Tag: Washington state governor

Second Poll of the Week Shows McKenna Extending Lead in Governor’s Race

A KING 5/SurveyUSA poll of the Washington State Governor’s race released Thursday shows Republican Rob McKenna in a 10-point lead over Democratic congressman Jay Inslee, a lead that includes a healthy advantage in the central Puget Sound.

Of the 572 registered voters statewide surveyed, 49 percent said they would vote for McKenna, 39 percent for Inslee and 12 percent remain undecided.

These recent numbers reflect a shift from the previous SurveyUSA poll taken in mid-January in which McKenna and Inslee were separated by only three percentage points—46 percent to 43 percent, respectively—a statistical dead heat.

The KING 5/SurveyUSA poll underscores the findings of an Elway Research poll released Monday that reported McKenna in a 9-point lead, a trend that may intensify a drumbeat from within Inslee’s party for him to give the race his full-time attention. Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner wrote Tuesday:

Inslee’s continuing lag in the early polls has been worrying Democrats, who united behind the Bainbridge Island Congressman early, stifling any notion of a primary challenge.

Some Democratic operatives have been quietly agitating for Inslee to quit Congress and concentrate on campaigning full-time. Inslee has said he has no plans to do so.

One sign that the campaign schedule is stretching Inslee too thin has been a notable record of missed votes in Congress that not gone unnoticed by Inslee’s opponents. When asked by Everett Herald political writer Jerry Cornfield about his recent spotty congressional attendance, Inslee’s response belied an arrogance many observers of politics have come to expect:

Inslee said his voting record exceeds 98 percent and brushed aside the partisans’ attacks.

“I think the union will survive,” he said.


Elway Poll: Bad News for Inslee, McKenna Leads by 9 in Washington Governor’s Race

Washington State attorney general and Republican candidate for governor Rob McKenna has earned a 9-point advantage in the race against Democratic congressman Jay Inslee, according to a new poll by Elway Research of registered voters in Washington State.

The poll results released Tuesday based on calls made the week prior found 45 percent of respondents were either strongly in favor of McKenna or leaning in his direction as compared with only 36 percent preferring Inslee.

The worst news for Inslee in the Elway Poll is not the poor showing in how voters currently intend to cast ballots. The worst news is that Inslee’s appeal appears to be confined to the liberal Democratic base while McKenna is doing a good job impressing independents and wooing Democrats to cross over.

From the article filed by Seattle Times political reporter Jim Brunner yesterday:

Elway also found McKenna enjoying a lead among key independent voters: 49 percent said they’re at least leaning toward McKenna compared with 24 percent for Inslee.

In addition, McKenna is picking up 13 percent of Democrats in the poll, while only 3 percent of Republicans said they’d cross party lines to back Inslee.

The current weakness of Inslee’s candidacy may represent a problem for Democrats greater than the symbolic loss of the Governor’s seat for the first time since 1980. Without a strong contender running at the top of the ticket, Democratic candidates running to hold onto their control of the state House and Senate will face an election that could become little more than a referendum on Washington’s poor fiscal state of affairs and the government’s reputation for hostility toward business.

The McKenna campaign was quick to characterize the Elway Poll as advice from the voters regarding the harsh tone and lack of substance coming out of Inslee’s campaign.

“I hope today’s polling data encourages Congressman Inslee’s campaign and the State Democratic Party to shift their strategy from negative to informative,” said Charles McCray III, McKenna’s communications director.

Poll results also showed Inslee is failing to make a positive impression with only a small margin of voters. Twenty-eight percent expressed a positive impression of Inslee, while 22 percent said their impression was negative.

“When the number of voters who view you unfavorably is on par with the number of voters who like you, negativity loses its incentive,” said McCray.


Inslee Campaign Tweets Show Cozy Relationship with SEIU Front Group

As the 2012 campaign season ramps up, the gubernatorial race here in Washington between Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Progressive Jay Inslee is already in full swing. One area that both campaigns have taken to in attempting to get their message out to voters is new media, especially the realms of Facebook and Twitter.

Curiously enough, I, as an almost omnipresent Twitter user, noticed Inslee seemed to be pretty buddy buddy on Twitter with a group known as Working Washington (@WorkingWA).

For more detail on Working Washington, you can take a gander at their website here or read an investigative article NW Daily Marker ran last August. As the article points out, if one does a little research on the secretive Working Washington, one is able to connect some dots and find that, the group is a community agitator front group for labor union giant Service Employees International Union (SEIU). If one also looks at some of Inslee’s tweets over the last few months, it appears that the congressman is fully in bed with both Working Washington and SEIU.

