Tag Archives: Tim Sheldon

Kitsap’s state senators assume leadership roles

All three of the Kitsap Caucus’ state senators will have leadership roles in the 2015 Legislature. Two of them are repeats, while Jan Angel takes on a new responsibility.

Jan Angel
State Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, was elected Senate Majority Coalition Caucus vice chairwoman and named to the panel that selects committee leaders.
Angel, first elected to the Senate in 2013, was re-elected in November and will begin a four-term in January.
The caucus position puts Angel in place to be a liaison between coalition leadership and committee chairs and to lead caucus deliberations when the chairwoman, Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, is not available. Angel also will be part of the effort to hire and fire coalition staff.
“I’m excited to get to work building on the bipartisan success we achieved as a caucus last year,” Angel said in a written statement issued by the coalition. “I have all the right tools to be a leader in this role with my previous experience leading committees and developing employees as a small-business owner and I am very grateful for the confidence of my Senate colleagues.”
The senator was also appointed to the Committee on Committees, which helps select which coalition senator goes on which committees.

Tim Sheldon
State Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, retains his role as Senate president pro tem, even though Republicans have and outright majority now.
Sheldon, along with former state Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, began caucusing with the 23 Republicans in 2013, giving the GOP a de facto 25-24 majority known as the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus. With the election of Angel later that year the coalition’s majority rose to 26-23.
Tom retired from the Senate, but Republicans won the major contested races and took actual control of the Senate 25-24. Sheldon said all along he would continue to caucus with Republicans, so the coalition remains intact. His reward is keeping the leadership position.
“This recognition I have received from my colleagues is a demonstration of the bipartisan ideals that have governed our coalition since Day One,” Sheldon said in a statement. “We always said our chief concerns were jobs, education and the budget, and not partisan politics.”

Christine Rolfes
State Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, resumes her role as floor leader for the Washington State Senate Democratic Caucus. This is her second year in that job.
The floor leader is the party’s point person on parliamentary procedure and in facilitating floor debate on the Senate floor.
“I am honored to have been selected again by my colleagues to serve as their floor leader,” Rolfes said. “We are facing some significant challenges in 2015, but I look forward to working across the aisle to ensure things run smoothly.”

DC -based organization paints Tim Sheldon a deeper blue

Here Sheldon throws out the welcome mat for illegal aliens.
Here Sheldon throws out the welcome mat for illegal aliens.
In a year that has one newspaper referring to a candidate’s tactics as “sleaziness,” other candidates walking out of a debate, a county commissioner from elsewhere quitting her job there one week signing up to run for auditor here, not to mention a reporter being falsely accused of endorsing a candidate, I thought the 2014 election might have reach peak-unique.

Au contraire! I obviously don’t give the American political machinery enough credit for ingenuity and creativity. We may do a larger story for Tuesday, but I wanted to get this much out there sooner.

Voters in the 35th Legislative District are getting mailers praising state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, for his work in making it easier for “undocumented immigrants,” expanding federal health care reform and protecting reproductive freedom. Sheldon is running against another Democrat, Irene Bowling of Bremerton.

The ads’ claims about Sheldon are true, technically, because Sheldon said in a debate he is pro-choice, though he favors legislation that would require parents be notified if their minor daughters plan to have an abortion. He also voted for the Washington version of the Dream Act, what the Majority Coalition Caucus called the “Real Hope Act.” It allowed children of parents who came here illegally to receive in-state tuition in Washington colleges. And he voted for a budget that expanded Medicaid coverage, though he earlier voted against a bill implementing the Affordable Care Act.
The ads are paid for by American Values First, a Washington, DC-based organization described mostly on its own site as an outfit fighting voter suppression. It shares an address with the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

If you haven’t been paying attention, there are not many Democratic loyalists backing Sheldon. So why would this organization? If you believe the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, the ads are not trying to get Bowling backers to support Sheldon. They’re aimed at getting the 35th District’s conservative voters to sit out the election. You don’t get any nuance in the ads. What you do get is the flyover country’s Axis of Evil: Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and “a pathway to citizenship.”

