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 July 2006

Stark update

With help from chief Spokesman Review political reporter Jim Camden, I have learned that Spokane City Councilman Brad Stark is indeed running for Assessor as a Republican. While Stark had been visible working on Democratic campaigns in the past, he told SR in the article linked above that he is "definitely, most wholeheartedly" is a Republican but that he is not limited by party labels. He says his conservative economic positions are the root of his affiliation. He has most recently given money to Democratic Senate candidate Chris Marr.

I have to say I'm surprised, it's always a bit humbling to be caught off-guard when you fancy yourself as in the know on political matters, but I suppose after contemplating his record when I lived in his district it's a bit less surprising. Councilman Stark had always struck me as independent-minded and fiscally-responsible, but the Democratic connections still make the declaration surreal. Prior to catching up with Mr. Camden I had sent an email to the councilman and was referred to his personal email account for non-city matters, so hopefully we can get the scoop directly from the man himself.

As for how the newly-minted Republican might fare, I think he poses a big threat to the incumbent. While in a Republican primary in Spokane County his moderate/independent streak might be a detriment, Ralph Baker only won the position in an unopposed special election and had previously had his clock cleaned by Democratic County Auditor Vicky Dalton. While I had reasoned that a gig on the city council of the state's second-largest city was preferable to a behind-the-scenes county office, I think this provides a decent shot for Mr. Stark's budding career in partisan political office.

30 July 2006

AWB endorses...

I missed it until now, but the Association of Washington Business issued some preliminary endorsements for legislative incumbents the day after they endorsed Steve Johnson and Gerry Alexander for the Supreme Court. The list is linked above, with partisan discrepancies listed below:

Endorsed Democrats:
-Sen. Tim Sheldon

Not-endorsed Republicans:
-Rep. Tom Campbell
-Rep. Shirley Hankins
-Rep. Fred Jarrett

It is notable to point out that in 2004's early incumbent endorsements AWB endorsed no Democrats, though Tim Sheldon hardly qualifies as one these days. Once matchups are more apparent, AWB is generally more generous with their endorsements, as evidenced by 2004's list where they endorsed many Democratic incumbents.

29 July 2006

Need help from Spokane

I was reading the filings yesterday in Spokane County and am mystified as to what is happening in the county assessor race there. Normally, I would not care about a county assessor race, but one of the filings flies in the face of conventional wisdom and partisan allegiance. The background on the office is Ralph Baker was appointed to the seat after former state Rep. Duane Sommers retired a couple years ago. Baker was elected to complete the term in a special election last year, unopposed. Now, he's running for the full term and is being opposed by Democrat Judy Personett. The kicker is that Brad Stark has filed as a Republican for the seat, and I do not see why he would file for that office when he already holds a much better seat on the city council, and is a known Democrat aside from that, having been an aide for Sen. Lisa Brown and campaign manager for Democratic County Commissioner John Roskelley's 2000 reelection.

I had assumed that whoever filed was some nobody who simply had the same name and was trying to fool voters, that sort of thing happens all the time (remember the California Recall?). However, I ran a search for registered Starks in Spokane County on Sharkansky's voter database, and the councilman is the only Brad Stark in the county. If anybody can enlighten me as to what's happening in the east, I would appreciate it.

28 July 2006

Final filings

Today is the last day of filing week, with lots of candidates jumping in at the last moment, as usual. Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers has drawn former Des Moines city councilmember Jeanette Burrage, and it appears that Bruce White did not file for the 8th Congressional district despite having collected sufficient signatures to make the ballot as a Libertarian. If he does indeed not file, that has to be good news for incumbent Dave Reichert.

26 July 2006

Also in the P-I

Councilman Bob Ferguson [D-Seattle] has teamed with the GOP Council minority to put a provision for a popularly-elected auditor on the ballot for King County voters. Ron Sims was pissed, but still wrong. Dwight Pelz thinks the idea runs contrary to recent "reforms" and will "bring chaos." Apparently Pelz has not ventured away from home lately into every other county in the state.

I don't see why giving this idea a try is a poor decision, King County's system has had its problems and this measure will bring it into line with everyone else. After all, it isn't as if people are knocking down Ron Sims' door to take over the elections department, at least this way the auditor will be held responsible at the ballot box.

