Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa Visits Maryland State Workers

State and local governments across the nation are reeling from declining revenues, and balancing budgets on the backs of employees is certainly not unique to the state of Washington. Our AFSCME affiliate in Maryland released a humorous but also poignant video in response to the state's efforts to cut spending. WFSE members will be able to relate.

-- Dennis

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Governor Budget Proposal Highlights (and Lowlights)

I'm saving any and all editorial or analytical comments for another time. For now, I just want to provide our reader(s) with the nuts and bolts of the Governor's 2009-11 budget proposal. The following is a quick list of cuts by functional area:


- Suspension of career and wage ladder for child care teachers.
- Suspension of the Family, Friends and Neighbors program.
- Elimination of state funds for the Child Care Resource and Referral Network.


- Suspension of 24% of Initiative 728 (the class size reduction measure).
- Reduce levy equalization funding by 33%.
- Suspension of Initiative 732 (salary increases for teachers and K-12 employees).
- Various grant programs and "lower priority programs" are eliminated or reduced.


- Across the board reductions of 13% for four-year institutions and 6% for community and technical colleges.
- Colleges and universities are given the flexibility to determine how to implement the reductions.
- Colleges and universities are given the authority to increase tuition for resident undergraduate students: up to $450/year for research institutions, up to $310/year for TESC and the regional universities, and up to $125/year for community and technical colleges.
- Suspension of Initiative 732 (salary increases for faculty and staff in the community and technical colleges).


- Elimination of supervision for misdemeanants and low-risk felony offenders, and setting community custody sentence lengths at 12 months for most offenders.
- Closure of Naselle Youth Camp (JRA).
- Reduction of funding to expand evidence-based programs in JRA.
- Reduction of chemical dependency treatment funding for adult outpatient and residential services.
- Authorization of early release for elderly and ill offenders.
- Deportation of non-citizen offenders.


- Discontinuation of the Adult Day Health Program.
- Elimination of funding for child welfare pilots.
- Elimination of secure crisis residential centers.
- Reduction of nursing home reimbursement rates.
- Closure of Yakima Valley School (DD institution).
- Reduction of funding for mental health services through local RSNs.
- Elimination of grants to individuals in the GA-U program and in the ADATSA program.
- Increase accountability in the WorkFirst program by streamlining the sanction process and helping parents move to work more quickly.


- Reduction of funding for the Basic Health Plan by 42%.
- Suspend funding of subsidized health care coverage to children whose family incomes are between 250% and 300% of the federal poverty level.
- Eliminate medical coverage for the GA-U program.
- Reduction of rates paid to managed care companies.
- Reduction of rates paid to hospitals.
- Elimination of the universal vaccine program.


- Closure of state fish hatcheries.
- Closure of 13 state parks and one environmental learning center completely, and closing other state parks during winter months.
- Reduction of local watershed management technical and financial assistance.
- Elimination of funding for geologic hazard studies.
- Reduction in funding for water resource management, including processing of water rights permits.


- Closure of the Visitor Center and reduction of several GA services, including those related to real estate and public and historic facilities.
- Reduction of state pass-through funding for Washington Information Network 211 (CTED).
- Suspension of state grants to public broadcasters (CTED).
- Elimination of funding for Dispute Resolution Centers (CTED).
- Reduction of Growth Management Act funding for technical assistance to local governments (CTED).
- Elimination of funding to train National Guard members as firefighters.


- Regional Mobility Grants and Trip Reduction Performance Program funding are redirected to other commute reduction activities.
- Elimination of the Sidney-San Juan Islands ferry route.
- Reduction of ferry service on the Point Defiance-Tahlequah run.


- Funding for all collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the Governor is eliminated.
- Pension funding is reduced by 46.8%.
- The state employee share for health care benefits remains at 12%.

The bottom line is the Governor cuts roughly $3.3 billion from the 2009-11 maintenance level budget, assumes about $1 billion in increased funds from the federal government for economic stimulus (although Congress has yet to pass such a package), fills the rest of the gap with the rainy day fund and other fund transfers.

Stay tuned. We'll try to keep everyone posted as we learn more. -- Dennis

Gregoire's Statement On Salaries

In the Budget & Policy Highlights document for Governor Gregoire's proposed 2009-2011 budget, the following statement appears regarding why she is proposing that our collective bargaining agreement be rejected:

"Specific laws govern the granting of cost-of-living adjustments or raises to teachers, state employees and care workers.

These hardworking individuals provide immeasurably valuable services to the people of our state. They teach our kids, protect us from dangerous offenders, guard against environmental degradation and provide critical social services to our most vulnerable residents. They are well deserving of adjustments to maintain the value of their salaries.

Unfortunately, we had no choice but to put their raises on hold. The cost of these salary increases would be about $678 million over the next two years. We looked hard at whether we could afford these increases during these difficult times, and saw we could not.

Forgoing the raises allowed us to keep classes smaller in our K-12 schools and protect early learning and teachers’ jobs, as well as avoid even deeper cuts to services for our most vulnerable and health care for children and families.

Governor Gregoire has the highest regard for our teachers, state employees and those who serve the most vulnerable. She is hopeful that our economic situation will improve quickly so funding for salary increases becomes available in the state budget."

-- Dennis

Gov. Gregoire Press Conference On 2009-11 Budget Proposal

Quick Notes On the Governor's Budget Proposal

I attending a briefing this morning on elements of the Governor's budget proposal, and I took notes as best as I could.

Overall: None of the collective bargaining agreements -- including WFSE's -- are funded. However, the Governor does retain the funding to keep the employee share for health care benefits at 12%. She proposes suspending several initiatives, including the long term care training initiative that passed in November. Her budget also assumes our state will receive $1 billion in federal economic stimulus funds.

DOC: Community corrections is hit hard. Supervision is eliminated for many offenders, and others will have their supervision reduced. The Governor also cuts offender transition funding and recommends the deportation of criminal illegal aliens. She does maintain enhanced supervision of sex offenders and victims programs.

JRA: There are cuts in community-based programs and the Governor recommends closing Naselle Youth Camp.

Economic Services: The Governor maintains funding for TANF and food stamp eligibility, but proposes eliminating the bulk of the GAU program.

Health Care: The biggest cut is a proposed 42% reduction in the BHP. SCHIP is capped at 250% of federal poverty level, nursing home reimbursements are reduced, and there are a multitude of additional cuts in health care and long term care programs.

Human Services: The Governor's proposal protects contract provider rates, but eliminates all pilot projects related to foster care -- including the WFSE-supported intensive foster home pilot -- cuts prevention services, eliminates the Council on Children & Families, the Family Policy Council, community networks, and crisis residential centers.

In mental health, Medicaid rates are reduced, and there's a 7.5% reduction in nonmedicaid rates.

In developmental disabilities the Governor proposes the closure of Yakima Valley School and also proposes to close all three heated swimming pools in the RHCs. Other DD services are maintained, but there are no new residential slots for nonwaiver clients.

The housing trust fund is cut by 50%, and chemical dependency programs take a significant cut, but the Governor does recommend increased funding for homelessness services and food banks.

Remember: These are just my notes from a briefing. Now we're diving into the budget detail as fast as we can. I'll post more when I know more. -- Dennis

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Partners for Our Children

Here's a link to the 12/5 Senate Human Services & Corrections committee work session. The "Partners for our Children" (POC) Executive Director, Mark Courtney, reports on the division of labor between the public and private sectors in the delivery of child welfare services, using other states as examples.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tis the season to give thanks

This summer and fall have been such a whirl wind here in our lil' ol Leg. department, it has been kind of hard to sit back and gain a bit of perspective.

Today, the day before Thanksgiving (and a 4 day weekend!!!!), the boss (Dennis) is somewhere on a beach in Mexico. Since it is noon here, I am sure he has popped the top on some kind of refreshing beverage.

Diana is at her desk plugging away at a report. She has her bellaluna candle burning, so our crowded little office smells lovely.

April is noshing on some healthy vegetable matter that she religiously brings from home everyday. Yesterday she shared some of her pomegranate with me. On top of being a superstar in the political action department, she is also a heck of a mom and a world class shopper (bet you didn't guess that!)

Alia isn't feeling so good. Like the trooper she is, she is in her office working on health care getting ready to travel to her relatives tomorrow and pick the crust off of her pumpkin pie.

Greg, the head cheese, was even here today, although there is less of him here than usual (perhaps more on that later), dropping off a wreath and taking care of some last minute stuff.

