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Posts Tagged ‘James Watkins’

Election 2012: This may or may not matter

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Everything shared here could be considered moot by the end of the year, depending on what the redistricting commission comes up with. If we lose the First Congressional District completely, then this won’t really matter to a Kitsap audience.

Speaking of redistricting, in California 29 of the state’s 53 incumbents were drawn into new districts. A member of congress does not have to live in the district being represented, but it’s usually kind of a good idea.

The point here was to discuss the names of candidates seeking to replace Jay Inslee. According to the Federal Elections Commission, four candidates have filed to run for the First District seat in 2012. Republican James Watkins will try again and is for now the only Republican.

On the Democratic side state Rep. Marko Liias of Edmonds is running, as is Sammamish state Rep. John Goodman and business owner Darshan Rayniyar.

In the Sixth District Republican Jesse Young hopes to improve on his third-place finish in 2010 and will be joined by fellow Republican Robert Sauerwein in a bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks of Belfair.


Jay Inslee and James Watkins on Lies and Political Point Scoring

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

During the congressional debate between incumbent Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican James Watkins last week Inslee made the case there in the American Legion Hall on Bainbridge Island that he had sponsored the bill that renamed the post office in Rolling Bay after John “Bud” Hawk.

Watkins criticized Inslee for not being at the actual dedication. Inslee asked if that wasn’t a low blow, given that he was fulfilling his constitutional duty voting in D.C. Watkins said no it wasn’t a low blow, that if he, Watkins, had passed that bill, he “damn sure would have been there when they were dedicating it, too.”

Later, Watkins posted a press release saying that Inslee at the debate was “exposed as a liar,” because the same day as the post office dedication, Inslee was in Seattle speaking to “corporate CEOs.” On Factcheckjayinslee.com, Watkins’ campaign wrote, “What a dishonor to Bud Hawk!”

Several blogs have taken the information and called Inslee a liar for his comments. I’ve had people e-mailing and calling me on the phone asking about it.

Inslee did come to Seattle that same day to speak to the Prosperity Partnership, which does have “corporate CEOs” as members, probably many of them. On the organization’s board are an official from Boeing, Microsoft and Uwajimaya.

On that board there is also someone from the Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO, the University of Washington, Washington State University, Seattle Community Colleges, the mayor of Everett and the YWCA. Additionally, Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, four members of Congress and Washington’s two senators, Dick’s Drive-In, El Centro de la Raza, Kitsap County and the Group Health Community Foundation count themselves as a small portion of organizations listed as partners.

The group focuses on economic development for the region.

In addition to the press release, Watkins’ campaign published a video on YouTube with Inslee and Watkins going back and forth on the Hawk dedication. Both appear below.

In writing the House story this weekend, I noted that Inslee said he was voting, that he had spoken to the Prosperity Partnership that day. That was true. I did not write, as Watkins did, that Inslee was lying, because I was allowing for the idea that Inslee either didn’t recall what he was doing, or that voting had actually gotten in the way. I didn’t watch the Prosperity Partnership video of Inslee speaking at the luncheon until Tuesday.

What Inslee said at the debate sounded like during the Bud Hawk event he was on the floor voting in D.C., which was not true. It was true, however, that voting the night before went late enough that he would have missed his scheduled flight home. Had he made that flight, he would have had time to attend the Bud Hawk event, then get on a ferry to get to the Prosperity Partnership luncheon. So, the message that voting got in the way of him attending the Hawk ceremony was correct and not a lie.

Joby Shimomura with Inslee’s campaign said voting the day before, Feb. 25, went later than expected. The last vote was taken at 7:46 p.m. and congressional records show Inslee voted. The last flights out of Ronald Reagan or Dulles to Seattle leave around 5:30 p.m. Inslee was too late for those, so he boarded a flight the next morning that got into Seattle around 11 a.m. The Bud Hawk event started at 10 a.m. “For Watkins to suggest that Jay lied about that is incredibly infuriating,” Shimomura said.

