Tag: GOP


Washington U.S. Senate Race: GOP Closer to Finding a Candidate

Republicans in Washington State do not yet have a declared candidate to challenge U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell next year, but the list of potential contenders continues to grow.

State Senator Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) is testing the waters now with the possible formation of an exploratory committee reported yesterday by NW Daily Marker. Though Baumgartner has only been in public office for less than a full term he brings with him a youthful charismatic image that partners well with an impressive personal history. A check this morning of BaumgartnerForSenate.com finds a site under construction.

In interviews given to NW Daily Marker, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) has categorically left the door open to consider jumping in, but using the same analogy has not stepped out onto the front stoop to address issues in the race. He has, however, voiced a desire to continue growing Washington’s influence in Congress from his seat on Ways and Means. Because of population shifts in Washington, this year’s redistricting could result in some significant changes to the makeup of Reichert’s 8th District, a factor that could have great weight in Reichert’s ultimate decision.

The only potential entrant who has made public statements directed squarely at Cantwell and her record has been Seattle-based media consultant and former White House deputy press secretary Scott Stanzel. Stanzel’s identification with voters is very low, but observers should not discount the effect of free media. When his name began to circulate as a person of interest, a week-long drip-drip of media coverage followed (including a boost from conservative pundit Dana Perino) and he was not shy about speaking with the press. Stanzel has consistently said he will make a decision about the race shortly after his wedding in early September.

Buzz around former television anchor and 2009 King County Executive candidate Susan Hutchison has subsided, as has similar talk that Port of Seattle Commission President Bill Bryant might run to unseat Cantwell.

A sixth mystery candidate continues to fly below the radar, though public chatter on social media last week indicated that party insiders have met with Candidate X.

Still, not one candidate has done more than tip-toe around the idea of possibly thinking about considering a run to challenge a well-heeled but politically vulnerable sitting U.S. Senator at a time when congressional approval ratings are shockingly low.

It is now September 2nd, a year and a several days away from the 2012 general election. There has not been a public poll of the potential field since late spring. Getting in or staying out may boil down to a gut-check by those on the long list of maybes. Those who believe enough in their own chances to win over Washington’s complex electorate will need to take a measured leap of faith, and maybe that’s the proper litmus test.



Reagan and Jefferson Tag Team Obama on Debt Ceiling Debate in New GOP Video

The smoke-and-mirrors attempt by Pres. Barack Obama to make it seem as though all 43 presidents before him – including Pres. Ronald Reagan – are crawling from their graves to stand in his corner in the debt ceiling debate would be great satire if it were not actually happening.

Like clipping letters from magazines to paste together a ransom note, Obama has been doing some fancy quote-lifting from past tenants of the office he now sits in. But the same presidents whose words are being twisted by “44” may have the last say in the debt ceiling debate courtesy of a video produced by House Republicans. The Gipper gets to speak for himself and if one presidential opinion on budget philosophy is not enough, Thomas Jefferson gets his licks in as well.

Take a look:


[photo credit: Creative Commons]


GOP Staffer Shakeup in Olympia, House Caucus Going in “New Direction”

A major shakeup is happening in Olympia as four long-time staffers to the House Republican Caucus were let go Tuesday in a mid-session personnel decision, according to a Republican insider speaking to NW Daily Marker.

According to the same source, the personnel released were among communications staff and groups working on budget, education, and agriculture/environment issues, and the reason given for the terminations was that higher-ups “want to go in a new direction.”

NW Daily Marker confirmed with House Republican Caucus Chief of Staff John Rothlin that personnel were let go in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re always evaluating staff to make sure we’re giving the highest quality support to our new and upcoming leaders [in Olympia],” said Rothlin.


[photo credit: flickr]





In Support of a Huntsman Nomination

Today, Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, US envoy to China, and well-traveled Mormon missionary, will officially declare his candidacy for President after months of “will he, won’t he” speculation stretching from Washington, D.C. to Beijing, China. Long before his announcement today, a possible Huntsman candidacy has gained plenty of traction – and plenty of detractors.

