The Moderate Washingtonian

Outlook on politics and elections in the state of Washington from an overall centrist viewpoint. My views tend to be libertarian in nature, but at the same time are largely nonpartisan.

30 November 2005

Finkbeiner out

Senate GOP leader Bill Finkbeiner [R-Kirkland] announced today he is stepping down from his leadership post, but is intending on seeking reelection to his GOP-leaning district next year. Finkbeiner is a moderate by Senate Republican standards, but considering that their last true moderate was defeated last year (Don Carlson), I have little hope for anything but a rightward drift in the next GOP leader. Conventional wisdom would dictate the next leader would probably be either current GOP Whip Mike Hewitt [R-Walla Walla] or GOP Floor Leader Luke Esser [R-Bellevue], but I can think of a handful of others that might be interested, including Brad Benson [R-Spokane] and Cheryl Pflug [R-Maple Valley].

28 November 2005

Give this book a whirl, it's worth it

Today I received my copy of Dino Rossi's autobiography, "Dino Rossi: Lessons in Leadership, Business, Politics, and Life." Since then i've covered roughly 40% of the near-200 page book, and it has been somewhat surprisingly a very good read. I'm the type of person who doesn't read very often, and when I do, I'm rarely able to read much in one sitting. This wasn't the case with Dino's book, which is the most easily readable biography i've come across before. The book isn't long, lacks microscopic print, and has many photographs for added enjoyment. The theme is positive and upbeat, and focuses on lessons Dino has learned in his life. Compared to other biographies i've read of local pols, like Dixy Lee Ray and Henry M. Jackson, the content is relatively non-political and non-ideological. Regardless, if you're too partisan to throw Dino Rossi your money, try Payton Smith's bio of former Gov. Al Rosellini. It too is an entertaining and relatively easy read, but from the opposite side of the spectrum.

25 November 2005

Speaking of the WCU...

...they now have their scores for the 2005 session posted. The Washington Conservative Union is an authoritarian conservative organization allied with the national American Conservative Union. They seek to:

-Promote strong families (choke me, please)
-Promote responsible, taxpayer-friendly fiscal policies (corrected punctuation error from site)
-Maintain a responsible criminal justice system
-Foster a sound educational system for youth
-Assure limited government/deregulation/privatization
-Recognize constitutional protections (as long as they suit this agenda, but I digress)

I like to watch this list to keep an eye on which Republicans in the legislature are fair-minded. Your run-of-the-mill rural right-wingers will generally score above 90 and the vast majority of Democrats score below 20, save for a handful of DINOs like Sens. Tim Sheldon and Jim Hargrove. Any score in the middle is generally favourable to moderates and libertarians, since liberal Republicans tend to jump on social and not fiscal issues. Here's the breakdown for both legislative bodies:

Highest GOP: Five tied with 100, including Linda Evans Parlette [R-Wenatchee] and Stephen Johnson [R-Kent]

Lowest GOP:
1. Dave Schmidt [R-Bothell] 73
2. Bob Oke [R-Port Orchard] 78
Five tied at 80, including Bill Finkbeiner [R-Kirkland] and Cheryl Pflug [R-Maple Valley]

Highest Democrats:
1. Tim Sheldon [D-Potlatch] 87 (please switch already)
2. Jim Hargrove [D-Hoquiam] 33
3. Mary Margaret Haugen [D-Camano Island] 13
4. Rosa Franklin [D-Tacoma] 13

Highest GOP: Six tied with 100, including Jim Buck [R-Port Angeles] and my former legislator, Larry Crouse [R-Spokane]

Lowest GOP (aka heroes):
1. Fred Jarrett [R-Mercer Island] 29
2. Shirley Hankins [R-Richland] 40
3. Rodney Tom [R-Bellevue] 42
4. Tom Campbell [R-Roy] 47
5. Larry Haler [R-Richland] 53 (how the Tri-Cities is willing to elect reasonable representatives, I have no clue)
Honourable mentions to freshman Maureen Walsh [R-Walla Walla] and Skip Priest [R-Federal Way], who each scored a reasonable 60

Highest Democrats:
1. Mark Miloscia [D-Federal Way] 27
2. Deb Wallace [D-Vancouver] 27
Four tied with 20, including Kelli Linville [D-Bellingham] and Pat Sullivan [D-Covington]

Lowest Democrats:
32 (if I counted correctly) tied at zero, including nearly every Seattle-area member

