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.

Friday, December 1st, 2023

Henry Kissinger: 1923–2023

Hen­ry Kissinger was the Met­ter­nich of Amer­i­ca, devi­ous and con­spir­a­to­r­i­al, the archi­tect of the Unit­ed States’ détente with Chi­na, a back­stage deal­er with the Sovi­et Union on the SALT I strate­gic arms treaty, and nego­tia­tor of a peace agree­ment with Viet­nam that he would pri­vate­ly scorn.

Kissinger lived to be 100. He died this week, still writ­ing and try­ing to live down mem­os and remarks unveiled while he was still liv­ing – if not accountable.

He has been con­front­ed with such state­ments as say­ing of the South Viet­namese: “If they are lucky, they can hold out for a year and a half.”

An accu­rate pre­dic­tion. When the agree­ment with North Viet­nam was signed, Kissinger described it as “peace with honor.”

The for­mer Sec­re­tary of State, in the Nixon and Ford admin­is­tra­tions, was fet­ed in Chi­na as recent­ly as July and pho­tographed meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Xi.

Xi has recent­ly been fac­ing an eco­nom­ic down­town and is seek­ing to main­tain busi­ness ties with the Unit­ed States. Last month in Cal­i­for­nia, he held a four-hour dis­cus­sion with Pres­i­dent Biden and din­ners with U.S. busi­ness leaders.

It was Kissinger, in July of 1971, who took a secret trip to Bei­jing to clear a path for Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon’s trip the fol­low­ing February.

The U.S. pres­i­dent, a noto­ri­ous red-baiter, was pho­tographed in inti­mate con­ver­sa­tion with Mao Zedong, walk­ing in the For­bid­den City, and attend­ing an opera per­for­mance of “Red Detach­ment of Women.”

Kissinger was a Ger­man Jew­ish refuge from Nazi Ger­many, arriv­ing on our shores at the age of fif­teen. He would rise to become, for a time, the sec­ond most impor­tant per­son in the Unit­ed States government.

He would score diplo­mat­ic break­throughs while work­ing with a pres­i­dent noto­ri­ous for his anti­se­mit­ic remarks.

Leslie Gelb, a future New York Times colum­nist, knew Kissinger from days on the Har­vard fac­ul­ty and described him as “devi­ous with his peers, dom­i­neer­ing with his sub­or­di­nates and obse­quious to his superiors.”

It was so in his diplo­mat­ic maneu­vers. Kissinger came to fame with his 1957 book, “Nuclear Weapons and For­eign Pol­i­cy,” which sug­gest­ed that a tac­ti­cal nuclear strike could be con­tained. He briefly advised Pres­i­dent Kennedy in the ear­ly 1960s. The Har­vard pro­fes­sor found an endur­ing patron in New York Gov­er­nor (and future vice pres­i­dent) Nel­son Rock­e­feller. He was, to his sur­prise, asked by Pres­i­dent-elect Nixon to assume the role of nation­al secu­ri­ty adviser.

He would advise every suc­ceed­ing pres­i­dent. After meet­ing with Don­ald Trump, Kissinger observed: “He’s not the first pres­i­dent I’ve advised who either didn’t under­stand­ing what I was say­ing or didn’t want to.” The Kissinger ego was dis­played repeat­ed­ly over the years. Once, while speak­ing to diplo­mats in France, he praised the gath­er­ing as the great­est gath­er­ing of wis­dom since he looked at his reflec­tion while vis­it­ing the Hall of Mir­rors at Versailles.

Pres­i­dent Nixon kept pow­er close to the vest. He cut Sec­re­tary of State William Rogers out of the pic­ture and dealt almost exclu­sive­ly with Kissinger. Even­tu­al­ly, Dr. K would com­bine the posts of nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er and Sec­re­tary of State. He would hang onto both dur­ing the admin­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Ger­ald Ford.

Trans­fixed with pow­er, Kissinger had lit­tle regard for small coun­tries or peo­ple per­ceived as get­ting in the way. Kissinger would-be a co-recip­i­ent (along with Lee Duc Tho of North Viet­nam) of the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize.

Yet, this is the same man who urged the car­pet bomb­ing of Cam­bo­dia and Laos, stag­ing areas for North Vietnam’s con­quest of South Viet­nam – we were to bomb “any­thing that flies and moves any­where,” Kissinger said pri­vate­ly — and a man who described U.S. sol­diers as “dumb stu­pid ani­mals to be used.”

When Pak­istani forces slaugh­tered 300,000 peo­ple in what is today Bangladesh but used to be called East Pak­istan, the Unit­ed States worked back­stage to sup­port Pak­istan. Pres­i­dent Yahya Khan had served as inter­me­di­ary and facil­i­ta­tor of the secret 1971 trip to Chi­na. East Pak­istan had had the nerve, in an elec­tion, to elect an Ben­gali government.

The U.S. stood by while Indone­sia invad­ed East Tim­or and slaugh­tered peo­ple. It had elect­ed a left­ist gov­ern­ment which the Unit­ed States dis­ap­proved. The small island was treat­ed as a pawn in great pow­er relations.

Of most inter­est, the Unit­ed States encour­aged, and the CIA played facil­i­ta­tor, in the 1973 coup that top­pled and assas­si­nat­ed Chile’s Marx­ist Pres­i­dent Sal­vador Allende. The U.S. could not per­mit anoth­er per­ceived Sovi­et ally in the West­ern Hemi­sphere. The result was a quar­ter-cen­tu­ry of mil­i­tary dictatorship.

Kissinger was quot­ed after­ward say­ing the Chilean pres­i­den­cy was too impor­tant a mat­ter to be decid­ed by the Chilean peo­ple. Glob­al pow­er was what mat­tered. Ear­ly in the Nixon admin­is­tra­tion, Kissinger declared (in pri­vate): “I can’t believe any fourth-rate pow­er like North Viet­nam doesn’t have a break­ing point.”

The man was even will­ing to stomp on his own ori­gins. Nego­ti­a­tions with the Sovi­et Union could not, would not, be dis­rupt­ed by appeals from Sovi­et Jews wish­ing to immi­grate to Israel. “And if they put Jews into gas cham­bers in the Sovi­et Union, it is not an Amer­i­can con­cern. Maybe a human­i­tar­i­an con­cern.” The remark was described as “tru­ly chill­ing” by the Amer­i­can Jew­ish Committee.

Such state­ments get attrib­uted to Kissinger’s near-con­sis­tent pan­der­ing to Nixon. The thir­ty-sev­enth pres­i­dent would seek him out to pray in the White House on the eve of his res­ig­na­tion, an episode exposed in the Wood­ward-Bern­stein book “The Final Days.” Kissinger would lat­er reflect of Nixon, what the man could have done “had he been loved.”

