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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

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You are currently viewing all posts written by Will Mari. Will Mari is a second-year Ph.D. student in the University of Washington’s Department of Communication, and studies media history and journalism. He’s written for The Seattle Times, Seattle Metropolitan Magazine,, The Huffington Post and the UW Daily. Will went on the road with his departmental chair, David Domke, and covered the 2008 presidential campaign, in Texas, Idaho, Indiana and Washington State. He’s eager to get out and report on the ground again for his colleagues and friends from the Northwest.

September 19, 2012 at 7:00 AM

In search of American evangelicalism and politics

Washington, D.C. — We walked in silence in the mid-morning hush that hovered over the National Mall. It was Sunday, three days ago, and I was in town covering the Values Voter Summit, a conservative gathering that mixes faith, politics, and policy. A friend and I were on our way to church service at Capitol Hill Baptist.

It’s a site frequented by politicos, civil servants and students, heirs of a robust intellectual tradition within Christianity. I’ve been wanting to hear the pastor, Mark Dever, since I heard him talk at the University of Cambridge a few years ago.

Walking past the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court on the way to church is a fascinating experience. It’s here that our nation’s laws get made, and fought over.

Part of the U.S. Supreme Court’s granite facade was being renovated. From Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. (Will Mari / UW Election Eye)

And now we found ourselves at an intersection lined with sleepy trees and charming brownstones.

A woman approached us.

“Are you two here for the ‘weekender’?” she asked.

“The what?,” we wondered aloud, thinking she had meant to inquire if we were in town for the weekend, “sure.”

“Then follow me,” she said, “I’m going to CHB.”

On the way, we figured out what she had meant. The “Weekender” was a quarterly gathering of ministers of American and international ministers.

She had thought we were pastors. I suppose wearing a blazer and bearing Bibles and notepads might have encouraged that perception. My press badge was tucked away, in more than one sense.


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: Capital Hill Baptist Church, Christians, D.C.

September 16, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Evangelicals try to forge links across old ethnic lines

Washington, D.C. — That African-American Christians tend to vote for Democrats is axiomatic in the political world. But that might be changing, as some evangelicals work with conservative African-American pastors on shared opposition to same-sex marriage. Harry Jackson, a Maryland-based pastor, talks about interacting with black evangelical voters at the Values Voter Summit on Saturday, Sept….


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: African-American Christians, Bishop Harry Jackson, Evangelicals

September 15, 2012 at 7:32 PM

Beyond big-name speakers, conservatives tackle issues that matter to them

Washington, D.C. — Not everyone here was a veteran culture warrior, such as Gary Bauer or Tony Perkins, and there were plenty of other, perhaps more representative, social conservatives in attendance.

Some come because they’re worried about such perennial topics as same-sex marriage and abortion, and now the HHS mandate. Some, such as former U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith (R-Wash.), are deeply concerned about social-justice.

Former U.S. Rep. Linda Smith (R-Wash.) addresses human-trafficking at the Values Voter Summit, in Wash., D.C., on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (Will Mari / UW Election Eye)

Former U.S. Rep. Linda Smith (R-Wash.) addresses human-trafficking at the Values Voter Summit, in Wash., D.C., on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (Will Mari / UW Election Eye)

Smith, who served in Congress from 1995-98, founded Shared Hope International, a Northwest-based nonprofit that fights domestic human trafficking.

While she was invited to speak by Perkins, she hopes to get people who oppose abortion to care, too, about those abused and neglected as adults, and become interested in other social-justice causes as a result.


Addressing a small crowd during one of the afternoon “break-out” sessions, she said that efforts to stop the sell and trade of minors in the sex industry should be an extension of the “pro-life” cause.

“Believers and conservatives should put this issue in its proper position,” and not treat it as tangential, she said.


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: Evangelicals, HHS Mandate, Religious faith

September 15, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Same-sex marriage a local issue at national conference

Washington, D.C. — Though a bit few and far between, there are a few people here who are from the Northwest. Speaking  this morning on a panel of local leaders who oppose same-sex marriage atthe state level, Joseph Backholm, the director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington and the chair of the anti-R74 group, Preserve…


Comments | More in Culture, National, State | Topics: Family Policy Institute of Washington, Joe Backholm, Same-sex marriage

September 15, 2012 at 7:15 AM

“Values voters” get their values challenged at D.C. summit

The Values Voters Summit is an annual gathering of cultural conservatives. It is also a contested space.

GetEQUAL protesters chant outside of the Values Voter Summit in Wash., D.C., on Friday evening, Sept. 14, 2012 (Will Mari / UW Election Eye)

Washington, D.C. — In the still-mild twilight of a September evening, Felipe Matos and about a half-dozen gay and lesbian activists from around the country held up a large brown-paper sign. It read “Your ‘values’ are killing us.”

They carried large poster-pictures of young people they say have committed suicide in response to bullying stemming from their sexual orientation.

Chants of, “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Republicans have got to go!” echoed along the busy road.

Passersby, some of them from the Values Voter Summit being held across the street, wore looks that alternated between deep, angry frowns and slight smiles. Some shouted snarky comments at the protesters, who responded in kind. The occasional car honked a horn, but the mood was somewhere between ambivalent and tense.

Some people stopped to talk.


