Topic: John Koster
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November 9, 2012 at 1:54 PM
Post updated at 2:09 p.m. with comment from Koster campaign manager Larry Stickney.
Finger pointing has erupted in the Republican Party over John Koster’s loss to Democrat Suzan DelBene in the 1st Congressional District.
Trailing 47-53 percent, Koster announced he’d concede the race Friday. But in a letter to supporters, he took shots at national and state Republican leaders for not helping him enough.
“Sadly, and for reasons untold, neither the National Republican Congressional Committee nor the Washington State Republican Party stepped up to provide us with anything more than token support. To be frank, we were on our own, yet thanks to people such as you, we nearly overcame the odds,” Koster wrote.
That enraged state Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur, who called Koster’s assessment hogwash.
“They simply ran a horrible campaign, and they’re blaming it on us,” said Wilbur, who put much of the blame on Koster’s campaign manager, Larry Stickney.
Wilbur said the Koster campaign didn’t get more help, because it failed to meet targets set out by the NRCC, which had to decide where to divvy up its money among Republican Congressional candidates nationally. Although Koster was named to the NRCC’s “Young Guns” program, he did not receive cash to buy the TV advertising needed to compete with DelBene.
“The NRCC wanted to work with them, wanted to help them, wanted to give them money – they didn’t meet any of the marks,” Wilbur said, adding the campaign also resisted advice from the state party.
Wilbur said the tension between the Koster campaign and the NRCC was building since at least the summer. On a conference call in July, Wilbur said he heard Stickney accuse a top NRCC operative of not liking the Koster campaign, because the operative was a “liberal.”
In an email, Stickney disputed Wilbur’s account of the campaign, saying Koster had met very rigorous standards to be named to the NRCC “Young Guns” program. Yet the party still did not come through with the help needed.
“The NRCC as well as the WSRP simply chose to not weigh into our campaign to a degree that would impact our race in a meaningful way… and the bottom line is that we lost because we were outspent 5 – 1,” Stickney wrote.
It’s not clear whether more cash or a better-run campaign would have pushed Koster over the top. The 1st District was redrawn last year to be the state’s only true swing district – equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. In other words, a district likely to favor a political centrist.
But Koster, a Snohomish County Council member, is a longtime social conservative who embraced the tea party movement and joined other national Republicans in making controversial comments about rape and abortion.
November 9, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Republican John Koster said he plans to call his opponent, Democrat Suzan DelBene, today to concede the 1st Congressional District race.
He has been behind since the first vote tallies Tuesday night, and wrote in a letter to supporters Thursday that “it would take at least a minor miracle in the final vote tallies for us to come from behind to win.”
He trailed 47-53 Thursday.
In his letter, Koster expressed frustration that national and state Republican groups did not come to his aid during his tight race with DelBene.
DelBene outraised Koster and put $2.8 million of her own money in the race, and independent groups stepped in to help her with ads and mailers. Koster got much less independent support, despite being on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s list of promising candidates. Koster wrote:
“Sadly, and for reasons untold, neither the National Republican Congressional Committee nor the Washington State Republican Party stepped up to provide us with anything more than token support. To be frank, we were on our own, yet thanks to people such as you, we nearly overcame the odds.”
And after a campaign in which he moderated his conservative stance on some issues, he sounded like his more conservative self as he expressed dismay about the liberal choices voters made Tuesday, including legalizing gay marriage and decriminalizing marijuana possession.
“It seems obvious to me that we have swung wildly in the wrong political direction and that we are now at a point where our society WILL suffer the consequences inherent with bad law and liberal representation,” he wrote, urging supporters to pray for their government leaders as the Bible says to do.
November 7, 2012 at 6:24 PM
Democrat Suzan DelBene could start voting in Congress in the lame-duck session that starts Tuesday, after Secretary of State Sam Reed wrote a letter saying she is expected to win the special election to serve the remainder of Jay Inslee’s term in the 1st Congressional District. She had 61 percent of the special-election vote Tuesday night.
DelBene also won in the newly drawn 1st Congressional District, beating John Koster for a regular term that will begin in January. The letter clears the way for her to go to Washington, D.C., and be sworn in even before all the ballots are counted and certified here.
Inslee’s old district leans Democratic, so DelBene’s win was expected. The new 1st is a swing district.
The election results won’t be official until Dec. 6, but Congressional leaders indicated a letter from the Secretary of State expressing confidence that DelBene had been elected would be sufficient for her to get started on her short, unexpired term.
DelBene’s campaign spokesman, Viet Shelton, said she plans to go to Washington D.C., next week for new member orientation on Tuesday. She will be sworn in as soon as possible.
