Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What to Watch for Tonight

There now seem to be hundreds of articles about what to watch for in the presidential race, state by state, time-zone by time-zone.   This one is as good as any. But I'm always interested in what Nate Silver has to say, so this one's worth a look too.  

And here's the list of states to watch (according to poll closing times, translated to the Pacific time zone):
  • 3pm PST: Indiana (most of the state's polls close at 3pm PST, but not 'til 4pm in some parts of the state)
  • 4pm: Virginia, Georgia, New Hampshire, Florida (Western portion of panhandle closes at 5pm)
  • 4:30: Ohio and North Carolina
  • 5:00: Missouri and Pennsylvania
  • 6:00: Colorado and New Mexico
  • 7pm: Montana
Expect first waves of results to come in anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes after the polls close in that state.  Networks and newspaper websites, if they're at all responsible will not call a state based on exit poll results unless there is at least a 10-point margin between the two major-party candidates.  Again, Nate Silver explains why.  

The best real-time mapping on-line will be on the front-page of the New York Times website. On TV, CNN has the best mapping, by far.  

US Senate
Here are the Senate races to watch, with those at the top of the most likely to go Democratic and the ones at the bottom least likely to turn-over:
  • Virginia: Mark Warner (D) vs. James Gilmore (R) open seat
  • New Mexico: Tom Udall (D) vs. Steve Pearce (R) -open seat
  • Colorado: Mark Udall (D) vs. Bob Schaffer (R) - open seat
  • Alaska: Mark Begich (D) vs. Ted Stevens (R) - Stevens just convicted of concealing gifts
  • New Hampshire: Shaheen (D) vs. John Sununu (incumbent R)
  • Oregon: Jeff Merkley (D) vs. Gordon Smith (incumbent R)
  • North Carolina: Kay Hagan (D) vs. Elizabeth Dole (incumbent R)
  • Minnesota: Al Franken (D) vs. Norm Coleman (incumbent R)
  • Georgia: Martin (D) vs. Chambliss
  • Kentucky: Lunsford (D) vs. McConnell
  • Mississippi: Musgrove (D) vs. Wicker

US House (a few of the more interesting ones, listed by incumbent defending)
  • Don Young - R, At-Large, Alaska (yet another Alaska Republican under investigation)
  • John Shadegg - R, 3rd Dist., Arizona
  • Marilyn Musgrave -R, 4th Dist. Colorado (Congress's most infamous homophobe)
  • Christopher Shays -R, 4th Dist. Connecticut
  • Lincoln Diaz-Balart- R, 21st Dist. Florida
  • Mario Diaz-Balart- R, 25th Dist. Florida
  • Bill Sali - R, 1st Dist. Idaho
  • Don Cazayoux -D, 6th Dist. Louisiana (won special election earlier this year for Bobby Jindal's old seat
  • Wayne Gilchrist-R, 1st Dist, Maryland
  • Michele Bachmann -R, 6th Dist. Minnesota (recently called for investigation of "un-American" members of Congress)
  • Heather Wilson - R, 1st Dist, New Mexico
  • Steve Chabot - R, 1st Dist, Ohio
  • Jack Murtha -D, 12th Dist, Pennsylvania (famously called his constituents racists)
  • Nick Lampson- D, 22d Dist., Texas (Tom Delay's old seat)
  • Virgil Goode- R, 5th Dist., Virginia
  • Dave Reichert - R, 8th Dist. Washington (vs. top Netroots candidate Darcy Burner)
  • Missouri: Jay Nixon (D) vs. Kenny Hulshof (R) (open seat)
  • North Carolina: Beverly Perdue (D) vs. Pat McCrory (R) (open seat)
  • Washington: Chris Gregoire (incumbent D) vs. Dino Rossi (R) 
Ballot Initiatives
  • Abortion: Parental notification in California, near complete ban in South Dakota and life begins at conception in Colorado
  • Affirmative Action bans in Colorado and Nebraska
  • Assisted Suicide: I-1000 in Washington
  • Education: ban on English as a Second Language education in Oregon
  • Elections: Top-two primary in Oregon
  • Gay Rights: Prop  8 in California would overturn right to gay marriage.  Gay marriage bans in Florida and Arizona.  An Arkansas measure would prohibit gay couples from adopting or foster parenting children
  • Transportation: $10 billion for high speed rail in California; Light rail expansion in Seattle area (Prop. 1); and making traffic worse in Washington state (I-985).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Proof that no good deed goes unpunished

