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.

28 September 2006

New polls

In both the US Senate race and the 8th district Congressional race, both SurveyUSA and a partisan pollster has released polls recently. In both races, the partisan polls seem to not have been to their party's advantage to release, and SurveyUSA continues to be Maria Cantwell's favourite pollster. The data:

Senate race
SurveyUSA 9/21-9/25 +/-4.5 MOE:
Maria Cantwell [D] 54%
Mike McGavick [R] 42%
Aaron Dixon [G] 3%
Bruce Guthrie [LBT] 1%
Robin Adair [IND] 0%

Strategic Vision [R] 9/22-9/24 +/-3 MOE:
Cantwell 49%
McGavick 40%

8th District race
SurveyUSA 9/24-9/26 +/-4.3 MOE:
Dave Reichert [R] 50%
Darcy Burner [D] 48%

Grove Insight [D] 9/18-9/21 +/-4.9% MOE:
Reichert 44%
Burner 43%

SurveyUSA's result for the Reichert-Burner race is much more in-line with what I was expecting from their previous poll, and while I think this one is closer to the truth, the partisan identification change between the two could have easily been the reason for the change. Since their August poll, their Republican sample was virtually unchanged while the Democratic respondents jumped 6%. Even with this, Reichert draws more Democrats than Burner does Republicans, and took self-described Independents 53-40. I think this is a silver lining for the Reichert campaign from this one, it seems as if they should still win as long as they can get voters to the polls (though this year that is no certainty). The Grove Insight poll was commissioned by EMILY'S List.

23 September 2006

8th district race falls on National Journal list

The 8th district race between Rep. Dave Reichert and Darcy Burner has fallen from 20th to 22nd on the National Journal's list of most-competitive races for Congress this year. They also have a new #1 in Arizona's 8th district, where the Republicans nominated an arch-conservative to replace the lovably-libertarian Rep. Jim Kolbe in a district that leans Democratic.

Attempt to explain why 17th district Democrats were so stupid

The Columbian tried to, yesterday. Ex-Vancouver City Councilman Jack Burkman conceded to Pat Campbell with current totals giving Campbell a 52.5%-47.5% lead, yet with that concession went all hopes of Democrats knocking off Rep. Jim Dunn, an anemic campaigner and easy target. The article does a nice job of outlining all the advantages Burkman had, including a juicy internal campaign poll where Undecided was beating Campbell by a margin of 38-13. My guess for what happened here is a combination of Campbell name recognition from his losing campaigns the two previous years and Dunn-backers voting for the easier opponent in the Democratic primary (this only happens in the blanket primary, right Dwight Pelz?). The fact is, with the primary power being held more strongly than ever by the parties, this election was damn boring for the vast majority of us in the state, and if one side has nothing competitive in their party it makes far more sense to vote in the other primary where something competitive is happening.

Here's the deal, 17th Democrats. Give up this go around and concentrate on protecting Deb Wallace, then run Burkman against your almost-as-worthless-as-Jim-Dunn senator, Don Benton. Don't turn your back on a candidate with such good potential, I'm still convinced he would have beaten Dunn had he won the primary.

20 September 2006

Update in the 43rd

With all 218 precincts having reported, Jamie Pedersen holds a thin 35-vote lead over Jim Street in the 43rd House district Democratic primary. The totals:

Jamie Pedersen 2,300 [23.27%]
Jim Street 2,265 [22.92%]
Bill Sherman 1,777 [17.98%]
Stephanie Pure 1,278 [12.93%]
Lynne Dodson 1,151 [11.65%]
Dick Kelley 1,106 [11.19%]
Write-ins 5 [0.05%]

Looks like we'll have to wait for the last-minute absentees to figure out who will be the next Democratic representative for the 43rd district. The candidates finished pretty close to what I emailed Postman yesterday, though I vastly overestimated Dick Kelley's performance. Guess that principled stand on campaign finance really did cost him in the end.

Primary results

Here are some selected returns for the primary election tonight. The major races were foregone conclusions, so if anybody really cares to see those huge victories, try Vote.Wa.Gov. I will say, however, that I'm quite disgusted with the apparent upset of Jack Burkman in the 17th district by chronic loser and last-minute entry Patrick Campbell. What are you people thinking? Jim Dunn, for all his laziness and right-wing conservatism, thrashed Campbell by ten points in 2004 and in a rematch is quite likely to be retained. Way to lose the cash advantage with that, 17th Democrats.

