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.

29 June 2006

What's new, Snohomish County?

Two campaigns, that's what. In the latest legislative entry, Marysville Republican Kimberly Halvorson is taking another run at super-liberal Rep. John McCoy [D-Tulalip]. Halvorson made a respectable run at McCoy in 2004, taking 46% of the vote in the solidly-Democratic 38th (at the same time, Mike Sells won the open House seat by 15 points and Jean Berkey took the open Senate seat by 30 points). Although the seat is a likely retention, Republicans could do far worse. The last time a Republican won in the 38th was Gary Strannigan in 1994, and even that was by a thin margin.

In local news, Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart has announced his campaign for county executive in 2007. He will most likely face incumbent Democrat Aaron Reardon, of Everett. Reardon narrowly defeated then-Edmonds City Councilman Dave Earling for his first term in 2003 and represented the 38th district in the House and Senate previously. He is a moderate Democrat that should be favoured for reelection, but Bart is a potentially-strong challenger who has been elected countywide three times, so this will be one to watch next year.

25 June 2006

Don Barlow changes his mind; Gregoire wrecks her party's chance at House seat

Spokesman Review columnist/satirist Jim Camden reported recently that Spokane Public Schools Pres. Don Barlow, a Democrat running in Spokane's GOP-leaning 6th district, will no longer be challenging Rep. John Ahern and will instead challenge freshman Rep. John Serben. Serben narrowly defeated Barlow for his first term in 2004 by almost 4%. While Camden claims Barlow's 2004 performance was lacking despite the district's lean, I disagree. If this is truly to be a Democratic year, Barlow is much better off taking another swing at Serben than the more firmly-established Ahern, despite that Ahern is more conservative and controversial.

While I ultimately expect both Republicans to be reelected, this is still a good move by Barlow and the Spokane County Democrats. The 6th tends to be even-handed in open seat contests and give Republicans narrow victories (Ahern nearly lost his first race to ex-Spokane Mayor Jack Geraghty), but Democrats seem to fall behind in the reelection campaigns. They will also face this trend in the Brad Benson-Chris Marr contest, where I also expect Benson to win reelection. However, having an outside shot is still better than no shot.

I also just read at Carl Ballard that Chris Gregoire appointed Sen. Joyce Mulliken [R-Ephrata] to the Eastern Washington Growth Management Board instead of Alex Deccio. As I stated in a previous post, appointing Deccio to the seat could have potentially paid dividends for Yakima City Councilman Ron Bonlender and the Democratic Party by leaving an open seat in the House rather than forcing him to challenge either of the 14th's incumbent Republicans. Appointing Mulliken does replace a woman with a woman (big deal), but given that Mulliken's record is among the most conservative of any Senate Republicans and her district is nominally off-limits for Democrats, Gregoire lost an opportunity to pad her House majority.

Since Mulliken had been running for a second term, voters will decide who will replace her in the Senate this November, or more likely this September. Prominent GOPers rumoured to be mulling a run are Rep. Janéa Holmquist and former Rep. Gary Chandler [both R-Moses Lake]. Chandler left the House for a job with the Association of Washington Business in 2001, which Holmquist was in-turn appointed to. If any good is to come of this elections-wise, there might be an entertaining Republican primary for the vacated seat.

23 June 2006

Flip-flopping on Joni Balter

Up until now I've not been a big fan of Seattle Times columnist Joni Balter (or Nicole Brodeur, or Danny Westneat, or just about anybody on their politics crew I'm familiar with except Postman). This is an announcement that I have flip-flopped and am now Pro-Balter (yeah yeah, I'm not running for anything), due to her column in yesterday's Times. The column is a wide-open speculative piece about the 2012 governor's race, with careful attention paid to not assume anything about 2008 aside from 2012 being an open seat.

Here's the deal: she picked a dream matchup. She speculates that Attorney General Rob McKenna will win reelection and take the Republican line. This, in itself, is not surprising. McKenna is THEE star for the future of the Washington Republican Party, even moreso than Reagan Dunn or Dino Rossi. However, the kicker is her take on the Democratic nominee, which she speculates will be my favourite doggone Dem around, King County Councilman Bob Ferguson. He first, though, will become King County Executive in 2009 and pull a Gary Locke in running for Gov prior to the end of his first term. She says she believes Ferguson has "the right stuff," and I am and have been in total agreement. The man had the balls to take out Sims' ingrained goon Cyn Sullivan and then withstood a blatant attempt by his own kin to gerrymander him out of the Council. Next up, I do think Bob will run for Sims' job. Larry Phillips will be the anointed successor, but I think Bob can beat him head-to-head. As for governor? I can hope too.

In short, if only for a brief period, Joni Balter rules. Not enough columnists do speculative pieces these days, and I loved it.

21 June 2006

Cantwell skids again

The latest Rasmussen Reports [I] poll shows that, for the fifth consecutive poll, incumbent Sen. Maria Cantwell has lost support. She now leads assumed Republican nominee Mike McGavick 44-40, down two points from May (McGavick also has lost one point of support). National Republicans are beginning to lump us with New Jersey and Minnesota as their only potential bright spots in November's Senate races, and I would say for good reason. Cantwell, despite trotting out every Democratic Party superstar in the book at her rallies, cannot seem to shake the lefty jitters over her Iraq War position. However, before I change my personal prediction of a narrow Cantwell retention, McGavick needs to get up in the mid-40s.

20 June 2006

KCC votes to approve mandatory all-mail elections

This is slightly disappointing for me, not in that I had any illusions that Dean Logan's departure would change their mind, but on a party-line vote the King County Council has voted to authorize a switch to all-mail voting, with a provision extending the start date until all key elements are in place. Councilman Bob Ferguson [D-Seattle] introduced the amendment mandating that the switch cannot be implemented until the county hires a new elections director and elections superintendent, among other things outlined in the article. Bob is on the ball even though I disagree with his overall vote.

I had an opportunity to vote on a similar measure in Spokane County last fall, one that easily passed despite my vote against it. While I am and have always been a permanent absentee voter, I sympathize with those who disagree and prefer to vote at polling stations on election day. Freedom of choice in this matter is why I oppose any county mandating one form or the other, regardless of my personal view that absentee voting is preferable. Because of this, I applaud the Republican minority on the Council for its opposition, even if their motives are different than mine.

New legislative entries, 14th and 30th districts

Yakima City Councilman Ron Bonlender [D] has filed for a 14th district House race this fall. A Yakima Herald article from earlier in the month that came following his announcement says he has yet to decide which seat to run for, and is likely waiting on the governor's appointment to the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board, which Sen. Alex Deccio is purportedly jonesing for. Honestly, I don't know why Gregoire would appoint Deccio, considering the current board includes former Democratic Rep. Dennis Dellwo and former Democratic Spokane County Commissioner and overall bitching cool guy John Roskelley. In the event that Deccio is appointed, Rep. Jim Clements is likely to pursue the appointment to Deccio's Senate seat, which is not up again until 2008. In that event, Bonlender will have an open House seat to run for, which, given the district's strong Republican lean, would be just about the only feasible way he could win. Running against either of the current state reps would be a very difficult task, but given his election to Yakima municipal office, in the right circumstances he could have a chance at an open seat battle.

In other news, Federal Way realtor Anatoly Kalchik has filed to run against four-term Democrat Mark Miloscia in my district, the 30th. Miloscia defeated Republican Tony Moore with about 55% of the vote in 2004, and despite the 30th's swing district status, he has consistently won his campaigns by 10-15% of the vote. Considering he has defeated then-Federal Way Councilman and current seatmate Skip Priest as well as current Federal Way Councilman Jim Ferrell in his four campaigns, Kalchik will have a tough battle on his hands to topple the moderately-liberal Miloscia. Priest has yet to field a Democratic challenger in the other House seat, and Democratic Sen. Tracey Eide is being challenged by Republican Renee Maher.

Gov taxed us too much again

Just like how overtaxing gave us a "surplus" that legislative Democrats blew in this year's short session, the state budget director announced recently that the expected looming budget deficit for next biennium will not be a problem because Gregoire's new taxes from 2005 took too much of our money. Now that the citizenry has been overtaxed for two consecutive years, how about cutting us a break, Gov? Not to sound like a broken record, but unexpected budget surpluses are not something I like to see when you busted your campaign tax pledge last year. I just hope next biennium will not see even more new spending and/or taxes, given that I have little hope the state GOP is competent enough to make significant gains in this fall's elections.