As I sit here and take stock, I would like to report to you, gentle reader that I am incredibly thankful and blessed. Here is my short list of thanks:
1. I am thankful for my family. They allow me to NOT attend the big, crowded Holiday feast at my sisters house and don't cuss me for not showing up.
2. I am thankful for my team. Without getting too sappy, they are the bee's knees. Collectively they are knowledgeable, supportive, non-judgemental (to your face anyway;-) and patient. All are "must have" qualities when you have to deal with the likes of me.
3. I am thankful for our organization. The world of lobbying gets a pretty uncomplimentary rap. WFSE is an organization that works for it's members and does so with values it's members can be proud of. It ain't perfect, but it's heart is in the right place and its' A&$ always follows not far behind.
4. I am thankful for those unnamed supporters who gave me a chance to do this job. You know who you are. I hope that I live up to your continued support and respect in the coming year.
5. Lastly, I am thankful to our activists. Our special members who not only do their jobs for the state, but also do the hard work of representing and forwarding all of our members interests. Thanks to you and your families for supporting you as you log in the many hours that you work for labor.

May you all have a special and blessed Thanksgiving. Then lets get to work on the Legislative session!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm Out Of Here

I'm heading off on a vacation to where the weather is warm. I don't know if anybody else on the team will post to the WFSE Political Blog in my absence, but in any event I'll be back after Thanksgiving. Hopefully, you won't miss me too much while I'm gone. -- Dennis

ADDENDUM: Backseat Driving In the Governor's Race

After the long-winded essay on the Governor's race I wrote yesterday, you might think I'd have exhausted all of my thoughts on the subject. Well, think again, because there are a couple of more points I'd like to make.

> This was a close race right up until the end.

Pollster Stuart Elway argued nobody should have been surprised that Gov. Gregoire won re-election handily, but the fact is this race was very close until the end. All of the publicly released polls, as well what we were hearing from the campaign, showed this race in a virtual tie all summer and into the fall. In September, several polls showed Rossi in a slight lead (although within the margin of error). It wasn't until the last couple of weeks of the campaign that the race started to break Gregoire's way. This is in contrast to four years ago, when the race clearly broke Rossi's way at the end.

> Dino Rossi was a superlative candidate for the Republican Party.

Arguably, even in defeat Rossi performed better than a Republican candidate should have in this state at this time. An old friend and I were discussing the election results and we found ourselves trying to come up with the last time an anti-choice, anti-environment, anti-labor Republican won a top-of-the-ticket election in Washington state. We settled on Slade Gorton in 1996. Rossi's policy positions were out of step with most Washington voters and his campaign did a remarkable job of blurring those distinctions through careful and precise messaging.

This year, there were more than 20,000 people who voted in the Gubernatorial race but didn't vote in the Presidential race (which is the exact opposite of what you would expect), and it looks like almost all of them voted for Rossi. [Note: These weren't Obama/Rossi voters, they were Nobody/Rossi voters.] In fact, Rossi received 150,000 more votes than John McCain, and his strength clearly helped Republicans down the ballot. In a year when Obama and Gregoire were winning decisively, Republicans made gains in the Legislature.

> WFSE members overwhelmingly supported Gregoire.

As part of our internal program, we talked to thousands of members about who they supported for Governor. Although it wasn't a scientific survey, when we asked WFSE members in October who they were voting for, 75% said Gregoire and only 6% said Rossi. Further, WFSE member support was evident by the incredible outpouring of volunteers and assistance we received. Close to 600 WFSE volunteers made 18,000 phone calls and knocked on 16,000 doors over the final month of the campaign. Clearly, you made a difference and you should be proud about what WFSE contributed to the overall effort.

As always, thanks to everyone for the ongoing support.

-- Dennis

Blatant Self-Promotion

We were quite surprised to discover that the little ol' WFSE Political Blog hit the radar screen in Washington DC. The Democratic Governors Association picked up and ran with one of our blog posts, which in turn caught the attention of the AFSCME Greenline Blog.

If this keeps up our readership could hit double-digits!

-- Dennis

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Backseat Driving In the Governor's Race

A lot of people were surprised by Governor Gregoire's decisive win over Dino Rossi on election night. I knew the trends looked favorable at the time but, like everyone else, I was mentally preparing myself for another close contest. In the end, Gregoire won by six points, 53% to 47%, and the race was decided on election night.

The difference from 2004 to 2008 was significant. In 2004 the race was a statistical tie: Gregoire 49% to Rossi 49% (there was a Libertarian on the general election ballot that year). Four years later, Gregoire increased her vote share by 4% and Rossi lost 2% of his vote share.

Pundits have been trying to explain this change in fortunes and various theories have been advanced. There seems to be a consensus around several themes.

> Gregoire benefited from Obama's popularity or perhaps, more importantly, Bush's unpopularity.

Washington state exit polls published by CNN showed that a whopping 73% of the electorate disapproves of how George Bush is handling his job, and Gregoire carried these voters 69-28%. CNN also reported that voters who were "very" worried about the economy (45% of the electorate) gave Gregoire a 63-34% advantage; and voters who disapproved of the war in Iraq (61% of the electorate) gave Gregoire a 76-22% advantage.

Part if this is simply because Washington state is trending more Democratic, and this trend has been obvious for a while. In the October edition of the Elway Report, pollster Stuart Elway wrote "once known as a independent and swing state, Washington has been turning darker blue with each election cycle... Over the last 8 years, the Washington electorate has become more partisan and more Democrat... This year Democrats extended their advantage to 14 points over Republicans..."

Conservative blogger Eric Earling touched on this same theme. "In 2004, Rossi won voters earning $50-75k a year 58-41%. He likewise won voters earning $75-100k by a 50-47% margin," Earling wrote. "This year, those same groups went against him 47-50% and 40-57% respectively. That's a 20% swing in the margin in both income brackets, constituting the heart of the middle class. Those demographics are exactly who has been most adversely affected by declines in the housing market and the savaging of 401(k) accounts. It puts the electoral challenge facing a Republican near the top of the ticket in even clearer focus. And there's not a... thing Rossi could have done about that."

In his post-election analysis, pollster Elway wrote that "a 'blue tide' started to rise in Washington long before Barack Obama got the nomination... Bush was good for Democratic unity, and Obama's candidacy accelerated a trend..."

"Given the blue tide, Rossi understandably tried to downplay his Republican ties, which led to lots of talk about Obama/Rossi voters," continued Elway. "They turned out to be like Sasquatch — a powerful myth, a couple of sightings, but no scientific evidence. Obama/Rossi voters comprised 4 percent of our October sample, but McCain/Gregoire voters comprised 3 percent."

> Gregoire had a winning message.

In a widely distributed post-election memo to supporters, Kelly Evans, Gregoire's campaign manager, wrote "Dino Rossi made it clear in several public forums that he was out of step with Washingtonians on important economic issues. He said he wanted to establish a lower minimum wage, to decrease unemployment benefits and give a tax break to the wealthiest 1 percent of Washingtonians. In these tough economic [times], voters clearly want someone who is going to fight for them and their families... [O]ur state chose a work horse who is a leader with a proven record and a person who shares the values of Washington voters."

Evans isn't alone in saying that Gregoire won the "values" debate. Liberal blogger David Goldstein argued "Gregoire not only ran a better campaign, her winning strategy was exemplified by her much maligned ads attacking Dino Rossi for opposing embryonic stem cell research... In effect, these stem cell ads defined Rossi as too conservative for Washington, along the lines of Ellen Craswell and John Carlson."

"Indeed, this values theme was repeated throughout Gov. Gregoire’s paid media, for example, on the issues of education and children’s health care," Goldstein continued. "Even on the issue of our state’s projected multi-billion dollar revenue shortfall, the Gregoire campaign focused on her pro-children values, emphasizing that Rossi attempted to cut health care for 40,000 children while the Governor expanded the rolls, and that Gregoire had increased spending on education while Rossi’s transportation spending proposal would come at the expense of our schools. Who do you best trust to balance our budget, Gregoire asked, leaving it to voters to choose the candidate who best represented their values."

More important than the stem cell issue was the minimum wage argument. Rossi told a business group he was willing to consider lowering the minimum wage and it became a defining issue in the campaign. In her post-election press conference, as reported in the Seattle Times, Gregoire said she thought the minimum wage issue was a turning point in her re-election campaign. "When [Rossi] started talking about considering lowering the minimum wage, that affected every working man and woman, working family in the state," Gregoire said. "I think that spoke loudly to the differences between Dino and myself... and we began seeing in our own internal polls that there was a change that happened as a result of that." Conservative blogger Earling agreed, saying "...consistent attacks against Rossi on the minimum wage left a mark, dovetailing with bigger concerns about the economy..."

Polling supports the notion that voters perceived Gregoire to be more in line with their own values. "By the end of the campaign, Rossi was seen as conservative by two-thirds of voters," wrote pollster Elway. "Gregoire was seen by voters as moderate to liberal — the place to be in Washington. Gregoire also had an edge among voters who cared most about 'values.'"

The bottom line: According to CNN's exit poll, 41% of the Washington state electorate describes themselves as "moderate," and moderates supported Gregoire 59-37% over Rossi.

> The overwhelming barrage of negative advertising probably hurt Rossi more than it helped.