Supreme Court rules on DOMA challenge

And got it wrong. I even had all the justices picked correctly at Postman's except had more faith in Gerry Alexander that he would rule the right way. Sen.=in-waiting Ed Murray has said he intends to fight DOMA in the legislature, and while I suspect that will have difficulty passing (the Senate only barely could pass a largely ceremonial anti-discrimination bill, after all), he is up to the challenge as are the rest of us.

25 July 2006

It's official!

Washington's favourite frequent candidate, Mike The Mover, has filed as a Democrat for the US Senate. Other frequent candidates filed are Libertarian-turned-Democrat Michael Nelson and Tacoma Republican William Chovil, who came in dead last in the 2004 GOP Senate primary.

Cantwell stagnant in SUSA numbers

For the second straight month, Sen. Maria Cantwell has turned in rather poor approval/disapproval numbers in SurveyUSA's monthly national poll. She is virtually unchanged from last month's 48/43 with a 49/43 for this month, placing her in a tie for 83rd most popular senator and for 5th-least popular Senate Democrat.

Looking at demographics it appears she is marginally more popular than Patty Murray amongst Republicans, but 31% of her own party are disapproving versus only 17% for the senior occupant. Both are sorta unpopular with Independents, with both having 51% disapproval. To me, the oddest difference between the two is with the 20% of respondents from Eastern Washington. Those voters approved of Murray more than any other region by a 56/34 margin, while the same group disapproved of Cantwell by a 41/48 margin.

The poll was taken on behalf of KING-5 television.

24 July 2006

Filing Week

Today is the start of filing week for office. Those having filed for state office are listed and will be updated as they come in here, and for local office check your county auditor website. King County's candidate filings can be found here.

There haven't been many surprises thus far, a few frequent candidates have filed for the Senate race and Jim McDermott has a primary challenger (Donovan Rivers), who, to the best I can tell, is a conservative African-American Democrat. The GOP has had a few legislative candidates file in safe Democrat seats, as well.

23 July 2006

Everything you ever wanted to know about Frank Chopp but were afraid to ask

Caught this link at Carl's just now, I think it does a great job of showing how much of a damned genius Frank Chopp is. As long as he holds leadership with the House Democrats, it's going to take some major party snafus for the GOP to take power back.

Stu Elway wears rose-colored glasses

I've come to believe the reason for the existence of the Elway Poll is to keep Democrats from sweating the close races every year. Once again, the Elway Poll is the complete outlier amongst other pollsters by returning with a 47-33 Maria Cantwell lead, though it is notable that even his poll has tightened since April's.

I make no secret that I think the Elway Poll is consistently inaccurate and consistently favourable to Democrats. Its results are so predictable that I'm more interested in Strategic Vision's poll every month, at least theirs tend to be remotely close to the independent pollsters' trend.

22 July 2006

Jim West died today

Postman's got the details, I had always wondered if his cancer was a bigger deal than he lead everyone to believe. The man was a creep, and I disagreed with many of his policies, but he served the state and Spokane well in his career in public service. Rest in peace, Mayor.

20 July 2006

Musings on the 47th Senate race

I'm not quite grasping what all is going on in the 47th legislative district Senate race. It is being vacated by Sen. Stephen Johnson [R-Kent] as a result of his Supreme Court run, yet the GOP seems to have only been able to find an apparent unknown who is having trouble raising money, while the Democrats have a two-way primary that either can feasibly win. Claudia Kauffman, a Native American small business owner from Kent jumped in the race first and has a big cash lead, while Ed Crawford, a former cop in the Kent PD who lives in Auburn is picking up a crapload of endorsements from big-name Democrats and won the 47th party's endorsement. In spite of this, Crawford is behind in money and has a big debt on top of that. Money is, in my opinion, usually the biggest indicator of who will win a contested primary, but Crawford seems to have every other factor going in his favour.

Aside from this, I think either one of them will win the general election at this time. If that does happen, this is a huge recruiting failure for the GOP, who once ruled the district with an iron fist. One would think they could at least coax Phil Fortunato into running another narrowly-losing campaign rather than run a nobody who is apparently going to get creamed. I read speculation somewhere that Jamie Durkan may run here, and while I haven't heard anything concrete, that seems to be the only way the GOP could still retain this.

