NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, December 3rd, 2022

Clyde Shavers prevails in 10th LD House race; recount not expected to change results

This week, the count­ing phase of the 2022 midterm elec­tion in Wash­ing­ton came to an end, and the final results con­firmed that Democ­rats have suc­ceed­ed in enlarg­ing their major­i­ty in the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives by one seat with chal­lenger Clyde Shavers’ vic­to­ry over Repub­li­can incum­bent Greg Gilday.

Gil­day is one of two Repub­li­cans cur­rent­ly rep­re­sent­ing the 10th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, which includes all of Island Coun­ty, south­west Skag­it Coun­ty, and a slice of north­east Sno­homish Coun­ty. The oth­er is Sen­a­tor Ron Muzzall.

The dis­tric­t’s oth­er House seat has been held for sev­er­al cycles by Demo­c­rat Dave Paul, who won reelec­tion by a rea­son­ably com­fort­able margin.

In the con­test with Gil­day, Shavers received a nar­row major­i­ty of the vote (51.91%) in the ini­tial round of Washington’s two-part gen­er­al elec­tion sys­tem, sur­pass­ing Gil­day, who received 47.94% of the vote.

Shavers seemed head­ed for vic­to­ry last month too. But his prospects took a hit when Gil­day’s cam­paign pub­lished a let­ter from Shavers’ father alleg­ing that he embell­ished his resume. Despite Repub­li­can attempts to exploit the alle­ga­tions for polit­i­cal gain, Shavers won. The results indi­cate that vot­ers were accept­ing of Shavers’ apol­o­gy and believe in his abil­i­ty to rep­re­sent the dis­trict in Olympia.

In a vic­to­ry state­ment pub­lished on his web­site, Shavers remarked: “I believe that vot­ers from all walks of life came togeth­er to reject today’s divi­sive pol­i­tics and to build toward a kinder, more com­pas­sion­ate future. We saw that hope and faith is stronger than neg­a­tiv­i­ty and tear­ing oth­ers down.”

“I look for­ward to ful­ly ded­i­cat­ing myself to the peo­ple of the 10th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict – to the fam­i­lies strug­gling to make ends meet, vet­er­ans con­tin­u­ing to serve their com­mu­ni­ty, farm­ers and farm­work­ers feed­ing us and the world, teach­ers and admin­is­tra­tors inspir­ing our chil­dren, and pub­lic safe­ty and health­care work­ers pro­tect­ing us each and every day.”

“Your sup­port through­out this cam­paign has been unpar­al­leled,” Shavers told his sup­port­ers. “Thank you so much for all that you offered – your time, your dona­tions, and your words of encour­age­ment. Our hard work paid off.”

“I want to con­grat­u­late Rep­re­sen­ta­tive-elect Clyde Shavers on his win and know he will do an excel­lent job serv­ing the 10th Dis­trict in Olympia,” said Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty Chair Tina Pod­lodows­ki.

“Clyde has been a ded­i­cat­ed life­long pub­lic ser­vant who has worked to make peo­ples’ lives bet­ter in both his own com­mu­ni­ty and across the world. Wash­ing­ton Democ­rats con­tact­ed 48,000 vot­ers in the 10th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict and were proud to play a crit­i­cal role in win­ning this very close election.”

“We are excit­ed that Clyde will join a leg­is­la­ture with an expand­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty, and one that is the most diverse in our state’s history.”

Shavers’ final lead at cer­ti­fi­ca­tion was just 211 votes.

While this key leg­isla­tive race has been con­sid­ered too close to call through the count­ing peri­od, there are no out­stand­ing bal­lots left to count.

Shavers won Island Coun­ty with 53.5% (a dif­fer­ence of near­ly 3,100) and Skag­it Coun­ty with 56.5% (a dif­fer­ence of near­ly 1,200). Gil­day won Sno­homish Coun­ty with 59.2% of the vote (a dif­fer­ence of about 4,150).

Although the out­come is not expect­ed to change, the con­test now heads to a machine recount. Under state law, a recount is manda­to­ry if the dif­fer­ence between two can­di­dates is few­er than 2,000 votes and less than .5%.

Shavers’s 50.1% is only .2 per­cent­age points ahead of Gilday’s 49.9% and only 211 votes sep­a­rate the can­di­dates, so a recount is necessary.

The recount will be a machine count and it should not take long to complete.

The Skag­it Coun­ty Can­vass­ing Board has already sched­uled a spe­cial meet­ing for this com­ing Mon­day to set a date and time for the recount.

Island Coun­ty plans to recount bal­lots in this race on Mon­day, Decem­ber 12th.

“The machine recount for Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict #10, Posi­tion 1 race will take place in the Elec­tions Office begin­ning at 9:00 a.m. on Mon­day, Decem­ber 12th,” a notice pub­lished by Island Coun­ty Elec­tions explained. “This recount is expect­ed to be com­plet­ed in one day and will be cer­ti­fied by the Can­vass­ing Board at their meet­ing on Tues­day, Decem­ber 13th, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. The recounts will take place in the Elec­tions Office at 400 N. Main St. in Coupeville.”

Sno­homish Coun­ty Elec­tions has also cho­sen the 12th as its recount day.

Gil­day’s defeat leaves the Repub­li­can cau­cus with just forty mem­bers. There are nine­ty-eight seats in the Wash­ing­ton State House of Representatives.

Democ­rats have held a major­i­ty in the cham­ber since the turn of the century.

The clos­est Repub­li­cans have come to a major­i­ty in recent cycles was in the 2014 and 2016 elec­tions, when they were able to win forty-eight seats.

In 2018, Democ­rats won fifty-sev­en seats, a feat they repeat­ed in 2020. Hav­ing now won fifty-eight seats in what was sup­posed to be a “red wave” year, the par­ty has showed that it is well posi­tioned to con­tin­ue its elec­toral dom­i­nance in leg­isla­tive elec­tions. It can do well in midterms regard­less of whether a Repub­li­can or Demo­c­rat is in the White House as well as in pres­i­den­tial years.

Friday, December 2nd, 2022

Democratic Party advances plan for revamped presidential nominating calendar in 2024

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s Rules and Bylaws Com­mit­tee (RBC) today vot­ed to advance a pro­posed pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nat­ing cal­en­dar for the 2024 cycle that final­ly puts an end to the long­time Iowa/New Hamp­shire duop­oly at the top of the sched­ule, set­ting an impor­tant prece­dent for the future of pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics in Amer­i­ca. At Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s urg­ing, South Car­oli­na (which res­cued his 2020 can­di­da­cy) has been cho­sen to hold the first offi­cial­ly sanc­tioned nom­i­nat­ing event in 2024, although Neva­da will effec­tive­ly also be first due to ear­ly voting.

The oth­er ear­ly states are New Hamp­shire (though the state’s arro­gant and enti­tled elect­ed offi­cials are wide­ly expect­ed to for­feit their still impres­sive ear­ly spot in the sched­ule by brazen­ly flout­ing the DNC’s rules), Geor­gia, and Michigan.

The plan embraced by the RBC con­tem­plates five ini­tial nom­i­nat­ing events on these dates in Feb­ru­ary of 2024, pri­or to Super Tuesday:

  • Feb­ru­ary 3rd – South Carolina
  • Feb­ru­ary 6th – Neva­da and New Hampshire
  • Feb­ru­ary 13th – Georgia
  • Feb­ru­ary 27th – Michigan

“To imple­ment this cal­en­dar, the RBC vot­ed to grant waivers to these five states to allow them to pro­ceed before the ‘win­dow’ peri­od of March 5 to June 12, 2024,” Demo­c­ra­t­ic rules afi­ciona­do Frank Leone explained on his Dem­Rulz site.

“The full DNC will vote on rat­i­fi­ca­tion of these waivers at its next meet­ing, Feb­ru­ary 2nd-4th, 2023 in Philadel­phia. To take advan­tage of the waivers, states must com­mit to take nec­es­sary actions, includ­ing changes in state law in some cas­es, by Jan­u­ary 5th, 2023. So the DNC can say it will grant waivers to rec­og­nize ear­ly pri­ma­ry dates, but state law pro­vides when the states can actu­al­ly hold the pri­maries. South Car­oli­na needs only a state­ment by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty Chair, Neva­da law cur­rent­ly pro­vides for a Feb­ru­ary 6th pri­ma­ry, New Hamp­shire will have to change its date and allow ear­ly vot­ing, Geor­gia requires a state­ment by the Sec­re­tary of State, and Michi­gan must enact a new statute.”

“If states don’t take these actions, they will not be able to chose nation­al con­ven­tion del­e­gates dur­ing these dates and must pro­ceed dur­ing the reg­u­lar window.”

With the excep­tion of South Car­oli­na, each is a state that vot­ed for Biden in 2020. Neva­da, Geor­gia, and Michi­gan are swing states.

New Hamp­shire is a pur­plish blue state that reli­ably votes for Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nees, but some­times elects Repub­li­cans to state-lev­el positions.

Though New Hamp­shire does not war­rant or deserve inclu­sion at the top of the cal­en­dar, the RBC saw fit to offer it a cov­et­ed spot in the top five any­way — an offer New Hamp­shire Democ­rats are unlike­ly to have the good sense to accept.

But they should con­sid­er what hap­pened to Iowa. Iowa’s infa­mous 2020 cau­cus deba­cle and lack of a pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry result­ed in the Hawk­eye State being dropped entire­ly from the first seg­ment of the nom­i­nat­ing cal­en­dar.

That leaves the Iowa Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty in a strange position.

Iowa has adopt­ed a state law (which prob­a­bly is not con­sti­tu­tion­al) requir­ing its polit­i­cal par­ties to hold “first in the nation” nom­i­nat­ing events.

“Our state law requires us to hold a cau­cus before the last Tues­day in Feb­ru­ary, and before any oth­er con­test,” said Iowa Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty Chair Ross Wilburn. “When we sub­mit our del­e­gate selec­tion plan to the Rules and Bylaws Com­mit­tee ear­ly next year, we will adhere to the State of Iowa’s legal require­ments, and address com­pli­ance with DNC rules in sub­se­quent meet­ings and hearings.”

That’s a disin­gen­u­ous state­ment. Iowa Democ­rats are not going to be able to “address com­pli­ance” by flout­ing nation­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty rules. The State of Iowa’s “legal require­ments” like­ly vio­late the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s First Amend­ment right to freely assem­ble. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty should sue the State of Iowa to get the “require­ments” tossed out and lib­er­ate the Iowa Democ­rats from them.

Iowa is not a swing state any­more and there’s noth­ing for the nation­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty to put at risk by going to bat for Democ­rats’ First Amend­ment rights.

New Hamp­shire has a sil­ly state law of its own which requires its sec­re­tary of state to fix a date for a pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry that is before any oth­er state’s.

New Hamp­shire Demo­c­ra­t­ic elect­ed offi­cials have pub­lished laugh­ably hyper­bol­ic and tru­ly ridicu­lous state­ments attack­ing Pres­i­dent Biden and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty for push­ing them from list­ed sec­ond in the cal­en­dar to… list­ed sec­ond in the cal­en­dar along with Neva­da. They haven’t actu­al­ly been “first in the coun­try” all these years (again, that’s been Iowa) but they sure do love that slo­gan and are vow­ing to be “first” again with state­ments like “New Hamp­shire will go first.”