“This is a dishonest and deceptive attempt to suppress Senator Sheldon’s support with Republican voters,” said Sen. Bruce Dammeier, Chair of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, in a statement. “What’s even worse is the complete disregard for Washington State law by this dark money, unregistered political committee.”

I’ve called the Public Disclosure Commission to get clarity on the rules. The Republican group accuses American Values of several state infractions, but the organization claims to be in the right, legally. What’s more, it claims to be sincere in its support of Sheldon.

“American Values First is not a political committee, but rather a social welfare organization with a proven record of advocacy. American Values First agrees with Sen. Sheldon’s past votes seeking justice for immigrants, expansion of Obamacare, and women’s reproductive freedom. American Values First followed all applicable laws and filed all reports with the Public Disclosure Commission that are required of organizations of this type that sponsor such communications,” said Bill Burke in an emailed statement.

The organization linked to PDC reports showing it has spent just over $20,000 for direct mail ads in Washington.

We’ll update this when we have more information.

Inslee stumps for Bowling

Just kidding. You're not really invited.
Just kidding. You’re not really invited.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was scheduled to be in town on Sunday for a campaign fundraiser for 35th Legislative District Senate candidate Irene Bowling, a Democrat.

We asked permission to go, but were informed the event at the Rice Fergus Miller building in Bremerton was closed to the press, not unusual for a fundraiser. We were disappointed, though, because we had an invitation. It was sent to us via Twitter from the 35th Legislative District Democrats. We should have been suspicious, though, because Twitter is unreliable. Remember, it was on Twitter that we first read that Dewey defeated Truman.

Suggested contributions for the fundraiser ranged from $50 for the “guest” level to $500 to be considered a “host.” While “guest” sounds right for me, $50 does not.

Inslee’s presence demonstrates his interest in seeing the state Senate taken back by Democrats, and Bowling’s race is against Tim Sheldon, a Democrat. Let me explain. He is a Democrat, but caucuses as a Republican, a reality that demands two weeks’ time for Washington State Civics teachers. In English class it makes for a complicated sentence diagram with lots of subservient clauses and semicolons.

Inslee wants Democrats in the Senate because he has big ambitions to tackle carbon emissions and would like the 2015 Legislature to cooperate. If Republicans are in charge of one of the chambers he fears his proposal will be as popular as a Richard Sherman biography at Crabtree and Evelyn. (They sell books, right?)

To get a Democratic majority Inslee is being aided by California billionaire Tom Steyer, who this week dropped $1 million into a committee, NextGen Climate Action Committee-Washington Sponsored by Tom Steyer. Steyer’s organization followed that with a news release saying it will target 25 percent of the voters in Washington. He’s doing the same in Oregon.

So far the committee hasn’t spent any real money, but this is what the news release said about Washington:

NextGen Climate will focus on races where there is an opportunity to discuss climate issues with voters, including, but not limited to supporting Tami Green in the 28th Senate District and Matt Isenhower in the 45th Senate District.

Whether any Steyer money finds its way to the 35th depends on party polling, which will reveal whether voters in the district are bucking the common assumption that voters who picked Republican Travis Couture in the primary will mostly side with Sheldon in the general election, since Couture was eliminated from the race. Sheldon thinks he’ll pick up most of Couture’s voters because he is more conservative. Bowling believes she will get most of the Couture voters, in some part because she is not Tim Sheldon.

An earlier $250,000 contribution to an independent committee set up to campaign for Bowling made some think there were signs Bowling could beat Sheldon. That changed when $225,000 was returned, leaving some to wonder what the polling says now.

As of Friday Bowling had raised about $150,000 and still had about $55,000 of that unspent. Sheldon has raised more, about $290,000, and has about $100,000 left to spend. A word or two from the governor might close the gap at least a little.

Steyer money coming our way again?

