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.

31 May 2006

Rodney Tom site revamp

Senate candidate Rodney Tom [D, not R] has finished revamping his campaign site at, not to be confused with his realty site It's still a little barren, but the volunteer section is up and I would urge people to help his campaign to knock out Luke Esser. Rodney is everything a lawmaker should be, the type that wants to keep government out of your life. His motto at the top pretty much says it all: Moderate. Practical. Smart.

Those of you with jobs, donate some green. Those without jobs, donate time.

26 May 2006

43rd movement

In April, I posted some commentary ranking the six Democratic candidates running for Ed Murray's House seat in what I then thought would be their finishing order. I felt I should return to this topic, but instead of trying to rank six credible candidates (putting any one of them in last place is difficult) I think a more reasonable method would be to place projected momentum -- or lack thereof -- for each candidate.

Rising stock:
Stephanie Pure -- She's still last in cash on hand, but is quickly catching up. Her personality is getting her a long way, she's one of those candidates that emits a positive vibe that draws volunteers and supporters to her campaign. She still needs to improve in fundraising, but she's one to watch.

Lynne Dodson -- I suspect her campaign might have stuffed the ballot box, but Dodson blew everybody out at The Stranger's straw poll, so that has to count for something.

Little/no movement:
Bill Sherman -- His fundraising has been better than most candidates and he is now third in cash on hand, but still has yet to really generate a buzz about his campaign. Perhaps a profile in a recent The Stranger will help.

Falling stock:
Richard Kelley -- Unfortunately, his self-imposed donation limit now sits him second to last in cash on hand, and I suspect he will fall behind Stephanie Pure for last place in May's receipts. His The Stranger interview impressed me, but failed to impress others. He's still a formidable candidate due to his party connections.

Jim Street -- Like Kelley, his The Stranger interview was lackluster and his campaign is lacking steam on the personal front. He's still got good fundraising totals, so perhaps that will help him better connect with voters.

Jamie Pedersen -- While Pedersen has a formidable cash on hand lead and his connections to national and state gay rights organizations has helped him to be the race's favourite, his recent clash with Dan Savage over campaign tactics forced the campaign to take a step back. I'm reasonably certain that Pedersen is still the race's favourite, but his lead is vulnerable in comparison to prior to this mini-scandal hiccup.

25 May 2006

Polls galore

Condensed numbers from May pollsters are below.

Senate race:
Rasmussen Reports [I], 5/8 -- Cantwell 46/McGavick 41
Strategic Vision [R], 5/19-5/21 -- Cantwell 47/McGavick 42

Despite Strategic Vision being a partisan outfit, their numbers echo Rasmussen's numbers from earlier in the month. This could mean Rasmussen's was off (April's poll was 48-40), or that SV's was unbiased.

Cantwell approval polls:
Strategic Vision [R], 5/19-5/21 -- 48 Approve/36 Diapprove
SurveyUSA [I], 5/12-5/15 -- 52 Approve/39 Disapprove

Again, Strategic Vision's is pretty close to the independent pollster. Last month, their approval poll on Cantwell was more favourable than SurveyUSA's. In addition to these, Rasmussen Reports showed 25% of respondents held a "very favourable" opinion of Cantwell versus 21% with a "very unfavourable." Mike McGavick's were similar at 17/16. I don't care to post Patty Murray's numbers because we don't have another chance to kick her out until 2010.

Gregoire approval polls:
Strategic Vision [R], 5/19-5/21 -- 39 Approve/51 Disapprove
SurveyUSA [I], 5/12-5/14 -- 50 Approve/44 Disapprove

Here we see a clear difference between the two. I'm guessing that true feelings are nearer to SurveyUSA's, whose polls once ran par with SV's consistently-poor ratings but have since raised. Still, Gregoire is in the nation's lower half in governor approvals and 50/44 is far from a ringing endorsement of policy. Strategic Vision also showed a much more difficult to spin 60% of respondents believing the state is headed in the "wrong" direction, versus 28% answering in the "right" direction. They also polled her head-to-head against Dino Rossi (as usual), but I don't really care about polls for elections more than two years out.

24 May 2006

Striking gold

I hadn't meant to venture into Idaho for a second consecutive post, but Ridenbaugh's response to last night's GOP primary (where asshole winger Bill Sali won) is gold. I've been a fan of Ridenbaugh's coverage for a long time now, but this may well be their finest work yet. It is a must-read, even for people who couldn't care less about Idaho.

