In general, we don’t make a lot of fuss over most endorsements
or advertising. On endorsements we’ll usually provide a list of
them, but we don’t write a story every time a candidate is endorsed
by Washington Ichthyologists or the ASB President at Klahowya. For
negative ads there might be a story or two, say when a candidate’s
photo is doctored to make him or her like the victim of bad plastic
surgery or it’s alleged that the candidate wants to sterilize
sections of Poulsbo.
On Thursday we received notices that cause us to make two
exceptions. Attorney General Rob McKenna has endorsed one of Jay
Inslee’s challengers. The other is a Democratic Senatorial Campaign
Committee ad highlighting alleged negatives of someone who has not
publicly stated an intention to run. Both developments make sense,
but it doesn’t mean there’s little surprise.
The DSCC’s Web site, Dirty Deals Dino for Senate charges
that Dino Rossi has profited mightily from his campaigns even
though he lost.
“In 2004, after I lost my first race for governor, I was sitting
around feeling sorry for myself – until I realized that this was
not a political setback, but a business opportunity! I had lots of
great ideas – and a rocking stump speech. Why not use those things
to make a tidy little profit? The “nonprofit” Forward Washington
Foundation was born. Forward Washington – which is what I called my
campaign, too – was supposed to improve the state’s business
climate. And it did! Without Forward Washington, my former
political aides might have been out of work, and I would have had
$75,000 per year less to live on! Of course, those whiny Democrats
complained that I was evading campaign-finance disclosure laws.
They were just jealous that the state’s Public Disclosure
Commission found that the foundation had raised a whopping $360,000
from unidentified donors. When I left my foundation to run for
governor again, I worried about my income loss, but it helped that
the foundation spent nearly $10,000 on copies of my book to give to
donors. Thanks, guys!”
The site doesn’t just focus on Rossi’s defeats. The committee
argues that Rossi was put into politics by shady types and
benefited from industries he supported when he was in office.
That I know of, there are no other negative ad campaigns against
any of the announced candidates. The reason is simple. Scroll down
the list of the dozen or so
candidates who have announced they’re running against Democrat
Patty Murray and see if you find someone who has better name
recognition than Rossi. See anyone who immediately is a stronger
bet against the incumbent?
McKenna’s endorsement of Republican James Watkins surprises me
only because there is another Republican in that race. Why it makes
sense is because it’s clear that McKenna is the favorite to carry
the Republican banner in the governor’s race, while Inslee has been
emerging lately as a strong possibility among the Democrats. Inslee
has been blistering McKenna lately over
the AG’s decision to challenge the constitutionality of the health
care reform legislation just passed.
Horsesass.org posted a video of Inslee calling out McKenna. The
video appears in a blog post longing for Inslee vs.
McKenna in 2012.
Watkins’ press release references that potential race in
announcing McKenna’s endorsement.
“We’ve shown that Congressman Inslee is vulnerable, and
Congressman Inslee has shown us that he’s not terribly interested
in being the 1st District’s representative, but is already itching
to start his 2012 campaign for governor. (See here and here)
“With the support of Attorney General McKenna and people
throughout the 1st District who want change in Washington, D.C., I
look forward to retiring Mr. Inslee this November so he can devote
himself full-time to seeking yet another political office.”
McKenna, for his part, is quoted only in endorsing Watkins.
“James has the real-world experience and solid principles to be
a great congressman working for the 1st District,” said McKenna.
“He will make a big difference in D.C. and help put our nation on a
Still, if Inslee were to lose his congressional seat, it would
seem to hurt his chances to be the Democratic ticket bearer in
2012. If you’re one to believe there were political machinations in
McKenna’s decision to challenge health care reform, it would not be
a stretch to see it here, too.
About Watkins’ point that “We’ve shown that Congressman Inslee
is vulnerable,” you may recall we took a look at that claim
made by Watkins using a survey he commissioned.
The owner of the company that performed the survey was mentioned
on another site.
Finding out who paid for the poll also is critical, said
pollster Bob Moore of Oregon-based Moore Information. If a
candidate has paid for it, then the numbers can’t be taken at face
value, he said, and reporters should do everything they can to
speak to the pollster about the results, not someone working with
“The pollster may get some numbers that the campaign doesn’t
like, and won’t release,” Moore said.
I contacted both the pollster and the campaign. The pollster
told me I’d have to get the information I wanted from the campaign.
A staffer from Watkins’ campaign contacted me Thursday by e-mail,
stating in part:
“Since the poll has some information we would prefer not to have
the Inslee campaign get wind of, we’re not going to release all the
So that means either Watkins got some info the campaign is
saving to lob onto Inslee later, or the pollster got some
information the campaign didn’t like. Either way, without that
information I don’t know how we can assume the conclusion “Inslee
is vulnerable” is any more credible than an ad suggesting a
candidate for the House wants to dump Hanford nuclear waste into
the Columbia River.