Tag: Maria Cantwell

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Port Commission President Bill Bryant Subject of Email Sent by Baumgartner Supporter to Republicans

State Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) and Seattle Port Commission President Bill Bryant, from left to right

Seattle Port Commission President Bill Bryant is reportedly in the final stages of making a decision on running against U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), but his interest in the race has already ignited a small controversy among Eastern Washington Republicans after an email taking aim at Bryant was sent this weekend by a state legislator with ties to current U.S. Senate candidate and State Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane).

On Saturday, State Sen. Janéa Holmquist-Newbry (R-Moses Lake) spoke at the Grant County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner as a proxy for Baumgartner, the leading declared Republican in the race to unseat Cantwell.

Before the dinner had adjourned, Holmquist sent an intrapartisan communiqué (scroll to the botttom of this article for the complete text) to an undisclosed list of Republicans, implicitly arguing Bryant’s record as nonpartisan port commissioner and a handful of political contributions to Democratic candidates and groups are serious reasons to question whether he should be running as a Republican in the U.S. Senate race.

By phone, Baumgartner told us that the email was not sanctioned by him, but that he holds Holmquist—a fellow Republican state Senator—in the highest regard. Baumgartner also told us he will reserve making any comments about Bryant until such time as he officially enters the race. An email sent to Holmquist did not receive a reply.

“Bill Bryant is campaigning under false pretenses, acting like he’s a dyed-in-the-wool Republican when his record shows otherwise,” one King County Republican strategist said. According to the same source, Bryant’s early efforts to organize support for the possible Senate bid have included squeezing off Baumgartner’s access to key donors.

With the election environment thus primed for internecine friction, it is therefore understandable that some Republicans are interpreting Holmquist’s email as a blunt strike at Bryant to assist Baumgartner—an opportunity to paint the Seattle-based politician as out of step with the conservative Republican base that the charismatic state senator from Spokane has had moderate success in developing a relationship with since jumping into the race late last year.

In contrast to the negative email, however, Democratic strategists appear ready to take Bryant seriously as a potential Republican threat to one of their incumbents. Sources close to Bryant tell us that Democrats have already assigned a tracker to shadow his public activity, an early indication that Cantwell’s friends see Bryant as an authentic Republican, despite the points in Holmquist’s appeal to others in her party.

NW Daily Marker investigated the claims made in the email and finds that while the points made are based on verifiable facts, there are details omitted that may (but may not) affect voters’ perceptions of Bryant.

Claim #1: “…[Bryant] has consistently contributed large sums to Democrat candidates including Patty Murray and Jay Inslee. He also contributed to Greg Nichols and other Seattle area Democrats, Washington Conservation Voters, and Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark. His company contributed to Chris Gregoire.”

Fact: The “large sums” Bryant gave to Murray and Inslee amount to $500 contributed to each candidate. The contribution to Inslee, specifically, occurred back in 1994. According to a source close to Bryant, the Murray check was written to gain entrance to an event Bryant needed to attend for matters relating to his personal business interests and preceded the entry of Dino Rossi into the race. FEC records corroborate that the donation was given in October 2009, well before Rossi announced he would challenge Murray.

An analysis of Bryant’s political giving overall shows that he given the majority of funds Republicans, not Democrats. By a ratio of 2-to-1, Bryant gave to Republicans in state and local races since 2000—in federal elections the balance is even more skewed to the GOP. FEC records back to 1999 show that Bryant gave $24,450 to Republicans running in federal races, compared with $1,500 to Democrats, including the Murray donation.

Claim #2: “[Bryant’s] record at the port also should give Republicans reason for concern. A Port investigator cited him for misuse of Port funds and he was forced to repay the money,” wrote Holmquist.

Fact: As reported by The Seattle Times late last year, the issue raised pertains to a $115 meal charge from Port funds while Bryant was on an official trip to Eastern Washington. Bryant had been given the green light by the Port’s legal counsel prior to making the trip to make such expenses, but a subsequent audit flagged the charges at which time Bryant promptly repaid the Port in full.

