This afternoon I got to participate in an election-day tradition
here in Kitsap County, a lunch organized by Gordon Walgren and
Adele Ferguson. The Kitsap Sun has been excluded in the past
because Ferguson wanted to write about it and wasn’t ever keen on
getting beaten. She is not writing about the lunch for anyone now
and when she was she was sending her columns by fax, so we would
have had an edge after she stopped writing for the Sun.
There were 25 people in attendance, by my count, 11 I would
identify as Democrats, including state Sen.Tim Sheldon. My guess
was nine could be identified as Repbublican and there five I
wouldn’t know how to ID. It was a pretty even mix.
Before they received their lunches they were asked to predict
what would happen on election night. They were also asked to answer
some other, perhaps more interesting, questions. Here are the
questions and their answers.
What/who do you think will win in the following races.
They also predicted the U.S. Senate and House races, with
numbers too varied to report. Generally they predicted a Republican
takeover in the U.S. Senate.
You might find the following questions the most interesting.
Biggest local upset: Michelle Caldier (4),
Irene Bowling (4), Tina Robinson (1), Tim Sheldon (1), Linda
Streissguth (1), Ed Wolfe (1) Dan Griffey (1) Biggest national upset: Mitch McConnell loses (2),
Michelle Nunn wins (1), Democrats hold the U.S. Senate (1), Mary
Landrieu (1), New Hampshire (1) Local candidate with the most effective signs:
Wolfe (3), Cook (3), Sheldon (3), Andrews (2), Emerson (1), Olsen
(1), Kilmer (1) Bowling (1), Caldier (1), Appleton (1), Peterson
(1) Local candidate with the least effective signs:
Streissguth (10), Olsen (5), Henden (2), Hauge (1) Local candidate with the sleaziest campaign:
Caldier (6), Seaquist (5), Henden (1), Bowling (3), Wolfe (1),
Olsen (1) Local candidate with the weirdest campaign: Chaney
(5), Olsen (4), Caldier (2), Emerson (1), Henden (1) Local candidate with the best campaign: Wolfe (4),
Streissguth (3), Kilmer (2), Angel (1), Robinson (1), Sandstrom
(1), Peterson (1), Hauge (1), Sheldon (1) Local candidate with the worst campaign: Chaney
(5), Olsen (5), Hauge (1), Wolfe (1), Streissguth (1)
Who will be the 2016 Democratic Presidential
Nominee?: Clinton (20)
Who will be the 2016 Republican Presidential Nominee?: Jeb Bush
(5),Romney (4), Chris Christie (2), Ted Cruz (2), Jon Huntsman (1),
Rand Paul (1)
In 2016 who would you like to see run for what local
office?: Rob Gelder-commissioner (1), Steve Gardner-county
commissioner (1), Tony Stewart-coroner (1), Tony Otto-county
commissioner (1), Dave Peterson-Bremerton Mayor (1), Chris
Tibbs-County commissioner (1), Pat Ryan, County commissioner
(1) In 2016 who would you like to see run for what state
office?: Walt Washington-state rep. (1), Chris
Ryland-state legislator (1), Tim Sheldon-Lt. Gov. (1), Derek
Kilmer-national senator after the ladies are retired (1), James
Olsen-state rep (1), Rob McKenna-governor (1), Doña Keating-23rd
House (1), Jay Inslee-governor (1), Howard Schulz-governor (1),
Andy Hill-governor (1).
Au contraire! I obviously don’t give the American political
machinery enough credit for ingenuity and creativity. We may do a
larger story for Tuesday, but I wanted to get this much out there
Voters in the 35th Legislative District are getting mailers
praising state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, for his work in making
it easier for “undocumented immigrants,” expanding federal health
care reform and protecting reproductive freedom. Sheldon is running
against another Democrat, Irene Bowling of Bremerton.
The ads’ claims about Sheldon are true, technically, because
Sheldon said in a debate he is pro-choice, though he favors
legislation that would require parents be notified if their minor
daughters plan to have an abortion. He also voted for the
Washington version of the Dream Act, what the Majority Coalition
Caucus called the “Real Hope Act.” It allowed children of parents
who came here illegally to receive in-state tuition in Washington
colleges. And he voted for a budget that expanded Medicaid
coverage, though he earlier voted against a bill implementing the
Affordable Care Act.
The ads are paid for by American Values First, a Washington,
DC-based organization described mostly on its own site as an outfit
fighting voter suppression. It shares an address with the
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.
If you haven’t been paying attention, there are not many
Democratic loyalists backing Sheldon. So why would this
organization? If you believe the Senate Republican Campaign
Committee, the ads are not trying to get Bowling backers to support
Sheldon. They’re aimed at getting the 35th District’s conservative
voters to sit out the election. You don’t get any nuance in the
ads. What you do get is the flyover country’s Axis of Evil:
Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and “a pathway to citizenship.”
“This is a dishonest and deceptive attempt to suppress Senator
Sheldon’s support with Republican voters,” said Sen. Bruce
Dammeier, Chair of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, in a
statement. “What’s even worse is the complete disregard for
Washington State law by this dark money, unregistered political
I’ve called the Public Disclosure Commission to get clarity on
the rules. The Republican group accuses American Values of several
state infractions, but the organization claims to be in the right,
legally. What’s more, it claims to be sincere in its support of
“American Values First is not a political committee, but rather
a social welfare organization with a proven record of advocacy.
American Values First agrees with Sen. Sheldon’s past votes seeking
justice for immigrants, expansion of Obamacare, and women’s
reproductive freedom. American Values First followed all applicable
laws and filed all reports with the Public Disclosure Commission
that are required of organizations of this type that sponsor such
communications,” said Bill Burke in an emailed statement.
The organization linked to PDC reports showing it has spent just
over $20,000 for direct mail ads in Washington.
The Inslee family had sad news today, news I have no doubt
weighs heavily on the governor.
On Feb. 7, 2008 I saw then Congressman Jay Inslee campaign
forcefully and effectively for presidential candidate Hillary
Clinton. The next night, after a day of traveling from a Barack
Obama campaign event at Key Arena to a John McCain rally at a
downtown Seattle hotel, I boarded the Seattle-Bainbridge ferry. I
was tired and it was Friday. The next day I would work the party
caucuses, but this was downtime.
I hadn’t noticed that behind me on the boat sat Trudi Inslee,
but I soon realized it as soon as I heard her husband’s distinctive
voice. He was on the phone talking to someone about the last couple
of days and he hadn’t noticed that he was talking within earshot of
a reporter. His tone was animated. He was having fun, as if he were
talking to a buddy. He had actually moved a few seats away on a
fairly empty boat. I listened for hints of the rumors lots of
people had shared, that maybe Clinton had a cabinet position for
him if she won. No such luck, so I struck up a conversation with
The congressman quit the conversation before reaching Bainbridge
and he rejoined his wife. I joked with him about listening for
rumors. He laughed along with the joke and told me he’d been
talking to his dad. He seemed legitimately at peace. Since then
I’ve only seen him or spoken to him in his official duties or
campaigning, and his guard has never been down the way it was that
Over the next couple of years I talked to his staff about doing
a story on the relationship between Inslee and his dad. But the
economy had crashed and members of Congress were fighting town hall
crowds over Obamacare. The 2010 election was rough and after that
we took our time. Then Inslee quit to focus on a run for governor.