The first talking point against Mr. Huntsman – and it will come, mostly, from the right – is his service as Ambassador to China in the Obama Administration, a position he resigned from in April. Yesterday, The Hill reported John Bolton as the most recent critic on the right.

Mr. Huntsman accepted the China post because he’s a perfect fit. He’s an international business man. He’s an international traveler. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese. He’s competent and he’s capable. The Chinese and ex-pats in China looked forward to his appointment and, once in his position, he did an exemplary job of supporting U.S. business in China, propagating the importance of revised policy positions in China (Intellectual Property Rights, Human Rights) and strengthening and developing the kind of cultural, political, and business ties that will prove invaluable as the world’s largest economies continue to adapt in the 21st century. In short, he served his country because he was the best man for the job.

And in case it matters, he also served in the Reagan Administration and both Bush Administration’s (although, I’m sure that may slip under the radar of the ‘What Have You Done For Me Lately?’ ideologues).

Mr. Huntsman’s defense of the so-called Ryan Budget in the Wall Street Journal was interesting for two reasons. First, he obviously understands the complexity of the federal budget, unsustainable entitlement programs, and the necessity of the next Republican nominee for President to take a hard stand on fiscal issues. Second, he understands the power of symbolism. Notice the title of the piece. It’s an obvious nod to Ronald Reagan’s speech in Los Angeles in 1964. And if you believe that’s just a coincidence, consider this: his announcement today in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty is the same spot Mr. Reagan kicked off his first presidential campaign in 1980. And, like Reagan, the Right of his party does not like some of his positions: he’s a longtime advocate of civil unions, he’s a leader on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, and his ideas on health care and health care reform are unsettling to some. There’s no doubt, though, that Mr. Reagan’s “80-20 Rule” applies to Mr. Huntsman.

He’s smart and articulate. He’s ambitious and entrepreneurial. He’s a leader and a statesman. And, most importantly, he’s electable – and he can outspend almost anyone. Jon Huntsman was an extraordinarily popular governor and ambassador. He should be the Republican nominee for 2012.


[Views expressed here are those of the author and are not to be construed as an endorsement of a political candidate by The NW Daily Marker.]

[featured photo credit: White House photo used under Creative Commons license; post image credit: DonkeyHotey]


Can the GOP Revive Its Hispanic Appeal?

It was not long ago that Latino voters viewed Republicans as the party of immigration. Really, it wasn’t that long ago. Arnold Schwarzenegger earned fully a third of the Latino vote in California’s gubernatorial recall election in 2003 – and his opponent was a high-ranking elected Latino, Democrat lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamante.  In 2004, President George W. Bush drew 40 percent of Latino voters at the polls. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. The more Republicans reflexively support restrictive immigration policies for the sake of political expediency, the more Latinos have looked elsewhere for political leadership. Indians, Chinese, and other immigrant groups will follow.

Why has the GOP wandered away from its immigration-friendly roots? At the same time many observers question the party’s faith even to its fiscally conservative core values, the path to regaining public trust on money matters could take the same route as one leading back to sensible immigration policies.

In 2004, Penguin Books published Right Nation, written by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, both of The Economist. The book contained many pearls of wisdom when it was published in 2004 and appears even more prescient now, seven years later. For instance, the Book – subtitled Conservative Power in America – explains, quite eloquently, that President George W. Bush was “creating a monster” by spending recklessly and asks the question, “Why have the Republicans squandered their reputation for fiscal prudence?” In retrospect, the book was years before its time. And, thankfully, the Republican party of 2011 has learned from the mistakes of the Bush administration and congressional Republicans and seem convicted in their zeal to cut spending and reduce benefits. It is in a chapter entitled, “How It Could Go Wrong” that the authors really hit the nail on the head, however.