What Iowa and New Hamp­shire offi­cials are loathe to admit is that the pow­er and influ­ence they have long enjoyed in the nom­i­nat­ing cal­en­dar is not theirs to sur­ren­der. It can be tak­en away. Either New Hamp­shire or Iowa could hold a super ear­ly pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nat­ing event next week if they want­ed to and that vote would not mat­ter. If the major par­ties do not rec­og­nize the events that New Hamp­shire and Iowa hold, and can­di­dates don’t cam­paign there, and mass media out­lets don’t send cor­re­spon­dents there, then they’re entire­ly meaningless.

For their part, how­ev­er, Repub­li­cans are going to let Iowa keep its top spot in the 2024 cal­en­dar. The Iowa Repub­li­can Par­ty Chair has pub­licly demand­ed that Iowa’s best known Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­ers speak out force­ful­ly now in defense of the Iowa cau­cus tra­di­tion and bat­tle with the DNC’s RBC. How­ev­er, it’s too late for that. The ship has already sailed. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty is mov­ing on from cau­cus-only del­e­gate selec­tion plans because they are dis­crim­i­na­to­ry and inaccessible.

In hind­sight, it seems that Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s 2020 loss­es in Iowa and New Hamp­shire as a can­di­date were lib­er­at­ing. Biden and his team obvi­ous­ly do not feel indebt­ed to either state’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. That freed them to pro­pose a revamped nom­i­nat­ing cal­en­dar with the con­fi­dence that the pre­dictably def­er­en­tial DNC and its RBC would accede to their wish­es with lit­tle dissent.

For once, a Demo­c­ra­t­ic White House­’s polit­i­cal pow­er has led to seri­ous and long over­due nom­i­nat­ing sched­ul­ing reform at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Committee.

Thursday, December 1st, 2022

U.S. Senate Republicans use chamber’s undemocratic sixty-vote threshold to deny railroad workers sick leave they need

The Unit­ed States Sen­ate vot­ed today to adopt a res­o­lu­tion that pre­vents a crip­pling rail­road strike, but refused to require large, prof­itable rail­road com­pa­nies like BNSF or Union Pacif­ic to pro­vide sick leave to their work­ers (as the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives had vot­ed to do yes­ter­day) in a sec­ond, relat­ed resolution.

The Sen­ate’s action, com­ing one day after the House votes, answers a request made by Pres­i­dent Joe Biden sev­er­al days ago.

Sen­ate Repub­li­cans used the cham­ber’s unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic six­ty vote thresh­old to nix the amend­ment to require paid sick leave for rail­road work­ers. Demo­c­ra­t­ic and inde­pen­dent sen­a­tors vot­ed for it, but most Repub­li­cans with­held their votes.

The amend­ment actu­al­ly received major­i­ty sup­port (52–43), but that was­n’t good enough for it to pass because of the Sen­ate’s utter­ly ridicu­lous rules.

The PNW roll call on the sick leave amend­ment was as fol­lows:

Vot­ing Yea for Paid Sick Leave for Rail­road Work­ers: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (OR), Jon Tester (MT)

Vot­ing Nay Against the Rail­road Work­ers: Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID), Lisa Murkows­ki and Dan Sul­li­van (AK), Steve Daines (MT)

Three Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors missed the vote: Cory Book­er, Chris Mur­phy, and Raphael Warnock. Their pres­ence and affir­ma­tive votes would have raised the yea total to 55. Repub­li­cans Richard Burr and Cindy Hyde-Smith also missed the vote.

Three ultra MAGA Repub­li­cans — Josh Haw­ley of Mis­souri, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Car­oli­na — broke with their par­ty to back the amend­ment. Our team can­not remem­ber a vote in which Haw­ley, Cruz, and Gra­ham vot­ed with the Democ­rats while Murkows­ki, Rom­ney, and Collins didn’t.

The under­ly­ing res­o­lu­tion then passed 80–15. The PNW roll call was as follows:

Vot­ing Yea to Pre­vent a Rail­road Strike: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Ron Wyden (OR), Jon Tester (MT); Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID), Lisa Murkows­ki (AK), Steve Daines (MT)

Vot­ing Nay Against the Res­o­lu­tion: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley (OR); Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Dan Sul­li­van (AK)

Sul­li­van was one of a hand­ful of Repub­li­cans who vot­ed nay on both the amend­ment and the under­ly­ing res­o­lu­tion (they don’t want rail­road work­ers to have paid sick leave and don’t want to avert a strike). Mar­co Rubio of Flori­da was anoth­er, as were the two Scotts: Rick of Flori­da and Tim of South of Carolina.

Susan Collins was also bemus­ing­ly a nay on both motions.

Democ­rats vot­ing against the under­ly­ing res­o­lu­tion besides Merkley includ­ed Eliz­a­beth War­ren, John Hick­en­looop­er, and Kristin Gilli­brand. They were joined by Bernie Sanders, an inde­pen­dent who cau­cus­es with Democrats.

Pas­sage of H.J.Res. 100 drew applause from the White House.

“On Tues­day, I met with Con­gres­sion­al lead­ers from both par­ties and told them that Con­gress need­ed to move quick­ly to avert a rail shut­down and eco­nom­ic cat­a­stro­phe for our nation,” said Pres­i­dent Biden in a statement.

“Now, I want to thank Con­gres­sion­al lead­er­ship who sup­port­ed the bill and the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of Sen­a­tors and Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in both par­ties who vot­ed to avert a rail shut­down. Con­gress’ deci­sive action ensures that we will avoid the impend­ing, dev­as­tat­ing eco­nom­ic con­se­quences for work­ers, fam­i­lies, and com­mu­ni­ties across the country.”

“Com­mu­ni­ties will main­tain access to clean drink­ing water. Farm­ers and ranch­ers will con­tin­ue to be able to bring food to mar­ket and feed their live­stock. And hun­dreds of thou­sands of Amer­i­cans in a num­ber of indus­tries will keep their jobs.  I will sign the bill into law as soon as Con­gress sends it to my desk.”

“Work­ing togeth­er, we have spared this coun­try a Christ­mas cat­a­stro­phe in our gro­cery stores, in our work­places, and in our communities.

“I know that many in Con­gress shared my reluc­tance to over­ride the union rat­i­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dures. But in this case, the con­se­quences of a shut­down were just too great for work­ing fam­i­lies all across the country.”

“And, the agree­ment will raise work­ers’ wages by 24%, increase health care ben­e­fits, and pre­serve two per­son crews.”

“I have long been a sup­port­er of paid sick leave for work­ers in all indus­tries – not just the rail indus­try – and my fight for that crit­i­cal ben­e­fit continues.”

“This week’s bipar­ti­san action pulls our econ­o­my back from the brink of a dev­as­tat­ing shut­down that would have hurt mil­lions of fam­i­lies and union work­ers in count­less indus­tries. Our econ­o­my is grow­ing and infla­tion is mod­er­at­ing, and this rail agree­ment will con­tin­ue our progress to build an econ­o­my from the bot­tom up and mid­dle out.”

“This week, Pres­i­dent Biden called on Con­gress to act to avoid a nation­al rail shut­down, and adopt the ten­ta­tive agree­ments reached ear­li­er this year by the unions and rail­roads — and facil­i­tat­ed by our Labor Sec­re­tary Mar­ty Walsh. These ten­ta­tive agree­ments secure crit­i­cal pri­or­i­ties for work­ers — includ­ing a 24 per­cent raise and $5,000 bonus — and have already been rat­i­fied by most of the rail unions,” said Wash­ing­ton’s senior U.S. Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Murray.

“While I am always reluc­tant to bypass the tra­di­tion­al nego­ti­a­tion and rat­i­fi­ca­tion process for any col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment, the harm a nation­al rail shut­down would cause to work­ing fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties in Wash­ing­ton state and across the coun­try is unde­ni­able — and I vot­ed to pro­tect the liveli­hoods of count­less Amer­i­cans and local communities.”

“Every sin­gle work­er in this coun­try deserves paid sick days—and that absolute­ly includes rail work­ers. It’s real­ly that sim­ple. So I am dis­ap­point­ed that the major­i­ty of Sen­ate Repub­li­cans would not vote with us to pro­vide sev­en paid sick days for rail work­ers. I have been fight­ing for decades now to final­ly estab­lish a nation­wide sick day pol­i­cy — and despite Repub­li­cans’ con­sis­tent oppo­si­tion, I cer­tain­ly won’t be stop­ping now. It’s time we final­ly pass my Healthy Fam­i­lies Act and guar­an­tee paid sick days for all workers.”

“I vot­ed no,” said Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

“It is com­plete­ly messed up that our rail work­ers are on con­tin­u­ous call, have no sick leave, and if they miss work due to ill­ness – get fired. The rail­roads are mak­ing bil­lions while treat­ing their work­ers horrendously.”

Thursday, December 1st, 2022

Washington State Senate Democrats announce leadership changes, committee assignments for 2023 legislative session

Fresh of an out­stand­ing midterm elec­tion cycle in which every front­line Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tor’s reelec­tion was secured, the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate Democ­rats today announced a set of lead­er­ship changes for the 2023 ses­sion along with the cau­cus’ com­plete com­mit­tee assignments.

Andy Bil­lig (D‑3rd Dis­trict: Spokane) remains Major­i­ty Leader.

Emi­ly Ran­dall (D‑26th Dis­trict: Kit­sap Penin­su­la) will become Deputy Major­i­ty Leader, replac­ing Sen­a­tor Rebec­ca Sal­daña (D‑37th Dis­trict: South Seat­tle), who will become the Vice Chair of the Caucus.

Man­ka Dhin­gra (D‑45th Dis­trict: Redmond/East King Coun­ty) remains the oth­er Deputy Major­i­ty Leader and Chair of the Law & Jus­tice Com­mit­tee. Dhin­gra is a North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion board­mem­ber. Ris­ing star T’wina Nobles (D‑28th Dis­trict: Pierce Coun­ty) is the new Major­i­ty Whip.

Bob Hasegawa (D‑11th Dis­trict: Seat­tle and South King Coun­ty) remains the Chair of the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cau­cus. Jamie Ped­er­sen (D‑43rd Dis­trict) remains Floor Leader. Oth­er mem­bers of the 2023–2024 lead­er­ship team include Joe Nguyen (D‑34th Dis­trict: West Seat­tle and Vashon Island) as Assis­tant Leader, Claire Wil­son (D‑30th Dis­trict: Fed­er­al Way and South King Coun­ty) as Assis­tant Whip, Karen Keis­er (D‑33rd Dis­trict: South King Coun­ty) as Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore, and John Lovick (D‑44th Dis­trict) as Vice Pres­i­dent Pro Tempore.

“I’m hon­ored to have been cho­sen by my col­leagues to step into a greater lead­er­ship role,” Ran­dall said. “Togeth­er, we’ve worked hard to put the needs of our neigh­bors first and expand access to oppor­tu­ni­ty for every Wash­ing­ton­ian. The thou­sands of con­ver­sa­tions I’ve had with neigh­bors over the past many months have high­light­ed some of the work ahead. I’m excit­ed to dig in along­side my col­leagues in 2023, and I can’t wait to see what our ded­i­cat­ed and dynam­ic team accom­plish­es in the com­ing months and beyond — it’s time to get to work.”

