Tag Archives: Congress

Keep those campaign ads and claims coming

During last year’s legislative race between Nathan Schlicher and Jan Angel we attempted to get to the truth or truthiness of the campaign ads sent by the candidates and their supporters. We also looked at claims made in debates and letters to the editor.

I hesitated for a few years to even embark on the task, because I feared fact-checking work would be an extremely challenging effort netting fuzzy results. I might have been right, but I believe the effort is worthwhile anyway. If nothing else, we provide context for the claims, and context is abundantly absent in campaign advertising.

One way 2013 was easier was that there was only one legislative race. And I had coworkers who lived in the 26th Legislative District who religiously delivered the ads that arrived in their mailboxes. One of those coworkers moved away and so far this year I’ve had one campaign ad put onto my desk. This year there promises to be plenty of advertising again in the 26th and maybe even more so in the 35th. The county races could include some ads, as will the congressional race.

So I’m asking for your help. If you receive an ad in the mail I’d love to see it. We then might engage in a fact-checking expedition, delivering our findings to you here on the Kitsap Caucus blog or in the daily paper.

There are a few ways you can deliver what you find.

1. Bring or mail the ad to Steven Gardner, Kitsap Sun, 545 Fifth St., Bremerton, WA 98337.

2. Email a scan of the ad, my preferred method, to sgardner@kitsapsun.com.

3. Email the text of the claim you wish to see vetted. Some ads include a citation (a bill, news story, etc.). Make sure to include those.

4. Call and leave a message with the ad’s content. I’m at 360-792-3343.

Thanks for your help!

Decode DC: Stimulus? ‘We can’t play.’

Here is an interesting story that serves as a good way to introduce you to a Washington D.C.-based news operation recently acquired by Scripps. Decode DC, a venture started by former NPR Congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook, delves into the questions I would want to try to answer if I were a reporter in DC, something I did once aspire to a few decades ago. In recent episodes Decode DC delved into the sausage-making of the State of the Union speech, the ridiculous speculation about who the frontrunners are for the 2016 presidential race and the real issues behind the extension of unemployment benefits.

In a Kitsap Sun story in 2012 we looked at the career of former U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, the Belfair (but really, Bremerton) Democrat, who was retiring with accolades from folks on Capitol Hill touting Dicks’ ability to work across the aisle. Among those singing the congressman’s praises was California Republican Jerry Lewis.

When you listen to the podcast posted above, though, you’ll see that Lewis delivered the message that Republicans in early 2009 were not going to do anything to help the new president, Democrat Barack Obama. “We can’t play,” Lewis told Democrat David Obey. Not that Republicans didn’t secretly make requests, according to Obey. They just didn’t want their bosses in House leadership to know. And so you get a stimulus package that many believe was not big enough to stir as much economic activity as was needed then.

Now, this of course ignores the thought that there are many in this country who thought that the banks should not be bailed out and there should be no economic stimulus. This particular episode challenges that idea by starting from the premise that economists on both sides were saying some stimulus was needed and by showing conservative, free-market believer George W. Bush being the one asking Congress to bail out the banks. So even some conservatives were on board with the idea of government injecting itself into the economy to save the economy.

That is until a Democrat became president, overseeing two Congressional chambers also led by Democrats. You might say Republicans could afford to say “No,” because they knew Democrats would say “Yes.” This particular podcast sheds some light on what happened behind the scenes.

It also gets Obey saying something you don’t hear politicians saying very often, that many politicians in Washington are just not very bright. You’ll have to listen to hear him say why.

When new episodes post I will likely make it a regular event to post them here.

And finally, props to the suits in Cincinnati who saw fit to buy up Decode DC.

Kilmer on 2013, and your opportunity to ask a question

Derek Kilmer, Kitsap’s congressman, sent newsletter subscribers an end-of-year recap of the top 10 questions he has heard this year. Read this, but also take the time if you like to ask a question you’d like to see the congressman answer. If you’ve gone to any of the Gig Harbor Democrat’s public events you’ve heard some of the following comments, especially the one about head lice.

Since most people don’t make it out to the events, feel free to leave a question here. I’ll forward them to Kilmer in a couple weeks. I have a hunch I know one of the questions you might ask.

Here’s the Kilmer newsletter.