In her memo, campaign manager Evans stated "Dino Rossi and his friends at the BIAW, Republican Governor’s Association, State Republican Party and Washington Association of Realtors spent an unprecedented amount of money on misleading, negative attacks and it backfired."

This sentiment was echoed by some conservatives. "...[T]he sheer volume of negative attacks by the RGA and the BIAW created a unique problem for Rossi," Earling wrote. "The success of his 2004 campaign was largely a function of his upbeat, forward-thinking message. Many of his campaign's ads in 2008 replicated that theme with skill. Nonetheless, many voters don't differentiate between ads from campaigns and ads from independent entities... The cumulative negativity of anti-Gregoire ads rubbed off on Rossi in public perception, while also creating a more crowded media environment that complicated his campaign's ability to embed their message."

In the ultimate irony, Gregoire actually won with voters who saw all these negative ads. According to pollster Elway, "Gregoire had a 13-point advantage among voters who saw ads from both campaigns."

In spite of all the negativity, voters are generally happy with Gregoire. "...[O]ver the past four years Washington voters have come to know Gov. Gregoire… not as well as they should have, but well enough," liberal blogger Goldstein said. "And as it so happens, it turned out she wasn’t too liberal, she didn’t ignore Eastern Washington, and apart from the gas and estate taxes—both approved overwhelmingly at the polls—Gregoire didn’t raise our taxes." Pollster Elway agreed. "...[V]oters have been generally satisfied the functioning of state government on Gregoire's watch...," he wrote. "Her ratings in June of this year were comparable to Gary Locke's in June of his re-election year."

Rossi and his allies were never able to convince voters that Gregoire was doing a bad job. After polling on the issue a couple of times, Elway concluded "...Gregoire won on likability. Likability was seen as a relative advantage for her over Rossi among persuadable voters in September. Her 'personal characteristics and qualities' were rated higher than his in October."

As Elway concluded, "any election is largely a referendum on the incumbent. Beating an incumbent is almost always difficult. The voters must be dissatisfied with the current office holder and the challenger must win the campaign. Neither of these conditions took place this year."

> The Gregoire and Obama campaigns combined were an overwhelming force on the ground.

Possibly the Gregoire's campaigns greatest tactical asset was the ability to combine forces with the Obama campaign and the state Democratic Party into one huge field program. According to campaign manager Evans, the combined field program "organized more volunteers and talked to more voters than any campaign in modern Washington political history."

"While the 2004 campaign was hindered by a late contested primary," Evans noted, "Gov. Gregoire’s 2008 campaign began working with the state Democratic Party nearly two years ago to prepare for this year. From February through Election Day, the Gregoire campaign also fostered a strong relationship with the Obama campaign. Together, the overall coordinated campaign orchestrated an unprecedented GOTV program. Volunteers operating out of 22 offices across the state made two million phone calls to voters and knocked on almost one million doors since June. 600,000 of these phone calls were in the final three weeks of the campaign."

The Governor also benefited from focused and organized field and member education efforts waged by her coalition partners. According to Evans, the Gregoire campaign "saw the results [of efforts by allies] in our polling. Four weeks before the election, we were losing public school parents by 11 points – two weeks prior, we were winning by a point. Same is true for union households, a move from +12 to +27 in just three weeks."

> In conclusion, maybe none of us should have been surprised by Gregoire's decisive victory.

"Gov. Gregoire’s resounding victory may have caught the media off guard, but you should know that we were confident that our hard work, clear message and extensive field operation would carry the day," campaign manager Evans stated. "In fact, our internal polling had Gov. Gregoire leading by nine points in the final weekend. In both public and private polling, we saw our lead steadily expand beginning about three weeks out from Election Day, right around the time that ballots were mailed and voters started to pay more attention to the race."

Pollster Elway agreed. "The Washington governor's race came to a mercifully quick end this year, leaving pundits and reporters, who had talked all year about what a close race this was, stunned and bewildered," he wrote. "They shouldn't be. It never was going to be a close race."

Of course, every pundit who ever picked up a newspaper has a theory. The good news is that Gregoire won and the election is over. As Gregoire said, the day after the election, "do you know how nice it was to wake up this morning and see no ads?" I think we all agree. -- Dennis

PS: I'll let Seattle P-I editorial cartoonist David Horsey have the final word:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jon Stewart vs. Bill O'Reilly

FOX News blowhard Bill O'Reilly recently appeared on the Daily Show for a battle of wits with host Jon Stewart. Personally, I think Stewart eviscerated him. It just doesn't seem like O'Reilly has much to offer once you get past the slogans. Regardless, it was a fun debate.

The role satire played in the most recent election is significant. This is nothing new of course, but some of the most enduring moments from 2008 will involve the likes of Tina Fey, David Letterman, and Stewart.

Part I of the Stewart/O'Reilly showdown is here:

Part II of the Stewart/O'Reilly showdown is here:

-- Dennis

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We Did It!

On Halloween, Governor Gregoire and First Mike greeted young trick or treaters (including my daughter) at the mansion dressed as Dora the Explorer and Boots. That probably explains why all day Wednesday I had Dora's victory song running through my mind: "We Did It!"

Election night was a wonderful celebration. [Note: Personally, I was doing fine until the tequila shots appeared around midnight.] Barack Obama was elected President and Chris Gregoire was re-elected Governor. And this is a victory we all share.

I want to say a personal thank you to the hundreds of WFSE members who helped out. We couldn't have done it without you.

Our little LPA Department has been working furiously over the past couple of weeks, and everyone's grabbing a short breather right now. Starting next week, we'll start pumping out some new content for the WFSE Political Blog. We'll take a look back at the election results, and over the next few weeks we'll start looking ahead to the upcoming Legislative Session.

In the meantime, for the benefit of our reader(s), here is Barack Obama's inspiring victory speech:

And John McCain's classy concession speech:

Again, thanks to everyone for the ongoing support. -- Dennis

Thursday, October 30, 2008

NEW UPDATE: Gregoire's "Fighting For Working Families" Tour

Additional details about Gov. Gregoire's final campaign tour are now available. Some times/locations have changed.

Friday, Oct. 31 (Olympia)

What: Small business walking tour with candy to hand out
When: Friday, Oct. 31
Governor arrives 3 p.m., departs 4 p.m.
Where: Batdorf & Bronson, 200 Market St NE, Olympia

Saturday, Nov. 1 (Spokane and Pullman)

What: Canvass kickoff
When: Saturday, Nov. 1
Governor arrives 9:30 a.m., departs 10 a.m.
Where: Ferris High School, 3020 E 37th Ave, Spokane

What: Campaign Rally with Young Democrats and Democrats
When: Saturday, Nov. 1
Governor arrives 12:30 p.m., departs 1 p.m.
Where: Glen Terrell Mall, Washington State University, Pullman
(Inclement weather: Compton Student Union Building)

What: Tour of Deaconess Health and Education Center
When: Saturday, Nov. 1
Governor arrives 2:30 p.m., departs 3:30 p.m.
Where: 910 W 5th Ave, Spokane

What: Chili Feed with Spokane County Democrats
When: Saturday, Nov. 1
Governor arrives 4 p.m., departs 5 p.m.
Where: 1427 Dean Avenue, Spokane

Sunday, Nov. 2 (Seattle, Fife, Olympia)

What: GOTV Rally and Canvass Kickoff with Howard Dean, Senator Murray and Congressman Inslee
When: Sunday, Nov. 2
Governor arrives 11:40 a.m., departs 12:30 p.m.
Where: Van Asselt Community Center, 2820 South Myrtle St. Seattle

What: GOTV Rally and Kickoff with Howard Dean and Senator Murray
When: Sunday, Nov. 2
Governor arrives 1 p.m., departs 1:45 p.m.
Where: ILWU Hall, 1306 Alexander Avenue, Fife

What: GOTV Rally and Kickoff with Senator Murray
When: Sunday, Nov. 2
Governor arrives 2:30 p.m., departs 3 p.m.
Where: Olympia Ballroom, 116 Legion Way SE, Olympia

Monday, Nov. 3 (Mt. Vernon, Anacortes, Everett, Seattle, Bellevue)

What: Mt Vernon Downtown visit
When: Monday, Nov. 3
Governor arrives 9:45 a.m., departs 10:30 a.m.
Where: The Lunchbox, 313 Pine Street, Mt. Vernon

What: Anacortes Meet and Greet with Senator Murray
When: Monday, Nov. 3
Governor arrives, 11 a.m. departs 11:30 a.m.
Where: Croatian Center, 801 5th, Anacortes

What: Western Washington University Rally with Senator Murray
When: Monday, Nov. 3
Governor arrives 12:30 p.m., departs 1 p.m.
Where: Performing Arts Center Plaza, WWU
(Inclement weather: Viking Union Multi-Purpose room)

