Tag Archives: Politics

Local politicos predict tonight’s results and political future

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.

I-1351 (Class sizes): yes 19, no 4
I-591 (Gun background checks matching federal rules): yes 6, no 16
I-594 (Expanding background checks): yes 19, no 4
Congress: Kilmer 22, McClendon 1
LD 23 House 1: Appleton 22, Henden 1
LD 23 House2: Hansen 20, Olsen 1
LD 26 Senate: Angel 21, Arbogast 2
LD 26 House 1: Schlicher 15, Young 7
LD 26 House 2: Seaquist 18, Caldier 5
LD 35 Senate: Sheldon 18, Bowling 5
LD 35 House 1: Haigh 17, Griffey 6
LD 35 House 2: MacEwen 15, Newton 7
County Commissioner 3: Streissguth 14, Wolfe 9
Assessor: Andrews 15, Cook 7
Auditor: Gilmore 22, Emerson 0
Clerk: Peterson 23, Chaney 0
Coroner: Sandstrom 21, Wallis 0
Prosecutor: Hauge 22, Robinson 1
District Court Judge 1: Bradley 18, Flood 5
Supreme Court Justice 4: Johnson 21, Yoon 1
Supreme Court Justice 7: Stephens 21, Scannell 0

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).

Keep those campaign ads and claims coming

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 campaign advertising.

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 sgardner@kitsapsun.com.

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 those.

4. Call and leave a message with the ad’s content. I’m at 360-792-3343.

Thanks for your help!

Comprehensive spotlight on 35th LD Senate race

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 specifically.

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 politics.

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 piece.

Supreme Court ruling and the local impact

Today’s Supreme Court ruling eliminating caps on how many federal races an individual can contribute to could have an impact here if ever there is a federal race that is considered “in play.” We have not seen that in a while.

The Citizens United decision earlier had the potential of dramatically increasing the amount spent on local races for independent groups and did very little here. U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, the Gig Harbor Democrat who replaced Norm Dicks and Jay Inslee in representing the Kitsap area, did not have a particularly close race in 2012, so all that suspect money was spent elsewhere.

Today’s decision allows someone to contribute to as many House or Senate races as there are, but maintains the maximum contribution to any single race to $2,600 for the primary and another $2,600 for the general election. If someone decided to contribute in every race, it could cost more than $2.2 million. Before today the max was $48,600 per federal election cycle. The most envisioned scenario is someone giving a party, let’s say $1 million, and saying “Spend it where it’s needed.”

Parties like to spend money on races they have a chance at winning. Two years ago they didn’t see that happening here, so they didn’t spend any.

I have heard rumors about who might run against Kilmer this year, but no one has filed with the Federal Elections Commission. Meanwhile the FEC website indicates Kilmer has raised more than $1 million for the 2014 election, about $575,000 from individuals and about $419,000 from political action committees.

Kilmer issued a press release today expressing his disappointment with the Supreme Court ruling. It follows:

Continue reading

Decode DC: Stimulus? ‘We can’t play.’

Here is an interesting story that serves as a good way to introduce you to a Washington D.C.-based news operation recently acquired by Scripps. Decode DC, a venture started by former NPR Congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook, delves into the questions I would want to try to answer if I were a reporter in DC, something I did once aspire to a few decades ago. In recent episodes Decode DC delved into the sausage-making of the State of the Union speech, the ridiculous speculation about who the frontrunners are for the 2016 presidential race and the real issues behind the extension of unemployment benefits.

In a Kitsap Sun story in 2012 we looked at the career of former U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, the Belfair (but really, Bremerton) Democrat, who was retiring with accolades from folks on Capitol Hill touting Dicks’ ability to work across the aisle. Among those singing the congressman’s praises was California Republican Jerry Lewis.

When you listen to the podcast posted above, though, you’ll see that Lewis delivered the message that Republicans in early 2009 were not going to do anything to help the new president, Democrat Barack Obama. “We can’t play,” Lewis told Democrat David Obey. Not that Republicans didn’t secretly make requests, according to Obey. They just didn’t want their bosses in House leadership to know. And so you get a stimulus package that many believe was not big enough to stir as much economic activity as was needed then.