The last tweet is especially interesting. There you have Inslee “re-tweeting” the Working Washington profile. Now often times on Twitter, people will put the disclaimer that “RT’s do not equal endorsement”, which Inslee does have on his profile page. Regardless, the consistent messaging of creating a “Working Washington”, combined with that RT, leads one to wonder what exactly Inslee’s connection to Working Washington could possibly be.

Now we come back to the August NW Daily Marker article that makes the case that Working Washington is a front group for SEIU. With that knowledge in mind, let’s take a gander at candidate Inslee’s campaign contributors so far in this election cycle. If you click here, you’ll find Inslee’s contributors. Note that at number four is SEIU, with a contribution of $5,000.

So, now we have a gubernatorial candidate openly associating with and using the messaging of, a group that does things like this, spouts hate about corporations like this, and does downright ludicrous things like this.

Buckle up, folks. 2012 is going to be a weird, weird election year. Godspeed to us all.



Inslee Ducks Debates, Ducks Policy Details, Gets Goosed by Liberal Press Anyway

With less than 10 months left for Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee to convince voters to make him the next governor of Washington, the clock is ticking for the candidate to reveal details for his plan to run the state, including proposals for the creation of green jobs and targeted education spending.

If he intends to help his party hold the Governor’s office, Inslee will take advantage of every opening between now and Election Day to convince voters he has more in his bag of tricks than a green-painted shovel for government-funded projects and throwing more money into an education system that a panel of experts recently condemned as failing because of a “policy leadership vacuum.”

But ten months in campaign time passes quickly, and Inslee so far has approached opportunities to present his qualifications and flesh out his pitch with all of the enthusiasm of a four-year-old facing a plate piled high with Brussels sprouts.

Though he threw down the gauntlet in December of last year to his opponent, Attorney General Rob McKenna, for a series of six debates (a hyped and premature challenge since McKenna had already prepared to meet Inslee for as many debates as could be agreed upon, potentially far more than six), Inslee has yet to agree to a single debate while McKenna has agreed to two, including one sponsored by the Association of Washington Business that created some campaign news last week.

The announcement by the business organization for a Spokane debate on June 12th despite being unable to get a confirmation from Inslee prompted the Democratic gubernatorial contender’s spokesperson to tell The Seattle Times that McKenna could have the stage all to himself:

“It’s extremely disappointing that AWB would issue an announcement without confirmation from us first,” Smith wrote in an email. “If they want to schedule an event for McKenna, that is their choice, but at this point there is no debate scheduled.”

Curious about what might prevent Inslee from blocking out his calendar five months in advance for a debate he went out of his way to ask for, I emailed Smith and inquired about Inslee’s reasons for not saying “yes.” I also asked Smith if Inslee had received other invitations and had he accepted them. Smith replied:

The question is why AWB feels the need to release an announcement about an event more than five months in advance and before both candidates have confirmed. Jay has already made it clear he is committed to a full series of debates throughout the state and with more than a dozen invitations already received and under consideration, voters can be assured that a full series of debates will take place.

I then emailed Smith again, asking for a direct answer to the original question: Did Inslee have a conflict with the AWB’s June 12th debate? No response was received from Smith or anyone with the Inslee campaign.

As to Inslee’s progress to meeting his personal goal of six debates, McKenna’s campaign manager Randy Pepple offered us his extrapolation.

“Our campaign has agreed to two debates… If Inslee agreed to others I’m not aware of, I have to assume we would be getting calls,” Pepple said. “So, I have to conclude that he has agreed to zero [debates].”

With a dozen or more debate invitations awaiting Inslee’s RSVP, it seems less likely that something other than logistics is the obstacle to his participation. The most solid and public evidence of what may be causing Inslee to hesitate grasping the lectern to face-off with McKenna came, ironically, when the Democrat sat down with two representatives of the “12th man” of the Democratic Party – the Seattle press.

In what had to be about as friendly a media setting as a liberal Democrat could ever hope for, The Stranger’s Dominic Holden sat down with Inslee last week for what passes for an editorial board interview at Seattle’s fringe weekly paper.

Inslee told Holden, “I will be a stand-up guy that will take positions that show some spine and some backbone,” a moment of stirring rhetorical bravado from the candidate that was followed by a long string of vague answers and dodges to questions about the congressman’s indistinct proposals for running the state.

From that point, Inslee lumbered through answers to The Stranger’s questions, exhibiting all of the grace of a pack of vertigo-challenged sumo wrestlers performing a hastily choreographed production of Swan Lake. Holden’s amazing journey into the enigmatic mind of Inslee took them into a conversation about how he would balance the state budget: [Emphasis added.]

