Friday, August 29, 2008

Another Reason to Celebrate September!

As if sending the kids back to school weren't reason enough...

Here it is, Friday afternoon, and I'm anticipating spending an enjoyable 3 days with my family by doing my ususal internet search for fun weekend activities (don't tell the boss).

And what do I find in my September search? Secretary Sam Reed has just declared September as Voter Registration Month ! That's right Voter Registration has it's very own month! And even better still, Washington is one of only two states that offers the option of online voter registration.

And because September is a perfect month to launch a voter-registration drive - Oct. 4 is the deadline for mail-in and online voter registrations - I thought it would be cool for WFSE to do one, too!

Beginning in September, we'll spend our Tuesday and Thursday evenings canvassing unregistered voters in Tumwater, Olympia, Lacey, Spokane and Pierce County. (More dates and locations are being added.)

So if you drank the Kool-aid ,like Matt Z; or laughed, cried and gave it 2 thumbs up, like Alia G; then join in our effort Keep the Promise of America by volunteering for canvass near you!

How will you make a difference? - April

McCleary Boy goes to the big city

Yours truly had the experience of watching the Obama acceptance speech in Seattle last night with about 500 dyed-in-the-wool supporters. The reason this McCleary boy ventured up to the big city to hear this speech was not exactly clear to me when I went. One reason was that I heard there would be beer there. Generally that is a powerful "Matt attractant" in itself but there was more to the 120 mile round trip than that. I just couldn't give words to it.

It might help to know that I had not taken a big gulp from the Obama Kool-aid bucket yet. I have certainly witnessed the snowballing effect his campaign has taken with people around me from all walks of life. I wanted to like the Kool-aid, but couldn't get there.

I have been an Edwards fan. I liked the message he carried about the worlds richest getting that way on the backs of the every day working stiff. When he was out my philosophy turned to "any blue will do" because ANYBODY would be better than the status quo.

I worried that Obama didn't have the roll-a-dex that any president would need to draw on to bail us out of the mess this nation is in. Even a great player needs a great team and great coaches to pull off the big game. I didn't think Obama had been around enough to have made the connections he would need. I make it a point to talk to as many folks as I can about what they think. My favorites are people who don't pay that much attention to politics and kind of play it by their gut. Virtually everyone I ask agrees that the country is in a world of hurt. Who's fault they think it is varies greatly. There are lots of them that were allot more unsure than I have been about what they were going to do come election time.

As I listened to Barack Obama give his acceptance speech, I watched the hundreds of people in the room nod their heads in agreement, many shed tears as their experience was validated by what Barack was saying. Then I realized that my head was nodding too. As he described the nation and world he saw and the problems we all face, I found myself thinking, "yup, that is exactly how it is" or "bam, he hit that one out of the park". He and his team have negotiated this campaign and this important moment in time masterfully. I found myself very impressed with the grace and dignity with which he communicated what was probably the most important moment in his life. There was no "fear tactics", and very little emphasis on blame for the situation. Rather, a focus on optimism and faith in the hope that what has always made us great will get us through this too. if we focus on the moment instead of getting caught up in distractions we can move forward. I like that message, and when I think about it that approach has always worked for me personally.

After Barack concluded and I was driving home I realized another reason besides the beer that had gotten me up to the big city I would usually avoid like the plague. Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech was given 40 years ago last night. I have always held Dr. Kings words with great reverence. It has always been the most powerful piece of oration I have ever heard, with a message that can still bring a tear to my eye. Barack is being compared to JFK, and Dr. King by the media quite often. I have always thought that that was a bold comparison. I wanted to hear Barack say what he had to say on this symbolic day and bring it on. If he could impress me enough to allow his name in with the likes of Dr. King, then my figurative hat is off to him.

Well readers(both of you;-), I believe he did it. There was a different style, in a different time. And he did that by showing the ultimate respect for Dr. King by not trying to exploit the day. He only vaguely made reference to Dr. King in the speech but, for me, he captured the same elements of goodness, style and faith in the American people that Dr. King did 40 years ago.

The gift that both Obama and Dr.King have is that they were both able to inspire this McCleary boy to get off his semi-large arse and do something. The enemy here is, and has always been, the apathy monster, who tricks folks into not participating and letting others make decisions for them. Barack and Dr. King are facilitators, we, the people are the big (I prefer red) wave of Kool-aid that does something to change the status quo. Stay in the moment, keep moving forward...

Turns out I went up there to drink beer, but ended up drinking the Kool-aid.

I hope you listen to the speech. Alia used her technical prowess to provide a link to it in the entry she did prior to this one. I invite your feedback.

Have a great labor day!
Matt
z

Obama Barack-ed Denver!

In case you missed Obama's historic acceptance speech, or would like to watch it again (and again)...

I laughed, I cried, I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Enjoy!
--Alia

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Second Look At the Primary Election Results

I promised last week I would write about what happened with the Congressional and Legislative races in last week's primary. As always, please keep in mind this is just one guy's opinion.