Mediocre coffee, but a company with pretty good corporate practices. Starbucks, thought it would do a good deed by giving a free cup of coffee to anyone who came in to a store claiming to have voted.  However, those spoil sports here in Washington state Secretary of State's office have told Starbucks that giving away a free cup of coffee to voters is an illegal inducement.  So, now Starbucks says it'll give a cup of free coffee to anyone that asks.  Sam! Lighten up! A free cup of coffee does not a vote buy.  While we're talking about inducements, here are a few other other ways to buy a vote -not a vote for a particular candidate, just a vote:
  • Free ice-cream:  go to Ben & Jerry's for a free cup or cone
  • Free Doughnuts: a free doughnut for voters at Krispy Kreme (if you're Seattle, you're better off paying for a doughnut at Top Pot!)
  • Free GOTV calls for Credo Mobile members during voting hours
  • Free chicken sandwiches at Chick-fil-A.  (sorry, no Chick-fil-A's in the Northwest)
  • Free sex toys: and last, but certainly not least, Babeland is offering a free Silver Bullet vibrator, or something called a Maverick sleeve to anyone coming in to their New York or Seattle stores with a voter registration card or proof of voting between Nov. 4-11.  Interestingly,  there's no indication that the Washington Secretary of State has contacted Babeland to shut down their vote buying operation.  Sorry Starbucks.  

Experts agree...

...that Obama's gonna win this thing, big. There's been an uptick in both the state and national polls in the last day or so. Nate Silver gives Obama a 98.1% chance of winning the election. This is Karl Rove's electoral prediction map for tomorrow night (click for larger view):

I like it. Except, I think Obama has a real good shot at winning both North Carolina and Indiana. Then there's Montana and Georgia. Not so likely, but a strong possibility, especially Georgia where 1/3 of the registered voters are black. And there's a bunch of young white people who live in the Atlanta area. And there must be a few older white liberals to add to the mix.

A few more endorsements

Better late than never.  It's not like half the people in this state have already voted or something. In any case, here are a few more endorsements to throw your way:

King County judges
Most of these endorsements are based on bar association qualification assessments, combined with endorsements from progressive groups like WA Conservation Voters and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington (not that superior court judges often play a role in big constitutional issues, but it's an endorsement that helps filter out the bat-shit crazy Federalist Society types):

Superior Court #1: Susan Parisien
Superior Court #22: Holly Hill
Superior Court #37: Jean Rietschel

King County Charter Amendments
I really wish these things were not cluttering up the general election ballot, but they are.  So here's some quick recommendations:

Charter Amendment #1: No.  This would make the County Elections Director an elected position.  This is a position that should remain ministerial not political.

Charter Amendments #2-7: Yes  These are all housekeeping measures of various sorts and all pretty self-explanatory (i.e., no hidden agendas).

Charter Amendment #8:  No This measure to make county offices non-partisan is an effort by a small group of businessmen to make it easier for Republicans to sneak into office in a very Democratic county.  Voters have such little information as it is about local offices that they need the kind of shorthand signals party labels provide. It's an imperfect indicator but better than the nothing that many voters get in local elections.  

Pierce County
As someone who spent ten years living in Pierce County, even running for office and sitting on public boards, I still pay a lot of attention to Pierce County politics.  And, with Ranked Choice Voting (also known as Instant Run-off Voting), politics there will only get more interesting starting this year.  But, I haven't had much time to focus on all the candidates there for all the offices.  So, let me highlight just a few of the most interesting races: 

Pierce County Executive
If I still lived there, I'd be having a tough time picking.  On paper, Calvin Goings is the best candidate and that probably means you should vote for him.  But, he sometimes has trouble making the best decision when constituencies he cares about are pulling in different directions. He's one of those stereotypically ambitious politicians who's always focused on the next election.  The other real choice is Pat McCarthy.  I like her a lot, but do worry about how much money is being infused on her behalf by the very, very sleazy builders lobby.  I'd be tempted to rank Pat first and Calvin second.  But with the Builders such a big factor in her campaign, I have to recommend the reverse - Calvin ranked first, Pat second.

