There is a cynical way to look at your representative in Congress
climbing the ladder of power. There is another way, too.
Norm Dicks, who had a reputation for bringing money home to his
district, held a seat on the House Appropriations Committee his
entire congressional career. If the 2012 election had been as good
for Democrats as the 1976 election was, Derek Kilmer might have
Dicks, who held the seat for 36 years, was elected in a year
that saw Democrat Jimmy Carter elected president. His party had 292
seats in Congress, more than twice the 143 held by Republicans.
Democrats had only picked up one seat that election, but there was
enough movement that it created room for a freshman congressman
from Belfair to claim a spot on a coveted committee.
Kilmer, by contrast, joined Congress when Democrats were in the
minority, holding 201 seats. Committee numbers are devised based on
party ratios. Western Democrats backed Kilmer for the committee to
party leaders when he was first elected, Dicks said. The argument
then was the same as it was this time around, that with Dicks’
departure from Congress the Pacific Northwest would not be
It wasn’t the worst environment for the party to take a risk on
a rookie. It had picked up a seat on the committee and five
Democrats had left, but the vacancies were filled by six veteran
After the 2014 election Democrats lost seats, but not in
Appropriations. Kilmer’s regional backing, along with his track
record in his relatively short congressional career, made a bigger
difference this time around. Despite Democratic losses in the
November election he got the nod when Rep. Adam Schiff of
California left the committee to become ranking member of the House
Select Committee on Intelligence.
Subcommittee assignments, which are expected to be made in the
next week, are a matter of what’s available. Dicks said the basic
process is that members with three assignments pick one to put into
a pool to add to the ones left behind by Schiff. Kilmer will get to
pick two from the pool. Dicks was on Defense and Interior. Schiff
was on neither of those, so if they are in the pool it won”t be
coming from him. It may take a few years for Kilmer to grab
Defense, Dicks said.
The former congressman said the Appropriations assignment is
huge for this district and for Kilmer. “It’s still the best
committee in terms of bipartisanship,” he said. Besides working
across the aisle, he will have the benefit of working across the
capitol building in the Senate, where Washington Sen. Patty Murray
sits on that chamber’s Appropriations Committee.
You don’t have to link all the benefits to the region as pork.
You can if you like, but someone has to sit on Appropriations and
oversee government spending. It doesn’t hurt us that it’s someone
local. Should Kilmer eventually make it onto Defense there are
obvious benefits to having someone who can argue for the shipyard
and the bases. There are obvious benefits to having someone on
Appropriations who has been through the district enough that dollar
figures are actually connected to pictures. How strident a member
of Congress is on hometown issues is another question, but having
someone with a distinct awareness of what’s happening here has to
be a benefit.
There is another, potentially unsavory, advantage of having a
local ascend to the powerful committee, one that some thought would
go away when earmarks were banned. But politicians want to bring
home the bacon for their constituents, so they will figure out ways
to extract more money for the district. One way they do it now is
by writing letters to agencies asking for specific funding. The
more powerful your member of Congress is, the more likely a letter
penned by your rep will have more weight. A letter from someone on
Appropriations ranks pretty high. And the longer Kilmer stays in
Congress, the higher the clout. The bad news for those interested
in transparency is it’s not as easy to track as earmarks once were,
at least not yet.
Republicans kept telling me before the election that low turnout
was going to favor them in the 2014 election. I didn’t doubt that,
though I wasn’t as willing to predict four incumbents getting
Once the election happened and I started asking why things
turned out the way they did, all heckfire (We’re a family
newspaper.) broke loose when I wrote a story that included
turnout as a factor. Some Republicans seemed downright
offended. I got a nice letter saying I should have mentioned
discontent with President Barack Obama, and that is probably
correct to some degree. But midterm elections almost always go
against the sitting president. The last time one didn’t was 2002 in
the post 9/11 flag-waving era that favored President George W.
Bush. Before that it was 1998 after Republicans impeached President
Those two elections were freakish, because the last mid-term
election that didn’t go against the president before 1998 was in
1934. The last second-term mid-term election that favored the
president was in 1822, when James Monroe’s Democratic-Republican
Party picked up 34 seats in the House while the Federalists lost
eight. (The census upped the number of seats in Congress by 26.)
Mid-term discontent with the incumbent president is a given, so
much so that I likely just neglected to bring it up.
Another letter writer was not so kind, saying I was trying “to
rationalize the landslide victory of the Republicans as merely a
result of poor turnout.” He also wrote, “Any reasonable person
would assume that changes in voter turn out would affect both
I would agree with the last sentence. It would affect both
parties. And, in fact, my story pointed out other possible factors
besides turnout, one of which I will reference later. But there is
a reason the common perception is that low turnout, the perception
that was repeated to me by Republicans before the election, is bad
for Democrats. True, it’s not the only one. The mid-term elections
are a case in point, because Republican presidents are hurt by them
even in low-turnout years. In 2006 Bush lost 30 seats in the House
and six in the Senate.