November 6, 2012 at 9:25 PM
Democrat Suzan DelBene beat Republican John Koster in the newly drawn 1st Congressional District, a swing district. Tuesday night’s returns showed her leading 54 to 46 percent
She was ahead in three of four counties in the district in Tuesday’s incomplete vote county, leading in King County by 59 to 41 percent, and in Snohomish County, where Koster has been an elected official since 2000, she led 52 to 48 percent.
Koster led in Whatcom County by almost 57 to 43 percent, or 4,000 votes. DelBene was winning in rural Skagit County by 889 votes.
DelBene, a multimillionaire and former Microsoft vice president who briefly headed the state Department of Revenue, poured $2.8 million into her own race.
Koster is a longtime Snohomish County Council member and former dairy farmer making his third attempt at a congressional seat. He lost in 2000 and 2010 to U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen. DelBene, too, lost in 2010 to U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert.
The race grew increasingly hostile in recent weeks. Koster was twice caught on tape during the campaign saying things that drew criticism. First, during a speech at a fundraiser, he said too much government assistance can lead to “slothfulness,” and later, he used the phrase “the rape thing” to explain his position on abortion rights. Both comments made national news.
Meanwhile, Koster’s campaign sought to paint DelBene as rich and out-of-touch with middle-class concerns, posting a photo of her waterfront home on his campaign website. Koster rarely missed a chance to point out her spotty voting record before she ran for Congress.
DelBene also was well ahead in the special one-month election in the old !st Congressional District, the seat vacated by Jay Inslee, candidate for governor.
October 31, 2012 at 2:36 PM
Congressional candidate John Koster has been very squeamish in recent weeks when talking publicly about his views on abortion. The Republican is a longtime foe of abortion rights, but on a KING-TV appearance he sidestepped questions about how he would vote, saying he would uphold the current law.
“My personal beliefs are my personal beliefs on abortion,” he told Robert Mak on Up Front.
But Fuse Washington, a liberal organization based in Seattle, secretly audio-taped Koster speaking frankly about abortion over the weekend at an Everett fundraiser. They say his comments are “disturbing.”
On the tape, an activist with Fuse asks Koster whether there is any situation in which he would “agree” with abortion. He responds that he would make an exception for the life of the mother, but not for rape or incest, and describes his thinking in detail, using the phrase, “the rape thing” twice.
“Incest is so rare, I mean it’s so rare. But the rape thing, you know, I know a woman who was raped and kept the child, gave it up for adoption and doesn’t regret it. In fact, she’s a big pro-life proponent. But, on the rape thing it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s a consequence of this crime, how does that make it better?”
The activist says, “Yeah, but she has to live with the consequences of that crime.”
And Koster responds, “Yeah, I know. I know crime has consequences, but how does it make it better by killing a child?”
Koster’s campaign manager, Larry Stickney, said the candidate has nothing to hide.
“Consider that John was at a dinner with many people trying to get his attention, yet his words were still thoughtful and heartfelt,” Stickney said. “He very clearly and honestly stated his thoughts on an extremely sensitive subject. He has nothing to be ashamed of here.”
October 26, 2012 at 2:37 PM
KUOW radio host Ross Reynolds asked Republican Congressional Candidate John Koster Friday about his previous statements that he wants to eliminate some federal departments. And Koster played dumb.
“I don’t know where that came from,” he said. “I know my opponent has accused me of that.”
Koster is on the record during his 2010 campaign saying he wants to abolish the Department of Education, and he answered yes on a 2010 questionnaire indicating he supported eliminating the IRS and withdrawing from the United Nations.
Koster has backed off of those positions this year, in part to appeal to the swing voters in the newly drawn 1st Congressional District. On KUOW, he said he now thinks the U.S. Department of Education should have a more “administrative role” and let local governments handle the details, and that a flat tax is not realistic, but, theoretically, if that was approved, the Internal Revenue Service would not be necessary.
The two candidates revisited their usual points of disagreement in a 20-minute segment on KUOW’s “The Conversation.” Koster said DelBene has “zero, absolutely zero, political experience,” while he worked across the aisle as a state legislator and Snohomish County Council member.
DelBene shot back with his voting record in the Legislature, where he opposed five of six budgets.
“You can’t say you’re bipartisan if you only vote no,” she said. She kept trying to steer the conversation back to his past, while he worked to steer it toward what he says voters are now worried about: high gas and grocery prices and an economy recovering too slowly.
Koster has a “100% pro-life voting record,” according to his own campaign site. But in public interviews recently, he says he would uphold the laws regarding abortion. People are more concerned about the economy, he said, and his “personal views” on abortion shouldn’t matter.