“I am both hum­bled and enthu­si­as­tic to have been select­ed by my peers to serve in this posi­tion,” said Nobles. “From the start of my tenure in the Sen­ate, I’ve stressed the impor­tance of trans­paren­cy in my office. I’ve val­ued so deeply the abil­i­ty for com­mu­ni­ty to be civi­cal­ly engaged and under­stand the nuances of the Leg­is­la­ture in order to make changes in the issues they care about. I’m elat­ed to be able to fur­ther this char­ter in my new position.”

Sev­er­al new sen­a­tors were cho­sen to be vice chairs of key committees:

  • Noel Frame (D‑36th Dis­trict: Seat­tle) will be vice chair of Hous­ing, work­ing with Chair Pat­ty Kud­er­er (D‑48th Dis­trict: Belle­vue). Frame will also be Vice Chair of Busi­ness, Finan­cial Ser­vices, Gam­ing & Trade, work­ing with Chair Derek Stan­ford (D‑1st Dis­trict: Both­ell and King / Sno­homish Counties).
  • Javier Valdez (D‑46th Dis­trict: Seat­tle) will be Vice Chair of State Gov­ern­ment, work­ing with Chair Sam Hunt (D‑22nd Dis­trict: Olympia).
  • Clau­dia Kauff­man (D‑47th Dis­trict: South King Coun­ty) will be Vice Chair of Human Ser­vices & Behav­ioral Health, work­ing with Chair Claire Wilson.
  • Sharon Shew­make (D‑42nd Dis­trict: What­com Coun­ty) will be one of two Vice Chairs of Trans­porta­tion. John Lovick will be the oth­er. Both of them will work with Chair Marko Liias (D‑21st Dis­trict: Sno­homish County).

Reuven Car­lyle and David Frock­t’s depar­tures also opened up some spots on the pow­er­ful Ways & Means Com­mit­tee, which writes the Sen­ate’s budget.

Mark Mul­let (D‑5th Dis­trict: Issaquah and East King Coun­ty) is the new Vice Chair for Cap­i­tal Bud­get, serv­ing with Chair Chris­tine Rolfes (D‑23rd Dis­trict: Kit­sap Penin­su­la) and June Robin­son (D‑38th Dis­trict: Sno­homish Coun­ty), the Vice Chair for Oper­at­ing & Rev­enue. Oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic com­mit­tee mem­bers include Bil­lig, Dhin­gra, Hasegawa, Hunt, Keis­er, Nugyen, Ped­er­sen, Sal­dana, Kevin Van De Wege (D‑24th Dis­trict: Olympic Penin­su­la), Lisa Well­man (D‑41st Dis­trict: Belle­vue and East King Coun­ty) and Steve Con­way (D‑29th Dis­trict: Pierce County).

The East­side’s del­e­ga­tion to the State Sen­ate — Dhin­gra, Kud­er­er, Well­man, Stan­ford, and Mul­let — has become very influ­en­tial and pow­er­ful. Four of them chair a com­mit­tee: Dhin­gra has Law & Jus­tice, Kud­er­er has Hous­ing, Well­man has Ear­ly Learn­ing & K‑12 Edu­ca­tion, and Stan­ford has Busi­ness, Finan­cial Ser­vices, Gam­ing & Trade. Mean­while, Mul­let has Cap­i­tal Bud­get with­in Ways & Means.

Addi­tion­al­ly, as men­tioned, Dhin­gra and Well­man are on Ways & Means along with Mul­let, while Kud­er­er is on the Sen­ate Rules Com­mit­tee, which has the pow­er to pull bills to the floor of the Sen­ate for con­sid­er­a­tion there.

The only Sen­ate com­mit­tee that will be chaired by a sen­a­tor from a most­ly-Seat­tle dis­trict is Envi­ron­ment, Ener­gy & Tech­nol­o­gy, chaired by Nguyen.

The Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus’ com­plete com­mit­tee assign­ments are avail­able in the PDF embed­ded below. The Sen­ate Repub­li­cans have not yet announced their assign­ments. As men­tioned, they will have one few­er mem­ber in their cau­cus in 2023–2024 due to Simon Sefzik’s loss to Sharon Shew­make in the 42nd District.

2023 Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus com­mit­tee mem­ber­ship and leadership

Wednesday, November 30th, 2022

U.S. House votes to adopt railroad labor agreement plus provide workers sick leave

The Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed two key labor-relat­ed res­o­lu­tions today: one aimed at avert­ing a crip­pling strike and one that would pro­vide rail­road work­ers with paid sick leave, address­ing work­er unhap­pi­ness with the deals reached at the bar­gain­ing table with big, prof­itable com­pa­nies like BNSF.

House Joint Res­o­lu­tion 100, pro­vid­ing for a res­o­lu­tion with respect to unre­solved dis­putes between rail­roads rep­re­sent­ed by the Nation­al Car­ri­ers’ Con­fer­ence Com­mit­tee of the Nation­al Rail­way Labor Con­fer­ence and a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of their employ­ees, passed with 290 yea votes and 137 nay votes.

House Con­cur­rent Res­o­lu­tion 119, intro­duced by the Pacif­ic North­west­’s own Peter DeFazio of Ore­gon, would amend H.J. Res 100 to pro­vide for paid sick leave for rail­road work­ers. It was approved by a vote of 221–207.

If the Sen­ate signs off on the pro­posed mod­i­fi­ca­tion to the labor agree­ment, Pres­i­dent Biden could sign the new terms into law and oblig­ate rail­roads to pro­vide sick leave to their work­ers, which they should have sim­ply agreed to do in the first place in nego­ti­a­tions, obvi­at­ing the need for con­gres­sion­al intervention.

“Time is of the essence,” said Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi before the vote.

“We must act now. I urge a strong bipar­ti­san ‘yes’ vote on both adopt­ing the Ten­ta­tive Agree­ment and secur­ing addi­tion­al paid sick leave.”

“In doing so, we will give our fam­i­lies and busi­ness­es con­fi­dence that the Amer­i­can econ­o­my will remain resilient and strong.  And we’ll move to enhance the dig­ni­ty and eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty of many hard­work­ing Amer­i­cans who keep our nation on the move. Our nation’s hopes, real­ly, are rid­ing on this vote.”

The roll call from the greater Pacif­ic North­west on the under­ly­ing res­o­lu­tion (H.J. Res 100, regard­ing the adop­tion of con­tract terms) was as fol­lows:

Vot­ing Yea for the Res­o­lu­tion: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land (WA), Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrad­er (OR); Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler and Dan New­house (WA), Russ Fulcher and Mike Simp­son (ID)

Vot­ing Nay Against the Res­o­lu­tion: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mary Pel­to­la (AK); Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers (WA), Cliff Bentz (OR), Matthew Rosendale (MT)

The roll call from the greater Pacif­ic North­west on the res­o­lu­tion to pro­vide for paid sick leave (H.Con.Res.119) was along par­ty lines:

Vot­ing Yea for the Res­o­lu­tion: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land (WA), Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrad­er (OR), Mary Pel­to­la (AK)

Vot­ing Nay Against the Res­o­lu­tion: Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers (WA), Cliff Bentz (OR), Russ Fulcher and Mike Simp­son (ID), Matthew Rosendale (MT)

With regard to the two res­o­lu­tions’ prospects in the Sen­ate, Punch­bowl News com­ment­ed in this morn­ing’s AM newsletter:

Across the Capi­tol, it seems as if the ten­ta­tive agree­ment could pass the Sen­ate – as long as every Demo­c­rat votes yes.

But sen­a­tors on both sides of the aisle told us they think it’s pos­si­ble that the paid-sick leave por­tion could poten­tial­ly pass as well. The issue of sup­port­ing more than 115,000 rail­road work­ers cuts across par­ty lines, mak­ing a vote count hard to predict.

Yet the prospect of the paid leave ele­ment gain­ing con­gres­sion­al approval has rail­road oper­a­tors on edge, sources told us Tues­day evening. A num­ber of Sen­ate Repub­li­cans do appear open to an increase in paid sick leave from one day to sev­en days.

If the paid sick leave por­tion fails in the Sen­ate, the under­ly­ing rail agree­ment could still go to Biden’s desk with­out return­ing to the House for anoth­er vote.

Pro-labor sen­a­tors like Bernie Sanders, Eliz­a­beth War­ren, and Jeff Merkley can be count­ed upon to do their utmost to get the paid sick leave lan­guage approved. But will there be enough votes to ulti­mate­ly get it adopted?

We hope so, and we’ll be urg­ing sen­a­tors to take a stand for paid sick leave for rail­road work­ers. They need it and deserve it. All Amer­i­can work­ers do. The big, prof­itable rail­road com­pa­nies can afford to do right by their work­ers. Since they won’t do so vol­un­tar­i­ly or even through the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing process, it’s entire­ly rea­son­able that Con­gress use its author­i­ty to make them.

Wednesday, November 30th, 2022

Washington State Supreme Court rules capital gains tax on wealthy can be collected for now

In a defeat for right wing anti-tax forces who want to keep Wash­ing­ton’s tax code per­ma­nent­ly upside down, the Ever­green State’s high­est court issued a stay today of a low­er court rul­ing that attempt­ed to bar the imple­men­ta­tion of a 2021 law enact­ed by the Leg­is­la­ture levy­ing a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy.

The rul­ing, request­ed by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, frees the Depart­ment of Rev­enue (DOR) to pro­ceed with col­lect­ing the new cap­i­tal gains tax, which is a cru­cial new fund­ing source for edu­ca­tion, preschool, and ear­ly learning.

Only Wash­ing­ton’s wealth­i­est fam­i­lies will pay the 7% tax on the sale or exchange of stocks, bonds, and oth­er assets, which ful­ly exempts all real estate and retire­ment accounts. There’s also exemp­tions for fam­i­ly farms and timberlands.

Addi­tion­al­ly, the law pro­vides a stan­dard deduc­tion of $250,000 per year per indi­vid­ual, mar­ried cou­ple, or domes­tic part­ner­ship, and a busi­ness and occu­pa­tion cred­it is avail­able for small businesses.

More infor­ma­tion is avail­able from this page on DOR’s web­site.

The con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of the tax has yet to be decid­ed. The Court will hear oral argu­ments from a group of respon­dents (for­mer­ly plain­tiffs) who con­tend it isn’t con­sti­tu­tion­al and appel­lants (for­mer­ly defen­dants, includ­ing the State of Wash­ing­ton) who assert that it is in late Jan­u­ary 2023. A final rul­ing is like­ly to be hand­ed down by the Court lat­er this year, per­haps in the late spring.

The respon­dents, known as the Quinn plain­tiffs, sought out a sym­pa­thet­ic tri­al court to lodge a chal­lenge against Engrossed Sub­sti­tute Sen­ate Bill 5096, the law that cre­at­ed Wash­ing­ton’s cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy. They found one in Bri­an Huber of Dou­glas Coun­ty, a court that rarely hears con­sti­tu­tion­al chal­lenges. Huber grant­ed the Quinn plain­tiffs a rul­ing strik­ing down ESSB 5096, but his deci­sion was prompt­ly appealed to the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court grant­ed direct review sev­er­al months ago, which result­ed in the case bypass­ing the Court of Appeals. Because the time is draw­ing near for imple­men­ta­tion and col­lec­tion of the tax, the State asked that the Supreme Court effec­tive­ly dis­card Huber’s rul­ing. The Court’s order today does just that.

