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December 10, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Two conservative Democratic state senators announced today they will join with Senate Republicans to form a “majority coalition caucus” in which they say power will more or less be split between the two parties.
The coup, which has been rumored since Republicans gained a seat in the Senate in last month’s election, would install one of the conservative Democrats, former Republican Rodney Tom of Bellevue, as the body’s majority leader and the other, Tim Sheldon of Potlach, as the president pro tempore.
Democrats and Republicans would each chair six committees under the proposal, with a majority of just one vote, Tom announced in a news conference. And three committees would be evenly split.
Republicans would chair some of the most important committees, however. Andy Hill of Redmond would chair the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee and Steve Litzow of Mercer Island would chair the early learning and K-12 education committee.
“What we’re doing here today is making sure that we have a Senate that functions,” said Tom, who called the move unprecedented. “The public out there is hungry for us to come together, to work together in a collaborative manner.”
Democrats have not signed on to the new coalition, which would focus on three stated priorities: promoting job growth, ensuring a “world class education system” and building a “sustainable budget.”
Asked about taxes, the Republicans cited the fact that Gov.-elect Jay Inslee, a Democrat, has pledged not to raise taxes.
Democrats controlled 26 of 49 seats before the coup and were preparing to lead the chamber under Sen. Ed Murry, D-Seattle. On Monday, they derided a power-sharing agreement as risky, noting that they have proposed to create an evenly-led education committee and to give Republicans an unprecedented number of seats on committees.
“We are concerned that trying to establish an unprecedented, untested, uncertain philosophical majority structure on the first day of the legislative session could bring the institution to a halt,” according to a Democratic statement.
Murray added in his own statement that Democrats “are committed to forming a mutually agreed-upon way for Republicans and Democrats to work together. We don’t believe the Republicans’ take-it-or-leave-it plan offers the right way forward. We remain hopeful that Republicans will be open to negotiations to ensure the full functioning of the Senate.”
Democrats control the state House.
November 6, 2012 at 9:26 PM
Democrats at an Election Night party at The Westin Seattle expressed confidence late tonight that former Congressman Jay Inslee will be elected governor.
In his speech after the networks called the presidential race for Barack Obama, state party chairman Dwight Pelz quickly turned the focus to Inslee.
“We’ve got a very important race here in Washington state,” said Pelz, before repeating a line that would get repeated many times over the next hour: “Rob McKenna has 36 percent here in King County. That’s not a good result for him.”
King County Executive Dow Constantine also cited the “hundreds of thousands” of King County ballots still to come as an indication Inslee will win.
“I frankly think that Jay’s lead is going to hold and he will be our next governor,” said Constantine, predicting that a recount won’t be necessary.
After the networks called the race for Obama, the large screen televisions in the Westin’s grand ballroom were tuned to the Washington Secretary of State’s website, which displayed results from the governor’s race. Loud cheers went up every time the results were updated.
“We’re feeling very confident,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith. “Jay Inslee is going to be our next governor.”
Inslee is scheduled to speak at The Westin at 10:30 p.m.
November 6, 2012 at 7:18 PM
It’s early, but Washington state Democrats gathering for an Election Night bash at The Westin Seattle are feeling good.
About 200 of them had trickled into the Grand Ballroom by 7 p.m., crowding around televisions displaying election results (on CNN) and chatting while holding alcoholic beverages (beer, wine and cocktails were each going for $9).
Outside, a nearly 8-foot-tall ice sculpture held “Obaminator,” a mixture of vodka, blue curacao and rosemary.
Vicki Tompkins, a 62-year-old Seattle resident, said the Democrats are very happy with the returns from the East Coast, which showed President Obama beating Republican Mitt Romney in Michigan and Pennsylvania, among other states.
“I think we’re going to do it,” Tompkins, wearing a pink Obama shirt and clutching a Scotch and soda, said of re-electing the president. “We’re feeling very optimistic.”