What: Canvass kickoff in Everett with Senator Murray
When: Monday, Nov. 3
Governor arrives 2 p.m., departs 2:20 p.m.
Where: Labor Hall, 2812 Lombard Ave, Everett

What: UW GOTV Rally with Senator Murray and Congressman Inslee
When: Monday, Nov. 3
Governor arrives 3 p.m., departs 3:30 p.m.
Where: HUB, West Ballroom, University of Washington

What: Canvass kickoff with Senator Murray and Congressman Inslee
When: Monday, Nov. 3
Governor arrives 5:45 p.m., departs 6:15 p.m.
Where: TBD

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Endorsements Round-Up


"Gregoire is a woman of depth who has a commitment to solving problems with rational solutions and compromise." [The Olympian, 10/12/08]

"Rossi's campaign advertising faults Gregoire because she's been in government for 39 years. We don't understand why extended public service is a blemish as long as she's performed honorably. In her nearly four decades, Gregoire has served ably more often than not, and if there's ever been a hint of misconduct or scandal in all that time under the magnifying glass, we missed it." [The Spokesman-Review, 10/19/08]

"Gregoire is a known, trustworthy performer. She led state agencies well for years, and has done the same for the whole state. Gregoire has made improvements and smart choices in perhaps every area of major responsibility, many long neglected." [The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 10/13/08]

"Our decision to back Gregoire a second time is simple. She has done a good job leading our state the last four years. We can find no reason to 'fire' her and 'hire' Rossi instead." [The Bellingham Herald, 10/18/08]

"Gregoire has never acted like a governor who just barely won. Agree or disagree with her positions, she has shown consistent leadership and initiative..." [The Skagit Valley Herald, 10/18/08]

"Gregoire has proven to be a strong leader who's not afraid to take on entrenched interests when necessary, and she'll need to keep doing so in what will be a challenging second term. We think she's up to the task." [The Everett Herald, 10/19/08]

"Gregoire is a good negotiator, an innovator, a proven leader and a solid manager. She's a good governor but a terrible campaigner. She's bright, but her personality is not warm and charming. She's an efficient policy wonk running against a slick carnival hawker." [The Olympian, 10/12/08]

"This time... [Gregoire] carries a new weapon: a four-year record as governor by which she is judged. That record reveals Gregoire to be a tough, no-nonsense, hard-working advocate, especially in the areas of public education and health care." [The Columbian, 10/5/08]

"Gov. Chris Gregoire has skillfully balanced economic and environmental needs during the past four years, and has responded effectively to the state's ongoing budget challenges." [The Kitsap Sun, 10/19/08]

"...We’ve been impressed by [Gregoire's] overall performance as governor." [The Tacoma News Tribune, 10/12/08]


"Rossi lacked specifics when talking about how he would tackle the future budget deficit. He promised that as governor, he would 'open up the lid on the agencies' and be able to look inside and find cost savings. But despite repeated questions, Rossi could give no examples of what programs or agencies he would cut in order to balance the budget. We were surprised." [The Bellingham Herald, 10/18/08]

"But [Rossi's] solutions for state government’s challenges, or perceived challenges, are long on hyperbole and short on detail. And his plan for the budget — redirecting money from the general fund to help pay for roads — is, in the absence of detail, borderline alarming." [The Skagit Valley Herald, 10/18/08]

"Rossi refuses to be specific, offering only to go through the budget line-by-line. In other words, voters are going to have to wait until he's in office to find out which state programs are gutted, whether teacher and state employee salary increases will be delayed or if entire state programs will be eliminated." [The Olympian, 10/12/08]

"[Rossi's] avoidance of questions about his social conservatism, his unrealistic transportation ideas and even his unwillingness to be labeled Republican on the ballot all warn there's a lot about how Rossi would govern that most of us... would learn only after he took on the job." [The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 10/13/08]

-- Dennis

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

AFSCME: Dino Rossi Will Take Us Backwards

A new independent expenditure ad sponsored by AFSCME has hit the airwaves. The ad refers to Dino Rossi's harmful record on health care, education and unemployment benefits. If you've missed it, you can watch it here:

AFSCME has been incredibly supportive during this contentious Governor's race. Hopefully our members appreciate the international union's efforts on our behalf. -- Dennis

ABC News: Rossi Trying To Hide From "Republican Party" Label

Our friend Mark Murphy from AFSCME forwarded this video clip from ABC News talking about how Dino Rossi has listed himself as the candidate of the "GOP Party" rather than the "Republican Party" in an effort to distance himself from an unpopular Republican president whose policies Rossi actually embraces.

Rossi's decision to file with the Secretary of State as a "GOP Party" candidate, rather than as a "Republican Party" candidate was no accident. Everything Rossi has done over the past six years in his quest to be elected Governor has been meticulously calculated. Rossi has refused to say anything during his campaign that hasn't been poll-tested and scrubbed, and his choice of party label is no exception.

Independent pollster Stuart Elway, in his September newsletter, noted a stark difference in Rossi's support when the different party labels were used.

"Governor Chris Gregoire leads challenger Dino Rossi by 10 points or by 4 points, depending upon how their party identification is presented.

Washington's new Top Two Primary system requires candidates to list themselves as 'preferring (this or that) party.' That preference also appears on the November ballot. Dino Rossi lists himself has preferring 'the GOP Party.' That may turn out to be a shrewd move.

Rossi trailed Gregoire by 51% to 41% when he is introduced as 'Republican Dino Rossi' and she as 'Democrat Chris Gregoire.' That lead is cut in half (48-44%) when he is 'Dino Rossi, who prefers the GOP party' and she is Chris Gregoire, 'who prefers the Democratic party.'

These difference are not statistically significant, but they are politically significant. A previous Elway Poll (June 08) found that 25% of respondents did not know what 'GOP' referred to. And in a race that was decided by 133 votes 4 years ago, a 6 point differential is anything but trivial." [Stuart Elway, The Elway Report, Sept. 08]

I have been amazed and impressed by Rossi's remarkable discipline when it comes to his campaign message. His views on most public policy issues -- labor, environment, abortion, etc. -- are out of step with most Washington voters. Other candidates with similar philosophies have been resoundingly defeated in statewide elections in the past. Rossi has managed to outperform his philosophical base by making sure he never says anything that is "off message."

Rossi has been skewered by editorial boards across the state for his stubborn refusal to offer substantive answers to questions posed by the public and the press. On the other hand, if he responded to those questions in a manner consistent with his Senate voting record, he wouldn't have a chance to win. -- Dennis

UPDATE: Gregoire "Fighting For Working Families" Tour

We can now fill in some of the gaps in the schedule for Governor Gregoire's "Fighting For Working Families" Tour. The following are the times and locations where Gov. Gregoire will be campaigning over the last week of the election.

Wednesday, Oct. 29

4:15 pm Vancouver Canvass Kickoff
Campaign HQ, 10621 NE Coxley Dr., Vancouver

6:00 pm Rally in Longview
Longshore Hall, 617 14th Ave., Longview

Thursday, Oct. 30

4:15 pm Canvass Kickoff with Gov. Gregoire and Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club
3867 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle

Friday, Oct. 31

2:30 pm to 4:00 pm Handing out Halloween candy after school
Downtown Olympia

Saturday, Nov. 1

9:00 pm Spokane Canvass Kickoff
Ferris High School, 3020 E. 37th Ave., Spokane

11:00 pm Pre-Game Rally with Democrats and Young Democrats
Location TBD

12:00 pm Game Watching with Young Democrats
The Coug, Pullman

4:00 pm Chili Feed with Spokane Democrats
Toad Hall, 1427 Dean Ave., Spokane

Sunday, Nov. 2

11:15 am Seattle GOTV Rally/Canvass Kickoff with Gov. Gregoire, Howard Dean and Sen. Patty Murray
Location TBD

12:30 pm Tacoma GOTV Rally/Canvass Kickoff with Gov. Gregoire, Howard Dean and Sen. Patty Murray
IBEW Hall, 3049 S. 36th, Tacoma

3:30 pm Olympia GOTV Rally/Phone Bank Kickoff with Gov. Gregoire and Sen. Patty Murray
Location TBD

Monday, Nov. 3

10:00 am Downtown Mount Vernon Visit

11:00 am Anacortes Meet and Greet
Location TBD

12:00 noon Bellingham Rally with Gov. Gregoire and Sen. Patty Murray
PAC Plaza, Western WA University, Bellingham

2:45 pm Everett Canvass Kickoff with Gov. Gregoire and Sen. Patty Murray
Labor Temple, Everett

4:00 pm University of Washington GOTV Rally with Gov. Gregoire and Sen. Patty Murray
The HUB, UW, Seattle

5:15 pm Bellevue Canvass Kickoff with Gov. Gregoire and Sen. Patty Murray
Location TBD

Friday, October 24, 2008

Gregoire Announces "Fighting For Working Families" Tour

Governor Gregoire will be touring the state in the final days before the election, and we have just received a copy of the schedule. The Gregoire campaign has announced that the "Governor is launching her Fighting for Working Families Tour this weekend in Tacoma. She will spend every day until election day talking to voters, supporters and working families about how she is going to fight for them."