NPI applauds this deci­sion. Our team agrees that it’s an encour­ag­ing devel­op­ment ahead of the next phase of the case, which will deter­mine the fate of the lawsuit.

Orga­ni­za­tions we work with are also feel­ing encouraged.

“Allow­ing cap­i­tal gains tax prepa­ra­tions to go for­ward is the right step for Washington’s stu­dents and par­ents,” said Trea­sure Mack­ley of Invest in Wash­ing­ton Now, a non­prof­it that has been work­ing on ESSB 5096’s defense.

“The law­suit chal­leng­ing the cap­i­tal gains tax is just a delay tac­tic by a small group of mil­lion­aires who refuse to pay what they owe. We can­not afford to put the self-inter­ests and for­tunes of the super-rich ahead of our communities.”

Mean­while, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the right wing forces work­ing for ESSB 5096’s defeat were unhap­py. Jason Merci­er of the Wash­ing­ton Pol­i­cy Cen­ter vent­ed by post­ed a GIF on Twit­ter with the cap­tion: “I am irri­tat­ed right now.”

Merci­er and oth­er oper­a­tives work­ing for the wealth­care of mil­lion­aires and bil­lion­aires have been try­ing unsuc­cess­ful­ly for years to brand the cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy as an income tax. But our polling has found that their argu­ments just aren’t res­onat­ing with the pub­lic, which is clear­ly deeply frus­trat­ing for them.

In addi­tion to los­ing in the court of pub­lic opin­ion, they’ve also now just lost in the high­est court in the land, which is not stacked with Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety alum­ni, unlike the Unit­ed States Supreme Court. The Court’s order today was unan­i­mous, which does­n’t give them even a dis­sent to hang their hats on.

A relat­ed effort to over­turn ESSB 5096 via ini­tia­tive col­lapsed back in the spring after right wing megadonors refused to sign off on plans to fund a bal­lot mea­sure to force a pub­lic vote on ESSB 5096, appar­ent­ly fear­ing that vot­ers would sanc­tion the Leg­is­la­ture’s work to make Wash­ing­ton’s tax code more progressive.

That has left anti-tax forces reliant on the Quinn legal chal­lenge, at least for the time being. Those forces are ide­o­log­i­cal­ly opposed to any and all ideas for reform­ing Wash­ing­ton’s tax code to require the wealthy to pay their fair share in dues to the state. It is essen­tial that they lose if Wash­ing­ton is ever to become a state with a bal­anced, fair, and just tax code.

Tuesday, November 29th, 2022

Respect for Marriage Act wins final passage in the U.S. Senate; returns to U.S. House

A bill that would final­ly repeal the so-called “Defense of Mar­riage” Act has mirac­u­lous­ly made it out of the Unit­ed States Sen­ate and will soon be land­ing on Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law fol­low­ing a bipar­ti­san vote on final pas­sage that came less than a month after Elec­tion Day.

The bill has a long his­to­ry, as its Wikipedia entry notes:

Its first ver­sion in 2009 was sup­port­ed by for­mer Repub­li­can U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bob Barr, the orig­i­nal spon­sor of DOMA, and for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, who signed DOMA in 1996. The admin­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma also sup­port­ed RFMA. Hav­ing been intro­duced in sev­er­al pre­vi­ous Con­gress­es, anoth­er iter­a­tion of the pro­pos­al was put forth in the 114th Con­gress in both the House and the Sen­ate in Jan­u­ary 2015.

The cur­rent ver­sion of the Respect for Mar­riage Act is H.R. 8404. It passed the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives back in the sum­mer, but like many bills approved by the House, it has been held up in the Senate.

Not any­more, thankfully.

The roll call on final pas­sage of H.R. 8404 from the Pacif­ic North­west mir­rored the roll call on invok­ing clo­ture from ear­li­er this month:

Vot­ing Yea to Cod­i­fy Mar­riage Equal­i­ty: Sen­a­tors Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (OR), Jon Tester (MT); Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Lisa Murkows­ki and Dan Sul­li­van (AK)

Vot­ing Nay Against Mar­riage Equal­i­ty: Sen­a­tors Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID), Steve Daines (MT)

A total of 61 sen­a­tors vot­ed yea and 36 vot­ed nay. 3 did not vote.

The twelve Repub­li­cans vot­ing yea were:

  • Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Richard Burr of North Carolina
  • Shelly Moore Capi­to of West Virginia
  • Susan Collins of Maine
  • Joni Ernst of Iowa
  • Cyn­thia Lum­mis of Wyoming
  • Lisa Murkows­ki of Alaska
  • Rob Port­man of Ohio
  • Mitt Rom­ney of Utah
  • Dan Sul­li­van of Alaska
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • Todd Young of Indiana

Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Ben Sasse of Nebras­ka and Pat Toomey of Penn­syl­va­nia missed the vote, as did Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Raphael Warnock of Geor­gia, who is home cam­paign­ing ahead of the Decem­ber 6th runoff.

All present Demo­c­ra­t­ic and inde­pen­dent sen­a­tors vot­ed yea.

“With today’s bipar­ti­san Sen­ate pas­sage of the Respect for Mar­riage Act, the Unit­ed States is on the brink of reaf­firm­ing a fun­da­men­tal truth: love is love, and Amer­i­cans should have the right to mar­ry the per­son they love,” said Pres­i­dent Joe Biden in a cel­e­bra­to­ry state­ment pro­vid­ed by the White House.

“For mil­lions of Amer­i­cans, this leg­is­la­tion will safe­guard the rights and pro­tec­tions to which LGBTQI+ and inter­ra­cial cou­ples and their chil­dren are enti­tled. It will also ensure that, for gen­er­a­tions to fol­low, LGBTQI+ youth will grow up know­ing that they, too, can lead full, hap­py lives and build fam­i­lies of their own.”

“Impor­tant­ly, the Senate’s pas­sage of the Respect for Mar­riage Act is a bipar­ti­san achieve­ment. I’m grate­ful to the deter­mined Mem­bers of Con­gress — espe­cial­ly Sen­a­tors Bald­win, Collins, Port­man, Sine­ma, Tillis, and Fein­stein — whose lead­er­ship has under­scored that Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats togeth­er sup­port the essen­tial right of LGBTQI+ and inter­ra­cial cou­ples to mar­ry. I look for­ward to wel­com­ing them at the White House after the House pass­es this leg­is­la­tion and sends it to my desk, where I will prompt­ly and proud­ly sign it into law.”

“Today, thanks to the hard work of Major­i­ty Leader Schumer, Speak­er Pelosi, and bipar­ti­san col­leagues, the Respect for Mar­riage Act is final­ly on its way to becom­ing law,” said Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Harris.

“I had the hon­or to per­form some of our nation’s first same sex mar­riages at San Fran­cis­co City Hall in 2004, where cou­ples cel­e­brat­ed not only a joy­ful union, but the pro­tec­tion and respect of fun­da­men­tal human rights.”

“The right to start a fam­i­ly and raise chil­dren. The right to be who you are, open­ly and proud­ly. The right to sup­port the per­son you love, whether at a hos­pi­tal bed­side, a mil­i­tary deploy­ment cer­e­mo­ny, or apply­ing for citizenship.”

“Our Admin­is­tra­tion stands for the fun­da­men­tal right to mar­ry the per­son you love and live free from dis­crim­i­na­tion. The Respect for Mar­riage Act ulti­mate­ly stands for a sim­ple prin­ci­ple: all Amer­i­cans are equal and their gov­ern­ment should treat them that way. Today, we are one step clos­er to achiev­ing that ide­al with pride.”

“By pass­ing the Respect for Mar­riage Act, the Sen­ate has reaf­firmed the right for all Amer­i­cans to mar­ry the per­son they love,” said Ore­gon’s senior U.S. Sen­a­tor Ron Wyden. “At the heart of mar­riage equal­i­ty is the fun­da­men­tal right to pri­va­cy. It’s why I ran in sup­port of same-sex mar­riage dur­ing my 1996 Sen­ate cam­paign, and after becom­ing the first mem­ber of the Sen­ate to open­ly sup­port mar­riage equal­i­ty, it’s why I vot­ed against the cru­el and egre­gious Defense of Mar­riage Act.”

“While mar­riage equal­i­ty is the law of the land thanks to land­mark Supreme Court cas­es like Oberge­fell and Lov­ing v. Vir­gi­nia, Con­gress can­not take any mod­ern legal prece­dent for grant­ed after the over­turn­ing of Roe.”

“It has an oblig­a­tion to pro­tect the indi­vid­ual rights of all Amer­i­cans from a far-right Supreme Court major­i­ty deter­mined to turn the clock back by decades. And today Con­gress is one step clos­er to cod­i­fy­ing these rights into law.”

“Today’s vote is espe­cial­ly impor­tant with the fright­en­ing rise of hate speech and vio­lence against LGBTQ Amer­i­cans. There is no place for hate or intol­er­ance in Amer­i­ca. I stand with the LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ty, and I’m proud to once again vote for equal­i­ty and freedom.”

“There should be no doubt that every­one should have their mar­riages rec­og­nized, but after Roe v. Wade was over­turned, I heard from con­stituents across Wash­ing­ton state who were wor­ried that far-right Supreme Court Jus­tices would rip away their right to mar­ry who they love,” said Wash­ing­ton’s senior U.S. Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray. “That’s why this leg­is­la­tion mat­ters and, today, we took a mean­ing­ful step towards pro­tect­ing same-sex mar­riage at the fed­er­al level.”

“This fight is not over, though. Whether it is defend­ing the right to same-sex mar­riage for all, push­ing for same-sex vet­er­an cou­ples to have full access to spousal ben­e­fits, or fight­ing to pro­tect all LGBTQ+ indi­vid­u­als from being fired just for who they love or how they iden­ti­fy — I will con­tin­ue to work to make equal­i­ty a real­i­ty. I am proud to be an advo­cate for Wash­ing­ton state’s LGBTQ+ com­mu­ni­ty in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate and look for­ward to Pres­i­dent Biden sign­ing this impor­tant piece of leg­is­la­tion into law.”

“Nobody should face the gut-wrench­ing pit in their stom­ach with the pos­si­bil­i­ty that some polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed Supreme Court jus­tices might sud­den­ly tell them that their mar­riage is no longer rec­og­nized,” said Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

“But the right-wing activist jus­tices have made clear they are eager to inject their pref­er­ences into the most inti­mate parts of our lives and have specif­i­cal­ly threat­ened Amer­i­cans’ marriages.”

“So bipar­ti­san majori­ties in Con­gress are step­ping in. Gen­er­a­tions of Amer­i­cans have marched, vot­ed, orga­nized, and raised their voic­es to move us clos­er to a more per­fect union with free­dom and equal­i­ty for all.”

“My col­leagues and I – on both sides of the aisle – have the respon­si­bil­i­ty to not just fur­ther leg­is­la­tion to ensure this real­i­ty for all Amer­i­cans, but to do all we can to pro­tect the exist­ing rights that so many Amer­i­cans rely on. The right to mar­ry the per­son you love, regard­less of gen­der or race, should not be up for debate.”

