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 April 2006

Eyman and Co. blows, an update

Just came across this update at Horse's Ass about the Referendum 65 crowd's lack of success in gathering signatures. I must admit, all along I thought this would be a failing venture for Eyman, but at least thought it would get on the ballot. This proves, I think, that the supporters of the gay rights repeal are truly a very loud fringe group. This is truly great news.

28 April 2006

Finkbeiner to leave Senate, I'm sad

Tacoma's News Tribune reported today that Republican Sen. Bill Finkbeiner, just about the last moderate in the GOP caucus (still miss you, Don Carlson), is leaving the legislature after 12 years in the Senate preceded by two in the House. Finkbeiner's courageous vote to finally pass ESHB2661 earlier this year was the capstone on a legislative career that began when he was my age and saw him go from a Democrat to Senate GOP leader, all the while occupying the ideological center of the chamber. I am very sad to see Sen. Finkbeiner retire, especially given that he was a good bet for reelection this fall. I hope that after a few years in private life he will choose to return to politics, he's the type of Republican who could be successful in a statewide race or even in Ron Sims' likely open position come 2009.

Libertarian-leaning Rep. Toby Nixon [R-Kirkland] immediately announced he would run for the Republican nomination to Finkbeiner's seat, and would likely be favoured over announced Democrat Eric Oemig (assuming no other Democrats run -- Larry Springer, Laura Ruderman, etc.). Nixon is a decent guy, but he will have some big shoes to fill.

27 April 2006

New Strategic Vision poll(s)

April's incarnation of Strategic Vision [R] polls are surprisingly not as partisan as usual. Their Senate matchup mirrors the latest independent Rasmussen Reports poll, a 48-40 Cantwell advantage. It also shows Sen. Cantwell with similar approvals as independent SurveyUSA (my bible), and even lower disapprovals. On the home front, there is a disconnect in approval ratings for Chris Gregoire in that SV shows 38/53 and SUSA had, if I recall correctly, an approval rating slightly above her disapproval inside the margin of error(47/44 or something along those lines). SV also shows 60% of respondents think the state is headed in the "wrong" direction, versus 27% who differ. Count me in the former.

22 April 2006

Golden drops out, old news or not?

Being that I recently completed moving and am a little behind on campaign news, I'm not sure if this is old news, but Debi Golden's website has a message stating she is dropping out of the 48th district Senate race due, essentially, to Rodney Tom's candidacy. An excerpt:

"What I had not counted on or planned for was a pointless but nonetheless expensive and contested primary. Instead, I had wanted to spend the next months running against Luke Esser on the issues that he and I disagree on, and not running in a primary where the differences between the candidates are less stark. Such a primary would only increase the chances of Esser's reelection.

I have therefore decided not to run. I have called Rodney Tom and told him of my decision and wished him luck."

By saying this I mean no personal disrespect to Golden, but anybody who thinks they have a right to a general election berth without having to first win a primary should not run for office. Nobody has a right to be an anointed candidate, even if it means knocking off a couple frequent candidate nutcases along the way. In my opinion a hotly-contested primary can be a good thing for the winner even if it means having to spend resources that would otherwise be earmarked for the general election. If both candidates are civil, a primary can be a boost to a candidacy and only turn into a negative if candidates go negative and try to smear their opponents (see the current California Democratic gubernatorial primary, for instance). That said, I'm not mad at Golden dropping out as it ensures that my preference, libertarian centrist Rodney Tom, is now uncontested for the Democratic nomination. I won't, however, bellyache if he draws another challenger in Golden's place.

43rd Slog interviews -- reactions

Now that the five interviews of 43rd district Democratic candidates not named Jamie Pedersen are finished, and having read the candidate statements and their answers to questions of Slog readers (myself included), the following is what I personally took from the experience.

(Monday) Dick Kelley: Going into this, I didn't really have a favourable or unfavourable opinion of Mr. Kelley. Besides knowing he is the chairman of the district Democrats and apparently lost rather badly to then-Lt. Gov. Joel Pritchard in a 1992 statewide showdown, I did not know much about him. Plainly put, I have a much higher opinion of Mr. Kelley than I did last weekend. He was consistently respectful and refused to say anything negative about his opponents, or much of anybody else if your name is not George Bush or Tom DeLay. His move to not accept more than $100 from individuals is admirable for those of us who are proponents of fairer elections, and I sincerely hope it does not hamper his candidacy.