Pierce County Council
The only one I'll comment on is the primary Tacoma seat on the Council, now held by Tim Farrell.  Tim has been a fabulous councilmember, quite effective given that he's been in the minority almost the whole time.  His district loves him, so he'll sail to reelection without any trouble.  But, make sure you vote for him early and often to show him the love.  

26th District House
Pat Lantz was a great legislator but, unfortuately, felt the need to move on.  Kim Abel is the Democrat in the race to replace her.  The Republican, Jan Angel, is a shill of the Builders and the very conservative Kitsap County Realtors.  On the Kitsap County commission, she was a disaster on growth management, transportation and other environmental issues.  Vote for Kim Abel.

Friday, October 31, 2008


I'm kind of embarrassed by how little I've posted lately. One of the challenges I have in trying to blog about politics is that I always end up working on at least one campaign every year and just when the politics gets most interesting, I get the most busy. One of the things I'm way, way behind on is posting my local election endorsements. Early and Often started as a regular e-mail I would always send out with suggested election recommendations. Better late than never, right?

Here are my endorsements for this year. I'll start with just a few comments, but up-date with more details over the next couple days.

President - Barack Obama (D)
Barack Obama, of course. I don't think I need to provide any reasoning for this one, but if you need any persuading at all take a look (again) at Colin Powell's more than eloquent endorsement of Obama.

Governor - Chris Gregoire (D)
Chris Gregoire - She hasn't been a perfect governor. Often she's been way too cautious and that overcautiousness, more often than not, comes back to haunt her. This has been especially true with regard to transportation, an issue of critical importance to the Puget Sound voters, yet one she has only just begun to understand. But, I do think she's starting to get it and on almost every other issue, she's been a fabulous governor - on climate change, Puget Sound and water issues, education and children's health. The only reason she's not sailing toward reelection is because she has no charisma and no ability to communicate her long list of accomplishments. However, most people who are watching carefully, know she has been an accomplished governor. That's why even many of the newspapers that endorsed Rossi in 2004 have endorsed Gregoire this time around.

And then there's Dino Rossi. There's no other way to describe Rossi. He's an empty suit, with no real accomplishments in his six years as a state senator (in spite of what he claims, he deserves little credit for his role in the 2003 budget negotiations - then Gov. Gary Locke handed that budget to him on a platter). I used to think that Rossi was most like George W. Bush. Then Sarah Palin came along. Rossi is nothing more than Palin in pants. While Palin might be able to succeed as governor in redneck Alaska, that style of leadership ain't gonna work here. Oh, and Rossi's at least as corrupt as Sarah Palin.

Lt Governor - Rob Johnson (write-in)
The incumbent, Brad Owen, is Washington's answer to a blue dog Southern Democrat. He's anti-environment, spends way too much time fighting the war on drugs and doesn't have such great positions on social issues either. So, I'm recommending you write in my highly talented office-mate, Rob Johnson. Rob is one of the brightest, most good natured and hardest working progressive young politicos I've met. Rob, not Brad Owen, is the kind of person you want to have a heartbeat away from the governor's office.

Secretary of State - Sam Reed (R)
As long as I've lived in Washington, I've only voted Republican for this office.  That's primarily because, with no term-limits for state elective offices, these kind of mostly administrative executive positions see little turn-over.  Unlike governor, the secretary of state does not just serve two-terms and move on.  As long as the incumbent stays above politics, he can keep getting himself reelected.  Former secretary of state, Ralph Munro, worried more about his reputation for integrity than pleasing his party.  And Sam Reed, since first getting elected in 2000, has done the same, most famously in 2004 when he refused to succumb to pressure from Republican activists and defended the integrity of the electoral process thereby preventing the Republicans from stealing the very close election on behalf of Dino Rossi.  When Republicans were arguing before the state supreme court, without valid evidence, that the King County elections office was corrupt, Sam Reed's attorneys stood in the same court room defending the process.  For that, he deserves to be reelected by big margins. Plus, Reed's reelection will annoy Republican blogger and conspiracy theorist, Stefan Sharkansky to no end.  