Over the past year I’ve sent you 23 updates about what I’ve been up to as your Representative. Since this e-newsletter will be the last of 2013, it’s going to be a little different.

I think one of the biggest problems in Washington, DC today is that some legislators aren’t listening enough to their constituents, so I’ve held 10 public town halls, four telephone town halls, and I’ve met folks from our neck of the woods at over 60 festivals, county fairs, and annual community events.

For those who haven’t had a chance to be a part of that give-and-take, let me do a rundown of the answers to some of the most common questions I received during this first year in Congress. So, with apologies to David Letterman, I give you…


10.) “Is it as bad as it looks?”

This is the question I get asked more than any other. I will tell you that it’s strange to join an organization that – according to recent polls – is held in lower regard than head lice and colonoscopies.

After nearly a year on the job, I can affirm that Congress continues to be a “fixer-upper.” But I’m here because I hope to make it better.

While much of the past year has been focused on partisan games, I’m hopeful that the recent budget deal is a sign that 2014 may bring more folks from both sides of the aisle together to find solutions to our nation’s problems. If we’re going to get our economy – and this Congress – back on track, we’ve got to stop seeing folks define success as making the other political party look stupid.

9) “Yikes! That sounds frustrating. Is there any hope?”

Despite the dysfunction, there’s cause for hope.

Here’s why: there’s a growing group of folks from both parties that are committed to righting the ship.

Twice a month I participate in a meeting of the Bipartisan Working Group. It’s a group of Democrats and Republicans who are committed to working to get past the toxicity in our dialogue and find ways to work together. While the challenges facing our nation are too big to be fixed overnight, every time I walk out of those Wednesday morning meetings (and the meetings of the Problem Solvers Caucus that I’ve also become a part of), I feel confident and hopeful that we can get things back on track.

8) Speaking of working together. Does the Washington delegation work together much?

I’ve learned to watch my step around some members of the Washington delegation. Literally. Early on here, I accidently stepped on Representative Rick Larsen’s shoe and I broke it. As he hobbled around on a broken shoe for the rest of the day, I lived with the shame of having “flat-tired” one of my colleagues.

Seriously, though, we actually do interact quite frequently and quite positively. For example, Rep. Larsen and Rep. Adam Smith and I are all on the House Armed Services Committee together. Having three representatives from Washington on the committee is helpful as we work together to support our service members and ensure Washington State’s interests are protected.

What’s more, the House members from our state – Democrats and Republicans – get together for a periodic breakfast to catch up, to discuss issues facing our state, and to figure out how we can work together on some shared priorities. For instance, we’ve now had a majority of the state’s representatives become a part of the new Puget Sound Recovery Caucus I am co-chairing. We’re working together to ensure that the sales tax deduction that benefits Washington State citizens becomes a part of any tax reform proposal.

And if that’s not enough, for the nights when I’m in D.C., I actually share an apartment with our neighboring congressman (and my co-chair of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus), Rep. Denny Heck. People are convinced that we should write a sitcom. For the record, I’m the “neat one.”

7) How’s the travel?

Not bad. Having met my wife Jennifer on an airplane back in 1996, I built up more positive airline karma than I ever deserved.

Listen, I knew when I signed up for this job that I was also signing up for a 3,000 mile commute to work. And, admittedly, I’ve learned the exact number of pretzels to expect in an Alaska Airlines pretzel package.

That said, I’m psyched to make it home nearly every weekend because it’s important I see and interact with my constituents as much as possible (not to mention my own family). Sure, that means a lot of time on a plane. But, on the bright side, I get 11 hours a week of mostly-uninterrupted work time. I get a lot of time to read policy briefings and to respond to letters from constituents. So if there’s something you think I should take a look at, email me!

6) So, did you get Norm Dicks’ office and committee assignments?

In short, no.

As you can imagine, I was somewhat bummed to find out that I wasn’t going to be the Ranking Member on the Appropriations Committee like my predecessor. (I did, however, get two great committees: Armed Services and Science, Space, and Technology).

Office designations, too, are based on seniority and then on a random drawing. Let’s just say that I had about as much success in the office lottery as I had in the recent Mega Millions drawing. Of the 435 members of Congress, I drew the 429thoffice choice.

That said, I have no complaints about my office. Not only did it come with a few tiny, furry “friends” (which has made the book House Mouse, Senate Mouse even more entertaining for my kids), we found out from the Library of Congress that it was the freshman office of Washington State legend Henry M. Jackson when he served in the House. Come visit us!

