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.