Kissinger lived more than four decades after Ford’s defeat in the 1976 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. He hung up his shin­gle as Hen­ry Kissinger Asso­ciates and con­sol­i­dat­ed with the high and mighty. Stu­dent protests made cam­pus appear­ances dan­ger­ous. But big busi­ness want­ed to hear from the big dog of the 1970s. Dis­ney con­sult­ed Kissinger when it want­ed to locate a mul­ti-bil­lion-dol­lar theme park in China.

Hen­ry Kissinger was a for­mi­da­ble boss. He hired the best and the bright­est to work at the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, but then ordered the FBI to spy on them. He was infu­ri­at­ed at such leaks as the Pen­ta­gon Papers, revealed by Daniel Ells­berg, which detailed America’s march to fol­ly in Vietnam.

If any leaks came out of the NSC, they would come “from me,” he told aides.

The Nixon-Kissinger col­lab­o­ra­tion brought home some for­eign pol­i­cy tri­umphs. The open­ing to Chi­na brought coop­er­a­tion and mas­sive trade between the two coun­tries, but threats of con­fronta­tion now that Chi­na has become the world’s sec­ond-rank­ing super­pow­er. The Viet­nam War came to an end after killing 58,000 Amer­i­cans and an esti­mat­ed three mil­lion Vietnamese.

The long­stand­ing U.S. con­fronta­tion with the Sovi­et Union was down­sized until the “evil empire” stag­gered and fell at the end of the 1980s.

Still, Kissinger tram­pled peo­ple and nations while big pow­ers maneu­vered for glob­al influ­ence. The death toll was exceed­ing­ly high and often felt hard­est in such places as East Tim­or, East Pak­istan and Chile, far from North Amer­i­can and Euro­pean cap­i­tals. When pressed, Kissinger would speak of a world in which Amer­i­can was con­front­ed with unsa­vory char­ac­ters and thank­less choices.

A New York Times obit­u­ary car­ries this quote: “The ille­gal we do imme­di­ate­ly. The uncon­sti­tu­tion­al takes a lit­tle longer.”

So did the Viet­nam War, at what human cost? Inter­viewed by The Atlantic in 2016, Pres­i­dent Oba­ma reflect­ed: “We dropped more ordi­nance on Cam­bo­dia and Laos than on Europe in World War II And yet, ulti­mate­ly, Nixon with­drew, Kissinger went to Paris, and all we left behind was chaos, slaugh­ter and author­i­tar­i­an gov­ern­ments that final­ly, over time, have emerged from that hell.”

“In what way did that strat­e­gy pro­mote our inter­ests?” Oba­ma asked.

Friday, December 1st, 2023

United States House of Representatives finally expels fraudster George Santos

By a vote of 311–114, the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives today vot­ed to expel Repub­li­can George San­tos, a con artist and fraud­ster who was elect­ed to the House a lit­tle over a year ago from New York’s 3rd Dis­trict. San­tos is just the sixth per­son to be forcibly removed from the House in its cen­turies-long existence.

Near­ly all Democ­rats and a good num­ber of Repub­li­cans vot­ed to get rid of San­tos, mak­ing his expul­sion pos­si­ble. Sev­er­al pre­vi­ous expul­sion attempts had failed, but this one came in the wake of a blis­ter­ing report from the House Ethics Com­mit­tee which doc­u­ment­ed crimes by San­tos. (San­tos has also been crim­i­nal­ly charged by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice and claims the charges are baseless.)

“In May, fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors charged Mr. San­tos on 13 felony counts large­ly tied to finan­cial fraud,” The New York Times report­ed. “That indict­ment focused on three schemes iden­ti­fied by pros­e­cu­tors; Mr. San­tos plead­ed not guilty. In Octo­ber, pros­e­cu­tors accused Mr. San­tos of new crim­i­nal schemes relat­ed to his 2022 cam­paign; he plead­ed not guilty again. He has also repeat­ed­ly denied any crim­i­nal activ­i­ty, includ­ing after the House Ethics report’s release.”

San­tos did­n’t stick around to find out his fate, choos­ing to leave instead.

“As unof­fi­cial­ly already no longer a mem­ber of Con­gress, I no longer have to answer a sin­gle ques­tion. That is the one thing that I’m going to take for­ev­er,” San­tos huffed. (He does have a Fifth Amend­ment pro­tec­tion against self-incrim­i­na­tion, but he’s not going to be off the hook for his mis­deeds, even if he choos­es not to answer any more ques­tions from anyone.)

Speak­er Mike John­son and oth­er top Repub­li­cans opposed the expul­sion of San­tos, mak­ing it clear they’d rather have a fraud­ster remain among their ranks rather than lose a vote from their already slim majority.

How­ev­er, they did not whip the vote to expel Santos.

“While John­son and his lead­er­ship team are not for­mal­ly whip­ping against the lat­est expul­sion push, describ­ing it as a vote of con­science, oth­er House Repub­li­cans on the fence are cer­tain to take cues from lead­er­ship,” Politi­co report­ed pri­or to the vote. “It’s not clear that there are enough votes to meet the two-thirds thresh­old need­ed to eject Santos.”

But in the end, there were enough votes.

San­tos’ fel­low New York Repub­li­cans have helped lead the charge. They had con­clud­ed that their 2024 elec­toral for­tunes will be improved with San­tos gone.

“He should have resigned. It shouldn’t have come to this. But it is. And now we’re going to actu­al­ly allow the third dis­trict to elect a rep­re­sen­ta­tive. Some­one that they can trust. Some­one that they know,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Antho­ny D’E­s­pos­i­to, who rep­re­sents the 4th Dis­trict and fre­quent­ly crit­i­cizes Santos.

The roll call from the Pacif­ic North­west was as follows:

Vot­ing for expul­sion: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Marie Glue­senkamp Perez, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land (WA), Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Val Hoyle, and Andrea Sali­nas (OR), Mary Pel­to­la (AK); Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house (WA), Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRe­mer (OR), Mike Simp­son (ID), Ryan Zinke (MT)

Vot­ing against expul­sion: Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher (ID), Matt Rosendale (MT)

Not vot­ing: Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers (WA)

Ultra MAGA Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Matt Rosendale were the only rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the greater Pacif­ic North­west to oppose expulsion.

Also among the 112 Repub­li­cans vot­ing nay were Lau­ren Boe­bert, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, Nan­cy Mace, Chip Roy, and Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene.

Only New York Repub­li­cans besides San­tos vot­ed with him: Elise Ste­fanik and Clau­dia Ten­ney. Ste­fanik is a Trump-ador­ing mem­ber of leadership.

For­mer Speak­er Kevin McCarthy skipped the vote along with McMor­ris Rodgers and six oth­er mem­bers of the House, includ­ing Dean Phillips and Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez. (Phillips is chal­leng­ing Joe Biden for President.)

A spe­cial elec­tion must now be held to pick a suc­ces­sor to San­tos. Vacan­cies in the House can­not be filled by appoint­ment, unlike Sen­ate vacancies.