19 June 2006

Early SEAMEC endorsements

I received an email this morning from SEAMEC, a major Seattle-based gay rights advocacy group, announcing early endorsements in three of our legislative races. Ed Murray easily won their recurring endorsement for the 43rd district Senate race, earning an overall rating of 5 out of 5 and scoring an A in all five issue interviews -- Equality, Marriage, Families, Healthcare, Awareness. They also endorsed Rodney Tom in the 48th district Senate race as they had in his 2004 House reelection campaign, with an overall score of 4 and earning an A in all five issue categories. Opponent Luke Esser earned an overall score of 0 and refused the interview. Most interesting are their endorsements and ratings for the open 43rd district House race, where they issued a dual endorsement of Democrats Lynne Dodson and Jamie Pedersen. They explain that their personal advocacy of the gay rights cause earned them the endorsement over the other candidates, who all scored well on the interview. The candidates with their ratings and interview scores are below.

Jamie Pedersen 5 AABAA
Lynne Dodson 5 AAABB
Dick Kelley 4 AAABA
Bill Sherman 3 AAAAA
Jim Street 3 AAAAA
Stephanie Pure 3 ABBBB

Another interest group spouts off

The other day I posted the results of the Washington Conservation Voters legislative scoresheet, and upon checking the Washington Conservative Union website, they now have their rating sheet up for the 2006 session. While their site is far less slick than WCV's (several spelling errors and has some Democrats bolded as Republicans), these results are probably more notable in that WCU's mission is far more broad than WCV and their one-issue crusade. In general, WCU is useful in telling which Republicans are reasonable moreso than which Democrats are. The bills the WCU uses are more tailored towards complete conservatism, so your typical Democrat usually scores very low despite that not all are across-the-board liberals. Aside from the comparisons below, one notable fact from last session is that Supreme Court candidate Stephen Johnson scored a 77, ruining his lifetime 100 rating and settling on an overall score of 95. Could it be he attempted to moderate himself with his sights on the bench?

Low House Republicans:
1. Tom Campbell 31
1. Fred Jarrett 31
3. Rodney Tom 54
4. Maureen Walsh 61
5. Shirley Hankins 69

High House Democrats tied with a score of 15: Brian Blake, Tami Green, Derek Kilmer, Dawn Morrell, and Deb Wallace. Most other Democrats in both houses scored 0, many Republicans scored 100s in the House, but there was some variation in the Senate.

High Senate Republicans:
1. Mike Hewitt 100
2. Jim Honeyford 92
2. Joyce Mulliken 92
2. Linda Evans Parlette 92
5. Cheryl Pflug 91
5. Val Stevens 91

Low Senate Republicans:
1. Bill Finkbeiner 40
2. Bob Oke 50
3. Dave Schmidt 59
4. Luke Esser 62
5. Alex Deccio 63
5. Bob McCaslin 63

High Senate Democrats:
1. Tim Sheldon 62
2. Jim Hargrove 31
3. Mark Doumit 23
3. Mary Margaret Haugen 23
3. Jim Kastama 23
3. Craig Pridemore 23

Before anybody begins suffering from brain tumors, the main reason for Deccio and McCaslin (both solid conservative voices with much higher lifetime ratings) scoring so low is because they missed many votes and the votes they did vote against the WCU on mattered much more than other senators. The only surprises on here for me were Bob Oke and Luke Esser scoring so low -- definitely based on economic issues and not social issues -- and that Craig Pridemore scored that high. Considering he has been a predictable liberal vote on just about everything, being in the same area as moderates like Doumit and Haugen was unforseen.

17 June 2006

The 28th district -- so messed up

The 28th legislative district, which covers Tacoma suburbs like Lakewood and Fircrest, is going to be one of those bellweather districts in this fall's elections. It's a nominally Republican district, their Senate seat was held up until 2004 by maverick liberal Republican Shirley Winsley and their House seats had been held by conservative Reps. Gigi Talcott and Mike Carrell. The 2004 elections sorta threw it into turmoil when Winsley retired and Carrell was appointed to her seat, leaving his seat open for perennial loser Bob Lawrence to narrowly lose the seat to Democrat Tami Green by about a half percent. Even against Lawrence, who lost Congressional campaigns to Norm Dicks in 1998, 2000, and 2002, Green is very vulnerable in what is usually this solid red district. Add to this that Talcott is retiring and the other seat is open, drawing Democrat Troy Kelley, a small business owner, and Republican Don Anderson, a Tacoma attorney.

