Don’t think of an Elephant

Campaigning as a Republican in a 2-to-1 Democratic district, I suppose Dan Satterberg thought it clever to make non-partisanship the central theme of his campaign for King County Prosecuting Attorney, but I’m thinking he probably should have read his Lakoff first. For the more Satterberg protests that the office should be non-partisan, the more he raises the issue, thus automatically reminding voters that this is, after all, a partisan race between a Republican and a Democrat. Don’t think of an elephant, and all that.

Of course, the other problem with this meme is that it just isn’t true, and before the editorial boards buy into this inviting notion that a politician can somehow be apolitical, I hope they first read their own editorials… such as the following Seattle P-I op-ed editorial from back in December of 2005. (The emphasis is mine.)

Voting Disputes: Maleng turns it up

King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng is right in saying that it’s time for political parties to “lower their voices” over disputed voter registrations. So why raise his own voice on the issue?

Maleng is a respected public official, but he is a partisan politician. The Republican Party has tried to criminalize election issues by alleging that nearly 2,000 voters violated the law by registering at mailboxes and mini-storage units.

Of the roughly 200 of those challenged voters who cast ballots in the Nov. 8 election, the King County Canvassing Board this week rejected the challenges on 141 of them.

Dan Satterberg, Maleng’s chief of staff and one of three members of the Canvassing Board, voted to accept the challenges but was outvoted 2-1 by Elections Director Dean Logan and Democratic County Councilman Dow Constantine.

Maleng says the board took a “strict construction” view, with which he, like Satterberg, disagrees. Maleng wants to push the point by calling for Attorney General Rob McKenna and Secretary of State Sam Reed to issue opinions on the matter.

The state is already on the way to solving many voter registration issues with next year’s use of a statewide voter database.

If the laws or lines of authority are unclear, the fix is legislation, not executive fiat.

Maleng has actually turned the partisan volume not down, but up.

How partisan were Maleng and Satterberg in support of the KCGOP’s bogus voter registration challenges? While they publicly criticized the Democrats on the Canvassing Board for taking a “strict construction” view, it must be noted that the Board’s legal interpretation was actually adopted on the advise of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office itself. In a series of memos and emails to the Canvassing Board, Janine Joly — the Sr. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney assigned by Maleng and Satterberg to advise King County Elections — addressed the legal issues in depth, laying out the grounds for dismissing insufficient challenges:

“The challenger’s failure to allege an actual address either in her challenge form or at the hearing is a fatal flaw and should invalidate the challenge. Any other decision would be contrary to the plain language of the statute even if it appears from the other evidence provided that the challenged voter is not registered at a valid residence address.”

Can you get much more partisan than attacking Democrats for following the legal advice given by the attorney you assigned to advise them in the first place?

Don’t get me wrong, I liked and respected Norm Maleng, and I believe he generally carried out his duties in a professional, fair and nonpartisan manner. But as the P-I editorial makes clear, it is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that Maleng was not a political animal, or that he never used his office to turn up “the partisan volume.” And despite his protestations to high-minded editorialists, this is exactly the partisan legacy that Satterberg promised to continue when speaking to fellow Republicans at a Mercer Island GOTV drive back in August:

“I am a Republican office holder in King County. There aren’t many of us – well, actually there aren’t any of us around. We’ve been lucky enough to have a Republican in the King County Prosecutor’s Office for 60 years, and my fear is that there is a little pressure on me if we lose it that it is going to be 60 more years before we get another one.

[…] You’re going to walk up long driveways and knock on doors and there are going to be dogs barking. I just want to warn you about the dogs — they can be dangerous but I would ask you be polite. This is King County so many of them are registered voters.”

The crowd laughed in approval because, you know… we Democrats, we’re all a bunch of cheats and crooks, and KCRE is just laughably corrupt and incompetent. Yeah, that’s the sort of non-partisanship we can expect from Satterberg, should he be elected.