I am pre­pared to under­take the solemn respon­si­bil­i­ty of fill­ing the vacan­cy in New York’s 3rd Dis­trict. The peo­ple of Long Island deserve noth­ing less,” New York Gov­er­nor Kathy Hochul tweet­ed. By that, she means she will be pre­pared to call a spe­cial elec­tion, because she does­n’t get to make an appointment. 

New York Democ­rats are like­ly to nom­i­nate San­tos’ pre­de­ces­sor Tom Suozzi in the spe­cial elec­tion. Repub­li­cans have sev­er­al can­di­dates to choose from and it’s not yet clear which one of them will get the nod. The spe­cial elec­tion is like­ly be held in sev­er­al weeks’ time, around mid­win­ter or short­ly thereafter.

As for San­tos, we say good rid­dance. After he answers for his alleged crimes, he deserves his own episode of Amer­i­can Greed on CNBC.

Tuesday, November 28th, 2023

2023 is the new worst: Washington again sets a record for low turnout in a general election

For the third time in eight years, Wash­ing­ton has sad­ly set a new record for the low­est statewide turnout ever record­ed in a gen­er­al election.

Today was the dead­line for coun­ties to cer­ti­fy their returns in the Novem­ber 2023 gen­er­al elec­tion, and all coun­ties have now sub­mit­ted their final tal­lies up to the Sec­re­tary of State. Statewide turnout will pass into the his­to­ry books at 36.41% for this year. That’s the low­est Wash­ing­ton has seen since record­keep­ing began.

The pre­vi­ous low record was set in 2017, when turnout was 37.10%.

Before that, the record low was 38.45%, set in 2015.

Here are a few more sober­ing data points:

  • It has been more than a decade since an odd-year elec­tion had major­i­ty turnout. 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021, and 2023 are all among the ten worst gen­er­al elec­tion vot­er turnouts in state history.
  • Of the last six odd-year elec­tion cycles, only two had turnout above forty per­cent (2013 and 2019). Four of the six had turnout in the thir­ties, mean­ing few­er than two in five vot­ers returned a ballot.
  • Of Wash­ing­ton’s four biggest coun­ties, only Spokane had turnout exceed­ing forty per­cent this year. Pierce, the state’s sec­ond largest coun­ty, came in at just over thir­ty per­cent. King and Sno­homish were in the mid­dle of the pack, with per­cent­ages mir­ror­ing the state’s total.
  • No coun­ty did as bad as Yaki­ma, which had turnout of just 25.82%.

Our team at NPI tracks vot­er turnout care­ful­ly and close­ly, and has been sound­ing the alarm about elec­tion fatigue for a long time. Twice this month, our staff has assessed that we might end up exact­ly where we now find ourselves.

On Novem­ber 6th, sum­ma­riz­ing the avail­able bal­lot return sta­tis­tics, I wrote:

If there isn’t strong Elec­tion Day par­tic­i­pa­tion from Wash­ing­ton vot­ers, we could end up giv­ing 2017 a run for its mon­ey and set­ting a new record for the worst-ever gen­er­al elec­tion turnout in state his­to­ry. That would be very sad.

On Novem­ber 9th, with sev­er­al bal­lot tal­lies com­plet­ed, I wrote:

We’re way, way behind 2019, so there’s no doubt this turnout will be one of the worst in state his­to­ry. 2023 will eas­i­ly rank above 2019 and 2013 on the worst turnouts of all time list, and prob­a­bly 2021 too. Can it also sur­pass 2015, which had the sec­ond worst turnout, and 2017, which had the worst ever?

Sad­ly, we believe it can.

After Elec­tion Day, staff with Sec­re­tary of State Steve Hobbs’ office fig­ured turnout would land some­where between 36% — 39%. The final per­cent­age is with­in that range, but it’s not high enough to sur­pass 2017’s low mark.

And so here we are, with 2023 turnout the new worst in Wash­ing­ton history.

Turnout by county

This year, Colum­bia Coun­ty had the high­est turnout and Yaki­ma Coun­ty had the worst. Colum­bia was one of just two coun­ties that had major­i­ty turnout — the oth­er was What­com, which had an elec­tion for Exec­u­tive. In Yaki­ma Coun­ty, bare­ly more than a quar­ter of vot­ers returned ballots.

New table of worst voter turnouts in Washington history

Below is the new list of the worst gen­er­al elec­tion vot­er turnouts in Wash­ing­ton State his­to­ry, with 2023 tak­ing its place at the top. 2017 is now sec­ond worst, 2015 third worst, and 2021 fourth worst.

And a chart

Here’s a chrono­log­i­cal visu­al­iza­tion of the data above.

Odd-year turnout is trending down, but it’s looked decent or really strong in recent even-numbered years

There was a peri­od when vot­er turnout in Wash­ing­ton was declin­ing across all types of elec­tions, includ­ing those held in even years, but recent even year turnout has been good. 2018 saw almost record high turnout for a midterm cycle, 2020 saw almost record high turnout for a pres­i­den­tial cycle, and 2022 was sol­id, see­ing turnout near both the aver­age and the mean for a midterm cycle.

Mean­while, turnout in odd years just keeps falling.

Why is Washington’s turnout gotten so bad in odd years?

The recent decline in odd year turnout has coin­cid­ed with the imple­men­ta­tion of reforms mak­ing it even eas­i­er to vote. Since the end of the 2010s, we have adopt­ed pre­paid postage for bal­lot return envelopes, increased the num­ber of drop box­es, added same-day / in per­son vot­er reg­is­tra­tion, and begun pre­reg­is­tra­tion for youth. Wash­ing­ton, along with Ore­gon, is con­sid­ered to be the eas­i­est state in the coun­try to vote in. Bal­lots come to vot­ers and a three week peri­od is pro­vid­ed to vote. Yet, in odd years, most vot­ers aren’t voting.


Put sim­ply, our research and oth­er data sug­gests that peo­ple sim­ply don’t want to vote up to four times a year every sin­gle year. They’re fatigued. Wash­ing­to­ni­ans want a break from elec­toral pol­i­tics in between even year elections.

The cur­rent elec­tions calendar
  1. Spe­cial elec­tion in February
  2. Spe­cial elec­tion in April
  3. Top Two elec­tion in August
  4. Gen­er­al elec­tion in November

In pres­i­den­tial years: a pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry held in March 

What we could have instead
  1. A pri­ma­ry in May or June
  2. Gen­er­al elec­tion in November

In pres­i­den­tial years: a pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry held in March *and* most local posi­tions con­test­ed in even-num­bered years, when turnout is higher. 

Peo­ple have also been led to believe that elec­tions held in odd year elec­tions just don’t mat­ter. For exam­ple, many in the media con­tin­u­al­ly refer to years like 2023 as “off” years, a term that implies noth­ing impor­tant is on the bal­lot, when that is absolute­ly not true. On Elec­tion Night, we even heard a reporter work­ing for a nation­al tele­vi­sion net­work call 2023 an “off-off year”. We nev­er use that phrase here at NPI except to crit­i­cize it, but we hear it all the time.