We still considered the idea, even wondering if we could make it
part of our election coverage in 2012. In the end it proved
difficult. We gave up.
My interest in talking to Inslee and his dad was probably
sparked by a development in my life. For more than five of the last
seven years of his life my father lived with us in a house in the
Illahee area. It wasn’t always an easy reality for our young
family, because my dad, a former cop who also spent years coaching
his three boys in the holy practice that is baseball, needed care
from us. But even as the work grew harder I grew closer to my
father, often pestering him to tell me stories about his childhood.
We all knew the time could be fleeting and we did our best to enjoy
it. My dad eventually became weak enough that we knew we could no
longer provide him adequate care at home and he went to live in a
local nursing home. We visited him often, but it will never seem
like it was enough.
On election night, Nov. 7, 2012, the night Inslee would learn
whether he had been elected governor, my father went into intensive
care battling a lung infection that knocked him down. I watched the
night’s election returns from Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton
as my dad struggled to breathe. Four days later the infection would
knock him out. He died on Veteran’s Day.
There isn’t a lot I have in common with Jay Inslee. He’s taller,
better looking, is a basketball guy, was born and raised here and
has always had a better-paying job. I’m not saying I’d trade lives
with him. I’m just pointing out the obvious before I acknowledge
there is one thing that we share. I could tell from his
conversation he had on the boat that night that he loved and
respected his dad, just as much as I did mine. And today he misses
his dad the way I miss mine.
I don’t think I’m shedding any objectivity in sending my
condolences to the governor and his family.
State Sen. Jan Angel,
R-Port Orchard, is getting heat from her opponent regarding Angel’s
involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Council. This is
something we addressed in the
2013 election, but since this treads into matters of substance,
it’s worth revisiting.
ALEC is a nationwide organization that goes to great efforts to
get conservative policies enacted in state legislatures. Angel is a
conservative and has been affiliated with the organization for some
time. She has never really denied that, but when she wrote the
Facebook post you see pictured on the left here, she never let on
that Rick Perry, Texas governor and one-time candidate for
president who recalled two of the three agencies he planned to
eliminate, was speaking at an ALEC conference when she snapped his
picture and gushed, “what a champion!”
At its core the question that seems worth asking is whether
Angel or Arbogast better represent the values of the 26th District,
and Angel’s affiliation with ALEC could be evidence to support
whatever conclusion you make. Instead much of the debate centers on
whether legislators should be sponsoring what are called “model
bills.” A model bill is one written in one place and used either
verbatim or as a template in several states.
Some of ALEC’s model legislation would ban states from
prohibiting insurance companies from using credit scores to deny or
charge more for coverage, is tough on minimum wage standards, goes
after Obamacare and would limit how much a state could require
electric utilities to provide a certain percentage of its energy
from clean energy sources.
This issue arises from the following exchange that took place in
the Oct. 7 Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues forum
between Angel and Democrat Judy Arbogast.
Question: Can ALEC really write laws that
best serve a state as diverse as Washington, and if yes,
Arbogast: Absolutely not. ALEC provides
ready-made legislation for every state and that’s the biggest
problem. It’s also backed by big corporations, not the people who
are trying to actually solve the problems. People who know me know
that I’ve been very opposed to ALEC since I first heard about it. I
certainly know that it’s not good for the people. That’s why any
bills that I propose will come from the people themselves, They
will not be premade as some of the bills have been presented by my
Angel: Your opponent has never offered an ALEC
bill that I’m aware of, (And at this point you can hear people
laughing at the statement) the only ALEC bill, seriously, the only
ALEC bill that’s come to the Legislature actually came through your
governor, Gov. Inslee, And I want to talk, I’m so glad this
question came up, because ALEC stands for the American Legislative
Exchange Council. I belong to that. The mission statement is free
market and individual liberties. I am proud to stand for that. I
make no apology and I actually question anyone that would question
those values. As far as model legislation, we sit on task force,
which I am proud to sit on Economic Development, Commerce and
Insurance. That task force works on issues nationally. The last
task force meeting I attended we worked on national catastrophes
like the slide that we just had, how did that affect everybody ’s
insurance premiums. Now if a model bill is written it is up to the
legislature whether they take it back to their state. And if the
state House and Senate pass it and the governor signs it, maybe
it’s a good bill.
We’ll dissect those arguments later, but following the debate
and after my story was written, Samara Ressler, campaign manager
for Arbogast, sent me an email titled “Forum Clarification.” She
then provided a list of three bills Angel co-sponsored Ressler said
come from ALEC model bills. They are Senate Bills 6300 and 6307
during the 2014 session and House Bill 1804 in 2011.
SB 6300 would have required more unions to increase financial
reporting requirements and does seem to have much the same language
as ALEC’s model legislation, “Union Financial Responsibility Act.”
SB 6307 prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting minimum wage
requirements higher than the state’s. It is much the same as ALEC’s
“Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act.”
The House Bill 1804 in 2011 would have prevented the state from
spending any money to implement Obamacare. At the time the
justification was the health care reform measure was still making
its way through constitutional challenges. Supporters said they
didn’t want to burden the state with efforts for a program that
could become moot. I don’t see ALEC’s direct fingerprint on this
bill, but it’s old enough that it might have just disappeared from
the organization’s website. And ALEC wrote a lot of legislation aimed at weakening health care
reform, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility
this started with ALEC.
This gets to the core issue. Whether the bill was an ALEC model
or not, it would have limited the impact of federal health care
reform efforts. What is the more important factor to you?
When we addressed this similar question in 2013, we pointed out
that lots of organizations write model bills. ALEC might do it the
most, but several organizations do it. Legislators don’t write many
of the bills they propose. They are written by lobbyists, lawyers
and others who have an interest. And I’m willing to bet that when
legislators do write their own bills, they get lots of help.
This is not to say that finding out whether a bill is a model
bill is unimportant. An organization like ALEC has a specific
mission and won’t typically write legislation that doesn’t forward
So let’s break down the forum comments.
Arbogast: ALEC provides ready-made
legislation for every state and that’s the biggest
“Model” legislation is a “problem” in the sense that it could be
trying to solve a problem no one was aware anyone had. Beyond that,
though, you have to give the Legislature enough credit that it will
tackle issues it deems important. If a model bill, tweaked to
reflect what’s needed in legislative language in Washington,
addresses an issue enough legislators think is worthy of attention,
the bill can make it to the governor’s desk.
Arbogast: People who know me know that I’ve
been very opposed to ALEC since I first heard about it. I certainly
know that it’s not good for the people.
This is the values statement that would seem to be the more
Arbogast: That’s why any bills that I
propose will come from the people themselves, They will not be
premade as some of the bills have been presented by my
opponent. Angel: Your opponent has never offered an ALEC
bill that I’m aware of.
If Arbogast wins I suspect some on the right will watch the
bills she sponsors to see if there’s anything else out there that’s
similar to trace a bill at its roots. It might be a model bill from
an organization on the left.
