Category Archives: Election 2010

More on Candidates’ Debate

A couple of people commenting on my story about Monday’s candidate forum complained that it was lacking in depth.

I understand that trying to give 12 candidates in six races a say in a single story can seem superficial. Even before I read those comments, I had planned to do a follow-up blog post. Today, I’ll give a little more on what I heard from 35th District candidates. Tomorrow, I’ll give 26th District Candidates their turn.

I thought the format of the forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Kitsap County, was good, in that they separated the races, giving candidates in each race a chance to address the questions one-on-one, instead of using a panel format. Questions were submitted by members of the audience. Because of time constraints, not all candidates got to answer all the same questions.

The whole forum will be broadcast on BKAT at 8 p.m. Sept. 16, 10 a.m. Sept. 17, 8 p.m. Sept. 23 and 7 p.m. Oct. 3. You can see video coverage of candidates in most races speaking to the Kitsap Sun’s editorial board at the Kitsap Sun’s Election Guide Web page.

No surprise, many of the questions at the forum related to the state budget, specifically:
* Gov. Chris Gregoire’s order for across the board cuts to the state budget
* contract talks between the governor’s office and the state’s largest union representing government workers.
* Fully-funded basic education.
* along with other issues

35th District Rep. Position 2
Incumbent Fred Finn, D-rural Thurston County, said he generally supports across the board cuts, given the current realities of the state budget. In theory, targeted cuts would be better, “but this is the real world,” he said.
Republican Linda Simpson of Bremerton also said she would prefer to selectively trim the budget based on priorities, but “at some point, across the board cuts seem the way to go.”

On education funding, Simpson said the amount allocated to K-12 education actually should be adequate, as long as the allocation remains dedicated specifically to education. “I honestly don’t believe it’s underfunded,” she said. “It has enough money, but it should be the number one thing that’s funded.”
Finn named education among his top three priorities, along with job growth and transportation (specifically with an eye on the yet-to-be-built Belfair Bypass). He noted his involvement in passage of a bill that revised the way school transportation is funded. Implementing fully funded education will require strong bipartisan cooperation, he said.

35th District Rep. Position 1
Candidates in this race got a question asking for “specific solutions to the budget crisis.”
Republican Dan Griffey of Allyn called for “zero-based” budgeting and a six-year budget cycle, instead of two. Like many, he talked about setting priorities, “instead of the shotgun approach.”
Incumbent Kathy Haigh said of the budget process, “It’s hard work. It’s hard and long and tedious, and I plan on being there.”

Haigh, who has chaired the Education Appropriations Committees, said education has been and remains her number one priority. In the last session, faced with the need to make cuts, she reluctantly voted to eliminate money set aside under Initiative-728 funding, for example, because it was not mandated by state law.
Griffey supports a “segregated” fund for education, and he suggested separating the job of funding education from the job of setting education policy. Fund it first, then talk policy, he said.

35th District Senate
Incumbent Tim Seldon, D-Potlatch, and challenger Nancy “Grandma” Williams, a member of Washington’s Tea Party, talked about how to help small business.
Williams, who with her husband has owned a mini-storage and cab company, said she would “get rid of B&O taxes for two years” to give businesses a chance to stabilize. She also favors deregulation and allowing “free market principals” to drive the economy. “Life is simple,” she said. “We make it difficult by putting laws and regulations on people.”
Sheldon’s family has been in the timber and oyster business, and he has a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA in business administration. Out of the discussion of the proposed Adage biomass project – to involve energy generation through burning of timber slash – and a question on the future of the timber industry, Sheldon gave a fairly rosy projection. While “on the ground” timber jobs have been lost to technology, the industry actually is thriving. “I see a good future for the timber industry in our area if we continue to invest in new technologies like biomass.”
Sheldon was in the minority on the biomass plant, as other candidates raised concerns about air pollution and whether the plant would be sustainable.

The candidates also talked about the importance of ferries to the 35th District, which represents Mason and portions of Grays Harbor, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties.
Williams favors privatizing the ferries. She said she recognizes the importance of ferries to commuters in the 35th.
Sheldon said Kitsap and Mason counties respectively have the number one and two longest commutes in terms of time in the state. Passenger only ferries have not proven profitable, he said, but Western Washington needs to keep up the pressure on Washington State Ferries for more regular service.
“We don’t take a backseat to anyone,” he said. “We need to start acting a little bit like the boss and tell the state ferries that they’ve got to listen.”
Sheldon favors opening ferry construction contracts to out-of-state companies.