Conservative judicial PAC -- Seattle PI

Today's Seattle PI covered a new state PAC with the goal of electing conservatives to the state Supreme Court and courts of appeals. Much of the article was trying to act like this is some attack on the judiciary and to show how awful this development is. I'm not necessarily looking forward to an organized movement to put conservatives on the Supreme Court, either, but it seems as if the PI is making a mountain of a molehill. First off, an organization run by moderate Republicans like Slade Gorton and Ken Eikenberry is probably not "right-wing." Gorton has a long record of social moderation, and in any year other than 1992, Eikenberry would have beaten Mike Lowry and become governor (consequently, voters got what they deserved in that election). In this case, the PI needs to realize that "Republican" does not always equal "right-wing." Secondly, having ideological divides in judicial races is no new thing. Everybody knew who was the conservative and who was the liberal in both of the contested Supreme Court elections in 2004. Nobody is going to mix up Justice Sanders with anybody.

This said, the PI does make some good points. Notably in quoting ex-Justice Phil Talmadge about the risk of making candidates to the judiciary behave as partisans with an agenda rather than being expected to remain unbiased and independent. Also, any PAC that refers to state Sen. Stephen Johnson as "very much a centrist" has a compass in need of realignment (the man has a lifetime score of 100% from the Washington Conservative Union, case closed).

In short, I doubt this new PAC is anything to worry about, and the Supreme Court could probably use a little more balance, but in the end, voters will still have the up or down vote on this organization's candidates and that's what really matters.

20 November 2005

Slow time of year equals off-topic articles

Came across an article overviewing the players involved in next year's race for governor of Oregon via Ridenbaugh, and while it has naught to do with Washington, I found it to be a rather enjoyable and informative read.

18 November 2005

West recall ballots mailed

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton [D] has mailed out the ballots to recall Spokane Mayor Jim West today, and voters will be receiving them in the coming days. Under the law, Dalton was able to choose however she wanted to run this December 6 special election, and elected to hold an all-mail election. Voters have since approved a law making all county elections mail-only.

12 November 2005

Past due election scorecard

I had meant to recap the predictions a couple days ago but got behind schedule. Broken down by each separate post:

Seattle record: 5-0
Others record: 6-2 (Corker, Sax)
King County record: 9-0
Overall: 20-2

I made a calculating error in that I forgot about the presence of Independent candidate Greg Stephens in the Sax-Somers race, a mistake because he made a major difference in the race. However, it was still a tough call to come up on the wrong end of. The only major miscalculation was the Corker-McLaughlin race, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I'm more than satisfied having correctly predicted 91% of the races.

As far as initiatives, I was a little disappointed in the result of most (authoritarian smoking ban, retention of gas tax), but was pleased to see the performance audit initiative pass so overwhelmingly, and that will hopefully play a part in making sure the gas tax dollars that are here to stay will be spent wisely. Now begins 2006.

07 November 2005

Election predictions: King County

King County Executive: I had been hoping to see another SurveyUSA poll to judge which of their prior two were closer to correct, but since it appears I won't have that luxury, i'm going to just take a shot in the dark. In short, I think Ron Sims will pull it out. Irons has offered a strong alternative to voters and many will cross over and vote for him, despite the never-explained attacks from Seattle newspapers yearning for a strong Republican opponent. However, I, as always, have my doubts about the ability for enough Democratic voters in a county that tilts so hard toward that party to be independent enough to bolt. Irons definitely could pull this out, but i've yet to have any reason to believe this will be the time a majority (or even plurality) of King County voters will do the right thing.

Ron Sims [D] 47%
David Irons [R] 45% - supported
Gentry Lange [G] 8%

King County Sheriff: As in the primary, Sue Rahr will win easily, with broad bipartisan support. Greg Schmidt edged Jim Fuda for the second spot in the general, but their combined percentage didn't come close to Rahr and I expect more of the same.

Sue Rahr 66% - supported
Greg Schmidt 34%

King County Council Dist. 1: Despite redistricting making this district more suburban than before, I still expect Democrat Bob Ferguson to make easy work of GOP candidate Steven Pyeatt. Ferguson's independent streak will help immensely on the new Council, with two of five Democrats being bipartisan and willing to break with the Larry Phillips machine when necessary.

Bob Ferguson [D] 65% - supported
Steven Pyeatt [R] 35%

King County Council Dist. 2: Urban Democrat Larry Gossett has little to worry about in his district, which has become even safer since redistricting. Sucks for representative government, but that's gerrymandering for you.