Angel’s claim that she never offered an ALEC bill rests on whether
you think “offered” means she was the prime sponsor. We showed that
she co-sponsored bills using ALEC bills as models, but she has not
Angel: The only ALEC bill that’s come to
the Legislature actually came through your governor, Gov.
We did address that claim last year and there is some dispute.
The governor’s office said its bill dealing with one aspect of
climate change did not come from an ALEC model, but a spokesman for
the Washington Policy Center said that it did. Angel is off in
saying the “only ALEC bill” unless what she meant by “come through
to the Legislature” was “passed the Legislature.” Otherwise, her
co-sponsorship of two ALEC-based bills seems to negate her
Angel: ALEC stands for the American
Legislative Exchange Council. I belong to that. The mission
statement is free market and individual liberties. I am proud to
stand for that. I make no apology and I actually question anyone
that would question those values.
When Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Bershire Hathaway Energy,
Intel, Bank of America, etc. decided to stop participating with
ALEC I doubt any of them were troubled with the concept of free
markets or individual liberties. Google’s Eric Schmidt was
especially harsh answering a question from a
caller to the Diane Rehm show:
Kristen: I’m curious to know if Google is
still supporting ALEC, which is that fund lobbyist in D.C. that are
funding climate change deniers. Schmidt: We funded them as part of a political
game for something unrelated. I think the consensus within the
company was that that was sort of a mistake. And so we’re trying to
not do that in the future. Rehm: And how did you get involved with them
in the first place? And were you then disappointed in what you
saw? Schmidt: Well, the company has a very strong
view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts. What
a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question
anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring. And the
people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our
grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we
should not be aligned with such people. They’re just literally
I’m guessing Angel would differ with Schmidt on that.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was scheduled to be in town on Sunday
for a campaign fundraiser for 35th Legislative District Senate
candidate Irene Bowling, a Democrat.
We asked permission to go, but were informed the event at the
Rice Fergus Miller building in Bremerton was closed to the press,
not unusual for a fundraiser. We were disappointed, though, because
we had an invitation. It was sent to us via Twitter from the 35th
Legislative District Democrats. We should have been suspicious,
though, because Twitter is unreliable. Remember, it was on Twitter
that we first read that Dewey defeated Truman.
Suggested contributions for the fundraiser ranged from $50 for
the “guest” level to $500 to be considered a “host.” While “guest”
sounds right for me, $50 does not.
Inslee’s presence demonstrates his interest in seeing the state
Senate taken back by Democrats, and Bowling’s race is against Tim
Sheldon, a Democrat. Let me explain. He is a Democrat, but caucuses
as a Republican, a reality that demands two weeks’ time for
Washington State Civics teachers. In English class it makes for a
complicated sentence diagram with lots of subservient clauses and
Inslee wants Democrats in the Senate because he has big
ambitions to tackle carbon emissions and would like the 2015
Legislature to cooperate. If Republicans are in charge of one of
the chambers he fears his proposal will be as popular as a Richard
Sherman biography at Crabtree and Evelyn. (They sell books,
To get a Democratic majority Inslee is being aided by California
billionaire Tom Steyer, who this week dropped $1 million into a
committee, NextGen Climate Action Committee-Washington Sponsored by
Tom Steyer. Steyer’s organization followed that with a news release
saying it will target 25 percent of the voters in Washington. He’s
doing the same in Oregon.
So far the committee hasn’t spent any real money, but this is
what the news release said about Washington:
NextGen Climate will focus on races where there is an
opportunity to discuss climate issues with voters, including, but
not limited to supporting Tami Green in the 28th Senate District
and Matt Isenhower in the 45th Senate District.
Whether any Steyer money finds its way to the 35th depends on
party polling, which will reveal whether voters in the district are
bucking the common assumption that voters who picked Republican
Travis Couture in the primary will mostly side with Sheldon in the
general election, since Couture was eliminated from the race.
Sheldon thinks he’ll pick up most of Couture’s voters because he is
more conservative. Bowling believes she will get most of the
Couture voters, in some part because she is not Tim Sheldon.
An earlier $250,000 contribution to an independent committee set
up to campaign for Bowling made some think there were signs Bowling
could beat Sheldon. That changed when $225,000 was returned,
leaving some to wonder what the polling says now.
As of Friday Bowling had raised about $150,000 and still had
about $55,000 of that unspent. Sheldon has raised more, about
$290,000, and has about $100,000 left to spend. A word or two from
the governor might close the gap at least a little.
James Olsen, candidate for Legislature in the 23rd Legislative
District, challenged me to fact check one of his videos. Actually,
he suggested two of them, but I’ve already addressed one and don’t
believe it merits more attention. Mr. Olsen disagrees with me.
That’s all I have to say about that.
The Olsen video I will address is his attempt to take down Initiative 594, which extends
the rules for existing background check requirements for federally
licensed gun dealers to gun shows and transactions between private
individuals. It also has some restrictions about temporary
If you don’t like the message on Olsen’s video, available on
YouTube, you have to enjoy the Golden Earring song “Twilight Zone”
that provides the soundtrack. Band members might not agree with
Olsen, but I’m sure they appreciate the attention. We could start a
pool to find out whether and when a Content ID claim will mute the
Tom Steyer, a California investor who made billions and is now
spending much of it on political races, dropped $1 million into the
committee he established in Washington to fund races here. His
committee, the Nextgen Climate Action Committee-Washington
Sponsored by Tom Steyer, now has the second most political
contributions this year. Only the Washington Education Association
Political Action Committee has more money at this point.
Steyer’s Washington committee (“NextGen” means “next
generation.”) has yet to spend any money, but the DC arm of Nextgen
has, giving $50,000 each to the Kennedy Fund and the Harry Truman
Fund. The Kennedy Fund is for state Senate Democratic efforts and
the Harry Truman Fund is for House Democrats.
If any of Steyer’s money were to make it any of our local races
the most likely target would be the race between two Democrats,
state Sen. Tim Sheldon and Irene Bowling. In an earlier post we referenced
a New York Times piece that made the case that Steyer money would
likely go to Senate races. Republican Jan Angel’s near 14-point
margin in the 26th over Democrat Judy Arbogast in the primary might
seem insurmountable for those passing money around. The 35th
District race between Sheldon and Bowling would seem to favor
Sheldon, but it’s less clear than what happened in the 26th. Steyer
wants to see the Senate go Democrat (Bowling Democrat, not Sheldon
Democrat) so that Gov. Jay Inslee’s climate agenda would have an
easier time getting through the Legislature.
During the 2013 election between Angel and Democrat Nathan
Schlicher, Angel made the case Democrats have made about the Koch
brothers, that he was trying to buy the election. She also
questioned his environmental cred, referring to stories that he
stood to benefit financially if the Keystone Pipeline project were
killed, because he was an investor in another pipeline. That same
claim is happening in Iowa, thanks to an American Crossroads ad.