The luncheon was, surprisingly enough, at lunchtime. Inslee made the lunch, not the dedication. If you watch the Prosperity Partnership video, it is clear that he flew into Seattle that morning. Inslee makes specific reference to the weather flying in. “I saw this fog and cloud bank,” he said.

For his part, Hawk said he wasn’t bothered by Inslee not being there. “People do what they can. If they can’t be there they can’t . . . I’d like to have shared the occasion with him, (but) it didn’t bother me,” he said.

Watkins, hearing Inslee’s explanation, ceded no ground. He said there are red-eye flights from DC to Los Angeles that can get someone to Seattle earlier than when Inslee arrived. “He could have been there had he wanted to, but he chose not to,” Watkins said. “He chose other things instead of going to the ceremony for Bud Hawk.”

Assuming the planes were not full on Feb. 25, Inslee could have flown to Atlanta, then caught a flight to Seattle and arrived early in the morning, spending the night in airports and on planes. Chances are it also would have cost more to make that kind of change in plans. Since I am not the regular traveler I once was, I don’t know. If it does cost more, it comes out of the congressman’s travel allowance, provided by you and me in our taxes.

Instead, Shimomura said, Inslee called Hawk the day before to let him know it was unlikely he would make it, and that Hawk was fine with it. I asked Hawk, a World War II hero, but he didn’t recall too many details about the event, blaming it on age. He’s 86. “I’ve got my name written down here somewhere,” he joked. Someone somewhere threw postponement into the conversation, but invitations had been sent, Shimomura said.

Besides, “This whole thing was about Bud Hawk, not Jay Inslee,” Shimomura said. “He (Hawk) should be bothered that James Watkins is using it as a political issue.”

In Inslee’s official statement, he said much the same:

“When I called Bud to tell him that I couldn’t be there he appreciated that I got this bill passed to honor him.  What I don’t appreciate is anyone using this war hero to prop up their failed campaign. I couldn’t attend the opening because of votes and I was on a plane during the event, not at a lunch. The event was about Bud Hawk, not Jay Inslee or James Watkins.”

On Tuesday I received an e-mail that read in part: “If you will review the tapes of the night that were posted on Watkins’ website and forwarded to me, Inslee lied to the crowd. If the facts are born out he was at a luncheon with Mullaly and some others in Seattle at the time of the dedication. I have no problem with him not being there but I do have a real problem with his moral outrage when, if the facts are correct, he lied outright.”

Later I was out stalking neighborhoods for campaign signs when I received a call from the 425 area code. A nice man identified himself as a Watkins volunteer and wanted to address the “lie.” I told him what I knew to that point about late voting, etc. From my impression he still believes that Inslee was “exposed as a liar.”

Recently I have heard people say that this is the worst election season ever for peddling bull and negative ads. I typically don’t believe it anytime someone says something is the worst or best ever, but this time I wonder. The Murray-Rossi ads, the initiative commercials and the stuff we get in the mail all seem to have at least been designed to take kernels of truth and distort them so that we will believe something that is not certifiably true. I have to admit; this election season has made me wearier than I can ever recall.

If you use truth to get me to believe a lie, it’s a lie, and you’re a liar. If you know what you are saying is not true, then you are a liar. If you don’t know, then maybe you’re just wrong. Maybe you are careless, but you are not a liar. If what you are saying is true, you are not a liar, even if I misinterpret what you said.

Inslee and Watkins debated important issues that night: health care, job creation, deficit spending and energy. They have real differences on those issues. Inslee has a voting record and Watkins has made his priorities clear. Their opinions and their actions could have a real impact on you and me.

So given the fact that the candidates are clearly different on the big issues, who are the people who would vote differently based on what was said about the Bud Hawk ceremony? Was anyone leaning toward Inslee, but now will vote for Watkins, because you are so disgusted by Inslee’s inartful explanation for missing it? On the other side, is there anyone who was leaning toward Watkins, but is now disgusted by how he has played up this issue?

