In the leed sentance of an emale to suporters today, Tim Eyeman wrote:
Sims’ defeat sends an unamiguous, undeniable message
You cant get much mor amiguous then that.
One of the more interesting races on Tuesday was the 36th Legislative District Democratic primary between Rep. Helen Sommers and challenger Alice Woldt. From my perspective, they were both good candidates, but what made this race curious was the enormous — possibly record — amount of money spent in a state house primary.
Legislative primaries are usually low-key affairs, especially since incumbents rarely draw strong challengers. Many incumbents spend less than $20,000. But total spending on this primary could exceed a whopping $400,000, much of it coming from a disgruntled Services Employees International Union, who unsuccessfully targeted Rep. Sommers after her Budget Committee failed to give home health care workers the raise the wanted (and to be fair, deserved.)
Writing in the Seattle Times about Rep. Sommers’ narrow victory, Joni Balter says the union sent a strong message to the Legislature:
The Service Employees International Union sent a message to every legislator in the state. When the tough guys at SEIU come and ask you to jump, the correct response is not “I will think about it” or “I have a budget to balance.” If you would rather not be ground to a pulp next election, the right answer is “How high, sir?”
Joni is one of Seattle’s more thoughtful and evenhanded political commentators, but I think she got this one wrong. That was the message the SEIU intended to send to legislators. The message they really sent was: “Oh my God are we pathetically ineffectual, or what?”
Union “tough guys”? I’ve lived in Philadelphia and New York, cities with unions that make the local SEIU look about as tough as the Seattle Men’s Choir. You want to influence a legislator? You make them an offer they can’t refuse. You want to threaten them? You better back it up, and make sure that, come election day, their political career is sleeping with the fishes.
My regular readers will not be surprised to learn that I generally sympathize with labor on a broad range of issues, and I’m forever grateful for the money they spend fighting the good fight. But it is so disheartening to watch narrow special interest groups, like the evil-genius Building Industry Association of Washington, dominate public policy, while labor — who should be the most powerful and influential political force in the state — can’t even defeat one little old lady!
Personally, I wouldn’t have targeted Sommers, who to be fair, tends to vote overwhelmingly pro-labor. And pro-environment. And pro-other-things-I-believe-in. The SEIU’s interests might have been better served spending the money on behalf of a handful of close general election races, thus possibly swinging control of the Legislature. Win or lose, they would have earned some gratitude.
But if you’re going to put a hit on a politician you damn well better finish them off.
The SEIU seems to be following the Roman dictate, it’s better to be feared than loved. But a couple more fiascos like this, and they’ll be neither.
Olympia, WA, September 15 — Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed released the results of an “unscientific survey” of 704 voters, finding that 79% oppose the state’s new partisan primary. The state’s popular “blanket primary”, which allowed voters to choose candidates in either party, was recently ruled unconstitutional.
Secretary Reed, an outspoken critic of change, said he was unsurprised by the results after his office received thousands of angry phone calls and emails, apparently demanding the state violate the constitution.
Other results from the survey reveal that 68% of voters oppose paying taxes, while 72% want dramatically higher spending on roads, health care and education. 62% of voters prefer no taxes and higher government spending.
74% of voters support a free lunch, and 82% want to have their cake and eat it too.
Surprisingly, only 34% of those surveyed favor a controversial initiative that would ban death, although support climbs dramatically when the proposed language includes a Monkey’s Paw provision.
When asked for comment, professional initiative panderer Tim Eyman blamed the human condition on King County Executive Ron Sims and his “Cadillac Council”, claiming that the survey represents the “final nail in the coffin of, uh… coffins.”
Representatives of the undertakers lobby were not available for comment.
I made the rounds of a few of the candidates parties last night. I’m not really sure why, as I really don’t know anybody at these affairs. To be honest, while I somehow manage to get my hands on some good insider information, little of it comes directly from political insiders.
Most of my time was spent split between the Sims and Senn parties. I much preferred Senn’s, not as much because they had something to celebrate, but because they had Fat Tire Ale on tap. I found the conversation a little more interesting there too… which may or may not have had something to do with the Fat Tire Ale as well.
Anyway… in case you’re interested in my post election observations, here they are.
