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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

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.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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