Supreme Court #2 -- 50% counted
Susan Owens [i] 45%
Steve Johnson 33%
Michael Johnson 10%

Supreme Court #8 -- 50% counted
Gerry Alexander [i] 54%
John Groen 46%

Supreme Court #9 -- 50% counted
Tom Chambers [i] 58%
Jeannette Burrage 42%

9th House District Republicans -- 66% counted
Steve Hailey 33%
Joe Schmick 29%
Tedd Nealey 24%

14th House District Republicans -- 84% counted
Charles Ross 37%
Sandra Swanson 24%
Glen Blomgren 22%

26th Senate District Republicans -- 62% counted
Jim Hines 54%
Lois McMahan 46%

26th Senate District Republicans -- 62% counted
Ron Boehme 53%
Trent England 47%

35th Senate District Democrats -- 60% counted
Tim Sheldon [i] 57%
Kyle Taylor Lucas 43%

43rd House District Democrats -- 67% counted
Jamie Pedersen 25%
Jim Street 22%
Bill Sherman 16%
Stephanie Pure 14%
Lynne Dodson 12%
Dick Kelley 11%

44th Senate District Democrats -- 58% counted
Steve Hobbs 53%
Lillian Kaufer 47%

47th Senate District Democrats -- 6% counted
Claudia Kauffman 56%
Ed Crawford 44%

Also, of the local races profiled previously, incumbent Democrats Steve Boyer and Robin Hunt easily prevailed over well-funded opponents. In Spokane County, appointed GOP Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich not only won (against my prediction for his more wealthy and establishment-backed opponent), but sailed to victory with 60%. Elsewhere, incumbent GOP Kitsap County Commissioner Patty Lent was upset in her primary election. Most exciting of all the locals, though, is the GOP primary for Spokane County Assessor. With all precincts in, a very narrow margin separates incumbent Ralph Baker and Councilman Brad Stark:

Baker 15,751 [50.15%]
Stark 15,654 [49.85%]

I'm assuming this will remain undecided until the last couple days of absentees are counted, and perhaps recounted.

18 September 2006

Profile: 43rd House - Democrats

Easily this year's marquee primary, six qualified liberal Democrats are fighting to replace Rep. Ed Murray [D-Seattle] as he waits to become the district's next senator. While there is very little ideological difference in the crowd, those in the know have been debating the past six months on who should join Frank Chopp in the House delegation. For any n00bs, here are the choices:

-Lynne Dodson: teacher, labour favourite
-Dick Kelley: 43rd district Democratic chairman
-Jamie Pedersen: attorney, gay rights advocate
-Stephanie Pure: aide to Councilman Peter Steinbrueck
-Bill Sherman: assistant county prosecutor, eco-favourite
-Jim Street: former city councilman and Superior Court judge

In spite of all their individual strengths, I think Pedersen stands out as he has consistently led the field in funds and the Supreme Court's ill-conceived ruling on DOMA may earn him some additional support, considering he was part of the losing legal team. Jim Street and Bill Sherman may get a boost from each of their endorsements by the major Seattle newspapers, and Dick Kelley's party support is a big asset, but I'm sticking with my prediction all along that Pedersen will emerge with a narrow victory.

Prediction: Pedersen Lean

17 September 2006

Profile: 47th Senate, Democrats

While either Claudia Kauffman or Ed Crawford will probably be favoured in the general election, whomever is eventually nominated will determine how easy and expensive the seat will be. This swing district would likely be more friendly to Crawford, whom is apparently the choice of the mainstream of the party, as evidenced by his endorsement by the 47th district Democrats and many in-party leaders. By contrast, Kauffman has seemed to round up some of the party's left-wing pols and not as many organizations, though at last check she still had a money lead (likely because she was in the race much earlier).

Predicting a winner is difficult due to opposing advantages splitting the candidates down the middle. Crawford has the local support, Kauffman has the cash advantage, and while cash is usually the bigger factor, my gut says Crawford wins. However, the Seattle Times' late endorsement of Kauffman may well throw a wrench in my prediction. Still, a moderate Democrat like Crawford in the general election against the poorly-financed Mike Riley should just about lock this one up.

