he continued walking, was that he’s a lawyer for the state, suggested Obom turn her recorder off and accused her of “trying to bushwhack me,” as well as not being very polite and possibly not honest.
Obom, following along, protested that she was just wondering. McKenna, still walking, continued to ask if she thought she was being honest, until she said “forget it” and he countered with a suggestion that she was trying to gain a political advantage, then closed off the exchange with “Why don’t you get a job?”

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.
  

Murray, Inslee camp slam McKenna over budget

OLYMPIA — A week after the Legislature's overtime session wrapped up, Democrats accused GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna of delaying the final compromise by bringing politics into the process.

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, joined members of the campaign for Democratic governor hopeful Jay Inslee to accuse McKenna of using the budget stalemate "for political purposes" to push reform proposals.

A spokesman for the McKenna campaign called the accusations "nonsensical." McKenna did talk about budget principles he would follow as governor, but "didn't try to inject himself into day-to-day negotiations," Charles McCray III said.

Murray and the Inslee campaign were merely being "protectors of the status quo," McCray said. "It's the status quo mentality in Olympia that is the reason it took so long."

McKenna did support a maneuver by all 22 Republicans and three breakaway Democrats late in the regular session that pushed through an alternative budget. Murray questioned how McKenna, who has called for increased spending on education, could support a budget that cut public schools and colleges.

McKenna later said he "wasn't thrilled" with the education cuts in that alternative budget, which later was revised in the House. At a campaign press conference during the third week of the special session, he said if he'd been involved in discussions over that alternative Senate budget "I would've gone to them and said 'Let's not make the education cuts.'"

At that press conference, McKenna accused Democratic leaders in general, and House Speaker Frank Chopp in particular, of holding up negotiations by refusing to allow votes on reforms.

The partisan lines over the reforms aren't so clear-cut. The original proposal on a four-year balanced budget, a constitutional amendment, came from a Senate Democrat, one of the three who joined Republicans on the budget vote.

Murray said that's a stricter rule than any state in the union has, and "forces you to predict something in the future that is almost unpredictable." The negotiated settlement over the budget and reforms is a statutory requirement, with some exceptions, for a four-year budget, which would be easier to amend by future Legislatures.

"It took us to bring some common sense to it," Murray said.

On his website, McKenna details a series of ideas to reform the budget process he would push as governor. But he doesn't mention balancing the budget for four years, rather than the current two years. At his press conference earlier this month, he said he supports a four-year balanced budget but "I don't know if it requires a constitutional amendment."

McKenna calls for budget reforms, slams Chopp

OLYMPIA –Washington should reform its employees' pension systems now and other spending rules down the road to avoid annual problems with budgets that don't balance, Attorney General Rob McKenna, the likely Republican candidate for governor, said Monday.

As the Legislature entered the third week of a special session without a budget agreement, McKenna took several swipes at Democratic leaders, particularly House Speaker Frank Chopp: “What is holding this up is the speaker's refusal to allow votes on the reform bills,” McKenna said.

He later accused Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown of Spokane of “not supporting reforms.”

But Chopp and Brown fired back, saying a new budget proposal will be unveiled later this week. Other bills tied to that budget, including some of the reform topics McKenna mentioned, are set for hearings on Wednesday.

“We’re going to come in and try to pass the budget,” Brown said in an interview with The Spokesman-Review. “The speaker has not derailed the process at all.”. . .

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, go inside the blog.

  

McKenna camp: It’s not a budget, it’s a white paper

OLYMPIA — Responding to a shot from Gov. Chris Gregoire that she doesn't need a "monkey wrench" thrown into budget negotiations, a campaign spokesman for Rob McKenna said the GOP candidate won't be releasing a full-blown budget on Monday.

Rather, it will be a statement of principles that a McKenna adminstration would use when compiling a sustainable budget.