1. WFSE-endorsed candidates did pretty well.

There were four WFSE-endorsed candidates who lost in the primary:

- Ray Harper (D), 2nd LD House, Pos. 1 [The primary winners are incumbent Jim McCune (R) and challenger JeanMarie Christenson (D)]
- Skip Novakovich (R), 8th LD House, Pos. 1 [The primary winners in this open seat are Brad Klippert (R) and Carol Moser (D)]
- Daryl Daugs (D), 35th LD House, Pos. 2 [The primary winners in this open seat are Fred Finn (D) and Randy Neatherlin (R)]
- Ken Henderson (D), 40th LD Senate [The primary winners in this open seat are Kevin Ranker (D) and Steve Van Luven (R)]

Our Legislative & Political Action Committee discussed these four races and voted to recommend an endorsement for Carol Moser in the 8th LD, and an endorsement for Fred Finn in the 35th LD. The Committee made no recommendation in the other two races. The Executive Board will consider any additional endorsements on Sept. 20th.

The 40th LD Senate contest is a little bit interesting because it was the only race in the state where our members voted for a dual endorsement: Democrat Ken Henderson and Republican Steve Van Luven. Henderson lost out to Ranker in a crowded Democratic primary, but Van Luven advanced easily as the only Republican on the ballot. As a result, Van Luven is now the only WFSE-endorsed candidate in this race.

2. The Reichert-Burner race is the only Congressional election to get excited about.

Out of the nine Congressional districts in the state, the 8th CD is the only one that's even close. While the other eight Congressional incumbents can rest easy, Congressman Dave Reichert (R) is once again facing a fierce challenge from Darcy Burner (D). In the primary, Reichert received 48.5% while Burner received 44.5% of the vote. A four-point margin, in a low-turnout primary, is very close and it seems likely this race will remain one of the top-targeted Congressional campaigns in the nation. [Note: WFSE has endorsed Burner.]

3. Rep. Jim Dunn was resoundingly defeated.

One of the most watched primaries in the state was in the 17th LD in the Vancouver area. Incumbent Rep. Jim Dunn has been hammered with scandal, and even the local GOP voted to endorse Dunn's primary opponent. Apparently, the voters in Clark County agreed, because Dunn received only 18.5% in the primary. In the general election, Democrat Tim Probst will face off against Republican Joseph James. And Dunn becomes the first incumbent to lose in 2008. [Note: WFSE has endorsed Probst in this race.]

4. Not much is happening in the State Senate.

There are 26 (out of 49) Senate seats on the ballot this year, and almost all of them are snoozers. The one big surprise was in the 28th District, where Republican incumbent Mike Carrell is facing a stronger than expected challenge from Democratic challenger Debi Srail. The current results have Carrell with 51.6% and Srail with 48.4%. Carrell has a reputation as a relentless doorbeller who puts up a zillion yard signs. Plus, he had a $153,000 to $45,000 fundraising advantage in the primary. Yet, still Srail came within 2%, making this the hottest Senate race in the state over the next two months.

Ironically, in a year where the Senate Republicans are desparately trying to narrow the Democrats' huge majority, the hottest race is one where the Republicans are on the defensive. The Republicans will need to protect Carrell and try to pull off an upset against incumbent Sen. Marilyn Rasmussen in the 2nd LD. Rasmussen received 50.5% of the vote against two Republicans. The Republicans had hoped to wage a challenge against Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen in the 10th LD, and for the open 40th LD seat, but appear to be facing longer odds in either instance. [Note: WFSE has endorsed Rasmussen, Haugen, and Van Luven. So far we've taken no position in the 28th LD Senate race.]

5. There will be a lot of noise, but in the end there isn't likely to be much change in the balance of power in the House.

State House members serve two-year terms, so all 98 House seats are on the ballot. The Democrats currently have a 63-35 majority in the state House, but the Republicans are still hopeful they can at least narrow that margin this year.

By my count, there are 51 solidly Democratic seats, and another seven seats that lean Democratic. I also count 23 solidly Republican seats, and another eight lean Republican seats. So we'll assume the D's start with 58 seats and the R's start with 31 seats, with another nine seats that could go either way.

The Democratic seats that Republicans have the best shot in are:

- 6th LD House, Pos. 1: Rep. Don Barlow (D) is challenged by Kevin Parker (R).
- 26th LD House, Pos. 1: In a seat that opened up when Democratic Rep. Pat Lantz retired, Jan Angel (R) outpolled Kim Abel (D) in the primary.
- 44th LD House, Pos. 2: Rep. Liz Loomis (D) is challenged by Mike Hope (R).
- 45th LD House, Pos. 1: Rep. Roger Goodman (D) is challenged by former Rep. Toby Nixon (R).
- 47th LD House, Pos. 1: Rep. Geoff Simpson (D) is challenged by Mark Hargrove (R).
[Note: In the above races, WFSE has endorsed Barlow, Abel, Loomis, Goodman and Simpson.]

The Republican seats that Democrats have the best shot in are:

- 5th LD House, Pos. 2: Rep. Glenn Anderson (R) is challenged by David Spring (D).
- 6th LD House, Pos. 2: Rep. John Ahern (R) is challenged by John Driscoll (D).
- 17th LD House, Pos. 1: With Rep. Jim Dunn's loss in the primary, this creates an open seat that should be hotly contested (see above diatribe).
- 25th LD House, Pos. 1: In a seat that opened up when Republican Rep. Joyce McDonald filed for Pierce County Council, Bruce Dammeier (R) outpolled Rob Cerqui (D) in the primary.
[Note: In these races, WFSE has endorsed Driscoll, Probst, and Cerqui. We've taken no position in the Anderson-Spring race.]

6. Wither the write-ins?

There were 27 Legislative seats on the ballot this year where nobody filed to run against the incumbent. However, in three of those instances there were coordinated write-in campaigns to put another candidate on the general election ballot.