“Ore­gon pro­tects mar­riage equal­i­ty for those who call this great state home, and with the pas­sage of the Respect for Mar­riage Act, these rights will now be pro­tect­ed for all Amer­i­cans in every cor­ner of every state of our coun­try. Pro­tect­ing same-sex and inter­ra­cial mar­riage means the right to love and mar­ry whomev­er you choose will be pro­tect­ed regard­less of the whims of an extrem­ist Supreme Court.”

“While our work here in D.C. is not over, and we need to pass the Equal­i­ty Act and end all forms of anti-LGBTQ+ dis­crim­i­na­tion, let us not miss this oppor­tu­ni­ty to cel­e­brate. Love wins!”

Tuesday, November 29th, 2022

Counties certify 2022 midterm election in Washington State; turnout about average

This after­noon, the three-week count­ing phase of the 2022 midterm gen­er­al elec­tion in Wash­ing­ton came to an end when elec­tions offi­cials across the state’s thir­ty-nine coun­ties — from King to Garfield — cer­ti­fied their returns.

Every coun­ty’s sta­tus on now shows as “Final.” Turnout is shown as 63.81% of reg­is­tered vot­ers vot­ing — which is more than three-fifths turnout but not quite two-thirds. As it turns out, that’s aver­age for a midterm.

64.59% of vot­ers returned bal­lots, but sev­er­al tens of thou­sands were reject­ed and not count­ed, which is why the turnout fig­ure does­n’t match the returned fig­ure. There were a total of 37,755 chal­lenged bal­lots, a rate of 1.22%.

3,067,070 returned bal­lots were accept­ed and count­ed from 4,806,882 reg­is­tered Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers in the election.

How turnout compares to previous midterms

Not includ­ing this year’s turnout, the mean for midterms going back to 1938 (the ear­li­est com­pa­ra­ble cycle for which there is data avail­able) is 63.52%.

This year’s par­tic­i­pa­tion rate, 63.81%, is just above that.

Not low­er, not high­er, but right on average.

Below is a table show­ing vot­er turnout in all midterm elec­tions in Wash­ing­ton State going back to 1938. Data is cour­tesy of the Sec­re­tary of State.

The worst midterm turnout on record was in 1950 (rose-col­ored row); the best midterm turnout so far was twen­ty years lat­er, in 1970 (gold-col­ored row).

And here’s a line chart for more perspective:

Com­pared to recent midterms, 2022 turnout is:

  • not as good as 2018 or 2010 were (Trump / Oba­ma eras)
  • not as bad as 2014 or 2002 were (Oba­ma / Bush eras)
  • sim­i­lar to what 2006 was (Bush era)

Unlike in 2010 and 2014 — the Oba­ma-era midterms — Democ­rats per­formed spec­tac­u­lar­ly well in Wash­ing­ton State, show­ing that the par­ty is capa­ble of hav­ing a good midterm cycle even when it con­trols the presidency.

The Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty built and oper­at­ed a first-rate coor­di­nat­ed cam­paign effort that turned out the Demo­c­ra­t­ic vote. Moti­vat­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers turned Novem­ber into “Rovem­ber,” help­ing the par­ty flip a Repub­li­can con­gres­sion­al seat in the 3rd Dis­trict with Marie Glue­senkamp Perez and reelect Dr. Kim Schri­er to to the House in the 8th Con­gres­sion­al District.

Schri­er’s mar­gin of vic­to­ry is actu­al­ly greater than it was in 2020, which shows how incred­i­bly well Democ­rats were able to do in a key con­gres­sion­al race.

At the leg­isla­tive lev­el, instead of los­ing seats, Democ­rats gained seats.

The 42nd LD will now have an all-Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­isla­tive del­e­ga­tion thanks to a vic­to­ry by Sharon Shew­make in the hard-fought Sen­ate race there, while Joe Tim­mons was able to hold onto Shew­make’s House seat.

Shew­make’s seat­mate Ali­cia Rule also won reelection.

Every sup­pos­ed­ly vul­ner­a­ble Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent was reelect­ed, and Democ­rats also appear to have nar­row­ly knocked out Greg Gil­day in the 10th Dis­trict with Clyde Shavers despite an “Octo­ber sur­prise” cour­tesy of Shavers’ father. With no bal­lots left to count in Island, Sno­homish, or Skag­it coun­ties, Shavers has a 211 vote lead over Gil­day, which ought to hold up to a recount if there is one.

Flab­ber­gast­ed Repub­li­cans have been ask­ing them­selves how they blew it.

One dis­cus­sion thread on mil­i­tant Repub­li­can State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jim Wal­sh’s Face­book page ranged from sober reflec­tion to (sad­ly) wild con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries with absolute­ly no basis in real­i­ty. Walsh him­self opined: “There was no ‘red wave’ in WA because Repub­li­can vot­ers did­n’t vote as much as expect­ed. In oth­er words, 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗻𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗯𝗹𝗲𝗺.” (Empha­sis is his).

But not on the Demo­c­ra­t­ic side. Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers turned out and made 2022 — which Repub­li­cans fer­vent­ly believed was going to be a “red wave” year — a blue wave year in Wash­ing­ton instead. Over­all turnout was­n’t as high as in 2018, but since Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers showed up, Democ­rats got good results.

Despite know­ing that midterm elec­tions con­sis­tent­ly have low­er turnout than pres­i­den­tial cycles, Walsh still char­ac­ter­ized 2018 in his Face­book post as being “con­sid­ered a low-turnout year.” He is total­ly wrong on that score. 2018 was actu­al­ly one of our best turnout years. As you can see from the table, it’s our sec­ond-best all time turnout in a midterm, behind only 1970.

So it’s actu­al­ly not a great cycle to com­pare 2022 to. A bet­ter com­par­i­son might be 1994, the first midterm of the Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy, which had some sim­i­lar dynam­ics to this cycle. In that midterm, Wash­ing­ton turnout did not sur­pass 60%.

Repub­li­can vot­ers turned out in droves that year, while many Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers stayed home, result­ing in Democ­rats los­ing a huge num­ber of con­gres­sion­al and leg­isla­tive seats. It took Democ­rats sev­er­al cycles to regain that lost ground.

We could also look at the Carter pres­i­den­cy’s midterm in 1978: turnout then was­n’t much high­er than fifty per­cent. Both of those midterms had below aver­age turnout. 2018 had high­er than usu­al turnout. 2022, mean­while, was typical.

Walsh is right about one thing. He wrote: “Why did­n’t Repub­li­can vot­ers in WA vote as much as expect­ed in what was sup­posed to be a pos­i­tive ‘wave’ elec­tion? That ques­tion will take more time and more data to answer completely.”

Our team believes that Repub­li­cans hurt them­selves by try­ing to cre­ate a self-ful­fill­ing prophe­cy. In attempt­ing fever­ish­ly to demo­ti­vate Democ­rats, they end­ed up demo­ti­vat­ing their own base. Words that comes to mind when I reflect on how Repub­li­can elect­ed offi­cials approached this elec­tion cycle are arro­gance and enti­tle­ment. They spoke and act­ed as though they were owed a red wave.

The vot­ers had oth­er ideas.

Democ­rats, mean­while, did not take the elec­torate for grant­ed, work­ing instead to to com­pete as effec­tive­ly as they could in a land­scape with ger­ry­man­dered maps, big dark mon­ey, and unfa­vor­able, unfriend­ly media coverage.

The vic­to­ries Democ­rats achieved in 2022 are a tes­ta­ment to what can be accom­plished with hard work and smart invest­ments. A polit­i­cal par­ty that is deter­mined to cre­ate its own luck and shape events rather than being shaped by events is a par­ty that can find elec­toral suc­cess even in the face of great adversity.

Monday, November 28th, 2022

Lawsuit contends Washington’s signature-based ballot verification is unconstitutional

A law­suit filed last week in King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court is chal­leng­ing the “sig­na­ture match­ing” process used by elec­tion offi­cials across the Ever­green State that results in tens of thou­sands of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers hav­ing their bal­lots reject­ed and being dis­en­fran­chised every elec­tion cycle.

The suit asks that the “faux sci­ence” of vot­er ver­i­fi­ca­tion be thrown out because it vio­lates the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion. If plain­tiffs get the relief they are request­ing, elec­tion offi­cials would no be longer use sig­na­tures on bal­lot envelopes, except to sim­ply con­firm that the return enve­lope was signed.

A total of 24,000 bal­lots were dis­qual­i­fied in 2020, and 27,000 and ris­ing so far in 2022. In the last three elec­tion cycles, argues the suit, sig­na­ture checks have inval­i­dat­ed more than 113,000 bal­lots from Wash­ing­ton voters.

“The impact is hard­ly neu­tral,” in the words of Kevin Hamil­ton, vet­er­an elec­tion law expert with the Perkins Coie law firm, who filed the suit. The plain­tiffs are a trio of dis­en­fran­chised vot­ers along with the Vet Voice Foun­da­tion, El Cen­tro de la Raza and Wash­ing­ton Bus, which seeks to ener­gize younger voters.

“Active mil­i­tary, Lati­no, Black and Asian Amer­i­can vot­ers saw their bal­lots reject­ed at twice the rate of white vot­ers over forty,” added Hamil­ton. “Vot­ers aged 18 to 21 had their bal­lots reject­ed at ten times the rate of white vot­ers over forty. Asian-Amer­i­can vot­ers aged 18 to 21 had their bal­lots reject­ed at twelve times the rate of white vot­ers over forty. Black and His­pan­ic vot­ers aged 18 to 21 had their bal­lots reject­ed at six­teen times the rate of white overs over forty. This is absurd and uncon­sti­tu­tion­al under Washington’s State Constitution.”

Elec­tion work­ers cas­es are charged with scan­ning mil­lions of bal­lot envelopes under Washington’s vote-by-mail sys­tem. They are tasked with scru­ti­niz­ing whether sig­na­tures match sig­na­tures that vot­ers have on file.

The ver­i­fi­ca­tion require­ment has been elec­tion offi­cials’ chief defense against alle­ga­tions that the sys­tem is open to vot­er fraud.

“Few if any” cas­es of fraud have been uncov­ered due to the sig­na­ture ver­i­fi­ca­tion process, accord­ing to the suit, which names as defen­dants Sec­re­tary of State Steve Hobbs and King Coun­ty Elec­tions Direc­tor Julie Wise.

“There­fore,” says the suit, “Washington’s Sig­na­ture Match­ing Pro­ce­dure has dis­en­fran­chised tens of thou­sands of law­ful vot­ers to no dis­cernible benefit.”

As to the dis­en­fran­chised: “These vot­ers did every­thing required of them under Wash­ing­ton law: They filled out their bal­lots, sealed the envelopes, signed them and returned them on time. Still, their votes were not counted.”

The Perkins Coie firm has defend­ed vot­er rights, and rep­re­sent­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic groups, in lit­i­ga­tion from coast to coast. It recent­ly per­suad­ed courts in Mon­tana to over­turn efforts by Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors to make it more dif­fi­cult for Native Amer­i­cans and young peo­ple to vote. The law­mak­ers had passed a trio of mea­sures that out­lawed same-day vot­er reg­is­tra­tion, said stu­dent ID alone was not enough to reg­is­ter, and out­lawed paid third-par­ty bal­lot collection.