5) Any big surprises?

A few.

Prior to my tenure, Congress passed the Budget Control Act which included sequestration as a poison pill. It was meant to be so stupid that it would force Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate to work together to deal with our nation’s long-term fiscal health. Unfortunately, to my surprise, for most of the last year, Congress chose to swallow the poison pill.

Thankfully, the end of 2013 saw the passage of a budget that, while not perfect, will set aside the bulk of sequestration for the next two years and ensure we won’t have another devastating shutdown. Not only is that good news, it was a welcome surprise after a year of partisanship to see our parties work together to make some progress on the budget.

I was also surprised by the scrum for seats at the State of the Union. Some of my colleagues REALLY wanted to have a seat on the aisle so they could be on TV shaking the president’s hand. I haven’t seen that much demand for seats since the last time Taylor Swift visited the Tacoma Dome. I had a feeling it was trouble when I walked in.

4) So, what’s on Congress’s list of New Year’s Resolutions?

For me, that’s simple: I need to eat healthier, exercise more, and teach my dog Truman not to eat the furniture.

For Congress, the top of the list is fighting to extend unemployment benefits early in the New Year. A recent report by Washington State’s Employment Security Department found that 24,400 residents of our state lost their benefits on December 28 due to the failure of Congress to act. Another 37,600 Washingtonians stand to lose coverage over the course of the next six months. The impact of letting unemployment insurance benefits lapse will also prove to be yet another headwind to our economic recovery. In fact, the White House Council on Economic Advisers estimates that the failure to extend unemployment insurance benefits will cost the state of Washington 6,183 jobs.

In addition, there are some big challenges that deserve attention: a comprehensive immigration reform bill, improvements to the Affordable Care Act, comprehensive tax reform to help Main Street businesses and middle class families, actions to address climate change, and campaign finance reform.

And most importantly, Congress should resolve in 2014 to get focused on the economy. Not a single JOBS bill passed this year. I hope that changes in 2014. In fact, I’m working with a group of colleagues on the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act. Stay tuned for details as we work to get it passed.

3) What do I do if I’m not getting the help I need from a federal agency?

On my district team, we’ve got some wonderfully talented caseworkers who work every day to solve problems for the people we represent and make sure government works for you. This year alone, we’ve helped over 500 people resolve issues with government agencies and we’ve helped return over $600,000 in savings for constituents from agencies like Medicare, the VA, or the IRS. If you have an issue or know someone who does, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

2) So, are we making progress?

Despite the dysfunction in our nation’s capital, there were some policy successes. We saw the bipartisan passage of the Violence Against Women Act. Just prior to the holidays, we saw Congress pass a budget for the first time since 2009.

My focus – on the policy front and in the district – is on economic development. I spent the past decade working in economic development, and I feel strongly that a lot of the challenges facing our nation will get a lot better when people get back to work. That’s why I’ve proposed or cosponsored bills to help small businesses, to improve workforce development, and to improve our business climate. It’s why we fought (successfully!) to protect the Small Business Development Centers in our region and are actively working to responsibly increase harvest levels in the federal forests, to protect jobs at our military installations, and to give downtown revitalization a shot in the arm. I’m very hopeful that 2014 will see a greater focus by the Congress on helping our small businesses.

That’s also why I do “Kilmer at Your Company” events. As we end the year, I’ve visited with nearly five dozen companies in our district. I’ve had the opportunity to help construct a door at the Simpson facility in McCleary. I’ve visited hospitals, toured emergency rooms, or stopped by dialysis centers in every county in the district (and used a lot of hand sanitizer). I’ve slipped on some hip-waders and gotten into a cranberry bog. I’ve visited IT companies, manufacturers, and local small businesses. In each meeting, I try to get a sense of the good, the bad, and the ugly of how our employers are interacting with the federal government. I want to make sure that we’re doing all we can to see employers grow, succeed, and stay here in our region.

While there’s obviously much more to do, I’m proud that my team has accomplished a lot for folks in our region for the past year. Take a look at this “Year End Report” we put out that shows some of our efforts and accomplishments.

1.) So, overall, how’s it been?

