Tag: 2012

Inslee Refunds $32,000 in Overlimit Campaign Donations

Congressman and candidate for Washington State governor Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) has refunded more than $32,000 in contributions from his gubernatorial campaign account, according to the Associated Press.

Two weeks ago, NW Daily Marker was the first to report that several donors to Inslee’s campaign had given more than the maximum amount allowed during an election cycle. The overlimit donations were caused when Inslee rolled over funds from his congressional campaign fund. The most recent interpretation of campaign finance laws by the State Public Disclosure Commission determined that Inslee had to count previous donations against limits in the current 2012 cycle.

The refunds amount to a very small percentage of Inslee’s campaign account and he is still left with nearly $1.3 million cash on hand compared to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna’s roughly $900,000.


[photo credit: stevendepolo]

Baumgartner Said to Be Organizing Exploratory Committee to Run Against Cantwell in 2012

Washington State Republicans are being treated to a welcome bit of news this week.  To date, the Republican Party’s search for a high-value candidate to run against incumbent U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell in 2012 has come up empty, to the point that some have despaired of ever finding a suitable entrant. Others have resigned themselves to the idea of giving Maria a pass, suggesting that the lack of a contested Senate race might avert the specter of out-of-state DNC money hurting the chances of other Republicans running for state-wide offices.

But in Sunday’s Everett Herald came the rumor that State Senator Michael Baumgartner is considering entering the 2012 Senate race against Maria Cantwell. It now appears that it is more than a rumor, with an exploratory committee perhaps in the works.

Despite his relative youth (Baumgartner is 35) he already has compiled a resume that is diverse, international and impressive. A WSU economics grad who grew up in Pullman and Spokane, he holds a Masters in Public Administration in International Development from Harvard University and has been to more than 70 countries and worked extensively in both the private and public sector.

He has taught economics both as a volunteer in Mozambique after WSU, and as a Teaching Fellow in Economics at Harvard. Baumgartner is extremely knowledgeable about the Middle East, having served as an Economics Officer with the US State Department during the Iraq Surge, later worked as an embedded advisor to an Afghan Government counter-narcotic team helping farmers to grow wheat instead of opium, and he is frequently asked to advise senior members of the US military on the economics of counterinsurgency.

The Boston Globe dubbed Michael the “Architect of Hope” for his role in the Iraq Surge and those who have had heard Michael speak on his experiences working on the ground in Afghanistan trying to assist a feudal, tribal narco-state develop a modern economy know that this is not a man who finds our current fiscal difficulties particularly daunting. Michael has also displayed a natural talent at campaigning, winning the most expensive legislative race in Washington history by 7.5% against an extremely well-funded incumbent in his first run for office in 2010.

Baumgartner made the most of his first session in Olympia, serving as the Ranking Republican on the Economic Development Committee, and as a member of the Ways and Means and Higher Education Committees. Focusing on jobs, the budget and education sounds like a pretty good preparation for addressing the highest priorities of today’s voters. As a result of Republican gains in 2010, Democrats in the State Senate found it necessary to include the Republican minority in many negotiations; so despite being a freshman, Baumgartner had the opportunity to have real influence on the budget as well as passage of key reform bills.  He helped shape the bi-partisan state budget, and his bill to reform state government and allow more contracting of non-essential services was called the most significant reform of Washington government in the last 20 years by Gov. Christine Gregoire when she signed it into law.

While some might believe a few more years experience in Olympia might benefit Baumgartner, it’s important to keep in mind that he already has more legislative experience than 11 of the 13 Republican candidates in our last Senate contest in 2010. This may end up more a feature than a bug; considering the current ratings of Congress, 2012 might well prove to be even more anti-government and anti-incumbent than was 2010.

Taking the Senate seat from two-term incumbent Maria Cantwell will be no easy task.  But Baumgartner’s entrance into the race adds an element that has been sadly absent from Washington State contests in recent years: Excitement. Michael Baumgartner is exactly the type of extraordinary young candidate that has the potential to capture the imagination of voters, in the manner of a Scott Brown or Marco Rubio.  Principled/Pragmatic Conservative, WSU, Harvard, Volunteer with children in Africa, State Department Diplomat,  Iraq/Afghanistan, major government reform and a bi-partisan approach to fiscal responsibility – Baumgartner might be just what it takes for the Republicans to finally retake a U.S. Senate seat in Washington State.


Sources: Gregoire Will Announce Not Seeking Third Term as Washington Governor

Associated Press and Politico.com are reporting Monday morning that sources close to Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire are saying that she will announce this morning that she will not seek a third term.

The office of Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire sent out a notice earlier today for a 10:00 a.m. news conference in which she will announce her “future plans.”

Gregoire’s decision sets the stage for a Democrat to enter the race to fill her office. First Congressional District Rep. Jay Inslee (D) has long been rumored to be in a holding pattern on making his own announcement of candidacy, a statement that could perhaps now come within the week. Persistent rumors have also mentioned King County Executive Dow Constantine as a possible Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

The 2012 governor’s race in Washington State officially kicked off last week after months of backstage pacing by incumbent Attorney General Rob McKenna (R), a decision that has already set in motion a cascading series of decisions within the GOP. Beginning with declarations to run for the office McKenna will vacate (numerous Republican sources say current King County Councilman Reagan Dunn will soon announce his candidacy for Washington AG), politicians across the state will begin to set their sights on open seats in higher offices.


[photo credit: flickr]

McKenna’s Challenge to Obamacare Mandates Does Not Faze Voters, Poll Finds

Only days after formally entering the race for Washington state governor, Attorney General Rob McKenna appears to be riding high on on issue some worried thought might bristle the sentiments of Washington’s blue state voters. New polling suggests that his involvement in efforts to deconstruct portions of Obamacare will not diminish support for his candidacy.