Prediction: Crawford Lean

16 September 2006

Profile: 26th Republicans, Senate and House

Initially I had only been going to do a Senate profile here, but upon realizing I had left out the House primary to replace Derek Kilmer I've decided to cover both this morning. First, the Senate:

Essentially, the GOP has to choose from a polarizing but experienced candidate and a newcomer with decent potential. Nominating ex-Rep. Lois McMahan here will offer someone who has won twice in the district, but by thin margins amongst many other losses. If the GOP picks her, they are apparently content to gamble she can win a rematch with Derek Kilmer in spite of national anti-Bush sentiment and a huge cash disadvantage. If the GOP hopes to have any future in this district they should nominate Jim Hines and offer voters a fresh face. Giving a choice of McMahan every two years is getting stale, and aside from two GOP-favoured years, voters have stated they do not want her to represent them. If Hines loses by 30 points, at the very least they attempted something new. More likely, however, is he will perform better against Kilmer than would McMahan in spite of name recognition differences.

Unfortunately for the GOP, I have an inkling that voters will pick the familiar name Tuesday despite that the party mainstream has lined up behind Hines and he has more money. Considering the small amount of primary voters, I think the chance of picking the more familiar name and/or picking the more conservative partisan typical of most primary voters is great enough to switch what would be a Hines lean in most other matchups.

Prediction: McMahan Lean

In the House, Republicans will have to pick between conservative policy wonk Trent England and Ellen Craswell minion Ron Boehme, an ultra-conservative minister and author. This race seems to have been getting more attention in the newspapers than most other primaries, with editorial boards offering endorsement upon endorsement for England, mostly due to Boehme's extreme views. This movement may well have tightened things up, and while I would love to see England win this primary, in a race of two political newcomers I almost always side with where the cash is, and Boehme has much more here. The winner will face Democrat Larry Seaquist, and if Boehme does win this primary, the GOP more than likely has shot themselves in the foot for an open seat in the state's premiere swing distrct.

Prediction: Boehme Lean

SEAMEC primary ratings sheet [PDF]

While they probably uploaded it a few days ago, I just came across the Seattle Metropolitan Elections Committee's download for their candidate ratings, just in time for Tuesday's primary. In reading through it, it seems as though they had an awful hard time scheduling interviews with many of the candidates, as in most cases they were unable to give a fairness score to at least one candidate in a race.

Now, I admit I have some beef with SEAMEC's rating system, where there often appears to be inconsistency when compared to candidate positions and statements. Case in point, their endorsement of Chris Gregoire in the 2004 governor's race over Ruth Bennett. Come now, Gregoire flat-out refused to give her position on marriage equality and even after promising to shed some light on it following the recent Supreme Court decision nobody really knows if she supports marriage or just legal unions. Bennett, first off, is a lesbian and made her entire campaign about gay rights, and has been a tireless advocate for GLBT issues. Complete idiocy, if you ask me. Now, in their Senate ratings for this year Maria Cantwell scored highest, four of five possible points, in spite of selling-out on the marriage equality question. In contrast, pro-marriage candidates like Hong Tran, Bruce Guthrie, and Aaron Dixon received lower scores and GOP candidate Mike McGavick, whose marriage/union position is similar to Cantwell's, scored a pitiful one of five (granted, McGavick's pro-union position is half-assed at best, but the difference between a one and four should be a hell of a lot bigger than their statements suggest). In short, I take SEAMEC's ratings with a pound of salt. If they're good for anything, it's judging the positions of Republican candidates to see if they're reasonable enough to vote for over a crappy Democratic candidate. They can't all be Fred Jarretts, after all.