The headline and photo from the New York Times story.
I don’t take lightly posting pictures from other publications, but in this case the New York Times story and photo have direct relevance to our area. And I really, really, really want you all to read the story, so click on the link.

For months Republicans have been warning about the “Ramtha money” referenced in our story about the late money into the 35th Legislative District primary. The New York Times focused on our state this week and this is what I took from it: The racist rants (taken out of context or not) of an ancient enlightened one that helped a Yelm woman make a sizeable enough living to fund Democrats can make for campaign indignation, but that money isn’t anywhere near the GOP’s biggest problem this year.

No sir.

The biggest problem for Republicans is this little piece from the Times story about the goals shared between Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and rich guy Thomas Steyer:

Mr. Inslee, who is campaigning for his agenda across the state this summer with oyster farmers in tow, is trying to position himself as America’s leading governor in the climate change fight. But Mr. Inslee does not have the support of the majority of the Washington State Senate, particularly those conservative lawmakers from the rural inland, so Mr. Steyer’s advocacy group, NextGen Climate, is working with the Washington League of Conservation Voters to handpick Democratic, pro-climate policy candidates across the state.

Steyer plans to spend about $100 million across the country to elect politicians who see it his way on climate issues and to oust those who don’t. A fair share of that will come here to Washington, and the Times speculates the candidates he chooses, working through the Washington League of Conservation Voters, will see hundreds of thousands of dollars going either to support them or against their opponents.

While chatting with Tim Sheldon Tuesday night I asked if he thought, assuming Tuesday night’s results stay as they are, any of that money would wind up in his race. He thought not. “Steyer won’t dump money into the race. I would be astounded if he did. What you see so far is 65 percent of the district is voting conservative,” he said, a reference to his vote totals plus those of Travis Couture. “I don’t care how much money he has, he can’t turn that around.”

This gets to another reason I posted the picture. You see Inslee walking the beach with Bill Dewey of Taylor Shellfish Farms. Dewey, according to Public Disclosure Commission reports, gave Inslee $500 this year toward Jay Inslee for Washington, which we can assume is his 2016 re-election campaign fund. Dewey gave $1,250 for Inslee’s 2012 campaign and Bill Taylor from the same company gave $1,000.

But both have also donated to Sheldon over the years. Dewey gave the senator $500 in for his re-election campaign in 2010 and another $500 in 2013. Taylor gave $250 in 2010 and $500 in 2013.

Most donations coming from the Taylor company, primarily Taylor and Dewey, go to Democrats, and technically Sheldon is one of those. But you know the story; Sheldon caucuses with the Republicans, giving them the majority and lessening Inslee’s chances of getting his climate agenda passed. So Inslee has an agenda designed to benefit Taylor Shellfish, but someone who votes against Inslee’s agenda is their friend, too.

Washington Conservation Voters has already endorsed Bowling in the 35th. Sheldon received a “0” score from the organization after voting for nine bills the organization considered bad for the environment and against three bills the group said were good for it. Sheldon’s lifetime score is 30. By comparison Christine Rolfes, a 23rd District Democrat, received an 83 for the session. Democrat Nathan Schlicher in the 26th received a 56 for his votes and Republican Jan Angel got a 25.

So will Steyer go after Sheldon?

That might depend on the polling. Someone is going to do some once the primary dust is settled. If Sheldon is not right in fact, in philosophy he is. Steyer will want to put money to races that are winnable, so he and his allies will decide whether to back Democrat Irene Bowling in the 35th and Judy Arbogast in the 26th. Steyer spent a lot of money against Jan Angel in 2013 and lost, but the Times story shows where he won, too, and those were not insignificant wins.

Bowling saw the same numbers Sheldon saw and had a different take about votes for Couture and was not so agreeable to the idea that those votes would now go to Sheldon. “I think that Travis represents people that are fed up with government as it stands and they want change,” she said. Her hope is she can influence Couture voters to vote her way in the general election.