(Tuesday) Bill Sherman: Sherman was a big disappointment for me. He had, in my opinion, the strongest experience credentials of the field, and because of that I had been sort of leaning towards him in who to support (not that I live in the district or anything). His baseless assault on Rob McKenna's integrity and then subsequent run-around when I questioned him on it was not sufficient character or behaviour of a candidate for political office, coupled with his general negativity in tone and rhetoric.

(Wednesday) Jim Street: Prior to his interview, I was a tad annoyed with Street's campaign in that even as somebody who has been paying attention to this race I had not heard much of anything from his campaign. However, his performance in the interview was very, very good. He answered his questions very in-depth and played on his experience on the city council and as a King County Superior Court justice. Hell, he had the balls to take on the Viaduct question, which in doing so has the potential to come back to bite him in the future. Street, despite some policy disagreements (as if I'm going to be in complete agreement with any of these urban liberals), earned my respect and admiration.

(Thursday) Stephanie Pure: While I was disappointed in that Pure was unable to join in the discussions more often than she did, she was impressive when she was talking policy in the face of many questioners. She struck me as being on-the-ball, and I certainly won't write her off yet, though she has some ground to make up for me to support her. Some good substance in the interview, just not enough Pure to go around.

(Friday) Lynne Dodson: Another candidate I had more of a favourable opinion of going into the interviews was Ms. Dodson, but unlike Mr. Sherman, she did not lose it in her performance. Right off the bat, Dodson faced an assault of charges of not being a "loyal Democrat" because of past flirtations with Ralph Nader's campaign in the 2000 election, yet answered sufficiently to those charges about her idealistic intent to move the party in a more "progressive" direction. She stayed positive and her content was to-the-point and intelligent (though a peppering of punctual errors did irk me). While I can understand why a partisan D could be concerned about Dodson's "past" with the Greens, I personally find the independence admirable despite that I have never voted Green nor probably ever will.

16 April 2006

26th gets messier

According to the News Tribune, a second Republican has entered the 26th Senate district primary. Jim Hines, an advocate of tougher sex crime laws, announced his intent to replace retiring Sen. Bob Oke [R-Port Orchard], but will first have to beat former Rep. Lois McMahan [R-Gig Harbor] for the GOP nomination. Given the late start and name recognition, I still give the edge to McMahan, though Hines does have Oke and former Rep. Tom Huff [R-Gig Harbor] among his supporters.

In the end, I believe this only benefits the candidacy of Democrat Derek Kilmer (whom I personally support for the office), in that McMahan no longer has the nomination wrapped up and given the primary is still in late September will have to spend maximum effort in winning the nomination before ever facing Kilmer. Hines, I expect, will be easier work due to his lack of name recognition and likely lack of funds due to the late start. This race just went from somewhere between a toss-up and a slight Democratic leaner to a definite Democratic lean.

12 April 2006

Yet more 43rd district commentary

I've been thinking quite a bit about the open 43rd district House seat today and yesterday, in attempt to predict which candidates are most likely to come out on top this September. Now, as confident as I am in my prediction prowess, a race of six moderate-to-big name Seattle liberals is going to be very difficult to choose a victor with any decent amount of confidence. While I ultimately expect Ed Murray's quest to switch houses will be successful (if not, the district deserves four more years of Thibaudeau seat-warming), the race to succeed him in the House is a crapshoot. Every one of these candidates could feasibly win, and ranking candidates after the first two is very difficult.

Here is how I currently think candidates will place and why:
1. Jamie Pedersen: As a recent Stranger article stated, Pedersen's historical advocacy of gay rights coupled with his own sexuality will position him as Ed Murray's logical successor in the minds of many Democrats in the 43rd district. It is not as if the five other heterosexual candidates are at all anti-gay rights, but as SEAMEC says, there is a difference in being pro-gay rights and being a true advocate (I detest the word "activist"). Pedersen's participation with Lambda Legal and other gay advocacy groups will only serve to help him in the primary. It also helps that he has the most cash on hand of all candidates, with close to $60,000. The one facet I fear could hamper Pedersen is that he strikes me as too much of a nice guy. In a primary dogfight like this, it could be a drawback.

2. Dick Kelley: Kelley's position as chairman of the 43rd Democrats is a big asset to his campaign and he has already earned the endorsement of many Democratic politicians, including former Govs. Lowry, Gardner, and Rosellini. However, as Bob Ferguson has proven, it is not the party leaders one keeps in his pocket which matters, but the rank-and-file party members one connects with. Kelley is short on fundraising with only $17,000 on hand, and while his name recognition will help, he needs to step up in the cash race to win.