Many of our state’s most influential opinion makers have had a stick up their collective butts over the loss of our open primary (yes, I’m looking at you, Seattle Times editorial board.) We heard dire warnings about how voter anger at being asked to (gasp) declare a party in order to vote in a party primary, would lead to a precipitous plunge in voter turnout. In fact, I’d say some editorialists seemed to be promoting voter apathy as a form of patriotic political protest.
Well, despite predictions of record low turnout, voters cast ballots in higher than expected numbers, meeting or exceeding average turnout for similar elections. Oh sure, the ridiculous “Louisiana style” top-two initiative will still pass in November, under the premise that we’d rather have a primary system that sucks over a system that Gary Locke would approve. But if we’re going with a non-partisan runoff, I say let’s save some real bucks and chuck the primary entirely, moving instead to Instant Runoff Voting.
Another interesting point about our one-time experiment with a “partisan primary” (a term that most rational voters would consider redundant), is the fact that over 140,000 more Democratic ballots were cast statewide than Republican.
Oh you’re hearing all sorts of excuses from Republican officials about how this is because they didn’t have as many interesting races (you can thank Chris Vance’s GOPolitburo for that), but the truth is, all extenuating circumstances aside, Democrats have an electoral advantage in statewide races. I base this assertion on the simple fact that Dems tend to win statewide races.
In the 12 years I’ve been voting in Washington, with the exception of their inexplicable lock on the Secretary of State’s office, R’s have won, what… 2 statewide races? (Nitpicker alert: I’m asking, not stating.)
You can’t blame it all on right-wing wacko candidates like Ellen Craswell and John Carlson (hey… I personally like you John, but you’ve got to admit you’re a bit of right-wing wacko.) The fact is, this is a Democratic leaning state, and I just don’t think Dino Rossi’s implied campaign slogan “I’m not as scary as Ellen Craswell and John Carlson” is going to be enough to make a difference come November 2.
Let’s take a look at last nights results from the two highest profile statewide races, Governor and Attorney General. In both races, the Democratic winner out-polled the Republican winner, despite drawing a strong opponent. Hell… in the AG’s race, Democratic runner-up Mark Sidran nearly out-polled GOP nominee Rob McKenna.
With 98% of precincts reporting, total votes for each party in the two races breaks down as follows:
Democrat GOP Attorney General 406,353 251,887 Governor 432,997 287,368
Now I don’t expect the Democrats to win either office by a 20 point margin, but there’s no way the GOP can spin away the inherent Democratic advantage. Add in Gregoire’s and Senn’s advantage in statewide name recognition, and the GOP will need a hefty check from the US Chamber of Commerce to stay competitive.
Well, I can’t tell you how disappointed I am by the results. I had hoped that Ron Sims would be rewarded for the desperately needed political leadership he showed in embracing a bold tax reform proposal, but for many reasons, he just didn’t catch on with Democratic voters.
Tim Eyman is blabbing that this was a referendum on an income tax, but that is load of crap. I bet you if you polled voters in this state, a bare majority might have been aware that Ron Sims even had a tax reform plan, but few could tell you any details.
In the end, Sims finished 35 to 40 points behind Gregoire… exactly where he was before he started focusing on tax reform in May.
The simple fact is, Gregoire was the stronger candidate in this election. She had the party backing, she had the money, she had the statewide name recognition from her years as a popular Attorney General… she was the clear frontrunner from day one. And Sims was also likely a victim of his own tell-it-like-it-is brand of political leadership, where his strong defense of sometimes unpopular issues has polarized the electorate. After all, the fact that Tim Eyman and his ilk so revile Ron, shows just how effective a leader he really is.
I also think that many Democratic voters went with the safe candidate, knowing that closet wacko Dino Rossi will present a tougher challenge than open wackos Craswell and Carlson.
I am more of a believer in Ron Sims than I was before he entered this race, and I am confident he will remain an ardent support of tax reform.
The biggest question posed by Deborah Senn’s relatively comfortable victory over Mark Sidran, is whether the $1.5 million attack ad campaign sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce helped or hurt her. In the ensuing controversy, Sidran was completely knocked out of the news, and I suspect Senn received a substantial sympathy vote.
On the other hand, special interests spend so much money on negative advertising because it works, and I’m sure the attack ads cost Senn more than a few votes.
