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Politics Northwest

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

August 3, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Friday briefing: GOP chairman rails at Rick Steves; new gay-marriage polls; gov race

Good Morning.

When travel guru Rick Steves isn’t gallivanting around Europe or giving people choice travel tips, he very occasionally — as in, once — can be found starring in a King County Elections public service announcement telling voters in part of the 1st Congressional District they have to vote two times for Congress this year. One vote will be for a congress member to fill the final month of the term of Jay Inslee, Democratic candidate for governor; the second vote would be for the candidate who will represent the district the next two years.

That sounds like no big deal until you hear State Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur complain that Steves is too political to be doing such PSAs. For example, Steves often supports Democratic candidates and gave money to the pot measure, Initiative 502.

Wilbur complained to  King County. Folks at the King County Elections office point out that other local celebs like restaurateur Tom Douglas, KING TV’s Jean Enersen and members of The Seattle Storm have appeared in the public service ads.

Elections director Sherril Huff responded in a letter:

” All messages represented by the spots are about the process of voting and are politically neutral. On-air talent is not identified by political party preference and voters have no reason to believe that the talent’s pro bono appearance in a public service announcement promotes any particular candidate or support of a political position.
Each celebrity talent has provided his or her time and image as a public service contribution and no current or recent candidates for office have been featured in our ads.”

Once next Tuesday’s primary comes and goes, the debate over several statewide ballot initiatives will accelerate to full throttle Two new polls provide some insight into evolving public views on gay marriage, which will resonate for people interested in Washington’s Referendum 74, which would retain or undo our state’s new gay marriage law. (A vote to approve upholds the law; a vote to reject kills it).

The partisan gap on same-sex marriage is expanding, according to the latest polling by the Pew Research Center.  Sixty-five percent of Democrats now support gay marriage compared to 24 percent of Republicans, says the poll.  The poll found a jump in support among Democrats since President Obama announced he supports gay marriage. In April,  before Obama’s statement, Pew put Democratic support of gay marriage at 59 percent.

Pew also noted an increase in support for gay marriage among independent voters, with 51 percent of independents saying they favor gay marriage. Independents are an important group in Washington.

The Pew poll was conducted by telephone June 28-July 9 among 2, 973 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percent.

Another poll comes out of Maryland, which is also voting on gay rights this November.  This poll shows two things: Overall support for gay marriage seems to be increasing in Maryland, following the president’s announcement, and is now pegged at around 54 percent. Several months ago, support was closer to 51 percent. Also, the poll shows support for gay marriage rising among African Americans. The poll was conducted by Hart Research Associates among 504 likely voters from July24-28 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.

 Politico still thinks our governor’s race is a sizzler. For the second month in a row, the contest between Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee holds the top spot on Politico’s list of gubernatorial contests. Politico has a little feature whereby the writers assign a winner of the month to either candidate. Politico says Inslee won the month of July.

Don’t forget, if you have a minute, to like us on Facebook.  Or follow us on Twitter @SeaTimesPol.

0 Comments | More in homepage, Politics Northwest, U.S. House of Representatives | Topics: gay marriage, gop party chairman kirby wilbur, Jay Inslee

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