Going to the Candidates’ Debate

This evening, I’ll be covering a candidates’ forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Kitsap County from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Norm Dicks Government Center, featuring candidates for house and senate races in the 26th and 35th Legislative Districts.

Post questions you’d like to ask the candidates, and I’ll see what I can do.

Visits the Kitsap Sun’s Election Guide for video coverage of editorial board interviews with candidates in most of these races.

At today’s forum:
26th Legislative District:
Senate – Derek Kilmer & Marty McClendon
Rep. Pos. 1 – Jan Angel and Sumner Schoenike
Rep. Pos. 2 – Doug Richards and Larry Seaquist

35th Legislative District:
Senate – Tim Sheldon and Nancy Williams
Rep. Pos. 1 – Daniel Griffey and Kathy Haigh
Rep. Pos. 2 – Fred Finn and Linda Simpson

Raider Fan Supports Dino Rossi

Sorry for the grainy image. I took the photo with my cell phone as I came into work this morning. We were stopped at a light.

This vehicle, festooned with Oakland Raider garb; including this decal, a license plate frame and a sticker on the suitcase rack on top, also includes support for Republican Dino Rossi in his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a three-term Democrat.

My question was does this sticker help Rossi or Murray? Did NFL conference realignment make this display less of an issue in this region? The Raiders, for those of you who don’t follow America’s national religion, used to be in the same division as the Seahawks. It meant our guys would play their guys at least twice a year. And the Raiders were considered the bad guys by fans of just about every team. That earned them some affection, mind you, from those who like the idea of a team with a bearded, long-haired quarterback throwing passes to a slow receiver being egged on by a fat, disheveled man on the sidelines and supported by a defense that considered dirty play part of the uniform.

The Raiders won three Super Bowls, including one when they were the Los Angeles Raiders. Nowadays the Raiders are about as powerful as the British monarchy, and they share a similar history. They once ruled the world but now are a kind of cute, little nuisance.

I wonder how people who are fans of Prince Harry line up in Washington in the Senate race as opposed to those who favor William.

Patty Murray to Chat with Vets and Supporters in Bremerton

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray will be in town as a senator and as a Democrat running for re-election Thursday. At 3:15 p.m. she will be part of a roundtable discussion with veterans to discuss employment. We will cover that one.

Later that day there will be a campaign event at the Kitsap Conference Center. We will not be covering that, because press is not invited.

Did Democrats Increase Election Day Efforts?

Returning from several days out of state I picked up the phone to see who had called us and found a collection of messages I had never had before.

For clarity’s sake, I must tell you I don’t have a pen name that differs from my real name. I do, however, have a phone book name different from “Steven Gardner,” a decision I made years ago to avoid having my wife and children harassed because of something I wrote. Call my desk phone and you can get my cell phone number to harass me personally.

When we returned home (Primary Tuesday) we had two messages from the local Democratic party and one from U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, who was campaigning for two Supreme Court candidates.

The question I had, and thought you might be able to answer, was given the trouble Democrats are supposed to be in, were the phone messages we had evidence of a stepped up campaign on their part this year? Or do you think I just happened to pick a nom de fone close enough to a real person who has voted Democrat in the past such that by coincidence we got the phone calls this year?

I checked other news outlets to see if there was any evidence of stepped up Democratic effots, but didn’t find anything.

A Fresh Start, Politically Speaking

With the primary nearly upon us, I’m priming the pump here on an issues-oriented discussion that hopefully will move beyond the discussion of candidates’ service records in the Richards-Seaquist race.

My questions are somewhat general and simplistic, but hopefully they’ll get the conversation going. Candidates, readers, jump in.

Think of the state budget process as an emergency room triage situation in which certain programs and functions of the state must receive care at the expense of others. What methods do you (incumbents) or would you (challengers) employ to set priorities among the following state programs: health, human services, transportation, education, environmental preservation, law and justice, parks and recreation, and basic administrative functions (elections, treasurer, attorney general etc.).

In other words, everything’s a trade-off. What threshold or criteria make one program or expenditure something you would support at the expense of other state functions? Give specific examples.

What can be done to make more state functions self-sustaining? Give specific examples.

People frequently reference privatizing liquor sales. Do you agree? What other state functions could be jettisoned … At what cost to the public or to the state as whole? Feel free to enlighten us on your understanding of how state government is organized and what obstacles present themselves in any discussion of shrinking government.

Most candidates I’ve talked to say the key to restarting the economy is helping business (especially small business) survive and thrive. How would you do this? Give specific examples. What are the obstacles to enacting these changes?

On education, if you had to make choice between funding a certain program for Pre-K or post-secondary education, which would you choose? Alternately, if you had a certain pot of money to allocate to Pre-K or post-secondary education, what percentage would you give to each.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Chris Henry, reporter

Poulsbo Senate Candidate Gets Nod from Novoselic

Gardner here.

Schalk Leonard, independent candidate for U.S. Senate from Poulsbo got the endorsement from Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic in the Seattle Weekly. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat, is Novoselic’s second choice. He writes:

I need to be clear that my vote for Leonard is not out of protest. I support President Obama, and even though I’m disenchanted with the Democratic Party, I’m not bailing on him. I’ve looked at Leonard’s information, and I like his values and policy proposals. I have the impression that if elected he can handle the job. Leonard was an attorney in his military career, so he understands law. He’s a professional Chinese translator. China is an important trading partner with our state’s export economy.

For anyone wondering why a vote from a rocker matters, Novoselic is active politically, even writing a book about fixing the U.S. democracy. His columns in Seattle Weekly are a regular feature.

Schalk and I have spoken on the phone two times. The first was when he filed. We had a story. The second was a conversation about how we would cover him. The fact is that we’re not spending a lot of time on his presence in the race, because we have no evidence to support the idea that he has a shot. It is regrettable. Here is someone bucking the system, refusing to claim a party or take anyone’s money. Someone like Schalk probably does deserve more limelight.

But with limited resources and a race we’re relying on state coverage for anyway, it doesn’t make sense for us to devote a lot of time to Mr. Schalk’s efforts. He’s bucking a system, but systems are stubborn things. If a non-party candidate wants to get coverage, he or she has to demonstrate the ability to be a real factor in the race before we will pay much attention. Schalk said something along the lines that one of the ways he would overcome the disadvantage of running without party and on the cheap would be for the local media to pay attention. But it wouldn’t take long before that becomes championing his cause, which is not what we want to do.

Someone somewhere will one day be successful in taking Schalk’s tack and winning. The candidate will find a way to generate enthusiasm and committed voters. At that point the lack of party and money matters less. If Schalk is that guy and makes it into the November general election, which means he would have to be among the top two vote getters, you can bet we’ll be on it then. If there is any indication he can make it close before then, we’ll be on it even sooner.

So far, I haven’t seen it.

Rossi’s Foreclosure Lecture

The (Tacoma) News Tribune has its own fact-check operation going on the 2010 election and takes on the question of whether Republican Senate candidate Dino Rossi is a “foreclosure profiteer” as Democrats claim.

The fact is, according to the TNT, Rossi bought a foreclosed property, hasn’t yet sold it, and gave a lecture using a title about profiting in the foreclosure market.

The claims in a Democratic video seemed to be addressed at something related to the foreclosure market, but not related to what Rossi has done. People buying foreclosed properties has been going on as long as foreclosures have existed. At some point, you would want someone to buy up a foreclosed property rather than seeing it sit vacant with all that entails.

A more recent wrinkle are those who contact property owners in danger of foreclosure and work out terms that will either have them stay in the house or sign the house over. Former state Rep. Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, introduced legislation targeting that business. You see the signs out there, “We buy houses.” Often those signs are defaced by someone who spray-painted the word “scam” over it. That isn’t what Rossi is doing.

The words that play over a video that Democrats produced say, “You’re in a strange business where your gain is really somebody else’s pain.”

Well, to some degree that means morticians and funeral arrangers, doctors, cops, newspaper reporters, used car sellers and lawyers also gain from others’ pain. That doesn’t mean those in pain are prey, necessarily.

Seaquist and Richards’ Service Records

Later this evening, the Kitsap Sun will post a story about 26th Legislative District candidate Doug Richards’ rebuttal to critics of his campaign materials. As you may have already noticed, Richards is heading ’em off at the pass by having posted on July 14 disclosure of a domestic violence charge he incurred in 1989 in an incident involving his wife, Whitney. The charge was dismissed.