Inslee hedged: “First off, I walk a fine line because I don’t want the governor’s contest to make the legislature’s life more difficult than it is already,” he said in deflecting our questions. He would commit to avoiding an all-cuts budget, but the most we could extract about his strategy was his support for closing tax loopholes for Wall Street Banks and generically supporting green job creation. Could he name any details?

I have decided not to articulate more than that at this time,” he said.

Yes, of course, just as I have “decided” not to give the specifics of my plan to convert ordinary table salt to pure gold using only a plastic grocery bag, tap water and a tube of toothpaste. But I digress.

Satisfied by his discovery of an interview loophole, Inslee stuck to his strategy of taking the Fifth:

Would closing bank loopholes be enough (although the state budget shortfall is roughly $1.5 billion this year, bank loopholes would save only about $100 million a year)?

I don’t know the answer.”

To be fair, there’s every chance he was giving a perfectly honest answer that time.

Can Inslee coast to victory by feeding the electorate a steady diet of campaign slogans drawn from Seattle’s provincial activist lexicon? Considering the universal impact the slack economy and broken state budget are having on voters across party lines, that seems unlikely and Washingtonians have a tendency to become impatient with politicians who refuse to even pretend to go through the mating dance.


[photo credit: WSDOT]

Inslee Ducks Debates, Ducks Policy Details, Gets Goosed by Liberal Press Anyway

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]

Green Jobs Flop Exposes Government’s Brown Thumb History on Growing Economy

The astonishingly poor performance of a “green jobs” program in Seattle should raise serious concerns about other proposals to channel public funds toward risky efforts to further inflate the green economy bubble such as candidate for Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s plan to use public pension funds for investment in high-risk green startups.

Seattlepi.com reported Tuesday that a $20 million federal grant to fund for energy efficiency upgrades – projected to provide insulation upgrades to as many as 2,000 Seattle-area homes and create 2,000 middle-wage jobs – has fallen far short of those lofty expectations.

“[M]ore than a year later, Seattle’s numbers are lackluster,” the article stated. “As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program.”

The comment from the city about coming up 99.3% short of expectations was classic doublespeak.

“Yes, we’re not seeing as many completed retrofits as we wanted to,” said Joshua Curtis, the city’s manager for Community Power Works. “While everyone would like to see more upgrades, I think we’re feeling cautiously optimistic.”

Under the program, property owners apply to receive federally-subsidized loans and incentives for energy efficiency upgrades to homes and certain types of large buildings such as hospitals, municipal buildings and large commercial real estate.

Seattle’s application for the Community Power Works grant was made during Mayor Greg Nickels’ tenure, but by the time the award was made under Mayor Mike McGinn’s administration, the housing market was reeling from the subprime mortgage and banking crisis.

The doubling effect of a housing market clogged with “upside-down” properties paired with high unemployment had already hit home improvement contractors of all sorts – including the green variety – extremely hard. Soft market factors did not appear to entice anyone involved in securing the grant to proceed with caution or perhaps reassess whether the program targets were achievable.

By going full steam ahead the Community Power Works program failed to pass the initial test we should demand that all publicly-funded programs (even those that do not seek to support a profit-making enterprise) respond to an existing public demand. A significant waste of taxpayer monies can be traced to the stop-and-go bureaucratic elephant chain that we know as the federal grant award process failing to recognize changes in market conditions, if it ever was asked to consider those factors at all.

The “underperformance” of this one Seattle green jobs program is unfortunately not unique. We hear anecdotal cases of this sort often. If Jay Inslee were to implement his proposal to use pension funds to give “green” start-ups a push, we can certainly expect to hear many more in the future.

If we think of any investment – public or private – as a walk across a busy freeway to claim a waiting basket of cash, the critical relationship between the investor and risk becomes easier to see. An entrepreneur stepping on that road sees everything from the vantage of a vulnerable potential road pizza, and in doing so makes moment-by-moment decisions before and during the trek across the highway to protect their investment. But unlike the entrepreneur, the government (perhaps because its size, power and indirect responsibility for its actions desensitize it from the healthy fear felt by private sector businesses) lumbers blithe and oblivious, often even failing to notice that the prize is still waiting on the other side.

The difference between how governments and investors deal with risk is at the core of the problems with Community Power Works and it is also the primary reason why Inslee’s plan to divert public pension funds to make investments in high-risk green start-up companies should condemned as flawed from the start.


[photo credit: flickr]






McKenna Raises $150K More Than Inslee in June

The books are closed on June 2011 in the Washington State Governor’s race and according to filings with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, Republican candidate Rob McKenna raised slightly more than $154,000 in the first official month of the campaign than Democrat Jay Inslee.