19 July 2006

Gay rights on ballot after all

Well, sorta. Justice Susan Owens says the Supreme Court will rule on its long-overdue challenge to the state "Defense of Marriage Act" in the face of rumours that the Court would further delay the ruling until after the general election. Not only that, but it will supposedly be before September's primary, which could further politicize this year's Supreme Court races by using each justice's position as a wedge issue (I'm looking at you, John Groen and Steve Johnson). I just hope any perceived fence-sitters like Chief Justice Alexander will not go with the supposedly "popular" view for electoral reasons.

The way I see this decision, there are two justices naturally inclined to uphold DOMA (Sanders and J. Johnson) and three naturally inclined to throw it out (Owens, Fairhurst, Bridge). Needing five votes for a majority, either side is still in this game, though given how long this is taking I have a feeling they will chicken-out and punt to the legislature. At least Justices Madsen and Chambers seem liberal-leaning on social issues even if they are fairly moderate jurists.

13th district update, complete with a round of Green Rivers

Just as its neighbour to the southwest, the vast expanse of the 13th legislative district is having a rare show of an exciting campaign season. In case you don't know where the 13th is, it's the bulk of what you drive through by taking I-90 between Spokane and Seattle. If you ever must venture into the district, I highly recommend hitting this kickass little restaurant/bakery in Cle Elum called Cottage Café. Their butterhorns are well worth dealing with a Holmquist sign every two feet, plus the Chevron on the main drag has Green Rivers. But I digress.

With Rep. Janéa Holmquist [R-Moses Lake] running for the Senate, three Republicans have so far announced runs for her old House seat. The first to announce (and file) is Max Golladay, a former Kittitas County commissioner who was defeated in the GOP primary in a run for his third term. The other candidates, according to Kittitas County GOP Chair Matt Manweller, are Moses Lake businessman Len Seltz and Grant County Auditor Ken Koons. I have yet to hear of any Democrats mulling runs for the seat, though they are sending Lisa Bowen to her death against Holmquist for the Senate seat.

17 July 2006

Beware, 35th district

You thought this would be about Tim Sheldon, didn't you? No, this is about no-chance-in-hell candidate Otis Leathers, running against Rep. Bill Eickmeyer [D-Belfair]. Up until a few days ago, Leathers had filed at the PDC as a "Libertarion," but has now switched to an "Independant" run. Now, I'm not a total Spelling Nazi, but for Christ's sake, if you are going to run for office, at least know how to spell your party name (not once, but twice!). Thankfully, Leathers has not yet become a Republicon or a Demacrat where there might be a snowball's chance of victory.

All three of his error-ridden C1 filings are available at the Public Disclosure Commission website, linked at right. Just run a search for the last name under the "View the Reports" link.

16 July 2006

Tray changes

I decided to clean up the link tray a bit, I thought especially the candidate links were too broad to the point that they included candidacies I only found acceptable, so now only links to those I truly support are listed. Took off the columnists (who the hell doesn't know Connelly and Jamieson anyway?) and divided the weblogs into independent amateur ones put forth by the citizenry and those maintained by media outlets. I removed the Sierra Club link in the PAC listing because I like WCV's environmental ratings better.

I also finally got around to linking the weblog of my MSM hero, KING5's Bob Mak.

GOP finally finds candidate for 1st LD

The 1st legislative district, a Democratic-leaner where Republicans have come close but fallen short each recent cycle, finally has a matchup this fall. Republican Mark Davies, a Boeing employee, is running against freshman Rep. Mark Ericks [D-Bothell]. Davies describes himself as "conservative in every way, constitutionally, socially, and fiscally." Keep searching, GOP, if an ultra-likable mainstream conservative like Joshua Freed could not quite get over the top there then this guy sure isn't. They would be better off coaxing Jason Bontrager into another run than running this sacrificial winger.

Let's cover the recent results here:
2004 Representative #2
Mark Ericks [D] 51.25%
Joshua Freed [R] 48.75%
2002 Representative #1
Al O'Brien [D] 49.92%
Joshua Freed [R] 47.02%
Chuck Jackson [L] 3.06%
2002 Representative #2
Jeanne Edwards [D] 50.40%
Leo Van Hollebeke [R] 49.60%
2000 Senator
Rosemary McAuliffe [D] 54.51%
Leo Van Hollebeke [R] 45.49%

This seat is not off-limits for the GOP, they just need to run some decent moderates. They won the seats in 1994 and 1996 with conservatives, but now that is not good enough. Time for a new strategy.

15 July 2006

O'Sullivan leads in cash race for old job

Kevin O'Sullivan, Republican candidate for Thurston County Commissioner, has raised twice as much as incumbent Democrat Bob MacLeod according to recent PDC files. This race, possibly the most potentially-entertaining local of the season, is a rematch of 2002's Democratic primary, when MacLeod narrowly defeated O'Sullivan, then the conservative Democrat incumbent. O'Sullivan has since switched to the GOP and stands a good shot at winning his old seat back, in my judgment.

While I admit I would like to see O'Sullivan make this comeback, MacLeod has the clear advantage in campaign sign quality. I dig his microphone logo, which is much more creative than the scattered shamrocks O'Sullivan has to show off his Irishocity.

It's official: three third party candidates in Senate race

Three third party candidates turned in at least 1,000 signatures in order to appear on the November ballot for US Senate. In addition to Green Party candidate Aaron Dixon and Libertarian Party candidate Bruce Guthrie, an Independent named Robin Adair also qualified. I was unable to find any information on Adair online, so if anybody can enlighten me at all on him/her, I would appreciate it.

Upon reading the latest post at Postman's, former Kent City Councilman Bruce White is jumping in the 8th Congressional district race as a Libertarian. White served a single term on the Council before losing last year's mayoral race in the primary. This development may well aid Darcy Burner, but it's too early to tell.

13 July 2006

The fleecing of Maria Cantwell

Good God. If I knew I could run a couple of crackpot third party campaigns for federal office, then pose zero threat to an incumbent senator in a primary and then get bought out for eight grand a month, I would have taken advantage of this myself.

Rick Larsen on Colbert

I've always been rather indifferent on Rick Larsen. He always seems to me to be a poor man's Adam Smith -- less moderate, less visibility, even less hair -- all despite being exactly the same age. However, Larsen's performance last night on The Colbert Report was pretty doggone good. The second district has locusts!

12 July 2006

Groen in the money

Supreme Court candidate John Groen has jumped to a big cash advantage over incumbent Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, mostly due to big donors dumping cash into his pocket before donation limits go into effect. He took in $171,475.40 in June, yet spent an insane $190,144.91 during the same time period -- this without even somebody paying as much attention as I seeing much of anything from his campaign. By contrast, Alexander is taking in less money (about $50,000 last month) but is sitting on it to build up a decent amount of cash on hand. Because of Groen's spendthriftiness, they are similar on cash on hand numbers.

In the past I had indicated I thought all these complaints over judicial PACs were much ado about nothing. However, in this specific case, Gerry Alexander is the easy pick for the seat. Groen and his buds are trying to buy a conservative seat, and while I have no problem with having some conservatives on the court (I voted for both Richard Sanders and Jim Johnson), Alexander is consistently the rational, moderate voice on the court. I was surprised when Groen challenged him, who is more friendly to business interests than many on the court, and Tom Chambers is still left alone. The Owens/Johnson campaign is more of a lesser of two evils, and while it is unlikely, it would be nice for a decent centrist to jump into that race to balance the liberal Owens and conservative Johnson.

11 July 2006

14th race likely to get more crowded

Four more candidates are publicly mulling runs for the seat vacated by Rep. Jim Clements [R-Selah], in addition to the two already in the race. This seems to be quickly turning into the GOP's 43rd, except with just a solidly partisan electorate instead of an ultra-safe partisan electorate. The four mentioned by the Yakima Herald are:

-Jim Keightley, a police officer in Yakima
-Sandra Belzer Swanson, an "anti-tax activist" who recently lost a local race
-John Tierney, Yakima GOP Chair
-Susan Whitman, member of the Yakima City Council

If you thought you recognized Tierney, like I did, it's probably because of US Rep. John Tierney [D-Massachusetts]. Seems to me if Tierney and Whitman both jump in this race they would be the favourites. Charles Ross has the support of Clements and Glen Blomgren has the support of Rob McKenna, but between Tierney's party ties and Whitman's municipal office ties, one would suspect them to jump to the front of the list.

In the other House seat, incumbent Rep. Mary Skinner [R-Yakima] has an opponent in Democrat Don Hinman. Skinner defeated Hinman for reelection in 2004 by a 65-35 margin.

10 July 2006

Indy likely on general election ballot vs. McDermott

I received an email from the Linnea Noreen for Congress campaign today following a question I sent if they had gathered sufficient signatures to appear on the November ballot against Rep. Jim McDermott. The campaign replied that they have 1,457 signatures and 1,000 are required, so it is likely Noreen will have ballot access, though the Secretary of State has yet to verify the signatures.

I don't recall saying much about McDermott here before, but in short, I cannot stand him and find his attention-seeking antics an embarassment. I support Linnea Noreen as she is a libertarian-leaning candidate who can express her views of fiscal responsibility without compromising on our socially-permissive preferences. Though I have little doubt McD will win reelection, I am confident that Noreen would, if elected, have a moderate, fiscally-responsible record similar to that of Rep. Adam Smith. I wish the Noreen campaign the best of luck this November.

Mentioned on the radio? *gasp*

Just got an email from Will at Pike Place Politics (link at right) saying he gave TMW a plug on KIRO's David Goldstein Show, specifically in reference to the preceding post about the goings on in the 14th LD. It's great that Will cares enough about my "commentary" to reference it like that, and also nice to hear he was not then scolded by Goldy for bringing up this non-lefty site on air! I owe you one if I ever miraculously get near a microphone.

06 July 2006

Just when you thought Yakima might be normal

So, apparently Chris Gregoire did not screw over her party in the 14th legislative district -- thanks to Rep. Jim Clements [R-Selah]. Clements was considered the likely appointee to Alex Deccio's Senate seat were he appointed to the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board, but announced at the beginning of this month that he is retiring from the House seat he has held the past 12 years, and if for some other reason Deccio does retire before the end of the term, he is not interested in having it. That means Yakima City Councilman Ron Bonlender will be running for the second seat, giving Democrats at least an outside shot at it, while Yakima businessman Glen Blomgren and former Naches Mayor Charles Ross have thus far announced for the Republican primary. For the record, Clements supports Ross to be his successor.

Elsewhere, some dude named Dale Murphy has filed to run against my sentimental favourite state legislator, Rep. Fred Jarrett [R-Mercer Island]. Probably not a big deal, unless it's this Dale Murphy.

04 July 2006

Rounding out June's polls

I'm a couple days behind, but Strategic Vision released its poll June 30 and I didn't note the monthly SurveyUSA numbers when they came out. SV has Maria Cantwell winning 47-43 over Mike McGavick, take that for what it's worth (though it is not that different from the last Rasmussen Reports poll), and gave the incumbent a 47/38 approval/disapproval rating for the month. That beats SurveyUSA's 48/43 marks.

On the home front, SV had Chris Gregoire rating at 39/49 and the legislature at 40/47. She took a hit on SurveyUSA, which actually had a rare net approval in May, in scoring 45 approve v. 50 disapprove.

One thing that I'm a bit surprised at, as usual, is the age demographic breakdown on SurveyUSA. They consistently show older respondents are the most pleased with the state's Democratic officeholders (since that's all we have to judge now), and that decreases down to the youngest age group which disapproves of them the most. For all the talk that the King County crescent is trending Democratic with population growth and that it's the liberal areas of the state gaining population and the conservative areas losing population, this seems to directly contradict all else we've been led to believe lately. It should be interesting to see how the state may or may not change in the next ten years.

Jay Inslee will earn less than 100% of reelection votes

David Postman reported yesterday that the GOP has found a candidate to challenge 1st Congressional district Democrat Jay Inslee. Larry Ishmael, a member of the Issaquah School Board and purported ally of Dino Rossi, intends to rent an apartment in Redmond or Kirkland for the campaign -- since he lives in Dave Reichert's 8th district. Now, I do not think Jay Inslee is unbeatable (I thought Jane Hague would have posed a strong threat had she stayed in the 2004 race), but the GOP could not even find somebody who lives in the district? Safe Inslee.