All that lead up to today, when I read a news article from two weeks ago that Stan Flemming, who lost his seat to Talcott in the 1994 revolution, is running again for the seat. The only thing is, this time he's running as a Republican. He claims in a Tacoma News-Tribune article that he became a Republican in 1995 (convenient, no way to really prove it), but it really seems like he's running GOP because it's much easier to do that than pull a Tami Green. For the record, Flemming currently serves on the University Place City Council.

The GOP primary for Talcott's seat is going to be a hard call, though either Anderson or Flemming will likely be favoured over Kelley in November. If the Pierce County GOP wants to be smart, they should coax Flemming or Anderson into the Green race. Both of them are stronger candidates than Lawrence or his primary challenger, Jim Oliver, so why waste your power on one seat while Lawrence may lose to Green once again?

2005-6 Washington Conservation Voters scorecard [PDF]

I had meant to cover this earlier in the month when it actually came out (WCV was a bit late with their May release goal), but WCV has released their scorecards for the 2005-6 legislature. With Democrats in control, the bulk of their caucus raised their scores since 2003-4, most likely due to the GOP not bringing up more divisive environmental bills/amendments. Here's the breakdown:

2005 Legislator of the Year: Sen. Erik Poulsen [D-Seattle]
2006 Legislator of the Year: Sen. Craig Pridemore [D-Vancouver]

House Environmental Champions: Frank Chopp, Hans Dunshee, Sam Hunt, Ross Hunter, Fred Jarrett [R], Ed Murray, Skip Priest [R], Geoff Simpson, Brian Sullivan.

House Out of Step: Jim Buck, Jim Dunn, Doug Ericksen, Bev Woods.

Senate Environmental Champions: Lisa Brown, Bill Finkbeiner [R], Karen Fraser, Jim Hargrove, Debbie Regala, Phil Rockefeller.

Senate Out of Step: Stephen Johnson, Cheryl Pflug, Tim Sheldon [D].

As usual, WCV goes after what they consider vulnerable legislators for their Out of Step list -- usually Republicans who are in a district with at least one other Democrat elected. The sole exception is Sen. Tim Sheldon [D, purportedly], whose rating is worse than many Republicans. WCV were successful in bouncing "out of step" legislators Jim Horn and Jack Cairnes in 2004, and are jonesing to do it again this fall. The floor for Republicans in both houses was 0% and the ceiling for Democrats in both houses was 100%. Below are the exceptions to the rule -- the usual independent-minded suspects who score at the opposite end of their caucus on interest group rating sheets, mixed between the houses just for the hell of it:

High Republicans:
1. Sen. Dave Schmidt 91
2. Rep. Fred Jarrett 85
3. Sen. Bill Finkbeiner 83
4. Rep. Tom Campbell 77
5. Sen. Luke Esser 75
5. Sen. Dan Swecker 75
7. Rep. Skip Priest 69
7. Rep. Rodney Tom 69

Low Democrats
1. Sen. Tim Sheldon 25
2. Rep. Brian Blake 62
3. Rep. Lynn Kessler 77
4. Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen 82
4. Sen. Jim Hargrove 82

13 June 2006

May 43rd fundraising

It's that time of month again, as the PDC allows us to peek into juicy candidate finances for the race to succeed Ed Murray in Seattle's 43rd legislative district. In as hotly a contested primary as this is for Democrats, cash advantage will go a long way in who will be best-positioned this September. Below are some tidbits from the PDC forms for May:

Cash Received
Jamie Pedersen [D] - $16,551.48
Lynne Dodson [D] - $15,002.81
Bill Sherman [D] - $12,879.51
Stephanie Pure [D] - $12,284.00
Jim Street [D] - $9,825.00
Dick Kelley [D] - $4,040.00
Linde Knighton [PRO] - $45.00
Hugh Foskett [R] - No information