A SurveyUSA/KING-TV poll conducted Tuesday—one day prior to McKenna’s official announcement—asked 502 registered voters in Washington if the attorney general’s participation in the multi-state lawsuit challenging the individual coverage mandate in the federal healthcare law would affect their willingness to support his candidacy to succeed Gov. Christine Gregoire. Of the responses, 22% reported no change in their support for McKenna and 36% said his participation in the suit made them more likely to support him for governor. Forty percent said they were less likely to support McKenna.

Even among Democrats polled, 18% counted themselves with the ‘more likely to support’ camp, a figure that correlates roughly with McKenna’s crossover appeal. If the 2008 McKenna Democrats overlap significantly with this group, this poll is a green light for McKenna to continue talking about healthcare as it relates to the state’s long-term fiscal woes.

SurveyUSA reports a margin of error of +- 4.5% for the poll.


[photo credit: flickr]

McKenna Officially in Race for Governor, Jobs and Education at Center of Agenda

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna formally announced his candidacy Wednesday in the 2012 race to be Washington’s next governor, speaking to hundreds in attendance in the theater of a Bellevue high school.

The McKenna campaign broadcast Wednesday’s live announcement from their Facebook page and posted a YouTube video in which McKenna criticized the lack of “strong and decisive leadership in Olympia,” and calls for “a new direction for Washington State.”

In a hour-long address to supporters — in which he interacted comfortably with the capacity crowd — McKenna spoke in detail about a host of familiar Republican proposals, such as reducing the number of state employees and doing more to attract big and small businesses, but addressing the state’s troubles in education was the centerpiece in his plan to lead the state out of economic doldrums. McKenna employed only a whiteboard and a simple hand-drawn diagram as visual aids to define the relationship between jobs, education, and state government he feels are in desperate need of bipartisan attention.

Citing a statistic ranking Washington as 48th among the states in the number of bachelor’s degrees per capita, he suggested that the trend for local employers to import high-skilled workers is a failure of state government to prepare the current generation for a prosperous future.

“Don’t you think we ought to be preparing our kids for those jobs? If we don’t… they’re going to be preparing the lattes for the people who come here to do those jobs,” McKenna sardonically quipped.

McKenna also suggested that local education-focused philanthropic groups, such as the Gates Foundation, may be channeling resources to other states because they do not see will among current leaders to embrace necessary reforms.

In making education a key theme in his early campaign, McKenna pours salt into an open sore many see as the major failing of the Legislature this session – the decision to demote higher education funding as a priority in state budgeting.

Education is a resonant issue with Washington’s eclectic voters; in the current economy so is the specter of persistent unemployment. The merging of these two popular issues would appear to position the McKenna campaign well with voters, but the devil lurks in the details. A nearly 17-month campaign stretch will offer plenty of opportunities for the press and voters to tease that devil out. If a gremlin is there to be found it could be in dueling priorities established in McKenna’s announcement speech.

Investments in education – specifically higher ed – were kicked down the road by the Legislature because of budget realities that were impossible to avoid. The next governor will likely face the same realities: flagging revenues, soaring healthcare costs, and the unwillingness of voters to raise taxes.

The plan McKenna described to his supporters for shrinking state payroll and benefits obligations – changes he believes can painlessly made through attrition and negotiating increased healthcare contributions – would have to create a windfall in the budget large enough to pay for his education proposals and stay ahead of the lurking beast in the budget, untold billions in unfunded liabilities that lay buried under layers of creative government accounting.

Despite vagaries of how the state government under McKenna would balance its books, the promise of a better and more educated Washington of the future is a positive message of hope from a Republican who has a proven track record of getting Democrats to cross over and vote GOP.

In 2008, presidential candidate and then-Senator Barack Obama carried Washington easily by a margin of 17 points. McKenna won reelection in the same year by 19 points, improving upon his 2004 performance. If there is a Republican capable of winning back the governorship after a 28-year GOP drought it is Rob McKenna.

He may not be without competition within his own party, though, as Republican sources continue to speculate that Port of Seattle Commission President Bill Bryant is seriously considering his own bid for the governor’s seat. Congressman Jay Inslee from the 1st Congressional District continues to be the rumored Democrat entering the field, but is awaiting a decision from incumbent Democrat Gov. Christine on whether she will run for a third term.

Rumors that Republican Congressman Dave Reichert might enter the race were put to rest hours before McKenna’s announcement Wednesday when the 8th Congressional District representative told Seattlepi.com that he was throwing his support behind McKenna’s campaign.


[photo credit: Donald Pham of North Vietnamese News]

Attorney General Rob McKenna Will Announce Run for Governor, Sources Say

According to inside sources, Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna will announce his campaign for governor Wednesday evening.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the McKenna campaign released a statement that a “major announcement” would be made at an event scheduled for 6:00 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Sammamish High School.

An announcement of candidacy by McKenna would be the first in the 2012 Washington gubernatorial race. Two-term incumbent Democrat Gov. Christine Gregoire has yet to reveal her intentions, and would-be gubernatorial hopeful Congressman Jay Inslee is holding back on his announcing his plans until Gregoire’s are fully known.

Many feel that McKenna represents the Republican’s best opportunity to retake the governor’s office since it was lost to the Democrats in 1985; his campaign may be taking early action to ensure that those hopes are not left unfulfilled.

An early declaration by McKenna could also help obtain an early advantage in the race to raise campaign funds, but also to secure a head-start in the effort to recruit activists and take the lead on articulating why Republican leadership from the state chief executive is preferable.

The late entry into the 2010 U.S. Senate race by Republican challenger Dino Rossi has been speculated by some to have allowed second-tier candidates to lay claim to grass roots networks and shape the form of attacks against Sen. Patty Murray (D).


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