Hamil­ton worked in Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell’s clos­est-in-the-nation defeat of Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Slade Gor­ton in 2000, defend­ed Chris­tine Gregoire’s 2004 129-vote win for Gov­er­nor in Chelan Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court, and worked the 2008 lit­i­ga­tion and court plead­ings that con­firmed elec­tion of Min­neso­ta’s for­mer U.S. Sen­a­tor Al Franken. He rep­re­sent­ed the ACLU in land­mark lit­i­ga­tion in which a fed­er­al judge end­ed the at-large elec­tions of Yaki­ma City Coun­cil mem­bers, a process under which no Lati­no or Lati­na had ever won a city coun­cil seat.

Hamil­ton was in Geor­gia after the 2020 elec­tion, defend­ing Joe Biden’s nar­row win in the Peachtree State against mal­adroit legal chal­lenges brought by Trump allies. Perkins Coie is cur­rent­ly rep­re­sent­ing two nar­row win­ners in Ari­zona, Gov­er­nor-elect Katie Hobbs and Attor­ney Gen­er­al-elect Kris Mayes. Mayes’ oppo­nent, Abra­ham Hamadeh, has asked courts to void the election.

The sig­na­ture ver­i­fi­ca­tion suit details the almost Kafkaesque expe­ri­ence of a young vot­er named Kaeleene Escalante Mar­tinez, who had her bal­lot dis­al­lowed in three suc­ces­sive elec­tion cycles.

After her bal­lot was reject­ed in the 2020 elec­tion, Mar­tinez com­plet­ed the form to “cure” the sig­na­ture issue, only to see her vote not count. Mar­tinez saw her bal­lots reject­ed twice more in this year’s pri­ma­ry and gen­er­al elections.

“In short, she did every­thing that was required of her to cast her bal­lot and exer­cise her fun­da­men­tal right to vote,” says the suit, lat­er adding: “Ms Escalante Mar­tinez recent­ly learned that, remark­ably, for a third time in as many elec­tions, elec­tion offi­cials mis­tak­en­ly reject­ed her sig­na­ture on her ballot.”

Bethan Cantrell, a sec­ond plain­tiff, has in words of the suit, a “chron­ic con­di­tion that makes writ­ing and sign­ing her name extreme­ly uncomfortable.”

A “com­pli­cat­ed sig­na­ture” by a third plain­tiff, Daisha Britt, has result­ed in repeat rejections.

Until and unless the ver­i­fi­ca­tion require­ment is thrown out, vot­ers must act to “cure” the rejec­tion of their signatures.

Coun­ty elec­tion offices noti­fy vot­ers whose bal­lots are chal­lenged and have until just before cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to com­plete a form and “cure” the chal­lenge. (For this elec­tion, that was 4:30 PM Pacif­ic Time today, as cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is tomorrow.)

The law­suit not­ed that elec­tion offi­cials have oth­er means to iden­ti­fy improp­er bal­lots, includ­ing check­ing Social Secu­ri­ty records, and checks with the state Depart­ment of Health and Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions for dead or inel­i­gi­ble voters.

Thursday, November 24th, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving 2022!

Hap­py Thanks­giv­ing, everyone!

Since World War II, when Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt and Con­gress agreed on a date, Amer­i­cans have gath­ered on the fourth Thurs­day of Novem­ber to cel­e­brate the bless­ings of the year and express grat­i­tude for boun­ti­ful harvests.

The hol­i­day actu­al­ly dates all the way back to the 1500s, when some of the first Euro­peans to reach North Amer­i­ca gave thanks for what they had. The first Thanks­giv­ing in what is now the Unit­ed States is thought by many his­to­ri­ans to have been cel­e­brat­ed by the Span­ish at St. Augus­tine, Flori­da, in 1565. There were also Thanks­giv­ing cel­e­bra­tions in Vir­ginia in 1619, two years before the Pil­grims and the Wampanoag Native Amer­i­cans com­mem­o­rat­ed the often-depict­ed life­sav­ing har­vest at Ply­mouth Plan­ta­tion in Massachusetts.

Abra­ham Lin­coln made use of both Thanks­giv­ing, in the 1860s large­ly cel­e­brat­ed north of the Mason-Dixon Line, espe­cial­ly with­in New Eng­land, and Christ­mas, cel­e­brat­ed large­ly to the south, toward fur­ther unit­ing the nation. That, in turn, ini­ti­at­ed the change in mean­ing for Thanks­giv­ing, even­tu­al­ly pro­vid­ing room to dis­cuss in pub­lic the suf­fer­ing of Native Amer­i­cans over the centuries.

“We are grate­ful for our fam­i­ly and friends and for all of our fel­low Amer­i­cans, even those whom we may nev­er meet but rely upon nonethe­less,” Pres­i­dent Biden’s 20222 Thanks­giv­ing Day Procla­ma­tion declares.

“We are thank­ful for the sci­en­tists, researchers, doc­tors, and nurs­es who have kept us safe through a pan­dem­ic, and for the front­line work­ers who have kept essen­tial ser­vices going by grow­ing and pro­vid­ing food for our tables.  We are grate­ful to faith lead­ers for their coun­sel, com­fort, and sup­port.  We thank our brave ser­vice mem­bers and vet­er­ans who sac­ri­fice so much for our free­dom, and the first respon­ders who put so much on the line to keep us all safe.”

Here are some of the things our team at NPI is thank­ful for this year:

The passage of King County Charter Amendment 1

Vot­ers this year said yes to mov­ing elec­tions for twelve impor­tant King Coun­ty posi­tions to even-num­bered years — an idea con­ceived and devel­oped here at NPI and brought to fruition with the help of King Coun­ty Coun­cil Chair Clau­dia Bal­duc­ci and six oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers of the King Coun­ty Council.

This vic­to­ry means that by the end of this decade, we’ll elect the King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive, Asses­sor, Elec­tions Direc­tor, and Coun­cil in years when most vot­ers return a bal­lot, and when turnout is more diverse.

Our thanks to every­one who helped pass King Coun­ty Char­ter Amend­ment 1, which has the sup­port of more than 69% of King Coun­ty vot­ers.

Democratic statehouse trifectas

The peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon vot­ed for Demo­c­ra­t­ic tri­fec­tas again this year. Mean­while, vot­ers in sev­er­al oth­er states also elect­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic tri­fec­tas after years of divid­ed gov­ern­ment (like in Mary­land, Mass­a­chu­setts, Michi­gan). With Repub­li­cans unwill­ing to take action on issues like cli­mate dam­age, gun vio­lence, mass incar­cer­a­tion, sys­temic racism, school fund­ing, bal­lot access, or com­bat­ing extrem­ism, Demo­c­ra­t­ic tri­fec­tas are a pre­req­ui­site for pass­ing leg­is­la­tion that helps peo­ple live safer, hap­pi­er, health­i­er lives.

The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ inves­ti­ga­tion into the hor­rif­ic insur­rec­tion­ist assault on our seat of gov­ern­ment has irrefutably doc­u­ment­ed that Don­ald Trump and his enablers incit­ed an attack on Con­gress in order to dis­rupt the law­ful trans­fer of pow­er from one admin­is­tra­tion to anoth­er; then stood back and took no action while mem­bers of Con­gress and Trump’s own Vice Pres­i­dent were flee­ing for their lives, includ­ing ultra MAGA Repub­li­cans like Josh “Hawl­in” Haw­ley. Through a series of thought­ful­ly pro­duced hear­ings, the Select Com­mit­tee told the sto­ry of the attack and who was behind it. Kevin McCarthy’s cau­cus can dis­band the com­mit­tee in the next Con­gress, but won’t be able to bury its fine work.

Projects to ensure access to reproductive healthcare

The Supreme Court’s awful Dobbs deci­sion has imper­iled access to repro­duc­tive health­care for mil­lions of Amer­i­can women and peo­ple capa­ble of giv­ing birth. Many Repub­li­can and right wing con­trolled states have crim­i­nal­ized abor­tion care, forc­ing clin­ics and providers to shut down or cease pro­vid­ing abor­tions. Orga­ni­za­tions like INeedAnA, the Yel­lowham­mer Fund, and the Repro Legal Defense Fund from If/When/How: Lawyer­ing for Repro­duc­tive Jus­tice have stepped up to fill the void left by the paral­y­sis caused by Repub­li­can obstruc­tion­ism in Congress.

NPI supporters

And final­ly, we’re thank­ful that we were able to expand our research polling to the con­gres­sion­al lev­el this year. Many Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate read­ers stepped up with con­tri­bu­tions to make that hap­pen. You’re the best! Have a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Mary Peltola win reelection, in double defeat for Donald Trump

Alaska’s Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Lisa Murkows­ki has been reelect­ed to a fourth term and rook­ie Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mary Per­to­la has won a full House term, suc­ceed­ing the late Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Don Young, with final vote counts announced Tues­day by Alas­ka elec­tion offi­cials. The results are the first gen­er­al elec­tion yield of the The Last Fron­tier’s new ranked choice vot­ing system.

The out­comes marked a dou­ble defeat for Don­ald Trump, who has had a Novem­ber to remem­ber. Trump had endorsed and cam­paigned in Alas­ka for Murkowski’s Repub­li­can chal­lenger Kel­ly Tshiba­ka, and for Sarah Palin’s spe­cial and gen­er­al elec­tion bids for the state’s at-large House seat.

It was Palin’s first run for office since quit­ting as Gov­er­nor in 2009, to cash in on celebri­ty sta­tus gained as Repub­li­cans’ 2008 vice pres­i­den­tial nominee.

Inde­pen­dent mind­ed, will­ing to work across the aisle, Murkows­ki earned the loathing of Trump. She vot­ed to impeach the 45th Pres­i­dent after the Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021 insur­rec­tion at the U.S. Capi­tol. She has also worked to fash­ion bipar­ti­san leg­is­la­tion like the Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act, which will invest bil­lions into Alas­ka projects rang­ing from broad­band access to bet­ter fer­ry service.

Under Alaska’s ranked choice sys­tem, adopt­ed by vot­ers in 2020, the state aban­doned par­ti­san pri­maries. All can­di­dates now appear on a jun­gle style August qual­i­fy­ing bal­lot. The top four vote get­ters advance to the Novem­ber bal­lot. If no can­di­date reach­es fifty per­cent, the can­di­date with the least amount of votes is elim­i­nat­ed and votes trans­ferred to their sup­port­ers’ sec­ond choice.

The sys­tem works for coali­tion builders, and against polar­iz­ing can­di­dates. Murkows­ki ran bare­ly ahead of Tshiba­ka as first place choic­es were tabulated.

But Murkows­ki was the over­whelm­ing sec­ond choice of vot­ers who sup­port­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Pat Ches­bro, third place fin­ish­er in the Sen­ate race.

“I am hon­ored that Alaskans – of all regions and back­grounds, and par­ty affil­i­a­tions, have once again grant­ed me their con­fi­dence to con­tin­ue work­ing with them and on their behalf in the U.S. Sen­ate,” Murkows­ki said in a vic­to­ry statement.

Unlike some Trump-backed can­di­dates, Tshiba­ka did concede.

In a long state­ment, she thanked Trump – and God – while denounc­ing ranked choice vot­ing as “an incum­bent pro­tec­tion sys­tem” and “an absolute des­e­cra­tion of democracy.”