Even if a coor­di­nat­ed effort is made to scrap the use of prob­lem­at­ic terms like “off year”, and even if sig­nif­i­cant resources are invest­ed in vot­er out­reach and edu­ca­tion, it is unlike­ly that odd year turnout will ever be com­pa­ra­ble to even year turnout. In more than a half cen­tu­ry, odd year vot­er turnout has only exceed­ed six­ty per­cent once, and that was in 1991, when there was some­thing real­ly big on the bal­lot: a statewide ini­tia­tive con­cern­ing repro­duc­tive rights.

What voters want

Wash­ing­ton vot­ers favor con­sol­i­dat­ing and sim­pli­fy­ing our sys­tem of elec­tions. They would rather vote on local posi­tions, espe­cial­ly at the munic­i­pal lev­el, at the same time they vote on state and fed­er­al ones.

We know because we’ve asked repeat­ed­ly in our polling. We have found sup­port for even-year elec­tions statewide, in King Coun­ty, and in Sno­homish County.

At NPI, our research informs our advo­ca­cy. We take action in response to what we find. That’s why, in King Coun­ty last year, we worked with Coun­cilmem­bers Clau­dia Bal­duc­ci and Gir­may Zahi­lay to give vot­ers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to move elec­tions for twelve King Coun­ty posi­tions from odd years to even years.

Over 69% of vot­ers said yes to our char­ter amend­ment. There were a dozen mea­sures like it on bal­lots in places across the coun­try. All of them passed.

King Coun­ty vot­ers in their own words

“I don’t want to get bal­lots every sin­gle year. I vote every time and it takes effort for me to research the can­di­dates. I would like to do this every 2 years.” – Like­ly 2022 King Coun­ty voter

“I think it makes sense to have local elec­tions where more peo­ple turn out. I think the con­cerns about local elec­tions being over­shad­owed by the fed­er­al elec­tion is some­what valid but I think most peo­ple will under­stand the impor­tance of local elec­tions and are aware of the issues fac­ing their com­mu­ni­ties, even if the main top­ic of dis­cus­sion is fed­er­al elec­tions. Also, I think hav­ing fed­er­al and local elec­tions at the some time allows for new peo­ple and ideas to be imple­ment­ed at the same time.” – Like­ly 2022 King Coun­ty voter

“More vot­ers weigh­ing in and reduce like­li­ness of low­er vot­er turnout to impact vot­ing results (good can­di­dates being over­looked or oth­er rule changes pass­ing with unin­formed vot­ers). I gen­er­al­ly think vot­ers take more time and ener­gy to vote dur­ing even years. I dis­agree big­ger issues or elec­tions over­shad­ow small­er issues and elec­tions dur­ing even years.” – Like­ly 2022 King Coun­ty voter

The quotes above are from vot­ers inter­viewed as part of NPI’s July 2022 sur­vey of like­ly Novem­ber 2022 gen­er­al elec­tion vot­ers, con­duct­ed for NPI by Change Research. These vot­ers were asked why they planned to vote yes on King Coun­ty Char­ter Amend­ment 1.

This year, we worked with Sen­a­tor Javier Valdez to intro­duce leg­is­la­tion giv­ing cities and towns the free­dom to move their elec­tions to even-num­bered years. Cur­rent state law locks our munic­i­pal­i­ties into low-turnout odd years, when data com­piled by our friends at Sight­line shows they incur a giant turnout penal­ty.

Our bill, SB 5723, remains parked in the Sen­ate Rules Com­mit­tee, and we are urg­ing the Sen­ate to resume con­sid­er­a­tion of it begin­ning in January.

There is no ques­tion that vot­ers love the idea of even year elec­tions for munic­i­pal­i­ties, both here and else­where. It is huge­ly popular.

Yet some offi­cials, like Sec­re­tary of State Steve Hobbs, are not sup­port­ive. They wor­ry about longer bal­lots in even years and staffing issues.

We believe those are solv­able prob­lems. Our bill is lim­it­ed to a sin­gle lev­el of gov­ern­ment and does­n’t require a city or town to do make any change. For those  that do, the bal­lot would not sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase in length, because no vot­er lives in more than one city or town and most munic­i­pal­i­ties stag­ger terms.

None of the objec­tions that have been raised to mov­ing juris­dic­tions to even years are con­vinc­ing to any of the groups of vot­ers we’ve sur­veyed here in Wash­ing­ton. In fact, after hear­ing both of the argu­ments for and against, sup­port for even-year elec­tions goes up. Vot­ers love the idea of a sim­pler elec­tions sys­tem, with local posi­tions con­test­ed at times when turnout is much high­er and more diverse. It is by far the best solu­tion avail­able to address elec­tion fatigue.

Defend­ers of the sta­tus quo in Wash­ing­ton have yet to offer any ideas for mean­ing­ful­ly address­ing elec­tion fatigue and rais­ing turnout. Since they don’t seem to have any, we urge them to recon­sid­er their oppo­si­tion to our legislation.

Our door is open: we’re hap­py to meet with any­one who wants to become bet­ter acquaint­ed with the data and learn more about the ben­e­fits of even-year elec­tions. The data shows that Wash­ing­to­ni­ans want to see their elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives fig­ure out how to get to “yes” on this, rather than say­ing “no.”

Monday, November 27th, 2023

After picking up WA-03 and Alaska in 2022, PNW House Democrats are now on defense

The deplet­ed ranks of Con­gress’ once-abun­dant Blue Dog Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus received an unex­pect­ed replen­ish­ment in these parts last year with the elec­tion of Marie Glue­senkamp Perez in WA-03 and Mary Pel­to­la in Alaska.

Each did the repub­lic a ser­vice. Glue­senkamp Perez (MGP) defeat­ed extrem­ist MAGA Repub­li­can Joe Kent, an extrem­ist who pro­posed putting pres­i­den­tial pan­dem­ic advis­er Dr. Antho­ny Fau­ci on tri­al for mur­der. Pel­to­la halt­ed the polit­i­cal revival of 2008 Repub­li­can vice-pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, ex-Gov­er­nor Sarah Palin, becom­ing the first Indige­nous Alas­ka native to serve in Congress.

The Repub­li­cans have already tar­get­ed both as low hang­ing fruit in 2024. Alas­ka has not vot­ed Demo­c­rat for Pres­i­dent since Lyn­don John­son car­ried the 49th state in 1964. Don­ald Trump has twice car­ried the 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict in South­west Wash­ing­ton, and rur­al Wash­ing­ton has become very Republican.

The fates of MGP and Pel­to­la will have nation­wide implications.

The U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives is almost even­ly divid­ed. Con­trol rests uneasi­ly with 222 Repub­li­cans, who have fought two bloody inter­nal bat­tles over the speak­er­ship. The House cur­rent­ly has 214 Democ­rats, with a pick­up like­ly in a spe­cial elec­tion if Rep­re­sen­ta­tive George San­tos, R‑New York, gets expelled for his fab­ri­cat­ed back­ground and mul­ti­ple mis­deeds, or resigns.