The battle within local Democratic and Republican races

An alert party operative who shall remain nameless told me recently, “The fights between parties are nothing compared to the fights within them.” Here we give you two examples, one from each party.

The first fight is one those in Kitsap are more likely to know about, the one between supporters of Russ Hauge and those of Bob Scales. Hauge is the incumbent Kitsap County prosecutor and is a Democrat. Scales served two terms as a Bainbridge Island city councilman and works as an attorney for the City of Seattle.

Tim Sheldon, whose name comes up later, doesn’t like it when Democrats say he isn’t one of them. There is no party registration in Washington, he’ll tell you. Even if there were, it isn’t like there is a test you have to pass for either party. But Democrats do have at least a little bit of justification for saying that about Sheldon, especially now that he caucuses with Republicans. “They caucus with me,” he responds. Fine. Same difference. On issues that divide Democrats and Republicans in the state Senate, Sheldon sides more with Republicans than he does with Democrats. It doesn’t make him a Republican, but give the Democrats credit here for arguing with some evidence.

I’m not sure where they’re getting their evidence when it comes to Bob Scales. Debbi Lester says Scales is combative, short-sighted and mean-spirited, based on her experience as fellow member of the Bainbridge Island City Council. That might all be true, but neither party is immune from that kind of behavior. I covered the council for a year or so while Scales was on it his first time and couldn’t tell you based on that where his politics are. There is the bigger question of where that even matters when it comes to serving as prosecutor, but where Lester and others cast doubt on Scales’ cred as a Democrat come from the fact that the Kitsap Patriots Tea Party gave Scales a high ranking as a candidate.

Quick, what does the Kitsap Patriots Tea Party stand for in a prosecutor? Yeah, I don’t know either. Still, I found it curious, so I contacted the organization to see if I could get a copy of the questions they asked and Scales’ answers. I got no reply. So we asked Scales if he would provide them. He did. I’ll post those below, after the other bit about in-party fighting.

That comes from the race Sheldon is in. Sheldon received a $13,800 in-kind contribution for some polling from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. (On Monday night I learned there was a last-minute contribution made to Sheldon by the same group. It’s for $5,126.59 and was given on Thursday.) Remember, he’s a Democrat. There is another Democrat in the race, Irene Bowling, who is not shy about questioning his Dem cred. He has received no other official Republican Party money.

Travis Couture, the Republican in the race, received $2,000 from the Mason County Republican Central Committee, but that’s about it from official sources. Official communications from the state have gone out within the district from the state party backing other 35th District Republicans, but not Couture.

Eventually, apparently that was July 31, Couture had had enough. So he sent a letter to Washington State Republican Party Chairwoman Susan Hutchison complaining. The text of that letter follows. After that is the response from the state party and then the one from Kitsap County Republican Party Chairman Chris Tibbs. After that you can we go back to the Democrats, with Bob Scales taking on the “Tea Party” issue.
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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.

Spoilers and underdogs in the 35th

Someone who didn’t want to be named said to me within the past few days that Tim Sheldon and Travis Couture should be considered the front-runners in the 35th Legislative District Senate primary race. Someone else said that Tim Sheldon might come in third, that Irene Bowling is the odds on favorite to come in first. Others wonder if there is any way Sheldon could come in third. There is.

We’ve addressed this question before, but it merits repetition, especially in light of the fact that some are speculating that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who describes himself as a Democratic Socialist, or democratic socialist, is pondering whether to run for president in 2016. Should he run it could spell November doom for Hillary Rodham Clinton, Elizabeth Warren or whoever gets the Democratic nomination. I don’t seem him winning as an independent, but I know enough people who appreciate him for his candor. And sometimes candor like that resonates enough with voters that they shed their traditional patterns and make an exception in an election.

You know what else makes me think Sanders plans to run? I just received an emailed newsletter from him, the first time that has ever happened.

