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December 10, 2013 at 5:14 PM
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray says the budget deal she and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan announced Tuesday will “restore trust that had been lost by people across the country that we could function as a Congress and as a democracy.”
In an interview with The Seattle Times shortly after a news conference announcing the deal, Murray, the Senate’s Democratic budget chair, said while the deal is far from perfect, it will ease some of the effects of the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration and avert the threat of a government shutdown for the next two years.
The budget framework sketched by Murray and Ryan would relieve $63 billion in sequester cuts, avoiding a new round of reductions that were scheduled to hit defense and non-defense programs alike in January.
The agreement amounts to small measure of progress toward compromise in an ideologically divided Congress that has earned record-low public approval ratings. Murray had been involved in previous efforts, including co-chairing the 2011 “super committee” that failed to reach agreement on long term deficit reduction, and last year’s failure to halt automatic spending under sequestration.
While the Murray-Ryan deal would avoid a government shutdown, it did not address long-term deficit reduction or tax reforms. Murray said she’d insisted that closing corporate tax loopholes be part of the deal, but had to drop that to win agreement from Ryan. Democrats also dropped a late push to make extended unemployment benefits part of the deal. For his part, Ryan backed off of cuts he wanted to make to entitlement programs.
Murray said if Congress can take the baby step of passing this short-term agreement, it could lead to progress on those larger issues in the future — despite partisan differences.
“I think one of our goals is to reestablish the trust of the American people that a Congress that is governed by two parties can find a way to find compromise and put a bill forward,” Murray said. “If we can get this done… we’ll show a pathway.”
President Obama called Murray from Air Force One on his way home from the Nelson Mandela memorial service to congratulate her on the agreement, the senator’s spokesman said.
The sight of the political odd couple of Murray and Ryan jointly announcing the deal Tuesday seemed unlikely given the rancor of the past few years.
In Seattle last month, Murray said she believed Republicans would be motivated to avoid another government shutdown. But she questioned whether Ryan would be willing to compromise. “There is in my mind a curiosity about whether Paul Ryan can come to the table and be a negotiator or whether Paul Ryan is going to be the guy who wants to go to his caucus and say, ‘I can be as conservative as everybody else here,’ ” she said at the time.
But on Tuesday, Murray was singing Ryan’s praises. “The Paul Ryan that showed up was the adult in the room who knew that our country needed certainty,” she said.
Ryan already is facing blow back from conservative Republicans angry that the budget deal would increase overall discretionary spending for the next year to $1.012 trillion — higher than the proposed House budget level of $967 billion (but lower than the Senate budget proposal of $1.058 trillion).
In Washington state, some conservative groups were already mobilizing against the budget pact.
Nansen Malin, director of the state chapter of Americans For Prosperity released a statement urging the state congressional delegation to vote down the plan. “Washington State cannot afford another trillion-dollar backroom deal, and Americans for Properity activists will be letting our delegation know that a deal with yet more spending and more revenue is unacceptable,” she said.
But some Republican leaders have indicated a willingness to stiff-arm the GOP’s most-conservative wing and back the deal.
Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Spokane, called the proposal “a step in the right direction on the path toward economic security for hardworking Americans” in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “While this deal includes modest budgetary reforms, it is another positive sign that deficit reduction can be achieved by making real spending cuts and reforms without raising taxes.”
December 9, 2013 at 5:40 PM
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will raise campaign cash next year for Democratic gubernatorial candidates across the country as the new finance chair for the Democratic Governors Association.
Inslee was named to the leadership post Monday at a DGA meeting in Washington, D.C., according to his campaign’s political director, Tracy Newman.
The appointment puts Inslee in a position to repay his fellow Democrats for their aid in his election last year. The DGA poured nearly $5 million into negative TV ads against Inslee’s Republican rival, Rob McKenna, during Washington’s 2012 gubernatorial race.
The perch also should give Inslee deeper ties to national Democratic donors should he seek a second term in 2016. The group raised more than $50 million during the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Inslee was one of three rookie governors named to leadership posts, according to POLITICO. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin was re-elected to a second term as DGA chair.
“The governor is excited about this opportunity to help his colleagues across the country,” said Newman, who was with Inslee in D.C. on Monday. Inslee’s air fare and other expenses were being covered by the DGA or his campaign funds, not taxpayer dollars, she said.
Inslee’s predecessors, former Govs. Gary Locke and Chris Gregoire, each served as DGA chairs.
While in D.C. Inslee also is expected to attend the first White House meeting of a climate change task force of state and local leaders established last month by President Obama. He is expected to return to Washington state Tuesday.