20 May 2006

Off-topic: Idaho open seat

This Tuesday is Idaho's primary election, and the biggest race to watch is the open seat contest to replace Rep. Butch Otter in Congress. Six Republicans and two Democrats and will battle it out on the primary ballot, and in all likelihood the GOP primary winner will become the district's next member of Congress. The players involved:

Sen. Skip Brandt [R-Kooskia]
Larry Grant [D-Fruitland]
Andy Hedden-Nicely [NL-Boise]
Controller Keith Johnson [R-Boise]
Dave Olson [I-Saint Maries]
Cecil Kelly III [D-Coeur d'Alene]
Rep. Bill Sali [R-Kuna]
Norm Semanko [R-Eagle]
Paul Smith [CST-Letha]
Former Sen. Sheila Sorensen [R-Boise]
County Commissioner Robert Vasquez [R-Caldwell]

Here's the deal. The GOP primary contains one moderate Republican, Sheila Sorensen. She's pro-choice and in favour of reasonable environmental protections. She began the race as the front-runner and because of her moderate positions the wingers in the primary have been labeling her the L-word ever since. Bill Sali, a loudmouthed ultra-conservative, appears to have surpassed Vasquez for the fundy vote and in a six-way primary it could be enough for him to win. A potential positive of Sali or Vasquez winning is it gives assumed Democratic nominee Larry Grant a shot at taking the seat, but I would rather not even take the chance. The only other reasonable choice in the GOP primary is state Controller Keith Johnson, a mainstream (usually) conservative.

Idaho has had a habit recently of electing moderate-conservatives to major offices, and needs to continue the trend by voting for Sorensen in Tuesday's primary, lest they fall back into their nuttily-right days of Helen Chenoweth. My prediction is Sorensen edges Sali for the nod, but I'm not at all confident of it.

16 May 2006

The race to beat Schmidt, an update

In following the Democratic primary to face Sen. Dave Schmidt in the 44th district, it has become apparent that Lillian Kaufer has displaced Steve Hobbs as the frontrunner. Kaufer raised twice as much money in April as Hobbs and is catching up in his cash on hand advantage. She recently earned the sole endorsement of the 44th District Democrats by a lopsided margin of 32 to 1, with 18 delegates wishing for a dual endorsement. In addition, past and present Snohomish County Councilman Dave Somers has officially endorsed her candidacy over Hobbs, whom he defeated in his own 2005 Democratic primary. Hobbs began the race with good potential of beating Schmidt, now he may well not make it out of another primary.

15 May 2006

Republican files for 43rd

Just checked the PDC and a Republican has filed for the race to replace Ed Murray in the state House. The candidate is somebody named Hugh Foskett, who apparently is a student at UW and looks more like Conor Oberst than a Republican. According to Stefan Sharkansky's voter database, he is 20 years old and is registered to vote in Bellevue (perhaps has since changed his registration, perhaps not). My prediction: 12%, but God bless him for trying.

Update: Upon further searching the PDC, another Republican has filed in the 43rd. Will Sohn, whom I cannot find any trace of online or in the voter database, is running against House Speaker Frank Chopp. Could be another UW student (that seems to be all who run the GOP line in that district), but whoever he is will be unlikely to beat Mark Griswold's literally strong performance of over 15% in 2004. That is, unless he has a bitching lip ring like Mr. Foskett.

11 May 2006

Conservative judicial PAC -- scare tactics?

Listen, I don't like the idea of judicial PACs any more or less than the next guy, but all this harping on the conservative Constitutional Law PAC is thus far misplaced. Upon checking April's C4 reports at the PDC, the first full month for the Susan Owens-Stephen Johnson matchup, Owens (the liberal incumbent) trounced Johnson (the conservative challenger) in fundraising and has a big cash-on-hand lead. The numbers:

Susan Owens
Started: $2000.00
[add] April receipts: $40554.21
[subtract] Total disbursements: $12209.19
Debts: $0.00
Total: $30345.02 on hand

Stephen Johnson
Started: $3000.00
[add] April receipts: $9775.00
[subtract] Total disbursements: $1329.14
Debts: $3000.00
Total: $11445.86 without debt

As one can see, Owens raised four times as much as Johnson, spent nearly ten times as much as Johnson, and still has three times as much. Thus far, all the media's whining about conservatives buying the bench is unfounded. I'm not saying this will not change, because I suspect Johnson to be at least as well-funded as Jim Johnson was in 2004, but at the offset it is the liberal with the cash lead.

10 May 2006

Connelly: Irresponsible Pelz

Today's column by the PI's Joel Connelly toasts state Democratic Chair Dwight Pelz for hampering his own Senate candidate's candidacy. Pelz was quoted in the Seattle Times as saying that Sen. Maria Cantwell's campaign is failing her party's lefty base. He complained to DNC Chair Howard Dean about it, as well. What exactly is Pelz trying to do? Cantwell already suffered some drop in polls (both in approval rating and in matchups with Mike McGavick -- unless you buy what Elway is peddling) due to anti-war activists dogging her campaign, and now the face of her state party is making things worse.

This highlights two things: that Pelz, as I suspected from the start, cannot separate himself from his roots with the Seattle left, and that Democrats are becoming more interested in ideological purity than getting elected. When Pelz was first chosen to be the new state chair, I had suspicions that he would struggle with exciting partisans outside Seattle who are more moderate than he is. That is why I supported Laura Ruderman for the position, all despite being a die-hard Sam Reed fan. Pelz's inability to think outside the box has the potential to hamper Democratic candidates elsewhere in the state. Secondly, and even worse, this whole villification of Maria Cantwell mirrors Republican tactics elsewhere in the country with these issue litmus tests meant to root out moderates (or even mainstream liberals like Cantwell). Republicans going after pro-choice, pro-gay rights, or pro-environment party members is no worse than Democrats going after pro-life or pro-Iraq War party members. If Democrats here, and I know it's a very loud fringe group doing this -- even if their boy is the state chair -- are serious about keeping the Senate seat, gaining seats in the legislature, and knocking off Dave Reichert, they need to tolerate some forms of moderation in their ranks.