When I first decided to run for federal office, the most common question I received was: “Why on earth would you want to serve in Congress when it’s such a mess and you have two little kids?” My answer remains the same now as it was then. “It’s because it’s a mess and I have two little kids.” Their ability to grow up in an America where there is growing educational and economic opportunity, where our nation is secure, and where there is clean air and water is important to me. But getting there requires Congress to get to work.

Being your Representative is an honor and a privilege and not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for the opportunity. I’m heading into 2014 highly motivated to get things back on track.

Let me just end by saying I’m grateful to each of you for continuing to read these updates, and for continuing to provide me with your thoughts and advice. I wish you a happy new year, and I look forward to hearing from you in the coming year.



Kilmer tells Congress to do its job so you can do yours

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, made his first floor speech in Congress Thursday and reiterated his theme that Congress should do something to stop the accross-the-board cuts that will happen at the end of the month if it doesn’t act.

In the speech he refers to “legislation that doesn’t solve this problem, isn’t going to pass the Senate, and isn’t going to become law” and that there will be four days of action in DC before the cuts happen.

The legislation he is referring to he HR 273, which freezes federal employee pay. Kilmer spokesman Stephen Carter said via email that the bill will be voted on Friday, but there was “a procedural vote on the rule to consider it.”

The text of the speech follows and was provided by Kilmer’s office:

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Norm Dicks is The Voice (VIDEO)

A retired member of Congress probably has a few more career options than the rest of us when we leave our jobs. “Championing legislation” might not be a skill marketable should U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, apply for a job at Supercuts. So if you’ve got a cosmetology degree you might have a leg up on him there. But I don’t think our 36-year congressman is going to be hurting for options.

On Sunday in Tacoma, at a party honoring his career, Dicks took to the mic and showed his versatility. He can not only make a lasting mark on Tacoma and Bremerton and do whatever opportunity arises for a former college linebacker, the congressman can sing.

You might want to interpret “can sing” the way all of us “can sing.” At least he knows the words. Like Buckwheat, once Norm Dicks sings a song, it’s eternally his.

First-world congressional problems

Dennis Kucinich is Milton.
Most jobs you’re actually allowed to pack up your stuff and leave the building forever before you’re displaced from your desk. I mean imagine your boss telling you in two weeks you have to leave, and for that two weeks you have to move all your stuff to the room with the vending machines.

That’s akin to what’s happening in Congress. I guess it’s how things work there, because nobody complains about it that I know of. I didn’t know that was how things operated and I had the experience of a highly educational internship as a reporter in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 1986, when John McCain, John Breaux, Harry Reid and Tom Daschle gave up their House seats for ones in the Senate.

I learned all about this office shuffling on Thursday. I had read the story about newly elected Congressman Derek Kilmer picking number 65 out of 70 for office space. (In that competition, that high score is a bad thing.) But it hadn’t occurred to me that Norm Dicks would already be out of his space. I mean now it makes sense. Like “duh.” I should have had my first clue when I saw all the furniture in the Rayburn hallways.

But on Thursday I knew his staff was in the Rayburn building. I went there and looked at the directory on the wall to find out which office belonged to our soon-to-be retired politician. I found the number, went to the location and found a California flag outside the door. The office now belongs to George Miller, D-Calif. I asked the cherubs inside the front office where Dicks’ office had gone to and was told it was in the basement cafeteria, where all the “retirees” from the building were placed. I put that word in quotes, because not everyone down there is retiring by choice.

“Basement” in this case isn’t as bad as it sounds, and there is a separation between the room of cubicles and the actual eating area.

After finding Dicks’ main cubicle (No. 36) I was told my contact there, Chief of Staff George Behan, would be there in a while. So I waited in a comfy chair nearby and was looking over emails when in my view I saw Cubicle 27, the current landing spot of U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio. You may remember that Kucinich considered becoming “D-Wash.” but wasn’t exactly welcomed by local party brass and he wasn’t gerrymandered out of his district as expected. Instead, he was put in the same district as Marcy Kaptur, another Ohio Democrat who also wasn’t looking to retire. She beat him in the primary, which set the stage for Kucinich being found in a cubicle smaller than mine, straining his neck to talk on his cell phone and wondering where his stapler went.

Dicks, by the way, being the ranking Democrat in Appropriations, has office space in the committee offices and he has his own office space in the Capitol itself. From my perspective, he still looks like a member of Congress.

