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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

At state convention, Washington Democrats pass cease-fire resolution after pro-Gaza protesters show up

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, right, holds up his cellphone to talk about his lawsuits against Google over tracking cellphone users in April 2022 during a fundraiser for his campaign for Washington governor in the Centennial Ballroom at the Spokane Convention Center in Spokane.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

BELLEVUE – On the final day of the Washington state Democratic Party convention, hundreds of delegates voted to pass a cease-fire resolution after a handful of Pro-Gaza protesters stood outside to greet convention attendees as they broke for lunch.

The three-day event, which drew a crowd of more than 700 delegates and politicians, took place east of Seattle in nearby Bellevue at a convention center nestled in a sea of reflective high-rise buildings, right down the block from such designer storefronts as Prada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

A protester outside the event held a white piece of paper displaying the words, “MAKE CEASEFIRE POSSIBLE, END MILITARY AID TO ISRAEL STOP THE GENOCIDE.”

Convention organizers appeared to have designed the bill of speakers and trainings in a way that masked any divisions in party ranks. Leading Democratic gubernatorial hopeful and current state Attorney General Bob Ferguson drew a standing ovation as he took the stage at a catered gala dinner Saturday night from a crowd eating a catered dinner over white tablecloths. Food tickets for the weekend reportedly cost more than $300 per head.

Ferguson encouraged the crowd to follow a page on social media dedicated to his pet cat, Peter, before warning the crowd that this year’s race for governor will be a close one.

“I know it’s easy to think, ‘Hey, Washington’s a blue state,’ right?” Ferguson said. “But if you look at the last two campaigns for governor in Washington state, when there was no incumbent on the ballot running … the total margin of victory for both Chris Gregoire and Jay Inslee combined? Three percentage points.”

Mark Mullet is another Democrat vying to be Washington’s next governor. Mullet, a state senator from Issaquah, wasn’t invited to speak at his party’s event, so he decided not to show up, opting instead to go meet with farmers in Yakima, he said, about their political concerns. Also not invited to speak were state attorney general candidates Nick Brown, a former U.S. attorney, and state Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, along with state lands commissioner hopefuls Dave Upthegrove, a member of the King County Council, and state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Lake Sutherland.

Party Chair Shasti Conrad said Mullet was not invited to speak at the event because he does not have “grassroots” party support. As for the candidates for attorney general and lands commissioner, Conrad said those primary races have split support among the Democrats, so the party didn’t want to appear to show favor to a candidate in those races yet.

During a training Saturday called “How to make more Democrats,” a speaker told the crowd to close their eyes and that she was going to play a quick round of a game she calls “red frame blueprint,” in which she said combinations of words and instructed the crowd to say “yes” or “no” depending on whether the word combinations create a mental association that the party would want people to make.

“Social security and Ponzi schemes” along with “public schools and Ponzi schemes” both got resounding “no” responses chanted in unison from the crowd in a cult-like manner.

“Inflation and corporate greed” and “abortion access and freedom for women” each got “yes” responses from the crowd.

Along with other “trainings” and caucuses, Gov. Inslee, U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen, and U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell of Seattle all gave speeches at the event.

On Sunday, conference attendees convened eight hours in a big room at the convention center, voting on resolutions and conducting other party business.

The state Democrats rejected a resolution titled “Nuclear power is not the answer.” The group passed a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza along with a resolution calling for sex work to be legalized in the state of Washington.

Washington’s primary elections will take place on Aug. 6. The general election is Nov. 5.

Editor’s note: This story was changed on June 25, 2024 to correct U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s residence. She lives in Seattle.