Tag Archives: Jan Angel

Thomas Steyer’s interest in the 26th Legislative District race

In a Facebook post on Oct. 18, state Rep. Jan Angel, running to unseat appointed incumbent state Sen. Nathan Schlicher in as the 26th Legislative District’s senator, wrote:

“Don’t allow this man to buy this election—mark the box by Jan Angel–I have lived and worked right here for over 30 yrs and no California dude can buy this seat unless you allow it!! Time to fight back 26th District!!”

The “dude” in question is Thomas Steyer, a California hedge fund manager who has since become a bigtime contributor to environmental causes. Angel links to this story from the Washington State Wire, which does a pretty good job of explaining who Steyer is and where the $6.3 million he put into committee named “NextGen CLimate Action Committee Sponsored by Thomas Steyer” can and cannot go. More recent Public Disclosure Commission reporting shows that of the $6.3 million Steyer put into the committee, all but about a half million has been spent, the bulk of it on out-of-state causes. What’s more is that NextGen cannot put a donation greater than $5,000 into the legislative races anymore.

Why so much money is reported in Washington is unclear. I tried to contact Steyer and got no response. Lori Anderson, PDC spokeswoman, said it’s possible Steyer is just operating his overall political spending operation here for convenience sake, because he has to report here anyway.

Steyer has put in $525,000 into two Washington committees. She’s Changed PAC, the organization doing all the advertising against Angel, has received $250,000. Washington Conservation Voters has received the rest. That committee then donated $150,000 to She’s Changed PAC, meaning Steyer has spent $400,000 to defeat Jan Angel.

Before getting to Steyer’s presence in Washington, it’s worth pointing out that most of the attention he gets recently has been for his opposition to the Keystone Pipeline. He has done plenty of work elsewhere to suggest his environmentalist leanings are legitimate, but one element of his opposition against Keystone provides easy fodder for his critics. He made the bulk of his money with Farallon Capital, which owns a boatload of stock in Kinder Morgan, which owns the Canada-U.S. West Coast pipeline that would be a major competitor to Keystone. If Keystone is blocked, Steyer’s critics argue, Steyer stands to benefit financially in a huge way. He has since said he will divest his portfolio of “dirty energy” holdings within a year.

A New Yorker story on Steyer and his opposition to Keystone is a great read, and shows that some of Steyer’s allies on other environmental issues are not solid with him on Keystone.

That story also illustrates some of what might be moving Steyer to invest in Washington.

Steyer wanted to test (former Al Gore and Bill Clinton operative Chris) Lehane’s theory that traditional campaign politics—the world of Super PACs and field organizations and TV ads—was the best way to spend his money. “Once politicians start to become aware that this issue can either help them or hurt them, you begin to change the conduct and behavior of those who are in elected office,” Lehane insisted. “Politicians very rarely lead, despite the fact that they talk about leadership in every speech. They typically follow.”

Where that first showed itself was in the Massachussetts Senate race to replace John Kerry, who had been named Secretary of State. Edward Markey opposed Keystone and Steve Lynch supported it. Both were Demcorats and faced each other in the primary.

Steyer’s group spent $1.8 million attacking Lynch and backing Markey. Lehane said they used the same “formula” that had been successful in California: an “enemy” oil company pursuing its own self-interest was hurting the state. Markey won, and went on to victory in the general election. Steyer began looking for his next opportunity.

Schlicher and Angel don’t appear in the New Yorker story, but Steyer’s financial presence just very will might owe itself to the success Steyer saw in Massachusetts and in his philosophical compatibility with Inslee.

In May the online site ClimateSolutions.org reported on speeches Inslee and Steyer gave at the Climate Solutions annual breakfast in Seattle. Both said the West needs to lead the way in battling climate change.

“What are we on the West Coast going to do about the bigger picture of climate change?” Steyer asked during his keynote address. “I think the solution is pretty straightforward: the West Coast needs to lead. And we will do so by exploiting every opportunity in the proposition process, the electoral process and the legislative process. It’s a big task.”

Remarks from Steyer paralleled earlier comments from Governor Jay Inslee. “The West Coast of the United States does not have to wait for the District of Columbia to move forward on strong climate policy,” the Governor stated. “I believe we are a laboratory of innovation and I believe we have the power to set a deadline for reducing our CO2 admissions, and to lead the world as we have done in so many ways.”

That Facebook post wasn’t the first time Angel referred to Steyer as a “dude.” Two days earlier she wrote:

“Rumor has it this billionaire dude putting all this money against me has had meetings with the Governor and perhaps swapping deals/favors –this is all starting to smell real bad!!!!”

I don’t know what deals/favors Angel has heard Inslee and Steyer might be swapping. I contacted Jay Inslee’s spokesman, David Postman, to see if the governor would like to respond to Angel’s comment. Postman wrote back, “Thanks for reaching out, but I’m not going to have a comment.”

Were the 26th Legislative District not the only district with a two-party race this year, it’s unlikely all of Steyer’s money would be in it. As it is, it’s the only real party challenge in the Legislature this year, and it’s between one legislator who has a lifetime score of 11 (out of 100) from Washington Conservation Voters against another who during the first half of the 2013-14 session scored a 100, according to WCV officials. Steyer advocated “exploiting every opportunity in the proposition process, the electoral process and the legislative process,” so in that context it should no longer be a surprise that Steyer is making good on his claim that the West should lead the way on climate change and that he is backing up that claim with his money.