Defending, sort of, Bruce Danielson’s non-campaign

Having just returned this week from vacation, when I ignored this place and any issues it might discuss, I just Thursday read Josh Farley’s story about how some people are complaining because Bruce Danielson, candidate for state Supreme Court, doesn’t seem to be campaigning.

I’m going to play the devil’s advocate here, in a way. I’m not saying this move by Danielson is good or right. (Nor am I saying he’s the devil.) I am saying he just might benefit from this strategy, and that in itself might make it good or right. I’ll also argue that maybe there is more than winning the election at issue.

I understand the complaint. The 20 or so of you who might want to go to a debate between the judge candidates and the hundreds more of you who would like to read something before voting could benefit from knowing Danielson’s positions on judicial matters, assuming you’re undecided.

My answer to that is Danielson did post a one-page website and put his info in the voter’s guide. He’s telling you something. It’s not nothing. Whether there is enough there for you to get a sense of how he would perform as a judge is another question.

That, perhaps, gets answered in the Sun story itself. Farley followed the advice of bob12345 before bob12345 gave it, suggesting to me that maybe bob12345 didn’t read the entire story. bob12345 wrote, “i have no problem with him not posting his info, campaigning, or participation in debates. his info is out there, the sun should have filled in his info for him.. ‘reporting’.” Well, bob12345, I assume you’re talking about the questionnaire we gave each candidate first. No, we’re not going to fill in the answers to our questions for him. Would you expect the county auditor to do that? The questionnaire is a place for candidates to make their arguments without any filtering by us. Farley did, however, go back to some of Danielson’s old public statements and put them in the story. You know, reporting.

On the question of whether Danielson’s strategy will make him the winner, well I’d say it probably won’t, based on history of other candidates who choose not to show up to public events, answer questions from inquiring news organizations, or doorbell.

It doesn’t mean it won’t ever work. Danielson, I suspect, may be employing this technique to illustrate his point on his website that “Judges should be elected without influence from a political party or special interest group.”

For the record, I think the term “special interest group” is thrown around way too much, the all-encompassing bogeyman used by politicians to scare voters into not voting for the opponent.

For those who might think Danielson is arguing against electing judges, the very next sentence on his site should dispel that notion. “Voters should not settle for a judge who has been appointed by the most partisan office of the State.”

Another reason it could work one day, if not now, is because it makes the candidate look like a maverick, bucking the system and delivering a middle finger to establishment politicians and the mainstream media. Some respond favorably to that.

It also generated a story (free advertising) because some in the legal community are put off by Danielson’s decision to run this way. The story does not, contrary to some of the commenters, say the Kitsap Sun is upset about it. The Kitsap Sun, as far as I am aware, has not taken a position on Danielson’s tactic. We also don’t have a practice of editorially slamming people who don’t buy ads from us, by the way. In fact, I only know who buys ads when I see them the way you do, on my computer screen or in the paper. Those of you who want to believe otherwise are probably not going to believe that, but I’ll go through the useless exercise of telling you anyway.

Finally, let’s not discount the idea that maybe winning the election is not the candidate’s first priority. I don’t know Danielson’s motivation for running. We assume all candidates actually want to win. The large majority probably do and would take the job if they did win, but you’d be surprised how many know very well they’re not going to. So they run for other reasons.

Danielson could win, and if he does I’m sure he’d relish the job. But if he doesn’t win, he has made a statement by running the way he has. And if you’re more cynical, he’s paid a filing fee and paid for a website, which if nothing else ends up creating advertising for his legal services. How many clients would it take for him to make up whatever price he paid?

As a P.S. to this, Danielson is not alone this election in applying this kind of technique. In the 6th Congressional District race Eric Arentz filed as an independent and as far as I know hasn’t campaigned other than providing information for the official election guides.

Stephan Brodhead, a Republican, has done a little more. He answered our questionnaire, has a pretty comprehensive website and I see his ads on Facebook. He won’t, however, talk to me or other reporters.

In fact, when I wrote that the primary ballots were in the mail and described him as “2010 Oregon Congressional candidate Stephan Brodhead,” he took particular exception to that, writing as a story comment, “Well Gardner, for your information, when I ran in Oregon in 2010, I did it for experience. I ended up endorsing one of your fellow Mormons that attended BYU, hence your qualifiying me as an Oregon candidate is quite self serving… In fact it is prickish and somewhat BYUish…..Sorta Council of 50 type of deal…”

Later that day I wrote an e-mail to him saying, “I was hoping we could set up a time to chat on the phone for an election story for the weekend,” making no reference to his online comment.