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: gay rights, LGBT. Values Voter Summit, Same-sex marriage

September 14, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Paul Ryan rallies cultural conservatives as he headlines Values Voter Summit

Washington, D.C. — As is his job as the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee, Paul Ryan dutifully came to the Values Voter Summit this morning, making the case that his boss was the best person to carry the Republican cause forward in the fall.

The crowd at the Values Voter Summit in Wash., D.C. stands to welcome Wisc. Rep. Paul Ryan, GOP vice-presidential nominee, on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012 (Will Mari / UW Election Eye)

But the congressman from Wisconsin was also here, it seems, to rally cultural conservatives and to help ensure that they stay energized enough to vote come November.

It wasn’t his line about how Romney is “an honest man with a charitable heart; a doer and a promise keeper,” nor his criticism of the president’s economic polices, that got the biggest standing applause.

For while he said that “in this election, values voters are also economic voters,” and tried to connect the economy under the president to social issues, Ryan was much more in his element toward the end of his speech, when he addressed worries about the HHS mandate and its impact on religious non-profits, especially those run by or associated with the Catholic Church.

“You would be hard pressed to find another group in America that does more to serve the health of women and their babies,” Ryan, who is Catholic, said.

But he claimed that the mandate is “not a threat and insult to one religious group; it is a threat and insult to every religious group.” It’s a standard line from the Romney campaign, but meant something different here.


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: GOP, HHS Mandate, Paul Ryan

September 14, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Republican conservatives open “third” convention at Values Voters Summit

Washington, D.C. — Some might say the Republican Party will have experienced three conventions this year.

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins speaks at last year’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. The Summit showcases conservative leaders and is sometimes a focal point of controversy. (Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore/flickr / UW Election Eye).

First, there was the mini-convention for Ron Paul and his people the weekend before the actual GOP convention last month in Tampa, Fla. UW Election Eye has encountered fervent Paul partisans all around the country, and they have been a very motivated bunch in their sometimes-quixotic libertarian quest for their man’s nomination.

The rally in Florida was a chance for them to vent some of their frustration at the process, some of which spilled over at the “big-tent” convention itself. But normally these are occasions in which disparate groups, as at all political-party gatherings, have to play well together, or appear to. As my colleagues showed in their coverage of the Democrats’ convention last week in Charlotte, S.C. they’re about presenting united fronts and compromising for the sake of potential victory.


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: GOP, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum

August 22, 2012 at 6:44 AM

Mike Huckabee provides political lifeline for Todd Akin

Former presidential candidate and current media celebrity Mike Huckabee is in Todd Akin’s corner. And that is enough for Akin as he tries to recover from his claims about rape, without the support of Republican Party leadership.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee during an interview in May 2008 in Seattle about the future of the Republican Party (Photo by Will Mari /UW Election Eye)

SEATTLE — I have long been interested in former Arkansas governor, minister, and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. I have reported on him and I have interviewed him. He is not one to back away from controversy. And in the heat over Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin, who made his infamous comments about rape on Sunday, Huckabee is in a unique spot. But more on that in a moment.

In 2008, Huckabee lost a long-shot bid at the GOP nomination to John McCain. Afterward, we talked at a local radio station about where the Republican Party had to go if it wanted to leave the political wilderness. He declared that white evangelical voters — the voting base of the GOP — could not be taken for granted in that, or any election cycle.

“I would caution anybody to not assume that the evangelicals will go and vote Republican,” he said. Comments like that didn’t bring down the fire from the GOP establishment, but showed his irascible side.

That side comes in handy in his support for Akin.


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: abortion, Mike Huckabee, Todd Aiken

May 29, 2012 at 7:00 AM

For Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, religion is subtle but real in recall election

HUDSON, Wisc. – In this town of 12,000 on the sleepy banks of the St. Croix River, Republican Gov. Scott Walker stood on a metal chair, flanked by flags as he spoke to a packed house. With just days before a June 5 recall election, his local campaign office was lined with volunteers eager to meet Walker in person.

Gov. Scott Walker stumps on a chair on Saturday, May 26, 2012, in Hudson, Wisc. His faith doesn't come out too openly, but also he's not shy about discussing his Christian faith. (Photo by Thor Tolo / UW Election Eye)

He was talking economics. But religion was there for those who had ears to hear.

“Do any of you remember ‘this little light of mine’?” he asked, holding up a hand. Several children shouted yes. Their moms and dads nodded and smiled. Walker, the son of a Baptist preacher, said no more, leaving the words to speak on their own. A few minutes later, Walker told them to remind their friends at church on Sunday morning to vote, because “we’ve got the truth.”

For those who have watched Walker in action, these kind of subtle references to faith are usually the extent of his nod to the religious convictions of many of his supporters, and to the conservative Christian heritage that’s present throughout the Midwest.

But as Walker stepped down from the chair that day, Tony Nasvik, the president of the Wisconsin chapter of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a faith-based advocacy organization founded by Ralph Reed and allied with Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council, approached Walker, and handed him a note.

The note said that Walker had been selected to receive Nasvik’s group’s “Courage in Leadership” award, which honors individuals who have exemplified faith-based engagement in the public sphere.

They’ve liked what they’ve been hearing.


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: evangelical faith, recall, Scott Walker

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