Politifact called that claim mostly false. Let’s be clear,
it’s mostly false this year, because Steyer’s firm just recently
got rid of its fossil fuel money sources.Last year the argument had
some legs, even though Steyer had already directed his company to
divest from the Kinder Morgan pipeline and other fossil fuel
Finally, this also gets to the anonymity question we posed a
couple weeks back. Some think political contributions should
all be anonymous, because it
would mean those spending money could not hold their contributions
over a politician’s head. The counter to that argument is because
we require transparency in some situations we can make easier links
between money and favors.
It’s probably not a huge surprise to you for me to admit that I
lean toward more transparency. I see the point of those who want
complete anonymity. And I might even one day be persuaded that it’s
better. But I think knowing your contribution will be revealed to
everyone has the potential of making you more cautious about who
you spend money on. And it sets you up as a target. Think what you
will of Tom Steyer. On Sept. 18 his committee changed its name to
add “sponsored by Tom Steyer.” That’s how it was spelled out last
year as well, so I had been curious earlier why his name wasn’t on
it originally this year. In most cases we have to go several layers
to find out where money is coming from. In state politics a name is
usually eventually discoverable. They make you work for it, but you
can get to it.
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. introduced legislation to
revoke the NFL’s tax exempt status. I’ll just let you read the
press release, but one of her comments, “a dictionary-defined
racial slur,” struck me. So I checked it out. Turns out, she’s
right, as you can see in the picture.
In the not-too-distant future your bank might begin offering you
an opportunity to win a few bucks, or a few thousand. You will be
getting those chances just by saving money, something nearly anyone
who has ever even heard of money will tell you that you should be
U.S. Reps. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Tom Cotton, R-Ark.,
introduced the ‘Save to Win’ legislation nearly a year ago. On
Monday it passed the House by voice vote. A companion bill awaits
consideration in the Senate.
The basic idea is this: The more you deposit into savings the
higher chance you get of winning a nice monthly prize and a
significant annual prize. In Washington the monthly prize might be
$50. The annual prize was $5,000 in 2013. And if you don’t win, you
still keep the money you put into your savings account.
Arla Shephard detailed what’s happening in the state
for the Kitsap Sun in April. One of the selling points of the
program is it’s a lottery you can’t lose. You’re not going to
collect $149 million, but let’s get real. Unless you are beyond
astronomically lucky, you’re not going to get that by plunking down
$2 for a Powerball ticket either. I’m not trying to dissuade you
from playing the regular lottery, but it’s no secret that the most
likely outcome from playing most lottery games is you pay $2 to
hope for something miraculous. In some cases, it’s worth it.
Federally chartered financial institutions cannot offer a
savings lottery now. In four states, including Washington, locally
chartered credit unions can. Connection Credit Union of Silverdale
and Peninsula Credit Union of Shelton participate. The other
participants are Express, Fibre Federal, North Coast and
The idea has lots of support and the voice vote in the House
suggests there isn’t a lot of opposition from politicians. But some
will ask why isn’t saving its own reward. Why do we have to use a
modified gambling mechanism to get people to save?
There is one study that shows having a
system like a prize-linked savings account not only increases
savings, some of the money low-income people invest in savings
accounts comes from funds they used to use to buy lottery tickets.
So in some cases people stop playing the lottery they almost can’t
win in exchange for the one they almost can’t lose.
“Almost” in the second use is not an accident. One of the
reasons some people speculate people don’t save more is because the
interest rates are so bad that a dollar invested today is often
worth less next year. But if you need $2,000 and the only option
you have available to you is charging it on a credit card, that
dollar becomes worth more. If you have it in savings and can use it
in emergencies, you won’t lose 18 percent interest by plunking down
Others worry that as interest rates on borrowing start to go up
again financial institutions will resist increasing rates on
savings, opting to market their “prizes,” instead. That might be
true. We won’t know until that day we’ve been saying for more than
a decade is inevitable actually arrives. Either way, if the prizes
increase savings, then that means less spending on credit. It could
also prevent some people from having to move into their cars.
State Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, and his Republican
challenger, Michelle Caldier of Port Orchard, engaged in two robust
debates last week on the issues. One of the debates was in
Bremerton on Tuesday. The other was in Gig Harbor on Thursday. They
have at least three more forums scheduled before the election.
Before that they sat in the same room for an Aug. 29 meeting
with the Kitsap Sun editorial board. In all those meetings they
focused on issues one of them will try to tackle as a legislator in
Olympia in 2015.
An incident after the editorial board meeting launched a side
show that has picked up steam. Caldier said Seaquist is trying to
intimidate her. Seaquist said Caldier’s allegations are false and
that he is consulting with an attorney. Both say they want the
escalation to stop.
For the Kitsap Sun meeting both candidates had driven their
cars, with Caldier parking directly in front of Seaquist. After the
meeting they separated to their cars and Seaquist took at least a
couple of photos. Caldier said he did it as she was getting into
her car. He said that is not true, that she was in the car when he
snapped the shots.
Seaquist said he was checking messages on his phone when he saw
the the trunk open on Caldier’s car and the hard top slide into the
trunk. He said he hadn’t seen a hard-top convertible in some time
and wanted to snap a quick photo to discuss the car with someone he
knows. The model of the car was prominent on the car’s tail section
and he said he knew he would never remember it. So he took a
Caldier confronted him about the photo and both agree he
acknowledged snapping a picture. Her recollection of the
conversation afterward was a little fuzzy this week, but he said
she complained that she had been photographed at her house. He said
he told her it wasn’t anyone doing it on his behalf.
On Sept. 2, four days later, Caldier posted a Facebook entry
reading: “I came out of a candidate interview and saw Rep. Larry
Seaquest, my opponent, taking pictures of me as I got into my car.
Wow…. I felt like I was being stalked!” Some of her Facebook
friends described that as “creepy” or “gross,” and some suggested
it was an act of desperation.
On Sept. 5, three days after the Facebook post and a week after
Seaquist took the photo, she filed a report with the Bremerton
Police Department. The report includes a couple of statements
Caldier said do not reflect what she told police. The report said
Caldier told police Seaquist had taken other photos of Caldier in
the past and that he just laughed at her when she asked him why he
was snapping more pictures. On Friday she said she told police
other people had snapped pictures, that Aug. 29 was the first time
Seaquist himself had done it. Also, she said Seaquist did talk to
her about the photos when she confronted him.
Both candidates question the other’s motives in the incident.
Caldier said she doesn’t believe his story that he was impressed
with the car because she believes he has seen it before. She said
it’s another chapter in a long history of the opposition trying to
intimidate her. Seaquist said he hadn’t seen her car before and
that he did nothing wrong, that his sole interest was the car and
that Caldier is falsifying what happened to turn it into a campaign
Candidates can expect to have their photos taken in odd places,
to be followed. One of the comments on Caldier’s Facebook post came
from state Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, who wrote: “They pulled
that on me all last run. I was followed frequently and many other
weird things. What a journey.”
Keith Schipper, Angel’s communications director in the 2013
campaign, said he was tasked by the state Republican party to track
Angel’s opponent, Nathan Schlicher, for part of that campaign. A
tracker’s job is primarily to go to all the opponent’s events
possible and to film, seeing if a candidate can be caught saying
one thing to one group and something else to another. Or, if the
tracking yields real gold, the candidate has a “Macaca” moment, a
reference to the 2006 Virginia Senate race when Republican
incumbent Sen. George Allen referred to a Democratic operative as
“Macaca,” which he said was gibberish, but Democrats said was an
intentional racial slur. Allen lost the election.