Here's the long and short of the sheet. SEAMEC endorses:

-Rep. Jay Inslee [D] for Congress
-Councilmember Sally Clark for Seattle City Council
-Rep. Joe McDermott [D] for 34th House
-Rep. Fred Jarrett [R] for 41st House
-Rep. Ed Murray [D] for 43rd Senate
-Lynne Dodson [D] and Jamie Pedersen [D] for 43rd House
-Rep. Rodney Tom [D] for 48th Senate
-Justice Susan Owens for Supreme Court
-Justice Tom Chambers for Supreme Court
-Mary Ann Ottinger for Northeast District Court

In addition, non-endorsed fairness ratings for contested primaries:

-Maria Cantwell beats Hong Tran 4-3, Warren Hanson beats other GOP candidates 2-1 in US Senate race
-Claudia Kauffman and Ed Crawford tie at 3 in 47th Senate race
-Deb Eddy beats Santiago Ramos 3-2 in 48th House race

15 September 2006

Profile: 35th Senate - Democrats

This race is revenge for Democrats -- revenge for a conservative voting record; revenge for teaming with Republicans and accepting their committee chairmanships; revenge for open support in 2004 of President Bush, Dino Rossi, Rob McKenna, Sam Reed, and Doug Sutherland; revenge for defeating a Democrat-endorsed county commission candidate as an Independent -- and perhaps the time is finally ripe for knocking Senator Tim Sheldon out of the Senate Democratic Caucus. The primary is right, but I'm not so sure the challenger is.

Kyle Taylor Lucas is an outspoken liberal and served two years as Gov. Locke's Director of Indian Affairs. A capable and qualified candidate for sure, but given her trouble raising money and lack of a marquee Republican primary in the district I suspect Sheldon to hold on. While many Democrats detest him, moderate and conservative Democrats support him in addition to Republicans and Independents. While it is not entirely applicable to the current situation on account of different primaries and election types, one must note the last time Sheldon was in a primary against a liberal Democrat: Lena Swanson, in 1997. Swanson had earned a Senate appointment over Sheldon and in the special election primary he earned 50% to her 32% despite Republican and Reform candidates also in the race.

Prediction: Sheldon Solid

14 September 2006

Profile: 14th House - Republicans

While it falls short compared to the 43rd district primary in star power, the 14th district is probably the most intriguing of the 2006 GOP primaries, at least of those with more than two contenders. This primary was launched when Rep. Jim Clements [R-Selah], a conservative in the House GOP leadership, announced his retirement. Five candidates jumped into the race in the aftermath:

-Glen Blomgren: Yakima businessman
-Jim Keightley: Washington State Patrol officer
-Harold Koempel
-Charles Ross: Naches mayor
-Sandra Belzer Swanson: tax-cutting advocate

At this late stage the candidates have had little time to fundraise, so I think this favours Blomgren, who was the first to enter. He also has the support of Attorney General Rob McKenna, the state's most powerful Republican. Ross is also a solid contender due to his municipal experience and the support of Clements, along with apparently the bulk of party bigwigs. The truth is, I've been going back and forth on this one between the two. I'm going to just say Ross and stick with it, but it's pretty much a crapshoot.

Prediction: Ross Lean

13 September 2006

Profile: 44th Senate - Democratic primary

Initially, I thought when Steve Hobbs announced his candidacy that he had a halfway decent shot at beating incumbent Sen. Dave Schmidt [R]. He probably still does, but at this point I don't think he'll survive the primary. Lillian Kaufer's strong grassroots campaign has all the momentum going into primary night. She has earned the endorsement of the 44th District Democrats and both the district's Democratic representatives. I tend to think she would have a harder time against Schmidt than the more moderate Hobbs, but given the district's Democratic lean, anything is possible.

Prediction: Kaufer Lean

12 September 2006

McGavick stumbles - Rasmussen

As suspected, GOP Senate candidate Mike McGavick's half-confession gaffe has completely stalled his campaign. Senator Maria Cantwell now leads 52-35, a six-point gain for the incumbent and a five-point drop for her main challenger. Given our late primary, it will take a miracle for McGavick to win at this point, as he is back down where he started a year ago in polling.

Profile: 9th House GOP primary

With the retirement of Rep. Don Cox [R] the safely-GOP 9th will have its second wide-open House primary in two cycles. I was able to vote in the crowded 2004 primary, where David Buri (my lesser evil pick) won with 29% in a five-way race. This time around there are four candidates, one of whom came in 3rd in the 2004 primary. Steve Hailey will have something of an advantage after his decent showing last time, but due to cash figures I think Joe Schmick is on more-solid footing. Tedd Nealey and Glen Stockwell are also running, but as far as I can tell are footnotes.

