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Posts Tagged ‘Rob McKenna’

What was the biggest election surprise?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Did you participate in an election pool and lose because you picked Rob McKenna over Jay Inslee? Did you think Linda Simpson would carry her primary momentum into the general election and defeat Charlotte Garrido in the county commissioner’s race? Did you buy into Karl Rove’s “math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better” and think all the polls predicting an Obama victory were slanted?

Or was it something else? Was the margin of victory for gay marriage proponents slimmer than you thought it would be? Did Washington voters allowing for charter schools surprise you?

Let us know on the right, and in the comments section.


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

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

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.


Fallout from Inslee’s resignation

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

The announcements from both parties were politically predictable in the wake of Jay Inslee’s decision to quit being a member of Congress for the rest of the year.

“It’s shameful of Congressman Inslee to lie to his constituents and the people of Washington about his intentions,” said WSRP Chairman Kirby Wilbur.

“It was a difficult decision, but what I need to do right now is focus all my attention on talking to people about what’s really important – creating jobs and growing our economy,” said Inslee.

The reaction from traditional allies on the left, however, has not been kind. Joel Connelly at seattlepi.com and Nina Shapiro at SeattleWeekly.com compared his decision to Sarah Palin’s resignation as Alaska governor. There is other precedent for it being a successful move. Neil Abercrombie left Congress to run for governor of Hawaii.

For locals the bigger impact is half of Kitsap County will not have a member of Congress to vote for them for the rest of the year and a few days into 2013. His staff will continue to work to help constituents. I don’t know how much heft is loss when those staff members don’t have a member of Congress.

Some members of the First District will have a member of Congress for the month between election certification and inauguration. Whoever wins the First District race in November will begin serving the district as soon as the election is certified. That new member of Congress however, will be serving in the new boundaries drawn up as part of redistricting. That means about half of all Kitsap residents will still have to wait until Jan. 3, 2013 when the new Sixth District member of Congress is sworn in.

Because of redistricting, it also means that some Washington residents will have two members of Congress, wherever the new First and the old districts overlap. Lucky them, I guess.


Rob McKenna on gay marriage, working with Democrats, health care . . .

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

This picture is upside down. These mirrors and lights were on the ceiling, so in reality the people in them appeared to heels over head. This was a shot from Rob McKenna's visit visit the CK GOP Women Thursday.

Gay marriage did not come up in the two Rob McKenna events I attended Thursday. The most likely place all day it would have was with the Central Kitsap Republican Women.

During the business round table McKenna hosted in the evening he spoke with me as the small groups conversed. His main point on gay marriage is that it is inevitably going to go before voters, and that if Washington is going to change its policy that it should be voters who make that call.

McKenna said he voted for the domestic partnership law in 2009, which was supposed to give same-sex couples registered as domestic partners all the same rights the state allows married couples. If it isn’t working out that way, he said, then the state should address where a gay couples’ rights are being denied and fix it. He said it is not a constitutional issue, that the courts have upheld the state’s definition of marriage. “I support traditional marriage,” he said. “It’s a policy question. Do we want to redefine marriage?”

On his points about reforming workers’ compensation laws, Labor & Industries, health care, liability laws, I asked him where he thought he would get the most buy-in from the Legislature should both houses remain Democratic. He said the Legislature has already initiated some reform with workers’ comp, but that a move to privatize the insurance might be controversial. He said it doesn’t have to be for-profit insurers competing, that it could be limited to non-profits. He said Washington system is failing employees and employers because of the monopoly in place now.

McKenna also said he would think introducing tools like tax-increment financing (now unconstitutional) might be doable as well. A form of it is already in place in Gig Harbor with St. Anthony’s Hospital and in Bremerton with the parking garage that will be topped by a movie theater.

In health care he and Inslee are on the same page that Medicare reimbursements should be based on results rather than how many services are provided. Governors, McKenna said, would need to band together to influence the federal government to make those changes, that they already have successfully in some cases.