Repub­li­can chal­lengers are already lin­ing up.

Alaska’s Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Gov­er­nor Nan­cy Dahlstrom announced her can­di­da­cy last week, promis­ing “to stop the assault on Alas­ka from Joe Biden and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., lib­er­als.” Already in the race is Nick Begich III, a Repub­li­can scion of a Demo­c­ra­t­ic fam­i­ly which has pro­duced one U.S. Sen­a­tor and a House mem­ber. Begich III lost to Pel­to­la last year along with Palin. Alas­ka now uses ranked choice vot­ing to select its lone mem­ber of the U.S. House.

Joe Kent is seek­ing a rematch with MGP. He has raised more than $1 mil­lion, won an endorse­ment from the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty and is retool­ing to focus on dis­trict issues. Anoth­er con­tender is Camas City Coun­cil mem­ber Leslie Lewallen, a one­time King Coun­ty deputy prosecutor.

She is a self-described “con­ser­v­a­tive fight­er who wins.”

The Repub­li­cans tend to throw resources into one-size-fit-all cam­paigns. They are already seek­ing to asso­ciate Glue­senkamp Perez with very very lib­er­al Seat­tle Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal. Lewallen labels MGP “Port­land Pro­gres­sive Perez.”

In the face of the Israel-Hamas war, Kent decries MGP for vot­ing “to keep our troops as sit­ting ducks in the Mid­dle East war zones like Syr­ia where we have no nation­al inter­est to jus­ti­fy the deployment.”

MAGA Repub­li­cans have a knack for win­ning pri­maries across the coun­try but los­ing gen­er­al elec­tions. Don­ald Trump flew to Alas­ka last year to boost a Repub­li­can chal­lenger to Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Lisa Murkows­ki, one of sev­en Repub­li­can sen­a­tors who vot­ed to impeach him after the Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021 insur­rec­tion at the U.S. Capi­tol. He heaped abuse on Murkows­ki and show­ered praise on Sarah Palin. Murkows­ki won, while Palin lost to Peltola.

In Wash­ing­ton State, the Trump-backed Kent best­ed six-term Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler in the August 2022 Top Two elec­tion, only to be defeat­ed by MGP in Novem­ber. Her­rera Beut­ler was one of ten Repub­li­can impeach­ment votes in the House. She is now run­ning for Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands.

Alas­ka has, in Pel­to­la, one of Con­gress’ few pro-oil Democ­rats. Wash­ing­ton has one of the few Democ­rats who has opposed Biden’s stu­dent loan for­give­ness plan. Glue­senkamp Perez argues that the coun­try has short­changed tech­ni­cal train­ing and should be devot­ing resources to “peo­ple who make stuff.”

The low hang­ing fruit may prove hard to pluck.

Joe Kent will be dogged by such actions as his speech at a Wash­ing­ton, D.C., ral­ly decry­ing pros­e­cu­tion of the U.S. Capi­tol insur­rec­tion­ists. He has argued that the FBI “con­tin­ues to take us down the road to total­i­tar­i­an­ism.” He has also pro­posed “tak­ing away the teeth of the FBI” by defund­ing it.

In the mean­time, hard­ly a week goes by that MGP does not intro­duce a new “bipar­ti­san bill” with Repub­li­can cospon­sor. The lat­est, this week, leg­is­la­tion to increase trans­paren­cy and over­sight of for­eign own­er­ship of Amer­i­can farm­land. Glue­senkamp Perez has mount­ed a full-court courtship of rur­al voters.

“Talk is cheap, results mat­ter,” said Dahlstrom, announc­ing for Con­gress in Alas­ka. “Alas­ka needs Wash­ing­ton, D.C., to stop work­ing against us and no one will work hard­er for Alaska’s way of life than me.” Begich is promis­ing to “unlock the full poten­tial of our nat­ur­al resources while ensur­ing envi­ron­men­tal sustainability.”

But Pel­to­la, along with Murkows­ki, have pro­duced results.

The Biden-Har­ris Admin­is­tra­tion, defy­ing its envi­ron­men­tal base, recent­ly approved an ener­gy megapro­ject on Alaska’s North Slope west of Prud­hoe Bay. The Cono­co-Phillips Wil­low devel­op­ment is already under­way. It will yield a max­i­mum 180,000 bar­rels of crude oil a day at max­i­mum pro­duc­tion, 40 per­cent of dai­ly pro­duc­tion in the Last Frontier.

Pel­to­la has opposed the Peb­ble Mine, a pro­posed megapro­ject to locate an enor­mous open pit gold and cop­per mine between two of Bris­tol Bay’s prime salmon spawn­ing streams. Com­mer­cial and sport fish­eries, as well as Alas­ka native cor­po­ra­tions, have fought against it. The Biden-Har­ris Admin­is­tra­tion has just about killed Peb­ble through use of the Clean Water Act.

Under its crusty pub­lish­er Bob Atwood, news sto­ries in the Anchor­age Times used to refer to “self-admit­ted con­ser­va­tion­ists.” Atwood is deceased and the Times shut down. While still allied with the petro­le­um indus­try, Murkows­ki and Pel­to­la have tak­en a more bal­anced approach than Alaska’s old-time boomers.

While polls are rare, Pel­to­la appears to be Alaska’s most pop­u­lar politician.

She is a long­time advo­cate for Alas­ka fish­eries and chairs the Amer­i­can Seafood Cau­cus in Con­gress. She was recent­ly wid­owed when hus­band Eugene “Buzzy” Pel­to­la died in a plane crash after leav­ing off a hunter in west­ern Alas­ka. Two oth­er state lead­ers, for­mer Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Ted Stevens and Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Nick Begich (grand­fa­ther of the House can­di­date) have lost their lives this way.

Glues­en­camp Perez and Pel­to­la share can count on one oth­er plus in seek­ing to hold House seats. Both are sup­port­ers of repro­duc­tive rights, an issue which has boost­ed the Democ­rats. Alas­ka is a “red” state but of a lib­er­tar­i­an bent, and WA-03 has a lib­er­tar­i­an streak too. Sen­a­tor Murkows­ki has sur­vived wrath of the Repub­li­can right while being both pro-choice and a sup­port­er of mar­riage equality.

The elec­tion is near­ly a year off, but cam­paign­ing is already under­way. The Clark Coun­ty Repub­li­cans are fea­tur­ing Joe Kent, along with Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty Chair Jim Walsh and MAGA Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Semi Bird, at a Christ­mas social on Decem­ber 9th.

Many of the nation’s 435 House dis­tricts are heav­i­ly gerrymandered.

For instance, the dis­trict of House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jim Jor­dan snakes west-to-east to bunch togeth­er Repub­li­can counties.

Only 45–50 dis­tricts are tru­ly com­pet­i­tive. Hence, mil­lions of dol­lars will be spent to defend or depose Glue­senkamp Perez and Peltola.