On Facebook I announced I would be diving deeper into the
numbers to see if there was evidence to back up the theory that
Democrats were more harmed by low turnout than Republicans. Mick
Sheldon responded, “I am a numbers person also. I think it’s from
liking baseball so much.”
I’m a baseball fan, too. So it gives me great joy to offer you
this quote to prepare you for what I have found.
“Know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is?
It’s 25 hits. Twenty-five hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay?
There’s six months in a season, that’s about 25 weeks. That means
if you get just one extra flare a week, just one, a gorp … you get
a groundball, you get a groundball with eyes, you get a dying
quail, just one more dying quail a week and you’re in Yankee
Stadium.” — Crash Davis, Kevin Costner’s character in ‘Bull
When I dug into Kitsap County precinct data it showed me there
was some evidence that turnout hurt Democrats, but not enough to be
the sole factor. A word of warning: I am an amateur statistician. I
invited people to tell me a better way to study this and that
invitation is still open. First I’ll give you some stats, but after
that we’ll refer to an expert on this stuff.
The first thing I tried to do was to characterize precincts by
whether they leaned Democrat or Republican in 2012. Where more
voters picked Obama and Jay Inslee for governor over Republican
Mitt Romney for president and Rob McKenna for governor, those were
Democratic precincts. I then compared the turnout numbers in those
precincts from 2012 to 2014.
In red precincts, the ones that voted Republican two years ago,
the turnout in 2014 was 66.85 percent what it was in 2012. In
Democratic precincts the turnout was 65.76 percent.
That’s a difference of 1.09 percentage points, which I’ll agree
doesn’t seem that significant. To arrive at just how much a
difference it makes requires taking those percentage points and
creating a multiplier that will get applied in a couple of ways. I
see weaknesses with both ways. But hey, we’re kind of spitballing
One way is to apply the Democratic multiplier to both Democratic
and Republican numbers in a race in Democratic precincts, then the
Republican number to both party numbers in the GOP precincts. There
is an easier way, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Republican Ed Wolfe won his county commissioner election by
1,265 votes, but in the precincts I counted he won by 974. If you
multiply using the formula I described earlier, he actually beats
Democrat Linda Streissguth in those precincts by 1,316 votes.
The other and equally as imperfect way to do it is to just
multiply Democratic totals by the Democratic multiplier and
Republican numbers by the Republican multiplier. It doesn’t take a
five-tool brainiac to figure out that will benefit Democrats. The
question is by how much.
The answer is Wolfe wins by 892 votes instead of 974. The new
numbers wouldn’t have made enough of a difference in the
legislative or prosecutor races either. Again, turnout is a likely
factor, but it’s not the only one.
Mark Smith, professor of political science at the University of
Washington, said turnout is one of three factors and at least on a
national level it’s clear who was turning out to vote made a
difference. But the quality of candidates is huge. He said
Republicans fielded good candidates nationally and Kitsap County
Republican Party Chairman Chris Tibbs made that case locally.
Secondly, on the national scene the map favored Republicans,
Smith said. Democrats won U.S. Senate seats in 2008 in
traditionally Republican states. Those seats were likely to swing
back to the red six years later. That tide will swing back, he
predicted, in 2016 in states where Republicans won in traditionally
blue states in 2010.
Where turnout is a factor traditionally is when you start
dividing the electorate into different groups. In 2012 voters aged 18-29 made up
somewhere around 19 percent of the electorate, according to exit
poll data presented by the Washington Post. In 2014 they
represented about 12 percent. Those voters favored Democrats over
Republicans in congressional races 55 percent to 45 percent,
according to New York Times data compiled
by Edison Research. Black and Hispanic voters favored Democrats in
large numbers in both elections, but their turnout was markedly
reduced this year as well.
The Republican-Democrat percentages were reversed for voters
aged 45-59, but those voters made up about 42 percent of the
overall votes in 2014, compared to about 38 percent in 2012. Smith
said the fact that older voters are more likely to vote in
mid-terms should not necessarily be seen as a knock on younger
voters. “The longer you’ve been participating in politics the more
you understand the system,” he said. “When you don’t have as much
experience with the political system you’re not as attached.”
Given time those younger voters will eventually buy homes,
become less mobile and more stable. Whether they continue to vote
Democratic is another question.
Finally, if you look at the New York Times data it is clear that
there was a red tide that swept nearly every demographic. Even
though the youngest voters favored Democrats by 10 points this
year, that margin was 22 points in 2012. Assuming that trend played
out locally as well, that would explain to a large degree the
departure of four Democratic incumbents. Next election could be a
whole new ballgame.
In the end of all this data mining and expert commentary we’re
left with the same conclusion. It’s nearly indisputable that
turnout was a factor. But it’s equally as unquestionable that the
nationwide red tide and the quality of local candidates also played
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).
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
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
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
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
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:
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
“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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
“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,”
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
While attending the Rob
McKenna fundraiser in Bremerton Thursday one of my first thoughts
was of math.
x Seats at each table: 8
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
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
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
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
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.
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
The state Democratic Party is expected to release its list
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
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
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.