We'll post additional details about the Governor's schedule as we receive them. Many of the stops along the tour are public events, so feel free to attend and show your support. Don't forget to wear your green t-shirt!

Saturday, Oct. 25

9:00 am Tacoma Canvass Kickoff
Clover Park Technical College, Sharon McGavick Center, 4500 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood

10:00 am Native Vote Rally
Greater Tacoma Convention Center, 1500 Broadway, Tacoma

10:30 am Auburn Canvass Kickoff
Public School Employees Union Building, 602 W. Main, Auburn

12:45 pm Des Moines Canvass Kickoff
22515 Marine View Dr., Des Moines

2:00 pm Burien Downtown Tour

4:00 pm UW Football Game & Tailgate Party with Cong. Norm Dicks

Sunday, Oct. 26

12:30 pm Women For Gregoire Rally & Canvass Kickoff, Bellevue
Guests: Gov. Sebelius & Gov. Napolitano, Bellevue Community College, Carlson Theater, 3000 Landerhold Circle SE, Bellevue

2:30 pm Women For Gregoire Rally & Canvass Kickoff, Lynnwood
Guests: Gov. Sebelius & Gov. Napolitano, Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St SW, Lynnwood

Monday, Oct. 27

12:30 pm Gig Harbor Meet & Greet
Location TBD

2:00 pm Veterans Event, Bremerton
VFW Post 239, 190 S. Dora Ave., Bremerton

3:15 pm Poulsbo Downtown Visit

4:15 pm Bainbridge Island Downtown Visit

5:30 pm Bainbridge Island Ferry to Seattle
Open outreach event

Tuesday, Oct. 28

1:30 pm Bellevue event
Location TBD

3:30 pm Bellevue Office Meet & Greet
555 116th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA

Wednesday, Oct. 29

3:30 pm Vancouver Health Care Visit

4:30 pm Vancouver Office Meet & Greet
10621 NE Coxley Dr., Vancouver

5:30 pm Longview Rally
Location TBD

Thursday, Oct. 30

2:00 pm Seattle Job Site Visit

3:00 pm Seattle Job Site Visit

3:45 pm West Seattle Walking Tour

4:30 pm Seattle Phone Bank Kickoff
Location TBD

Saturday, Nov. 1

9:00 am Spokane Canvass Kickoff
Location TBD

11:15 am Pre-Game Campaign Rally With Young Democrats

12:00 am Game Watching With Young Democrats

2:15 pm Downtown Spokane Visit

4:00 pm BBQ With Spokane Democrats
Location TBD

Sunday, Nov. 2

11:15 pm GOTV Rally/Canvass Kickoff, Seattle
Special guest. Location TBD

12:30 pm GOTV Rally/Canvass Kickoff, Tacoma
Special guest. Location TBD

3:30 pm GOTV Rally/Canvass Kickoff, Olympia
Location TBD

7:00 pm Olympia Low-Donor Fundraiser
Location TBD

Monday, Nov. 3

9:45 am Downtown Mt. Vernon

11:45 am Anacortes Meet & Greet
Location TBD

12:00 noon Bellingham & WWU GOTV Rally
Western Washington University, Red Square, Bellingham

2:15 pm Everett Job Site Visit

3:00 pm Everett Canvass Kickoff
Labor Temple, 2810 Lombard Ave., Everett

4:00 pm UW GOTV Rally
University of Washington, The HUB, Seattle

5:15 pm Bellevue Canvass Kickoff
Location TBD

9:00 pm GOTV Concert
The Showbox, 1426 1st Ave., Seattle

Tuesday, Nov. 4

9:00 am Tacoma GOTV Visits
Location TBD

2:00 pm Everett GOTV Visits
Location TBD

4:00 pm Bellevue GOTV Visits
Location TBD

5:30 pm Seattle GOTV Visits
Location TBD

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Seattle P-I Editorial: "Don't Split Ticket"

Yesterday, the Seattle P-I Editorial Board urged readers to vote for both Barack Obama and Chris Gregoire, arguing that voting for Obama and Dino Rossi "is not a split ticket that would promote effective government." The P-I wrote,

"Rossi is campaigning as an agent of change. Fair enough. But what kind of change?

He'd promote Bush economics -- that simplistic idea that tax cuts solve every problem -- on the state level. Bushonomics didn't work in D.C.; why would it work in Olympia? On the issues of taxes, Obama has been campaigning on the very idea of a progressive income tax. You make more, it's only fair to pay more. Rossi says: 'I will not support a state income tax like Gregoire does -- not now, not ever.' Indeed, if you go down the list of ideas championed by Rossi, they're closer in spirit, ideology and temperament to John McCain. There is a reason they are both Republicans.

The case for an Obama-Gregoire vote is stronger when you consider the benefits to this state from an Obama administration. Chris Gregoire was an early supporter of Obama -- her endorsement came in February -- when the majority of elected Democrats in the state were solidly behind Sen. Hillary Clinton. 'Barack Obama has a unique ability to reach across all the artificial divides and divisions to move our nation forward,' she said at the time, in words that still ring true."

-- Dennis

Monday, October 20, 2008

More Newspapers Endorse Gregoire

According to Brad Shannon at the Olympian, the Seattle Times' decision to, once again, endorse Dino Rossi for Governor "is bucking a trend... Other significant papers that went with Rossi in 2004 have switched, backing Gregoire this time around. These include The News Tribune in Tacoma, the Columbian in Vancouver, and the Spokesman-Review in Spokane — all battlegrounds where Rossi had an edge last time but which are trending more favorably for Gregoire way this time, based on Aug. 19 primary results."

The Bellingham Herald wrote,

"Our decision to back Gregoire a second time is simple. She has done a good job leading our state the last four years. We can find no reason to 'fire' her and 'hire' Rossi instead...

Officials estimate the state could face a $3.2 billion budget deficit between 2009 and 2011, the state's next two-year budget cycle. While Rossi and his supporters have made a lot of political hay about that, we don't see how Gregoire can be blamed.

The state's deficit is a direct result of a slowing economy. It would have happened no matter who was governor...

Rossi lacked specifics when talking about how he would tackle the future budget deficit. He promised that as governor, he would 'open up the lid on the agencies' and be able to look inside and find cost savings. But despite repeated questions, Rossi could give no examples of what programs or agencies he would cut in order to balance the budget. We were surprised.

Not only is Rossi familiar with the state's budget from having written the state Senate version in 2003, but he has been running for governor basically full-time since 2004. After he lost that year's close election, it was obvious that he was planning on challenging Gregoire again this year. In all that time you would think he would have thought of some obvious proposals for state programs that could and should be trimmed.

Gregoire, meanwhile, is right in the middle of her goal of revamping the state government and finding new ways to do things..."

Explaining their decision to support Gregoire this year, after supporting Rossi four years ago, the Spokesman-Review wrote,

"[Gregoire] is a brainy, hands-on governor whose qualities are needed to deal with problems, both foreseen and unforeseeable, that confront any state...

Rossi's campaign advertising faults Gregoire because she's been in government for 39 years. We don't understand why extended public service is a blemish as long as she's performed honorably. In her nearly four decades, Gregoire has served ably more often than not, and if there's ever been a hint of misconduct or scandal in all that time under the magnifying glass, we missed it.

In 2004, we weighed the two candidates and concluded that Rossi was the more promising answer. Having now seen Gregoire in action for four years, we think she has made a convincing case for re-election."

The Skagit Valley Herald wrote,

"Dino Rossi and the state Republican Party have spent the past four years lamenting that he wasn’t elected governor in 2004, and they are planning to change that this year. Rossi has spent much of that time campaigning, directly or indirectly, while Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire ran the state.

If Rossi had spent more of that time actually preparing to be governor instead of wishing to be governor, he might be a more viable challenger. As it is, he’s the same guy with the same message four years later, and that’s not nearly recommendation enough to unseat Gregoire...

Rossi is an energetic campaigner with legislative leadership experience in the budget process. But his solutions for state government’s challenges, or perceived challenges, are long on hyperbole and short on detail. And his plan for the budget — redirecting money from the general fund to help pay for roads — is, in the absence of detail, borderline alarming...

Gregoire has never acted like a governor who just barely won. Agree or disagree with her positions, she has shown consistent leadership and initiative... We think Gregoire has the experience and determination to steer the best course through the next four years."

The Everett Herald, another newspaper that switched from Rossi to Gregoire, wrote,

"Four years ago, when they were vying for an open seat, we endorsed Rossi because of his impressive mediation work balancing the budget in 2003 as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. This time, we have a candidate with a track record in the governor's office, and we think it's a strong one. While we still believe Rossi has much to offer, we endorse Gregoire for re-election...