UPDATED: ALEC the focus of incorrect campaign arguments

Candidates in the 26th Legislative District state Senate race have both made comments publicly about state Rep. Jan Angel’s ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council.

You might not be surprised to know that both Angel, the Republican, and state Sen. Nathan Schlicher, the Democrat, have said things that are factually wrong at worst or unprovable at best.

In the Eggs & Issues debate on Sept. 3 Schlicher said a bill Angel sponsored that would have required drug testing for welfare recipients was a bill originally written by the American Legislative Exchange Council, often referred to in shorthand as ALEC.

ALEC is unquestionably conservative in its orientation, as is Angel. The organization can call itself “non partisan” without smirking, because it does have Democrats who take part. But most of the legislation it favors leans rightward. Angel leans to the right, so it shouldn’t be a shock that she serves as ALEC’s co-chair in this Washington.

The organization does write model bills. So do the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments. So do lobbyists, political party staff members and lawyers representing organizations that want to see legislation. Legislators and their staffs write bills, too. I have no way of knowing what percentage of legislation is written by actual elected officials, but if you were thinking it was the vast majority, you are probably way off.

What scares those on the left about ALEC is that it is funded mostly by the likes of executives from Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil and much of its model legislation serves those companies’ interests.

ALEC has been fighting against the Affordable Care Act and counts as members of its Private Enterprise Council executives from GlaxoSmithKline and PhRMA, companies that contributed to Angel’s state Senate campaign. Also backing Angel’s campaign and serving on the council is Altria Client Services, the parent company to Philip Morris and two other tobacco companies.

Sclicher contended initially that the drug testing for welfare recipients bill was an ALEC model. I’ve scoured the web and can’t find proof. There are articles that make the same claim, but they don’t substantiate it. And I’ve found news pieces in which legislators deny the link. The organization has written several bills dealing with welfare and others for drug tests, but I can’t find the organization’s fingerprints on either of Angel’s drug testing for welfare recipients bills. As you will read later, though, this doesn’t mean her bills were not someone’s model bill.

Angel, in her letter to the editor defending her affiliation with ALEC, made what to many would seem to be a solid point about model bills. “If a bill gets through committees, passes the House and the Senate and is signed by the governor, perhaps it is a good bill!” she wrote.

“Good” might not be the right word for many people, but if a bill ends up getting signed by the governor then you can at least say it reflects the values of the people elected to represent its citizens, no matter who wrote it. “Good” depends on your position in relation to those values.

Angel wrote in her defense, “Mr. Bullock accuses me of sponsoring model bills, which is absolutely not true. My bill on drug testing for welfare benefits was written by me and my staff, and I can prove that.”

There’s ample evidence that if Angel and her staff wrote either of the two drug test for welfare recipients laws, they probably at least borrowed language from bills in other states.

In 2012 Angel sponsored a bill, HB 2424, that would require drug tests for all welfare applicants. The applicants would have had to pay for their drug tests. By that year at least 27 other states had proposed similar legislation. I did not search legislation from all 27 states, but it didn’t take much searching to find four — Florida, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Alabama — that used virtually identical language throughout their bills as Angel did in hers.

In 2013 Angel proposed a new bill, HB 1190, one that would require suspicion of drug usage before a test would be required. The language in that bill contained similar language to legislation in Utah that had passed prior to Angel’s legislation introduction.

Another part of Angel’s letter refuting the ALEC allegations stated that to her knowledge only two ALEC bills were proposed in the most recent legislative session, one of them being SB 5802, a bill requested by Gov. Jay Inslee. I contacted the governor’s office to see if that was true. I received the following response from David Postman, Inslee’s spokesman.

“That bill actually had nothing to do with ALEC. I asked the governor’s energy advisory — who did a lot of work on the bill — and he said he had never seen the ALEC bill. When he went to look at it at my request, he said that the ALEC bill is a very different approach to the issue. Among other things, the ALEC bill would study ‘benefits’ of climate change and calls for creation of an interstate research commission. They are both studies and both about climate change. But our bill was drafted with input from a variety of people and the staff’s experience in previous five-corner efforts here. We ended up with what we thought was a good bill. We were glad it got bipartisan support, though many of Rep. Angel’s Republican colleagues opposed it in the House.”

Angel voted for Inslee’s bill.

UPDATE: This post has generated responses that merit inclusion here.

First, Todd Myers with the Washington Policy Center responded to the statement from the governor’s office. The short version is that some of the governor’s bill did probably originate with an ALEC bill. Here is Myers’ response:

The statement from the Governor’s office is both incorrect and misleading, requiring people to believe in an extremely unlikely coincidence.

First, his description of the ALEC bill is incorrect. It does not look at “benefits” of climate change, nor does it set up an interstate commission. The “Environmental Priorities Act” examines the costs and benefits of environmental policy, prioritizing those which provide the greatest benefit for each dollar.

Similarly, at the center of the Governor’s climate bill, his signature legislation this year, is a study of environmental approaches that examines the “effectiveness” of climate policies measuring “the cost per ton of emission reduction.” This mirrors exactly ALEC’s bill, which the Washington Policy Center suggested to the Governor.