Chances are Sanders would be a spoiler for someone else. To see how that works, consider the presidential election of 2000. I’m the first to say that the primary responsibility for Al Gore’s loss that year was Al Gore himself. He disappointed voters in nearly every opportunity he could. But Ralph Nader’s Green Party candidacy was a factor among many. Gore lost by less than 600 votes in Florida, where Nader received more than 97,000. New Hampshire also went for Nader in big enough numbers that it’s conceivable Gore could have won that state’s four electoral college votes had Nader not run. Tough to say. But this provides the definition of a spoiler, someone who doesn’t have much chance to win, but can spoil it for someone else.

Technically, there can be no spoilers in the 35th District primary. It would take four candidates for that. If the fourth-place candidate takes enough votes to cause another candidate to come in third instead of second, that’s a true spoiler. With only three candidates in this primary, the loser in this case just loses without damaging anyone else.

Here are some reasons to consider, though, that someone could in effect fit the spiritual definition of spoiler.

Democrat Tim Sheldon has a long history in Olympia and has added to it as a Mason County commissioner. In 2006 Sheldon received 72.3 percent of the vote in the general election. In 2010 his numbers were down, getting about 62 percent in the primary and general election while running against someone who barely campaigned. That was a down year for Democrats, even for those who often side with Republicans. That’s a tough hurdle to beat, making Bowling and Couture underdogs by default.

Democrats came relatively close to unseating Sheldon in 2006, but it was in the primary. That’s one key.

That year, 2006, was when Washington voters had to pick a party to vote in during the primary election. That meant Republicans who wanted Sheldon to return to Olympia had to select a Democratic ballot and pick him. The Republican, Mark Shattuck, came in third, but advanced, because thems was the rules. With that, Sheldon received 43.1 percent of the vote to Kyle Taylor Lucas’ 32.5 percent. This year there is no such burden. Sheldon only has to come in second to advance. It’s possible that perception of an easier path could make some of Sheldon’s traditional supporters more relaxed about voting.

Meanwhile, it’s the more passionate voters who take part in primaries. Bowling will certainly get all the support Lucas did, and probably more. Traditional Democrats who pay attention will vote for her. Lucas carried some baggage for being perceived as a carpetbagger, and some people were incensed that Sheldon had to run against anyone. Now that Sheldon has caucused with Republicans for two years, some of those who were outraged in 2006 are not so surprised.

Speaking of passion, Couture describes himself on his website as a “conservative libertarian.” Have you ever seen Ron Paul supporters at a convention? There’s your passion. So while Sheldon has some cred with conservatives, it is not out of this world to think that Couture’s following will represent well in August. Shattuck received 24 percent of the vote in the 2006 primary back when A. It was a pick-a-party primary, and B. Ron Paul had not yet risen to national relevance and C. Sheldon didn’t have the negatives he has now.

Those negatives include his decision to caucus with Republicans and a couple of local issues. I didn’t hear much local fallout from anyone about Sheldon’s decision to caucus in the Senate with Republicans, other than the complaints from those who would never vote for him anyway. There might be a fair contingent out there, though, who were rubbed the wrong way by Sheldon’s decision, people who didn’t yell and scream about it but are moved to believe that the maverick might have gone too far off the ranch for their tastes. They could either vote for someone else, or not vote at all.

The local issues are ones that arise more out of Sheldon’s service as a county commissioner. New Belfair sewer customers don’t like the price they’re paying for service they’re getting in large part because of Sheldon’s insistence. And just last week Sheldon and a fellow commissioner enacted a six-month moratorium on marijuana grow operations. I’m not sure how much angst that is going to inspire, but there is potential.

In 2012 voters in the 35th District picked Democrat Barack Obama for president and Republican Rob McKenna for governor. They split on state House representatives, backed Democrat Derek Kilmer, voted against gay marriage and for legal marijuana. On statewide issues voters in the 35th come in consistently a few points more conservative than the state as a whole. They’re not afraid to elect traditional Democrats, though, and have sent Kathy Haigh to Olympia in the House year after year. It’s a tough district to pigeonhole.