Now, this of course ignores the thought that there are many in this country who thought that the banks should not be bailed out and there should be no economic stimulus. This particular episode challenges that idea by starting from the premise that economists on both sides were saying some stimulus was needed and by showing conservative, free-market believer George W. Bush being the one asking Congress to bail out the banks. So even some conservatives were on board with the idea of government injecting itself into the economy to save the economy.

That is until a Democrat became president, overseeing two Congressional chambers also led by Democrats. You might say Republicans could afford to say “No,” because they knew Democrats would say “Yes.” This particular podcast sheds some light on what happened behind the scenes.

It also gets Obey saying something you don’t hear politicians saying very often, that many politicians in Washington are just not very bright. You’ll have to listen to hear him say why.

When new episodes post I will likely make it a regular event to post them here.

And finally, props to the suits in Cincinnati who saw fit to buy up Decode DC.

Hooray! More mostly bogus advertising in the 26th LD race!

We’re less than a week away from seeing election results, but the ads keep on coming. Assuming there might be someone still undecided out there it seemed worthwhile to look at some of the claims and see how much truth we can find. Some of the claims are in new ads. Some are classics.

First, a couple pieces of advice.

  • 1. Question any ad that makes a conclusion based on one piece of legislation.
  • 2. Question any ad that makes a claim based on one part of a single piece of legislation.
  • 3. Question any ad by a politician or group characterizing the opposition’s views.
  • 4. Know that many of the details in campaign ads are true, but they don’t necessarily tell a true story.
  • 5. Assume every single campaign advertisement could be lying to you.

CLAIM: “SHAMEFUL: Schlicher Takes Advantage of Senator’s Choice to Breastfeed”
THE STORY: There is a true story here that doesn’t make Democrats look good even under the most flattering lights. Party leaders deny the worst accusations about the incident, and how much Schlicher was to blame for it is a bigger question. This ad comes from the state Republican Party. The Good Government Coalition also funded a similar ad. I refer you to Washington State Wire and Crosscut stories that discuss the incident. The short version is that a Republican senator who regularly took breaks to nurse her baby was excused from the floor. On one occasion Democrats took advantage of her absence to push a Schlicher-sponsored bill dealing with administrative costs for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to a vote. The bill had the support of 11 of 12 senators in committee. The ad says Schlicher “helped lead an effort by his party for a power play.” It was his bill, sure. He certainly would have benefited politically had it passed. And the Democrats issued a press release after the incident in which Schlicher was quoted. But another Democrat, Seattle’s David Frockt, was the one blamed for pushing the vote. He and other Democrats said they didn’t know the absent senator was off breastfeeding. If you’re skeptical of that, I can’t blame you.

CLAIM: Jan Angel chose tax loopholes for deceased multi-millionaires over education for our kids.
THE STORY:
Angel is a “no new taxes” enthusiast, which gives an organization like She’s Changed PAC, the advertiser here, ample fodder to make statements like Angel likes (insert bad thing here) more than (insert good thing here). Angel’s side employs the same technique. Angel is unlikely to vote for any new tax on the belief that the state can fund its priorities with existing revenues. In this case Angel was opposed to the Legislature’s decision to change state law in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that would have forced the state to refund $160 million in estate taxes to people who can legitimately be called multi-millionaires. The money the state held onto did go to education, so there’s the link between rich people and our kids. The problem is that Angel might be right that the state could eventually have to pay back this money. The Legislature essentially clarified the intent of an older law and applied that clarification retroactively.

CLAIM: Representative Jan Angel chose tax loopholes for Big Oil companies over our kids’ schools.
THE STORY:
This is essentially a new version of the anti-Angel claim above. She’s hawkish on taxes, and considers closing loopholes a new tax. The argument on a She’s Changed PAC flyer makes a lucid and issue-driven argument against Angel’s position on tax loopholes for oil, except for where it definitively links that position with schools. Again, Angel says “Fund education first,” then fund everything else, so she could be for that money, but not when it comes from that tax. Most either/or arguments like this are “either” misleading “or” false. Fund education first, she says, satisfies the state constitution. Schlicher counters that there are other funding mandates required under the constitution, too, so Angel’s suggestion for a funding formula puts other constitutionally mandated programs at risk.