Schipper, who also tracked Jay Inslee in 2012 when he ran for
governor and is working on Republican legislative campaigns again
this year, said officials from the candidate and the party are
mostly polite to the opposition tracker. It’s the people hosting
the events who can get hostile. So parties’ and candidates’
campaigns in larger races typically know better than to hassle the
The 2013 26th District Senate race was unique, though, in how
high profile it was for a legislative race. That each side employed
trackers was because it was so high stakes. It was the most
expensive legislative race in state history. It was the only
Republican-Democrat race in the state and affected the balance of
power in Olympia. Both candidates said they were followed.
That race was a legislative exception. The Seaquist-Caldier
race, while close, is unlikely to draw so much attention that the
state party would employ operatives. And even if the state party
did, taking pictures at a candidate’s house is unlikely.
Nonetheless, Caldier said that when she was living in a home she
rented before she bought her current home she saw people taking
pictures of her at her house. She said some were also taking
pictures of her sister. And one day a neighbor caught people going
through her mail. Since Caldier recently returned to Kitsap County
after years living in Kenmore, it’s possible someone supporting
Seaquist was trying to investigate whether she deserved a residency
You might remember the private investigation that went into
former County Commissioner Josh Brown’s residency during his first
run. When Lary Coppola ran for mayor he found matches stuck in his
door, presumably a tactic to see whether he lived where he claimed
If the Caldier mail incident was campaign related, Schipper and
Fred Finn, who represented the 35th Legislative District as a
Democrat for four years, said it was unlikely it was ordered by the
party or Seaquist’s campaign. Schipper likened it to supporters who
go out and vandalize campaign signs, adding it would more likely be
a supporter going rogue. Finn agreed. “Sometimes supporters have
more energy and enthusiasm than common sense,” Finn said. “I can’t
imagine it’s anything organized.”
Whatever motive Seaquist had in taking the picture, it is
unusual for a candidate to be taking a photo of another candidate.
“You don’t ever see candidates doing that to each other,” Schipper
said. “You don’t see their staff members doing it.”
Caldier again looked at the incident in context of the whole
campaign. “I’ll take a lot, but this one was kind of the last
straw. This is moving forward to November and it feels like the
behavior is escalating,” she said. “I want the behavior to stop. I
would never take pictures of him without asking his permission. For
him to be sitting in his car taking photos of me without asking my
permission is wrong.”
Seaquist makes no apologies and said he has no interest in
meeting with Caldier to resolve the issue. “Everything here has
been created and invented by Dr. Caldier. Nothing here was started
by me,” he said. “This is not a misunderstanding on my part. This
is entirely a creation of hers. I have done nothing
Particularly galling to Seaquist was another single assertion in
the police report. Caldier, when told Seaquist had not committed
any crime, said his action concerned her because “she has been told
that Seaquist had been violent in the past with people.”
On Friday Caldier said that comment referred to what she heard
from Marlyn Jensen, a Gig Harbor Republican who ran against
Seaquist in 2008. Jensen, also contacted Friday, said her
relationship with Seaquist was fine during the 2008 campaign, but
repeated a charge she made in newspapers in 2009, that when she
went to Olympia to lobby on a couple of issues he yelled at her in
his office. She was lobbying on a property rights issue and neither
he nor his legislative assistant were there when she went by, so
she and others left bags of dirt from their properties with a
handwritten note urging Seaquist to vote for property owners.
A few days later Jensen returned to Olympia to lobby on another
issue and said she went back to his office and was told by his
receptionist to go in. She said Seaquist berated her for leaving
the dirt. On Friday she repeated what she said five years ago, that
she feared for her safety.
In 2009 Seaquist denied he did anything to make her fear for her
safety. He said he can be firm, but invited anyone to call any
legislator or member of a Navy crew he was ever affiliated with and
that they will confirm that he is “famous for being calm and cool
Caldier said she filed the police report to end the escalation
of intimidation. Seaquist doesn’t believe that, because the final
statement in the report is, “Caldier does not want Seaquist
contacted.” He said he thinks that’s evidence she plans to use the
police report to escalate her own personal campaign against
Seaquist said he is “prepared to launch a lawsuit. The very
essence of my character is being challenged.”
At their core you have two candidates who have fundamentally
different ideas about how state government should operate. That
might be the focus of the remaining campaign.
In 2013, during the most expensive legislative race in history
the campaign became particularly nasty. Angel accused Schlicher of
taking the low road with his ad that said she would cut mammograms.
Schlicher took exception to campaigns targeting him for voting for
budgets he said she voted for, too.
Schlicher’s backers put out ads saying Angel supported tax
breaks first for A. deceased millionaires and B. big oil companies
over education for kids. Angel’s supporters advertised that
Schlicher was against early reading intervention for children
because a contributor didn’t like it and that he opposed a 2/3
majority for tax increases.
All of those arguments mischaracterized the opponents’
positions, but anyone willing to make a concerted study at least
could look at those claims and make a calculation as to where the
candidate stood on issues that would face the Legislature. A
resident of the 26th might not have appreciated the inundation of
advertising that blanketed the district, but do you think that same
resident might not prefer that to what we’re seeing in the 26th
Legislative District Position 2 race this year?
Amidst all the talk of campaign contribution transparency, as
many call for the upending of rules and rulings that allow people
to donate to political causes without fear of exposure, there is a
renewed call for more anonymity.
In the Washington Post last week Bertram Levine and Michael
Johnston made that case.
“The problem is not just how much money we allow into the
system, or even how few individuals provide it. An equally serious,
and somewhat ironic, issue is that transparency makes the
appearances problem worse. If incumbents could not know the
sources of contributions to their war chests, they could not
“thank” their benefactors with policy “favors,” nor could they
extract contributions through intimidation. Donors wanting
to support challengers — who are routinely out-spent by solid
margins under the current system — would not need to worry about
reprisals from incumbents.”
Andrew Sabin gave Republicans so much money in 2012 that he
accidentally went over a limit on how much individuals could donate
to federal candidates and party committees.
So Sabin, who owns a New York-based precious-metals refining
business, was delighted when the Supreme Court did away with the
limit in April. Since then, he has been doling out contributions to
congressional candidates across the country — in Colorado, Texas,
Iowa and “even Alaska,” he said.
Top Republicans have taken notice: Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and
Florida Gov. Rick Scott have paid him personal visits this year, he
“You have to realize, when you start contributing to
all these guys, they give you access to meet them and talk about
your issues,” said Sabin, who has given away more than
$177,000. “They know that I’m a big supporter.”