It takes days to count mail-in bal­lots in Wash­ing­ton, and weeks under Alaska’s ranked vot­ing sys­tem. Con­ceiv­ably, the nation could be kept wait­ing next Novem­ber for a final vote on which par­ty con­trols one house of Congress.

One thing is cer­tain: The Blue Dogs are the hunt­ed rather than the hunters.

Sunday, November 26th, 2023

Sorry, Semi Bird: Data shows that Dave Reichert is the leading Republican candidate in Washington’s 2024 gubernatorial contest

This morn­ing, The Seat­tle Times pub­lished an excel­lent sto­ry by respect­ed polit­i­cal reporter Jim Brun­ner look­ing at the Repub­li­can side of the 2024 guber­na­to­r­i­al race, in which ultra MAGA can­di­date Semi Bird asserts that he is the lead­ing Repub­li­can can­di­date, rather than for­mer con­gress­man Dave Reichert.

Impor­tant­ly, Brun­ner was able to secure an inter­view with the recent­ly oust­ed Rich­land school board mem­ber (boot­ed out of his seat by vot­ers in a recall) in which Bird went on the record describ­ing how he per­ceives the dynam­ics of the con­test. Here’s a key excerpt from Brun­ner’s story:

He’s been pres­sured by promi­nent Repub­li­cans to drop out of the governor’s race and get behind for­mer U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert. He lags in fundrais­ing behind oth­er major candidates.

But Bird isn’t budg­ing. He’s try­ing to flip the script.

He argues that he — not Reichert — has a bet­ter shot of break­ing the Repub­li­can Party’s decades­long los­ing streak in governor’s races.

“I am seen as the grass­roots can­di­date. Dave Reichert is looked at as the left-mod­er­ate con­ser­v­a­tive,” Bird said in an inter­view. “He can­not win in King Coun­ty, nor can he win in East­ern Wash­ing­ton. The only way Dave Reichert can win the pri­ma­ry is if I am not in the primary.”

Let’s break down that last para­graph, which con­tains quite a few strik­ing asser­tions from Bird.

First, there’s: I am seen as the grass­roots can­di­date.

Many right wing activists would prob­a­bly agree with that state­ment, and per­haps a few observers out­side of Repub­li­can cir­cles would as well. But it is nev­er­the­less a sub­jec­tive state­ment. Lots of can­di­dates assert that they are run­ning grass­roots cam­paigns and tout the num­ber of small dol­lar donors they have.

Sec­ond, we have: Dave Reichert is looked at as the left-mod­er­ate con­ser­v­a­tive.

This is tru­ly an excel­lent can­di­date for oxy­moron of the year. I can’t recall hav­ing seen “left-mod­er­ate con­ser­v­a­tive” in a sto­ry before. I’ve heard “mod­er­ate con­ser­v­a­tive,” but not “left-mod­er­ate con­ser­v­a­tive.” If some­one is to the left of the imag­i­nary “mod­er­ate” cen­ter (which, by the way, is a very flawed and over­ly sim­plis­tic polit­i­cal mod­el), then they are inher­ent­ly not conservative.

I sup­pose what Bird actu­al­ly means is that Reichert is too far to the left of him and the ultra MAGA base to qual­i­fy for the label con­ser­v­a­tive. But only some­one who is extreme­ly right wing would char­ac­ter­ize Reichert that way.

Third, we have: He can­not win in King County…

This is amus­ing­ly a defen­si­ble state­ment, though prob­a­bly not in the way that Bird meant it. Why? Well, King Coun­ty is so Demo­c­ra­t­ic that Reichert isn’t going to be able to win it, even if Reichert runs a stel­lar cam­paign that per­forms incred­i­bly well. Bird will like­wise not be able to win in King Coun­ty, it’s far too Democratic.

Fourth, we have: nor can he win in East­ern Wash­ing­ton

Our lat­est statewide sur­vey, released ear­li­er this month, found that Reichert is cur­rent­ly the lead­ing guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date in Cen­tral and East­ern Wash­ing­ton, so this is not a cred­i­ble claim. In our four-way guber­na­to­r­i­al polling, Bird received 18% sup­port in Cen­tral and East­ern Wash­ing­ton, while Reichert received 26%. Anoth­er 26% were unde­cid­ed. And 23% said they’d vote for Bob Ferguson.

That’s Wash­ing­ton’s most Repub­li­can-friend­ly region, and yet it favors Reichert.

Brun­ner’s sto­ry men­tions this research and links to it so Seat­tle Times read­ers can read our analy­sis of the data for them­selves, which we appreciate.

Final­ly, we have: The only way Dave Reichert can win the pri­ma­ry is if I am not in the pri­ma­ry.

This is like­wise not a cred­i­ble claim — our polling shows that Dave Reichert is cur­rent­ly way ahead of Semi Bird among like­ly 2024 vot­ers, so he isn’t going to need Bird to drop out in order to reach the gen­er­al elec­tion. Reichert received 31% in our sur­vey, as did Demo­c­ra­t­ic Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son. Bird only got 10%. He was­n’t hap­py to hear that, and prompt­ly made his feel­ings known.

It is impor­tant to note that unlike most states, Wash­ing­ton does­n’t actu­al­ly hold a pri­ma­ry to choose nom­i­nees for local or state-lev­el par­ti­san posi­tions. What the state and coun­ty audi­tors call a pri­ma­ry (and what Bird is ref­er­enc­ing) is real­ly a qual­i­fy­ing elec­tion in which the top two vote get­ters advance regard­less of party.

In a real pri­ma­ry, as defined by all major dic­tio­nar­ies that we’ve con­sult­ed over the years, vot­ers choose nom­i­nees. That isn’t what hap­pens in Wash­ing­ton. Here, we have a two-part gen­er­al elec­tion. In round one (the top two or win­now­ing round) vot­ers elim­i­nate all but two can­di­dates using first past the post vot­ing. Round two is a runoff in which vot­ers pick one of the final­ists to hold the office.

If Wash­ing­ton had a real pri­ma­ry, like Ore­gon to the south or Ida­ho to the east, then Repub­li­can vot­ers would be choos­ing from between Bird and Reichert as to who their nom­i­nee should be, and Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers would be choos­ing from between Bob Fer­gu­son and Wash­ing­ton State Sen­a­tor Mark Mul­let. The vot­ers wish­ing to align with each par­ty would be pick­ing a stan­dard bearer.

But since Wash­ing­ton has a mul­ti-round gen­er­al elec­tion, Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can vot­ers don’t have the pow­er to fill a slot guar­an­teed to their par­ty. To get on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot, Bird would either have to get more votes than any oth­er can­di­date or get more votes than all but one of the oth­er can­di­dates. If he can’t get one of the top two spots, he does­n’t go on. And since Wash­ing­ton has a sore los­er law, he won’t be able to run an orga­nized write-in campaign.

Bird and oth­ers have been hold­ing up his endorse­ments from coun­ty Repub­li­can par­ties as evi­dence that the base prefers him to Reichert. The Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty might fol­low suit and endorse Bird too — as Brun­ner notes, it has a con­ven­tion com­ing up in April and it could make an endorse­ment then.