A write-in candidate must receive 1% of the total votes cast in the primary, and must finish in the top two among all candidates. If those conditions are met, the write-in candidate appears on the general election ballot. The 1% threshold is a pretty low bar, but so far it's kept "Mickey Mouse" off the ballot. Some actual coordination is required to be a successful write-in candidate.

We won't know for sure until the county auditors certify their election results by Sept. 3rd, but it looks like write-in candidates may have qualified in the following races:

- 12th LD House, Pos. 2: Write-in Courtney Cox (R) is challenging Rep. Mike Armstrong (R).
- 28th LD House, Pos. 2: Write-in Denise McClusky (R) is challenging Rep. Tami Green (D).
- 49th LD Senate: Write-in Tom Langston (R) is challenging Sen. Craig Pridemore (D).
[Note: WFSE has endorsed Armstrong, Green and Pridemore.] [Another note: No, Courtney Cox is not the actress from "Friends."]

7. Intraparty squabbling, brought to you by the new "Top Two Primary."

The new "Top Two Primary" generated a lot of conversation, but didn't really have that big of an impact in the end. There were no statewide or congressional races where the top two vote-getters were from the same party, but there are eight legislative races where that is the case.

- 7th LD House, Pos. 1: Republicans Sue Lani Madsen and Shelly Short are vying for this open seat.
- 8th LD House, Pos. 2: Republican incumbent Larry Haler faces a challenge from Republican Rob Welch.
- 11th LD Senate: Democratic incumbent Margarita Prentice faces a challenge from Democrat Juan Martinez.
- 12th LD House, Pos. 2: Republican incumbent Mike Armstrong faces a challenge from Republican write-in Courtney Cox, assuming Cox qualifies.
- 22nd LD Senate: Democratic incumbent Karen Fraser faces a challenge from Democrat Erik Lee.
- 27th LD House, Pos. 1: Democratic incumbent Dennis Flannigan faces a challenge from Democrat Jessica Smeall.
- 36th LD House, Pos. 1: Democrats John Burbank and Reuven Carlyle are vying for this open seat.
- 46th LD House, Pos. 1: Democrats Gerry Pollet and Scott White are vying for this open seat.
[Note: WFSE has endorsed Haler, Prentice, Armstrong, Fraser, Flannigan, Burbank and White in the above races. We've taken no position on the 7th LD seat.]

Whew! This turned out to be a long article, but that's because there was a lot of ground to cover. If you actually read this entire post, send me an e-mail so I can personally congratulate you for your intestinal fortitude. Unless, of course, you're on the LPA Dept. staff, in which case you are expected to have all of this information committed to memory by Friday. -- Dennis

Be all you can be!

Need a break from your same ol' everyday job? Gotta a jones for politics you never have quite been able to scratch before? Want to do something fun and relevant for a couple of months?

If the answer to any of these questions is "ABSOLUTELY YES", then you should apply for an internship with the LPA dept! It is a great opportunity to get paid to work on political campaigns. You can work right out of your home region and WFSE will pay your salary.

We have already hired 3 interns. The first has already started and is amazing. We really need folks from Thurston, Pierce and Spokane Counties to help represent our many members who live there and help turn out the vote. If this kind of thing isn't for you, but you know someone form whom it is just their cup o' tea, grab them up and get them to fill out the application.

We hope to hear from you soon. Remember, elected officials always have a special place in their hearts for folks who help them get elected. 'Tis the season to foster those kinds of relationships.

Until next time
Matt
z

Monday, August 25, 2008

Reception for Reps. DeBolt & Alexander on Sept. 9

Our good friends Rep. Richard DeBolt and Rep. Gary Alexander are holding a reception in Olympia in support of their campaigns. The two 20th District seat-mates will be tossing around the hors d'oeuvres on Tuesday, September 9th, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm, at Washington Media Services, 407 West Bay Drive SW, Olympia. Richard is the House Republican Leader, and Gary is the Ranking Minority member of the House Appropriations Committee -- two good guys to know. If you're interested in attending, call April at 1-800-562-6002 or drop an e-mail to lpa@wfse.org and we'll take care of the rest.

News Round-Up

> The "Swift Boat Boys" are back

That fun-loving group of super-rich good ol' boys who made themselves famous by funding the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" attack ads against John Kerry four years ago are back, this time with $3 million worth of sleazy ads attacking Barack Obama. Unlike Kerry, Obama is firing right back. Meanwhile, Chris McGann of the Seattle P-I writes that these same guys are also contributing heavily to Dino Rossi's campaign.

> Speaking of independent expenditures...

Little ol' WFSE made the front page of the Seattle P-I. Oh well. Somebody's got to stand up to the BIAW. It might as well be us.

> Current party identification trends favor Democrats

The Pew Research Center For the People & the Press just released a new analysis that demonstrates "the Democratic Party's advantage in party identification remains as large as it has been over the past two decades..." The Pew Research Center is a highly-regarded, nonpartisan organization that has been tracking voter trends for decades, and I have a lot of respect for their work.

> It's been an up-and-down couple of weeks for Rep. Dan Roach

Our good friend, Rep. Dan Roach, had an eventful month. He was in Beijing, where he watched his wife, Melanie, compete in weight-lifting at the Olympics. Then he was welcomed home with an order to repay his campaign fund for improper reimbursements. Still, Melanie's performance was an incredible story. We are all real proud of her (and Dan, too).