Two years ago This American Life, a show you
can hear on Saturdays on KUOW, did one of the best treatments on
politics and money that I have ever heard. Andrea Seabrook asked
Barney Frank if money influenced politics:
Barney Frank: People say, “Oh, it doesn’t
have any effect on me.” Look, if that were the case, we would be
the only human beings in the history of the world who, on a regular
basis, took significant amounts of money from perfect strangers and
made sure that it had no effect on our behavior. That is not human
Andrea Seabrook: On the other hand, he
says, there are things that influence a politician besides
Barney Frank: If the voters have a
position, the votes will kick money’s rear end any time. I’ve never
met a politician– I’ve been in the legislative bodies for 40 years
now– who, choosing between a significant opinion in his or her
district and a number of campaign contributors, doesn’t go with the
And I have had people tell me– and we talk honestly to each
other, we don’t lie to each other very often. You don’t survive if
you do. As chairman of a committee, I’d be lobbying for votes.
I have had members say to me, Mr. Chairman, I love you.
Barney, you’re right. But I can’t do that politically because I’ll
get killed in my district. No one has ever said to me, I’m sorry,
but I got a big contributor I can’t offend.
During last year’s legislative race between Nathan Schlicher and
Jan Angel we attempted to get to the truth or truthiness of the
campaign ads sent by the candidates and their supporters. We also
looked at claims made in debates and letters to the editor.
I hesitated for a few years to even embark on the task, because
I feared fact-checking work would be an extremely challenging
effort netting fuzzy results. I might have been right, but I
believe the effort is worthwhile anyway. If nothing else, we
provide context for the claims, and context is abundantly absent in
One way 2013 was easier was that there was only one
legislative race. And I had coworkers who lived in the 26th
Legislative District who religiously delivered the ads that arrived
in their mailboxes. One of those coworkers moved away and so far
this year I’ve had one campaign ad put onto my desk. This year
there promises to be plenty of advertising again in the 26th and
maybe even more so in the 35th. The county races could include some
ads, as will the congressional race.
So I’m asking for your help. If you receive an ad in the mail
I’d love to see it. We then might engage in a fact-checking
expedition, delivering our findings to you here on the Kitsap
Caucus blog or in the daily paper.
There are a few ways you can deliver what you find.
1. Bring or mail the ad to Steven Gardner, Kitsap Sun, 545 Fifth
St., Bremerton, WA 98337.
2. Email a scan of the ad, my preferred method, to
3. Email the text of the claim you wish to see vetted. Some ads
include a citation (a bill, news story, etc.). Make sure to include
4. Call and leave a message with the ad’s content. I’m at
For months Republicans have been warning about the “Ramtha
money” referenced in our story about the late money into the 35th
Legislative District primary. The New York Times focused on our
state this week and this is what I took from it: The racist rants
(taken out of context or not) of an ancient enlightened one that
helped a Yelm woman make a sizeable enough living to fund Democrats
can make for campaign indignation, but that money isn’t anywhere
near the GOP’s biggest problem this year.
The biggest problem for Republicans is this little piece from
the Times story about the goals shared between Washington Gov.
Jay Inslee and rich guy Thomas Steyer:
Mr. Inslee, who is campaigning for his agenda across
the state this summer with oyster farmers in tow, is trying to
position himself as America’s leading governor in the climate
change fight. But Mr. Inslee does not have the support of the
majority of the Washington State Senate, particularly those
conservative lawmakers from the rural inland, so Mr. Steyer’s
advocacy group, NextGen Climate, is working with the Washington
League of Conservation Voters to handpick Democratic, pro-climate
policy candidates across the state.
Steyer plans to spend about $100 million across the country to
elect politicians who see it his way on climate issues and to oust
those who don’t. A fair share of that will come here to Washington,
and the Times speculates the candidates he chooses, working through
the Washington League of Conservation Voters, will see hundreds of
thousands of dollars going either to support them or against their
While chatting with Tim Sheldon Tuesday night I asked if he
thought, assuming Tuesday night’s results stay as they are, any of
that money would wind up in his race. He thought not. “Steyer won’t
dump money into the race. I would be astounded if he did. What you
see so far is 65 percent of the district is voting conservative,”
he said, a reference to his vote totals plus those of Travis
Couture. “I don’t care how much money he has, he can’t turn that
This gets to another reason I posted the picture. You see Inslee
walking the beach with Bill Dewey of Taylor Shellfish Farms. Dewey,
according to Public Disclosure Commission reports, gave Inslee $500
this year toward Jay Inslee for Washington, which we can assume is
his 2016 re-election campaign fund. Dewey gave $1,250 for Inslee’s
2012 campaign and Bill Taylor from the same company gave
But both have also donated to Sheldon over the years. Dewey gave
the senator $500 in for his re-election campaign in 2010 and
another $500 in 2013. Taylor gave $250 in 2010 and $500 in
Most donations coming from the Taylor company, primarily Taylor
and Dewey, go to Democrats, and technically Sheldon is one of
those. But you know the story; Sheldon caucuses with the
Republicans, giving them the majority and lessening Inslee’s
chances of getting his climate agenda passed. So Inslee has an
agenda designed to benefit Taylor Shellfish, but someone who votes
against Inslee’s agenda is their friend, too.
Washington Conservation Voters has already endorsed Bowling in
the 35th. Sheldon received a “0” score from the organization after
voting for nine bills the organization considered bad for the
environment and against three bills the group said were good for
it. Sheldon’s lifetime score is 30. By comparison Christine Rolfes,
a 23rd District Democrat, received an 83 for the session. Democrat
Nathan Schlicher in the 26th received a 56 for his votes and
Republican Jan Angel got a 25.
So will Steyer go after Sheldon?
That might depend on the polling. Someone is going to do some
once the primary dust is settled. If Sheldon is not right in fact,
in philosophy he is. Steyer will want to put money to races that
are winnable, so he and his allies will decide whether to back
Democrat Irene Bowling in the 35th and Judy Arbogast in the 26th.
Steyer spent a lot of money against Jan Angel in 2013 and lost, but
the Times story shows where he won, too, and those were not
Bowling saw the same numbers Sheldon saw and had a different
take about votes for Couture and was not so agreeable to the idea
that those votes would now go to Sheldon. “I think that Travis
represents people that are fed up with government as it stands and
they want change,” she said. Her hope is she can influence Couture
voters to vote her way in the general election.
An alert party operative who shall remain nameless told me
recently, “The fights between parties are nothing compared to the
fights within them.” Here we give you two examples, one from each
The first fight is one those in Kitsap are more likely to know
about, the one between supporters of Russ Hauge and those of Bob
Scales. Hauge is the incumbent Kitsap County prosecutor and is a
Democrat. Scales served two terms as a Bainbridge Island city
councilman and works as an attorney for the City of Seattle.
Tim Sheldon, whose name comes up later, doesn’t like it when
Democrats say he isn’t one of them. There is no party registration
in Washington, he’ll tell you. Even if there were, it isn’t like
there is a test you have to pass for either party. But Democrats do
have at least a little bit of justification for saying that about
Sheldon, especially now that he caucuses with Republicans. “They
caucus with me,” he responds. Fine. Same difference. On issues that
divide Democrats and Republicans in the state Senate, Sheldon sides
more with Republicans than he does with Democrats. It doesn’t make
him a Republican, but give the Democrats credit here for arguing
with some evidence.