In a piece I wrote to the Governor in January, we recommended that his bill mirror ALEC’s Environmental Priorities Act, which we noted “is a way to make sure we aren’t spending huge sums of money on trendy, but ineffective, environmental policies that starve needed funding for projects with significant potential to help the environment.” Like the Governor, we emphasized the need for effectiveness and ensuring we measure based on how much it costs to reduce one ton of carbon. It was confirmed to us that the
Governor’s office read the piece. When the Governor released his bill later that month, this idea was specifically included. The inclusion of that language is why WPC testified in favor of the bill.

It is unlikely the inclusion of the language we suggested is a coincidence. Although the Governor wrote a book on climate policy, nowhere in the more than 200 pages of his book did he mention this particular approach. His bill was the first time this concept appeared. It is possible the Governor’s office did not know the language came from ALEC legislation, but that does not change the fact that the approach is the same.

Perhaps, however, it is merely a happy coincidence that the exact same metric and approach suggested by ALEC was used by the Governor in his bill. This would mean that Gov. Inslee and ALEC independently came up with the same idea. You would think that such a thing would be celebrated as a bi-partisan agreement on climate policy. Instead, the Governor won’t take “yes” for an answer and choose partisanship over agreement.

If climate policy is as serious as the Governor says, we should not let political games get in the way of good policy and good ideas should be praised, no matter what the source.

Todd Myers
Environmental Director | Washington Policy Center

It seems the governor’s office is not referring to the ALEC model legislation that Angel would have been referencing. The model bill the governor’s office referred to is the one listed on the ALEC website as model climate change legislation. That bill does call for a study that calls for an “Interstate Commission on Climate Change,” charged with studying the effects of climate change, stipulating that “These influences may be beneficial or deleterious, and the Commission will specifically address both hypothetical eventualities in an evenhanded manner.”

The ALEC bill Myers is referring to is the Environmental Priorities Act.

Second, Angel said at the Eggs & Issues she has never sponsored an ALEC model bill. I haven’t found evidence otherwise. But Collin Jergens from Fuse Washington, the organization behind some of the ads against Angel, pointed to one bill that she co-sponsored, a bill that was an ALEC model. Co-sponsoring means your name is not the first on a list of sponsors, that the bill probably didn’t get to the Legislature through your office. I say “probably,” because legislators do sometimes hand off legislation from their office to other legislators.

The bill Jergens referenced was HB 2772 in 2010 and has the identical language as ALEC’s Climate Accountability Act. Angel is a co-sponsor.

Jergens provided a list of Washington bills that he described as “ALEC bills that have been introduced.” The one bill Jan Angel was the prime sponsor of was HB 2268. That bill would have required public school students to take a course in financial literacy in order to graduate. There were at least three Democrats who co-sponsored the bill from 2012 and it got a hearing in the House Committee on Education. While the intent of the bill seems to match the ALEC model, the language of the bill is not the same.

UPDATED: Measuring Jan Angel’s primary win over Nathan Schlicher

Since 2006 Democrats have done better locally at getting out the vote than Republicans. So far this year that seems on the surface to be changing.

I don’t have solid data to back up my sense that Democrats have been better at it at least since 2006, but election data bears it out. Oh-six and oh-eight were Democratic years, so those are easy. In 2010, despite huge Republican gains nationally, Democrats held their own around here. In 2012 Kirby Wilbur, former Washington State Republican Party chairman, admitted his party did poorly in the entire state, blaming that in some part in the national party’s abandonment of the entire state.

Following Tuesday’s results Chris Tibbs, Kitsap GOP chairman, texted me, “The kcrp has mobilized in a way we haven’t since 1994.” Looking just at the race in the 26th Legislative District, it’s hard to argue against it. Republican Jan Angel, a member of the state House now going after the seat Democrat Nathan Schlicher was appointed to in January, won the night. But in Kitsap County her margin was huge, 56.9 percent to 42.8.

There are a lot of reasons to put off betting that Angel will win by the same margin in November, or that she will win at all, but Luanne Van Werven, interim state GOP party chairwoman, was counting it as a done deal. She released the following statement:

“With Rep. Jan Angel winning tonight’s primary by a decisive 9.5%, the message from voters in Kitsap and Pierce Counties is loud and clear: by supporting Governor Inslee’s liberal agenda, Nathan Schlicher has failed to represent his constituents. The Governor’s tax increase proposals, his decision to throw our kids in Washington’s education system under the bus, and his obstructionist D.C.-style of leadership in Olympia were soundly rejected as voters overwhelmingly casted their ballot for Rep. Jan Angel. Nathan Schlicher has sided with Seattle liberals over his own constituents 96% of the time during his brief tenure in Olympia, and it cost him big at the polls.

“Historically speaking, with a primary result such as Schlicher’s tonight, it is safe to say that Rep. Angel will cruise on to an easy victory in November. I look forward to finishing the job and electing her as the 26th member of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, and as the next state Senator of the 26th Legislative District.”

It is true that candidates who win primaries generally go on to win the general, so Angel has a certain advantage. Schlicher did better in Pierce County than in Kitsap, but he still lost. If nothing else, it puts Angel in the frontrunner position. This primary is technically meaningless, but there is no better polling available.