CLAIM: Schlicher opposes the voter-approved 2/3rds majority to raise taxes.
THE STORY:
People for Jobs, Enterprise Washington uses an email Schlicher sent to a constituent. At least most of the ads get it right that Schlicher thinks the Supreme Court was right to overturn the voter initiative, but they leave out the rest of his position. Here’s the quote from a letter he wrote to Kelly Haughton: “While I do agree with the court decision that the initiative was unconstitutional, the message was clear: taxes should not be the default solution of the government in times of fiscal crisis. I support the will of the people to consider a constitutional amendment on the issue and will vote for a reasonable version of an amendment.” Where Republicans can take bigger issue is that he doesn’t think corporate tax loopholes that don’t provide a benefit to the state (And that is the reason to establish a loophole.) should be subject to the 2/3 standard.

CLAIM: “Nathan Schlicher voted against a bill for early intervention to help all students read by the 4th grade, instead favoring the special interests of a campaign contributor.”
THE STORY:
This references Senate Bill 5946, which in part addressed reading skills for third graders. The original version of the bill had no funding provided to local districts, yet directed districts what they were to do. In other places that’s called an “unfunded mandate.” One of the solutions suggested for kids in third grade was discussing whether the student should stay in third grade. Schlicher argued that keeping kids in third grade would be the default solution, because the bill provided no money for anything else. The bill passed by four votes in the Senate, went to the House and came back to the Senate. The final bill had funding. Schlicher voted for that version, which passed the Senate in a 46-2 vote.

CLAIM: “When insurance companies wanted to eliminate basic care like mammograms and maternity care, Jan Angel sponsored House Bill 1804 that would cut our benefits.”
THE STORY:
We’ve addressed this one before, but it keeps coming up in part because Angel has expressed so much outrage over the claim, citing her own personal history of having one third of her breast removed. The Seattle Times ruled that a TV commercial saying Angel “led efforts to eliminate coverage for mammograms,” was “Mostly false.” The Times was right on that ad. But wait, there is more. Angel co-sponsored a bill that would have removed all state mandates on insurance coverage, conditions and services government requires insurance companies to cover. The bill would have exchanged state rules for the mandates under the Affordable Care Act. Had the bill passed, mammogram coverage would have still been required, but only for women 40 and above and not for immigrants. Some women would have lost coverage under the bill. Men get breast cancer, too. The state requires coverage for their mammograms and the ACA does not. Additionally, Angel has stated she is against the Affordable Care Act, even though her voting record is mixed on funding state implementation of the federal law, according to the (Tacoma) News Tribune. So, Angel is against the Affordable Care Act, yet she voted to remove state mandates in favor of ACA rules. This becomes a question of whether Angel supports any government mandates about health insurance. In a campaign questionnaire she wrote that she favored a free market, “menu driven/choice plan.” So if she had her way and insurers got to offer the plans they wanted, would they all stop covering mammograms? In theory they could, but insurance companies wouldn’t stay in business if they didn’t cover anything. Is Angel absolute about her thoughts on insurance companies? I’ve asked and I can’t get an answer. I tried to ask her after the Oct. 3 forum in Gig Harbor if the state mandate bill had passed and Obamacare went away, would she want government somewhere to require insurance companies to cover mammograms? She said she couldn’t answer a hypothetical question. I’ve forwarded a similar question, “Should any government tell insurance companies what they have to cover?” and have received no answer. So, yes, details in this claim are wrong, but until Angel definitively says she is for or against mandates I have a hard time raising the finish flag on the issue.

Cheer up. There’s only one more week of this. It will be months before it all starts again. In these final few days if you’ve seen any other claims you question, let us know and we’ll see if we can dig into it.

The Kitsap Caucus Reading Room Aug. 21, 2013

Real Clear Politics posted a column attempting to answer “How ‘Lawless’ is Obama?” It’s a cry conservatives have made about the president’s suspending the employer mandate for a year, some of his recess appointments and other executive actions.

The Seattle Times has a story about the state’s ad blitz on the health care exchange.

A story in The New Republic is provocatively titled, “The GOP Plan to Crush Silicon Valley,” and in it the author makes the case:

“Many people still cling to the idea that government is, without exception, a drag upon the private economy. Conservatives ‘know that when it comes to economic progress,’ Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, wrote last year in National Review, ‘the best government philosophy is one that starts every day with the question, ‘What can we do today to get out of Americans’ way?’ ‘ They imagine the United States as a land of plucky inventor-entrepreneurs (‘We built it!’ they cry) who work out of garages and depend solely on their wits. The problem is that this vision of American inventiveness is pure myth.
“Steve Jobs, who has nearly been beatified in his role as independent businessman, excelled at designing products based on government-funded inventions.”