Larry Gossett [D] 74%
Brian Thomas [R] 22%
Morgan Catha [L] 4% - supported

King County Council Dist. 4: As in the aforementioned race, a Democrat in an urban Seattle district has next to no chance of losing, but that doesn't stop big-hearted opponents from opposing them. In this race, the opponent is liberal Independent Ed Pottharst, opposing incumbent Democrat and poster child for the botched governor's election, Larry Phillips. I'd like to think Pottharst has a chance, as a liberal and past third-party supporter (Greens), but Phillips will assuredly coast to another term.

Larry Phillips [D] 83%
Ed Pottharst [I] 17% - supported

King County Council Dist. 5: Incumbent Democrat Julia Patterson is an ideal fit for this south-county district. One of the few districts open to both parties, Patterson's ability to put the interests of her constituents over the preferences of her party's bosses is admirable and warrants another term. Patterson has made a career of this in the legislature and now on the council, and is the easy choice over Republican opponent Orin Wells.

Julia Patterson [D] 59% - supported
Orin Wells [R] 41%

King County Council Dist. 7: Council GOP leader Pete von Reichbauer should have no problem winning another term over liberal Democratic opponent Geni Hawkins. Von Reichbauer's nearly 30-year career as first a moderate Democrat and now a moderate Republican gives little reason for this suburban district's voters to vote him out.

Pete von Reichbauer [R] 60% - supported
Geni Hawkins [D] 40%

King County Council Dist. 8: Same old story, county residents suffer the same fate with serious opposition-free city districts. Dow Constantine rolls, no question.

Dow Constantine [D] 90%
John Potter [I] 10%

King County Council Dist. 9: As with Bob Ferguson in the first district, the primary was the real battle for the ninth district. Democrat Shirley Gaunt-Smith has little chance, given that Barbara Heavey couldn't even top the right-wing Steve Hammond in what was then a much more rural district. Now it's more suburban and has the more mainstream Reagan Dunn occupying the seat.

Reagan Dunn [R] 62% - supported
Shirley Gaunt-Smith [D] 38%

05 November 2005

Election predictions: Potpourri

In saving King County predictions until the last minute (hoping for another batch of polls), these are a grab bag of everything else I care to mention.

Spokane City Council Dist. 1: Al French will assuredly be reelected easily over novice challenger Valentina Howard. This should be the most lopsided of the three council races.

Al French 68% - supported
Valentina Howard 32%

Spokane City Council Dist. 2: Appointed incumbent Mary Verner has mounted a solid campaign in her first run for office. She enjoys the support of most moderates and liberals, leaving the district's few conservatives in opponent Dallas Hawkins' camp. Taking 60% in a three-way primary ought to cast light on this one's outcome.

Mary Verner 62% - supported
Dallas Hawkins 38%

Spokane City Council Dist. 3: This race is really hard to call. It weighs former Councilman Steve Corker's polarizing personality against Nancy McLaughlin and her mismatched ideology for this moderately-liberal district. McLaughlin won the crowded primary, but hardly proved she has broad enough support to easily win the general. If Corker can pick up the bulk of Judith Gilmore voters, which he should, he'll probably squeak by. This is my most uncomfortable prediction for any race this year, it can really go either way.

Steve Corker 52% - supported
Nancy McLaughlin 48%

Snohomish County Council Dist. 5: This is another race that's tough to call. Much like the Spokane mayor's office, residents have had a habit of not reelecting anybody for the past 20 years. Perhaps if Steve Hobbs had won the Democratic line i'd consider an upset of incumbent Jeff Sax, but since ex-Councilman Dave Somers is the Democratic nominee, I tend to think Sax will be reelected. Somers is yesterday's news and basically offers a choice of the current split government and throwing the entire county back to complete Democratic control.

Jeff Sax 53% - supported
Dave Somers 47%

Tacoma Mayor: I haven't talked much about this race because it's even more pointless than the Seattle mayor's race. At least Al Runte is a sane person, but incumbent Mayor Bill Baarsma couldn't even draw a challenger with all their wits. Baarsma should face similar results as when then-Mayor Brian Ebersole rocked professional nutcase Will Baker back in 1999. Perhaps Baarsma will be able to top Ebersole's 78%, even.

Bill Baarsma 75% - supported
Will Baker 25%

Seattle Port Commission Pos. 1: Normally i'd have said liberal incumbent Lawrence Molloy would be favoured, but I was quite surprised at the dominance of moderate challenger John Creighton in the primary and think he has broad enough support to win the seat.