> Fun stuff from HorsesAss.org

After reviewing the early primary election returns, David Goldstein brags that "Gregoire has thus far increased her percentage of the vote in 23 of 39 counties..." Goldy also thinks "...Dino Rossi and the Republicans are cheating."

> The hiring freeze is on the move

The Seattle Times reports the Snohomish County Council "...ordered a hiring freeze for all county employees in response to a projected $9 million budget shortfall in 2009." No doubt the Rossi camp will soon issue a press release blaming the county's budget problems on the irresponsible spending by those tax-and-spend liberals that have been running Snohomish County all these years.

> Following up on "Video-Gate"

Lots of people have been having fun with the whole fracas about off-duty Seattle police officers roughing up a Democratic cameraman at a Rossi press conference. (Note: I first commented on the story here, and followed it up with what I thought was a highly amusing rebuttal here.) Since then, Richard Roesler of the Spokesman Review advised candidates that "unless you plan on committing felonies or appearing in blackface, it's probably a good idea to welcome the reporter" to your events. It appears Brad Shannon of the Olympian was barred from attending a Rossi fundraiser in Olympia; and two reporters from the Stranger were kicked out of Terry Bergeson's primary election party, undoubtedly in retaliation for the debacle that occurred when the Stranger made Bergeson try to answer a couple of WASL questions.

> Following up on the House Democrats' fundraising advantage

On Aug. 11, I linked to an article posted on the conservative blog Sound Politics complaining about how the House Democrats have a huge fundraising advantage over the House Republicans. Since then, Chris Mulick of the Tri-City Herald reported "...in the key House races that will determine who gains and who loses seats [House] Republicans figure to be heavily outspent."

> Doesn't anybody in Washington DC care about the middle class?

Yes, that's a rhetorical question. Still, the Washington Post recently reported on a study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund that concludes "a perfect storm of negative economic trends is battering working families across the United States." Of course, we didn't need a study to tell us that.

-- Dennis

Friday, August 22, 2008

A First Look at the Primary Election Results

This morning was the first opportunity I had to really study the primary election returns. Of course, this is all preliminary. There are well over 250,000 ballots that haven't been counted yet, and there are also a handful of ballots still in the mail that haven't been received yet. More than 20 counties are counting today, and the results will be updated by 5:00 pm -- but the counting will continue next week.

Counties have until Sept. 3rd to certify their election results, and then the Secretary of State has until Sept. 9th to put his stamp of approval on the primary results. In the meantime, here are one hack's early impressions.

1. Turn-out was terrible.

As of Thursday night, fewer than 29% of eligible voters had cast ballots in the primary election. Even assuming there are a few overseas or military ballots that haven't been received yet, it's highly unlikely turn-out will exceed 35%. Further, the worst turn-out in the state was in the Democratic stronghold of King County, currently at 23.4%. It's no coincidence that King County is one of only two counties that hasn't converted to voting entirely by mail. I keep a workbook showing election results back to 1996, and the 2008 primary will be the worst turn-out, by far, of any primary where the statewide offices were on the ballot. Maybe voting in August wasn't such a good idea after all.

2. The Governor did OK.

As of Thursday night, Gregoire was leading Rossi by about 3%. That doesn't sound like much, but after digging a layer or two deeper, the trends are encouraging. In the 2004 general election, Gregoire only carried 8 counties and she lost in Pierce and Snohomish counties. In the 2008 primary, Gregoire is carrying 13 counties, including Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap. Further, as of this writing, Gregoire is beating Rossi by more than 25% in King County, and King County accounts for about 1/3 of the uncounted ballots statewide. Finally, according to pollster Stuart Elway, primary voters tend to be older and more conservative than general election voters.

3. The Democrats did very well overall in Legislative races.

I've updated my projections on the number of seats that will be held by both parties in the Senate and the House next year. With the caveat that this is just one guy's opinion, here are my impressions as of today:

- In the Senate, Democrats are likely to have a minimum of 32 seats, with a maximum of 33. Republicans are likely to have a minimum of 16 seats, with a maximum of 17. Democrats currently have a 32-17 majority in the Senate, so my current projection is Republicans will, at best, hold steady.

- In the House, Democrats are likely to have a minimum of 58 seats, with a maximum of 66. Republicans are likely to have a minimum of 32 seats, with a maximum of 40. Democrats currently have a 63-35 majority in the House, so my current projection is Republicans will, at best, gain a couple of seats.

4. Incumbent Public Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland (R) is in trouble.

Sutherland's Democratic challenger, Peter Goldmark, is only 1.7% behind at this time, with a lot of King County votes still outstanding. Terry Bergeson, the incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction, should also be concerned, considering she only received 40.4% against a host of challengers. Incumbent Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) is probably breathing a little easier today, with a 12.8% lead today over challenger John Ladenburg (D). However, that gap should close over the next few days, which, combined with McKenna's polarizing and partisan tenure in office, means this race is likely to remain in play.

5. There won't be any Supreme Court elections on the November ballot.

All three incumbent justices running for re-election this year exceeded 50% of the vote in the primary: Mary Fairhurst, Charles Johnson and Debra Stephens. Candidates for nonpartisan offices that receive a majority in the primary are elected and don't appear on the general election ballot in November.

In other words, because they didn't participate in the August primary, 70% of the registered voters have no voice in the Supreme Court elections.