Claim #3: According to Holmquist, “In November 2009, he cast the deciding vote for the higher of two proposed Port budgets and higher taxes. In 2011, he cast the deciding vote to increase the Port CEO pay by 9 percent to $400,000.”

Fact: Holmquist’s claims are a true statement of the record. The votes were taken, and Bryant’s positions are not misrepresented. This will likely be an item for further clarification should he step into the U.S. Senate race.

The entire text of Holmquist’s email was as follows:

As you may have heard, Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant is considering entering the race for U.S. Senate against Maria Cantwell.

The surprising news is that he is apparently planning on running as a Republican. It’s odd because he has consistently contributed large sums to Democrat candidates including Patty Murray and Jay Inslee.

He also contributed to Greg Nichols and other Seattle area Democrats, Washington Conservation Voters, and Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark. His company contributed to Chris Gregoire.

His record at the port also should give Republicans reason for concern. A Port investigator cited him for misuse of Port funds and he was forced to repay the money.

In November 2009, he cast the deciding vote for the higher of two proposed Port budgets and higher taxes. In 2011, he cast the deciding vote to increase the Port CEO pay by 9 percent to $400,000.

So, he’s contributed to Democrats – including U.S. Senator Patty Murray in her last election – and he sides with Democrats on the Port Commission.

It will be interesting to hear why he is thinking of running as a Republican?

Janea Holmquist-Newbry

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Cantwell Acts to Derail Development in Alaska, Threatens Future Jobs

Last week, Washington State junior U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell joined in the Obama administration’s curious war on American jobs. The newest target in Cantwell’s sights is a large proposed project in a sparsely populated corner of Southwest Alaska called the Pebble Mine, an undertaking to unearth rare natural resources that could provide thousands of well-paid jobs and millions in tax revenue to an area that is currently impoverished.

Even before the project has applied for permits, while plans for the Pebble Mine are being worked on and costly studies conducted, Cantwell has already requested the Environmental Protection Administration invoke subsection 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. Subsection 404(c) denies the disposal of dredge spoils or fill onto any land potentially draining into the nearby Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers. Though Cantwell purports to have made the request to protect fisheries downstream in Bristol Bay, it seems obvious that her demand is a transparent attempt to halt an industry essential to modern life but now deemed too “dirty” for the sensibilities of today’s environmental activists.

Cantwell’s request amounts to one more example of a lawmaker using the Clean Water Act to impose economic paralysis on any development judged environmentally undesirable, a capricious use of federal power. Because the federal government’s authority has expanded to cover virtually every gallon of running or standing water in America, there is almost no development that cannot be aborted over hypothetical concerns about possible water pollution. The type of stalling action employed here by Cantwell also makes a mockery of the entire environmental review process because it seeks to halt the project before the developers can even present their case.

The real irony is that the Pebble Mine is being designed by its developers to be a showcase of environmentally responsible mining methods, plus the area has rich deposits of copper, gold and other minerals that would make the mine a job creator for decades. To this date, the Pebble Partnership have demonstrated their willingness to respond to the concerns of environmentalists. They acknowledge that it is to their obvious benefit to be the most careful stewards of the environment surrounding the mining operations.

The Pebble Partnership has already invested more than $120 million on environmental and socioeconomic studies associated with the Pebble Mine proposal, research that would be open to the scrutiny of the EPA, the Congress, environmental activists, and the public, if it were not for Cantwell’s move to preempt. They anticipate spending several times that amount by the time the 70 required state and federal permits have been obtained for the project.

This country needs to have a serious conversation over whether the excessive regulatory burdens imposed by the EPA are killing jobs and unduly harming industry. But if Senator Cantwell is successful, it would appear that the conversation is whether industry itself is still allowed in America.

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[photo credit: JRockefellerIV]

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Bloomberg TV Anchor Phillip Yin Confirms Interest in Senate Run to Unseat Cantwell in 2012

For most of the summer, speculation about a Republican mystery candidate who might be contemplating a run against U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has circulated with precious few real clues about who Candidate X might be. The waiting is over.