I’m not sure where they’re getting their evidence when it comes
to Bob Scales. Debbi Lester says Scales is combative, short-sighted and
mean-spirited, based on her experience as fellow member of the
Bainbridge Island City Council. That might all be true, but neither
party is immune from that kind of behavior. I covered the council
for a year or so while Scales was on it his first time and couldn’t
tell you based on that where his politics are. There is the bigger
question of where that even matters when it comes to serving as
prosecutor, but where Lester and others cast doubt on Scales’ cred
as a Democrat come from the fact that the Kitsap Patriots Tea Party
gave Scales a high ranking as a candidate.
Quick, what does the Kitsap Patriots Tea Party stand for in a
prosecutor? Yeah, I don’t know either. Still, I found it curious,
so I contacted the organization to see if I could get a copy of the
questions they asked and Scales’ answers. I got no reply. So we
asked Scales if he would provide them. He did. I’ll post those
below, after the other bit about in-party fighting.
That comes from the race Sheldon is in. Sheldon received a
$13,800 in-kind contribution for some polling from the Senate
Republican Campaign Committee. (On
Monday night I learned there was a last-minute contribution made to
Sheldon by the same group. It’s for $5,126.59 and was given on
Thursday.) Remember, he’s a Democrat. There is another
Democrat in the race, Irene Bowling, who is not shy about
questioning his Dem cred. He has received no other official
Republican Party money.
Travis Couture, the Republican in the race, received $2,000 from
the Mason County Republican Central Committee, but that’s about it
from official sources. Official communications from the state have
gone out within the district from the state party backing other
35th District Republicans, but not Couture.
Eventually, apparently that was July 31, Couture had had enough.
So he sent a letter to Washington State Republican Party Chairwoman
Susan Hutchison complaining. The text of that letter follows. After
that is the response from the state party and then the one from
Kitsap County Republican Party Chairman Chris Tibbs. After that you
can we go back to the Democrats, with Bob Scales taking on the “Tea
Party” issue. Continue reading →
Crosscut launched Wednesday a
series that will focus on swing districts. The first
focus is on the 35th Legislative District Senate race. Knute
Berger, Benjamin Anderstone and Robert Mak teamed up to provide a
comprehensive look at the district as a whole and the race
The series offers historical information about the district,
including how it has changed. From the Berger story:
Some observers say the politically purple Mason County, once
a blue stronghold, is trending redder. This may in part be due to
the aging of the population — it has nearly twice the percentage of
adults 65 and older as King County. It’s not alone in that. The
entire Olympic Peninsula population is aging and has — and will
continue to have — the largest concentration of seniors in the
state, percentage-wise. These folks trend conservative, live on
fixed incomes, are often change- and tax-averse. Mason County
voters have been described as socially liberal but fiscally
conservative, which seems to track with the drift of 35th district
The package looks at what it will take for each candidate to win
and makes that case we have been making here, that for either of
the challengers, Democrat Irene Bowling and Republican Travis
Couture, to win they have to hope they can knock the incumbent,
Democrat Tim Sheldon, out in the primary.
Full disclosure: I make a brief appearance in the Robert Mak
Horses Ass, the political
website for Washington lefties, has audio of a speech delivered
Aug. 23 at a “No on I-594″ event in Silverdale that has supporters
of the measure outraged.
During his speech (the audio is below.) Brian Judy, A Washington
NRA official, criticized one of the measure’s financial backers
($385,000), Nick Hanauer. The initiative, if passed, would require
background checks for gun sales at gun shows and for those online.
It allows for some exceptions.
Judy draws his criticism from a piece Hanauer wrote in Politico
arguing that America needs to raise the wages of lower and middle
class Americans, that the working class is what creates rich
people, not the other way around. The following section reflects
much of Hanauer’s main argument.
… the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality
is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The
problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and
getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a
capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies
change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will
be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.
And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us
who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t
If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this
economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us.
Judy makes the case that rich people like Hanauer want to take
our guns so that poor people will only have pitchforks when they do
rise up. They won’t have guns, because Hanauer wants them taken
And then Judy expresses astonishment that any Jewish person
could believe that:
And in one of the last paragraphs he talks about his family
being run out of Germany by the Nazis. It’s like, How stupid can
they, you know? So he’s funding, he’s put a half a million dollars,
toward this policy, the same policy that led to his family getting
run out of Germany by the Nazis. You know, it’s staggering to me,
it’s just, you can’t make this stuff up. That these people, its
like any Jewish people I meet who are anti-gun, I think, “Are you
serious? Did you not remember what happened? And why did that
happen? Because they registered guns and then they took them. And
now you’re supporting gun con, you come to this country and you
support gun control? Why did you have to flee to this country in
the first place? Hello! Is anybody home here?” Yeah, it’s just, I
Cheryl Stumbo, a victim of the 2006 Jewish Federation shooting
in Seattle, is a sponsor of Initiative 594 and issued this
“The offensive rhetoric from a senior lobbyist at the
National Rifle Association is out-of-touch with what the vast
majority of Washingtonians want: a reasonable, productive
discussion of solutions to reduce gun violence in our communities.
Developing those solutions has been a major part of my life since
the attack on my co-workers and me eight years ago, and I am
honored to have been joined by other survivors of gun violence, gun
owners, hunters, law enforcement, and current and former NRA
members. We’ve come together because Washington state needs
everyone working together to be part of the solution to making our
communities safer – and fringe ideas like Mr. Judy’s are part of
The Jewish Federation of Seattle issued a statement, too, part
of which said:
“Eight years ago today, the Jewish Federation was the target
of a violent attack by an individual harboring dangerous falsehoods
about Jews – falsehoods that continue to exist on the fringes of
our society. It is deeply offensive for anyone to suggest that
Jewish supporters of gun violence prevention have ‘forgotten’ the
history of our people. For a representative of the National Rifle
Association, or any organization, to repeat the out-of-touch
falsehood linking gun violence prevention to Nazi Germany and the
Holocaust is not only an ignorant distortion but is exceedingly
In preparing the story about Kitsap County’s program for
collecting on bad checks, I quickly learned that the issue
generally isn’t new, even if it is just getting attention here.
There were a lot of stories out there, and the primary bone of
contention in all of them is that the letter bad-check writers are
getting looks like it came from the prosecutor’s office.
That implies prosecution, which even our prosecutor suggests is
Given that the referendum on Hauge is hotly contested anyway,
it was not surprising it drew out the the prosecutor’s
critics. Nor should it be surprising that the program would have
Going with that, though, is the concern of business owners
burned by hot checks. While the number of people writing checks for
regular retail is shrinking, there are still a fair number of them
doing it and enough bad checks out there to hurt the businesses
that get them.
It’s that concern that has probably sparked the seeming
popularity among prosecutors for the program. All of our county
neighbors that share land boundaries with us use it. Beth
Terrell, attorney for the plaintiffs, said 12 Washington counties
use Bounceback for the same operation Kitsap County does. They
are Adams, Clallam, Clark, Grant, Jefferson, Kitsap, Kittitas, Klickitat, Mason, Pierce, Spokane,
Thurston, Walla Walla, and Yakima.