3. Jim Street: As a former Seattle city councilman, Street should enjoy a decent amount of name recognition among voters. However, this is 2006 and not 1996. Street's return to politics since his last reelection campaign of 1991 has garnered him decent fundraising numbers ($37,000 on hand), but aside from this, I have yet to see any buzz about his candidacy nor even a campaign website. Like Kelley, Street has the means to win, but he needs to get out and pound Capitol Hill flesh or he could finish middle-of-the-pack or worse.

4. Lynne Dodson: Dodson, one of the earlier filers for this seat, has thus far had a fairly average campaign. She strikes me as a friendly, intelligent woman who has dark horse potential. She earned the sole endorsement of the King County Labor Council and former labour leader/current state Rep. Bob Hasegawa, and in a crowded primary the support of organized labour should prove a vital asset. Her cash on hand figures place her in the middle of the pack with about $22,000. I have yet to hear much news from the media on Dodson, but it appears her outsider campaign could turn into a solid, grassroots effort.

5. Bill Sherman: While I think Sherman has the experience and background to compete (he is endorsed by Clinton-era Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt), I think he lacks the grassroots support at the moment to win. The only big-name endorser on the local level is Seattle City Councilwoman Jan Drago, and while his fundraising numbers are average ($26,000 on hand), I do not see the necessary campaign apparatus to put Sherman over the top. Like the other lower-half members of this list, he has plenty of potential, but is not yet viable.

6. Stephanie Pure: Of all candidates, Pure is hardest to judge. Her late entry to the race has put her far behind in fundraising, with $10,000 on hand at the end of her first full month. I have yet to find any big-name supporters of her campaign, though I'm sure her boss, Seattle City Councilman Peter Steinbrueck, will back her. She has grassroots support amongst the young, but the inherent problem in that demographic is a lack of money and a lack of committment to the election process. Pure could surprise in the end, though at the moment her late start makes her the least likely to pull it out.

11 April 2006

WSLC ratings for 2006!

Kick. Ass. Aside from election nights complete with constant refreshing of result pages, filtering through brand new interest group ratings is the awesomest time of the political year. As usual, the Washington State Labor Council was first in issuing their yearly figures for the upper and lower houses of our legislature. First, the Senate:

Unlike most years, apparently bills introduced in the short session important to organized labor were not as controversial. This is because general bottom-dwellers like Val Stevens and Bob Morton scored seemingly high. However, when compared to other members, they are as labor-unfriendly as usual. Twenty two of twenty six in the Senate Democratic Caucus scored 100%, below are those who did not and the high and low-scoring Republicans.

Low Democrats:
Tim Sheldon - 50
Jim Hargrove - 91
Mary Margaret Haugen - 92
Ken Jacobsen - 92

High Republicans:
Pam Roach - 75
Bob Oke - 71
Don Benton - 67
Dave Schmidt - 64
Bob McCaslin - 63

Low Republicans:
Jim Honeyford - 20
Mike Hewitt - 33
Bob Morton - 33
Joyce Mulliken - 33
Mark Schoesler - 33

In the House was a similar case of no-brainer bills leading the entire House Democratic Caucus to score 100 with the sole exception of Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, who voted against one bill and scored 92 (and counting Rodney Tom as a Republican for the session). For Republicans, just as in the Senate, many scored higher than ever before, which in campaign materials is probably not what they wanted. Ten House Republicans tied for the lowest score at 33. The highs:

High Republicans:
Tom Campbell - 83
Fred Jarrett - 83
Shirley Hankins - 75
Skip Priest - 75
Rodney Tom - 75
Maureen Walsh - 75

06 April 2006

GOP runs contrary to state law

In an effort to consolidate its power even more in the wake of the federal court overturning Initiative 872, the state GOP passed a rule forcing candidates wishing to run as a Republican to earn 25% of convention delegates in order to appear in the Republican primary. This runs contrary to state law candidacy requirements of being a resident of the district and a registered voter, and should be challenged and overturned by state courts.

As a supporter of open primaries and somebody who is reasonably centrist, I oppose such requirements meant to limit candidacies. In short, a candidate who holds positions towards the moderate end of their party could be blackballed in a convention dominated by polar liberals or conservatives. This forces voters to choose lessers of two evils to an even greater extent when most would rather pick somebody in-between. The thing I liked most about the blanket primary was that the power was held by the independent-minded and not by parties, and this development undermines candidate and voter rights by moving power even more towards the smoke-filled rooms of the past.