December 4, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Local Democratic activists met Tuesday night to fill vacancies in a couple of Seattle-area legislative seats.
Ed Murray’s election as Seattle mayor last month left his 43rd Legislative District state Senate seat up for grabs.
State Rep. Jamie Pedersen will slide over to that position, as he ran essentially unopposed at a meeting Tuesday night of the 43rd District Democrats. Hundreds of Democratic precinct-committee officers gathered in a South Lake Union meeting hall for the vote.
Under the state constitution, legislative vacancies are filled via appointments by the local county council, which must choose a replacement from the same political party from a list of three names submitted by the local party organization. In practice, the Metropolitan King County Council typically picks the top choice from the list forwarded by the party.
So as a formality, the council will have two other names to choose from besides Pedersen, but both those alternative “candidates” made it clear Tuesday night they back Pedersen and have no intention of serving.
Pedersen, an attorney, was elected to the state House in 2006 and has served as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
After Pedersen’s selection, the real drama Tuesday night was over the appointment to fill Pedersen’s state House seat.
After a couple rounds of voting, the nod for that position went to Brady Walkinshaw, a program officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Walkinshaw is Cuban-American and gay, living on Capitol Hill with his partner, who works for the state Department of Natural Resources.
Walkinshaw bested Scott Forbes, the chairman of the 43rd District Democrats, and Cristina Gonzalez, a budget analyst for King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office. While all three names will be sent to the County Council, party etiquette says the runners-up will back Walkinshaw as the first choice.
The 43rd District runs through the liberal heart of Seattle (including Capitol Hill, Fremont, Wallingford and the University District) and at last night’s meeting of nearly 200 precinct-committee officers (PCOs), the three candidates sounded virtually identical calls for new tax revenue for schools, strengthened civil-rights protections for minorities and increased transit funding.
Forbes called it a choice between “an excellent progressive candidate, an excellent progressive candidate, and an excellent progressive candidate.”
So it came down to who had rallied enough PCOs to show up on a Tuesday night to vote. And Walkinshaw, who repeatedly boasted of his many endorsements from party leaders and state legislators, including Pedersen, won the ground game.
Meanwhile, in the 33rd Legislative District south of Seattle, Democrats selected Kent City Councilmember Elizabeth Albertson to fill the state House seat being vacated because of Dave Upthegrove’s election to the Metropolitan King County Council.
The 33rd District covers Kent, SeaTac, Des Moines and Normandy Park.
All the appointees will serve one year and will have to stand for election to full terms in 2014.
December 2, 2013 at 3:40 PM
Two Seattle ballot measures seeking to shake up City Council elections fared quite differently at the polls.
The proposal to elect most councilmembers by geographic districts — Charter Amendment 19 — won big throughout the city.
An analysis of precinct vote returns by The Seattle Times’ Justin Mayo shows the districts measure lost in only five of Seattle’s 952 precincts. The proposal received nearly 66 percent support citywide. The result was a surprising turnaround for Seattle, which had repeatedly rejected similar measures in the past.
Seattle Prop. 1, which would have enacted a public-financing system for City Council candidates, failed narrowly — the ‘no’ side won just 50.4 percent of the vote.
The measure had broad support in many areas, winning more than 60 percent of the vote in Capitol Hill, Wallingford, Fremont, the Central District, Ravenna and the University District.
Its broadest opposition was in West Seattle, Fauntleroy and Magnolia.
The narrow loss means a similar plan could be back on the ballot as early as next year. Rory O’Sullivan, a spokesman for the Prop. 1 campaign said backers are considering all options — including possibly expanding the measure to apply to mayoral contests.
“I think the message we found is that there is a lot of energy behind this issue, a lot of energy to go forward,” O’Sullivan said.
December 2, 2013 at 2:24 PM
Seattle City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant piled up big vote advantages in several central city neighborhoods to seal her national-headline-making win over 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin.
Sawant drew 60 percent or higher support from the Central District, Capitol Hill, the International District and Wallingford, according to an analysis of precinct vote returns by The Seattle Times’ Justin Mayo. She also scored more than 55 percent in Rainier Valley, Ballard, Beacon Hill, Fremont and the University District.
Her pattern of support was similar to that of Mayor Mike McGinn, but Sawant was able to stack up more intense support in those neighborhoods. She defeated Conlin 51 to 49 percent citywide.
Conlin’s biggest support (55 percent and higher) came from Seattle’s outer-ring neighborhoods including Laurelhurst, Magnolia, Montlake, Sand Point and West Seattle.