I couldn’t find the websites for the programs in Adams and Walla
What we found out is this is not a new issue. Some of the same
issues were raised in a lawsuit we referenced in the story, the
final opinion you can read here. Attorneys on this case believe
they can do a better job arguing against the legality of the
program than the case made before.
Crosscut did a comprehensive piece on the
program in 2012 and pointed out that King County, at least back
then, wasn’t doing anything similar, because the prosecutor there
said he doesn’t want to mix public prosecution with private
Oregon passed a law prohibiting companies from sending out
letters under prosecutor letterhead, which caused some Oregon
counties to cancel the program.Counties in
Massachusettsbailed on the
program, but there are enough stories out there suggesting
BounceBack and other companies like it are hurting for
That could change if legislators successfully restrict these
kind of operations, or if the Washington suit is successful. The
attorneys for the plaintiffs in this case don’t say they want
Bounceback to necessarily go out of business, but they want them to
follow what they believe is the law, particularly the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
That would mean no more prosecutor letterhead and no more
threatening prosecution. For those who get the letters it would at
least mean they know who is really issuing the threat. And it would
likely mean more customers would balk at taking the class and get
away with it, which might make the business model unworkable for
Still undecided in the 35th Legislative District Senate race?
With ballots having arrived to nearly every registered voter’s
mailboxes by now, you might want to hear from the three state
Senate candidates before mailing it back. Or you just might be
enough of a political junky to want to listen to this even if
you’re not a 35th LD voter. The candidates agreed to be
recorded in a phone conversation. Click on the links below to
Someone who didn’t want to be named said to me within the past
few days that Tim Sheldon and Travis Couture should be considered
the front-runners in the 35th Legislative District Senate primary
race. Someone else said that Tim Sheldon might come in third, that
Irene Bowling is the odds on favorite to come in first. Others
wonder if there is any way Sheldon could come in third. There
We’ve addressed this question before, but it merits
repetition, especially in light of the fact that some are speculating that U.S. Sen. Bernie
Sanders, an independent from Vermont who describes himself as a
Democratic Socialist, or democratic socialist, is pondering whether
to run for president in 2016. Should he run it could spell November
doom for Hillary Rodham Clinton, Elizabeth Warren or whoever gets
the Democratic nomination. I don’t seem him winning as an
independent, but I know enough people who appreciate him for his
candor. And sometimes candor like that resonates enough with voters
that they shed their traditional patterns and make an exception in
You know what else makes me think Sanders plans to run? I just
received an emailed newsletter from him, the first time that has
Chances are Sanders would be a spoiler for someone else. To see
how that works, consider the presidential election of 2000. I’m the
first to say that the primary responsibility for Al Gore’s loss
that year was Al Gore himself. He disappointed voters in nearly
every opportunity he could. But Ralph Nader’s Green Party
candidacy was a factor among many. Gore lost by less than 600 votes
in Florida, where Nader received more than 97,000. New Hampshire
also went for Nader in big enough numbers that it’s conceivable
Gore could have won that state’s four electoral college votes had
Nader not run. Tough to say. But this provides the definition of a
spoiler, someone who doesn’t have much chance to win, but can spoil
it for someone else.
Technically, there can be no spoilers in the 35th District
primary. It would take four candidates for that. If the
fourth-place candidate takes enough votes to cause another
candidate to come in third instead of second, that’s a true
spoiler. With only three candidates in this primary, the loser
in this case just loses without damaging anyone else.
Here are some reasons to consider, though, that someone could in
effect fit the spiritual definition of spoiler.
Democrat Tim Sheldon has a long history in Olympia and has added
to it as a Mason County commissioner. In 2006 Sheldon received 72.3
percent of the vote in the general election. In 2010 his numbers
were down, getting about 62 percent in the primary and general
election while running against someone who barely campaigned. That
was a down year for Democrats, even for those who often side with
Republicans. That’s a tough hurdle to beat, making Bowling and
Couture underdogs by default.
Democrats came relatively close to unseating Sheldon
in 2006, but it was in the primary. That’s one key.
That year, 2006, was when Washington voters had to pick a party
to vote in during the primary election. That meant Republicans who
wanted Sheldon to return to Olympia had to select a Democratic
ballot and pick him. The Republican, Mark Shattuck, came in third,
but advanced, because thems was the rules. With that, Sheldon
received 43.1 percent of the vote to Kyle Taylor Lucas’ 32.5
percent. This year there is no such burden. Sheldon only has to
come in second to advance. It’s possible that perception of an
easier path could make some of Sheldon’s traditional supporters
more relaxed about voting.
Meanwhile, it’s the more passionate voters who take part in
primaries. Bowling will certainly get all the support Lucas did,
and probably more. Traditional Democrats who pay attention
will vote for her. Lucas carried some baggage for being perceived
as a carpetbagger, and some people were incensed that Sheldon had
to run against anyone. Now that Sheldon has caucused with
Republicans for two years, some of those who were outraged in 2006
are not so surprised.
Speaking of passion, Couture describes himself on his website as
a “conservative libertarian.” Have you ever seen Ron Paul
supporters at a convention? There’s your passion. So while Sheldon
has some cred with conservatives, it is not out of this world to
think that Couture’s following will represent well in August.
Shattuck received 24 percent of the vote in the 2006 primary back
when A. It was a pick-a-party primary, and B. Ron Paul had not yet
risen to national relevance and C. Sheldon didn’t have the
negatives he has now.
Those negatives include his decision to caucus with
Republicans and a couple of local issues. I didn’t hear much local
fallout from anyone about Sheldon’s decision to caucus in the
Senate with Republicans, other than the complaints from those who
would never vote for him anyway. There might be a fair contingent
out there, though, who were rubbed the wrong way by Sheldon’s
decision, people who didn’t yell and scream about it but are moved
to believe that the maverick might have gone too far off the ranch
for their tastes. They could either vote for someone else, or not
vote at all.
The local issues are ones that arise more out of
Sheldon’s service as a county commissioner. New Belfair sewer
customers don’t like the price they’re paying for service they’re
getting in large part because of Sheldon’s insistence. And just
last week Sheldon and a fellow commissioner enacted a six-month
moratorium on marijuana grow operations. I’m not sure how much
angst that is going to inspire, but there is potential.
In 2012 voters in the 35th District picked Democrat Barack Obama
for president and Republican Rob McKenna for governor. They split
on state House representatives, backed Democrat Derek Kilmer, voted
against gay marriage and for legal marijuana. On statewide issues
voters in the 35th come in consistently a few points more
conservative than the state as a whole. They’re not afraid to elect
traditional Democrats, though, and have sent Kathy Haigh to Olympia
in the House year after year. It’s a tough district to
Sheldon likes to appeal to people who don’t make political
parties their number one priority. That plays better in a
general election, when turnout is high, than it does in a primary,
which appeals to more committed voters. Should Bowling and Couture
finish 1-2 or 2-1, then one of them, the second place finisher in
November, could be seen as the spoiler. The other one will go to
Olympia. Should Sheldon come in first or second in the
primary, the spoiler factor goes away and we focus on
favorites and underdogs.