-- Dennis

PS: I'll comment on specific Congressional and Legislative races next week, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Primary Election Viewer's Guide

Today is the primary election, and die-hard operatives like me will be anxiously awaiting the results. There will be live coverage on TVW starting at 8:00 pm (you can watch on TV or online), and the Secretary of State's web site will also be posting returns.

Political junkies will immediately jump to conclusions, but it's important we temper our enthusiasm. Only a fraction of the ballots will actually be counted tonight, and it may not be until next week that we actually know the outcome in some races. [Note: I will now resist the temptation to go on a rant about county auditors who seemingly only count ballots when they feel like it.]

Probably the single most interesting primary race is the 17th LD House, Pos. 1, contest where incumbent Rep. Jim Dunn (R) is being challenged by Joseph James (R) and Tim Probst (D). Dunn hasn't bothered to campaign at all. He hasn't raised any money, he hasn't knocked on any doors, and he hasn't attended any public forums. The only question is will his name familiarity carry him through the primary, or has James waged a strong enough campaign to knock Dunn off. If Dunn loses, the general election shapes up as a contest between two viable candidates. If Dunn wins, Probst's chances of victory in November improve significantly.

The following is one hack's list of the rest of the more compelling races to watch. [Note: I'm putting an asterisk by the candidates WFSE has endorsed.]

State Treasurer
This is an open seat, and the candidates are Allan Martin (R), *Jim McIntire (D), and ChangMook Sohn (D).

Supreme Court, Pos. 3
This race will be decided in the primary as incumbent *Mary Fairhurst (NP) faces a challenge from Michael Bond (NP).

Supreme Court, Pos. 4
Incumbent *Charles Johnson (NP) faces challenges from James Beecher (NP) and Frank Vulliet (NP). It's possible this race will be decided tonight as well, as neither of Johnson's opponents have waged much of a campaign.

2nd LD Senate
Republicans Randi Becker and Kelly Mainard are both vying to challenge incumbent *Marilyn Rasmussen (D).

2nd LD House, Pos. 1
Three Democrats have filed against incumbent Jim McCune (R): JeanMarie Christenson, Chuck Collins and *Ray Harper.

6th LD House, Pos. 1
Republicans Mel Lindauer and Kevin Parker are waging a heated battle for the right to challenge incumbent *Don Barlow (D).

8th LD House, Pos. 1
Four Republicans and one Democrat are on the ballot for an open seat: Rick Jansons (R), Brad Klippert (R), Carol Moser (D), *Skip Novakovich (R) and Steve Simmons (R).

14th LD House, Pos. 2
Another open seat, another laundry list of candidates: Scott Hess (R), Norm Johnson (R), Bob McLaughlin (R), Aubrey Reeves (R), J.J. Sandlin (R), Al Schweppe (R) and *Vickie Ybarra (D).

16th LD House, Pos. 2
Three Republicans are seeking to oppose incumbent *Bill Grant (D) in the general: Tom Cornell, Bill Jesernig and Terry Nealey.

20th LD Senate
Incumbent *Dan Swecker (R) is opposed by Republicans Neal Kirby and Ted Shannon, as well as Democrat Chuck Bojarski. Reports from the district are that Bojarski isn't really campaigning, although the base Democratic vote is probably enough to carry him through the primary regardless. If not, this could be a hotly contested general election.

35th LD House, Pos. 1
Four candidates have filed for this open seat: Herb Baze (R), *Daryl Daugs (D), Fred Finn (D) and Randy Neatherlin (R).

40th LD Senate
Seven candidates have filed for this open seat, but the only ones who are actively campaigning are *Ken Henderson (D), Kevin Ranker (D) and *Steve Van Luven (R). Van Luven is virtually certain to advance, but Henderson and Ranker have been waging a hard-fought battle for the Democratic nomination, and I have no idea who will prevail. "Salmon Yoga Party" candidate Timothy (Cleaver) Stoddard will, sadly, be eliminated tonight. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

-- Dennis

PS: Write-in candidates have emerged against Sen. Craig Pridemore (D-49) and Rep. Tami Green (D-28), so we'll also be watching to see if either of these WFSE-endorsed incumbents end up with opponents on the general election ballot.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Video-Gate Redux

The internet continues to have a field day over the incident where off-duty Seattle police officers roughed up a Democratic operative with a video camera at a Dino Rossi press conference. By far the most entertaining response was this video, originally posted on HorsesAss.org:

video

Enjoy! -- Dennis

Any one care about pensions?

There was much "harrumphing" throughout the membership in July when our 2% cola took effect because of the the increase in retirement contributions that kicked in at the same time. As everyone knows, this has been a consistent pattern in any hard fought COLA's we have negotiated...Get a COLA-pay a fee. Well friends, here is some good news from the world of Pensions. I am going to quote the Olympian's Adam Wilson's blog report on this, since he is infinitely more Witty than I.

From the Adam Wilson blog dated July 22nd 2008:

"In a short but decisive meeting today, the Pension Funding Council accepted State Actuary Matt Smith's recommended changes to funding the state's retirement systems.

The bottom line for state workers is a lower contribution rate, to 4.61 percent of salary from 5.45 percent.

Behind those simple numbers was a whole lot of crunching of actual data on when state workers retired, how they retired, how long they lived and how much they were paid. The experience study pointed to two assumptions that needed changing: state workers live longer, and their salaries go up more slowly, than expected.

While the longer life spans increase costs, lower salaries decrease it, leaving the Public Employees Retirement System with lower overall rates. The teachers system, however, increases in cost to the workers, to 4.93 percent of salary from 4.26 percent.