Prediction: Schmick Lean

11 September 2006

Profile: 28th House district GOP primary

This primary should not be happening, but since GOP leaders seem content to run chronic loser Bob Lawrence yet again for the other seat, Republicans will have to choose between two solid candidates to face Democrat Troy Kelley in this open seat being vacated by Rep. Gigi Talcott [R]. In my opinion, either choice will have the upper hand in the general election. The candidates here are Tacoma lawyer Don Anderson and University Place Councilman Stan Flemming, a former Democratic representative wiped out in the 1994 GOP tide.

I think Flemming will pull off a narrow victory in spite of his late entry compared to Anderson. His experience in municipal office will likely be foremost in voters' minds rather than that he was elected as a Democrat close to 15 years ago. Name recognition will be key if Flemming is to win this primary.

Prediction: Flemming Lean

10 September 2006

Last two local profiles

Due to an extra-long nap yesterday I missed posting on the Thurston County Treasurer Democratic primary, so today I'll do profiles on both it and the regularly-scheduled Spokane County Sheriff Republican primary.

First, we have a matchup of two Democratic ladies who, by looking at the names alone, could be mistaken for Democratic men. Incumbent Thurston County Treasurer Robin Hunt is running for another term, but first she must defeat Shawn Myers, who has had success fundraising for this relatively minor local office. To this point, Hunt has raised about $17,000 with $2,500 on hand, and Myers has raised about $14,000 with $2,600 on hand (sans a $1,500 outstanding debt).

My guess is that Hunt will still win by a good margin due to her incumbency, party support, and lack of scandal (to my knowledge). However, Myers' money should at least keep her in the running.

Prediction: Hunt Solid

Secondly, and perhaps I'm biased with my Spokane roots, but of the local races this year I think this sheriff's race may be the most entertaining. The seat was vacated by Mark Sterk earlier this year, and his protégé, Spokane Valley police chief Cal Walker, immediately declared his intent to run -- and in-turn sought the appointment after Sterk left. Meanwhile, fellow GOPer Ozzie Knezovich entered the race with zero fanfare, until the three county commissioners chose him for the appointment over Walker. The two have since been in a fight for the GOP nomination, and likely the office.

Knezovich has mounted a strong grassroots campaign while Walker is supported by most regional GOP politicians. Walker also has raised more cash ($100,000 to $70,000), though both are monumental monetary figures for a local office. The cash is key, and the main reason I'm giving Walker the edge here.

Prediction: Walker Lean

08 September 2006

Profile: Spokane County Assessor - GOP

In response to my surprise at Brad Stark's coming-out as a Republican (or "Spokane Democrats' best Republican friend"), I felt obligated to cover his primary challenge for Spokane County Assessor. He is primarying GOP incumbent Ralph Baker, who was appointed and retained unopposed in a 2005 special election. Generally, a Republican primary in Spokane County would be an ideological battle if between a centrist like Stark and a conservative like Baker -- and the conservative would probably win. However, given that this office is pretty behind the scenes and that I have gathered from Spokanite acquaintances that Baker has performed the position poorly, I think Stark has a good shot here. His name recognition from the City Council certainly won't hurt, and in his short time in the race he's dominated the fundraising game.

Prediction: Stark Lean

07 September 2006

Primary highlight schedule, first installment

Between today and September 19, the night of the primary election, I intend each day to highlight and predict outcomes on a different primary election on the ballot. Considering the saddening lack of competitive races, the bar is pretty low to begin with, but we do have a handful of good matchups across the state this year. Below is the tentative schedule, and at some point along the line I hope to have time to look over our three Supreme Court races as well.

9/7 - Kitsap County Sheriff, Democrats
9/8 - Spokane County Assessor, Republicans
9/9 - Thurston County Treasurer, Democrats
9/10 - Spokane County Sheriff, Republicans
9/11 - 28th District House, Republicans
9/12 - 9th District House, Republicans
9/13 - 44th District Senate, Democrats
9/14 - 14th District House, Republicans
9/15 - 35th District Senate, Democrats
9/16 - 26th District Senate, Republicans
9/17 - 47th District Senate, Democrats
9/18 - 43rd District House, Democrats

In the first of the series of primary matchup profiles, we look at a local race to the west. Incumbent Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer [D] is running for reelection and is being challenged by Jim Rye, a sheriff's deputy from Bremerton. Rye has proven a credible challenger due to strong fundraising for a local office (has outraised the incumbent and has more on-hand), and has received the endorsement of the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs. Boyer is supported by the bulk of the Kitsap Democratic establishment, led by US Rep. Norm Dicks. He also has been endorsed by a few Republicans, as well. My guess is that Rye puts up a decent number, but Boyer will be retained.