Gregoire has proven to be a strong leader who's not afraid to take on entrenched interests when necessary, and she'll need to keep doing so in what will be a challenging second term. We think she's up to the task."

Finally, the Kitsap Sun wrote,

"Gov. Chris Gregoire has skillfully balanced economic and environmental needs during the past four years, and has responded effectively to the state's ongoing budget challenges.

Because of her impressive and consistently productive leadership, our editorial board is recommending the re-election of Gregoire..."

Previously I argued there was no way the Seattle Times would endorse Gregoire because the publisher, Frank Blethen, "will be unable to overcome his bias in support of tax cuts for the rich when considering the Governor's race." Sure enough, all three newspapers owned by the Blethen family -- the Seattle Times, the Yakima Herald-Republic, and the Walla Walla Union Bulletin -- have all endorsed Rossi. Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly noted this trend when he commented "the Seattle Times will never forget the guv's backing of the inheritance tax..."

What was disconcerting, however, was that the main argument the Seattle Times used to recommend Rossi is because they want state employees to pay more for health care. I'm not making this up! According to the Seattle Times,

"When [Rossi] says he'll cut spending, you can believe him, because he has done it, and because he represents a constituency that wants it done.

Consider one example: the proportion of health insurance paid by the employee. In the private sector, the employee's share differs, but averages more than a third. At the state, the employee's share is 12 percent.

A few months ago, Gregoire agreed to keep it at 12 percent. She could try to take back this gift, but it would be difficult. For Rossi, it would not be so difficult. He would probably say that in the midst of an economic crisis, it was unfair to save an employee's benefit by raising taxes on other employees who don't have that benefit."

With the exception of the personal agenda belonging to the owner of the Seattle Times Company, there is a common thread to all these endorsements -- Gregoire is seen as effective and strong, while Rossi is seen as vague and evasive. On one hand, I can't think of any specific election that was won or lost based on a newspaper endorsement, on the other hand it is heartening that at least some observers can see Gregoire's substance amid all of Rossi's empty slogans. -- Dennis

Gen. Powell Endorses Obama

I'm sure everyone has heard that Gen. Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for President during an interview with Tom Brokaw on Sunday's "Meet the Press." Powell, who had been Secretary of State under President Bush, told Brokaw, "I have some concerns about the direction the party has taken in recent years... [T]he approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower."

-- Dennis

Friday, October 17, 2008

Obama, McCain Bring Down the House

Flying around the internet today are the video clips of Barack Obama and John McCain at yesterday's Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City. Both candidates make fun of themselves and each other, and they interject a huge dose of humor and class into an otherwise rugged presidential campaign. So, for a Friday afternoon treat, here are the two candidates.

Barack Obama:

John McCain:

Both of these men have gone up in my book. -- Dennis

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Update On Total Contributions In the Governor's Race

I mentioned yesterday that the governor's race had exceeded $30 million in contributions received so far. Andrew Garber of the Seattle Times wrote, "supporters running independent campaigns that back Rossi have raised an additional $8 million this month. Combined with the money Rossi has raised, that puts more than $22 million behind his candidacy." Based on press reports, the breakdown is as follows:

Rossi Campaign: $9.7 million
Building Ind Assn WA: $7.2 million
Republican Gov Assn: $5.5 million
ROSSI TOTAL: $22.4 million

Gregoire Campaign: $10.8 million
Evergreen Progress: $5.1 million
GREGOIRE TOTAL: $15.9 million

Neither total includes spending by the political parties that benefit the gubernatorial candidates, so the actual totals are much higher.

-- Dennis

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In Case You Missed It: Quick Notes From the WA State Campaign Trail

> Governor race to exceed $30 million in spending

Seattle P-I writer Joel Connelly is reporting that "the campaign warchests of Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire and 'GOP Party' challenger Dino Rossi have topped $20 million, with partisan front groups pouring an additional $12 million into the race. The result is Washington's first $30 million-plus governor's race, exemplified by the relentless march of negative ads on the state's TV screens." According to Connelly, Gregoire's campaign has raised $10.8 million, while Rossi's campaign has raised $9.75 million. Another $12 million has been raised by independent committees -- the largest of which is the Building Industry Association of Washington, which has raised $7.25 million, with almost all of their money spent on ads attacking Gregoire.

> Attorney General Rob McKenna studies gas prices, discovers everything is just fine

The Seattle Weekly reports that Republican Rob McKenna, the incumbent Attorney General, has been attacked by his challenger, Democrat John Ladenburg, for conducting a study of gas prices that "was less than thorough in its search for price-fixing, and thus misleadingly exonerated the industry." Ladenburg and his allies believe McKenna never had any intention of contucting a thorough study, instead issuing a limited report that dodged the biggest questions. [Note: WFSE members have voted to endorse Ladenburg for Attorney General.]

> Lands Commissioner race heating up

The biggest timber companies in the state have pooled together to raise $554,000 for a PAC called the "Committee for Balanced Stewardship." According to Connelly, the timber PAC has "the obvious intent of boosting the embattled [Public Lands Commissioner Doug] Sutherland." If the timber industry follows the established model, that half a million dollars will be spent on advertising attacking Sutherland's challenger, Democrat Peter Goldmark. [Note: WFSE members have voted to endorse Goldmark for Commissioner of Public Lands.]

> Always check the label

If you really want to know what's going on with the political advertising you see and hear, you need to check the label. In the Governor's race, there are more ads running that have been paid by independent groups then there are ads paid for by the candidates themselves. The really interesting questions are, "who is paying for this ad," and "why?" Political advertisers are required to disclose who is paying for a given ad, but you have to look quick. If the ad is paid for by a candidate or a party organization, then you know what to expect. But if the ad is paid for by some phony-sounding group you've never heard of, like "ChangePAC," then it's because the sponsors are trying to conceal their identity. [Note: "ChangePAC" is one of the pseudonyms the BIAW is hiding behind this year.]

> Has Darcy Burner pulled into a lead over Dave Reichert?

Incumbent Congressman Dave Reichert (R-8) is facing a difficult rematch with Democratic challenger Darcy Burner. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just released a new poll "that shows Democrat Darcy Burner leading Republican Congressman Dave Reichert by 5 percent. In the initial head-to-head in the race for Washington State's 8th congressional district, Burner leads Reichert 49 to 44 percent." Obviously, the DCCC is biased, so I'm taking this announcement with a grain of salt. The Pindell Report now lists Washington's 8th CD as the 28th most competitive race in the nation, and describes the race as "lean Republican." On the other hand, Congressional Quarterly's latest analysis concludes "the Democratic Party remains on the verge of significant seat gains in both the U.S. Senate and House with three weeks to go before election day." So even if the DCCC is padding, it's clear that Burner has a chance to win. [Note: WFSE members have voted to endorse Darcy Burner for the 8th CD.]

> Supreme Court to decide the fate of I-960

In September, the state Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the constitutionality of Initiative 960. I-960 was the product of professional initiative promoter Tim Eyman, and was adopted by the voters in 2007. Among its provisions is a requirement that a super-majority vote of the Legislature is required to raise taxes. The law has been challenged in a suit brought by Sen. Lisa Brown (D-Spokane). Interested parties are now waiting for the court to make a decision, and we really don't know when that will happen. In the meantime, Sen. Brown wrote a guest editorial that appeared in the Seattle Times outlining the reasons why she believes the court should find I-960 to be unconstitutional. If nothing else, the citizens of the state would be greatly served if the Supreme Court would, once and for all, issue a ruling on whether a super-majority requirement can be imposed on the Legislature without amendmending the state Constitution. At least then everybody would know where they stand.

> Finally, something else that made me laugh

The Public Disclosure Commission recently fined Chris Bowen, a candidate for state Representative, for failing to file any reports. Bowen is challenging Rep. Alex Wood in Spokane's 3rd District. According to Richard Roesler of the Spokesman-Review, Brown "told investigators that he put the reports in the mail and that's all he's required to do. It's not his problem, he said, if the state Public Disclosure Commission didn't get them or lost them... In an e-mail Sept. 19 about the PDC charges, Bowen maintained that there 'have been many times where I have had to give my information multiple times to the PDC, County Elections and many other requiring agencies.' Each time, he said, it got lost." Or maybe the dog ate it. [Note: WFSE members have voted to endorse Wood for House Pos. 1 in the 3rd LD.]

-- Dennis

Young People and Politics - from a younger point of view

It's taken me a while to respond to my fearless leader's blog about young people and politics. I must admit, he got under my skin... Then I ran accros this funny and suprisingly accurate video about young people and a different kind of politics - check it out!