Sheldon likes to appeal to people who don’t make political parties their number one priority. That plays better in a general election, when turnout is high, than it does in a primary, which appeals to more committed voters. Should Bowling and Couture finish 1-2 or 2-1, then one of them, the second place finisher in November, could be seen as the spoiler. The other one will go to Olympia. Should Sheldon come in first or second in the primary, the spoiler factor goes away and we focus on favorites and underdogs.

 

Angel Endorses Sheldon

State Sen. Jan Angel emailed a campaign letter urging voters to support state Sen. Tim Sheldon in his re-election bid. Angel is a 26th District Republican and Sheldon is a 35th District Democrat and yet this endorsement will be a surprise only to those who have not paid any attention to the Washington Legislature.

Sheldon supported Angel in her bid to unseat the appointed incumbent in the 26th District in 2013, Democrat Nathan Schlicher. The Potlatch state Senator/Mason County commissioner contributed $150 to the Angel 2013 campaign. Angel seems to be returning the favor

“… we need to come together and support the Majority Coalition Caucus members who are up for re-election. We must ensure these pro-business leaders return to Olympia to continue the work we have started.

“Senator Tim Sheldon is a vital part of the Majority Caucus Coalition and he brings balance and years of experience to the Senate.”

Sheldon is running against Irene Bowling, a Democrat and Travis Couture, a Republican. Because of his conservative voting record Sheldon has enjoyed lots of support over the years from voters who identify as Republicans. Bowling will likely get lots of support from Democrats and could very well emerge on top in the primary in August.

Sheldon has to make sure Couture’s presence doesn’t split so many Republicans that he comes in third. The Angel endorsement seems to be aimed at Republicans so that they are not tempted to vote for someone who says he is one of them in favor of someone who pretty much votes with them, even though he considers himself a Democrat.

With Rodney Tom’s decision to not run this year it means Sheldon is the only Democratic member of the this session’s Senate Majority Coalition Caucus who will be back in the Legislature next year.

The chance of intrigue in the 35th LD Senate race

If you’re watching the state political landscape and in particular the 35th Legislative District, you might have long ago stopped looking at the Senate race to focus on the campaigns being waged by two Republicans for the opportunity to unseat a Democratic incumbent.

You might be assuming that Tim Sheldon will again open an unlocked door to another term as a state Senator. The primary, though, could be interesting. And Sheldon has made some critics out of people who once were his backers, primarily people in Belfair, because of his work as a county commissioner.

Sheldon, as most of you know, is a Democrat, albeit (How should we put this?) an atypical one. For years his votes on most controversial issues have been aligned with the Republicans. The Democrats enjoyed their majority status in the chamber with his insistence on remaining a Democrat and have been safe from his maverick ways as long as the margin never got close. Once Democrats outnumbered Republicans by just three in the Senate, though, the GOP leadership was able to poach away control by nabbing Sheldon and Rodney Tom, the Democrat who once was Republican and is now the figurehead for the Senate Majority Coalition.

In Mason County, which is the bulk of the 35th, Sheldon has held strong. In 2010 he received 57 percent of the vote against Nancy (grandma) Williams, though that big margin might be deceiving, because she didn’t wage much of a campaign.

The election of 2006 might be a more telling picture. That year, one in which voters had to pick a party, Sheldon only received 43.1 percent in the primary against two challengers. One was a Democrat from the Howard Dean wing. The other was a Republican. In fact, the Democrat, Kyle Taylor Lucas, accused by many of moving into the district just to run against Sheldon, came in second place, netting 32.5 percent of the primary vote. Had she run in 2010 or this year and seen the same result, she would have been on the General Election ballot because of the state’s Top Two primary system.

So far Sheldon faces two opponents in the primary this year. Travis Couture, the Republican, describes himself on his website as “a conservative libertarian.” His arguments espousing that philosophy is clear on the website, and he delivers a message that might well resonate with the 35th District’s more conservative voters. So might his Facebook criticism of Sheldon, “Next time you see an illegal immigrant going to college on your taxpayer dime, just thank Tim Sheldon for voting to pass that this year in the Senate.”