He responded: “Go ahead and talk to Brigham Young, I mean, Jesse Young. Given how you worded your blog, I am certain that your interpretation and journalistic intent will not fall in my favor; hence, I am not interested in talking with you at all….
“Good day!”

I responded, “What are you talking about?”

His answer: “You called me the ‘Oregon candidate’ in your blog….You chose this as a qualifier, and did not have to. This shows your intent….I am not interested in any type of interview at this juncture. I think we are done…Please quit with the emails….”

My final response: “I’m not done. I don’t understand what the problem is with what I wrote.
“I’m giving you an opportunity to make your case as a candidate. To be clear, you’re going to decline an opportunity to make that case because I mentioned the fact that you ran for Congress in Oregon?
“If that’s what you want, for me to write that you refused to be interviewed for the story, I’ll grant your wish.”

He didn’t respond to me again until after I wrote the story I had asked him to comment for. In that story I described him as “a real estate owner and manager, small business owner and veteran.” He took issue with that description.

Brodhead’s message to me: “Collectively, all of the news organizations have censored my service in Iraq while playing up Driscoll. Your latest article simply calls me a veteran while you explain in detail Eichner and Driscoll’s military service. This is just another blatant example of your media bias and manipulation. Your credibility as a journalist is suspect. Thanks for devaluing my contributions as a veteran while playing up others….”

My response: “Amazing that someone who refuses to talk to anyone in the media complains that he’s being censored.”

In the story I referred to Eichner’s military service by calling him a “former Navy submarine captain.” Of Driscoll I said he was “a veteran who in 2006 volunteered to rejoin the U.S. Marine Corps and served in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

So perhaps Brodhead has a point, though I don’t feel all that guilty for using “veteran” to describe him. Most people do still consider being a veteran a good thing, right? Given the chance to do the story again I might say he was a flight engineer in Iraq. I wasn’t trying to discount his service. But again, if want to believe otherwise, what I say here isn’t going to change your mind. If you go to the bio page on Brodhead’s site you’ll see his military experience.

And if you’re looking for a candidate who won’t talk to the media or debate his opponents, you’ve got your man. In a primary race with five candidates from the same party, I can see a day when that strategy might work.

Temp member of Congress might have nothing to do

In April we told you that, yeah, that election for the one-month job in Congress might seem like it costs a lot of money, but at least there will be a lot to do. Surely there would be a lame-duck session so Congress could finish the work it was unwilling to do before the election.

Now there is a push, perhaps a quixotic one but a push nonetheless, to not have that lame-duck session. Three Senators are urging House leadership to get a budget passed in August or October, which would essentially make a lame-duck session unnecessary.

“Should Republicans fail to do this, Americans can expect another carefully choreographed crisis that will needlessly take government to the brink of a shutdown, without concern for voters, consumers and businesses that desperately need stability amid these fragile economic times.” — South Carolina Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, all Republicans.

George Behan, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, said the congressman would like to see a budget passed before August, too. “Norm believes it would be good for our economy if we got together,” Behan said.

It seems unlikely. A year ago Congress had three different proposals they could have at least accepted as frameworks for budget agreements and failed, Behan said. The guts of any of those could be used again, but “Politically it’s hard to imagine that happening.”

Many Republicans have pledged to not do anything that hints of raising taxes and Democrats are saying they’ll let all the Bush tax cuts expire, a pretty fair piece of leverage, Behan said.

It’s those tax cuts that are part of what an end-of-year session would likely address. A representative from the current 1st Congressional District could, in theory, be an important single vote.

If Congress doesn’t meet after the election, well, someone either gets to brag about being in Congress for a month or gets a head start on the other new members.

No endorsement needed

UPDATE: Candidate Stephan Brodhead shed further light on the response he gave to the News Tribune. While he’s still not happy the reporter posted just a part of his letter, he apologizes to the paper and to another candidate. And he takes shots at Democrats Derek Kilmer and Norm Dicks.

With the August primary next on the election calendar newspapers and others are inviting candidates in for frank discussions about policy and campaign goals. The News Tribune in Tacoma invited Stephan Brodhead, one of five Republicans running to replace Democrat Norm Dicks in Congress, in for a chat and it seems he is not interested.