Murkows­ki lost a 2010 Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry to Tea Par­ty-backed can­di­date Joe Miller. She won her way back to the Sen­ate with an unprece­dent­ed, his­to­ry-mak­ing write-in cam­paign, backed by Alas­ka Native cor­po­ra­tions, labor unions (main­ly teach­ers), vot­ers in the Alas­ka bush, and mod­er­ates. She reassem­bled prac­ti­cal­ly the same coali­tion this year. Murkows­ki was cen­sured by the Alas­ka Repub­li­can Par­ty after her impeach­ment vote. The par­ty backed Tshibaka.

One new force: Sen­ate Repub­li­can Leader Mitch McConnell sup­port­ed Murkows­ki and spent mil­lions from his PAC to air anti-Tshiba­ka TV spots. McConnell drew steamy denun­ci­a­tions from MAGA Repub­li­cans: Tshiba­ka accused him of want­i­ng “a Sen­ate minor­i­ty that he can con­trol as opposed to a major­i­ty he could not.”

Murkows­ki endorsed Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­league Pel­to­la, who bare­ly missed a major­i­ty in the first round and eas­i­ly out­paced Palin by 55% to 45% (a ten point mar­gin) when vot­ers’ sec­ond choic­es were count­ed. “It’s a two-year con­tract: I will be hap­py to work for Alaskans again, as long as they will have me,” she said.

Talk­ing to the Anchor­age Dai­ly News, Pel­to­la added: “I think it says that Alaskans are ready for an Alaskan to rep­re­sent them who isn’t spout­ing the canned mes­sages we hear nation­wide.” She hails from the rur­al town of Bethel.

Pel­to­la is a for­mer state leg­is­la­tor who has devel­oped exper­tise in man­age­ment of The Last Fron­tier’s salmon and her­ring fishery.

The crusty Don Young rep­re­sent­ed Alas­ka in the House for forty-nine-plus years, from 1973 to this past spring when he died on a Seat­tle-bound Alas­ka Air­lines flight. Peltola’s father once worked with Young, and the new House mem­ber smart­ly kept for­mer Young aides on her staff.

Alaska's Mary Peltola and Lisa Murkowski

Alaska’s Mary Pel­to­la and Lisa Murkows­ki at an AFN event before the Novem­ber 2022 gen­er­al elec­tion (Cam­paign photo)

Both Murkows­ki and Pel­to­la sup­port repro­duc­tive rights: Murkows­ki has indi­cat­ed open­ness to leg­is­la­tion that would cod­i­fy abor­tion rights nationwide.

Murkows­ki was also the sec­ond Repub­li­can sen­a­tor (after Ohio’s Rob Port­man) to come out in favor of same-sex marriage.

Murkows­ki has been both a col­lab­o­ra­tor and adver­sary of Washington’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell. The two “gen­tle­ladies,” as they are called in the Sen­ate, have worked suc­cess­ful­ly to get con­struc­tion under­way on a new heavy-duty polar ice­break­er, and design of a second.

They also worked on leg­is­la­tion that per­ma­nent­ly autho­rized and fund­ed the Land and Water Con­ser­va­tion Fund, in which fed­er­al oil and gas rev­enues are used to acquire wildlife habi­tats and recre­ation lands.

Cantwell is a long­time cham­pi­on of the fund. Murkows­ki vot­ed to con­firm Pres­i­dent Biden’s nom­i­nee, Deb Haa­land, as U.S. Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary. Haa­land is the first Native Amer­i­can to hold the nation’s top land man­age­ment job.

Murkows­ki is, how­ev­er, a defend­er and advo­cate for Alaska’s pow­er­ful oil and gas indus­try. Under Trump, she found a back­door way to open the Arc­tic Refuge to oil lease sales. (Major com­pa­nies have declined to bid.) She has cham­pi­oned the Wil­low Project, an effort by Cono­co to devel­op an oil field west of Prud­hoe Bay.

Alaska’s Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor Mike Dun­leavy did not need ranked choice to win a sec­ond term. He took just over 51 per­cent of the gen­er­al elec­tion vote. Repub­li­cans won a nar­row major­i­ty in the state House of Representatives.

A coali­tion of Democ­rats and rea­son­able Repub­li­cans is expect­ed to run the Alas­ka State Sen­ate for the next two years.

The losers in Alas­ka are not about to lie down. Last week, Sarah Palin became the first per­son to sign an ini­tia­tive peti­tion to repeal ranked choice voting.

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

Net pen aquaculture in Washington’s waters must end, Commissioner Hilary Franz orders

Last week, in a move applaud­ed by trib­al nations, Wash­ing­ton’s Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands Hilary Franz made the announce­ment that the Ever­green State’s pub­licly owned aquat­ic lands will no longer host any open water fish farms.

The Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources is ter­mi­nat­ing Cooke Aqua­cul­ture’s remain­ing two fin­fish net pen aqua­cul­ture facil­i­ties leas­es. The com­pa­ny will have a few weeks “to fin­ish oper­a­tions and begin remov­ing its facil­i­ties and repair­ing any envi­ron­men­tal dam­age,” the agency said on Novem­ber 18th.

“As we’ve seen too clear­ly here in Wash­ing­ton, there is no way to safe­ly farm fin­fish in open sea net pens with­out jeop­ar­diz­ing our strug­gling native salmon,” Franz said in a state­ment. “Today, I’m announc­ing an end to the practice.”

“We, as a state, are going to do bet­ter by our salmon, by our fish­er­men, and by our tribes. Com­mer­cial fin­fish farm­ing is detri­men­tal to salmon, orcas and marine habi­tat. I’m proud to stand with the rest of the west coast today by say­ing our waters are far too impor­tant to risk for fish farm­ing profits.”

This deci­sion has been a long time com­ing. Envi­ron­men­tal­ists, fish­er­men, tribes and oth­ers have worked for decades to get fish farms out of Wash­ing­ton’s waters.

“After the incred­i­ble news announced ear­li­er this week, it is almost impos­si­ble to believe we are now cel­e­brat­ing an even big­ger, ground­break­ing vic­to­ry for our wild salmon, orcas, and the health of Puget Sound,” said Emma Helver­son, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Wild Fish Con­ser­van­cy, in a press release. “By deny­ing new leas­es to Cooke and bring­ing for­ward this com­pre­hen­sive, bold new pol­i­cy to pre­vent com­mer­cial net pens from ever oper­at­ing in Wash­ing­ton marine waters again, Com­mis­sion­er Franz is ensur­ing Puget Sound will be pro­tect­ed, not just now, but far into the future for the ben­e­fit of gen­er­a­tions to come.”

“This ends a long his­to­ry of indus­try ‘spokes­peo­ple’ who have been involved with Marine Resources Com­mit­tees both in Clal­lam and Jef­fer­son Coun­ties, tout­ing the ben­e­fits of these pens and dis­rupt­ing any­one com­ing for­ward to raise con­cerns, such as when Pro­fes­sor Dill, a researcher from a dis­tin­guished Cana­di­an Uni­ver­si­ty came to Port Ange­les a few years ago to dis­cuss his sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly based con­cerns and was shout­ed down by indus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives,” wrote Al Berg­stein, edi­tor and pub­lish­er of the Olympic Penin­su­la Envi­ron­men­tal News.

If you’d like a refresh­er on the destruc­tive ram­i­fi­ca­tions of open net pen fish farms, the David Suzu­ki Foun­da­tion has a good primer at its website.

“A 2021 Uni­ver­si­ty of British Colum­bia study con­firmed that farmed fish are trans­fer­ring PRV to wild salmon, and found that prox­im­i­ty to fish farms increas­es the like­li­hood of wild Chi­nook being infect­ed,” a May 5th post doc­u­ment­ing the sup­pressed sci­ence explains. “One of the orig­i­nal DFO study’s authors, fed­er­al biol­o­gist Kristi Miller-Saun­ders, called the delay a ‘trav­es­ty’ that has con­tributed to ongo­ing doubt about viral impacts of fish farms on wild salmon.”

An exec­u­tive for Cooke Aqua­cul­ture said the com­pa­ny is unhappy.

“Cooke Aqua­cul­ture Pacif­ic was very dis­ap­point­ed to receive the Wash­ing­ton Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources (DNR) notices not to renew our two steel­head fish farm­ing leas­es in Rich Pas­sage off Bain­bridge Island and off Hope Island in Skag­it Bay. Reg­u­la­tors and pol­i­cy­mak­ers must respon­si­bly fol­low the sci­ence and judi­cial prece­dents in mak­ing key deci­sions regard­ing marine aqua­cul­ture, which we do not believe was the case in this instance,” said Cooke VP Joel Richard­son.

Hope­ful­ly, we have reached the point where we can final­ly put this destruc­tive prac­tice to rest in Wash­ing­ton. That leaves British Colum­bia, where the indus­try has a much larg­er pres­ence. Fish farms in B.C. are also slat­ed to be phased out, but will the province fol­low through and give com­pa­nies like Cooke the boot?

Remem­ber salmon orig­i­nat­ing from and return­ing to their home rivers and streams along the Pacif­ic west coast, cross bor­ders, min­gle and migrate far off shore, so it mat­ters what hap­pens in British Columbia.

Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon, and Alas­ka thank­ful­ly nev­er allowed the fish farm indus­try to set up shop in their waters. Only Wash­ing­ton and British Colum­bia did.

Even after fish farms are fin­ished being ban­ished from the Sal­ish Sea, a boom­let of indus­tri­al off­shore facil­i­ties being devel­oped around the world could still threat­en the marine waters of the Pacif­ic Northwest.

While it is a big relief to see our aquat­ic lands lib­er­at­ed from Cooke’s messy and harm­ful oper­a­tions, the threat of fish farms is not gone.

Activists, tribes, and gov­ern­ments will need to work togeth­er to pro­tect the world com­mu­ni­ty and Earth­’s oceans from this prob­lem for years to come.

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022

The day before Election Day, Tim Eyman said he was praying for a red wave. It never came.

With noth­ing on this year’s bal­lot to sell, and with a mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar Fair Cam­paign Prac­tices Act penal­ty and its asso­ci­at­ed costs hang­ing over him, right wing provo­ca­teur Tim Eyman has late­ly been focused on self-preser­va­tion, send­ing email after email to his fol­low­ers tout­ing his appeal of Judge James Dixon’s his­toric judg­ment against him in ear­ly 2021 and ask­ing them to bar­rage Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son with hos­tile emails.

From Octo­ber 7th until the day before Elec­tion Day, every sin­gle email mis­sive from Eyman con­cerned Eyman’s appeal in State of Wash­ing­ton v. Tim Eyman, with Eyman’s calls to action rang­ing from “Send an email to Bob Fer­gu­son right now — tell him what you think about tomor­row’s court bat­tle between him and Richard Sanders” to “watch Richard Sanders spar w/ appeals court judges dur­ing his open­ing state­ment. With his sharp mind, he made it look easy — it’s not.”

Final­ly, though, on Novem­ber 7th, with the near­ness of Elec­tion Day impos­si­ble to ignore, Eyman switched gears and sent out elec­tion-relat­ed commentary.

“For our coun­try, I’m pray­ing for a red wave,” Eyman declared in all caps, before explain­ing that he had invit­ed him­self to the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty’s elec­tion night par­ty at the Belle­vue Hyatt with Tiffany Smi­ley, Matt Larkin, and oth­er can­di­dates and was eager to be joined by as many fol­low­ers as possible.