While detailing the sometimes contradictory nature of the Republican Party, the authors write, “There is no reason why the Republicans cannot [continue to] make inroads into the Latinos provided they don’t shoot themselves in the foot by supporting restrictive policies on immigration.” After winning reelection in 2004, President George W. Bush’s choice for commerce secretary, Cuban-born Carlos Gutierrez, traveled tirelessly throughout the country explaining the frustrating reality of undocumented immigrants “living in the shadows” while seeking employment, employers unable to retain their best employees due to artificially low visa limits, and the need for a guest-worker program. Underlying every one of his speeches was the very real possibility that Republican inaction on immigration would result in an increasingly powerful voting bloc leaving the party en masse. Here’s where things stand now: Seven years after Bush garnered robust Latino support nationally and five years after Gutierrez’ calls for reasonable action on immigration reform, myriad Republican politicians have been marginalized for supporting reform and Republicans are doing exactly what Michlethwait and Wooldridge warned they shouldn’t – supporting restrictive immigration policies and opposing reasonable ones. The inroads in the Latino community Republicans made by approaching the subject of immigration with intellectual honesty and political tact have disappeared.

In Washington State, the Latino population is exploding. Overall, people of Hispanic or Latino origin make up 11.2 percent of the population – the next largest minority group, Asians, register at 7.2 percent. In Eastern Washington, two counties are now majority Hispanic: Franklin and Adams. Kevin Graman, writing in the Spokesman-Review, explains that only ten years ago, a north Spokane Catholic Church had only a handful of parishioners on-hand for the Spanish-language service. Now? More than 200 regularly attend.

Nationally, Latinos accounted for a larger share of the electorate in 2010 than in any previous year. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, more than 6.6 million Latinos voted in the mid-term elections in 2010. The 2010 Census counted 50.5 million Hispanics in the U.S., more than 16 percent of the population. The Hispanic population has grown by more than 46 percent since 2000. The numbers – especially the percentage-of-change numbers – are truly remarkable.

Hispanics and Latinos, together, have become one of the most powerful voting blocs in America.  But instead of supporting the type of reasonable policy positions put forward at the national level by President Bush, Senator John McCain or potential GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, restrictive and wrong-headed language and policy proposals rule the Party today.

At the State level, the most recent manifestation of restrictive immigration policy is Alabama’s SB 56. Among other things, it makes it illegal in Alabama to give a ride to an illegal immigrant. Of course, the boondoggle of Arizona’s SB 1070 will only cost taxpayers millions in court fees and many legal minds around the country expect its most important provisions will ultimately be deemed unconstitutional.

Herman Cain, a potential GOP nominee for 2012, recently remarked that the Justice Department “shouldn’t be suing Arizona…we ought to send them a prize.” I wonder aloud how many illegal immigrants Mr. Cain’s Godfather’s pizza chain employed in its kitchens. I wonder what he thinks of E-Verify.

The 2012 election will be about jobs and the economy. Like it or not, illegal labor is utilized in this country. It’s utilized to increase profits for business. It’s utilized to reduce prices for consumers. It’s utilized because of the entrepreneurial spirit of America.

If Republicans want to support immigrants and support legal immigration, why don’t leaders discuss remedies to the artificially low H1-b visa cap? That would certainly be sweet music to Microsoft, Google, and any of the wonderfully innovative start-ups in Washington State and beyond. Why don’t they discuss the incredible bureaucracy of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service? How about the arbitrary language surrounding the issuance of non-immigrant visas? Isn’t tourism a wonderful way to spur economic growth? Will any Republican speak eloquently about a guest-worker program? Eastern Washington and agriculture communities everywhere would be relieved to hear that kind of policy proposal.

Immigration reform isn’t about border enforcement and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, but it seems that’s all Republicans can talk about. It’s difficult to understand considering the political consequences. If the GOP wants to be the party of ideas, it must approach the subject of immigration the way it did not too long ago.


[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]

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