During lunch one in attendance said he thought McKenna’s chances of being successful in his challenge of the mandate portion of health care reform were great. I asked him if he was as optimistic. “I think the odds . . . are 5-4.” It only took me about 10 seconds to get the joke. Whatever happens, it won’t be surprising if the U.S. Supreme Court votes 5-4 one way or the other.

Back on the gay marriage issue I asked, in a roundabout way, if having it on a ballot favors him or Jay Inslee in the governor’s race. It’s something I addressed in the last paragraph of an earlier blog post about same-sex marriage. McKenna said there is a lot of debate about it, that he doesn’t know. In 2004 Republican Dino Rossi might have won the election had it been on the ballot in Washington as it was in other states. But many supporters of same-sex marriage rights believe public sentiment has shifted enough that it might work in Democrats’ favor now.

I’m not certain we’re going to find out. If the Legislature does pass a bill granting marriage to same-sex couples, I believe the question will end up on a ballot. Getting enough signatures will not be that difficult, I predict, especially because getting a referendum to undo a legislative action requires half the signatures a regular initiative does.

In either case, I tend to believe both sides would be able to gather enough signatures to get something ready for an election, but I’m not as certain gay marriage proponents will launch an initiative if the Legislature doesn’t act this session.

Initiative 71, the 2009 “Everything but Marriage” referendum, passed with 53.15 percent support. McKenna said he supported it, but he doesn’t want to call it “marriage.” Neither does radio talk show host Dori Monson.

Before the 2009 election I wrote on this blog:

Nationally, though, 71 seems to be getting little attention at all, and for me I wonder if it goes back to the fact that Washington would call gay committed relationships “domestic partnerships” and not “marriage.” I get e-mails from one of the chief opponents of gay marriage and in the most recent correspondences there were mentions of efforts in Maine, Iowa, the District of Columbia and New York. On Washington? Zero.

It’s early yet, but the energy this time, three years later, feels different. The opposition last time was splintered. Do you think there are lots of voters out there who, like McKenna, supported 71 but would not support calling gay couples “married?” Does the word mean that much?


Inslee, McKenna getting out there

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

The two elected officials who have earned top-two status well before there is even a top-two primary were out on the public speaking trail last week. We can’t officially call it a campaign trail yet, because doing so would mean someone would have to file papers somewhere in Olympia.

Rob McKenna, attorney general, gave a speech last Wednesday that sounded the same as the one he gave Thursday in Port Orchard. In both he called for a “performance culture” in Washington state government.

From the Seattle P-I story:

Sounding very much like the gubernatorial candidate he is expected to soon become, Attorney General Rob McKenna told a Seattle audience on Wednesday that the state needs to change the way it evaluates and manages employees to reward the best and weed out the worst.

Inslee was in Yakima, focusing on family, community, education and workers.

From the Yakima Herald-Republic story:

Congressman Jay Inslee shared his beliefs and dropped hints of an impending run for governor in a speech Saturday night at the Yakima County Democrats’s annual Roosevelt Dinner.


Anticipating the 2012 governor’s race

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, in an interview on KCTS, said he will have to decide sometime this year, and not too late, whether he plans to run for governor in 2012.

The most often mentioned potential opponent, Bainbridge Island Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee, will be speaking to the island Rotary club tonight. The Kitsap Sun’s Tristan Baurick will be there. I would not expect Inslee to make any kind of announcement tonight. It might be too soon after the most recent election and the current governor has not officially made her plans known yet.


Early, in Some Cases Way Early, Campaign Maneuvers

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Examining McKenna’s Motives

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Two local writers dive into the motives of state Attorney General Rob McKenna in suing the federal government over the health care bill just passed. I think they both do a pretty good job, with the caveat that each is assuming there is something beyond a legitimate belief that the health care reform just passed is unconstitutional. If McKenna believes the reform law is unconstitutional, you could rightly ask what choice he had but to challenge it.

The writers, though, are probably right in making that assumption. We can never assume that meeting constitutional muster is the only issue at play in constitutional issues. Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes said:

“We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is . . . “

He was also quoted by fellow justice William O. Douglas as saying 90 percent of the decisions made at the Supreme Court are based on emotions, that justices find ways in the document to back up their beliefs.