The campaign announced this morning McKenna would hold a press conference Monday to announce a "budget policy paper". Asked about the impact that would have on ongoing talks to close the current budget shortfall — something that's consumed a special session in December, the 60-day regular session and nearly two-thirds of the current special session — Gregoire said she didn't know what McKenna was planning, but a new budget proposal wouldn't be helpful.

"I don't need a sixth budget proposal," she said. "I don't need somebody external…to throw a monkey wringe into" negotiations.

Charles McCray III, campaign spokesman for McKenna, said the budget proposal will be the latest in a serious of white papers that provide "guiding principles to push us in the direction of sustainability" on state spending, not a full-blown spending plan.

"He's not inserting himself into negotiations," McCray said.

As for the timing of the press conference, McCray said that was when it "fit on the calendar." It wouldn't be a problem, McCray added, "if they had done their job during the regular session."

Gregoire: McKenna budget possible ‘monkey wrench’

How close are they to reaching a budget deal? About this close, Gov. Chris Gregoire said today.

OLYMPIA — Legislative negotiators are closer to a comprehensive agreement on the state's General Fund budget, but some of the  hardest decisions remain, Gov. Chris Gregoire said today.

Gregoire said they need to reach agreement by next Tuesday to have any chance of the Legislature working out the details, writing the budget in the proper legal language and passing it by Good Friday. Plans for Rob McKenna, the Republican attorney general running for governor, to announce his own budget proposal on Monday are not helpful, she said.

"I don't need something external…to throw a monkey wrench into it," she said of budget talks.

The McKenna campaign announced the likely GOP gubernatorial nominee will release a "budget policy paper" Monday afternoon in Olympia.

"The failure of the Legislature to complete its most basic task of passing a budget proves that Olympia is broken and highlights the need for a new direction," McKenna said in a prepared statement accompanying the announcement of the press conference. "My budget policy paper provides some specific ideas on how a McKenna administration will approach creating a sustainable budget."

Sustainability has been one of the main watchwords of legislative Republicans as they pushed for changes in the spending plans of majority Democrats. But both sides argue that the other has proposed things that are one-time budget gimmicks and therefore not sustainable. Republicans criticize Democratic plans to delay a payment to the school districts by a day, shifting those costs into the next biennium. Democrats criticize Republican plans to skip a payment to the state's pension systems.

Gregoire has said both ideas are "off the table" as negotiators look for a comprehensive budget solution.

The governor said she hadn't heard of McKenna's plans but contended that a specific spending plan at this stage would not be helpful. "I don't need a sixth budget proposal. Why weren't these ideas brought up to us two months ago or one month ago?"

Budget negotiators are looking at a package of ideas that touches all aspects of the budget along with ideas for reform and added revenue. "There's something in that package for all of them not to like," she said. Once there's an agreement among leaders, they'll have to put it to their members and see if they have the votes to pass it.

Inslee switches course. Spokane gov debate on for June 12

The likely Republican and Democratic candidates for governor will debate this June in Spokane. An on-again, off-again match up of state Attorney General Rob McKenna and former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee in front of a major state business group appears on again, for good.

The Association of Washington Business announced, and the campaigns confirmed, Inslee and McKenna will debate at The Bing Crosby Theater on June 12 as part of the group's quarterly meeting, in an event co-sponsored by Greater Spokane, Inc. As recently as Monday, the Inslee campaign was refusing to debate at that particular time and place, accusing the AWB of bad faith in announcing the event before all details were worked out…
  

While lawyers argue health care mandate, protesters march

Protesters cross a downtown intersection in Olympia on their way from the landing near the Port of Olympia to the offices of Attorney General Rob McKenna.

OLYMPIA – As the U.S. Supreme Court questioned lawyers about the constitutionality of making Americans buy health insurance, a liberal group that supports the rule protested Tuesday outside the offices of a business group and a state official who oppose it.

About 100 demonstrators, several who drove across the state from Spokane, demonstrated outside the Washington office of the National Federation of Independent Business, then marched through downtown Olympia to the office of Attorney General Rob McKenna.