December 2, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Update: 3:40 p.m. – Now with interactive, address-searchable map. Click map image for interactive version. We’ve also posted similar breakdowns for Kshama Sawant’s Seattle City Council win, and for Seattle’s ballot measures on District Elections and Public Campaign Financing
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn lost his bid for reelection with diminished voter support through most of the city.
An analysis of precinct vote returns by the Seattle Times’ Justin Mayo shows a familiar pattern in city politics. Viewed as the marginally more progressive candidate, McGinn carried Seattle’s most liberal inner-core neighborhoods including Capitol Hill, Fremont, Wallingford, the International District and Central District. That’s similar to the electoral base that carried him to victory in 2009.
But Mayor-Elect Ed Murray ate into McGinn’s base even in those neighborhoods. Compared with 2009, McGinn’s support was down everywhere but parts of southeast Seattle.
The sharpest drop was in Capitol Hill, where McGinn’s support tumbled by 8.9 percentage points compared with four years ago. That’s not a huge surprise, as Murray lives on Capitol Hill and represented the 43rd Legislative District for 18 years.
McGinn’s support fell 7.8 percentage points in the University District/Ravenna area and he lost 5 or more percentage points in Ballard, Delridge, Fauntleroy, Lake City, Magnolia, Queen Anne, South Park and West Seattle.
After four years in office, McGinn’s only increased support for his reelection campaign came in the southeast Seattle neighborhoods of Rainier Beach, Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill.
Murray, meanwhile, attracted his strongest support from Seattle’s outer-ring, waterfront-view neighborhoods including Montlake, Magnolia, Laurelhurst, West Seattle and Queen Anne.
Murray ended election night with a double digit lead on McGinn. But the race tightened substantially in later returns. When the election was certified last week, the final result was Murray 51.5 percent, McGinn, 47.5 percent.
November 20, 2013 at 4:21 PM
Susan Hutchison, the new chair of the state Republican party, gets a salary of about $75,000 a year — substantially less than the $95,000 earned by her predecessor, Kirby Wilbur.
But when Hutchison tried last weekend to convince the GOP executive committee to boost her pay to Wilbur’s level, the conversation turned ugly and Hutchison’s request was rebuffed.
Hutchison bemoaned the decision in an internal party memo obtained by The Seattle Times.
In the memo, sent Monday to the state GOP executive board, Hutchison wrote the “positive spirit” of the GOP meeting had “soured late in the day” when her salary request came up.
The pay for the Republican chairman’s position had been cut by GOP leaders — citing budget issues — at a meeting just prior to Hutchison’s election in August.
But Hutchison argued that vote had violated the party’s bylaws and could be viewed as “discriminatory and vindictive” — and even play into the hands of Democrats who have talked up the GOP’s problems among female voters.
“The pay cut defies the concept of equal pay for equal work, playing into the ‘war on women’ narrative against Republicans,” Hutchison wrote. She added she’d personally raised $22,000 from 18 non-Republican Party donors from her personal list of contacts — “which more than covers” the $20,000 pay raise.
“I left the meeting demoralized, and so did my hardworking staff. I heard that some of you felt beat up and angry, while others were very pleased. This kind of division over something so minor is not what will move us forward,” Hutchison wrote.
Despite the setback, Hutchison called the pay raise issue “minor” compared with the party’s task of electing Republicans to key state offices. “Since I declined nearly $11,000 in medical benefits, the true dispute involves less than $10k to the WSRP! That is not worth all the time and effort — and ill-will it has engendered,” she wrote, saying she’ll accept the lower salary for now.
She added: “Please, for the sake of the Party, put this issue to rest and don’t let it fester going forward. I particularly don’t want persons outside the party to hear about the quibbling as it will undermine our fundraising efforts among major donors. We have a very positive story to tell, and together we will win!”
Republican sources told The Seattle Times some GOP leaders were dismayed by Hutchison raising the “war on women” meme in her memo. They added that there has long been discussion within the party about how much the state party chair should be paid. “There is no war on women,” said one GOP source familiar with the dispute.
In an interview Wednesday, Hutchison said she considered the matter closed. “I’m sure that as time goes on and as people become more confident in our ability to raise money and so forth, we’ll all take a look at it again,” she said.
November 15, 2013 at 1:20 PM
Even with ballots delivered right to their mailboxes, most Washington voters didn’t bother to participate in this year’s election.
Statewide turnout was at 44 percent as of Friday — the lowest in a decade. That could tick up above 45 percent once all the votes are finally counted.
Either way, voter participation this year looks to be at its lowest since 2003, when just 40.5 percent of voters cast ballots, according to data from Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office. Her office had predicted a 51 percent statewide turnout.
Turnout is always down in off-year elections, which occur in odd-numbered years and don’t feature high-profile presidential or congressional contests to attract voter interest. Since 1980, turnout in off-year elections has averaged 51 percent, compared with 79 percent in presidential election years and 62 percent during midterm elections.
Dave Ammons, a spokesman for Wyman’s office, noted that unlike 2012 there were no highly charged issues like marijuana legalization or gay marriage on the ballot. Initiative 522, which would have required labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs), didn’t draw the same level of interest, despite record spending by the ‘no’ campaign.
“GMO is a pretty abstract notion that required quite a bit of voter research and the Eyman one (Initiative 517) only vaguely interested people,” Ammons said in an email. “The tax advisory votes probably didn’t draw anyone to vote and, indeed, we heard from a lot of confused voters who didn’t understand the process of a nonbinding vote on something that already happened.”
Turnout in King County was about 47 percent as of Friday, with thousands more votes waiting to be counted. It was higher — about 53 percent — in Seattle, where voters decided a contentious mayor’s race.
Turnout was lowest in Yakima County (37.4 percent) and highest in Jefferson County (64.3 percent).
Even with the relatively low numbers, turnout in Seattle, at least, was stellar compared with some other major cities. New York’s mayoral race drew a record low turnout of 24 percent, according to The New York Times. And in Los Angeles, the mayoral runoff election in May drew a record low turnout of just 23.3 percent, according to the Los Angeles Times.
November 14, 2013 at 11:28 AM
Gov. Jay Inslee is headed to China Thursday morning for a delayed trade mission — a day after the Boeing Machinists’ vote that threw the future of the state’s aerospace sector into doubt.
Inslee had postponed the scheduled start of the trip to wrap up the Boeing tax-break legislation he signed into law this week. He had originally planned to begin the trade mission Saturday with a stop in Tokyo.
This morning, Inslee was scheduled to fly to Shanghai to join a delegation of more than 100 business and educations leaders, according to the governor’s office. His itinerary includes events promoting Washington pears, Almond Roca candy, the wine industry and a roundtable discussion with Chinese clean-tech investment companies.
David Postman, Inslee’s communications director, said the governor will remain in discussions via phone and email with legislators, aerospace representatives and others in the wake of Wednesday night’s Machinists’ vote. During a news conference Wednesday night, Inslee vowed the state would compete strongly for Boeing’s new 777x line despite the contract rejection.
“He was torn about going, but feels he had an obligation to the people who planned their life for some time around this trip,” Postman said. “This is not a break. This is work and I think anybody who understands business in Washington state and the importance of trade in Washington understands the role the governor can play here.”
Delegates on the trade mission include several staffers from the state Department of Commerce and Department of Agriculture, representatives of state fruit and grain growers, Port of Seattle officials and others seeking to expand Washington’s export business in Asia.
Inslee is set to return to Washington state Monday evening.
November 8, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Updated at 1:17 p.m. with comment from protest organizers
After a group of women was arrested at state Republican Party headquarters in Bellevue on Thursday during a protest about national immigration policy, state GOP Chairwoman Susan Hutchison issued a friendly statement saying she shared their concerns.
“Like them, we agree that our immigration system is broken and we must find a solution,” Hutchison said, saying it was “unfortunate” she was in Washington, D.C., and unable to hear the protesters’ concerns.
But former state GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur had a more hostile reaction, taking to Twitter to lob personal insults at the group.
“I missed all the fun at State HQ today as the left wing witches and hags protested and got arrested. They look so old and ugly…” Wilbur tweeted.
Police arrested 33 women at the Bellevue protest, including Peggy Lynch, the wife of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. The women were arrested in an act of civil disobedience after refusing to leave when asked by the building owner.
Keith Schipper, a spokesman for the state Republican Party, said the group clearly wanted to get arrested, but did not get personally insulting toward GOP staff. “The ghost of Kirby Wilbur has no influence on the Washington State Republican Party any more. He doesn’t speak for the party,” Schipper said.
Wilbur, the former conservative talk-radio host, quit as state Republican Party chair in July to take a job with Young America’s Foundation in Washington, D.C.
Asked whether he thought his tweet was appropriate, Wilbur emailed “Yup.” He added in a subsequent email that liberals frequently call conservatives racist and said “preventing innocent people from working and conducting their business isn’t cordial in my book.”
Protest organizers were angered by Wilbur’s comment.
“We’re discouraged and appalled that the GOP’s response to a powerful action geared towards raising awareness about a substantive issue resorted to sexist name-calling and degradation,” said Rachael DeCruz, communications director for Washington CAN!, which helped organized the protest.
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