The Watkins press release and the video follows.

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Congressional Candidate Launches Fact-Check Site on Incumbent

Monday, April 12th, 2010

James Watkins, one of two Republicans signed up to do battle with U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, unveiled Fact Check Jay Inslee Monday.

In it he invites people to post communications they get from the congressman. The press release follows.

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Early, in Some Cases Way Early, Campaign Maneuvers

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

In general, we don’t make a lot of fuss over most endorsements or advertising. On endorsements we’ll usually provide a list of them, but we don’t write a story every time a candidate is endorsed by Washington Ichthyologists or the ASB President at Klahowya. For negative ads there might be a story or two, say when a candidate’s photo is doctored to make him or her like the victim of bad plastic surgery or it’s alleged that the candidate wants to sterilize sections of Poulsbo.

On Thursday we received notices that cause us to make two exceptions. Attorney General Rob McKenna has endorsed one of Jay Inslee’s challengers. The other is a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ad highlighting alleged negatives of someone who has not publicly stated an intention to run. Both developments make sense, but it doesn’t mean there’s little surprise.

The DSCC’s Web site, Dirty Deals Dino for Senate charges that Dino Rossi has profited mightily from his campaigns even though he lost.

“In 2004, after I lost my first race for governor, I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself – until I realized that this was not a political setback, but a business opportunity! I had lots of great ideas – and a rocking stump speech. Why not use those things to make a tidy little profit? The “nonprofit” Forward Washington Foundation was born. Forward Washington – which is what I called my campaign, too – was supposed to improve the state’s business climate. And it did! Without Forward Washington, my former political aides might have been out of work, and I would have had $75,000 per year less to live on! Of course, those whiny Democrats complained that I was evading campaign-finance disclosure laws. They were just jealous that the state’s Public Disclosure Commission found that the foundation had raised a whopping $360,000 from unidentified donors. When I left my foundation to run for governor again, I worried about my income loss, but it helped that the foundation spent nearly $10,000 on copies of my book to give to donors. Thanks, guys!”

The site doesn’t just focus on Rossi’s defeats. The committee argues that Rossi was put into politics by shady types and benefited from industries he supported when he was in office.

That I know of, there are no other negative ad campaigns against any of the announced candidates. The reason is simple. Scroll down the list of the dozen or so candidates who have announced they’re running against Democrat Patty Murray and see if you find someone who has better name recognition than Rossi. See anyone who immediately is a stronger bet against the incumbent?

McKenna’s endorsement of Republican James Watkins surprises me only because there is another Republican in that race. Why it makes sense is because it’s clear that McKenna is the favorite to carry the Republican banner in the governor’s race, while Inslee has been emerging lately as a strong possibility among the Democrats. Inslee has been blistering McKenna lately over the AG’s decision to challenge the constitutionality of the health care reform legislation just passed.

Horsesass.org posted a video of Inslee calling out McKenna. The video appears in a blog post longing for Inslee vs. McKenna in 2012.

Watkins’ press release references that potential race in announcing McKenna’s endorsement.

“We’ve shown that Congressman Inslee is vulnerable, and Congressman Inslee has shown us that he’s not terribly interested in being the 1st District’s representative, but is already itching to start his 2012 campaign for governor. (See here and here)

“With the support of Attorney General McKenna and people throughout the 1st District who want change in Washington, D.C., I look forward to retiring Mr. Inslee this November so he can devote himself full-time to seeking yet another political office.”

McKenna, for his part, is quoted only in endorsing Watkins.

“James has the real-world experience and solid principles to be a great congressman working for the 1st District,” said McKenna. “He will make a big difference in D.C. and help put our nation on a better path.”