The Democrats have Irene Bowling so far. She has run a music instruction business in Kitsap County and has been well known locally. During the selection process for the county commissioner position left open by Josh Brown, Bowling proved herself a competent candidate. She answered questions well and swayed enough precinct committee officers to make her the second choice as Brown’s successor. I have little doubt that the vast majority of people who voted for Taylor Lucas in 2006 will side with Bowling this time around in the primary. If she gets more than the 32.5 percent Taylor Lucas got, she could even emerge as the 35th District’s first choice out of the primary.

If that were to pan out, then the question becomes whether Couture can cut enough into Sheldon’s lead to do the unthinkable, putting Sheldon into third place.

One of Couture’s challenges could be raising money for the race, at least from the state party. Party organizations get to donate in big amounts. Sheldon isn’t going to get money from either party, but he already has almost $80,000. Sheldon has in the past, though, prevented Republican candidates from getting GOP party money to run against him, or so I’m told. It’s as if every dollar he gets has a huge multiplier effect. It’s early in the game, but that could be tough for Couture. If he as a first-time candidate proves especially adept at raising money and getting signs on voters’ lawns, he could make it interesting. Where Couture might make his biggest splash is on social media, which doesn’t cost a lot and can have a big connector factor.

If there is enough anti-Sheldon sentiment out there then this race could be highly entertaining. In the 2012 Mason County Commissioner primary race Sheldon received 29.4 percent of the vote as an incumbent, a half point ahead of the second-place candidate, Democrat Roslynne Reed. Sheldon won by 8 percentage points in the general election, but those 2012 numbers demonstrate he is not invincible. He does not enjoy the kind of support Norm Dicks had in the Sixth Congressional District.

If you were betting money on the 35th District race, I still wouldn’t dissuade you from betting on Sheldon. But you might look at 2012 and have reason to question your certainty. If he makes it to the general election I don’t see him losing that one. The best chance to unseat him is likely the primary. Bowling, assuming she is the only Democrat who runs, will get the votes from those leaning left. The question will be how the conservative votes will split, whether Couture can effectively make the case that he is more their representative than the incumbent.

Kitsap legislators (re)assume leadership posts.

Kitsap legislators have received their leadership assignments for what’s supposed to be the short legislative session that began this week.

State Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, was named Senate Democratic floor leader. According to a Senate Democrats statement the floor leader’s role is to “help manage the action on the Senate floor, and to work across the aisle to ensure the debate runs smoothly. The floor leader is also the caucus point person on parliamentary procedure.” Rolfes is also the assistant ranking member on the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.

Potlatch state Sen. Tim Sheldon, one of two Democrats in the Senate Majority Coalition, returns as Senate president pro tempore, which means he runs the Senate floor from up front, wielding the big gavel whenever Lt. Gov. Brad Owen is not there. Sheldon is also vice chairman of two committees, Rules and Energy, Environment & Telecommunications.

New Sen. Jan Angel, elected in November, is vice chairwoman of the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee.

Three Democrats in the House will chair committees this session. State Rep. Sherry Appleton of Poulsbo chairs the Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee. Kathy Haigh of Shelton is chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. Gig Harbor’s Larry Seaquist will chair the Higher Education Committee. Bainbridge Island’s Drew Hansen is vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Republican Drew MacEwen of Union is the assistant ranking minority member on two committees, the Capital Budget Committee and the Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.

Sheldon, Rolfes, take Senate leadership roles

We’ll have a full story on this. Senate Democrats are seeking a more cooperative chamber with Republicans this year. The party announced its leadership today. Republicans can object, and they’re scheduled to pick their leadership on Wednesday.