- April

Gerald McEntee's Call To Arms

AFSCME International President Gerald McEntee recorded a short video calling on all union members to do everything we can this election season. The video was shot in a corridor, somewhere in Ohio, and the setting and the lighting are terrible. But the message is excellent.

UPDATE: In one of yesterday's blog posts, I referred to research by the Wall Street Journal that suggested racism could be a factor in the presidential election. CNN is reporting that McEntee addressed the race issue head-on during a recent speech in Ohio.

Speaking at a labor rally in Ohio recently, [McEntee's] frustration about the reluctance, or refusal, of some white union members to support Obama spilled into the open. "When it gets real bad, and they never -- with this one -- look you in the eye, 'Well, I can't vote for him,'" McEntee told the diverse union audience. "This doesn't even come out in code -- it comes out like this: 'I can't vote for him because he is a black man. He's not one of us.' Well, sisters and brothers, when you hear that, you know what you ought to say? This is what I say: 'That is bull----! That is total, absolute bull----!'"

-- Dennis

Monday, October 13, 2008

Obama Tax Plan Saves Money For 95% Of Americans; More Notes From the Presidential Campaign Trail

This past Sunday's Parade Magazine published an easy-to-understand analysis of Barack Obama and John McCain's tax plans. "If your salary is less than $112,000, you'd pay less in taxes under Obama's plan," according to Parade; "if your salary is higher, McCain would cut your taxes more." Under the Obama plan, everyone earning less than $227,000 a year would receive a tax cut, everyone earning more would see a tax increase. On the other hand, McCain continues his dogged adherence to Bush's failed economic policies: his tax cuts primarily benefit the rich but do virtually nothing for the middle class.

It's a free country. People can vote for whomever they like. But can't we all just agree, once and for all, that this "supply-side" economic mumbo-jumbo doesn't work? Haven't we learned anything?

> Obama is expanding his lead over McCain

There are 21 days to go in the election, and all the political trend lines are favoring Obama right now. Even the ultra-conservative Wall Street Journal was forced to concede their own polling shows "independent voters are starting to swing behind Barack Obama and Joe Biden, who continue to benefit from economic turmoil and the public response to their debate performances..."

The WSJ does offer one caution for Obama: racism could be a factor. They reported on focus group participants who said "...they knew people who wouldn't support Obama because he is black." If nothing else, this election will say a lot about how far we've progressed as a nation.

> More encouraging news: Obama's poll numbers might be even better than we realize

A recent report from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center demonstrates a statistical difference in attitudes among people with landline telephones and people with only cell phones. Why is this noteworthy? Because most of the polls we're seeing in the news could be underestimating how much support Obama really has.

According to the Pew report, "Obama's lead was 2 or 3 percentage points smaller when cell users were omitted." The study also found "young cell users preferred Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama over Republican nominee John McCain by 35 percentage points. For young landline users, it was a smaller 13-point Obama edge."

> Why is McCain struggling? Look no farther than the White House

According to USA Today, "a Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday finds only 25% of Americans approve of the way Bush is handling the job of president; 70% disapprove. That's the lowest approval and the highest disapproval of his eight years in office. His approval rating has dropped eight percentage points in a month." USA Today also published a cool, interactive chart that tracks Bush's approval ratings over the course of his presidency, which you can see here.

Others are chiming in about how President Bush is causing significant harm not only to McCain, but also to the Republican Party. reports "former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said the Wall Street bailout plan pushed by President Bush signaled the 'final collapse' of the current administration... 'It is a tragic and very expensive legacy,' Gingrich said. 'No conservative and no Republican should doubt how much it has hurt our cause and our party.'”

> Last, but not least, are a couple more items that caught my eye...

- The Seattle Times recently published a concise overview of the "Keating 5" scandal where John McCain was found guilty of using "poor judgement" in his effort to get federal regulators to back off investigations into the "questionable lending practices and investments" of a savings and loan bank run by Charles Keating, a major McCain benefactor. The ultimate failure of Keating's savings and loan helped trigger a major federal bailout of the entire industry, at taxpayer expense. Sound familiar?

- Finally, I couldn't help but chuckle when I read this report in the Seattle P-I: "US Weekly is reporting that John McCain paid $5,583 to TV makeup artist Tifanie White, who has worked on American Idol. The expense is included in Big Mac's Federal Election Commission filing... [E]ven by John Edwards' standards, a $5,583 makeup job is a lot of cash - especially for the candidate who claims not to be the 'celebrity' in the race." There's nothing more I can add.

-- Dennis

Olympian, News Tribune Endorse Gregoire

Two more major daily newspapers have endorsed the re-election of Chris Gregoire over Dino Rossi. The Olympian and the News Tribune (Tacoma) have joined the Seattle P-I and the Columbian (Vancouver) in urging their readers to vote for the incumbent Governor.

The Olympian wrote:

"Rossi is sharply critical of Gregoire's fiscal stewardship, blaming her for the projected $3.2 billion budget shortfall for the 2009-11 spending cycle.

He promises not to cut education, not to cut programs for vulnerable citizens, not to raise taxes and, in fact, he wants to further deplete the general fund budget by moving money into transportation projects and securing additional dollars for education.

Where's he going to get the money?

Rossi refuses to be specific, offering only to go through the budget line-by-line. In other words, voters are going to have to wait until he's in office to find out which state programs are gutted, whether teacher and state employee salary increases will be delayed or if entire state programs will be eliminated.

That's a huge gamble — a gamble this editorial board is not willing to take...

Gregoire is a good negotiator, an innovator, a proven leader and a solid manager. She's a good governor but a terrible campaigner. She's bright, but her personality is not warm and charming. She's an efficient policy wonk running against a slick carnival hawker.

Gregoire is a woman of depth who has a commitment to solving problems with rational solutions and compromise. That makes her the superior candidate for governor. Rossi cannot match her vision, top-level management experience or commitment to public service."

The News Tribune became the second major daily newspaper so far (along with the Columbian) to endorse Gregoire in 2008 after endorsing Rossi in 2004. Both newspapers cited Gregoire's long list of accomplishments during her first term. "Although we've had some disagreements with her," the News Tribune wrote, "we've been impressed by her overall performance as Governor."

> Seattle P-I endorses Obama for President, too

As with the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has also endorsed Barack Obama over John McCain for President. "Obama is the best candidate for president," the P-I Editorial Board wrote. "He has the vision, patience and fortitude to put America on a track to recovery after an eight-year run of financial irresponsibility, aggressive adventurism abroad and mismanagement, secrecy and dissembling on numerous fronts." The P-I endorsing Obama isn't a surprise -- they have been extremely critical of George W. Bush over the years. But it's still nice.

-- Dennis

UPDATE: Rossi Wants To Lower the Minimum Wage

In another post published last week, I criticized Dino Rossi for saying he was in favor or lowering the minimum wage, citing press reports indicating there were 57,000 full-time workers in Washington state who were earning a maximum of $16,786 a year.

It appears I wasn't the only person who felt pretty strongly about this issue. The Gregoire campaign now has two commercials up and running on this topic. The first one is here:

The second one is here:

Needless to say, I like both of these ads a lot.

-- Dennis

UPDATE: It's Criminal What Dino Rossi Is Saying About Crime

I wrote last week about the irony of Dino Rossi and his surrogates attacking Gov. Gregoire for being "soft on crime" when it was the Rossi budget that released prisoners early and cut community supervision.

Joe Turner, the ever-observant reporter from the News Tribune, made the same point when he noted it was the Rossi/Locke budget in 2003 that "...shortened prison sentences for drug offenders and residential burglars and cut the community supervision (parole officers') budget by having them watch fewer ex-cons."

Obviously, the Gregoire campaign isn't about to concede the public safety issue. The following ad hit the airwaves last week:

-- Dennis

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

P-I, Columbian Endorse Gregoire

Over the past couple of days, two of the largest daily newspapers in the state have released editorials endorsing the re-election of Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The Seattle P-I wrote:
"Rossi was a capable senator and is a capable campaigner. But his avoidance of questions about his social conservatism, his unrealistic transportation ideas and even his unwillingness to be labeled Republican on the ballot all warn there's a lot about how Rossi would govern that most of us, including perhaps the candidate, would learn only after he took on the job.

Gregoire is a known, trustworthy performer. She led state agencies well for years, and has done the same for the whole state. Gregoire has made improvements and smart choices in perhaps every area of major responsibility, many long neglected."

The Columbian wrote:

"Now Democrat Gregoire is engaged in another knock-down, drag-out against the same foe: Republican Dino Rossi. This time, though, she carries a new weapon: a four-year record as governor by which she is judged. That record reveals Gregoire to be a tough, no-nonsense, hard-working advocate, especially in the areas of public education and health care.

Gov. Gregoire has served well, particularly in matters affecting Clark County, and The Columbian today endorses her for reelection. Such was not our recommendation four years ago when we endorsed Rossi in a battle of two candidates who were seasoned politicians, but first-time applicants for the governor’s chair. Now, though, Gregoire is armed with a dossier that shows significant progress."