Was it a wash? Who knows. Sidran did best in areas where he had the greatest name recognition, earning narrow victories or drawing even in King, Snohomish, Pierce and Thurston counties. But Senn trounced Sidran in much of the rest of the state.
The good news is that Washington voters didn’t give the smear campaign’s backers their money’s worth. The bad news is that there is a lot more attack ad money to come.
8th Congressional District
What more do you need to say? Household name candidates Dave Reichert and Dave Ross convincingly won their respective primaries against some strong, but lesser known opponents.
The biggest surprise was how little traction Alex Alban’s paid media campaign bought him. For most of the night it looked like he might come in third behind perennial candidate and incredibly-awful-public-speaker Heidi Behrens-Bennedict.
One interesting side note: while retiring Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn long seemed invincible, her long incumbency may have covered up a quiet shift in the 8th District’s electorate. Ross out-polled Reichert by over 3500 votes, and the combined totals gave the Dems a 35,438 to 29,557 advantage.
The Democrats have a strong shot at winning this seat
Hey Tim… show me that tax revolt!
Tax levies across the state won convincing majorities, although a few failed to meet the ridiculous 60% supermajority requirement. In Seattle, the extremely important Families & Education Levy passed with over 62% of the vote. In Tim Eyman’s home town of Mukilteo, a much needed EMS levy passed with 63% of the vote. (Hope you choke on that extra $0.35/$1000 tax increase, Tim.)
More analysis later…
I’ll blog more on this in the morning, but I just wanted to make one comment on Ron Sims’ disappointing showing against Christine Gregoire, and what it says about his tax reform.
Ron Sims was 35-40 points behind when he announced his tax plan. And at the moment, it looks like he’ll lose by a similar amount.
Don’t let anybody kid you that this was a referendum on tax reform. It was a primary election.
I don’t expect any candidates to be trumpeting their HorsesAss.org endorsement in their TV ads, but for what it’s worth, here they are.
For governor, an overwhelming, unqualified endorsement of Ron Sims. You listen to Dino Rossi and Christine Gregoire speak about what they want to achieve as governor, and it’s hard to disagree with them. And then Ron gets up there and tells you how he’s going to achieve it. What this state has sorely lacked for the last eight years is leadership, and for that quality alone Ron gets my vote.
I can forgive Gregoire for her office’s humorless and selective persecution of my “horse’s ass” initiative last year. What I can’t forgive her for is her timid and dishonest reaction to Ron’s bold tax reform proposal. Gregoire called the Sims’ plan “dead on arrival” and said that “leadership is about getting things done.” In my opinion, that’s not leading, that’s following.
And to all you scaredy-cat big D’s who prefer Sims but are voting for Gregoire because you think she’ll be the stronger candidate against Rossi, I say, you get the candidate you deserve.
Up until last week I wasn’t entirely decided on this one. I like Mark Sidran. He’s smart, funny, competent, experienced… exactly the sort of Republican I could see myself voting for. But in a Democratic primary, the edge goes to Deborah Senn, who is equally competent — if not quite so funny — and, well… a real Democrat.
I’d always been leaning towards Senn because I want an attorney general who is more concerned with defending the rights of citizens than corporations. And the million dollar smear campaign engineered by the GOP and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce (figure it out for yourself) was the clincher.
I’m voting for Senn because I think she’ll make the best attorney general. But I’m also voting for her because I want to give the finger to the powerful business interests who tried to buy this election.
(Oh… and in the unlikely case that a Republican is looking to me for electoral guidance, absolutely go for Mike Vaska. Not only is he incredibly more qualified than Rob McKenna, if he wins the nomination it will be a nice “up your’s” to state Republican Party
dictator chair Chris Vance.)
Seattle Families and Education Levy
The purpose of this levy is to close the achievement gap between different income and racial groups by providing “readiness for school” programs. Things like preschool, health clinics at high schools and middle schools, social workers to help families deal with truancy and other problems.
Let’s not sugar coat it. If you are narrow-minded, short-sighted and mean-spirited enough to vote against this levy, I’m going to go to your house and grab the money out of your wallet myself, you sick, selfish bastard.
Um… that means, vote Yes.
8th Congressional District
In the Democratic primary, the choice is clear: Dave Ross. Or maybe Alex Alben. They are both strong candidates who I trust to make the right decisions in Congress. Fortunately, I don’t vote in the 8th District, so I don’t have to make up my mind. (And I have nothing against Heidi Behrens-Benedict, except her name is too long, and she’s an incredibly awful public speaker.)