If Democrats are looking for help in November, the ballot itself offers little. There are two statewide initiatives, but one is dealing with how initiatives are treated and the other relates to genetically engineered foods. Neither would get out the vote like same-sex marriage rights. So Democrats get little help there.

Democrats can legitimately say, however, that they can pick up momentum. Angel has already spent way more than twice the money Schlicher has, in part because she has almost twice as much money as he does. Additionally, Republicans clearly made a primary win a priority here. I don’t see the same fire yet from Democrats. Jordan Schrader, reporter for the (Tacoma) News Tribune, wrote on July 31 that Democrats had not spent near the money on television, quoting Schlicher saying he didn’t think voters paid much attention to political television ads this time of year.

In the end the primary win should be seen as very good news for Republicans. But you have to wonder if someone who has been sleeping is going to wake up by November, and whether this might have been the alarm clock.

UPDATE: I wanted to test Van Werven’s assertion that Angel would “cruise” to victory in November. I’ll get to that. First, though, more comments from the candidates themselves.

Schlicher told the News Tribune he was happy with the results:

Schlicher’s glass-half-full argument is that he is cutting into the support of Angel, who won by 18 percentage points in November against a different rival in a much lower-spending House race.

“We’ve closed half the distance in a month. We’ve got three months until the general,” Schlicher, an emergency-room doctor, said in an interview. “This is so doable.”

Angel also spoke with the News Tribune, (This was their lead story. Ours was the Bremerton City Council race.) which you can read there. She also issued a written statement today expressing her optimism about the numbers.

“We have worked hard to get our message out about rebuilding our economy, strengthening schools, limiting taxes and meaningful government reforms. We aren’t done yet, there is still a November General election and tomorrow we go back to work.”

Now for some historical perspective. I went back and looked at the legislative races with just two candidates in the primary in 2008, 2010 and 2012. (In 2009 there was a single legislative race, but it had three candidates.)

In those three elections there were 31 two-person races in which the leader at the primary had less than 55 percent of the votes. Of those, two were overturned in the general election.

In 2008 Democrat Liz Loomis took 50.7 percent of the vote in the 44th Legislative Distict primary to Mike Hope’s 49.3 percent. In the general election Hope, a Republican received 50.1 percent to Loomis’ 49.9.

In 2010 Republican Brian Peck won the primary 53-47 in the 17th District, House Position 1 race. In the general election he was beaten 53.2 percent to 46.8 by Democrat Tim Probst.

Probst nearly did it again in 2012. State Sen. Don Benton, a Republican, won the primary with 52.1 percent compared to Probst’s 47.0 percent in the race for Benton’s 17th District state Senate seat. On general election night Benton was behind after the first votes were counted, but ended up winning by 78 votes.

In the same year, 2012, the race for the 47th District Position 1 seat in the House had Mark Hargrove with a 53.9 percent tally over Bud Sizemore’s 46.1. Hargrove, a Republican, ended up winning the general election by 157 votes, taking 50.2 percent of the final vote.

There was one other primary-to-general election overthrow in 2012. Mike Armstrong won the primary with 58.7 percent to Bud Hawkins’ 41.3 percent in the 12th Legislative District House Position 2 race. In the general election Hawkins managed to pull out the win. But Armstrong and Hawkins are both Republicans.

Filing day 4: Real races continue to emerge

Jan Angel is in. She will run against Democrat Nathan Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor, for the Senate seat he has held since was appointed in January. The race of the year is set. It’s Republican vs. Democrat, perhaps the only one in the state. And of course that presumes no one else signs up to run and manages to spoil the prediction.

The Bremerton City Council District 7 race will feature two incumbents, thanks to the reduction from nine to seven council members. Eric Younger filed and will be running against fellow councilman Nick Wofford.In Poulsbo David Musgrove signed up to run for the Council District 6 spot. Alyson Rotter signed up to run for the Bremerton School Board Seat 4 position.

Filing day three: Halfway to the race of the year

Noon update: State Sen. Nathan Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor, filed Wednesday in hopes he will be elected to the seat he was appointed to in January. Unless there are wild card candidates who we’ve not heard of, this puts us halfway to officially beginning what Schlicher’s presumed opponent — state Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard — said in Sunday’s piece was the race of the year.

On Bainbridge Island Robert Bosserman filed to run for a council seat in District Three, the seat held by Kirsten Hytopoulos.

The West Sound Utility District, not something I would necessarily draw attention to here, has an interesting development. Two current commissioners will be running against each other. That is because when the Annapolis and Karcher Creek water districts merged following a November 2007 vote, they kept the commissioners from the agencies until their terms expired. The commissioner positions last six years. Jeannie Screws is the incumbent in District One. Jim Hart’s position is going away, so he will also run in Screws’ district. Kevin Long, who has worked for the district, will also run for the seat.

Afternoon update: Roger Townsend joined the Bainbridge Island City Council race in District 3 and Steve C. Hancock entered his name in the race for North Kitsap School District for Position 1. Both have opponents.