But the peo­ple active in Repub­li­can par­ty pol­i­tics are only a sub­set of the base and the over­all Repub­li­can + Repub­li­can-lean­ing elec­torate in Washington.

Our research shows that more Repub­li­can vot­ers favor Reichert than Bird. Reichert got 59% of Repub­li­can vot­ers in our four-way ques­tion (see this post for the ques­tion text and method­ol­o­gy), while Bird got 22%. 11% weren’t sure.

That’s a more than 2‑to‑1 advantage.

And while Reichert has crossover appeal to Democ­rats and inde­pen­dents, our polling found that Bird has almost none. In fact, zero per­cent of Demo­c­ra­t­ic respon­dents expressed sup­port for him. Bird could improve his stand­ing with Repub­li­can vot­ers and still eas­i­ly lose the Top Two elec­tion next August.

Bird can say what­ev­er he wants about the strength of his can­di­da­cy, but so far, our pub­lic opin­ion research indi­cates his cam­paign has more hype than bite.

Friday, November 24th, 2023

Steve Pool: 1953–2023

Today, the fam­i­ly of leg­endary KOMO 4 mete­o­rol­o­gist Steve Pool shared the sad news that Pool died this week due to com­pli­ca­tions from ear­ly onset Alzheimer’s. A fix­ture in the local media land­scape for decades, Pool was a tal­ent­ed, car­ing jour­nal­ist who was known for his opti­mism and excel­lent fore­casts. He will be deeply missed by many friends, col­leagues, and KOMO viewers.

His pass­ing was announced in a note post­ed by his fam­i­ly on Face­book.

Dear Friends,

I am here to share the sad news that my dear hus­band, my love, has passed away from ear­ly-onset Alzheimer’s dis­ease. He fought this ter­ri­ble dis­ease pri­vate­ly for sev­er­al years, and with every ounce of his being. He told me mul­ti­ple times to “nev­er count me out” and we nev­er did. This past week it became too much and he passed away peace­ful­ly. We are so blessed to have had him in our lives. He was an extra­or­di­nary man, hus­band, father and good friend to many. Please know that he tru­ly loved his job and this com­mu­ni­ty and felt so priv­i­leged to be a part of your lives. You were all so good to him and there­by good to us. Our hearts are irre­triev­ably bro­ken. Please say a prayer for him and our family.

Much love, Michelle and our daugh­ters Lind­sey and Marissa

Our con­do­lences to Michelle, Lind­sey, Maris­sa, and the Pool family.

Portrait of Steve Pool

A por­trait of Steve Pool, shared by his fam­i­ly (Via Facebook)

Born Novem­ber 5th, 1953, Pool grew up in West­ern Wash­ing­ton. He went to Tyee High School in SeaT­ac and served his peers as stu­dent body pres­i­dent. He went to col­lege at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton and became a KOMO intern dur­ing those years. After he grad­u­at­ed in 1978 with a major in com­mu­ni­ca­tions, he was hired to work at the sta­tion full time as a reporter, cov­er­ing hard news and sports.

A few years lat­er, in 1984, when the sta­tion need­ed some­one to take over the weath­er beat, Pool assumed his icon­ic role as KOMO’s chief fore­cast­er, after return­ing to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton to study the atmos­pher­ic sci­ences. He would remain in that role for over three decades until his retire­ment in 2019.

Even when the weath­er was bad, watch­ing Pool deliv­er a fore­cast was very enjoy­able. His reas­sur­ing pres­ence was some­thing KOMO view­ers could rely on.

In this clip cre­at­ed by our team at NPI from our local broad­cast tele­vi­sion media archives, you can see Steve at his best, deliv­er­ing a fore­cast on a beau­ti­ful, sun­ny May spring day back in 2013, with a lead-in from anchor Dan Lewis.

Although Pool spent his career at KOMO, he was also nation­al­ly renowned thanks to his work fill­ing as a guest fore­cast­er on ABC’s Good Morn­ing America.

“His awards include Sev­en Emmy Awards, a Sig­ma Delta Chi Soci­ety of Pro­fes­sion­al Jour­nal­ism award, New York Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val Gold and Bronze Medals, Nation­al Acad­e­my of Tele­vi­sion Arts and Sci­ences, Amer­i­can Scene Award, a “Tel­ly” Award, the pre­mier award hon­or­ing out­stand­ing local, region­al, and cable TV com­mer­cials and pro­grams, and an Acad­e­my of Reli­gious Broad­cast­ing Life­time Achieve­ment Award,” his offi­cial biog­ra­phy notes.

“He has appeared more than sev­en­ty times on ABC’s Good Morn­ing Amer­i­ca and is also part of the news team that was the 2001 and 2008 win­ner of the Edward R. Mur­row Award for the best news­cast in Amer­i­ca. In 2004 he was induct­ed into the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Hall of Fame.”

Pool’s col­leagues dur­ing his more than forty years at KOMO includ­ed Lewis, Kathi Goertzen, Ken Schram, Lynn Espinoza, Elisa Jaffe, Bruce King, Bryan John­son, Mary Nam, Con­nie Thomp­son, Mol­ly Shen, and Eric Johnson.

The full list is much, much longer.

John­son filed a sto­ry a few weeks ago remem­ber­ing what he con­sid­ers the “Dream Team” — Lewis, Goertzen, Pool, and King.

Lewis is now the only liv­ing mem­ber of that quartet.

John­son, who suc­ceed­ed King on the sports beat and remains with KOMO today, remem­bered his time work­ing with Pool very fondly:

Steve Pool start­ed work­ing full-time at KOMO TV in 1977, although he’d already done some work for them as a stu­dent at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Washington.

He start­ed with sports, did some straight news, and even­tu­al­ly set­tled on weath­er. His smooth, easy charis­ma lit up the TV screen for more than thir­ty years.

The old tapes don’t lie. He was a natural.

“Steve Pool is such a like­able guy,” Dan says.

“One of the most tal­ent­ed peo­ple I’ve ever known. I mean, beyond his great work with the weath­er, he was fun­ny, he could sing.

Steve, I think, was a born entertainer.”

We talked a lit­tle about just how good he was.

So good that he filled in on Good Morn­ing America.

So good that peo­ple were drawn to him like a magnet.

“Peo­ple love Steve Pool, man, and I love Steve Pool,” Dan says. “He was such a fun guy to work with.”

And a fun guy to get weath­er updates from.

When the Apple Cup rolled around each autumn, the game fre­quent­ly became an object of ban­ter among the mem­bers of the Dream Team. Goertzen, a diehard Cougar fan, delight­ed in spar­ring on-air with Pool, a proud Husky.

The last Apple Cup of the Pac‑8/10/12 era will be played tomorrow.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton offered this trib­ute: “RIP to UW alum Steve Pool, ’77. Always a sta­ple in our Puget Sound com­mu­ni­ty, Steve will be deeply missed. Steve’s leg­endary career with KOMO news spanned more than four decades, serv­ing as one of our region’s most trust­ed weathermen.”