Final word on the rates rests with the Legislature when it writes the 09-11 budget next year. The cost to the general fund would be an extra $19.7 million."

Remember, the Legislature still needs to approve this move by including it in the budget. All the more reason for members to call that Legislative Hot Line.

This is my first post. The boss has been doing some "harrumphing" of his own that he is the only one talking to the thousands of you who read this thing. This is my humble attempt to please the tyrant. I will try to drop other tid-bits from the world of pensions and other shinny, sparkly things I run across as time permits.

Remember, Solidarity never made any group weaker!
Matt

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Have We Mentioned That the Primary Election is Tuesday, August 19?

Hopefully you know by now that the date of the state primary election is Tuesday, August 19. That's in four days.

Most voters will cast mail-in ballots, and those ballots must be postmarked no later than Aug. 19 to be valid. So you've only got a couple of days left to get it in the mail if, like me, your ballot is still sitting on your kitchen counter. (Note: You can also drop your ballot off at locations designated by your county auditor.)

King and Pierce are the only counties in the state that still offer traditional polling places for voters who haven't signed up to vote by mail. King County polling sites can be found here. Pierce County polling sites can be found here.

If you live in one of the 37 counties that are voting entirely by mail, and you have not received a ballot, then there is something wrong with your voter registration -- and you'll need to get that fixed if you want your voice to be heard in the general election. The good news is you can register to vote online. You can also check your voter status.

The August primary is brand new, and I believe a lot of voters are going to be caught by surprise. Further complicating everything is that our primary election has changed yet again. This year's model is the "Top Two" primary. And, depending on what happens with ongoing litigation, it could be different again next year. All these changes are going to leave most voters confused. But not you. You're on top of it because you read the WFSE Political Blog!

Political pundits will be pontificating about the meaning of the election returns in the gubernatorial campaign, but the primary is really most important for judicial races (some of which will be decided on Tuesday) and down-ballot offices. It may not be glamorous, but your vote makes a difference to a lot of people.

If you're still looking for information about the candidates, the official WFSE endorsement list is a great place to start. To learn more about the candidates for local judicial seats click on your county at VotingforJudges.org. And, some local county auditors publish their own primary election voter guides.

As far as the speculation on the governor's race goes, the Rossi camp has already issued a memo to the press explaining why they think Dino will do poorly next Tuesday. Of course, it's a time-honored political tradition to down-play expectations ahead of time so that it's easier to declare victory after the fact. Meanwhile, pollster Stuart Elway argues that primary vote will favor Republicans more than Democrats. According to Elway,

"People age 60+... make up 50-55% of the voters who cast ballots in both the '04 and '06 Primaries... What difference does this make? Voters over 60 identified evenly as Democrats (37%) and Republicans (37%) in the current survey. Voters under 60 leaned heavily Democratic (45-28%). This suggests that the Primary results will be lighter shade of Democratic blue than the General election results will be." [The Elway Report, July/August, 2008]

In the meantime, you still have an opportunity to support Gov. Gregoire before the primary. There are Labor to Neighbor walks scheduled for this Saturday in Aberdeen, Everett, Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma, plus phone banks on Monday in Everett, Seattle and Tacoma. In addition, the Gregoire campaign has scheduled events leading up to the primary all across the state.

And, as always, don't forget that as a WFSE Political Action volunteer you receive a free "WFSE for Gregoire" t-shirt to recognize you for taking action in support of your own economic self-interest. To volunteer (and get your shirt) call April at 1-800-562-6002 or e-mail her at AprilS@wfse.org.

Happy voting! -- Dennis

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Being Secretive Proves To Be a Bad Strategy For Dino Rossi

Today's Seattle Times has a story describing how a Democratic campaign operative with a video camera was manhandled and forcibly evicted from a Dino Rossi press conference. Rossi was posing with members of the Seattle Police Guild as he appeared before the local media announcing the guild's endorsement of his candidacy when the incident occurred. The fact that it was off-duty Seattle police officers who were pushing the kid around only adds fuel to the fire.

Of course, the kid kept his camera rolling through the whole incident and you can view the actual footage here.

YouTube is certainly changing how political campaigns have to conduct their business. Now, as President Bush has found out, compromising moments can be shown to the entire world within minutes. This puts a lot of added pressure on already stressed political candidates and their staff.

Both political parties are adding to the pressure by hiring young videographers to follow the opponent around in the hopes of catching a statement on camera that will cast the opposition in poor light. However, in the Governor's race, there is a huge difference in how Gregoire and Rossi are reacting to this phenomenon.

The Republicans have been following Gov. Gregoire around with cameras, and she has allowed them to remain in the room without interference. The Democrats have been following Dino Rossi around with cameras, and he has tried to have them evicted from every event.

Rossi spokesperson Jill Strait told the Seattle Times that "the campaign gives a 'heads up' to organizers that a Democratic cameraman is likely to show up and should be asked to leave." (Another example can be found here.) Clearly, Rossi needs to re-evaluate his strategy because it's backfiring on him. Instead of complimentary coverage about the endorsement of the Seattle Police Guild, the story is about how off-duty cops roughed up a kid with a video camera. Further, Rossi's secretiveness has handed the Democrats an issue they wouldn't have had otherwise if he had simply been willing to be open with the public.