NW Daily Marker has learned that Phillip Yin – news reporter and anchor for Bloomberg Television and Washington native – is the latest to join a small field of Republicans to set their sights on unseating Cantwell next year.

It was 2:00 p.m.Wednesday for me and 5:00 a.m.  Thursday, when Yin spoke to me by phone from Hong Kong. (Yin has lived between Hong Kong and Seattle for career reasons.) During our brief conversation, Yin confirmed his interest in running to become Washington State’s next U.S. Senator and said the he will make that choice soon.

“We are in the final process of making a decision to run for the United State Senate,” Yin told me. Yin foresees making a firm decision about entering the race in mid-October.

Yin’s candidate toolkit is also impressive. MBA from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Strong record of local civic involvement. Hefty private sector experience with overlapping careers in investments and media. In fact, his level of personal achievement might elicit questions about why he would leave a successful career to run for public office. For Yin, improving the economic state of the nation is a necessity worth putting it all on the line.

“The track that America is on is certainly wrong, and we’re not going to fix the problems overnight but I think we can get moving at least in the right direction,” Yin said.

Yin’s name now sits among the comfortably small list of official “maybes” and speculated candidates.

State Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) recently announced his intention to form an exploratory committee as early as next month.

Former White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel confirmed in July his interest in the race and committed to making a decision sometime after his late summer wedding that took place last weekend.

Finally, persistent talk about a possible entry into the race by Congressman Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) could continue because of developments in Washington State’s redistricting process. Three of the four proposed congressional maps released Tuesday by Washington State’s Redistricting Commission pushed a large part Reichert’s 8th Congressional District – currently situated in Eastern King County and portions of Pierce County – into Eastern Washington, changes that could affect Reichert’s decision to stay put or seek higher office.

Those sitting on the fence might also be emboldened to jump in after a recent poll of statewide voters found that only 38 percent of respondents felt that Cantwell deserves re-election. Washington State Republican Party Chair Kirby Wilbur shared the results from a Moore Information poll that was taken of 500 people in Washington State over September 10-11.

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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.

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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.

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Washington State Labor Sends Up the Red Flag for 2011-2012 Agenda

How will unions be playing ball during the next election and budgeting cycle? If the resolutions recently adopted by the Washington State Labor Council are any indication, somewhere between hard and very hard.

At the WSLC’s annual convention held August 4th-6th in Seatac, Wash., the “voice of labor” in the state of Washington took a sharp left in terms of its tone, reverting to wobbly lingo that amount to flying the union battle flag.

Near the top of a list of 31 resolutions adopted by the council, is Resolution #2 “No Justice, No Work.” The passage begins:

“WHEREAS, there is a worldwide attack on the working class; and

WHEREAS, corporatists and greedy capitalists, aided by lawmakers and courts, continue their assault on those who labor or who want labor; and”

A global conspiracy against the working class by “corporatists and greedy capitalists” (read as bourgeoisie) and aided by the ruling class? Maybe the sudden appearance of our never-present glowing sun overhead has fried my optical nerve, but I can’t help seeing red. The resolution continues:

“RESOLVED, that as advocates for the working class, organized labor must be prepared and willing to announce that our endurance has reached its limits and that we are now prepared to utilize the most extensive economic strength at our disposal in order to win social and economic justice; and, be it finally

RESOLVED, that lawmakers in Olympia, in local governments, in statehouses across our land, and in our nation’s capitol must be put on notice that commerce will be subject to ethical and moral consideration on their part, and if necessary, organized labor will initiate the withholding of its labor to defend these considerations – no justice, no work!”

Presumably, as Gov. Christine Gregoire spins up the budget lathe to trim more from state spending to account for falling revenues, this means that unions could be her largest obstacle. It also means that candidates accepting contributions from the WSLC may be forced to disavow the labor organization’s increasingly radicalized war on business.

Though not officially a candidate to run for Congress in Washington State, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) was spoke twice to the WSLC convention and reportedly enjoyed an enthusiastic response from those in the conventional hall.