I have never subscribed to the Tacoma News Tribune or used their classified or advertising services. I found their classified ad cost to be ridiculously priced, and I use Craigslist to advertise my rentals. I use Google to get my news; hence, asking for an endorsement from your obsolete “Obama Yellow Press” makes no sense whatsoever.

Point of clarification: While Brodhead might first see his news from Google, the company doesn’t actually report news itself, it links to publications like this one, and the News Tribune.

He said more, but instead of being like The Huffington Post and copying and pasting it, I’ll be like Google and give you a link to it.

The confusion in the 1st

The Seattle Times editorial board was critical of several would-be members of Congress who decided to run both for the temporary seat and the permanent one. I wish the issue were that easy to describe for us in Kitsap, but let’s save that conversation for later in this blog post.

The Times’ criticism points out that candidates like Darcy Burner, who was the first to declare she’d run in both races, get to raise twice as much money this way for mailers and the like, because she can raise money for two different elections. (Confused already? I don’t blame you. I’ll explain it all later. I keep promising that, I know.) I mention Burner specifically, because she’s the one who started the cascade of candidates running for the full two-year term that begins in January to also run for the one-month job (It might be longer. I know, that’s confusing.) That ends in January to fill the last month of Jay Inslee’s congressional term. He resigned earlier this year to focus on his bid for the governor’s office. Burner was joined in running for both seats by Democrats Suzan DelBene, Laura Ruderman and Darshan Rauniyar. Republican John Koster joined in as well. Democrat Steve Hobbs declined, saying the move by the other candidates was motivated by money. The Times editorial didn’t mention that independent candidate Larry Ishmael also declined.

The Times may be off the mark in question the point of a one-month congressional job. There could be some important items to vote on, such as the budget, the extension of the Bush tax cuts and an income tax deduction for Washington residents.

But I think the Times may also have a case in suggesting candidates will raise money for both races, but do you think anyone Kitsap County will see any mailers from candidates for the one-month job? The Times opines that all the benefit of the extra money will go toward winning the permanent seat.

So let’s again explain why this is happening.

First off, Jay Inslee resigned from Congress, and congressional officials said federal law stipulates that an election to replace him during his term must happen. If he had resigned with a month left that wouldn’t have been necessary, but he is out of the seat for long enough that congressional officials believe it merits electing a replacement.

Had this not been a redistricting year the state would have had the option of taking the winner of the general election and appointing him or her to the seat early. Because it’s a redistricting year and the 1st District boundaries have been changed dramatically, whoever gets elected in the 1st will be representing a vastly different area than the current 1st. So voters in Bainbridge would be represented for one month by someone they had no say in choosing.

So on the primary and general election ballot voters in about half of Kitsap County, the part currently in the 1st Congressional District, will pick a member to fill the remainder of Inslee’s term from about early December to early January and a congressman in the 6th Congressional District, with that term beginning in early January.

In the final candidate filing story last week I tried to simplify the discussion by writing this:

“Candidates for the new 1st Congressional District, which does not include any portion of Kitsap County, had all held back on running for the temporary seat, which carries the northern portion of the county and Bainbridge Island.”

I received an email from someone confused by that paragraph. A different person used the story comments to express befuddlement. I admit that there are times I can write things clearer than I do, but in this case I think the issue is confusing and difficult to boil down in a single sentence. I think I did pretty well, and it’s still confusing.

So let me try this.

If you live in the 6th Congressional District now, you have nothing to figure out.
If you live in the 1st Congressional District in Kitsap County, you will be electing two members of Congress this year. One will be in the 6th Congressional District, because beginning in January you will no longer be in the 1st. You will be in the 6th. That member of Congress will serve a regular term. The other member of Congress you elect will be in the 1st District and will only serve for the last month you will live in the 1st District.

Are we clear yet?

Fifth Republican joins Congressional race

A fifth Republican announced today he’ll run for Congress in the 6th District.

Bill Driscoll, a former Marine who has also been in the forest products business, issued a statement saying he put $500,000 of his own money to put him even with Democrat Derek Kilmer’s “$350,000 in special interest money.” (For more about Derek Kilmer’s money, read our story from Monday.)

Driscoll’s statement says career politicians have failed, that he would focus on jobs, a strong defense, making sure veterans get the benefits they’ve been promised and balancing the federal budget.