Locally the new Democratic leadership in the Senate means more work for state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch. Sheldon said a couple years ago he was removed from an energy committee by former Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown. With Ed Murray in charge, Sheldon is back on that committee and is also the party’s pick for President Pro Tempore, which means he holds the gavel when Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen can’t.

Sheldon said Brown and Murray just have different styles.

State Sen. Christine Rolfes will chair the Environment & Growth Management Committee following state Sen. Sharon Nelson’s placement as Vice-Chairwoman on the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

The party’s press release follows:

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Boyer not ruling out a run for Congress

The rumor mill was right. Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer is not ruling out the idea of running to fill the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair.

According to someone who attended a meeting of real estate pros tonight Boyer stopped by the meeting briefly and after he left those still at the event began discussing whether Boyer might run.

“It’s always in the back of my mind that you’re looking for the next way to serve,” Boyer said by phone Wednesday night.

Boyer was elected Kitsap County Sheriff in 1998 as a Democrat and was a Washington State Trooper for 27 years before that. The sheriff said he was honored people called him to ask. “It’s nice people thought enough to call me from both sides of the aisle,” he said. “I gotta look at it.”

Three Republicans and one Democrat are on record so far saying they’re aiming to replace Dicks. Republicans Doug Cloud, Jesse Young and Bob Sauerwein (Based on a tip from one of the commenters I called Sauerwein and he said he withdrew three weeks ago. I have also removed him from the poll in the right column.) are lined up against Democrat Derek Kilmer, state senator from Gig Harbor.

Kilmer sent out a list of 37 leaders from the region, including 14 from Kitsap County, who have already lent an endorsement.

Boyer praised Kilmer, but said, “It’s better that we have a number of qualified candidates rather than the lesser of two evils.” He also said he thought he could do a good job in Washington, D.C.

State Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, also thought about running, but decided now was not the time. Several others, including state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, and state Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, may still considering whether to run.

Belfair Water District manager’s contract now with auditor’s office

Earlier in August we had a story headlined, State Attorney General’s Office to review Belfair Water District manager’s contract.

That headline was not quite correct. The AG received a copy of the contract, but according to sources there did not actually review it, saying it didn’t fall under the AG’s purview.

Apparently it does fall under the state auditor’s review. State Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, said officials from the AG’s office suggested he submit it to the auditor.

The auditor’s office confirmed that it is reviewing the contract. First it will consider what areas it can weigh in on and then do just that.

The contract gives Dave Tipton, district manager, two-years pay if he quits and three if he is fired for anything other than a crime. He also gets paid extra money for meetings that start or run late, can disallow anyone from entering his office and lets him take his dog to work.

I’d like that last piece in my contract.

Then I want a dog.

Maybe if I can bring it to work my wife will let me have one.

Going to the Candidates’ Debate

This evening, I’ll be covering a candidates’ forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Kitsap County from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Norm Dicks Government Center, featuring candidates for house and senate races in the 26th and 35th Legislative Districts.

Post questions you’d like to ask the candidates, and I’ll see what I can do.

Visits the Kitsap Sun’s Election Guide for video coverage of editorial board interviews with candidates in most of these races.

At today’s forum:
26th Legislative District:
Senate – Derek Kilmer & Marty McClendon
Rep. Pos. 1 – Jan Angel and Sumner Schoenike
Rep. Pos. 2 – Doug Richards and Larry Seaquist

35th Legislative District:
Senate – Tim Sheldon and Nancy Williams
Rep. Pos. 1 – Daniel Griffey and Kathy Haigh
Rep. Pos. 2 – Fred Finn and Linda Simpson

35th Dems Side with Incumbents

The 35th District Democrats met over the weekend and endorsed all three legislative incumbents. State Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch and state Reps. Fred Finn of Olympia and Kathy Haigh of Shelton all received the party’s nod for re-election.

That might not merit even a blog post sometimes, but in the 35th such an endorsement is not a given.

In 2006 the party endorsed Kyle Taylor Lucas over Sheldon, who has always been registered as a Democrat but often votes contrary to how the majority in his party would have him vote.