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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

July 6, 2012 at 6:10 AM

Friday briefing: GOP divided over gay marriage?; handicapping gov’s race; initiative day in Olympia

Talking Points Memo has a fascinating piece  about  a few state Republican party organizations wrestling with their positions on gay marriage. Did you know that the Washington, D.C.,  Republican Committee now supports gay marriage? Indiana Republicans tinkered with their position on the subject.  Oregon Republicans, almost a year ago,  also modified language on the topic.

Last September,  the Oregon Republican Party removed harsh language directed at homosexuals and said that government should have a reduced role in matters related to the family. “Government should not define or make laws that define marriage,” Greg Leo, spokesman for the Oregon Republican Party, said Thursday.

In Washington state,  GOP chairman Kirby Wilbur doubts changes in support for gay marriage are coming any time soon: “The state party is unlikely in the immediate future to change its support of traditional marriage.”

Jay Inslee, Democratic candidate for governor.

Rob McKenna, Republican candidate for governor.

Expectations are half the game in the upcoming Washington gubernatorial primary in August. Washingtonians already know which candidates who will make it to the general election, Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna, and Democratic former Congressman Jay Inslee.

The suspense, if that is the right word, in August boils down to head-to-head percentage comparisons from primary results.

Sterling Clifford, communication director for Inslee, downplayed expectations for Inslee in the August primary, saying, the primary electorate tends to be “considerably older and considerably more conservative than the general.” ‘

That’s campaign handler-speak for low expectations, which, if Inslee ends up with a lower number than McKenna, can breezily turn into an explanation for a poor showing. Polls show the race very close.

At McKenna headquarters, campaign manager Randy Pepple predicted Inslee will win the primary — and lose the general.  Pepple points to the five Democratic candidates in the 1st Congressional District. He throws in some election math and past voting trends for conservatives  — there is a conservative on the primary ballot, Shahram Hadian — and concluded that Inslee will finish first in the primary.

“The 1st District might drive turnout, mostly for the Democrats,” Pepple said. “The vote will skew slightly Democratic.”

The truth is, neither side knows, but both figure they better prepare for — create expectations for — the lesser result.

Friday is  signature turn-in day for statewide initiatives. Backers of Initiative 1240, the measure to bring charter schools to Washington, have a 9 a.m. appointment Friday at the Secretary of State’s office to turn in their signatures. Tim Eyman and his group supporting renewal of the two-thirds majority for tax increases are expected at 10:30 a.m.

It sounds like both campaigns have sufficient signatures to qualify for random sampling of signature accuracy.  If both certify for the ballot — it appears they will — Washington would have six statewide measures on the November ballot:  these two, the referendum challenging the state’s new gay marriage law, a pot initiative and two somewhat obscure constitutional amendments.

Six would be at the “upper limits of ballot activism,” said Secretary of State spokesman David Ammons.

He pointed out that both measures expected Friday are re-runs.

Charter schools have been on the ballot three times, beginning in 1996. The most recent attempt, in 2004, was defeated handily. Eyman et al are on their fifth effort to gain voter approval for a two-thirds requirement to raise taxes. The voters said yes every time, though the constitutionality of the two-thirds rule has been struck down by a King County Superior Court judge.

Eyman keeps bringing these back because the rule can be changed by a simply majority two years after passage by voters.

Comments | More in Education, Governor, homepage, Politics Northwest, U.S. House of Representatives | Topics: charter schools, d.c., gay marriage

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