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

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