Incumbency, close calls and money

This will make sense later.
This will make sense later.
In January it became clear that the November general election would almost certainly be a race between Nathan Schlicher, the appointed Democratic incumbent, against Republican Jan Angel, a member of the House. As I write this neither of them have filed to run, so we are still operating on assumptions.

There have been cases in our recent political past where the gift of an appointment might payed dividends. Would Steve Bauer have had as easy a path to his election to the county commission, and then Rob Gelder had they not been appointed earlier? I doubt it. In those cases incumbency gave them a record and some kind of reputation.

Schlicher certainly benefits from incumbency as opposed to trying to challenge Angel with no official legislative experience. The questions I wanted to pose were how well appointed incumbents have done in the past, and in cases where appointed incumbents failed to be selected, what happened? Sunday’s piece answered those questions. We scheduled the piece for the Sunday before filing began and “Happy Mothers’ Day, everyone!” I looked at legislative historical records available on the Legislature’s website, as well as news archives, to get some context.

Some side issues, interesting on their own but not contributing to the questions asked Sunday, arose in conversations with candidates and others, as well as in the research.

incumbentIssue One: Because Schlicher was not elected, can he call himself the “incumbent?” Angel said she doesn’t think so, but the dictionary does not distinguish between whether someone was elected or appointed. In fact, for many people getting the approval of the local party would be harder than getting approved by voters. It is worthwhile to note the distinction, because for many the word “incumbent” implies a past election. President Gerald Ford was the incumbent president in 1976, even though he was elected with a 1-0 vote. That’s an old joke that ignores the fact that Ford was confirmed vice president 92-3 in the U.S. Senate and 387-35 in the House.

Issue Two: If the race is close, which there is sound reason to suspect it could be, so many factors could make the final difference. In fact, in close races it is nearly impossible to credit a win or blame a loss on any one thing. So many unseen things can effect the outcome. “When you lose by 191 votes the flap of a butterfly’s wings can make a difference,” said Randy Gordon, who was the Democrats’ appointed incumbent in the 41st District Senate seat. He lost by 194 votes, according to the state, but let’s not quibble. If he were to pick one ingredient it would be the national anti-incumbent, especially anti-Democratic incumbent, mood across the country. But it could have been any one of his votes in the Legislature, or a particular ad run against him and financed by national PACs, or the money dumped into his opponent’s campaign, or the Democratic Party not putting enough money into his campaign. He said state party officials admitted to him they goofed by not spending more on his race, but how much more would have created a victory? This could be one of those races where in every moment of being awake the candidate and their supporters will not have a moment they can afford to relax.

Issue Three: Both candidates said they will win by telling their stories to win the campaign. Angel added that she will raise money. Since the story ran Angel is reporting more in her campaign chest. On a separate blog a few of you took U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, to task for planning to host a Star Wars-themed fundraiser. I’ll be honest, I was surprised at that reaction. I assumed everyone knew that a big part of a member of Congress’ life is raising money to win the job again in two years. If you haven’t listened to the “This American Life” piece “Take the Money and Run for Office,” I suggest you set aside about an hour to get yourself schooled. That Kilmer is raising funds should not surprise anyone. I’m not saying it’s right, so don’t take me to task for cheerleading the fundraising. I’m not. But I have a difficult time faulting someone who knows he needs to raise funds to win a public office for doing just that. Until finance laws change, that is how it works. Even if finance laws do change, there is no guarantee this kind of election begging would go away. If your problem is that it was a Star Wars theme, maybe it’s worth asking what the harm is in having fun with an otherwise ugly task. If I was hosting fundraisers, you can bet one would be a Batman theme. And not the newer cool Batman, but the Adam West version. Then, every time more money came in I could flash signs that said, “Kapow!” or “Zowie!”

Angel, Schlicher have allies in opposite chambers

Jordan Schrader at the (Tacoma) News Tribune gives both sides of the story in the gamesmanship question about the 26th District.

“There are games being played. I can’t say there isn’t,” Port Orchard Republican Angel said. Her rival, Gig Harbor Democrat Schlicher, similarly decried “stupid games” and concluded in frustration: “This is why people hate government.”

Recall that this is the district in which the appointed incumbent state Sen. Nathan Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor, is likely to face off against state Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, to finish the last year of the term former state Sen. Derek Kilmer was elected to.

We addressed both sides of the issue when it comes to state Schlicher when we posted The Politics of Diabetes, because we did ask why he was the sponsor of the diabetes bill in the first place when it was sponsored by another legislator a year ago.

But then we posted about Schlicher’s Narrows Bridge toll bill getting killed by a floor vote to not have a floor vote. (Confusing. It just means they voted to not vote on the bill.) The bill had overwhelming support out of committee, but the majority coalition blocked it from the floor. What we didn’t know at the time was that Democrats got the question to the floor while Republican Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry was off floor feeding her baby. She came back to the floor to cast the coalition’s 25th vote against the bill.

After that incident I emailed Port Orchard state Rep. Jan Angel’s press rep the following:

We’ve paid some attention to how bills sponsored by state Sen. Nathan Schlicher have seemed to meet political reality. In one case he sponsored a bill that had Republican cosponsors, including from the committee. But at the last minute was pulled from committee executive session schedule. When another senator essentially forced a vote it went down on party lines. Yesterday another bill he sponsored was refused a floor vote by the Senate Majority Coalition after it had sailed through committee.