I invite you Kitsap Caucus readers to read and discuss.

A Washington Post blog post on The Fix shows why what’s happening now in the 2016 presidential election race matters more than you might think.

Incumbency, close calls and money

This will make sense later.
This will make sense later.
In January it became clear that the November general election would almost certainly be a race between Nathan Schlicher, the appointed Democratic incumbent, against Republican Jan Angel, a member of the House. As I write this neither of them have filed to run, so we are still operating on assumptions.

There have been cases in our recent political past where the gift of an appointment might payed dividends. Would Steve Bauer have had as easy a path to his election to the county commission, and then Rob Gelder had they not been appointed earlier? I doubt it. In those cases incumbency gave them a record and some kind of reputation.

Schlicher certainly benefits from incumbency as opposed to trying to challenge Angel with no official legislative experience. The questions I wanted to pose were how well appointed incumbents have done in the past, and in cases where appointed incumbents failed to be selected, what happened? Sunday’s piece answered those questions. We scheduled the piece for the Sunday before filing began and “Happy Mothers’ Day, everyone!” I looked at legislative historical records available on the Legislature’s website, as well as news archives, to get some context.

Some side issues, interesting on their own but not contributing to the questions asked Sunday, arose in conversations with candidates and others, as well as in the research.

incumbentIssue One: Because Schlicher was not elected, can he call himself the “incumbent?” Angel said she doesn’t think so, but the dictionary does not distinguish between whether someone was elected or appointed. In fact, for many people getting the approval of the local party would be harder than getting approved by voters. It is worthwhile to note the distinction, because for many the word “incumbent” implies a past election. President Gerald Ford was the incumbent president in 1976, even though he was elected with a 1-0 vote. That’s an old joke that ignores the fact that Ford was confirmed vice president 92-3 in the U.S. Senate and 387-35 in the House.

Issue Two: If the race is close, which there is sound reason to suspect it could be, so many factors could make the final difference. In fact, in close races it is nearly impossible to credit a win or blame a loss on any one thing. So many unseen things can effect the outcome. “When you lose by 191 votes the flap of a butterfly’s wings can make a difference,” said Randy Gordon, who was the Democrats’ appointed incumbent in the 41st District Senate seat. He lost by 194 votes, according to the state, but let’s not quibble. If he were to pick one ingredient it would be the national anti-incumbent, especially anti-Democratic incumbent, mood across the country. But it could have been any one of his votes in the Legislature, or a particular ad run against him and financed by national PACs, or the money dumped into his opponent’s campaign, or the Democratic Party not putting enough money into his campaign. He said state party officials admitted to him they goofed by not spending more on his race, but how much more would have created a victory? This could be one of those races where in every moment of being awake the candidate and their supporters will not have a moment they can afford to relax.

Issue Three: Both candidates said they will win by telling their stories to win the campaign. Angel added that she will raise money. Since the story ran Angel is reporting more in her campaign chest. On a separate blog a few of you took U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, to task for planning to host a Star Wars-themed fundraiser. I’ll be honest, I was surprised at that reaction. I assumed everyone knew that a big part of a member of Congress’ life is raising money to win the job again in two years. If you haven’t listened to the “This American Life” piece “Take the Money and Run for Office,” I suggest you set aside about an hour to get yourself schooled. That Kilmer is raising funds should not surprise anyone. I’m not saying it’s right, so don’t take me to task for cheerleading the fundraising. I’m not. But I have a difficult time faulting someone who knows he needs to raise funds to win a public office for doing just that. Until finance laws change, that is how it works. Even if finance laws do change, there is no guarantee this kind of election begging would go away. If your problem is that it was a Star Wars theme, maybe it’s worth asking what the harm is in having fun with an otherwise ugly task. If I was hosting fundraisers, you can bet one would be a Batman theme. And not the newer cool Batman, but the Adam West version. Then, every time more money came in I could flash signs that said, “Kapow!” or “Zowie!”

Angel, Schlicher have allies in opposite chambers

Jordan Schrader at the (Tacoma) News Tribune gives both sides of the story in the gamesmanship question about the 26th District.