John Creighton 55% - supported
Lawrence Molloy 45%

Seattle Port Commission Pos. 3: In what could be the closest Port race of the year, the open seat vacated by Paige Miller pits former city Treasurer Lloyd Hara versus Rich Berkowitz. Both are moderate-liberals and both would be an improvement over Miller, so vote your conscience. I give the edge to Hara based on name recognition, but it's a tough call.

Lloyd Hara 52% - supported
Rich Berkowitz 48% - supported

Seattle Port Commission Pos. 4: Senior Commissioner Pat Davis faces a decent challenge from Jack Jolley, but should be reelected. She won the primary with Jolley barely making the general, and despite being more moderate than Jolley, should win fairly decisively.

Pat Davis 57% - supported
Jack Jolley 43%

Election predictions: City of Seattle

Mayor: It's a foregone conclusion that incumbent Greg Nickels will be reelected, but it will be interesting to see if dissatisfaction with him will result in a closer than expected result. Political newcomer Al Runte would turn in an impressive showing if he could break 40%.

Greg Nickels 63% - supported
Al Runte 37%

Council Pos. 2: This will probably wind up the best matchup of all council races. Incumbent Richard Conlin faces a strong challenge from longtime Port Commissioner Paige Miller, and while Conlin is favoured in most polls, the margin is slim and there are plenty of undecides to go around.

Richard Conlin 53% - supported
Paige Miller 47%

Council Pos. 4: I had long thought this was an upset in the making, but it seems that most negative feelings about the Nickels administration have rubbed off on former aide Casey Corr, because he's actually in a tough race. Corr is definitely the more independent and mainstream choice here of two Democrats, but I don't see him taking down the incumbent.

Jan Drago 56%
Casey Corr 44% - supported

Council Pos. 6: The opposite of the second seat race, this one has received next to no coverage because nobody expects challenger Paul Bascomb to come remotely close to liberal incumbent Nick Licata. Licata, once wooed for a challenge to Mayor Nickels, ought to have few problems winning another term. While Licata's economic positions are often at-odds with mine, I do respect him as a strong social libertarian.

Nick Licata 67% - supported
Paul Bascomb 33%

Council Pos. 8: I had initially put my money on Dwight Pelz in this race, when he first skipped here from the second position primary. His long history of success at different levels of government far outweighed relative newcomer Richard McIver, but polls have shown McIver retaining a strong lead against Pelz. Perhaps if Rob Rosencrantz had made the general election he could have given some stronger opposition from having a fairly significant difference in ideology from both McIver and Pelz, but instead we're stuck with a choice of the far-left Pelz and the left-on-everything-but-personal-freedom McIver. While McIver's authoritarian vote on the strip club ban irked me, he still holds a slight edge in sanity over the outgoing county Councilman Pelz.

Richard McIver 54% - supported
Dwight Pelz 46%

03 November 2005

Fond of French

In a no-brainer, first district voters should vote to reelect Al French to Spokane's City Council. French has far more experience than his novice challenger, has a record of being business-friendly and of working well with both liberal and conservative councilmembers. French's fiscal conservatism coupled with social centrism and sometimes liberalism is exactly what the city ordered. Endorsed by the Spokesman Review and the annoyingly-leftist-but-not-well-written-and/or-hilarious-like-The-Stranger Inlander, French proves his ties to both liberals and conservatives are strong. Residents should avoid their urge to be anti-French.

01 November 2005

New SurveyUSA poll shows volatile voter movement

A new SurveyUSA poll for the King County executive race shows incumbent Ron Sims now leads 48-41 over David Irons. This is a substantial swing from their prior poll and it has almost everything to do with women polled. In the prior poll, Sims won women by three points and now wins women by 21 points. Irons obviously hasn't done anything to piss off 18% of women in the past few days, so this is obviously an issue with the voter sample. My guess is that the true numbers lie somewhere in-between, and this poll had a sample favourable to Sims (the prior very well could have been the opposite). I'm ecstatic that Irons has a real opportunity to take this race, but if there's one thing i've learned about King County voters is to not get my hopes up about which way they'll go.

KCJ council endorsements

The fairly conservative, pro-business King County Journal published their county council endorsement list last weekend, endorsing Democrats Bob Ferguson and Julia Patterson along with Republicans Peter von Reichbauer and Reagan Dunn. All four should win seven days from now and all four will continue serving King County well on the Council, an even bigger advantage in a smaller council with less partisanship and more centrism. Good calls, Journal.