A cynic would suspect politics are at play.

A cynic would also assume that the same kind of politickacracy has been dumped on Jan Angel. I was hoping you might suggest some examples that come easily to mind.

Angel returned the request and left a voicemail message.

Angel said in her first session she had four good bills introduced, but only one passed. In the second session she introduced six bills and only one passed. She’s had three pass this year.

“This isn’t at all unusual for a freshman in their first session and for me in my second session and the fact that when you’re in the minority party, it’s difficult,” she said.

Angel said she got a bill out of committee unanimously, but it got killed on the floor, similar to what happened with Schlicher’s bridge toll bill.

“Have I had those things happen this session? You bet I have,” she said.

Angel has had three bills pass this session.

As Schrader writes in his story, proof that politics are at play is elusive. Leaders from both majorities deny it.

In an earlier story by John Stang of Crosscut about the bridge toll vote, there was a comment from Rodney Tom, a Democrat who leads the majority coalition, about Schlicher getting his one vote. “It is a Senate tradition that every senator — even those in the minority — gets one bill passed,” Stang wrote.

Schrader wrote that six senators, including Schlicher, have had just one bill pass. Not on that list are Republicans Sharon Brown or John Smith. Like Schlicher, they are appointed incumbents. Unlike Schlicher, both of them have five bills passed this session.

The politics of diabetes

While the sequestration drama has again revealed partisan gamesmanship, legislators in Olympia have every bit the skill of operating with suspected “politics first” motives.

One case involves an issue that doesn’t pack the punch of a 20 percent pay cut. It could potentially touch 11.6 million, the number (PDF) of Americans the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates has diabetes.

State Sen. Nathan Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor, was the chief sponsor of a bill, SB 5423, that would have three state agencies dealing with diabetes coordinate their efforts to report every two years to the governor how much diabetes is costing state agencies, the effectiveness of existing diabetes programs, a report of agency cooperation and ideas for legislative action to help with costs.

The bill had bipartisan support and was cosponsored by three other members of the Senate Health Care Committee, including Republican Chairwoman Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, and Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor.

On Feb. 19 the bill had a hearing in front of the committee. Steward Perry, a Kentuckian volunteer with the American Diabetes Association, was there to discuss the impact of a similar bill in his state. He didn’t point to tangible changes, saying the first report had just been given to Kentucky’s Legislature.

The night before the Feb. 21 executive session, where members would have voted whether to send the bill to the Rules Committee, the bill was still on the agenda. By the time the meeting started it was gone. John Stang, writing for Crosscut, said Becker told him the agenda was crowded and some bill had to be removed. Schlicher noted later that the committee ended a half hour early.

And in the committee there was more than a crowded agenda as reasons given to kill the bill. The diabetes legislation got a full conversation, thanks to the bill’s sponsor a year ago, state Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent. Keiser made a rapid motion to send the bill to Rules with a “do pass” recommendation and was quickly seconded. That’s when the fun began.

We will go to recess
Madame Chair?
We will go to recess.
I do not, I do not, I object. We cannot go to recess when a motion is on the table.
We’re going to recess. (pause) We’re going to recess.

The committee was away for awhile, then the TVW recording returns in the middle of a dispute over whether they were voting or going to have a roll call vote. Becker asked for those in favor and those not and the “Nays” were a committed bunch, much louder than the “Ayes.”

Becker then said the committee was adjourned, to which Keiser said adjourning is not appropriate. Becker said it was and then adjourned the committee for 26 seconds, coming back saying there is a disagreement over procedure.

Keiser and Schlicher both urged passage of the bill.

Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, said he appreciated the sentiment around the bills’ impact on patients, but that at its heart it was a bill about state agency cooperation. “I believe that we owe our new governor a chance to have his agencies act on this,” he said. “The governor has talked a lot about lean management and about breaking down silos, I think that’s exactly what this bill purports to do, but I don’t think it is necessary to do it statutorily.”

Becker then said the bill was discussed a lot the night before “when we broke for caucus.”

For those not familiar with the Legislature, breaking for caucus means each party steps away from the floor to meet among themselves and discuss legislation and strategy. Typically that means Democrats meet among Democrats and Republicans meet among Republicans. In the state Senate it’s Democrats and the Majority Coalition, made up of Republicans and Democrats Tim Sheldon and Rodney Tom. Becker reiterated Dammeier’s point about agency silos and said passing legislation might actually put unnecessary restraints on the agencies.

Going to caucus, though, gets to Stang’s suspicions.

Schlicher — who was appointed to his seat — faces his first election in November against Rep Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard. The rookie Schlicher has a sparse record of passed bills compared to the veteran Angel. Becker denied that the bill was killed for reasons related to the upcoming Schlicher-Angel race.

That Schlicher was the sponsor of the bill could be interpreted as politics, too. Keiser sponsored it last year. Her bill would have established a public-private partnership to do much the same as Schlicher’s bill, and it would have expired in 2014. The bill made it out of the Senate Committee on Health & Long-Term Care and died in Ways & Means. Keiser said this year in committee that the problems that stalled last year’s bill were worked out.