State Treasurer - Jim McIntire (D)
Jim McIntire is a smart, PhD economist with 10 years of experience in the state House, much of that time as chair of the House Finance Committee.  He can be a bit arrogant and maybe too cautious sometimes, but that's ok when his primary job will be to protect the state's excellent bond rating.  

State Auditor - Brian Sonntag (D, sort of)
Sonntag's been Auditor for, probably, too long.  Or at least it seems like too long.  He's gotten a bit carried away with his new powers to conduct performance audits (as opposed to the financial audits that the office has always been empowered to do).  And, it's been especially annoying that he has not clearly come out in opposition to I-985, which Tim Eyman keeps wrongly claiming is based on Sonntag's audit of WSDOT congestion relief programs.  However, Sonntag is ultimately a good person who I think is just too old school to understand his own limitations and the limitations of his office.  Plus, he has no viable opponent. 

Attorney General - John Ladenburg (D)
I've known John for eight years and I can't imagine anyone better suited to be Attorney General of this state.  Talk about a maverick.  He'll be the kind of activist Attorney General that could appropriately shake things up a bit.  He'll be a zealot on behalf of consumers and consumers are going to need a zealot working on their behalf for the next four years.  The incumbent, Rob McKenna (cited by the Stranger as America's first male-to-female transsexual to hold statewide office) is probably the smartest Republican politician this state has seen since Dan Evans.  McKenna has very smartly focused on non-partisan issues like identity theft, making lots of PSAs along the way to increase his name recognition on the state's dime.  If the voters don't abort his political career right now, we're going to have to really worry about a McKenna governorship four years from now.  As governor, McKennas will surely be much more partisan, just as he was while serving on the King County Council.  

Commissioner of Public Lands - Peter Goldmark (D)
Not only has incumbent Doug Sutherland let Weyerhaeuser and other timber companies get away with harmful logging practices, he's openly and unapologetically a serial sexual harasser.  Why the Goldmark campaign, or WA Conservation Voters won't make an issue of this, I don't know.  With regard to logging practices, Sutherland has let Weyerhaeuser and the others run amok, clear cutting on slopes to the point that these practices are a huge part of the reason why we saw such bad flooding in SW Washington last year.  On the other hand, Goldmark is everything you could want for the job- a rancher, organic farmer, molecular biologist, environmentalist and former state Secretary of Agriculture.  This is exactly the kind of person who should be in charge of state forests and state logging practices.  

Insurance Commissioner - Mike Kreidler (D)
I can't say enough good things about incumbent Mike Kreidler.  In his last eight terms, he's been a strong advocate for consumers, has been a national leader in addressing heightened actuarial risks related to climate change and he's actively working to figure out a way that his office can create universal health care coverage in the absence of leadership on the issue from, well, from anyone else.  

Superintendent of Public Instruction - Randy Dorn
Partly it's an issue of change.  Terry Bergeson is running for a third term.  But, also the era of worshipping the standardized test is nearing its end and there's been no greater proponent for having everything hinge on the WASL than Terry Bergeson.  

Initiative 985 (Make Traffic Worse) - No!!!!
This is the one I'm working on this year.  Another stupid idea from Tim Eyman, this was one actually stupider than most of his other stupid ideas.  I-985 would open carpool lanes to general purpose traffic beyond his own narrow definition of rush hour.  I-985 would also take away all revenue from red-light cameras, which have been proven to reduce pedestrian injuries (and which, by statute, are mostly used in school zones).  It would also make it nearly impossible to use tolling to do anything but build a bridge.  And, worst of all it would steal $600 million over the next five years from the state's general fund, money that now goes mostly to schools and health care, and funnel that money into "reducing traffic congestion," which in Eyman's distorted world means none of that money could be spent on transit, bicycle or pedestrian facilities, or really smart congestion relief programs like commute trip reduction.  Reject this stupid initiative and send a message that Eyman's 15 minutes are way past expired.  