If I was voting on the Republican side, Conrad Lee would be my hands down pick. And that my friends is why I don’t mourn the passing of our ridiculous “open primary.”
I say, write in Beavis & Butthead creator “Mike Judge” for every position. Like 99.99% of voters, I am totally unqualified to elect judges, so who am I to endorse any?
That said, under no circumstances are you to vote for BIAW-stooge Jim Johnson for Supreme Court. No, really. If you do fill in the little circle next to his name, your ballot will burst into flames, and you’re likely to get a nasty burn.
So that’s it. My hands are cramping so that’s all the endorsements you’ll see from me tonight. Follow them… don’t follow them… it’s a secret ballot, so what will I know.
Just whatever you do, ignore all the “this isn’t the primary we want” whining and get out there and vote. Unless of course, you plan to vote for that nutcase, Jim Johnson, in which case, I suggest you just stay at home.
The truth is, we’ll probably never know who ponied up the $1.5 million to pay for the attack ads on Democratic AG candidate Deborah Senn. The Voters Education Committee… the US Chamber of Commerce… it’s all just part of a shell game designed to misdirect and confuse.
What you can be sure of is that this wasn’t some plan hatched in D.C. to knock out an AG candidate in Washington state. This was a plot conceived and executed here, by prominent Republicans, who then went looking for the money to finance the scheme.
VEC director Bruce Boram — a longtime GOP consultant — is laughably disingenuous when he claims the ads aren’t political. And the state GOP is equally laughable when they claim they had nothing to do with it, despite the fact that their lawyers, officers, consultants, and major donors have their fingerprints all over it.
I’ll be posting a few endorsements later today. It shouldn’t be hard to guess who I’m endorsing for attorney-general.
The reports are in, and the Voters Education Committee’s sole financial backer turns out to be the United States Chamber of Commerce… to the tune of $1.5 million!
Washington state is losing control of its electoral process. First we have Canadian and Nevadan gambling conglomerates buying Initiative 892 onto the ballot, and now we have a DC based organization secretly spending $1.5 million to influence the Democratic primary for Attorney General.
This is both frightening and sad.
I’ll have more on this later after I do a little research.
Supposedly we’ll know tomorrow who paid for the anti-Senn attack ads, but for now at least, they’re off the air. [Group relents; anti-Senn ad to be pulled]
In response to a law suit filed by the Attorney General at the request of the Public Disclosure Commission, the shadowy Voters Education Committee has agreed to disclose contributions by 5PM Sunday, and has voluntarily pulled the ads off the air. Of course, the ads have already run hundreds of times, and in a close primary race, the damage may already have been done. If Mark Sidran beats Deborah Senn by a few percentage points, the VEC will have been well rewarded for their efforts, whatever fines are eventually levied.
The GOP continues to cynically deny that it has anything to do with the unprecedented $1.2 million smear campaign, but if it walks like an elephant, and it talks like an elephant… it’s an elephant. The VEC is run by prominent Republicans. It is clearly just an arm of the pro-business, GOP-backed United for Washington, whose board is filled with prominent Republicans. And the candidate who gains the most from knocking off the Democratic frontrunner is Republican AG candidate Rob McKenna.
Indeed, of UfW’s 21 directors, at least 18 have contributed to McKenna’s campaign.
I’ll say it again: this is an important race, and the fact that powerful business interests are willing to go to such lengths to influence the outcome, shows you just how important. I hope voters send a message on Tuesday that they won’t tolerate such dishonest and illegal tactics… by electing Deborah Senn.
Hades, September 8 — Richard Butler, the late leader of Aryan Nations, was greeted in Hell by angry mobs protesting his white-supremacist teachings. Butler’s long awaited march through Hades was delayed several times when Satan refused to issue a permit, but proceeded late Wednesday after the racist reverend defiantly died, at age 86.
Furious protesters hurled fire, brimstone and obscenities at the newly damned Butler, who appeared less concerned with his heated reception than with the swastika-tipped pitchfork lodged firmly up his ass.
Chanting slogans like “Evil is Colorblind” and “Hades isn’t Hayden”, the inflamed throng raucously jeered the man whose white-hate preaching led to a string of racist murders and assaults. However some in the crowd were more philosophical about their new neighbor.