McKenna, though, seems at first blush to be the one AG in this fight with the most to lose by sticking his neck out. He’s a Republican who hasn’t been demonized by the left and is seen as a legitimate contender for the governor’s office. And yet the state is more left than right, and I think it’s not a bad bet to assume that most Washingtonians favor health care reform generally.

Let’s do assume again, as most of us have, that McKenna wants to be Washington’s governor. David Brewster at Crosscut.com offers this possibility:

Judging by the over-the-top reaction by local Democrats — talking about defunding his suit, slicing away A-G authority, even a recall — maybe McKenna was engaging in some “performance art.” That form of political craftiness consists of doing something so that your opponents fall right into the trap of extreme behavior, making you look sensible.

Then Peter Callaghan at the (Tacoma) News Tribune reminds us that to win in a November 2012 governor election, he’d first have to make it to that election, qualifying as one of the top-two vote getters in the primary. A move like this at least sets him apart from other Republicans. And if he hadn’t done it:

Had McKenna not joined the litigation he would have been savaged by Republicans and become a target of conservative talk radio. In the short term, it doesn’t hurt him much to instead be savaged by Democrats. They take their own risks by using budget maneuvers to block Mc-Kenna’s participation in the suit.

And then of course, Callaghan reveals the ultimate truth in all of this:

Anyone who claims to know how it will play in 2012 is making it up.


Health Care War Continues in Washington

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

On Tuesday the president signed the health care reform bill, which to some is a BFD, and I’m not talking about fire departments. Locals were talking about it. Also on Tuesday some state attorneys general, including ours, joined in a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of some of the bill’s provisions.

In response the Legislature might write into the budget a provision limiting the AG’s ability to offer such a lawsuit.

It all made for interesting radio on KIRO Tuesday. State Attorney General Rob McKenna, Gov. Chris Gregoire and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, were all on the Dave Ross show. McKenna made a repeat appearance on the Dori Monson show.

If you’ve got a few minutes, and if you’re here you clearly do, listen to the conversations. They’re available after the jump.

McKenna is clearly in the position that elements of the bill are unconstitutional, and he goes to some length to argue why. Gregoire and Inslee both say his interpretation is wrong, but spend more time talking about what impact it would have if McKenna’s case is ultimately upheld in the courts. If you’re a fan of the bill, that should worry you.

The U.S. Justice Department plans to defend the bill, so it isn’t as if no one thinks the bill passes muster. The problem comes, though, because the attorneys general could win. McKenna argues that they’re only going after particular elements of the bill, but Inslee and others argue that the elements they’re going after are pins that hold the whole thing up. Kill the mandate and you’ve essentially killed the bill.

The next question, then, is do Republicans really want to win this fight? If they do, will it give Democrats the opening to put forward something closer to a single-payer system? Dave Ross argues that if you turn this whole thing into a tax, rather than a forced entry into the market, you probably don’t get the same constitutional debate. At least those kind of cases have been argued and settled in the past.

(more…)


A War Within Washington on Health Care Reform

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

The argument between Gov. Chris Gregoire and Attorney General Rob McKenna is something we probably could have predicted in January.

McKenna was in Kitsap County and stopped by our offices. We asked him about health care reform and he very pointedly brought up the very issue that on Monday became part of the national conversation. He’s joining other states in suing the federal government, arguing that it’s unconstitutional for the federal government to mandate that someone buy something.

Since his announcement the governor, a former attorney general, State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidleer and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, have all come out critical of McKenna’s decision.

The Seattlepi.com was among the first to argue that this fight will prevent McKenna from being governor in 2012, saying he was difficult to criticize up to this point.

“Democrats will now try to tar him with the same brush they’ve used to dispatch every GOP gubernatorial candidate for the past 25 years. And it looks like McKenna has just given them at least some of the paint they’ll need.”

The official statements follow the jump. There will probably be many more.
(more…)


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