Schlicher said the thought behind having him be the sponsor this year was to have a physician run some of the hurdles for what had been a non-controversial health care bill until Feb. 21. He cited his support for a Becker bill, ESB 5305, which requires hospitals to report when a patient is being treated for a stab or gunshot wound, whether the patient is conscious or not. Existing law only required the reporting when patients were unconscious. Schlicher said Democrats traditionally did not favor that requirement, but his status as a doctor helped persuade his caucus otherwise. The bill passed the Senate 49-0.

There is no proof or testimony yet that the diabetes bill was killed for political reasons. A House version of the bill, HB 1795, passed out of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services in an 8-1 vote the day after it died in the Senate. The House bill is in Rules on that side of the capitol, but it would need to go through the Senate again.

And Schlicher said the governor’s office has expressed support for the idea, so it may get the treatment Republicans in the state Senate are calling for.

County’s 2008 pledge to South Kitsap park mostly fulfilled

The editor’s rejected my suggested headline, “Pigs fly at skatepark groundbreaking,” which was made of course tongue in cheek for today’s story about big news for South Kitsap Regional Park.

The start of construction on the skatepark is a milestone for the park, which the county acquired in 2008 from a floundering South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District. Much planning and design has been done. But except for a new playground installed in 2010 and renovation of existing ballfields, there hasn’t been a lot of visible evidence of progress at the park, in which former South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel pledged the county would invest $2.19 million (see below for where the money spent so far has gone).

In 2007, not all of South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District members were down with the proposed transfer. District commissioners felt protective of the 200-acre park that they’d been unable to maintain, and some believed the county would sell of some of the mostly forested land.

The late Margie Rees, a parks district commissioner, and her husband Leon offered the district a loan of $13,000 to help it pay off an election debt that the county was holding over the district’s head as leverage for the park take-over. And the emotion-landen battle got even crazier, as community members who sided with the county accused the district of setting fire to an equipment shed insurance fraud. The parks district netted $20,000 in an insurance settlement from an equipment shed fire at the park. The district indicated it would use the settlement toward the election debt. Kathryn Simpson and Judi Edwards, who initiated the investigation, accused the district of inflating the cost of lost materials. The district was cleared of the charges and the transfer went forward by a single-vote majority on the split district board of commissioners.

Angel promised, and the agreement stated, that the park would remain a park in perpetuity. The $2.19 million was a carrot held out as incentive and reward. Angel envisioned the renovated park as a “shining jewel in South Kitsap’s crown.”

Here’s a timeline, showing circumstances that contributed to delays in development of the park. Below that is the county’s accounting of where the $2.19 million has gone (and how much is left on the original pledge).

South Kitsap Regional Park Timeline
2007: Kitsap County acquires park from South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District, an effort led by South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel.
2008: Skatepark supporters formalize as the nonprofit South Kitsap Skatepark Association.
November 2008: County completes a 13-month public master planning process.
January 2009: Charlotte Garrido becomes South Kitsap Commissioner as the county makes deep budget cuts due to the recession.
June 2009: Longtime Parks and Recreation Director Chip Faver steps down.
November 2009: New parks head Jim Dunwiddie takes the reins from interim director Arvilla Ohlde.
October 2010: Park Project Manager Martha Droge leaves. Her position remains vacant due to budget constraints until summer, 2012.
March 2011: SKSPA toys with the idea of a smaller skatepark in the city of Port Orchard.
June 2011: SKSPA scores a $75,000 grant from the Birkenfeld Trust. Permitting for skatepark is under way.
Sept. 10: County signs contract with Grindline Skateparks for phase I and II of the skatepark.
Sept. 29: Groundbreaking at the park
March 2013: Estimated opening of skatepark.

South Kitsap Regional Park by the numbers
Kitsap County’s funding commitment to the park: $2.19 million
Source of county funds (2007): Park capital, $1.45 million; sale of surplus land, $220,500 ($1.67 million total); Washington State Recreation and Conservation Grant, $500,000
Donations: South Kitsap Skatepark Association $108,000 (for skatepark); Chuck Jeu family, $14,519 (earmarked for future tennis courts)

Cost Summary
Master plan: $354,548
General design, engineering, soil and traffic studies, $338,935
Design of skatepark, $32,952
Design of roads and paths, $13,433
Athletic field renovation, $13,080
Testing and permits, $17,511
Playground purchase and installation, $205,489
Skatepark phase I and II construction and path grading, $740,478

Total park expenditures through March 2013: $1,716,426 (including $500,000 RCO grant and $108,000 from SKSPA)
County’s total expenditures to date: about $1.65 million
Remainder of county’s 2007 commitment of 2.19 million: approximately $500,000.
Next steps: Grading near north entrance for future ballfields and “traffic safety improvements” at both entrances. Not on the radar in the immediate future, new restrooms, which were listed as a high priority during the public planning process.
The county is well-positioned to received a state grant in 2013 of nearly $150,000.

Another challenger in the 26th

Stephen Greer, an attorney who formerly worked in the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s office, announced Wednesday he will run for state representative for the seat currently held by Republican Jan Angel. Greer, who lives in Gig Harbor, is a Democrat.

Greer joins Karin Ashabraner, a Gig Harbor Democrat, on the list of those challenging Angel.

Greer’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.