The real winner in all this is Gov. Gregoire who, by operating with openness and grace under scrutiny, has demonstrated that she truly has nothing to hide. -- Dennis

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rep. Eric Pettigrew Campaign Kick-Off

WFSE-endorsed Representative Eric Pettigrew (D-37) is hosting a kick-off to his re-election campaign on Thursday, August 14th, at the Crimson C in Pioneer Square. The event is from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. The Crimson C is located at 209 First Avenue South, in Seattle, across from the Elliott Bay Bookstore. Any WFSE member who would like to attend should send an e-mail to lpa@wfse.org and we'll take care of the rest.

News You Can Use

- Our good friend, Rep. Tami Green (D-28), may have opposition this year after all. Although nobody filed to run against Tami in June, Republicans are now promoting a write-in candidate for the office. According to the News Tribune, Republicans only need 192 write-in votes for their nominee to qualify for the general election ballot. Of course, we'll be prepared to do everything we can to help Tami if she does face opposition in November.

- A new, bipartisan web site, VotingforJudges.org, is now available with extensive information about all those confusing judicial races that appear on your ballot. Just click on your county and you'll find a wealth of data at your fingertips.

- The Seattle Times' David Postman has written about how many Republican candidates are now afraid to use the "R-Word" on the ballot: "On this month’s primary ballot, 26 Republicans, including gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, have dropped their common party identification and instead are listed as preferring the 'GOP' or 'GOP Party,'" says Postman. "It’s an obvious effort, at least on the part of some, to avoid the tarnished Republican brand."

- John Ladenburg, the WFSE-endorsed candidate for Attorney General, was recently interviewed on KUOW's Weekday program.

- PolitickerWA.com has a nice overview of the 18th District House race featuring a "battle of rising stars" between Republican appointee Jaime Herrera and Democratic challenger VaNessa Duplessie. [NOTE: WFSE members have voted to endorse Herrera in this race.]

- Eric Earling of the conservative blog Sound Politics writes that the House Republican caucus is way behind the House Democratic caucus in fundraising. According to Earling, "House Republicans trail [House Democrats] 7/1 in hard money and 4/1 in soft."

- And now, for pure entertainment value, I recommend the hilarious pre-primary endorsements column from The Stranger. Granted, a couple of the Stranger's recommendations differ from the official WFSE endorsement list. Still, for political junkies like me, this was just too funny to pass up. [Caution: There are some naughty words.]

-- Dennis

Warning! The Primary Election is Tuesday, August 19! Repeat: Tuesday, August 19!!!

Washington's primary election date has changed. It's now August 19 and, sadly, most voters don't even realize there's a new date. Fortunately, the good folks at the Washington Bus have put together a fun video to help remind us:

video

Personally, I've always thought holding the primary in August, when people are on vacation and haven't really even started thinking about elections -- especially for down-ballot races -- was a bad idea. I'm afraid turn-out will be depressed and the results will be skewed by the small number of people who actually participate. I wonder how many ballots will be discarded because they are mailed in September.

Secretary of State Sam Reed is more optimistic, predicting the primary turn-out will "hit close to 46 percent." Sam is a good man, and I hope he's right. But if I was going to place a bet, I'd definitely take the "under." The primary election turn-out in 2004 was 45.1%, in 2000 it was 40.9%, and in 1996 it was 42.0%. And all of those elections were in September.

Of course, if in fact there is going to be mass confusion about the date of the primary, that only means it's all the more important for us to make sure we get our ballots in on time, and that our friends and coworkers do the same. -- Dennis

Labor to Neighbor Needs You on Aug. 16

WFSE members have a great opportunity to support Gov. Gregoire by signing up for the last big Labor to Neighbor walk before the primary. It's extremely important we remind our fellow union members about the primary election, so we really encourage you to participate.

On Saturday, Aug. 16, volunteers will gather in Aberdeen, Everett, Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma. We'll canvass from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm, and there will be a BBQ lunch waiting for you when you finish.

These walks are really fun, and the staff of the WA St Labor Council makes it easy, even for first-time volunteers. You're provided with training, a script, a list and a map. And you only have to talk to fellow union members who are almost always nice and supportive.

If walking isn't your bag, or if you're able to do even more, you can always sign up for a Labor to Neighbor phone bank. Phone banks are happening Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in Seattle, Tacoma and Everett.

To sign up for Labor to Neighbor contact April Sims at 1-800-562-6002 or e-mail AprilS@wfse.org. Don't forget! WFSE members who volunteer not only receive the highly-coveted "WFSE for Gregoire" t-shirt, but also get to bask in the glow of making a difference on behalf of their own economic self-interest! -- Dennis

Still More Endorsements

Our Regional PEOPLE Conferences in Seattle and Spokane last Saturday formally approved several new WFSE endorsements. This was the final round of WFSE endorsements before the primary election on August 19.

Endorsements approved at the Spokane conference were:

4th LD Senate: Judi Owens (D)
6th LD House Pos. 2: John Driscoll (D)
9th LD House Pos. 2: Joe Schmick (R)
16th LD Senate: Mike Hewitt (R)

Endorsements approved at the Seattle conference were:

33rd LD House Pos. 1: Tina Orwall (D)
34th LD House Pos. 2: Sharon Nelson (D)
36th LD House Pos. 1: John Burbank (D)
41st LD House Pos. 1: Marcie Maxwell (D)
46th LD House Pos. 1: Scott White (D)

Our Legislative & Political Action Committee will take another look at our list of endorsements after the primary election to determine if there are any adjustments we want to consider. Meanwhile, the LPA Department staff is celebrating that we finally made it through our entire list. Many thanks to all the members who helped with the candidate interviews and who attended the Regional PEOPLE Conferences. We couldn't do it without you.