The fact is, the PAO is a partisan office and always has been, and while Satterberg could have run as a Democrat or an independent, he didn’t. Satterberg chose to run as a Republican because that is the party that best reflects his values — values that will inform his prosecutorial judgment, and values that will guide him to use the prestige and influence of his office to help elect more Republicans. That is the nature of politics.

Dan Satterberg is an elephant, and to suggest otherwise, as Satterberg frequently does, is simply disingenuous.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    All you need to know about the prosecutor’s race is this:

    1. Satterberg is the Republican, Sherman is the Democrat.
    2. Satterberg is an experienced administrator with the prosecutor’s office; Sherman is an experienced trial lawyer with the prosecutor’s office.
    3. In all the 2-1 votes of the King County canvassing board, Satterberg was the “1”.

    In a word, Satterberg has no innate experiential superiority over Sherman, and is a partisan who will reliably do his party’s bidding on election issues. That’s why I can’t vote for Satterberg. We don’t need Ohio’s and Florida’s election problems here in King County, but to avoid those problems, we must keep Republican foxes like Satterberg out of the hen house. Satterberg will never prosecute the likes of Lori Sotelo; and if he is elected, she and GOP operatives like her will be able to operate in King County with a free hand.

  2. 3

    T spews:

    @1 “Sherman is an experienced trial lawyer with the prosecutor’s office.” You’ve got to be kidding me. Upon what do you base that conclusion? In fact, it is just the opposite, which is why so many of the actual experienced trial lawyers in the prosecutors office support Satterberg. Trial lawyers who try murder, rape, violent assaults, and other major crimes are type-A personalities who don’t do well taking instruction from folks like Sherman who have only done one felony rotation in the office.

  3. 4


    T @3,

    And when exactly was the last time Satterberg prosecuted a case? 10 years ago? 15? More? Sherman has spent much of the past four years trying sexual assault and domestic abuse cases, while Satterberg has been honing his skills as a bureaucrat.

    And while we’re at it, how many murder, rape, violent assault or other major crime cases did Maleng try before running for Prosecutor? Um… exactly none. He was appointed head of the Civil Division after three years in private practice. He had zero experience prosecuting violent crimes.

    So let’s compare apples to apples here. Maleng’s professional experience was much more analogous to Sherman’s than it was to Satterbergs. Are you implying Maleng was unqualified to run for Prosecutor?

  4. 5

    whocaresaboutblueorred spews:

    Goldy, you keep bringing up Mr. Satterberg’s role on the canvassing board in a negative light. Yet, you fail to point out your own hypocrisy when in Dec. 2004 in your own blog you wrote:

    “The truth is, the process has been transparent, orderly, and fair… even in those counties with no Democrats on the canvassing boards. And canvassing board members like Dan Satterberg deserve a lot of the credit.”

    So, Goldy, take your own advice and give credit where credit is due.

    With regards to comparing “apples to apples”, it is true that Norm did not have a great deal of trial experience when he rose to the position of King County Prosecuting Attorney. As such, he was much more similar to Mr. Sherman than Mr. Satterberg. The enormous difference between Norm and Mr. Sherman, however, is that Norm never walked around touting himself as an “experienced front-line trial attorney.” The simple TRUTH is that Mr. Sherman is LYING about his experience.

    Throughout this campaign, Mr. Sherman has repeatedly stretched the truth to suit his political needs.

    – He says he has 4 years of experience as a King County Deputy Prosecutor, yet he has only been there 37 months and spent 12 of those later months on leave campaigning for political offices.

    – He first advertised that he has handled “hundreds” of domestic violence, sexual assault, and firearm crimes. When called out on this, he changed it to “dozens”… which in TRUTH is maybe a baker’s dozen.

    – He talks about the deficiencies of the Domestic Violence Unit at the King County Prosecutor’s Office and speaks of all the innovations that he will implement as the new Prosecutor, such as a Serial DV Offender Program and changes to the sentencing laws. What he FAILS to be honest about is that he KNOWS these programs are already in place and that they were championed by the current head of the Domestic Violence Unit, Dan Satterberg, and Norm himself before he passed.