Democrat makes bid for Angel’s seat

A Gig Harbor teacher announced she is running for the Legislature in the 26th District and will challenge Jan Angel for her seat. Karin Ashabraner, a Democrat who teaches U.S. History to 8th graders, made the announcement Wednesday.

The Position Two race is expected to be a rematch between Larry Seaquist, the Democratic incumbent, and Doug Richards, a South Kitsap fire captain.

Ashabraner’s press release follows.

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More on Candidates’ Forum: 26th District Races

This is a follow up to a post I made yesterday, giving more details on a candidate forum hosted Monday by the Leagues of Women Voters of Kitsap County. Yesterday, we heard from 35th District candidates. Today, we’ll hear more from contenders for 26th District seats.

Remember, the whole forum will be broadcast on BKAT at 8 p.m. Sept. 16, 10 a.m. Sept. 17, 8 p.m. Sept. 23 and 7 p.m. Oct. 3. You can see video coverage of candidates in most races speaking to the Kitsap Sun’s editorial board at the Kitsap Sun’s Election Guide Web page.

26th District Representative Position 2
Incumbent Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, responded to a question about Gov. Christine Gregoire’s proposed across the board cuts by describing a meeting he’d had in Seattle with government and health care representatives. The purpose of the meeting, he said, was to form a network of “hospitals, schools, faith-based organizations” and other community groups to fill in the ranks as the state reduces funding for childrens’ health care. This is the kind of approach that will be needed, Seaquist said, because legislators need to “downsize state government 20 percent.”
Seaquist then blasted fellow legislators for leaving the budget cut question up to the governor to decide. “The legislature should have gone back to work,” Seaquist said. “The legislature should have been down there. Her hands were tied.”
Doug Richards of Olalla, his Republican challenger, was not happy with the proposed across the board cuts. He said the legislature needs to look at “the big picture” and analyze why the state is operating in a deficit. He criticized what he described as Olympia’s dependence on federal stimulus funds and said leadership was lacking in the legislature. “When they were in session, they were basically playing Vegas, hoping the money will come in. … Politics as usual is not working down there. One time money is not sustainable. This has to change.”
On education funding, Seaquist said the state should implement a procedure similar to the BRAC commission, which evaluates Navy bases on their output and makes closures accordingly. Yes, schools need to be amply funded, Seaquist said, “but we’ve got to see output.”
Richards advocates giving local schools more control of state education funds. He advocates increased deregulation of schools.

26th District Representative Position 1
Incumbent Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, decried across the board cuts, saying, “I don’t believe that is the way you balance a budget.”
Angel said the legislature needs to define core services, and to demand more productivity and efficiency, starting with its own offices.
Angel referenced a study of state priorities done under former Gov. Gary Locke, but it’s “still sitting on a shelf in Olympia.”
“Some areas can’t take a massive hit,” said Angel, who is vocally opposed to unfunded mandates.
Sumner Schoenike, a Gig Harbor pediatrician and Democrat, also disagrees with the across-the-board approach, calling it an “abdication of duties.” “We are sent to Olympia to make difficult decisions, and that’s exactly what we must do,” he said. “We did not by chance end up in a budget deficit. This is a national issue, folks.”
Schoenike blamed much of the mess on “the profligate ways on Wall Street.”
He said legislators have to recognize they are dealing with an unprecedented situation and take a whole new approach.
The two candidates did not discuss health care at the forum, but on this topic, they are diametrically opposed. Schoenike is a strong supporter of Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act. Angel said she is alarmed by the potential for unfunded mandates the act implies. Her quote, from a Kitsap Sun Editorial Board meeting, “Our citizens are totally irate about this. This is a system, which, when citizens say this was shoved down our throat, it is.”

26th District Senate
Incumbent Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and challenger Marty McClendon didn’t find a lot to disagree about at the forum.
On the issue of collective bargaining for state employees, McClendon said that union leaders representing state employees need to recognize the increased burden for health care costs incurred by private sector employees. Union leaders should negotiate in good faith to bring state employee health care contributions more in line with the private sector, McClendon said.
Kilmer said he could see both sides of the issue.
“I do not think we should balance the budget on the backs of our state employees,” he said. “On the flip side, I don’t think our employees should be exempt from budget cuts. … I would rather see a 5 percent pay cut than a 100 percent pay cut.”
Both touted their qualifications for the job.
Kilmer stood on his record of fighting for higher education and ferry service, and keeping tolls down on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, reprising his frequently cited self-assessment in this regard as a “pitbull.” He said he would continue his advocacy on behalf of small business (he opposed a B&O tax increase and helped pass a law reducing regulatory paperwork, he said). “We should reduce the cost of doing business,” said Kilmer, who works with the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.
McClendon is a real estate broker and small business owner with a background in health care. He was able to raise himself up by his bootstraps, but he doesn’t see similar opportunities for his own children, which is why he’s running for office. “I’m not a politician. … I’m a common sense kind of a guy,” he said.

Correction: Derek Kilmer works with the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County. The incorrect board was named in an earlier version of this post.

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

Angel Backs Benton for U.S. Senate

South Kitsap state Rep. Jan Angel is backing State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, in his bid to oust Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray in the November election. This might not carry the same weight Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Clint Didier does, but neither Palin or Didier live here.

The press release text follows:

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