One protester smiled bemusedly as the condemned hate-monger burst into flames without being consumed, predicting that in addition to eternal torment, Butler was in for a shock: “Once his skin is flayed from his boney white ass, he’ll learn that his soul is as black as the rest of ours.”
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
The political poop is starting to hit the fan in the wake of the unprecedented $1.2 million GOP smear campaign aimed at defeating Deborah Senn in the Democratic attorney-general primary.
The Public Disclosure Commission met in a special session yesterday after the attack-ads’ sponsor, the Voters Education Committee (VEC) refused to obey state disclosure laws and reveal the source of its funding. At the PDC’s request, the attorney general is asking a court to force the group to disclose its contributors before the Tuesday election.
In response to the PDC ruling and subsequent suit, KING-5 Seattle and KREM-2 Spokane (both owned by the Belos Corp.) have pulled the ads from their TV broadcasts. Unfortunately, none of the other TV stations have been as responsible with the public airwaves.
And today we learn that the VEC’s director, Bruce Boram, has been fired from his role as the political architect of Dave Reichert’s campaign for the vacant 8th district congressional seat. (Sure, Boram says he quit, but political consultants don’t leave paying jobs unless they have to.)
So here’s the question: what the hell is the VEC trying to hide?
When this whole affair started I just assumed it was some wealthy Republican backers playing games with the system, but once they got caught they would obey the state disclosure laws like everybody else. (Well… everybody but Tim Eyman.) I thought the likely culprit was the insurance industry.
But the more the VEC resists revealing its financiers, the more I’m beginning to suspect that there’s something more devious going on here.
The circumstances surrounding the anti-Senn ads have started taking on a life of their own, and unlike the infamous “Swift Boat” ads, the free media is working towards Senn’s favor. Clearly, some very wealthy and powerful special interests want to knock Senn out of the race… proving Senn’s campaign slogan: “Deborah Senn, the people’s Attorney General.”
Responding to a ruling today by the Public Disclosure Commission, KING-5 TV has voluntarily pulled attack ads aimed at Democratic attorney-general candidate Deborah Senn. The ads sponsors have refused to disclose the identity of contributors, as required by law. [PDC calls ads against AG candidate illegal]
Now let’s see if the the other TV stations are as responsible with the public airwaves as KING-5.
It is time for Republican attorney-general candidate Rob McKenna to tell his party to stop its dirty tricks.
A group of well-connected GOP operatives have launched an unprecedented smear campaign against Democratic favorite Deborah Senn in the final days before the primary. While their $1.2 million budget dwarfs that of the candidates, they have refused to meet a Public Disclosure Commission deadline to reveal their financial backers.
McKenna’s campaign vociferously denies any involvement, but nobody has more to gain from knocking the frontrunner out of the race. A two-time insurance commissioner, Senn is the only AG candidate with statewide name recognition, a huge advantage in what is normally a low-profile race.
If McKenna truly has nothing to hide, then his should be the loudest voice demanding full accountability, because absent evidence to the contrary, the faint money trail is starting to point in his direction.
The state Republican Party has its fingerprints all over the Voters Education Committee (VEC), the organization sponsoring the ads, with a party lawyer, a party officer, and a Republican consultant all at the helm. In fact, the VEC is clearly a creation of the pro-business, GOP-backed United for Washington (UfW).
The VEC was incorporated by UfW chairman William Conner, who has donated $44,000 to Republican campaigns in 2004. Its “Director” is UfW Executive Director Bruce Boram, a longtime Republican consultant. And its IRS forms were filed by UfW Associate Director, Valerie Huntsberry, who also serves as Secretary of the King County Republican Party, and an Executive Board member of the WA State GOP.
While it’s no surprise that Republican operatives and moneymen would do what they can to elect a Republican candidate, the UfW is clearly backing McKenna in more than just spirit. Of the twenty-one directors listed on the UfW website, at least eighteen have contributed money to McKenna, either directly or through their respective company or organization.
Rob McKenna may have had nothing to do with the VEC attack ads, but his backers certainly have.
If McKenna wants to prove he has the character to serve as our state’s top attorney, he needs to demand that his UfW sponsors pull the ads and fully comply with the state’s public disclosure laws.