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: