ED NOTE: There is at least one element of the budget Congress is about to pass that is causing significant heartburn locally. Inflation guarantees for military retirees younger than 62 were reduced. Tom Philpott, whose column appears in the Kitsap Sun, addressed the issue this week.
Spotlight on Patty Murray, y’all
The press is all aghast
She got a budget passed
Oh yeah! Oh oh yeah.
— Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music”, as written by a reporter who happens to be wearing tennis shoes at the moment.
There would probably be no better time for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to run for another term in the Senate. Washington’s Democratic “Mom in Tennis Shoes” is being heralded at Christmastime as the Senator who saved the holiday for many. To do it she worked with the House Republican who would have preferred to be Vice President about now. Together they crafted a budget deal, something we’ve seen scant few of in recent years.
That deal has something for everyone to dislike, for sure, but the bar is really low right now for the things we celebrate out of Congress. Murray worked as the Senate rep with House Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. The deal was timed so well politically Speaker of the House John Boehner felt the moxie to knock the heads of a subgroup of Tea Party conservatives within in his own party, something lots of folks noticed.
Murray and Ryan got to a deal by working their own rooms, by keeping their negotiations out of the press spotlight, and by keeping the White House more or less out of the process. Murray had to get support from House Democrats, which was not easy particularly because of the cuts to federal retirement benefits, including for military retirees. She told them that Ryan wanted much bigger cuts, and for many of them that was at least enough to get support.
Kitsap’s congressman, Democrat Derek Kilmer, had long said Congress needed to at least get a budget done, and that was the tone he took in his comment following his vote.
“While there are parts of this budget I don’t like, I have spent the last year calling on my colleagues to set aside their partisan differences and pass a budget. I’m encouraged that Democrats and Republicans have found a way to work together, help avert a government shutdown, and halt most of the damaging across-the-board cuts that have hurt our region. Congress must now continue to work together on a plan that deals with our long-term fiscal health and grows our economy so we can get folks back to work.”
Murray’s effort has generated tons of media attention.
“Murray, a Democrat from Washington state serving her fourth term, is considered a steady hand in the Senate who shuns grandstanding and garners respect from both sides of the aisle.
“She is a liberal, but can be pragmatic and has some conservative thoughts on budget issues.”
From Politico: How Patty Murray won over Dems on budget fight
“President Barack Obama was on the phone repeatedly with Sen. Patty Murray during the high-stakes budget talks and asked how he could help.
“Murray’s response: I got this.”
From U.S. News & World Report:The Real Value of the Budget Deal
“House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, a conservative Republican and his Senate counterpart, Patty Murray of Washington, a liberal Democrat, should be praised for breaking an impasse that has stymied the most basic function of a government over the last many years – adopting a budget. Even if the agreement falls short of addressing the fundamental federal budgetary challenges that confront the country’s future, and it does, it nonetheless demonstrates that two very different political philosophies can still find common cause in a polarized country and a divided Congress.”
There are naysayers about the budget bill.
From Katrina vanden Heuvel in the Washington Post: Undeserved applause for Ryan-Murray budget deal
“There’s something troubling, even farcical, about lawmakers applauding their own mediocrity, handing themselves medals of participation for showing up to work on time.”
Murray herself acknowledges the deal isn’t perfect in a column on Huffington Post, but urges the Senate to pass it so government stops “lurching from crisis to crisis,” such as another potential government shutdown. The Senate voted to end debate on Tuesday, meaning the budget bill is ready for a vote in the chamber. It only needs to a one-vote margin for approval. With 67 senators voting to end debate, bill passage seems likely.
It’s enough to make people watching politics to shine a spotlight, and to sing. I’ll spare you that and leave the singing to the experts.
Remember how we had to elect a member of Congress to serve in the First Congressional District for one month following Jay Inslee’s resignation? Same goes in Bremerton, it seems.
Despite the fact that the Bremerton City Council named an interim council member, Wendy Priest, following the resignation of Roy Runyon, county elections officials say there has to be someone elected to fill the remainder of the term. That election will be in November and the new person would serve from the day the election is certified, late November, until the day a new council is sworn in, early January.
Again, what makes this necessary is redistricting. The council boundaries will change beginning in January. In fact, they’ll go from nine council seats to seven.
Filing for races across the state and in the county has begun. To the right appears to be the first filing in the state, an 8 a.m. entry by Republican Bill Brunson of Legislative Distirct 7. As we pointed out in the story about the legislative race in the 26th District, odd-year elections are typically reserved for local races, such as city councils and port and utility commissioners.
This year, though, voters in the 26th Legislative District will get to participate in a high profile race. I plan to add more to the blog later about the nature of that race and why it’s high profile, as well as diving further into some side issues.
The county will update county filings beginning at noon. Candidates can file online now, but Dolores Gilmore, county elections manager, said there is still a need to verify a candidate’s eligibility before the filing is posted online.
10 a.m. update: Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and Bremerton City Councilmen Adam Brockus and Greg Wheeler were among the first to file for re-election this week. Also running for Bremerton City Council, the first to file in District 5, is Dino Davis. In Port Orchard incumbent Jerry Childs filed, and Bek Ashby filed to run for Position 2. In Poulsbo Ed Stern is running for re-election. Ken Ames will run to retain his North Kitsap School Board seat, and in Central Kitsap Victoria Crescenzi filed to run for the seat she sought appointment to. In the South Kitsap School District Rebecca Diehl will run for the District 4 seat held by Kathryn Simpson. Larry Stokes is running to hold on to his Port of Bremerton seat. Fire districts and other port districts also have candidates.
Noon update: Becky Erickson is running for re-election as mayor in Poulsbo. Faye Flemister and Nick Wofford have filed to run to hold onto Bremerton City Council seats. Val Tollefson wants Bob Scales’ Bainbridge Island council seat. Jeanie Schulze will be running to keep the seat she was just appointed to, facing off against at least Victoria Crescenzi.
2 p.m. update: John Green is running for Debbi Lester’s seat on the Bainbridge Island City Council. In Bremerton Cynthia Triplett Galloway wants the First District seat. Robert B. Putaansuu seeks re-election to his Port Orchard City Council seat. So does Christopher J. Lemke for his South Kitsap School Board seat. In Manchester Steve Pedersen and James E. Strode both have seats on the Port of Manchester and the Manchester Water District seats. Pedersen, so far, has only signed up for the port board and Strode has only signed to run for the water district. I believe the next update will be the last one of the day.
5:30 p.m. Jerry McDonald joined the race for the Bremerton City Council seat Adam Brockus wants. Jerry Childs seeks re-election to the Port Orchard City Council. So does Jim Henry in Poulsbo. In the North Kitsap School District Cindy Webster-Martinson will run for the seat currently held by Tom Anderson. Bruce Richards is running for re-election for his Central Kitsap School Board seat.
Up until 2010 we who watched elections closely thought we could count on later election numbers in Washington swinging in the Republican direction. In 2010 that changed, so I wanted to see this year whether Democrats had broken a trend, or started a new one.
Based on round numbers, no decimal points, it seems Democrats have again shown their ability to get out the vote late, at least locally. In looking at 10 races of interest to Kitsap residents, three races showed the same percentage points on Nov. 6 and Nov. 20, one swung more Republican and six favored Democrats as later numbers came in.
The governor’s race remained a 51-49 score. Charlotte Garrido still has 52 percent in her race against Linda Simpson in the county commissioner race, and state Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, maintained his 54-46 edge over Republican Doug Richards.
Meanwhile Democrat Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, gained a point in his bid for Congress over Republican Bill Driscoll. Democrat Rob Gelder remained at 55 in his county commissioner race, while Republican Chris Tibbs dropped a point. In the 23rd Legislative District Democrats Sherry Appleton and Drew Hansen gained a point, while Tony Stephens dropped one and James Olsen held steady. In the 35th Democrat Kathy Haigh went from leading with a 50-50 margin to a 51-49 edge over Dan Griffey.
The other race in the 35th saw the biggest swing, though it didn’t change the end result. Republican Drew MacEwen had a 55-45 edge over Lynda Ring-Erickson on election night and as of Tuesday that lead was down to 52-48.
The one race that went
bluer redder was Republican Jan
Angel’s race against Karin Ashabraner in the 26th District. Angel
gained a point while Ashabraner lost one, with Tuesday’s margin at
While I was away state Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, said she’ll introduce a bill to require ballots be on hand in county elections office by election day, rather than having them postmarked by then. She made the announcement on the 14th.
“We’re now more than a week past Election Day and in some areas of the state, people still don’t know who their elected officials are going to be. Those races may be determined by ballots that haven’t even been received yet. Washington has the slowest system in the country for receiving votes, and it’s simply one that needs to be improved.
“This isn’t just a matter of convenience. I can tell you personally that there are many things an incoming legislator must do to get up to speed for a legislative session. Delaying an outcome by days or weeks inhibits their ability to effectively represent their district,” Becker said in a statement.
Republicans did see some key races swing their way in at least one statewide race and in Southwest Washington. Republican Kim Wyman was behind on election night to Democrat Kathleen Drew in the race for Secretary of State, but that 50-50 race is now actually 50.5-49.5 in Wyman’s favor now. In Vancouver Republican Don Benton leads the 17th District state Senate race by 104 votes over Democrat Tim Probst, a margin that makes that race eligible for an automatic recount should the current difference hold. On election night Probst was winning. That race is key because it has the potential of swinging the balance of power in the Senate chamber if Republicans can woo enough Democrats over to form a coalition majority.
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 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.
Bret Treadwell, who filed on the last day to do so as a Republican running against state Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, has decided to not pursue the seat.
Because his decision comes after the deadline, which was May 21, his name will still appear on the primary and general election ballots.
Treadwell said he won’t be campaigning at all, however, and won’t have any information in voters’ guides. The former candidate said his decision to run was made quickly and up against a deadline. “It was kind of a last-minute decision with some folks kind of enrolling me in the last 12 hours,” he said.
When filing week ended Rolfes had two opponents. D.J. Sweet withdrew on May 21. With Treadwell’s all-but-official withdrawal from the race, it essentially leaves Rolfes running alone for election to the seat she was appointed to in July of 2011. Rolfes jumped from the state House to the Senate when former state Sen. Phil Rockefeller, another Bainbridge Island Democrat, resigned to take a position with the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.
Treadwell first indicated he was considering withdrawing after I contacted him for a story I’ll be writing about candidates with bankruptcy history. Treadwell filed for bankruptcy in 2009 while he was going through a divorce.
On Friday he said he filed for bankruptcy protection because the debts he incurred were part of a business he was going into. Rather than focus on that business, he said, he spent his energy getting joint custody of his two sons. He said he is still putting his life back together financially and is also engaged to be married to someone new. “I can’t see my message being heard over the drama of my own personal junk i’m dealing with,” he said. “I don’t want to put my family through this.”
Treadwell said he wasn’t interested in politics until started looking into the issues presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, was emphasizing. Treadwell said someday he might like to try again, taking that same emphasis and applying it on a state level.
We had a story Monday on state Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, having written a book on the “I have a dream” speech and his assignment to introduce a House resolution honoring King. Here is the speech Hansen delivered, in which he states he makes the case that King’s losses offer moments as instructive as his victories.
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?
I’m working on a story about redistricting, so details are coming. Here are some highlights.
The 35th District runs much farther to the south than before, taking in the rural areas around Olympia and Tumwater, running up next to Lacey’s southern border. Commissioner Tom Huff told the (Tacoma) News Tribune Kathy Haigh would have lost in 2010 if the new boundaries would have been in place.
McCormick Woods goes from the 35th to the 26th District.
Parts of Bremerton near Lions Park will shift from the 35th District to the 23rd.
Those are the big changes.
In today’s story I mentioned that the legislative districts in Kitsap County will appear to remain largely unchanged.
Officially, though, there can be no assumptions about how the boundaries will be drawn until the commission settles its dispute over districts in Eastern Washington. Watching the proceedings on TVW this morning, the dispute is formidable. I would doubt the commission would miss its Jan. 31 deadline, but it’s no small disagreement at play.
Again, the issue is how much different districts in the Yakima area are made up of Hispanic residents. From this side of the mountains the differences don’t seem that large. However, any change has a domino effect, which is why we can’t make assumptions about the districts over here.
We’ll continue to follow the meetings in Olympia. If I were to guess, two commissioners will return to the committee (not today, perhaps) saying they have an agreement. All it will take is one other commissioner to agree and we have a plan.
I wouldn’t expect much change in the Congressional plan, not one that would affect Kitsap County, anyway.
UPDATE: The commissioners talked a lot about changes this morning and there is some fear they may be far apart. Overall, though, I think they’ll get their work down before deadline. In fact, they were supposed to begin an afternoon meeting at 2 p.m., but have delayed it twice by a half hour each time. That could be something as simple as someone stuck somewhere else, but you could also guess that it means that two members primarily responsible for the legislative districts are close to an agreement. We’ll see at 3, unless they delay the start time again.
UPDATE 2: No agreement today (Thursday) and the commissioners scheduled meetings for Saturday and Sunday. They may not need those, but they’re scheduled. They reconvene at 10:30 a.m. Friday.
Congressional redistricting appears to be close to a real proposal within the state’s redistricting commission. Slade Gorton and Tim Ceis said they have a proposal ready and will provide drawings at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Don’t be surprised if there is a significant change in what was proposed earlier, but it’s worth noting that all four proposals had the entirety of Kitsap County in District Six, currently represented by Congressman Norm Dicks of Belfair.
Currently the county is pretty much cut in half between the Sixth and First districts, with the Firsties being represented by Congressman Jay Inslee, who wants to be governor. That candidacy was likely what opened the door to combining all of Kitsap into one district. Perhaps it shouldn’t have mattered, but these lines are not completely drawn without consideration for where the incumbent lives.
In California, it appears, efforts to depoliticize the process may have failed this time around, with Democrats figuring out how to game the system while Republicans sat on the sidelines. An extensive ProPublica report tells how.
Though all four proposals initially had the entirety of Kitsap in one district, moving parts in one place requires moving them elsewhere. So some of the county, particularly Bainbridge, could find itself aligned with a Seattle-area district again.
Legislative maps that earlier included a call for uniting Bainbridge with Port Townsend should be out later in the week. The deadline is Saturday, or else it goes to the state Supreme Court.
Now that the Super Committee assembled to work out a deal on debt has officially fizzled, I thought I’d give you a list of stories worth reading. Only one deals with the Super Committee itself.
The New York Times has a blog item offering reasons why politicians on both sides may have been thinking the collapse of the Super Committee would be a good idea. Capitalizing on Collapse.
The New York Times also offers this story, Older, Suburban and Struggling, ‘Near Poor’ Startle the Census, about the growing number of people who are not far from qualifying as impoverished. Many bristle at the term “near poor,” but the data is telling.
We’re fans of public records in our circles. So it’s an easy pick for me to deliver this story from The Seattle Times, Seattle police must pay $129K for records delay. According to the story the Seattle PD has a history of stalling or denying requests on records in large part because of agreements with the police union.
The Seattle Times also reports that the state paid out $500,000 in a year for 2,000 cell phones that were not being used. State wasting big money on idle cellphones
And yet another entry from the Seattle Times. This one shows how the Legislature makes cuts in the state budget, cuts that never happen because the courts overrule legislators. As state makes cuts, lawsuits are flying
The News Tribune offers a story about a man who cost taxpayers millions, but their effort eventually helped him get better. Cecil’s story: Man who cost Tacoma taxpayers millions for care, emergency services, is sober
The state’s Redistricting Commission is supposed to release later today the different commissioners’ ideas for redistricting the state, but former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton has his out there already. We’ll get to the impact here in a minute. To start, though, he puts the new 10th Congressional District along the state’s norther border from the San Juans to Okanagan.
If Gorton’s proposal were to hold, all of Kitsap County would be in the Sixth Congressional District. AP has seen the other proposals but hasn’t gone into much detail about what would happen here.
Legislatively Gorton’s changes would be significant. The 23rd District would lose Silverdale, but pick up downtown Bremerton and Port Townsend. I suspect Democrats will balk bigtime at that idea, because it creates a strong Democratic district that yes, pretty much guarantees James Olsen will never win a legislative election, but potentially makes the 35th and 26th Legislative Districts more conservative. That could present steeper challenges for Larry Seaquist in the 26th, but even more for Kathy Haigh in the 35th. Haigh’s win in 2010 was razor thin as it was.
I know politics are not supposed to play into the conversation, but don’t expect Democrats to lay down for Gorton’s idea.
When the others come out I’ll see if I can do what I’m doing here, which is laying out a comparative map like you see below.
During the conversation yesterday with state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, I asked him about other whispers he’s hearing down in Olympia about the impact of redistricting.
By the way, I called Sheldon because he has been through two of these before.
Sheldon mentioned that he thinks Brinnon could become part of the 35th District because the area is part of the Mason County Public Utility District.
In years past there have been conversations about extending the 23rd District into Jefferson County. I don’t think it has been seriously considered by the group of redistricting commissioners, but there is some sentiment that Port Townsend is a good match with Bainbridge Island. Geographically it is a stretch.
What may make more sense to some is linking Bainbridge to a district in Seattle. Still, not very likely, and one commenter on the story thought the notion ridiculous.
I read our stories from 1991 and 2001 and in both cases there was a large group who thought Kitsap should only have two legislative districts. I’m not sure why that would be better politically for this area. At first glance it does seem like more is better. Bremerton itself is represented by nine different legislators, even though not one legislator is actually from Bremerton.
One of the impacts of redistricting worth watching is that 35th District swing. The district will still likely take in all of Mason County. It’s the fringes that are worth taking notice of.
The reason I believe we are more likely to lose the 35th District, or at least part of it, is because of where the incumbents live. Sheldon (Potlatch) and state Rep. Kathy Haigh (Shelton) both are in Mason County. Fred Finn lives near Olympia in Thurston County.
Several months ago I did another story on redistrictings and spoke with the man many agree is the state’s foremost expert on the subject, Dick Morrill. By e-mail he told me, “The commission’s first unwritten rule is to protect incumbents.”
So you would think, assuming what Morrill said is true, that the 35th District’s emphasis in the redistricting plan would favor Thurston County over Kitsap. I don’t know specifically where the population growth has happened in Thurston County, so it could be that the 35th won’t change much at all. Sheldon said he thought not many incumbents will find themselves in a new district.
Sheldon also said state Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, is considering running for Congress should Jay Inslee run for governor, as practically everyone is assuming. What isn’t so clear, however, is what district Liias will live once redistricting is done. If Inslee does announce he’s running for governor, there’s no incumbent to protect, so the First Congressional District could see wild swings.
This again goes to the idea that all of Kitsap County could be in one congressional district represented by Norm Dicks. Imagine that. And if Bainbridge were lumped with Seattle legislatively, we could have 12 legislators representing the county.
Here’s a cliche for you: The possibilities are endless. Actually, they’re not. They pretty much range from Kitsap having one or two members of Congress and two-four legislative districts. That’s not exactly endless, is it.