    Mr. Sherman is obviously a great attorney and skillful politician. Simply put, he is fantastic at twisting the truth and bending facts to suit his needs. Let him be the Mayor, the Governor, or President. Just don’t let him be the voice of TRUTH and justice in our county.

  5. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @3 So you’re saying successfully prosecuting woman beaters isn’t important enough work to earn the respect of his fellow prosecutors? Motherbeater Irons would agree with your point of view, but few other people would.

  6. 7

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @5 Just what this board needs — another wingnut posing as a nonpartisan. Or are you one of the same-old, same-old, wingnuts recycling yourself under a new screen name?

  7. 8

    T spews:

    @6 No, that’s not what I said. The very first case a young prosecutor will try is a misdemeanor DUI in district court. It is terrifying, it is important, and it deserves respect. And for someone who’s lost a friend or family member to a drunk driver, I imagine there are few higher callings than the police officers and prosecutors getting drunks off the roads.

    That said, trying that first DUI case does not mean you are in the position to make the judgment calls in a rape trial. Sherman’s work with DV victims (in his ONLY felony rotation) is very important. It still isn’t the same as meeting with the families of Gary Ridgeway’s victims and deciding the deal away the death penalty. Satterberg’s been both places. Sherman hasn’t.

  8. 9


    whocares @5,

    Well, if you’re gonna come here and talk about TRUTH, and then spit back Satterberg’s talking points, it might be somewhat more truthful if, rather than posting pseudonymously, you came clean and admitted that you are in fact a deputy prosecutor commenting from a government computer on government time.

    I wear my bias on my sleeve so that people can read me in context. It’s only fair that you do the same.

  9. 10

    Ricky Ricardo spews:

    #9 — And expanding on the TRUTH and EXPERIENCE meme, where were these wingnut government employed lawyers when a 24 year-old wingnut was put in charge of the economic recovery of Iraq, or when Petraes (a spectacular failure as a trainer of Iraqi troops) was put in charge of the entire OCCUPATION (not war)? What about Brownie and FEMA. What about SKELETOR and Homeland Security. What about your nimnull retard president?

    No. It’s not truth and experience that you care about. It’s about grinding your wingnut ax on government time.

  10. 11

    please pay attention spews:

    Satterberg and Sherman are both well qualified to serve as the County Prosecutor. When one is presented with two good candidates, you must look at who they choose to identify themselves with. Dan Satterberg chooses to align himself with a party that doesn’t believe in a woman’s right to choose. Dan Satterberg chooses to align himself with a party that believes that homosexuals are not entitled to equal rights under the law. Dan Satterberg chooses to align himself with the party of George Bush and Karl Rove. A party that has systematically favored under funding programs to help the less fortunate in favor of tax cuts for the very wealthy. Dan Satterberg chooses to identify with a party that condones the torture of prisoners in defiance of international law.

    Dan Satterberg is not non-partisan. Dan Satterberg is a Republican. He does not share the values of most of King County. Bill Sherman does. Simple as that.

  11. 13


    A small, but real, point, Goldy. In your second paragraph, you’re quoting from a P-I editorial, not an “op-ed”. It’s the newspaper‘s opinion, not that of some outside or syndicated writer.

  12. 14


    The problems with the 2005 King County Canvassing Board were caused by Elections Director Dean Logan, Democratic County Councilman Dow Constantine, and Janine Joly, Sr. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney; Not Norm Maleng

    Mr. Satterberg is a better selection than Mr. Sherman for prosecuting attorney

  13. 15

    Ricky Ricardo spews:

    #14 — Who hacked the voting machines in Snohomish County to favor Republicans? There’s still a case pending concerning that one.

    I never hear people like you getting too exercised about that.


  14. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @8 So are you saying if we elect Satterberg we’ll get someone who will deal away the death penalty in exchange for the location of the bodies where the defendant murdered 48 people?

