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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control: Campaigns ramp up as ballots hit the mail

FILE – The Spokane County Elections Office rolled 18 carts with ballots into a Ryder truck headed to the post office, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. The Elections Office is mailing out more than 310,000 ballots for the general election. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE – The Spokane County Elections Office rolled 18 carts with ballots into a Ryder truck headed to the post office, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. The Elections Office is mailing out more than 310,000 ballots for the general election. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

With Washington’s ballots in the mail – and for most voters, already in the mailbox – we are heading into the home stretch for the Nov. 6 election.

This is the time when television commercials spread across the broadcast and cable networks like bindweed. Candidates and campaigns scramble to punch and counterpunch their way through to the end. Interest groups release their ballot picks. Organizations hoping to sway a few votes announce support for a favored issue or opposition to a disfavored one.

Random thoughts on political notices that helped fill up the inbox and voicemail

Last week U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers released a Google map of Eastern Washington with multicolored tear-drop pinheads showing all the places she’s held meetings, news conferences or visited in the last two years. It would seem a way to counter any suggestion by Democratic opponent Lisa Brown that the incumbent is out of touch with the district, but was released by her congressional office, so obviously it has nothing to do with the campaign.

The Catholic bishops of Washington state came out in support of Initiative 1639 – which would put tougher restrictions on the sale of semi-automatic rifles and require firearms be safely stored in homes – saying they were “highlighting the sacredness of human life.” A few days earlier, the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association announced it was opposing I-1639, joining the state Sheriff’s Association and the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, and calling it “feel good” legislation that was unenforceable.

This would seem to create a real dilemma for law-abiding Catholics with parochial school upbringings that urged them pay attention to the clergy and be wary of temptations that merely feel good.

The conservative Washington Policy Center touted its Election Resource and the liberal Fuse Washington each released its Progressive Voters Guide. Technically, the policy center’s detailed reports don’t suggest how voters should come down on the state and local initiatives, but you’d have to be pretty dense not to figure out whether the group is for or against them. Or you could look at the Progressive Voters Guide, which has a handy list of issues and candidates, and just vote the other way.

Boy was she quick

Wednesday was a busy night for debates and forums, and state Democratic Party Chairwoman Tina Podlodowski showed remarkable ability to divide her concentration among different candidates that evening. In quick succession, she emailed statements about matchups of Democratic challengers Brown, Carolyn Long and Kim Schrier against McMorris Rodgers, Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler and Republican hopeful Dino Rossi.

In a span of 26 minutes, Podlodowski sent out missives praising the Democrats and criticizing the Republicans. It was almost as if she had them written before hand.

Don’t forget Rogers High debaters

Those who haven’t had their fill of debates this political season might want to check out Rhetoric in the Ring V: Rogers vs. Reporters on Nov. 13.

The annual event features members of the Rogers High School debating team squaring off against argumentative guests. Past versions have featured elected officials. This year Team Rogers takes on a pair of journalists, The Spokesman-Review’s Rebecca White and the Inlander’s Daniel Walters.

Unlike campaign debates, which Spin Control pointed out last week are really more like joint news conferences by two people who don’t like each other, these matchups do follow a strict format of an argument for or against a topic given to the contestants on the spot, with timed opening, cross and closing statements. The winner is determined by the applause of the crowd.

The debates take place in the boxing ring at the Howard Street Gym, 165 S. Howard, with retired Superior Court Judge Jim Murphy serving as referee. Donations are accepted to help the school’s Speech and Debate Club.

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