“I urge you to join me at tomor­row’s Elec­tion Night Vic­to­ry Cel­e­bra­tions at the Belle­vue Hyatt. It’ll be a great chance for all of us to hug, high-five, hoop, holler, and cel­e­brate our vic­to­ries togeth­er. Elec­tion returns will be com­ing in from across the nation start­ing at 5pm so let’s start cel­e­brat­ing ear­ly,” Eyman wrote.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly for Eyman and his fol­low­ers, the “red wave” Eyman had prayed for nev­er came. Repub­li­cans even­tu­al­ly cap­tured con­trol of the U.S. House, but by the slimmest of mar­gins, and some Repub­li­cans (like Andy Big­gs) have said they won’t vote for Kevin McCarthy to be speak­er when the 118th Con­gress con­venes, por­tend­ing two years of chaos and divi­sion for House Republicans.

Mean­while, Democ­rats held the U.S. Sen­ate after scor­ing a series of hard-fought wins and flipped three gov­er­nor­ships (Mary­land, Mass­a­chu­setts, Ari­zona) along with hold­ing on to gov­er­nor­ships in a host of swing states.

In Michi­gan, a state Eyman has bragged about try­ing to bring vot­er sup­pres­sion schemes to this year, vot­ers reelect­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nor Gretchen Whit­mer and Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Gar­lin Gilchrist II, an NPI alum. Vot­ers also end­ed Repub­li­can con­trol of the Leg­is­la­ture and adopt­ed a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment enshrin­ing repro­duc­tive rights into the Michi­gan State Constitution.

In Wash­ing­ton, Democ­rats dom­i­nat­ed: there was a blue wave instead of a red one. Pat­ty Mur­ray defeat­ed Tiffany Smi­ley, Kim Schri­er defeat­ed Matt Larkin, Steve Hobbs was retained as the first Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sec­re­tary of State in over half a cen­tu­ry, and vot­ers enlarged Democ­rats’ leg­isla­tive majorities.

Eyman has said noth­ing pub­licly about any of the afore­men­tioned out­comes, but the NPI team has no doubt that he’s extreme­ly disappointed.

Eyman had fan­ta­sized ear­li­er this year about vot­ers elect­ing a Repub­li­can-con­trolled Leg­is­la­ture that would take on Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee and poten­tial­ly adopt a slew of right wing ini­tia­tives intro­duced by his friend Bri­an Heywood.

Not only did Repub­li­cans fail to cap­ture con­trol of the Leg­is­la­ture, they lost seats to the Democ­rats. That’s right: in what was sup­posed to be a “red wave” elec­tion year, Repub­li­cans went back­wards and saw their own num­bers in Olympia shrink!

Eyman and oth­er Repub­li­cans had assumed that peo­ple would rise up and side with them, furi­ous over Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nance of Wash­ing­ton State.

But we knew from our research polling that vot­ers want­ed con­tin­ued Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­trol of the Leg­is­la­ture. Democ­rats had an advan­tage every time we asked, and our poll­ster asked over 700 like­ly vot­ers which par­ty they want­ed to see in charge of the Leg­is­la­ture three dif­fer­ent times — each in a dif­fer­ent season.

The elec­tion results val­i­dat­ed our research and left Repub­li­cans stunned.

They had fed and then eager­ly bought into a mas­sive­ly hyped “red wave” nar­ra­tive with­out stop­ping to con­sid­er that per­haps a lot of peo­ple just weren’t inter­est­ed in hand­ing pow­er to a par­ty that wor­ships a sociopath, wants to deny bod­i­ly auton­o­my to most Amer­i­cans, end free and fair elec­tions, and ignore the cli­mate cri­sis. It must also be not­ed that Repub­li­cans only cap­tured the U.S. House because of ger­ry­man­der­ing — oth­er­wise, they would­n’t have.

In Wash­ing­ton State, with­out the abil­i­ty to aggres­sive­ly rig the map and stack the deck for their can­di­dates, Repub­li­cans found them­selves los­ing, again and again. With­out con­trol of either cham­ber of the Leg­is­la­ture, they won’t be able to play games like repeat­ed­ly forc­ing spe­cial ses­sions to nego­ti­ate bud­gets or forc­ing Gov­er­nor Inslee’s appointees to leave office by vot­ing down their confirmations.

As for Eyman, he has­n’t run a suc­cess­ful sig­na­ture dri­ve for a scheme to wreck gov­ern­ment since this time four years ago. If he fails to qual­i­fy any­thing to the bal­lot next year, his drought would reach four years in length — a new record.

Will Eyman infer any divine mes­sage from the elec­tion results? Prob­a­bly not — but if he is tru­ly a per­son of faith, he might pause to con­sid­er that what he wants for him­self and the coun­try is not what God wants. Jesus instruct­ed his dis­ci­ples to feed the hun­gry, care for the sick, shel­ter the unhoused, and love their ene­mies — and Repub­li­cans like Eyman have almost total­ly shunned those teachings.

To quote Scripture:

“For I was hun­gry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you wel­comed me, naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you com­fort­ed me, in prison and you came to vis­it me. I assure you, as often as you did it for the least among you, you did it for me.”

— Matthew 25:35–40

I have worked to counter Eyman’s destruc­tive ideas for over two decades, and I can­not recall Eyman ever hav­ing dis­cussed vol­un­teer­ing for a char­i­ty, par­tic­i­pat­ing in a food, toy, or cloth­ing dri­ve, going out to plant trees or clean up the envi­ron­ment, or doing any­thing con­struc­tive for our state and region.

I know many con­ser­v­a­tives who are actu­al­ly into con­ser­va­tion and par­tic­i­pate in the envi­ron­men­tal move­ment; Tim Eyman is not among them. I know many con­ser­v­a­tives who give gen­er­ous­ly to char­i­ty; I am unaware of any char­i­ta­ble giv­ing by Tim Eyman. I know many con­ser­v­a­tives who are active in their church­es help­ing oth­ers. I’ve nev­er seen Tim Eyman use his list to sup­port such efforts.

If Eyman does any good works, he does them pri­vate­ly and quietly.

Eyman uses the word “love” in his emails lot, and he tells his fol­low­ers he loves them. He also clear­ly loves his fam­i­ly. That’s good. But does he love any­one else?

There’s actu­al­ly a rel­e­vant pas­sage from Scrip­ture about this very sub­ject — it’s a part of the Gospel of Luke known as the Ser­mon on the Plain:

“For if you love those who love you, what cred­it is that to you? Even sin­ners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what cred­it is that to you? Even sin­ners do the same. If you lend mon­ey to those from whom you expect repay­ment, what cred­it [is] that to you? Even sin­ners lend to sin­ners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your ene­mies and do good to them, and lend expect­ing noth­ing back; then your reward will be great and you will be chil­dren of the Most High, for he him­self is kind to the ungrate­ful and the wicked.”

– Luke 6:32–25

What I pray for is that peo­ple like Tim Eyman will find some­thing more use­ful to do with their lives than scam­ming oth­er peo­ple out of their mon­ey and seek­ing the dev­as­ta­tion of our coun­try and state’s com­mon wealth, on which all fam­i­lies and busi­ness­es in Amer­i­ca and Wash­ing­ton State depend.

Monday, November 21st, 2022

Joe Fitzgibbon elected Majority Leader of the Washington State House of Representatives

State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Joe Fitzgib­bon (D‑34th Dis­trict: West Seat­tle, Vashon Island) has been cho­sen as the new Major­i­ty Leader of the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus announced today.

Lau­rie Jink­ins (D‑27th Dis­trict: Taco­ma) remains Speak­er, Mon­i­ca Stonier (D‑49th Dis­trict: Van­cou­ver) remains Major­i­ty Floor Leader, and Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lil­lian Ortiz-Self (D‑21st Dis­trict: Sno­homish Coun­ty) remains the Major­i­ty Cau­cus Chair.

Alex Ramel (D‑40th Dis­trict) is tak­ing over for Mar­cus Ric­cel­li (D‑3rd Dis­trict) as Major­i­ty Whip. Tina Orwall (D‑33rd Dis­trict) and Dan Bronoske (D‑28th Dis­trict) remain Speak­er Pro Tem­pore and Deputy Speak­er Pro Tem­pore, respectively.

“The peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton have again cho­sen Democ­rats to lead in our state Leg­is­la­ture, and our cau­cus is ready to get to work on their behalf,” Speak­er Jink­ins (who suc­ceed­ed Frank Chopp in 2019) said in a statement.

“I want to thank my col­leagues for their con­tin­ued trust and con­fi­dence in me. More than ever, our cau­cus is reflec­tive of the many diverse com­mu­ni­ties that make up this great state, and that ulti­mate­ly makes the work we do better.”

Fitzgib­bon is the high­est pro­file new addi­tion to the cau­cus’ lead­er­ship team. He replaces Pat Sul­li­van (D‑47th Dis­trict: South King Coun­ty) who retired from the House this year. First elect­ed in 2004, Sul­li­van had been Major­i­ty Leader since 2010, work­ing along­side for­mer Speak­er Chopp for about ten years.

Fitzgib­bon joined the Wash­ing­ton State House in 2010. Pri­or to that, he had been a leg­isla­tive assis­tant in the House and a leg­isla­tive intern for the King Coun­ty Coun­cil. He has a B.A. in his­to­ry and polit­i­cal sci­ence from Prin­cip­ia College.

He is known for his chair­man­ship of the House­’s Envi­ron­ment & Ener­gy Com­mit­tee and for head­ing the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, or HDCC, the cam­paign arm of the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic caucus.

The HDCC is one of many spon­sors of NPI’s work.

As Speak­er Jink­ins men­tioned in her com­ments, the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus had a very good midterm elec­tion. The par­ty suc­cess­ful­ly defend­ed its seats in key bat­tle­ground dis­tricts like the 42nd, the 10th, the 44th, and the 47th, with Repub­li­cans fail­ing to knock out Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bents. If Clyde Shavers’ cur­rent lead holds, the par­ty will add one seat to its major­i­ty overall.

Fitzgib­bon hails from a safe dis­trict in King Coun­ty, the 34th, that encom­pass­es Vashon Island and West Seat­tle as well as com­mu­ni­ties to the south, like Burien. He has often been opposed by Repub­li­can chal­lenger Andrew Pil­loud. Fitzgib­bon has typ­i­cal­ly won his state leg­isla­tive elec­tions with 80% of the vote or more.

Fitzgib­bon’s pre­de­ces­sor in the House, Sharon Nel­son, made the jump to the Sen­ate after just three years. Nel­son served as Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader in the Sen­ate from 2013–2018, becom­ing Major­i­ty Leader after Man­ka Dhin­gra’s spe­cial elec­tion vic­to­ry five years ago. She retired from the Leg­is­la­ture after the 2018 session.

Fitzgib­bon, thir­ty-six, has been a young Demo­c­rat for near­ly all of his polit­i­cal career. Due to hav­ing joined the House in his twen­ties, he is one of the more senior mem­bers of the body despite being younger than forty.

NPI con­grat­u­lates Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Fitzgib­bon on his new role. We look for­ward to work­ing with him and the lead­er­ship of the House to pass laws that improve Wash­ing­to­ni­ans’ qual­i­ty of life and make our econ­o­my more inclusive.

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