“There are games being played. I can’t say there isn’t,” Port Orchard Republican Angel said. Her rival, Gig Harbor Democrat Schlicher, similarly decried “stupid games” and concluded in frustration: “This is why people hate government.”

Recall that this is the district in which the appointed incumbent state Sen. Nathan Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor, is likely to face off against state Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, to finish the last year of the term former state Sen. Derek Kilmer was elected to.

We addressed both sides of the issue when it comes to state Schlicher when we posted The Politics of Diabetes, because we did ask why he was the sponsor of the diabetes bill in the first place when it was sponsored by another legislator a year ago.

But then we posted about Schlicher’s Narrows Bridge toll bill getting killed by a floor vote to not have a floor vote. (Confusing. It just means they voted to not vote on the bill.) The bill had overwhelming support out of committee, but the majority coalition blocked it from the floor. What we didn’t know at the time was that Democrats got the question to the floor while Republican Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry was off floor feeding her baby. She came back to the floor to cast the coalition’s 25th vote against the bill.

After that incident I emailed Port Orchard state Rep. Jan Angel’s press rep the following:

We’ve paid some attention to how bills sponsored by state Sen. Nathan Schlicher have seemed to meet political reality. In one case he sponsored a bill that had Republican cosponsors, including from the committee. But at the last minute was pulled from committee executive session schedule. When another senator essentially forced a vote it went down on party lines. Yesterday another bill he sponsored was refused a floor vote by the Senate Majority Coalition after it had sailed through committee.

A cynic would suspect politics are at play.

A cynic would also assume that the same kind of politickacracy has been dumped on Jan Angel. I was hoping you might suggest some examples that come easily to mind.

Angel returned the request and left a voicemail message.

Angel said in her first session she had four good bills introduced, but only one passed. In the second session she introduced six bills and only one passed. She’s had three pass this year.

“This isn’t at all unusual for a freshman in their first session and for me in my second session and the fact that when you’re in the minority party, it’s difficult,” she said.

Angel said she got a bill out of committee unanimously, but it got killed on the floor, similar to what happened with Schlicher’s bridge toll bill.

“Have I had those things happen this session? You bet I have,” she said.

Angel has had three bills pass this session.

As Schrader writes in his story, proof that politics are at play is elusive. Leaders from both majorities deny it.

In an earlier story by John Stang of Crosscut about the bridge toll vote, there was a comment from Rodney Tom, a Democrat who leads the majority coalition, about Schlicher getting his one vote. “It is a Senate tradition that every senator — even those in the minority — gets one bill passed,” Stang wrote.

Schrader wrote that six senators, including Schlicher, have had just one bill pass. Not on that list are Republicans Sharon Brown or John Smith. Like Schlicher, they are appointed incumbents. Unlike Schlicher, both of them have five bills passed this session.

Late local numbers favor Democrats

Up until 2010 we who watched elections closely thought we could count on later election numbers in Washington swinging in the Republican direction. In 2010 that changed, so I wanted to see this year whether Democrats had broken a trend, or started a new one.

Based on round numbers, no decimal points, it seems Democrats have again shown their ability to get out the vote late, at least locally. In looking at 10 races of interest to Kitsap residents, three races showed the same percentage points on Nov. 6 and Nov. 20, one swung more Republican and six favored Democrats as later numbers came in.

The governor’s race remained a 51-49 score. Charlotte Garrido still has 52 percent in her race against Linda Simpson in the county commissioner race, and state Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, maintained his 54-46 edge over Republican Doug Richards.

Meanwhile Democrat Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, gained a point in his bid for Congress over Republican Bill Driscoll. Democrat Rob Gelder remained at 55 in his county commissioner race, while Republican Chris Tibbs dropped a point. In the 23rd Legislative District Democrats Sherry Appleton and Drew Hansen gained a point, while Tony Stephens dropped one and James Olsen held steady. In the 35th Democrat Kathy Haigh went from leading with a 50-50 margin to a 51-49 edge over Dan Griffey.

The other race in the 35th saw the biggest swing, though it didn’t change the end result. Republican Drew MacEwen had a 55-45 edge over Lynda Ring-Erickson on election night and as of Tuesday that lead was down to 52-48.

The one race that went bluer redder was Republican Jan Angel’s race against Karin Ashabraner in the 26th District. Angel gained a point while Ashabraner lost one, with Tuesday’s margin at 59-41.