Kucinich spoke in strong support of the National Labor Relations Board taking legal action to punish the Boeing Company for locating its second 787 Dreamliner manufacturing plant in South Carolina, a position also taken by Sen. Patty Murray.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, who is up for re-election next year, also addressed the convention, as did Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee, the man some feel Kucinich hopes to succeed in Washington State’s congressional delegation. Panel appearances by State Rep. Roger Goodman and State Sen. Marko Liias rounded out a complete list of Democrats – potential or declared – in the 1st Congressional District race.

Video of the convention and speeches is available on the WSLC website courtesy of TVW.

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[photo credit: flickr]

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Washington Congressional Delegation Should Stand With Boeing, Not NLRB

On Wednesday the unelected National Labor Relations Board threatened action against aerospace giant Boeing if the company would not agree to build a new assembly line for the 787 Dreamliner in Washington State, a warning made in direct challenge to the company’s decision last fall to build planes in Charleston, South Carolina.

As Angie Vogt wrote today at RedCounty.com:

The NLRB has moved with an order that seeks to actually prevent Boeing from completing construction of it’s 787 plant in South Carolina, where 1000 hired workers are due to begin working in July and force it to continue doing business with the hostile unions of Washington state. Joe Trauger, a vice president at the National Association of Manufacturers, stated that if the complaint order succeeds,”no company will be safe from the NLRB stepping in to second-guess its business decisions on where to expand or whom to hire,” he said.

Prior to Boeing’s announcement of the South Carolina decision last October, it was the desire of most in the Puget Sound that every one of the company’s newest commercial jet – the sky-dominating, groundbreaking 787 Dreamliner – should be assembled exclusively in the Pacific Northwest. It was therefore a punch to the gut of local aerospace workers and civic leaders when the Boeing Company decided last fall to choose South Carolina as the site of its second 787 production line.

Yet, while many lamented the loss of future jobs—and an ever-weakening claim to the title Jet City—there also seemed to be a bittersweet appreciation for the business reasons underlying the company’s choice. Faced with rising costs of labor in its Washington workforce, perpetual union demands for wage and benefit increases, and fierce price competition from an overseas rival fed by heavy subsidies, Boeing needed to get drastically creative. The South Carolina decision was the result.

Despite the free market realities faced by Boeing, the NLRB in its complaint lashes out, abandoning logic like a spurned lover, alleging that the decision was only a way of retaliating against the victimized unions. In order to save face, the NLRB suggests that the building of a new 787 line in Washington will put a broken house back together again. In reality, it would only create additional burdens on Boeing as it fights to retain its position in the internal market for aircraft putting the company back to square one in its attempt to fend off Airbus.

But the NLRB’s recipe for reconciliation is itself a perverted concept of justice, based on a one-sided presentation of the history of the relationship between Boeing and its labor unions.

It can hardly be argued that Boeing’s decision was not a direct result of rising costs of Washington state labor and heightened frustration with union negotiating tactics, though the company will try to keep a straight face and do so). But to suggest that the manufacturer’s actions were only a matter of retaliation skips past an important fact. In the history between Boeing and organized labor, the machinists unions repeatedly exacted their own manner of pain on their employer. Over the years, strikes have cost the company billions and caused months in accumulated production delays, impacting the bottom line feeding all mouths–stockholders, line workers and executives.

It would be naïve to assume that the NLRB would present a full accounting of that raucous chronicle—they are an unelected, unaccountable, taxpayer-funded advocate for organized labor, not employers or Boeing’s stockholders. Though the President, in theory, represents the interests of all his constituents equally, it’s folly to expect him to bite at his union leash.

It will, therefore, fall then on the shoulders of Washington State’s Congressional delegation to avoid temptation to directly or indirectly support the NLRB’s efforts. Riding shotgun with a do-over on a development that was bad for local communities would be a tacit endorsement of the use of federal power to interfere with the decisions a business makes to ensure its own future.

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[photo credit: flickr]

[This article first appeared at Redcounty.com]

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