Prediction: Boyer Lean

Prediction spreadsheet update

The spreadsheet links at the right have been updated and are ready for download. This will probably be the last update before the primary, but depending on circumstance that could change.

The only switch this month was the 6th district Senate seat being changed to a Democratic lean. As hesitant as I am about underestimating Brad Benson, Marr is defeating him too soundly and consistently in fundraising for me to continue to predict a Benson victory, gunshy or not.

06 September 2006

Template change

Though I had meant to have done it much sooner, I was able (with aid) to change the template background on here from the lame Blogger template to something more unique. Kept with the green theme and the same layout, but much more visually-pleasing.

Another Reichert-Burner poll

Click the link above and then hit the WA-08 circle on the map for detailed information. The poll was done by RT Strategies and shows Burner leading 49-46. Considering that I've never heard of the pollster and the results stand in stark contrast to last month's SurveyUSA poll, I'll believe these results when I see better proof. Still, a reason for Eastside Democrats to look up. One part of the demographic breakdown gets me -- Reichert losing rural Pierce? That's what won it for him in 2004!

05 September 2006

Murray endorses Jamie Pedersen, nomination assured?

Sen.-in-waiting Ed Murray has apparently changed his mind on staying neutral in the Democratic primary to replace him in the House and has endorsed gay rights attorney Jamie Pedersen, The Stranger reports. As one might guess, the Supreme Court's dumbassed DOMA ruling led him to support Pedersen among the six pro-gay rights Democrats pursuing the seat.

The question is, will this endorsement be a deciding factor for Pedersen in the primary? I had been predicting a slight Pedersen victory since the onset due to his consistently dominant fundraising efforts, but this might just be enough to put him over the top. Hell, he might only need 25% to win. Perhaps if Jim Street can grab the Times endorsement to add to his P-I endorsement he can take a stab at the win, but it will be even more difficult for any of the others to win after this.

02 September 2006

McGavick gaffe blows up in face

I did not care one iota about US Senate candidate Mike McGavick's admission to a 1993 drunk driving arrest, and took all the Democratic potshots at him in the aftermath to be a cheap and pointless attack. However, as reports surface that McGavick's supposedly forthcoming story about that night were sugarcoated, this could and should become a real scandal. Larry Sabato, perhaps the nation's foremost elections analyst, was quoted in today's P-I as saying:

"If you're going to go the confession route in politics, make sure it's a full and accurate confession...Otherwise, you're defeating your own purpose and you're going to create a second spate of worse stories, which is exactly what (McGavick) has done."

Sabato is 100% correct. Barring any unforseen gaffes, Maria Cantwell should not have to worry about not being reelected anymore.

01 September 2006

Primary endorsements from The Stranger

Yeah, they aren't as funny or extensive as usual (not surprising given the lack of contentious primaries this year), but still notable for their 43rd district endorsement of Stephanie Pure. An excerpt:

Pure, who's focused on density and smart growth, is most in line with the SECB (and her district) on a wide range of issues. She supports public financing of campaigns; she says full marriage equality, not just civil unions, is her goal; and, saying the city's commitment to meeting Kyoto standards "seem[s] to stop short when we talk about the viaduct," she supports the surface/transit alternative for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. (Pure's opponents all support the mayor's unaffordable, environmentally unsustainable $4 billion tunnel.) And Pure was the only candidate of the three to mention education and reproductive rights among her top priorities.

Other finalists who lost out to Pure were Jamie Pedersen and Jim Street. Elsewhere, the Stranger Election Control Board endorsed incumbent Supreme Court Justices Susan Owens and Tom Chambers, along with a half-assed lesser-of-two-evils endorsement of Gerry Alexander. I, for one, would feel even better wasting a vote on a write-in than give it to either him or John Groen.