Initiative 1000 (Death with Dignity, or Assisted Suicide)- No Endorsement
This is one of those issues where you just have to go with your gut.  I voted against it when it was last on the ballot, but I'm thinking of voting for it this time.  That's largely because Oregon's similar law has not turned out to be as big a deal as many originally predicted.  

Initiative 1029 (Long-term care worker training & certification)- Yes
The newspaper editorial boards hate this one because it was put on the ballot by home healthcare workers organized under SEIU (the world's most effective labor union).  Without even knowing much about it, I'm inclined to vote for it because it is sponsored by SEIU.  Also, who the hell doesn't think we shouldn't have high standards for the people taking care of the aged and infirm.  

Proposition 1 (Mass Transit Now) - Yes!!!!
It sucks that the only option for building a bunch more light rail, along with adding lots of express bus and commuter rail service, is our already high sales tax.  But, in a state with no income tax, we don't really have any other options.  Next year we'll get 14-miles of light rail, downtown to Sea-Tac and we'll, finally, enter the league of real cities.  Six more miles, from downtown to Capitol Hill and UW.  This measure will keep them going on taking the rail north to Lynwood, east across I-90 to Bellevue and Overlake and south to Federal Way.  It'll also pay for a streetcar from the International District light rail station up to Pill Hill. Projects will start opening in 2016 and all will be completed by 2023. This all should have happened 40 years ago, back in the day when the feds paid most of the bill.  But, all those old Scandinavian loggers and fisherman that used to decide everything in Seattle said no.  Don't let the crazed right-wingers like Kemper Freeman and quaint old-school Seattlelites like Emory Bundy stop rail transit in its track this time.  Vote YES! on Prop 1.  

US House, 8th District (Bellevue, Renton, Auburn, Sumner) - Darcy Burner (D)
When you think about, it's kind of crazy that someone with virtually no relevant experience, like Darcy Burner, might be on the cusp of getting elected to Congress.  But, then again, the incumbent, Dave Reichert, has been so ineffectual, even when his party controlled congress, that 8th District residents have nothing to lose.  Actually, they have everything to gain.  Sarah Palin fanatics keep saying that they like the Alaska governor because she's real and understands their plight.  Well, Darcy Burner is real but, unlike Palin, she's also smart, hard-working, competent and reasonable.  

36th District Open House Seat - Reuven Carlyle (D)
This is kind of a tough one.  Because of the newly implemented top-2 primary, we have two Democrats running in this district.  Both Carlyle and John Burbank are great candidates, but the edge has to go to Carlyle.  I'm kind of tired of urban Democrats who are all about poverty and social service issues, yet leave all the other progressive issues -like transportation and the environment- to suburban Democrats.  We need more smart, well-rounded and progressive urban Democrats to balance out the Eastside Democrats who so often fight our agenda.  Reuven Carlyle more than fits the bill.

46th District Open House Seat - Scott White (D)
This is another Democrat vs. Democrat run-off with two candidates who both have a lot to offer.  However, White gets the edge in this race because, well, he's a lot like Reuven Carlyle in the 36th Dist. race.  Actually, so is Gerry Pollet.  However, Gerry is a bit to much of a one-note song.  He's been forever focused on cleaning up the Hanford nuclear reservation to the exclusion of giving much attention to so many other issues. Plus Pollet is a bit of a bridge burner.  I see him having a much harder time working his agenda through the legislative process.  

King and Pierce County Races coming soon....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ragin' McCain

The bizarre, erratic and angry behavior we've seen from John McCain, in the debates, during the bailout negotiations and in interviews is nothing new.  If anything, McCain has done a remarkable job of containing himself over the last several months.  But, now with the stress of a tanking campaign causing the man to come unglued, that rage is reemerging.  Some have speculated that McCain has recurring problems with PTSD.  And with his medical records largely hidden from view, we may never know.  But more Americans are certainly coming to the conclusion that it is McCain, not Obama, who is the risky choice to be the next commander-in-chief.  

Check out this video on the history of McCain's pattern of raging outbursts, including a documented account of McCain backhanding a female constituent who came to him to talk about her MIA father: