October 9, 2013 at 4:41 PM
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and state Sen. Ed Murray went after each others’ records and effectiveness in their first televised debate before a studio audience this afternoon. The debate will air tonight on KING-TV at 7 p.m. and The Seattle Times will host a live chat with readers during the airing.
Murray criticized McGinn’s leadership of the police department and his opposition to the deep-bore tunnel, after an 11th hour announcement in 2009 that he wouldn’t oppose the tunnel to replace the viaduct. Murray also attacked McGinn for holding a news conference to say guns collected in a gun buyback would be melted down into peace bricks, even though at the time of the announcement, McGinn knew the guns already had been destroyed by the police department.
“How can we as a city trust you?” Murray asked the mayor.
McGinn repeatedly questioned Murray’s effectiveness in the state legislature, noting that the state is 43rd in education funding and last in mental-health beds. McGinn said that he consistently opposed leaving the city on the hook for cost overruns on the tunnel. A clause in the tunnel funding legislation says Seattle property owners who benefit from the tunnel will pay for cost overruns.
“I raised an important question … Neither (Gov. Chris) Gregoire or Murray, despite his vaunted power, could get it changed,” McGinn said.
KING-TV anchorman Dennis Bounds moderated the debate. Questions were posed by a panel of journalists including Jim Brunner, political reporter for The Seattle Times, Dave Ross, a host on radio 97.3 FM, and Linda Brill, political reporter for KING-TV News.
July 30, 2013 at 1:31 PM
Update 3:30 p.m. Added comment from King County Republican Party chair Lori Sotelo.
The surprise resignation of state GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur has sent a flurry of text messages and emails flying in Republican circles, as party activists chat up possible successors.
One name that has emerged is Susan Hutchison, the former KIRO-TV anchor who unsuccessfully ran for King County Executive in 2009 largely downplaying her ties to the Republican Party.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Hutchison confirmed she is thinking about running for the GOP job.
“I think it’s an exciting job, and I think there is a lot to be done, and it requires someone who is dynamic, understands the territory and the state and can raise money and bring people together,” Hutchison said. Asked whether those were qualities she possesses, Hutchison replied: “I think they are.”
As for her efforts to portray herself as “nonpartisan” in the 2009 King County Executive race, Hutchison said “that was what was required in that job — it was a nonpartisan position.”
“I ran a very good nonpartisan campaign,” she said. “And if the other side would have run a good nonpartisan campaign it would have been a fair contest.”
The King County executive position was made nonpartisan by a voter-approved initiative in 2008. But Democrats made sure voters knew about Hutchison’s GOP connections when she ran for the office the following year. Dow Constantine emerged from the primary field and won the general election race in part by savaging Hutchison’s conservative ties.
Hutchison praised Wilbur’s work as GOP chairman, saying he is “well loved,” but said there is plenty of work to do to get the GOP competitive again in state races. ”It is not a good thing that our city our county and our state have become one-party dominated,” she said.
For now, the state party is being led by vice chair Luanne Van Werven, who said she is not ruling out seeking the job on a permanent basis. “I haven’t made my decision yet. I want to be very deliberate,” she said.
Lori Sotelo, who chairs the King County Republican Party, also said Tuesday she is thinking about a bid, but wants to “let the dust settle” and weigh what would be best for the party.
The GOP state committee is scheduled to meet in late August in Spokane, but Van Werven said that may be too soon under GOP rules to hold an election for Wilbur’s replacement. The party’s has up to 90 days to pick a new chair. The chair is elected by 117 Republican officials from each of Washington’s 39 counties.
Another likely factor in the GOP race will be the cohort of energetic supporters of former presidential candidate Ron Paul, who have organized as the Republican Liberty Caucus. That group has frequently clashed with establishment GOP leaders, who viewed them with suspicion.
Matt Dubin, a Seattle attorney and leader in the Republican Liberty Caucus of King County, said in a blog post the election of a new chair “presents a rare opportunity for us to unite and invigorate our party.”
Dubin blasted state party leaders for fighting the “libertarian wing of the party with particular vehemence and venom” — infighting that he said drained the party of time and money to fight Democrats. “It is time for this nonsense to stop,” he said.
Dubin said the Liberty Caucus will be actively involved in the coming election but did not yet name any candidates.
July 29, 2013 at 5:50 PM
Washington State Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur resigned Monday, announcing he is taking a job with a conservative group in Washington, D.C.
Wilbur, a former conservative talk radio host, was elected to lead the state GOP in 2011, and was re-elected earlier this year despite a mostly dismal 2012 for local Republicans.
In a news release, Wilbur said he’d been offered a five-year contract with Young America’s Foundation (YAF), which seeks to train the next generation of conservative youth. Wilbur has served for years on the YAF board of directors.
“It has been an honor to serve as chairman of the WSRP since January 2011. We have had many successes and I have had some failures. The Party has a good crop of up-and-coming leaders, and a strong staff, and it will continue to move forward no matter whose hand is on the helm,” Wilbur said in a news release.
Wilbur touted some victories, including the Republican pick up of a state House and state Senate seat last year, the latter resulting in the legislative coup that brought the Majority Coalition Caucus into power in Olympia this year. Left unmentioned were last year’s GOP setbacks, including Rob McKenna’s loss in the gubernatorial race, and Democratic victories in each of three open congressional seats.
WSRP Vice-Chair Luanne VanWerven will serve as interim chair of the party until a replacement can be elected. Party spokesman Keith Schipper said that may happen at the next GOP state committee meeting, scheduled for Spokane in late August.
June 25, 2013 at 12:01 PM
As Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn battles to get through a mayoral primary this summer, Seattle public television station KCTS-9 is airing a conversation with five men who know what it’s like to succeed — and fail — at City Hall.
“The Mayors” – a one-hour special, premieres at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Hosted by KCTS-9′s Enrique Cerna and The Seattle Times’ Joni Balter, the program is a casual, wide-ranging chat with Seattle’s five living ex-mayors: Wes Uhlman, Charles Royer, Norm Rice, Paul Schell and Greg Nickels.
While there are no big surprises, there are plenty of interesting moments as the five trade war stories and recall the stiffest challenges they faced over the past five decades. (Hint: The police department is frequently involved.)
All show a love for the job, as well as an appreciation for how fast it can go sour.
“It means you’ve got a lot of scars,” says Uhlman of being mayor. Elected in 1969, Uhlman was the city’s youngest mayor at 34 and served two tumultuous terms — surviving a recall election mounted by the firefighters’ union. He tried to run for governor but lost in a Democratic primary.
Rice adds: “I always say it’s the best job I ever had that I wouldn’t want to have the rest of my life.” Elected in 1989, Rice (nicknamed “Mayor Nice”) served two terms. Like Uhlman, he tried to vault to the governor’s office but lost in a primary.
Nickels and Schell were both tossed in mayoral primaries — something Nickels claims he’s gotten over, but Schell half-jokes: “I’m still mad about it.”
Schell, of course, lost to Nickels and then-City Attorney Mark Sidran in the 2001 primary after a single term marred by 1999′s WTO-conference violence and a deadly 2001 Mardi Gras riot. Schell bears literal scars from his four years in office — he was struck in the face by a bullhorn-wielding assailant.
Nickels managed two terms but was unceremoniously dumped by voters in the 2009 primary after a widely criticized city response to a major snowstorm.
In a segment relevant to McGinn’s first term, the ex-mayors all pointed to management of the police department — and especially hiring the right police chief — as the most crucial part of running the city.
“Your reputation and your future is on the end of every nightstick that is out there,” said Uhlman, who tried to clean up a police department battered by corruption probes in the 1970s.
Royer, the former TV journalist who served an unprecedented three terms as mayor starting in 1978, recalled advising McGinn early on in his term to focus carefully on the police chief decision. ”Make sure you do this right,” Royer says he told McGinn.
After a national search, McGinn wound up staying inside the department and picked John Diaz as chief. The Seattle Police Department since has faced a Department of Justice investigation and consent decree over officers’ use of force. Diaz announced his retirement in April.
“It didn’t go very well,” said Royer, who has endorsed state Sen. Ed Murray in the 2013 mayor’s race. “But he has another chance.”
Watch clips from “The Mayors” below (click on the ‘menu icon’ to see additional clips):
June 18, 2013 at 3:14 PM
WASHINGTON — Speaking collectively, seven congressional Democrats from Washington on Tuesday pressed the Justice Department for quick action on the state’s recreation-marijuana law.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the lawmakers — including three who personally opposed last year’s pot initiative — urged assurances that pot users and sellers won’t be “penalized by the federal government for activities legal under state law.”
The letter was signed by Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, as well as Reps. Adam Smith of Bellevue, Jim McDermott of Seattle, Suzan DelBene of Medina, Denny Heck of Olympia and Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor.
Of the seven, Cantwell, Murray and Kilmer did not vote for November’s Initiative 502, which made possession of small amounts of pot by adults legal. The state law runs counter to the federal Controlled Substances Act, which prohibits both recreational and medical marijuana.
Pot advocates in the state have become increasingly critical of what they view as the delegation’s lack of effort to reconcile the state-federal legal conflict. Smith was the only member from Washington to sign a similar letter to Holder last year.
The eighth Democrat, Everett’s Rick Larsen, did not sign the new letter. He also opposed I-502.
Larsen is at the Paris Air Show this week at the behest of Gov. Jay Inslee. Larsen’s spokesman, Bryan Thomas, said Larsen chose not to sign because “the Department of Justice is responsible for enforcing federal laws. Congressman Larsen believes the state must work with the Department of Justice to determine a way forward.”
The delegation’s four House Republicans also opposed I-502: Dave Reichert of Auburn, Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas and Doc Hastings of Pasco.
The state Liquor Control Board, the agency charged with creating a legal marijuana system, is expected to issue draft rules for that system July 3. Retail pot stores would open next year.
June 14, 2013 at 12:19 PM
The Seattle mayor’s race is heading to the small screen.
Mayor Mike McGinn’s re-election campaign has locked in $24,300 in cable television ads — the first candidate to make a TV buy ahead of the Aug. 6 mayoral primary.
The 30-second ads will run on a variety of cable channels from July 5 to Aug. 5, according to a summary of the buy on file at Seattle’s Comcast office. (By law, TV stations have to make details of political ad purchases available for public review.)
John Wyble, McGinn’s campaign consultant, said the mayor’s ad has not yet been recorded. “We haven’t cut it. It’s on my list of things to do today is start writing,” he said.
Wyble said the campaign likely will add more TV buys in the coming weeks. McGinn’s campaign had $126,000 in the bank as of the end of May.
Look for his rivals — at least those who can afford it — to join him on TV soon.
June 11, 2013 at 1:42 PM
WASHINGTON — With the federal government mere months away from possibly breaching the debt ceiling yet again, Rep. Jim McDermott of Seattle and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California are proposing to withhold lawmakers’ paychecks until they vote to raise the borrowing limit.
The two Democrats on Wednesday will roll out their Pay Your Bills or Lose Your Pay Act of 2013, which would lock up members’ salaries in escrow accounts until they lift the $16.4 trillion federal line of credit.
In January, Congress temporarily suspended that borrowing limit. That reprieve expired May 19. Since then, the Treasury Department has been shuffling money from various accounts to keep paying out Social Security benefits, interest payments on bonds and other obligations.
Now the U.S. national debt has risen to more than $16.7 trillion, and Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling by October or November to prevent a federal default. Some conservative Republicans are balking at increasing the government’s statutory borrowing limit.
The McDermott-Boxer bill is the second time in five months Congress is resorting to fiscal threat against itself. In January, the “no budget, no pay” proposal helped spur Senate Democrats to pass a budget, which they had failed to do for three years, in part to avoid votes on controversial spending issues.
But the Senate budget has yet to be reconciled with the version from the House. One holdup: insistence by conservative Senate Republicans such as Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas on a binding pledge not to raise the debt ceiling.
May 23, 2013 at 11:27 AM
One early measure of the Seattle mayoral race is the fight for endorsements from the city’s Democratic legislative-district organizations.
The groups of liberal activists, crammed into community centers, schools and union halls, provide an early sounding board and organizing heat-check for candidates at a time when few voters are paying attention.
So far, Mayor Mike McGinn has come up short in his quest to land those endorsements for his re-election campaign. He’s received just one – from the 37th District Democrats (southeast Seattle, including Rainier Valley, Central District and Columbia City), who gave a dual endorsement to McGinn and City Councilmember Bruce Harrell.
The good news for McGinn is that none of his rivals has emerged as a clear frontrunner in these endorsements, either. They have been split among Harrell, state Sen. Ed Murray and former City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck.
Last night, at a meeting of the 36th District Democrats, no candidate emerged with a win. While Murray was the clear favorite, having been recommended for a sole endorsement by the group’s executive board, supporters of other candidates denied him the sole endorsement. Murray and supporters responded by voting down proposals to share any dual or triple endorsements.
Asked whether the paucity of Democratic endorsements is a problem for the mayor, McGinn political consultant John Wyble responded via email: “Mayor McGinn was the only candidate that was in the game in every District. We feel good that he’s got a base of support in every district against a lot of well-known candidates.”
Here is the Democratic legislative-district endorsement scorecard so far:
11th District (Duwamish industrial area, South Park and Georgetown) – Steinbrueck and Harrell.
37th District (Rainier Valley, Central District, Columbia City) - McGinn and Harrell.
43rd District (Capitol Hill, University District, Fremont) – Murray.
46th District (Maple Leaf, Lake City, Laurelhurst) – Steinbrueck and Murray.
36th District (Queen Anne, Ballard, Magnolia) – No endorsement (Murray received the most votes at a meeting Wednesday night, but no candidate received enough votes for an endorsement)
Yet to endorse are the 34th District Democrats of West Seattle, who will meet to pick their favorite next month.
May 20, 2013 at 1:26 PM
A new KING 5 poll finds Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn with 22 percent support for re-election, with a trio of rivals scrapping to emerge as his leading challenger.
The SurveyUSA poll of 552 registered voters was conducted over the weekend — just after city Councilmember Tim Burgess announced his withdrawal from the race.
Former City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck placed second in the poll, with 17 percent support, followed closely by state Sen. Ed Murray at 15 percent, and city Councilmember Bruce Harrell at 12 percent. Stragglers included businessman Charlie Staadecker (4 percent), Greenwood activist Kate Martin (4 percent) and socialist Mary Martin (3 percent). The poll found 23 percent of voters are undecided.
Considering the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent, McGinn’s top challengers are bunched too tightly to draw firm conclusions.
But at first glance, the results appear to be good news for Steinbrueck, who rose in the field of challengers compared with a previous KING 5 poll in March.
May 16, 2013 at 7:00 AM
An Eastern Washington tea party group says it was among those targeted by the Internal Revenue Service for extra scrutiny when it applied for nonprofit status.
Organizers with the Tri-Cities Tea Party said they received two rounds of detailed questionnaires from the IRS after seeking 501(c)(4) status in 2010.
Radphord-Leon Howard, one of the group’s leaders, said the first round of questions appeared largely reasonable — queries about its officers and mission, for example.
After supplying answers to those questions, the group waited for a year or so, but the IRS didn’t reply to letters asking about the status of its application, said Howard, who lives in West Richland.
Then, about a year ago, the group received a detailed second set of inquiries from the IRS, some of which seemed overly intrusive for a small organization, especially demands for addresses and affiliations of the group’s donors, Howard said.
“These are $10 and $20 donors. That’s when we figured they are trying to figure out a way to deny us the status,” Howard said. “We felt we were targeted.”
The Tri-Cities group responded to some of the additional questions, Howard said. But organizers considered others too invasive and considered joining a national lawsuit being planned by conservative legal advocates.
Howard said after going back and forth with the IRS with no resolution, they ultimately decided to just drop the nonprofit application, figuring they weren’t raising enough money to bother with it (or trigger any federal rules).
“We’ll still be what we are,” Howard said. He said although IRS seemed to believe the group was going violate nonprofit status by straying into political campaigning for a particular party or candidate, “our purpose is to educate - we don’t like either one of the parties, Democrat or Republican.”
The uproar over the IRS’ singling out of groups with words like “tea party” or “patriot” in their names erupted this week with the release of a Treasury Department inspector general’s report.
That report did not name which groups were subjected to the inappropriate targeting, and a Treasury Department spokeswoman did not respond Wednesday to requests for additional information. But the lengthy questionnaires described by Howard are similar to those that other conservative groups say they received from the IRS after applying for nonprofit status.
The IRS actions, which President Obama has called “inexcusable,” led to the ouster Wednesday of the acting IRS commissioner, Steven Miller, and announcements of a criminal probe and investigations by Congress.
Keli Carender, the well-known Seattle tea party activist, said the national conservative group she now organizes for – Tea Party Patriots – also believes it was targeted by the IRS for invasive questioning based on its political leanings.
She said the IRS treatment of the national and Tri-Cities group is an example of why the tea party started in the first place: “a government that is so big that people are not held accountable.”
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