“We need to change things for the next generation, so they don’t get worse,” Aaron Kathman, a community organizer from Spokane, said…

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.
  

Inslee resigns US House seat to run for governor

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee resigned his congressional seat today to concentrate on his run for governor.

Inslee announced he'd leave Congress on March 20, saying he was not one "half-measures or half-hearted efforts."

“It was a difficult decision, but what I need to do right now is focus all my attention on talking to people about what’s really important – creating jobs and growing our economy,” he said.

Inslee is considered the likely Democratic nominee against Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna for this year's governor's race. They are the "name" candidates for both parties for the open seat.

But Inslee's campaign has come under fire from some Democrats for a slow start, and Republicans criticize hom for any missed vote that's a result of his being in the state to campaign.

“I look forward to hearing Congressman Inslee explain how 15 years in Washington, D.C. have prepared him to lead our state, now that he is quitting Congress,” McKenna said.

Gay marriage foes challenge ballot language

OLYMPIA — Opponents of same-sex marriage don't like the ballot language that Attorney General Rob McKenna has written for the referendum to overturn the law signed last week.

In a motion filed this week in Thurston County Superior Court, Preserve Marriage Washington argues that the ballot language leaves out a key element of the effect of the law, which will take effect on June 7 if opponents don't gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot by June 6. That element: the law would render the terms "husband" and "wife" gender neutral.

Voters who read the ballot title are not fully apprised of the legal effects of the law, PMW argues in its request to have the court change the ballot language to something closer to the language proposed when the referendum petition was filed with the state.

Last week, McKenna was criticized by Democrats for using the term "redefine marriage" in the ballot language when that phrase does not appear in the bill. Democrats say that's a term tested by groups opposed to same-sex marriage to influence voters.

To compare the language the sponsors of Ref. 74 submitted with the language McKenna's office proposed, go inside the blog.

Gov debate set for Spokane?

What may well be the first gubernatorial debate of the Washington election season could happen June 12 in Spokane.

Or not.

The Association of Washington Business, which has a long  history of gubernatorial matchups in front of its membership, wants to have Attorney General Rob McKenna and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee face off the Bing Crosby Theater during the group's annual spring meeting.

But after it announced the debate this week,  the Inslee campaign said it was still working on the schedule and  hadn't yet committed to that event or any other debate, forum or joint appearance.  (Editor's note: an earlier version of this post said the debate was set.)

"It's on our list of things we wanted to schedule," Jaime Smith, campaign spokeswoman said, adding she was aware the group has a long tradition of holding a gubernatorial debate but was baffled that AWB's announcement came before a formal commitment. "We've got lots of invitations."

Jocelyn McCabe, a spokeswoman for AWB, said scheduling a debate is a bit like planning a wedding. You get the place, the date, the time first, then handle some of the other details like format and lining up media partners a bit closer to the event. It has Greater Spokane Inc., as a co-sponsor of the debate. The group needed to schedule its spring meeeting in Spokane and book the hall for the debate now. It told the Inslee campaign it would announce the matchup in early January. And did.

"We're having the debate," McCabe said.

And if Inslee can't make it? They may be having a conversation with McKenna, because it requires at least two people to debate.

Also on the AWB's planned fight card — oops, debate schedule — will be state attorney general candidates Reagan Dunn and Bob Ferguson.

The debates will take place before either race is officially set, because the state primary isn't until early August. But that isn't a concern for the Inslee campaign. In fact, he's called for six debates across the state, divided geographically, and with some focusing on set issues, so to wait until after the primary for a half dozen debates would require cramming the debates pretty closely together.

McCabe, spokeswoman for AWB, said both campaigns would be given a set number of tickets to watch the debate along with the group's members.

Moderating both debates would be Austin Jenkins of Northwest News Network. The Bing has been the site of several memorable political debates for local offices.

Now it might  be the back drop for what is a regular feature of most hotly contested races: a debate over debates.

Sunday Spin: What’s fair when keeping candidates from cash?

OLYMPIA – Washington Republicans are exorcised over a wrinkle in state election laws that restricts some candidates, but not others, from raising money during a legislative session. Their concern is logical, although not necessarily consistent. It goes like this:
No state elected official can raise money for a state office while the Legislature is in session. That means Rob McKenna, the state attorney general who would like to be governor, can’t hold fundraisers or dial for dollars while, or shortly before, the legislators are ensconced in Olympia.
Given the bleak prospects for legislators settling the budget problems any time soon, Republican McKenna is at a disadvantage with Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee, who is not a state official and is under no such restriction.
States have limited ability to tell members of Congress how they can or can’t raise money – it’s a federalism vs. state’s rights thing – but an argument can be made at some point this gets seriously out of whack in the money-grabbing department. Maybe if the Legislature goes from its current special session into a regular session a few weeks later, then needs another special session to finish work (as it has the last two years), McKenna should be allowed some sort of catch-up period in which he’d be allowed two fundraisers for every one of Inslee.
Restrictions on money-raising during a session were approved to keep some people from donating to a candidate not because they think he or she is the best person to hold the office being sought, but to influence legislation in the session at hand. It’s a good, if imperfect, law.
But Republicans might want to think before protesting too loudly, because if one were to expand it logically, it also would bar legislators who are running for Congressional office from raising money during the session. That’s currently allowed, and a good argument can be made that it’s closer to the public goal of separating campaign contributions from current job performance.
There’s a fair number of legislators running for Congress in 2012, including state Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane. This kind of rule would put him at an even greater disadvantage in his fledgling race against U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell.
Strangely enough, a bill introduced by several Republican legislators to address the McKenna-Inslee situation doesn’t get around to the Baumgartner-Cantwell situation. There may be federal court fights in the wings for either change, but if they were really serious about the good government aspect of this, seems they’d cast a wider net.
  

Long freeze coming for some candidates

OLYMPIA — The upcoming special session of the Legislature may complicate campaign cash-grabbing for some candidates, but give others a leg up.

State law bans state elected officials from accepting campaign contributions during a special session and from 30 days before a regular session until that session ends.

The freeze, as it's called, starts on Nov. 27, the day before the special session starts, and continues until that session ends. If the special session lasts past Dec. 10 (something for which you could get really good odds, if Vegas bookmakers were foolish enought to bet on Legislatures) the 30-day ban in front of the regular session kicks in, so the freeze continues into January, February … and however long it takes for the Legislature to finish the rest of its business.

Will they need a special session to get everything done? Who knows. But they've need them for the last two years.

So incumbents up for election in 2012 might not be accepting checks from Thanksgiving weekend until sometime in mid March, at the earliest. Their challengers who aren't in office can.

Also affected are state elected officials who will be running for some other state office. So State Attorney General Rob McKenna's campaign for governor is frozen out, starting Nov. 27. But his chief Democratic challenger, Rep. Jay Inslee, isn't because the law doesn't — in fact, can't — cover federal officials.

That principle that a state can't put limits on federal candidates works in reverse, too. State Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, for example, isn't barred from raising money for his campaign for U.S. Senate against incumbent Maria Cantwell. Neither are any of the other legislators who might run for Inslee's old seat, once they know where the boundary lines are.

McKenna stays in health care suit; Dems step up criticism

OLYMPIA – Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna won’t withdraw from a multi-state lawsuit against federal health care reform, even though the other states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to do something McKenna says he doesn’t want.
Throw out the entire law.
Washington Democrats contend McKenna, the likely GOP nominee for governor next year, should be held responsible if the Supreme Court scraps the law and leaves thousands of state residents without health care…



J
To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.

Poll: McKenna ahead of Inslee; Obama ahead of Perry, Romney

OLYMPIA — For those who are Jonesing for some campaign-style polling, a Seattle political consulting firm is trying to supply a fix.

It has a new poll of 500 voters that suggest if the election were held today,  Republican Rob McKenna would beat Democrat Jay Inslee for governor. And President Barack Obama would beat either of the two current GOP frontrunners, Rick Perry or Mitt Romney, for president in Washington state.

Two initiatives on this November's ballot would also pass, according to the Strategies 360 poll.

But there are some caveats and some details beneath the surface of the raw numbers, Kevin Ingham, the firm's vice president for polling, explained Monday morning in the big rollout of the numbers.

To read the rest of this item, click here to go inside the blog.

Split decision on AG power from High Court

OLYMPIA — It's a win some, lose some day for Attorney General Rob McKenna and his authority to join or not join various types of legal actions.

As noted elsewhere on the newspaper's website, the State Supreme Court ruled that it won't order McKenna out of the federal lawsuit over health care reform. But it did order him to take up the appeal of a case that State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark lost in summary judgment, and McKenna didn't think was worth taking to the next level.

As one might imagine, McKenna was happy about the former: “It’s important that the state’s constitutionally-established, independently-elected Attorney General – whomever it may be — have the authority to protect the legal rights of the state and its people in the years to come,” he said in a press release.

As for the latter, not so much. Narrow ruling on a rare disagreement based on a specific statute, he said. And they're studying the inconsistencies between this and the health care reform case.

Goldmark,  not surprisingly, saw the lands case as a much bigger deal. "Historic" was the word he used to describe it. "I applaud the Supreme Court for striking down what would be a dangerous precedent by the attorney general to dictate policy for another statewide official."

Fuse, a progressive group that is no fan of McKenna, used even stronger language, suggesting that the court said he "deserted  his duty under the law." To be clear, the court didn't really use that kind of language, and two dissenting judges said he should have the ability to decide when to stop handling a case.

If you want to read the decisions and decide for yourself, you can find them here.

WA Gov’s race: Still No. 1

OLYMPIA — The 2012 Washington governor's race may have seemed pretty quiet this month to the voters who will decide it. But it remains on top of the list of gubernatorial contests compiled by Politico.

The likely matchup between Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna and Democratic U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee got a mention for the ongoing debate over Inslee's campaign funding and a brief dustup over a Dem operative being barred from a McKenna speech. It beats out races in Montana, North Carolina, Missouri and West Virginia, which are ranked 2 through 5. See the whole story here.

But the real question seems to be, if Washington can stay on top with so little going on, how terribly boring must those other states' races be?

GOP challenger for McKenna

OLYMPIA — Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna may be the most prominent, best known and best-funded Republican running for governor. But he is not the only one.

Shahram Hadian, an Everett minister, is in the race, and making a cross-state campaign swing this week from Walla Walla to Tacoma.

A native of Iran who came to the United States just before the shah fell, then moved to Canada, then back to the United States, Hadian touts his unique background. That point is pretty hard to argue. He converted from Islam to Christianity, travels the country warning of the dangers of radical Islam and Shari'ah law, led the fight against scantily clad barristas in Everett, where he now lives.

His political experience is a bit thin. He ran for the state House of Representatives in 2010, in the 44th District, for the seat held by Democrat Hans Dunshee. Hadian finished a distant third in the primary, which is not much of a springboard for a statewide race.

But like all good beginning candidates, he has a website. Those so inclined can read more about him here.

Although he's got a website, an artsy logo, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, he apparently hasn't gotten around to filling out his Public Disclosure Commission registration form. But we're sure that'll be coming soon.

Washington AG McKenna sues firm for alleged illegal foreclosures

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna on Friday filed a consumer protection lawsuit against a Bank of America subsidiary, ReconTrust, based in Simi Valley, Calif., for numerous alleged illegal foreclosures against Washington homeowners.

The company is a foreclosure agent for the bank.

A press release noted that “ReconTrust ignored our warnings, repeatedly broke the law and refused to provide information requested during our investigation,” McKenna said. “ReconTrust’s illegal practices make it difficult, if not impossible, for borrowers who might have a shot at saving their homes to stop those foreclosures.”