Cash on Hand
Jamie Pedersen [D] - $71,099.70
Jim Street [D] - $47,686.73
Bill Sherman [D] - $46,437.47 (additional debt of $2,500.00)
Lynne Dodson [D] - $23,499.25
Stephanie Pure [D] - $23,046.39 (additional debt of $0.19)
Dick Kelley [D] - $19,123.42 (additional debt of $3,993.30)
Linde Knighton [PRO] - $150.73
Hugh Foskett [R] - No information

As many suspected, Dick Kelley's self-imposed contribution limits have caused him to fall far behind the other candidates in fundraising. Even with his connections as 43rd District Chair, as big a cash deficit as he's running against opponents like Jamie Pedersen will make things even more difficult for him to win the primary. Lynne Dodson appears to be riding her labor ties to a solid second in monthly receipts, and is spending nearly as much as she's taking in. I would venture to say she has passed Kelley and Street as the main Pedersen foe, though eyes are still on Stephanie Pure's grassroots effort.

11 June 2006

This week's CounterIntel

Dan Savage has perhaps never made more sense. In highlighting gay marriage-supporting Seattle liberals' fascination with the race for Ed Murray's seat despite that all Democrats are in agreement on the issue, Savage suggests paying attention to the brewing Luke Esser-Rodney Tom race. Given the same Seattle liberal infatuation with Darcy Burner's campaign against Dave Reichert (a gay rights moderate), one would think that such a clear-cut anti/pro matchup as Esser-Tom would be more attractive for Seattle activists.

Let's face it, with all the time the Supreme Court has taken on the DOMA challenge, the most likely option is they're going to pass the buck to the legislature. That isn't a sure thing, but as far as I can tell, it's the most likely result. The House membership doesn't have a problem with passing gay rights legislation by decent numbers. Not only do Democrats have a larger majority there, but the House has, horror of horrors, some socially-moderate Republicans that supported such legislation. The Senate is the problem, and the 48th is a clear matchup against two legislators with well-known voting records on the issue. Gay rights advocates have more to gain by throwing money to Rodney Tom than stewing over which pro-gay candidate will win the Democratic primary in the 43rd or if Burner can beat the reasonable Reichert.

06 June 2006

We need not even fight

Despite the Right's blatant politization of Sunday church services in a last-minute drive to turn back the clock on basic life protections, Tim Eyman failed to gather enough signatures to get Referendumb 65 on the fall ballot. He claims to have 105,103 signatures, with 112,440 required (still far short of what would be needed to correct for ineligible signers). Part of me is still sad that a good 50,000 voters legally signed this, but hell, this is truly a day to celebrate in that we won't even have to expend any additional resources to fight.

All along I was skeptical of Ref. 65's chances at the ballot box (society has come a long way since 1997, and this time the law was already passed), but the one ace in the hole for the opposition I could forsee was a favourable state Supreme Court decision on our "Defense of Marriage Act." I feared that if the Court did the right thing in throwing out that piece of garbage that the Religious Right may have been further galvanized in their opposition and it would be possible for ESHB2661 to be overturned. Because of this, now the Court can rule with less fear of retribution when they finally do rule on DOMA. Justices Alexander and Owens may have something to worry about considering their conservative opposition, but most would agree both are likely favoured as-is.

Candidate enters race against Larry Springer

Tim Lee, a native of the Republic of China and techie, has announced his candidacy in the 45th district against freshman Democrat Rep. Larry Springer. A handful of suburban Republicans jumped on his campaign immediately, including Senate candidate Toby Nixon, outgoing Sen. Bill Finkbeiner, and Fall City Rep. Glenn Anderson. Lee was gracious enough to send me an email today announcing his candidacy, and given those who have initially signed on in support, I hope he brings strong moderate credentials to this race.

Larry Springer, then a member of Kirkland's City Council, defeated Duvall City Councilman Jeff Possinger by 5% of the vote to win his first term in 2004. Possinger is currently running for the seat vacated by Toby Nixon to run for the Senate. Since the entry of Lee and Possinger it is my belief they give the GOP a solid opportunity in this swing district, when previously it appeared Democrats were poised to perform well. This, like the 48th district, will be a bellweather district come November.