While I was away state Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, said she’ll introduce a bill to require ballots be on hand in county elections office by election day, rather than having them postmarked by then. She made the announcement on the 14th.

“We’re now more than a week past Election Day and in some areas of the state, people still don’t know who their elected officials are going to be. Those races may be determined by ballots that haven’t even been received yet. Washington has the slowest system in the country for receiving votes, and it’s simply one that needs to be improved.

“This isn’t just a matter of convenience. I can tell you personally that there are many things an incoming legislator must do to get up to speed for a legislative session. Delaying an outcome by days or weeks inhibits their ability to effectively represent their district,” Becker said in a statement.

Republicans did see some key races swing their way in at least one statewide race and in Southwest Washington. Republican Kim Wyman was behind on election night to Democrat Kathleen Drew in the race for Secretary of State, but that 50-50 race is now actually 50.5-49.5 in Wyman’s favor now. In Vancouver Republican Don Benton leads the 17th District state Senate race by 104 votes over Democrat Tim Probst, a margin that makes that race eligible for an automatic recount should the current difference hold. On election night Probst was winning. That race is key because it has the potential of swinging the balance of power in the Senate chamber if Republicans can woo enough Democrats over to form a coalition majority.

Temp member of Congress might have nothing to do

In April we told you that, yeah, that election for the one-month job in Congress might seem like it costs a lot of money, but at least there will be a lot to do. Surely there would be a lame-duck session so Congress could finish the work it was unwilling to do before the election.

Now there is a push, perhaps a quixotic one but a push nonetheless, to not have that lame-duck session. Three Senators are urging House leadership to get a budget passed in August or October, which would essentially make a lame-duck session unnecessary.

“Should Republicans fail to do this, Americans can expect another carefully choreographed crisis that will needlessly take government to the brink of a shutdown, without concern for voters, consumers and businesses that desperately need stability amid these fragile economic times.” — South Carolina Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, all Republicans.

George Behan, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, said the congressman would like to see a budget passed before August, too. “Norm believes it would be good for our economy if we got together,” Behan said.

It seems unlikely. A year ago Congress had three different proposals they could have at least accepted as frameworks for budget agreements and failed, Behan said. The guts of any of those could be used again, but “Politically it’s hard to imagine that happening.”

Many Republicans have pledged to not do anything that hints of raising taxes and Democrats are saying they’ll let all the Bush tax cuts expire, a pretty fair piece of leverage, Behan said.

It’s those tax cuts that are part of what an end-of-year session would likely address. A representative from the current 1st Congressional District could, in theory, be an important single vote.

If Congress doesn’t meet after the election, well, someone either gets to brag about being in Congress for a month or gets a head start on the other new members.

Money may not mean as much as we think

Most of our attention regarding campaign finance will be on the local impact and local sources of campaign money, but I thought you might take an interest in a story from the Washington Post.

Mitt Romney will very likely draw in more money than Barack Obama, but there’s little reason to suspect that will matter all that much. When I saw the headline for the story, Money gap may not matter so much in November, my first guess was that after so much money enough is enough. That was part of it.

“Nobody’s going to win or lose this election on the basis of not having enough money,” said Bob Biersack, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign money. “Each of them is going to have around $700 [million to] $800 million available. The idea that that’s not enough is just bizarre.”

Other issues are that it’s historically easier for a presidential challenger to outraise the incumbent and that in some ways a small donation is just as effective as a big one in terms of what you get from the donor besides the money.

It’s well worth the read.

‘Eggs’ forum scheduled

The Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its first of five primary election debates this morning as part of its “Eggs & Issues” series. On this morning’s schedule was Republican James Olsen and Democrat Henning Larsen, both seeking to replace state Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, was not able to attend because of a prior engagement. Hansen represents the 23rd Legislative District, Position 2.

In Legislative District 26, Position 1, state Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard is scheduled to debate Democrats Karin Ashabraner and Stephen Greer on July 10

The July 17 forum will include Republican Drew MacEwen, independent Glenn Gaither, Democrats Jeff Davis and Lynda Ring-Erickson.

Candidates for the District 2 county commissioner seat — incumbent Democrat Charlotte Garrido, Democrat Lary Coppola, Republican Linda Simpson and indedendant Kristine Danielson — will address the July 24 forum.