The total amount raised by McKenna last month was $667,290 compared to Inslee’s $513,000, though McKenna spent $189,767 to bring the two campaigns nearly even in their cash-on-hand at the end of the period. The cash box at Inslee for Washington, however, has $53,000 in I.O.U.’s; McKenna’s campaign is currently debt-free.

According to a press release issued Monday night from the McKenna campaign, $25,591 of their June donations came from donors volunteering to re-allocate monies already given to his attorney general’s re-election campaign fund. McKenna feels that the size of the haul and where the donations are coming from are signs his campaign is generating broad enthusiasm among Washington voters.

“Not only did previous supporters step up to give our campaign a real boost, but the large number of new donors show that citizens want a New Direction for Washington State,” McKenna  said in yesterday’s release.

Inslee started passing the hat more than week before his official June 24th announcement, taking early donations a few days after Gov. Chris Gregoire formally declined to run for a third term.

Who were the donors queued up to make the earliest donations christening each campaign?

Roberta Riley, general counsel of Planned Parenthood of Western Washington is a charter member in Inslee for Washington, giving a combined $3,200 in personal and group contributions. Dunn PAC gave $1,000 to Team McKenna on his first day of receiving.



More Light Can Help Avoid Tripping Over Shadows in McKenna Campaign

Early indications lead this writer to make a prediction in the Washington State governor’s race, not of who will win next November and attempt to rescue the state from its chronic fiscal troubles, but that the contest could go down as one of the nastiest in recent history. For Republican attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna to grasp victory, his own strong positions on the issues and Democratic candidate Jay Inslee’s weaknesses may not be enough. He will likely need to quickly identify the moving parts of the inevitable smear campaigns Democrats have already begun launching against him.

But on Thursday night, McKenna walked into one of the oldest traps in politics. According to sources, at the onset of speech to King County Young Republicans at a Bellevue community center, McKenna noticed one young man sitting quietly in the front row and filming. The young man was Zach Wurtz, who proudly informed the room that he was with the Washington State Democrats and was simply there to listen to McKenna’s speech.

After being told by the meeting’s organizer that he could stay—but would not be allowed to record—Wurtz began lecturing the state’s top lawman on points of constitutional precedent. The incident rapidly evolved into a standoff as the Young Republicans called Bellevue Police for intervention.

The scene was described Friday morning in gory detail by other Seattle outlets, first broke by left-wing blog Publicola. Despite reporter Josh Feit’s questionable use of an exclamation point on the end McKenna’s request to Wurtz that he put his camera away—in Wurtz’s YouTube video the request can be observed as a mild tone of irritation, something akin to a father getting fed up with a petulant child—any attempt by the McKenna campaign to spin the article as a fabrication would be pointless.

But the damage was done before Feit even began drafting his Morning Fizz hit piece. (Feit and the rest of the Seattle media have yet to report on the informational void that is Rep. Jay Inslee’s website for the governors campaign.) McKenna was snared by a dirty Democratic trick as soon as Wurtz’s presence caused the gubernatorial hopeful to stop speaking to the Young Republicans and begin focusing on the interloper.

Rule number one in the chapter of the candidate handbook on dealing with hecklers should be: “Wait until you see the backs of their throats.” The entire goal of Wurtz and his masters in the State Democratic Party was to create an image of McKenna as a candidate worried about having his words exposed to the public. As soon as McKenna decided to forgo giving his speech, Democratic HQ coded Wurtz’s mission accomplished.

All Washington State Democratic chair Dwight Pelz had to do Friday was read from his portion of the script to register the entire well-choreographed political kabuki in search-engine optimized “history.”

Again working through Publicola, Pelz smugly said that McKenna should “Get over it.”

Now that his value within the Pelz-Inslee Democratic apparatus has been validated, Wurtz is likely to be as ubiquitous a presence at McKenna’s events as the attorney general himself. But should McKenna react by erecting a wall to keep Wurtz out, voters may also begin questioning whether they, too, are unwelcome in McKenna’s campaign. Such a response would give Pelz and Co. an excuse to turn up the volume on a war chant many in Washington media will be only too happy to amplify.

Instead of getting over it, as Pelz taunted, McKenna should get on with it, the campaign to beat Inslee, that is, a campaign that should be conducted as transparently as it is vigorous. Wurtz is an irritant, an itch that should not have been scratched. His purpose is to create the impression that closed doors exist around the McKenna campaign, the endgame being to breed suspicion where none is warranted.


[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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