Dwight Pelz, the chairman of the Washington State Democratic Party, predicted Obama would win 56 percent of the vote in the state, just short of the president’s 57 percent in 2008.
“It’s going to be a great night for Democrats,” Pelz said.
About 1,000 attendees are expected at the party.
November 4, 2012 at 11:23 AM
King County officials on Sunday urged voters not to hand their ballots over to strangers.
The only way to guarantee a ballot will be counted is to mail it or drop it off at an offical King County elections site, said Democratic King County Executive Dow Constantine, joined by Sherill Huff, the county’s elections director.
“We are strongly advising citizens if they want to be sure their ballot is counted, don’t hand your ballot over to someone you don’t know,” Constantine said.
Huff said she had received complaints from residents, concerned about people going door-to-door collecting ballots. The effort is part of a Republican get-out-vote push. King County Republicans have also set up 10 collection vans in suburban parts of the county.
It’s not illegal to collect ballots for delivery, Huff said. Nor is there anything wrong with giving your ballot to someone else. Church and community groups commonly collect and deliver ballots, Constantine said. The danger lies is dealing with someone you don’t know, he said.
Secretary of State Sam Reed issued a statement Sunday saying “We strongly discourage such activity, but it’s not illegal.”
Democrats mounted similar efforts in previous elections.
Democrats are calling on Secretary of State Sam Reed to denounce a new King County GOP get out the vote tactic they say violates state law.
The “GOP Victory Van program,” announced last week, includes 10 locations where voters can drop their ballots. Staffers at the sites, paid $10 an hour by the King County Republican Party, are promising to deliver the ballots to official county ballot drop-off centers. The staffers are also offering to turn in ballots while going doorbelling at Republican households.
The GOP is touting the program as a way to boost turnout.
“This is called get out the vote,” said Kirby Wilbur, chairman of the Washington State Republican Party. “We’re trying to get every last vote we can.”
Democrats say the tactic is over the line.
“This initiative is as ill-considered as it is unprecedented,” Kevin J. Hamilton, a Washington State Democratic Party attorney, wrote Saturday to Secretary Reed. “There is a reason why nonpartisan election officials conduct our elections and the prospect of having partisan operatives collect voted ballots and return them to the elections office is chilling indeed.”
Reed did not immediately return telephone and email messages Sunday seeking comment.
In a news release, King County officials said the county “strongly discourages giving possession or responsibility for ballots to anyone other than USPS or official King County Elections drop locations.”
County Executive Dow Constantine, a Democrat, and Elections Director Sherril Huff held a news conference in West Seattle this morning to advise voters not to give their ballot to anyone they don’t know.
September 19, 2012 at 6:00 AM
Good morning, all:
Burning question: The No.1 political story this week – easy to venture out on that limb – is that pesky video that captures Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney dissing roughly half the American population, saying that 47 percent of Americans are victims who mooch off the government and don’t like his lower-tax message, so he can’t worry about them. And so on and so forth.
One can point to several measures of how devastating the video feels to Romney. First, Romney came out Monday night to quell the storm, to explain and admit his words were “inelegant.” Then, Tuesday, he came out to say more about the great American divide in philosophy about the proper size and role of government. Question of the day: Which is worse, Democrats celebrating before the finish line or verbal stumbles from Romney?
Here’s the offending video, in case you missed it.
One of most interesting Romney missteps came many months ago when he was offered a cookie from a bakery near the town where I was born and raised, Pittsburgh. Things did not go well.
Money flows: Washington’s governor’s race is one of the closest in the country. And the money is flowing this way because of it. Think RGA, DGA and WEA. Acronyms abound. The News Tribune has the latest.
And the ads that money buys are coming at you: The Stranger is trying to turn a new ad by the Republican Governors Association on behalf of Republican Rob McKenna into a Clint Eastwood-talks-to-a-chair kind of thing. But other viewers will say these gentlemen really don’t like Democrat Jay Inslee and the repetition about Inslee’s policies is tough stuff. Take a look for yourself.
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