  15. 17

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    P.S., that’s probably not a real good example, because a lot of people disagree with Maleng’s decision in that case. Yeah, closure for the families is great, but at what price to society? Remember, these murders weren’t just crimes against the victim and their families; first and foremost, they were offenses against our society, and under our legal system, societal interests trump personal interests.

    For example, in a ruling today, the SCOTUS decided an innocent German man who was kidnapped and tortured by CIA agents who mistakenly believed he was connected with the 9/11 hijackers can’t sue the CIA because of the “state secrets” doctrine. Here, the court said, the necessity of protecting U.S. intelligence gathering operations from disclosures that might aid our enemies takes precedence over the wronged victim’s private claims. So, the innocent victim of the CIA’s bungling criminal behavior has to eat shit.

    Our legal system supplants and replaces private revenge, and by implication, private satisfaction. Finding the bodies and emotional closure unquestionably is very important to the families, but executing a serial killer may be even more important to society.

    For one thing, the deal with Ridgeway sends a message to all other serial killers: Victim bodies are bargaining chips that can be traded to prosecutors in exchange for a life sentnce.

    A prosecutor with backbone would not have made this deal. He would not have given killers this incentive to bargain. He would have taken the heat from the families and told them, “We have to execute this guy, no matter what it costs, because society can’t afford to cut deals with mass murderers.” And then stood by that decision.

    What you are telling us is that Satterberg draws inspiration from the prosecutor who allowed America’s worst serial killer to trade his victims’ bodies for his life. What you are promising us is more of the same kind of leadership in the prosecutor’s office if Satterberg is elected.

    I can’t imagine a more ringing endorsement of Bill Sherman.

  16. 18

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    P.S. 2 — Another problem with Maleng’s and Satterberg’s way of thinking is that defense attorneys are now using the Ridgeway deal to challenge the death penalty in every capital case in our state! Their argument is that if the state doesn’t execute the Green River Killer, who murdered 48 women, then the death penalty is disproportion punishment for defendants who killed only 2, 3, 4, or 6, people. It remains to be seen whether this argument will get any traction, but the Ridgeway deal has potentially jeopardized every other death penalty conviction and future prosecution in our state.

    I don’t understand why a Satterberg supporter would be touting that kind of judgment as leadership worthy of being entrusted with the state’s most important prosecutor’s office.

  17. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    If they ever put Ridgeway in the general prison population maybe he’ll manage to add to his score.

  18. 21

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @14 Just what this blog doesn’t need — another lying wingnut pretending to be a “KC Dem.” But it’s no surprise to me that all the wingnuts are now calling themselves “Democrats” — if I was a Republican, I wouldn’t want anyone to know it, either! The GOP brand name is in disrepute these days. So all the wingnuts are trying to bask in Democratic glory.

  19. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @15 Because he’s a dishonest, creepy, lying, hypocritcial, rightwing partisan fart blower, that’s why.

  20. 23

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @5 Looks like another loafing government employee blogging on the taxpayer’s dime has been caught! Naturally, he’s a Republican. I was a government attorney for 30 years, and I can tell you what the policy was at the agencies I worked for — if I had used my state computer to campaign for a partisan candidate on a political blog, I wouldn’t have remained a government employee for 30 minutes, let alone 30 years.

    Care to tell us your real name, so we can discuss this with your supervisor? … Nope, I didn’t think you would.

  21. 24

    T spews:


    Roger Rabbit: “A prosecutor with backbone would not have made this deal.”

    Bill Sherman: “I believe that Norm Maleng’s decision in that case was probably the right one.”
    That’s a direct quote–1:10 into the third question for Sherman here, under “The Green River Killer.”

  22. 25

    Big Red spews:

    whocaresaboutblueorred @ 5.

    You are a fucking idiot. Can I only assume that you are also running Satterberg’s inept campaign? You e-mail on county time, from a county computer, with your county e-mail. Have you ever heard of hotmail, yahoo, g-mail etc…

    It is not hard to figure out that you feel threatened by Bill. Why not come out and say who you are. Have the balls to say what you really feel and stand behind your comments.

    When Bill wins, you will probably be the first person congratulating him and sucking up to him.