The final morning event before the primary will feature candidates for Superiort Court Judge, Court 7: Jennifer Forbes, Bill Houser, Karen Klein and Rob MacDermaid.

Each forum begins at 7:30 a.m. and will be at the Cloverleaf Sports Bar & Grill, 1240 Hollis Street. If you want to eat breakfast at the event, come prepared to pay for your own meal.

Democrats in 1st CD to benefit from media buy

House Majority PAC plans to spend $800,000 on television advertising during the fall election season, with the money targeting the new 1st Congressional District.

The move is meant to counter what is expected to be an especially rich campaign spending season for backers of Republican candidates.

Across the country the House Majority PAC will team up with the Service Employees International Union to spend $20 million in 38 markets. The Seattle buy does not include SEIU money. But a joint press release sent out Monday indicated this is the “first stage” of airtime reservations.

Andy Stone, House Majority PAC spokesman responded by email saying the Seattle money is going entirely for the 1st Congressional District. Of the 38 markets in which the organizations plan to spend money, the $800,000 for Seattle buy is the sixth largest.

The press release follows:
Continue reading

Big money likely to come from outside in Washington governor’s race

While attending the Rob McKenna fundraiser in Bremerton Thursday one of my first thoughts was of math.

Tables: 29
x Seats at each table: 8
= 232
x $125
= $29,000

There were a few empty seats in the back, but the $125 donation was a minimum. If everyone gave the maximum, $3,600, the total would be $835,200. The total is probably somewhere in between there and very likely closer to the first dollar figure. We’ll know a little more when the PDC reports come out next week itemizing donations from this week.

According to Thursday Public Disclosure Commission figures McKenna has raised $4,965,674.37, compared to Democratic contender Jay Inslee’s $5,365,475.95.

Inslee also stands to benefit from the $2.8 million that will be spent campaigning on his behalf by the union-backed PAC Our Washington.

There is no reason to suspect, however, that McKenna will not benefit from outside spending as well.

The National Institute on Money in State Politics reports that in the five years between 2005 and 2010 what independent groups spent targeting Washington candidates was about 45.3 percent compared to the money candidates raised themselves.

In 2010, when we didn’t have a governor race, the biggest independent spender in governors’ races across the country was the Republican Governors Association, about $26.5 million in just six races.

In Wisconsin’s recall election of Gov. Scott Walker, the local PAC for RGA spent $9.4 million on Walker’s behalf, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. About $5.7 million of that was in negative advertising against two Democrats who filed to run against Walker. In the end the RGA money spent on positive ads for Walker was about the same as the organization’s negative ads against the Democrats’ eventual nominee, Tom Barrett, about $3.7 million each.

Those figures are outside the $30.5 million Walker raised himself for the recall, compared to Barrett’s $3.9 million.

Inslee already has more than Barrett did, but assuming this race gets attention nationally, we are only seeing the beginning of how much money will be spent in Washington on the governor’s race. No poll is showing a runaway win for either candidate, so it’s easy to believe that more big money will be flowing into this state.

Five locals headed to national GOP convention in Tampa

Kitsap County Republican Party Chairman Jack Hamilton will be a delegate at the Republican National Convention, Aug. 27-30, in Tampa. He will be joined by Gig Harbor’s Marlyn Jensen, who challenged state Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, for his seat in the Legislature in 2008.

Three other Kitsap residents are going as alternates: Donna Hamilton (Jack’s wife), Arna Souza and Willard Swiger.

Jensen and the alternates go representing the Sixth Congressional District. Jack Hamilton is going as an at-large pick.

The state Democratic Party is expected to release its list today.

The confusion in the 1st

The Seattle Times editorial board was critical of several would-be members of Congress who decided to run both for the temporary seat and the permanent one. I wish the issue were that easy to describe for us in Kitsap, but let’s save that conversation for later in this blog post.

The Times’ criticism points out that candidates like Darcy Burner, who was the first to declare she’d run in both races, get to raise twice as much money this way for mailers and the like, because she can raise money for two different elections. (Confused already? I don’t blame you. I’ll explain it all later. I keep promising that, I know.) I mention Burner specifically, because she’s the one who started the cascade of candidates running for the full two-year term that begins in January to also run for the one-month job (It might be longer. I know, that’s confusing.) That ends in January to fill the last month of Jay Inslee’s congressional term. He resigned earlier this year to focus on his bid for the governor’s office. Burner was joined in running for both seats by Democrats Suzan DelBene, Laura Ruderman and Darshan Rauniyar. Republican John Koster joined in as well. Democrat Steve Hobbs declined, saying the move by the other candidates was motivated by money. The Times editorial didn’t mention that independent candidate Larry Ishmael also declined.