Koster worked on several pieces of legislation limiting abortion rights when he was a state legislator in the 1990s. He co-sponsored legislation that would have allowed insurance companies not to cover abortions, for example, and supported more strict parental notification laws.
October 25, 2012 at 3:18 PM
Democratic candidate Suzan DelBene, a multimillionaire, has put another $500,000 of her own money into her campaign for the 1st Congressional District seat, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday afternoon. That means DelBene has put about $2.8 million into her primary and general election efforts, in addition to about $1.4 million she has raised from donors.
Her opponent, Republican John Koster, reported having raised a total of
$996,036 just over $1 million, almost entirely from donors. Koster actually has a little more money on hand: $158,499 versus DelBene’s $150,635. Still, DelBene is getting a lot more independent spending on her side, with national Democratic and women’s groups spending thousands of dollars to attack her opponent on his conservative positions on social issues.
With 12 days left until election day, DelBene spokesman Viet Shelton said he doesn’t know whether DelBene will put even more money into the race.
“It’s part of the overall comprehensive budget to finish strong,” he said.
Half of DelBene’s most recent contribution is a loan, so it could be repaid later.
October 25, 2012 at 6:00 AM
In Wednesday’s paper, I took a look at one of the claims in an ad being run by congressional candidate Suzan DelBene. On the Seattle Times Truth Needle scale, I said her claim about her Republican opponent’s position on birth control was mostly false.
It’s worth noting that, in 2010, reporter Lynn Thompson looked at one of the other claims in the ad — that John Koster wants to “privatize Social Security.” Koster’s 2010 opponent, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, ran a television ad saying Koster wanted to privatize Social Security, and the Times reported that claim was “half true.”
From Thompson’s story:
“Koster has never advocated completely replacing Social Security with investments in the stock market, and since Larsen started attacking his position, Koster has insisted that he’s against ‘privatizing’ the retirement program. But Koster has spoken about creating voluntary personal retirement accounts for younger workers who could invest a portion of their payroll taxes in stocks and bonds.
Critics say that amounts to a partial privatization of Social Security. Because Larsen’s ad implies that Koster wants to privatize the whole system, we find the ad is half true.”
Interestingly, in the fine print at the bottom of the screen, the DelBene campaign cites the Seattle Times story as proof that Koster wants to ban Social Security. But take a look at the story yourself. That claim is only half true.
Here is the 2012 ad.
October 23, 2012 at 8:05 AM
A new KING-TV SurveyUSA poll shows that Democrat Suzan DelBene has “a slight advantage” in the state’s newly drawn swing district, the 1st Congressional District. In a poll conducted over the weekend, Oct. 19-21, 47 percent of likely voters said they planned to vote for DelBene, versus 44 percent for her opponent, Republican John Koster.
With a margin-of-error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, it’s still a very close race, but Koster has not been behind in the numbers since the same poll showed him ahead, 46 percent to 42 percent, in September.
The poll suggests that hard-hitting ads highlighting Koster’s social views may be working. On those issues, 47 percent of those responding to the poll said DelBene better reflects their views. Only 39 percent said Koster better reflected their views. Koster fared better on economic issues; 44 percent said he better reflected their views, and 41 percent said DelBene did.
Over the past couple of weeks, Democratic groups supporting DelBene have run ads blasting Koster for opposing abortion rights, which he does in every instance except if the life of the mother is in danger. Koster’s campaign has a negative ad running against DelBene, panning her economic plan as burdensome to the middle class.
Koster has been working to moderate his social views, saying on KING 5 this weekend that he would “uphold the law” on abortion, saying, “My personal views are my personal views.”
The poll also asked 610 likely (or already returned a ballot) voters in the 1st district who they support for governor and president. Respondents split, with 50 percent supporting Rob McKenna over Jay Inslee (42 percent), but 48 percent supporting Barack Obama for president, versus Mitt Romney’s 45 percent.
October 23, 2012 at 6:00 AM
Republican John Koster, a candidate for Congress in the 1st District, received a $5,000 contribution from SarahPAC, the political organization headed by Sarah Palin. Koster is in a tight race with Democrat Suzan DelBene to represent the 1st District, a newly drawn swing district that runs from Redmond to the Canadian border.
Palin endorsed Koster in 2010, when he ran against Democrat Rick Larsen.
Koster’s far-right tea party ties have been a major talking point for the DelBene campaign, which has branded Koster “too extreme” for the 1st District. Koster’s campaign says DelBene is too liberal. For his part, Koster says he has been advocating for the tea party principals of smaller government and less taxation for decades, though he didn’t join the tea party. “They joined me,” he has said.
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