Filing week begins May 14. The entire Driscoll statement follows:

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New GOP contender in 6th District

Stephan Brodhead becomes the latest Republican to announce his intention to run for Congress in the 6th District.

Brodhead’s press release announcing his run emphasizes his belief that the 6th District military bases need to remain strong. From his email announcement:

“In great measure, our representative must be strongly familiar with defense related technologies and its application to ‘Post-Cold War reality.’ The competence of our representation influences the quality of our future military. It influences our Northwest economy. We must get it right. We must continue to move forward. Hiring a representative with zero military experience or awareness of our DOD system makes absolutely no sense.”

Brodhead frames all of this from his own family’s military history, including his own. Brodhead, whose campaign site is here, also ran for Congress in Oregon’s 1st District in 2010, losing in the primary.

We’ll get more from all the candidates after they officially file in May. Brodhead joins Doug Cloud and Jesse Young in the Republican party. State Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, remains the only Democrat yet to declare and file with the Federal Elections Commission.

Census Says: One More Washington District

Washington is getting a 10th congressional district, which will likely be placed somewhere in Western Washington. We’re planning on having a story on the issue posted online later today and running tomorrow in print. We have also written about this before, suggesting that while the state might gain a member of Congress, Kitsap County could feasibly lose one of its two.

In the meantime, you can read the press release that follows from the Secretary of State’s office.
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Brian Baird Could Be Angling for First District Congressional Seat

The future of congressional representation for this area could see major changes, thanks in part to redistricting and Bainbridge Island Democrat U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee’s political ambitions.

This one got away from me when it first came out. Les Blumenthal with McClatchey wrote a story headlined, “Packing up after loss, Democrat Baird spares no one criticism.” I packed it away in the “B” file as in to BE read later. The story is about soon-to-be former U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, D-Vancouver.

What I missed was this gem:

He also hints that his political career may not be over, even though he decided not to seek a seventh term in order to spend more time with his twin 5-year-olds.

Baird has roughly $450,000 in his campaign account. He can’t keep it personally, but can donate it to charity or other campaigns. There’s one other alternative.

“I could use it for another race,” said Baird.

Baird is moving to Edmonds, Wash., in the 1st Congressional District north and east of Lake Washington currently represented by Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee. If Inslee were to run for governor in 2012 as many expect, the congressional seat would be open.

You’ve got everything (Inslee rumors and a suspected successor) in there except redistricting, as in new congressional boundaries being drawn thanks to the 2010 Census. Baird moving to Edmonds is a different kind of redistricting.

You might recall the earlier post where it was speculated that the entirety of Kitsap might become part of the 6th Congressional District. This obviously becomes easier to do if Inslee does run for governor, because it would reduce any political machinations aimed at keeping Bainbridge Island in the 1st. It might not stop it completely, because I do think Kitsap officials like being able to lobby two members of Congress. It is questionable, however, how much political muscle this county has in the allocation of congressional seats.

A Theory on Redistricting

Dick Morrill at Crosscut makes the case that Olympia is the most likely central location for the next congressional district Washington is likely to get as a result of the Census. If his postulation is correct, that has huge implications for us.

Morrill writes:

The new Tenth, with Lewis, Pacific, Wahkiakum, and Thurston counties on its south, would need to add the Olympic peninsula counties of Clallam, Jefferson, Mason, and Grays Harbor, plus 80,000 or so, probably from Pierce County rather than from Kitsap.

Some of that territory is currently in the Sixth Congressional District. So Morrill writes:

The Sixth (Democrat Norm Dicks), having lost the peninsula counties, might logically combine most (or all) of Kitsap and western Pierce, including Tacoma.

It is worth noting that these theoretical maps contain the possibility that both of our current members of Congress would be in new districts. Norm Dicks, whose official residence is in Belfair, would be part of the new 10th. Jay Inslee would become part of the Sixth if all of Kitsap was pushed. Political realities, as Morrill acknowledges, would seem to come into play here, unless Dicks and Inslee were to suggest that where they live should not play into the redistricting conversation. That could happen, I suppose, if Inslee is intent on running for governor and Dicks decides to retire. Otherwise, I don’t see it. And I would also think there would be some resistance within Kitsap County about losing one of two members of Congress with whom to ask for favors.