Here is the complete list of WFSE endorsements for 2008.

-- Dennis

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More News and Notes

- I'm at the WA St Labor Council convention this week, so in honor of the occasion I am posting this article from TheHill.com: "Business fears election will boost labor." According to this article, business groups "...are spending millions of dollars on anti-card check coalitions to build grassroots opposition..." to the Employee Free Choice Act.

- The Building Industry Association of Washington is in the news again. First, the BIAW accused Democratic PAC Evergreen Progress of faulty PDC reports. Then, a group headed by two former state Supreme Court justices have accused BIAW of operating as an illegal PAC.

- As momentum builds for real, honest health care reform, the health care insurance industry is spending millions of dollars on a "nationwide education campaign aimed at raising an activist army at least 100,000 strong" ready to defend the industry's efforts to protect their profits. Friends, let this be a warning to all of us. If we want real health care reform, we're going to have to be willing to fight for it.

- Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly describes the shady practice of Attorney General Rob McKenna appearing in public service announcements, sponsored by corporate interests, in the middle of his re-election campaign. "Do incumbents really need to do this," Connelly writes, "given the size of their campaign warchests? Isn't this an added advantage to the already favored?" [Note: WFSE members have voted to endorse John Ladenburg for Attorney General.]

- Also from Joel Connelly: "'Straight Talk Express' takes the low road."

-- Dennis

Monday, August 4, 2008

Rossi Attacks State Employees (Again)

You've undoubtedly heard the big news: Governor Gregoire has called for a hiring freeze in state government. Of course, like everything else, this announcement has led to an escalation in the political rhetoric over the state budget.

Naturally, Dino Rossi used this announcement to complain that the Governor didn't "go far enough." Among Rossi's helpful suggestions is to "suspend salary negotiations with state employee groups over pay increases until we know the full extent of our deficit next year."

The fact is that Rossi has always demonstrated hostility toward state workers. The state budget he wrote in 2003 resulted in four straight years of declining take-home pay for state employees, and also underfunded our pension system so that both the state and the employees are now paying higher rates to make up the difference. In the intervening years, Rossi has repeatedly proposed gutting state employee collective bargaining rights and dramatically increasing the level of contracting out and outsourcing.

Gregoire's announced hiring freeze will probably make things a little tougher for some of our members, and it will increase anxiety levels throughout state government. Still, I applaud the Governor's action. It's far better to stop hiring than to start laying people off.

All indications are that we are going to be facing a pretty rough budget cycle in the 2009 Legislative Session. The moronic fiscal policies emanating from Washington DC have driven our national economy into the tank, and state and local government budgets are getting hammered all across the nation. Washington state is actually in better shape than most of the nation, but there's no way we can completely avoid the storm altogether. We are going to take some lumps.

Rossi and his supporters would want us to believe that it's the Governor's wild spending that has resulted in the current budget deficit. The Seattle Times recently ran a lengthy article by Andrew Garber describing how state spending has increased by $8 billion over the past four years. Rossi says that's too much. Gregoire says the increases are responsible investments. How you view the ink blot depends on whether you think government is good or you think government is bad.

The WA St Budget and Policy Center published a great analysis a few weeks ago demonstrating that state spending, as a percent of personal income, has remained virtually flat over the years. In other words, state spending increases have essentially tracked population and economic growth rates.

Although Rossi is quick to criticize the Governor, he never actually says, in any meaningful detail, what exactly it is he would cut. Which of the spending increases over the past four years does he think was a bad idea?

According to Garber, half of the new spending was for K-12 education, and most of that was simply funding voter-approved initiatives to increase teacher salaries and to reduce class sizes. When Rossi wrote the state budget in 2003, he simply "suspended" those initiatives. Apparently, initiatives sponsored by Tim Eyman are the sacrosanct "will of the people." But initiatives sponsored by teachers and education advocates can be disregarded whenever they're inconvenient.

There were other spending increases under Gregoire: more social workers in the Children's Administration to protect kids at risk; increases at DOC to staff a new prison and better supervise offenders after they have been released from prison; more health care coverage for children; and the expansion of pre-kindergarten early learning programs. Again, what would Rossi cut?

Rossi won't say what he would cut, but we do have some indications based on the state budget he wrote in 2003: he cut health care programs, especially programs for poor children; he cut public safety, especially the supervision of felons who have been released from prison; and he slashed state employee compensation.

The truth is, it's not in any candidate's best interest to talk about specific budget cuts or revenue proposals, so it's probably unrealistic to expect an honest discussion about the state budget in the heat of a campaign. But that just means it's our responsibility, as voters and state employees, to educate ourselves about these issues. If we do, it will become more and more clear that it's Dino Rossi that the state of Washington really can't afford. -- Dennis

Darcy Burner Event in Olympia

A fundraising reception with congressional candidate Darcy Burner (D-8) is being held in Olympia on Thursday, August 21st, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. The reception will be held at the home of Paul & Beth Berendt, 1702 Sulenes Loop SE, Olympia. Federal election law prevents WFSE from sponsoring members to attend, so we would ask you to bring a personal check in support of Darcy's campaign. Any amount in welcome, and you can be proud to know you've invested in an outstanding candidate. To RSVP call Raven at 425-443-2564 or e-mail raven@darcyburner.com. We hope to see you there.