The Times may be off the mark in question the point of a one-month congressional job. There could be some important items to vote on, such as the budget, the extension of the Bush tax cuts and an income tax deduction for Washington residents.

But I think the Times may also have a case in suggesting candidates will raise money for both races, but do you think anyone Kitsap County will see any mailers from candidates for the one-month job? The Times opines that all the benefit of the extra money will go toward winning the permanent seat.

So let’s again explain why this is happening.

First off, Jay Inslee resigned from Congress, and congressional officials said federal law stipulates that an election to replace him during his term must happen. If he had resigned with a month left that wouldn’t have been necessary, but he is out of the seat for long enough that congressional officials believe it merits electing a replacement.

Had this not been a redistricting year the state would have had the option of taking the winner of the general election and appointing him or her to the seat early. Because it’s a redistricting year and the 1st District boundaries have been changed dramatically, whoever gets elected in the 1st will be representing a vastly different area than the current 1st. So voters in Bainbridge would be represented for one month by someone they had no say in choosing.

So on the primary and general election ballot voters in about half of Kitsap County, the part currently in the 1st Congressional District, will pick a member to fill the remainder of Inslee’s term from about early December to early January and a congressman in the 6th Congressional District, with that term beginning in early January.

In the final candidate filing story last week I tried to simplify the discussion by writing this:

“Candidates for the new 1st Congressional District, which does not include any portion of Kitsap County, had all held back on running for the temporary seat, which carries the northern portion of the county and Bainbridge Island.”

I received an email from someone confused by that paragraph. A different person used the story comments to express befuddlement. I admit that there are times I can write things clearer than I do, but in this case I think the issue is confusing and difficult to boil down in a single sentence. I think I did pretty well, and it’s still confusing.

So let me try this.

If you live in the 6th Congressional District now, you have nothing to figure out.
If you live in the 1st Congressional District in Kitsap County, you will be electing two members of Congress this year. One will be in the 6th Congressional District, because beginning in January you will no longer be in the 1st. You will be in the 6th. That member of Congress will serve a regular term. The other member of Congress you elect will be in the 1st District and will only serve for the last month you will live in the 1st District.

Are we clear yet?

Candidate filing begins

Few surprises from the first batch of candidate filings, unless you consider Tim Sheldon running for re-election in Mason County as commissioner a surprise.

You might.

In 2010 I wrote a story that included Sheldon’s sentiment that he wouldn’t run again for commissioner.

His eyesight had diminished to 20-800, he said Monday. He has since had surgery to fix glaucoma and his eyesight is back to 20-30, which he said is reason to consider returning. I don’t remember him bringing that up when he was driving me back and forth between Shelton and Olympia.

Sheldon also sees unfinished business ahead. I’ll probably write more for the first-day election filing story that will post later, including the fact that there are two challenger, Roslynne Reed and Randy Churchill.

Also filing are Byron Holcomb of Bainbridge Island for the temporary 1st Congressional District Seat. He was alone as of 1 p.m. Democrat Derek Kilmer is running Congress in the Sixth District, as is Republican Jesse Young. Sherry Appleton, a Democrat, has filed to run for re-election in her 23rd Legislative District House seat, while James Olsen has filed to run in the other 23rd District House seat.

The incumbent county commissioners Rob Gelder and Charlotte Garrido have filed to run for re-election. More candidates will have filed later this afternoon.

Three candidates are in for the U.S. Senate seat held by Maria Cantwell, including the incumbent.

One extraordinary hour on campaign finance.

Recently I was awarded a scholarship for a two-day conference in Washington, D.C. to attend classes on the ins and outs of what the Citizens United decision means for politics, and how I can find data about campaign spending in this new arena.

On Saturday, though, I got a great primer from the group at “This American Life.” As usual, the one hour provides so much information without making you feel like you were sitting in a class. It’s as entertaining as watching “Breaking Bad.” If you’re into politics at all, or you just care about your country and your government, take the hour you’ll need to listen to this.