09 May 2006

45th madness

Bill Finkbeiner's retirement sent the 45th district at both levels into madness. For the longest time, we knew that Bill Finkbeiner was being challenged by Eric Oemig. We also knew that Reps. Toby Nixon and Larry Springer were unopposed for reelection. Now, Nixon has stepped up as the GOP's replacement candidate and there are rumours that Laura Ruderman might jump into the race for Democrats.

I'm not usually one to think up conspiracy theories, nor even be insane enough to spread them, but this is my prediction for what will happen in the coming weeks. Ruderman will run for Finkbeiner's seat, setting up a rematch against Nixon, who she defeated in a 2000 House race by a small margin. Oemig, who would of course be soundly defeated in a primary against Ruderman, will be urged to step back and run for Nixon's House seat, where the GOP has yet to field a replacement. Oemig would start with an advantage in that race due to his early cash advantage from the Senate campaign. Springer, meanwhile, will dodge what otherwise could be a competitive reelection fight because of the focus on the two open seat contests.

The underlying reason for all this will be that Nixon will, in all likelihood, beat Oemig. Oemig has money, but he does not have name recognition, nor does he have the necessary experience to defeat a sitting legislator. Ruderman would enter the race at least even with Nixon, and the race would be anyone's game. At the same time, Oemig would not have the drawbacks in an open seat that he would in challenging Nixon. This would give Democrats a decent opportunity to sweep the district's races.

05 May 2006

Stu Elway should take his show on the road

The latest chuckle-inducing Elway Poll shows Maria Cantwell with, get this, a 29-point lead in a head-to-head matchup with Mike McGavick. It also shows her with a 22-point lead when Green candidate Aaron Dixon is polled, despite that he drew only 2%. Elway seriously needs to fix his methodology or something, because whenever he puts these laughable polls out he is clearly off in comparison to every other pollster doing this race.

Maybe there's something in the poll's internals...oh yeah, Elway charges outrageous fees to see them. Silly me.

04 May 2006

The Fighting 48th -- meet the faces

The ever in-flux 48th legislative district is likely to have at least two very competitive races this fall, and considering its swing district nature, even incumbent Rep. Ross Hunter might not be safe. With the recent addition of yet another face to the race to replace Rodney Tom in the House, I decided it was high time to gather some background information on the candidates who are currently running.

Sen. Luke Esser [R]
Rep. Rodney Tom [D]

Apparently Esser has not put up a campaign site yet since his website,, is still showing his botched Congressional campaign site, and even Rodney Tom's site has not been updated to his current political affiliation and campaign. I feel good about this race. If Rodney can hold onto the Independents he captured in his campaigns for the House and still grab some of his Republican allies, he will win. Esser has not had a true general election challenge since at least 2000, when he was reelected to the House with 59% (consequently, the 48th district got what they deserved when they chose Esser over Steve Van Luven in the 2002 Senate primary), and is certainly more conservative than the district's centrist mainstream. If the liberal Republican incarnation of Rodney Tom came within 4% of losing reelection in 2004, a conservative Republican Luke Esser should lose in 2006.

House #1
Rep. Ross Hunter [D]
Nancy Potts [R]

According to her website, Potts is a GOP PCO and a real estate agent. Knowing nothing else about her, the GOP could have done much worse. Hell, they picked Rodney Tom out of real estate four years ago and it worked for a while. Hunter will be favoured, but perhaps Potts will fare better than James Whitfield did in 2004. Despite his moderate stances, Whitfield was a ballot box flop. On a side note, I was not aware of Hunter's chemotherapy as evidenced by his bald-headed photograph on his website. Best wishes for a full recovery.

House #2
Deb Eddy [D]
Bret Olson [R]
Santiago Ramos [D]

Given Ramos' entrance in the past couple days and no significant fundraising numbers as a result (his initial C4 showed $60 on hand) one can assume Eddy is still the favourite for the Democratic nomination. As a former member of Kirkland's City Council, Eddy is an attractive candidate but by no means a lock for the seat. She has yet to post any significant fundraising numbers and has less than $1000 on hand after recognizing a $3000 campaign debt. I'm assuming that Ramos is of Santiago Ramos Insurance in Bellevue, but his skeletal campaign site has yet to hold any personal information. On the opposite side, the old GOP 48th playbook revealed itself yet again, in the candidacy of real estate agent Bret Olson. Olson is also a former aide for US Rep. Jennifer Dunn, and has adorable Republican dimples. His campaign site,, is not yet online. Olson is an unknown quantity thus far due to no C4 fundraising reports, but in an open seat competition could prove to be a solid candidate. This race currently leans Democratic.

At this point, it's a Democratic sweep, albeit by a slight margin. In King County's premiere swing district, that may well not last.