Still, if Inslee were to lose his congressional seat, it would seem to hurt his chances to be the Democratic ticket bearer in 2012. If you’re one to believe there were political machinations in McKenna’s decision to challenge health care reform, it would not be a stretch to see it here, too.

About Watkins’ point that “We’ve shown that Congressman Inslee is vulnerable,” you may recall we took a look at that claim made by Watkins using a survey he commissioned.

The owner of the company that performed the survey was mentioned on another site.

Finding out who paid for the poll also is critical, said pollster Bob Moore of Oregon-based Moore Information. If a candidate has paid for it, then the numbers can’t be taken at face value, he said, and reporters should do everything they can to speak to the pollster about the results, not someone working with the campaign.

“The pollster may get some numbers that the campaign doesn’t like, and won’t release,” Moore said.

I contacted both the pollster and the campaign. The pollster told me I’d have to get the information I wanted from the campaign. A staffer from Watkins’ campaign contacted me Thursday by e-mail, stating in part:

“Since the poll has some information we would prefer not to have the Inslee campaign get wind of, we’re not going to release all the details.”

So that means either Watkins got some info the campaign is saving to lob onto Inslee later, or the pollster got some information the campaign didn’t like. Either way, without that information I don’t know how we can assume the conclusion “Inslee is vulnerable” is any more credible than an ad suggesting a candidate for the House wants to dump Hanford nuclear waste into the Columbia River.


Is Poll on Inslee Vulnerability Accurate? — Updated

Friday, March 26th, 2010

At 6:10 Thursday evening I received in the inbox an e-mail from the James Watkins for Congress campaign saying that Jay Inslee, the Bainbridge Island Democratic incumbent congressman, was vulnerable in the First Congressional District race in November. That conclusion came from a survey done by Moore Information of Portland.

Here are some words of warning. I’m not at all saying Inslee isn’t vulnerable. That is entirely possible. Given the difference in national surveys we are seeing about the health care reform bill, it’s really hard for me to know. Plus, November is a long, long time away, especially in a non-presidential election year.

However, I feel justified being somewhat skeptical of these numbers. Watkins commissioned this survey, and we don’t have the questions, information about the demographics of the people surveyed, or any other information that would be helpful in deciphering these numbers. That kind of information is critical in trying to determine whether a poll accurately reflects what people feel.

That sentiment is confirmed by a blog posting by Jim Small of the Arizona Capitol Times. Small quotes Bob Moore of Moore Information in an earlier post.

Finding out who paid for the poll also is critical, said pollster Bob Moore of Oregon-based Moore Information. If a candidate has paid for it, then the numbers can’t be taken at face value, he said, and reporters should do everything they can to speak to the pollster about the results, not someone working with the campaign.

“The pollster may get some numbers that the campaign doesn’t like, and won’t release,” Moore said.

If we see the script with the questions, the demographic information and the cross-tabs from the survey, then that goes a lot farther in trusting the results. Last night I asked the Watkins campaign and the polling company for that information. I particularly want to see it in light of this item I found about surveys the company did in New Hampshire leading up to the presidential primary in 2008. As you read this info, bear in mind it does come from a site that is pro Democratic Party.

Friday, March 26, 4 p.m. UPDATE: I received an e-mail from the campaign saying they would check with the pollster. I got a response from the pollster saying I would have to get that information from the campaign.

Skepticism is not cynicism. I just want to see more data. Here are some other clips featuring Moore.

Here’s a 2007 story about polling Moore did for Dino Rossi. The company is still helping Rossi these days.

Moore Information was referenced in a 2003 column here about former Gov. Gary Locke.

When I added “push poll” to the search I got this 2004 column from Wisconsin on Moore Information polling in the presidential race.

Here’s a 2008 Newsweek story that mentions Moore, but is about negative campaigning generally.

After all that, I decided to go ahead and share the e-mail and the memo I got. If Inslee’s campaign wants to commission a survey and publish selective results, I’ll do the same. The rest is after the jump.

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