The Seattle Times will announce its endorsement in the Governor's race on Oct. 19th, although this observer believes there is no chance the Times will endorse Gregoire. The publisher of the Seattle Times, Frank Blethen, has lobbied vigorously and donated money on behalf efforts to repeal the estate tax. Gov. Gregoire led the fight to reinstate the estate tax in our state, with the proceeds dedicated to education. [Note: Washington's estate tax exempts estates valued at less than $2 million, meaning only the wealthiest residents would have to pay.] Meanwhile, Dino Rossi supports a repeal of the estate tax, in spite of the fact that an initiative to repeal the tax was defeated 38-62% when it was on the ballot in 2005. Still, it seems unlikely Blethen will be able to overcome his bias in support of tax cuts for the rich when considering the Governor's race. [Another Note: The Blethen family also owns the Walla Walla Union Bulletin and the Yakima Herald-Republic, so don't expect a lot of objectivity there, either.] -- Dennis

Gov. Gregoire & Gov. Richardson Rally in Spokane Oct. 9th

Join Governor Chris Gregoire with Governor Bill Richardson at a rally in Spokane on Thursday, October 9th, at 1:30 pm. The rally will be held at the Carpenter's Union Hall, 127 E. Augusta Ave. Please consider donating a few hours of leave to support a Governor who has supported us. RSVP to John at or at 509-327-0399. -- Dennis

Gregoire Town Hall In Vancouver On Oct. 13th

Gov. Chris Gregoire will hold a town hall at Clark College in Vancouver on Oct. 13 at 11 a.m., and WFSE members are invited. Tickets are free and given on a first come, first serve basis. RSVP to or by calling 206-382-2008.

According to the Gregoire campaign, "this time was originally scheduled for a televised debate with our Republican opponent to discuss the local issues that are important to you, like economic development, health care and education. But our Republican opponent canceled the debate and decided to attend a fundraiser instead. He would rather pose for $500 photos with big donors
than reaching out to working families and voters in Southwest Washington."

Since the debate won't happen, the Governor has decided to come to Vancouver anyway and meet directly with local residents. Please consider donating a few hours of leave and stopping by to show our support of a Governor who has supported us. Seating is limited, so be sure to RSVP right away. -- Dennis

Monday, October 6, 2008

Rossi Wants To Lower the Minimum Wage

Ever since last week's gubernatorial debate in front of the Association of Washington Business, there has been a huge outcry regarding Dino Rossi's public statement that he favored lowering Washington's minimum wage. Today, reporter Chris McGann of the Seattle P-I, has the story:
"Few lines distinguish the two major party candidates for governor as starkly as Washington's low-water mark for hourly pay, the state minimum wage... Gov. Chris Gregoire, daughter of a single mom who was a short-order cook, a career politician and supporter of labor unions, has vowed to uphold it. Republican challenger Dino Rossi, a self-made millionaire, a businessman who believes in the free market and a limited role of government, supports efforts to reduce it."
It's true that our state's minimum wage is the highest in the nation, thanks to a voter-approved initiative. Today, Washington's minimum wage is $8.07 per hour, or $16,786 per year (if you work 40 hours a week for 52 weeks). According to McGann, almost 57,000 full-time workers in this state earned the minimum wage in 2007. I can't even imagine how hard it would be to get by at that wage, even if you are young and single, let alone if you are a single mom trying to support a family. Stunningly, Rossi, who is wealthier now than he ever has been, thinks that's too much.

Initiative 688, which not only raised the state minimum wage but also indexed the minimum wage to inflation, was approved by a 2-1 margin in 1998. Considering the economic anxiety most working families are feeling these days, the measure would undoubtedly receive even more support if it were on the ballot this year. It just goes to show how out of touch Rossi is with the people who have to struggle to make ends meet. It's no wonder Gregoire just launched a new TV ad on this issue:

The politicians in Washington DC have shown us what happens when the government is controlled by sycophants for the rich. We need to make sure that doesn't happen here. -- Dennis

This Washington leads the way

I don't know about you, gentle reader, but I am always hearing how Washington State is on the cutting edge of so many things that Green business and technology, health care, quality of life, waterproof rain gear, etc., etc... Here is just another example.

I haven't tackled getting my head around this whole bail out bill legislation, but I found a surprise when I was doing some research. It seems the original bill that was the vehicle for the senate version, which eventually was tweaked and passed, was about mental health parity.

In an article I found on, there are specifics about what will be expected with the passing of the bail out bill from insurance providers. In a nut shell:

The terms of the new law apply to businesses that employ 50 or more people and that offer health insurance with mental health coverage. Now, these businesses must offer mental health coverage to the same extent as all other benefits. Most of the requirements take effect a year from now.

You can find the entire story at

Washington had a mental health parity law pass last session. I don't know how it compares to the new federal one, but once again, this Washington is ahead of that Washington. This states bill is yet another bit of evidence that Chris Gregoire protects our vulnerable. If you look at the vote count
It kind of shows that the folks who tend to represent the heart of the republican agenda in the house all voted against it. WWDD (What would Dino Do), do you suppose? I am betting he would have taken the advise of the Washington Association of insurance underwriters, Regents/Blue Shield and Pacific Care, who all opposed it.

TTFN (Ta Ta For Now)


It's Criminal What Dino Rossi Is Saying About Crime

Dino Rossi and his surrogates continue to attack Governor Gregoire for being "soft on crime." The Republican Governors Association recently ran full-page ads in several daily newspapers to that effect, and Rossi has been making these claims on the stump all year. Not only are these ads deliberately untruthful, they represent an obvious attempt to inoculate Rossi against one of his greatest vulnerabilities. After all, it was Dino Rossi, when he was Chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, who led the charge to save money by releasing thousands of felons from supervision.

You don't have to take my word for it. Check the record yourself. The 2003-05 Senate Chair Budget saved more than $40 million by letting prisoners out early and reducing the supervision of felons [see p. 37]. The result? The state simply stopped supervising 14,000 felons after they were released from prison. As any CCO will tell you, these felons represent a risk to society and somebody needs to keep an eye on them. But for Dino Rossi it was more important to enact more than $100 million in new tax cuts for wealthy businesses like Microsoft than to keep our communities safe [see pp. 51-54].

Meanwhile, Gregoire has presided over the lowest crime rate in 14 years. She has created a DNA registry for anyone convicted of a sex crime, required sex offenders to wear electronic ankle monitors, increased sentences for sex offenders, and invested in a new prison to make sure we aren't forced to release criminals early or to send them to private, for-profit prisons in other states.

The truth is, it's Dino Rossi, not Chris Gregoire, who agreed to stop supervising thousands of released felons. Maybe that's why his campaign is making so much noise trying to distort Gregoire's record. He's afraid otherwise voters might notice HIS record. -- Dennis

Friday, October 3, 2008

Jim McIntire Fundraiser in Olympia On Oct. 6th

Support your pension by supporting Jim McIntire (D), the WFSE-endorsed candidate for state Treasurer. Join State Senator Karen Fraser, State Representatives Brendan Williams and Sam Hunt, former State Senator Marc Gaspard, former Speaker of the House Joe King, former State Treasurer Dan Grimm, former State Rep. Jeff Gombosky and Melissa Gombosky, Mark Brown, Dean and Sharon Foster, Denny and Paula Heck, Bev Hermanson, and “The Other” Mike Murphy for a reception in support of Jim's campaign. The party will be at the home of Denny and Paula Heck, 2921 Cloverfield Dr SE, Olympia, WA, 98501. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres prepared by world famous chef Xinh Dwelley. Suggestion Donations: Supporter $35 - Friend $100 -Leader $250 - or whatever you can afford. RSVP to or 253-732-9434.

John Burbank BBQ & Volunteer Day Oct. 18th

John Burbank (D-36), WFSE-endorsed candidate for State Representative, is hosting a BBQ on Oct. 18th to celebrate his "campaign for public service." The BBQ will be preceded by a doorbell blitz in support of Obama, Gregoire, Goldmark and Burbank. The day will start at the Phinney Neighborhood Association (Brick Building in the lower parking lot) from 9:00-11:30 am to collate literature from the 36th District Democrats. From there volunteers and precinct committee officers will go door-to-door to get out the vote for 36th District endorsed Democratic candidates. At 5:30 pm supporters will meet back at Phinney Neighborhood Association (Blue Building Room 7) for the BBQ! Suggested Donation: $25-$50-$100 or free if you volunteer to Get Out The Vote during the day. The address for the Phinney Neighborhood Association is 6532 Phinney Ave. N, Seattle, WA, 98103. Please RSVP to Brittany White at, or 206.406.6661.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Close the Book On Dino Rossi"

Matt just directed me to a new video from SEIU 775 that made me chuckle. See what you think:

-- Dennis