Notably, at least 74 Spokane County homes are included in the several thousand potential victims of the alleged bad practices of ReconTrust, according to a database maintained by ReconTrust, listing the homes it's foreclosed on and is currently selling.

To search the full list of recent (2011) foreclosures processed by ReconTrust in Washington, here's the link.

An AG's office spokeswoman said the suit does not allege every ReconTrust foreclosure followed the same pattern.

The release notes, however, that "ReconTrust has failed to comply with the Washington Deed of Trust Act, RCW 61.24, in each and every foreclosure it has conducted since at least June 12, 2008.”

WA gov race goes nuclear

OLYMPIA — The likely leaders in Washington's 2012 governor's race "went nuclear" today, although on slightly different aspects of the nuke waste issue.

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, the likely Republican nominee for the job, announced in Seattle that he was filing new court action over the federal government's decision to step away from the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. He filed a writ of mandamus with the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., arguing that the Department of Energy is improperly "withholding action" on finishing off the repository.

“It’s the federal government’s responsibility to clean up Hanford,” McKenna said in a prepared statement. “This lawsuit seeks to compel the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to immediately resume consideration of the application to build and operate a repository at Yucca Mountain.”

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, the leading Democrat for the nomination, meanwhile laid into a special commission set up to figure out what to do about nuclear waste. The Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future (yes, blue ribbon is part of the official name) released its draft report on nuclear waste with some really terrific recommendations — find a repository site through a "consent-based approach" build a permanent repository promptly, build at least one interim repository promptly, do some innovative stuff in nuclear energy. 

Thanks for the hard work, Inslee said, but the report is "deeply flawed" and will lead to the United States wasting billions of dollars more.

“The Commission declares that a lack of community support killed Yucca and that a new ‘consent-based approach’ for future facilities is required," he said in his prepared statement.  "The Commission admits that a consolidated geologic disposal facility is the solution, but seems unable to admit that a solid, scientifically assessed site already exists which could mean billions more in cost for ratepayers.”

So it would seem McKenna and Inslee agree on at least one thing: Washington should get to ship the nuclear waste at Hanford to Nevada, and keep it there for centuries.

WA gov race: We’re No. 1?

Although the election is still 15 months away, Washington's gubernatorial race has a lofty ranking of No. 1.

On the Politico list of top governor's races in the country.

The political website put the match between Attorney General Rob McKenna and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee at the top of the best 10 state executive races for 2012, even though it notes there is no current polling.  It was No. 1 in June and No. 2 in May.

Democrats continue to poke McKenna over 9-1-1 calls

State Democrats are trying to get the most mileage possible out of an incident last week that prompted King County Young Republicans to call 9-1-1 to report — ohmagawd! —a Democrat in their midst.

The whole thing started on July 7 when the Young Rs rented out the North Bellevue Community Center to hear a speech from Rob McKenna, the attorney general who would be governor. Dems sent a person with a videocamera to record the event for posterity, and likely for slicing and dicing to use in various anti-McKenna campaign ads.

The videographer was asked to leave, he refused, saying it was a public meeting in a public place. McKenna refused to speak, someone from the Young Rs called 9-1-1 for assistance. The dispatch operator asked if the videographer posed a threat to people in the room, or had weapons or drugs. When told no on all points, the dispatcher said it could be as much as an hour before they could free up an officer to get there. Someone from the Young Rs called back twice to ask when would the cop get there.

By the time an officer arrived, McKenna had left, the meeting was pretty much over and there wasn't much for her to do.

To keep poking McKenna, State Democrats posted the transcripts of the 9-1-1 calls on Wednesday, which they say show the Young Rs were invoking the name of the state AG in an effort to improperly roust their videographer. On Thursday they sent out links to various media sites that bit on Wednesday's release.

Minor spats over opp-research videographers aren't new. A Democratic cameraman was tossed from a Seattle Police Union meeting with Dino Rossi during the 2008 gubernatorial run. The video showed up rather quickly on YouTube, complete with a sound track.