Richards’ service record has also come under question from another quarter. As part of my research, I asked him for a copy of his Navy discharge papers, which he willingly provided to me. I gave his opponent Larry Seaquist, a Navy veteran with a 32-year career, the same opportunity.

***The service documents have been removed temporarily to remove personal information that should not have been made public. They will be reposted Monday Aug. 9. ***

Aug. 12: The documents have been reposted below. Apologies for my tardiness. Chris Henry, reporter


Seaquist DD214

Survey: Which Incumbent Is Most Vulnerable in 2010?

Look to the right and you’ll find that we added a polling feature. Our first question was about the prosecutor’s race between Russ Hauge and Bruce Danielson.

Now, allow yourself to speculate a little and consider which legislative incumbent you think would be the most likely to end up looking for something else to do after the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Then, come over here, if you like, and tell us why you voted the way you did.

Initiative to Privatize Liquor Sales Petitions Filed

The Washington Secretary of State’s office announced 1-1100 petitions were turned in Wednesday, which makes it the first initiative to turn in signatures. The measure is backed by Costco and other retailers.

The state is recommending petitioners to bring in 300,000 signatures to comfortably meet the 241,153-signature issues need to make it on the ballot. I-1100 backers brought in almost 400,000.

The state’s press release contains other information about other petition drives that brought in high numbers of signatures. You can the release here.

Continue reading

Reading the Political Tea Leaves

During the Silverdale Republican Senate debate Craig Williams, who ended up not filing for the race, said when he was investigating who to back for the Senate race before he started running himself, he was told by state party people not to bother, that U.S. Sen. Patty Murray was unbeatable. Her showing in 2004 against George Nethercutt, who was a credible challenger, could have been used as evidence.

A piece in Crosscut, however, written by former state GOP party chairman Chris Vance, makes clear that many are rethinking that earlier notion. Vance thinks in’s a safe bet Dino Rossi will be among the top two following the August primary and that nothing is sure yet about the November race.

Norm Dicks is seen as a lock in his House race, while Inslee’s district leans Democrat. Vance makes the case that in Inslee’s race much will be determined by how well his challengers, Matthew Burke and James Watkins, raise money.

Of more local interest, though written with even less detail, are the legislative races deemed toss-ups. Vance cites Democrats in districts where Rossi beat Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2008. By that standard, and making an exception for Potlatch Democratic state Sen. Tim Sheldon, the four other Democratic incumbents in the 26th and 35th districts are vulnerable, if they have credible challengers. The 23rd district is characterized as a Democratic leaning area, so neither incumbent is labeled “safe.”

As Editor David Nelson wrote on his blog, the Kitsap Sun’s editorial board begins meeting with candidates today.

The Political Stereotype Game

I’m going to take a calculated risk here and wade into the shark-infested waters of political stereotypes.

I wouldn’t be the first on this blog to do so.

On Tuesday, I Interviewed twin brothers Patrick and Nathan Griffin-Hall from Port Orchard, 27, who both filed as candidates for precinct committee officer. Since they live together, they both filed for the same precinct, but they won’t be facing each other in the primary because Patrick’s a Republican, Nathan’s a Democrat.

Just for fun, let’s see how your expectations play out, as you try to guess which brother is which from the set of attributes and characteristics below. Just answer Republican or Democrat after the question.

Of course if you’ve read the story, you’ll have most of the answers.

OK, here we go.

Has a beard.


Works as a psychiatric aide for Kitsap Mental Health.

Is an animal control officer for the Kitsap Humane Society.

Loves rock music of all eras.

Runs marathons.

Put a 10-foot diameter red rug with an official looking star in the middle of their living room (it was a cast-off from a department store jewelry department).

Has backpacked through at least a dozen foreign countries.

Has an “active social life with friends and family.”

Graduated from South Kitsap High School.

Attended military school.

Thinks Sarah Palin was unqualified for the office of president.

Is a proponent of individual property rights.

Rescued an obese black cat from the humane society.

Works swing shift.

Works days.

How did you do? To find out, look for the answers later today on this post.

First Candidates File

The county has posted the first list of candidates planning to run for office. The list includes a long line of precinct committee officers. There were 18 PCO candidates who filed by the first public posting at noon. Of those, 17 were Republican. A sign of a concerted effort heading into this fall, or happenstance?

There were other surprises so far. I was at the county elections office this morning and caught state Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, filling out her paper work.