  23. 26

    Sammy spews:

    Big Red @ 25

    Don’t wait up all night for whocaresaboutblueorred’s response. He has to wait until morning so that he can use the office computer.

  24. 27

    T spews:

    @ 17, 18, 19, 20 … Rabbit…hello? I love Don Joe’s comment @31 on the other pro-Sherman thread today: “Around here, we generally prefer an unbiased investigation into the facts over assumptions that are made for the sake of rhetorical convenience.”

  25. 28

    TDOG spews:

    roger rabbit- you appear to drool with delight at the notion of killing Ridgeway. Are you from Texas? Are you Jr’s silent brother?
    To suggest Maleng’s decision lacked backbone reveals your profound ignorance of what that office does, and stands for, and thus what it would take to run it. Do you really think his decision was the “easy” one?? Silly, silly Rabbit, grow up, look past D and R and vote for the man who has done and can do the job because it’s been his life’s work- not the man who thinks it’ll look cool on his resume next time he runs for something. This is not The Hill, this election is not for president. Dan or Bill’s postion on abortion has nothing to do with their ability to run the largest law firm/law enforcement agency in the state. And as much as it pains me to say so: even you, silly rabbit, deserve something more than a stone-stepper. You betray this county if you make this about a letter. From another D for Dan….

  26. 29

    TDOG spews:

    Roger Rabbit: you say:

    “A lot of people disagree with Maleng’s decision in that case”

    Then later:

    “A prosecutor with backbone would not have made this deal”

    Do you even see your own internal inconsistency? Do you really want a Prosecutor without principal who takes the easy road?? Then vote your party on 11/6, and just hope you never have to stand in the shoes of the families of those women.

  27. 30

    whocaresaboutblueorred spews:

    Goldy @9,

    I was not aware that posting “pseudonymously” was disfavored. If this is the case, then my condolences to “Roger Rabbit”, “Tree Hugger”, “Big Red”, and “Artfart”. What were their parents thinking?

    If my bias was not clear, I am voting for Mr. Satterberg. Any questions?

    I am quite impressed, Goldy, at your ability to dodge questions like a truly skilled politician. Have you ever thought of throwing your hat in a race? I am still waiting for a response on how you reconcile your comments about Mr. Satterberg’s job on the canvassing board back in Dec. 2004 with your comments today?

    Big Red @25,

    I take your opening salvo as a compliment. Great way to stimulate constructive discourse. Your family must be very proud of you. Please re-read my post @5 if you are confused about how I “really feel”. Yes, I do stand by my comments. Happy?

    Finally, who am I?

    If I were a prosecutor, then I would be attacked for being a “fucking idiot” who only cares about maintaining the status quo and keeping his/her job.

    If I were the spouse/family/friend of a prosecutor, then I would be a “fucking idiot” lacking all personal judgment succumbing purely to nepotism.

    If I were Jenny Durkan, then I would be a “fucking idiot” labeled the “Great Traitor” despite everything I have done for the Ds in the past and everything I will do for them in the future.

    Hell, I could be Al Gore, and I would be a “fucking idiot” who has turned on his party… oh and by the way really doesn’t believe in global warming.

    The bottom line is that to some of you it simply doesn’t matter. What only matters is that I support Mr. Satterberg. And for that I am a “fucking idiot”… who also used the company computer to bid on an antique lamp on Ebay the other day.

  28. 31

    whocaresaboutblueorred spews:

    One more thing…

    Big Red @25,

    If Mr. Sherman wins, I may not be the first to congratulate him, but yes, I will congratulate him if given the chance and wish him the best… and root for him to prove me wrong.

  29. 32

    TDOG spews:

    Goldy @4, You say: “Maleng’s professional experience was much more analogous to Sherman’s than it was to Satterbergs”

    Even assuming that’s true- which is isn’t, because Dan had Bill’s trial experience even before he was appointed Chief Deputy-

    1) the county was 1/3 the size it is now, and

    2) Bill Sherman is no Norm Maleng.