In the Sixth Congressional District incumbent Democrat Norm Dicks from Belfair has filed, as has Republican Doug Cloud. For the U.S. Senate incumbent Democrat Patty Murray has two opponents, Republican Norma Gruber and Schalk Leonard, who expresses no party preference. Candidates in other state legislative races have filed.

Another posting comes out later today. You can access them for yourself by clicking here.

Senate Candidate Might Not File

Friday, June 4, 2010
6:20 p.m.

Here at the Silverdale Community Center it looks like about a 100 folks are here to listen to the forum featuring three candidates hoping to unseat U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat, in November.

Craig Williams, an energy trader from Vancouver, said prior to the event that he hasn’t decided for sure whether he’ll officially file next week as a candidate with the Washington Secretary of State’s office. The changing roster of candidates has influenced his thoughts on the questions, but his supporters are encouraging him to stay in.

Clint Didier is not here. A surrogate is here in his place.

First PDC Complaint Filed

Filing week for candidates begins Monday, but the first Public Disclosure Commission complaint has already been filed.

Doug Richards, SKFR Batallion Chief, is running as a Republican against Democrat state Rep. Larry Seaquist of Gig Harbor.

Kitsap County Democrats charge that Richards is using fire department gear in his advertising, which they believe is a violation of state law. “That helmet belongs to the South Kitsap Fire Department and should not be used in a partisan campaign,” said Carl Olson, county Democratic party chairman in the party’s written statement.

I went to Richards’ Web site and didn’t find any fire gear pictured, but Olson provided a door hanging campaign piece he said in his complaint was left on a door of a “prominent Democrat” in the 26th District. On the front and back are clear pictures of a South Kitsap helmet.

Reading the law the party cites (The party’s press release is provided at the end of this post.), I don’t immediately know if Richards’ materials violate the law. If they do, then so probably would that of Dan Griffey, who’s running against Democrat Kathy Haigh in the 35th District.

Here are the photos in question. Richards is responsible for the first two. Griffey is on the far right.

I’ve made calls to both Richards and Griffey.

Lori Anderson, PDC spokeswoman, said the issue probably depends on whether the firefighters purchased the equipment shown in the photos.

They’re not the only ones seeing PDC moves. Most of the incumbents have received letters with PDC letterhead in the past. State Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, was notified in November by the PDC her letter soliciting help for the 2010 election ran afoul of state law because she doesn’t state a party preference in the letter.

Continue reading

Dear Candidates: You Will Be Vetted

Joel Connelly at tells of the state Republican Party’s move to do background checks on candidates for statewide or congressional office.

I don’t think it harms my Olympian objectivity to say, “Good move.”

The party has the luxury of hiring someone to do the job for them. It takes much more time than you might realize to do the necessary search on everyone. We have to do these checks on our own. Sadly, my years here at the Kitsap Sun make it clear that it’s a necessary activity.

I’ll leave names out, for now, but past background checks have revealed someone writing bad checks and another candidate whose resume and court testimony appeared to be a complete fabrication. In the latter case it was a writer for a now defunct blog site that made the first discovery. In most cases, we don’t find anything of note, which is the good news. The year the bad check writer ran, online state records showed the opponent might have filed bankruptcy. I drove to Seattle to see the actual filing and verified it was someone with the same name as the candidate.

Filing week begins Monday. So does the vetting process.

Republican Senate Hopefuls to Meet in Silverdale

Three Republican U.S. Senate candidates are expected to take part in a forum in Silverdale Friday evening. The public is invited.

Clint Didier, Paul Akers and Craig Williams have confirmed they will attend the event at the Silverdale Community Center. Don Benton and Sean Salazar will not, because they have other engagements planned. Dino Rossi has been invited and has not indicated whether he will attend.

The candidates are running to unseat Democrat U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who is seeking her fourth term.

Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders will also attend.

The event begins at 6 p.m. and is scheduled to last until 8:30 p.m.

The Silverdale Community Center is at 9729 Silverdale Way, near the intersection of Bucklin Hill Road.

All 35th Races Contested

Linda Simpson from Bremerton has filed to run for state Legislature in the 35th District as a Republican against incumbent state Rep. Fred Finn, D-Olympia. That’s as much as I have right now, and it’s based on PDC documents.

This means only one of the eight legislative races in Kitsap remains uncontested. If someone is planning to run against state Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, there has been no public declaration that I am aware of.

Filing week is June 7-11.