Seat­tle May­or Bruce Har­rell wrote: “A Seat­tle news leg­end and pio­neer, Steve Pool was kind and authen­tic – he epit­o­mized pro­fes­sion­al­ism. I join in mourn­ing his pass­ing and send my heart­felt con­do­lences to his fam­i­ly. Steve’s lega­cy will live on through the peo­ple and caus­es he supported.” 

Essex Porter, one of our favorite reporters of all time, wrote: “Steve was already anchor­ing when I arrived in Seat­tle in 1982. His excel­lence and ele­gance helped to open the door and hold it open for me and all the oth­er Black tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ists in Seat­tle. A leg­end. Con­do­lences to his fam­i­ly and friends.”

Jesse Jones, anoth­er Seat­tle broad­cast tele­vi­sion icon, wrote: “RIP Steve. What an incred­i­ble man. Could have worked at any lev­el any­where. And yet, he stayed to serve our com­mu­ni­ties. Legendary.”

“Steve Pool’s excel­lence is a crit­i­cal exam­ple for the mis­sion and cred­i­bil­i­ty of SABJ [the Seat­tle Asso­ci­a­tion of Black Jour­nal­ists],” said Jer­ry Brew­er, SAB­J’s Pres­i­dent. “He was too good, too cool, too classy and too gen­uine to be denied. We’ll nev­er for­get that we stand on the shoul­ders of an incred­i­ble jour­nal­ist whose tal­ent was matched only by the kind and unselfish way he went about doing the job.”

Pool main­tained his ties with KOMO, now owned by Sin­clair, after con­clud­ing his employ­ment there. “Steve con­tin­ued to make con­tri­bu­tions to KOMO 4 even in retire­ment,” the sta­tion explained. “He came up with the idea for the doc­u­men­tary How Seat­tle Changed The World, which pre­miered on KOMO 4 in Feb­ru­ary 2023. The doc­u­men­tary shares how peo­ple in the Seat­tle area cre­at­ed new prod­ucts, ser­vices, and inno­va­tions that made life eas­i­er and bet­ter for peo­ple all over the world. The doc­u­men­tary was ded­i­cat­ed to Steve Pool.”

Steve Pool epit­o­mized the best of Cas­ca­dia. He was a first-rate broad­cast­er, but more impor­tant­ly, he was a good per­son. A true role mod­el who treat­ed oth­ers with kind­ness and respect. That is what our world des­per­ate­ly needs more of.

Thank you for every­thing, Steve.

Friday, November 24th, 2023

Gaza gets a reprieve with negotiated pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas

This week, Israel’s right wing gov­ern­ment and the Hamas ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion agreed to a pause in fight­ing after nego­ti­a­tions facil­i­tat­ed by Qatar.

Dur­ing the pause, Hamas will release abductees back to Israel and Israel will release Pales­tini­ans that it is hold­ing pris­on­er. The first of these exchanges have already begun and more are expect­ed in the com­ing days.

As they occur, the Unit­ed Nations and inter­na­tion­al aid orga­ni­za­tions are try­ing to get bad­ly need­ed sup­plies into Hamas-con­trolled Gaza to help the mil­lions of Pales­tini­ans in need of food, clean water, and medicine.

A num­ber of major news orga­ni­za­tions have live­blogs going today with reg­u­lar updates. Here are some of the ones we’re keep­ing an eye on:

Here’s a sum­ma­ry of the lat­est devel­op­ments from the BBC:

  • Thir­teen Israeli hostages released by Hamas are back in Israel, the Israel Defense Forces have confirmed
  • They were part of a group that includ­ed 10 Thais and one Fil­ipino national
  • The Red Cross picked up the hostages in Gaza and trans­ferred them into Egypt via the Rafah bor­der crossing
  • The release is part of a deal, medi­at­ed by Qatar, which also includes the release of 39 Pales­tin­ian detainees from Israeli jails today
  • Under the terms of the deal, a total of 50 hostages and 150 Pales­tin­ian detainees will be released over four days dur­ing a tem­po­rary ceasefire
  • More aid is also being allowed into Gaza — 60 lor­ries car­ry­ing med­ical sup­plies, fuel and food entered today from Egypt
  • Hamas’s attacks on 7 Octo­ber killed 1,200 peo­ple, with about 240 tak­en hostage
  • Since then, Gaza­’s Hamas-run health min­istry says more than 14,000 peo­ple have been killed in Israel’s retal­ia­to­ry campaign

On Tues­day, Pres­i­dent Biden issued a state­ment hail­ing the agreement.

“I wel­come the deal to secure the release of hostages tak­en by the ter­ror­ist group Hamas dur­ing its bru­tal assault against Israel on Octo­ber 7th,” the Pres­i­dent said.

“Jill and I have been keep­ing all those held hostage and their loved ones close to our hearts these many weeks, and I am extra­or­di­nar­i­ly grat­i­fied that some of these brave souls, who have endured weeks of cap­tiv­i­ty and an unspeak­able ordeal, will be reunit­ed with their fam­i­lies once this deal is ful­ly implemented.”

“I thank Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar and Pres­i­dent Abdel-Fat­tah El-Sisi of Egypt for their crit­i­cal lead­er­ship and part­ner­ship in reach­ing this deal.  And I appre­ci­ate the com­mit­ment that Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu and his gov­ern­ment have made in sup­port­ing an extend­ed pause to ensure this deal can be ful­ly car­ried out and to ensure the pro­vi­sion of addi­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance to alle­vi­ate the suf­fer­ing of inno­cent Pales­tin­ian fam­i­lies in Gaza. I look for­ward to speak­ing with each of these lead­ers and stay­ing in close con­tact as we work to ensure this deal is car­ried through in its entirety.”

“It is impor­tant that all aspects of this deal be ful­ly implemented.”

“As Pres­i­dent, I have no high­er pri­or­i­ty than ensur­ing the safe­ty of Amer­i­cans held hostage around the world. That’s why — from the ear­li­est moments of Hamas’s bru­tal assault — my nation­al secu­ri­ty team and I have worked close­ly with region­al part­ners to do every­thing pos­si­ble to secure the release of our fel­low cit­i­zens. We saw the first results of that effort in late Octo­ber, when two Amer­i­cans were reunit­ed with their loved ones. Today’s deal should bring home addi­tion­al Amer­i­can hostages, and I will not stop until they are all released.”

Accord­ing to a dis­patch from the White House press pool, the Pres­i­dent was briefed mul­ti­ple times this morn­ing by his nation­al secu­ri­ty team on the lat­est devel­op­ments regard­ing the release of hostages from Gaza.

“Dur­ing the human­i­tar­i­an pause that has been in place since this morn­ing, the UN was able to scale up the deliv­ery of human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance into and across Gaza,” said a bul­letin pub­lished by OCHA, the Unit­ed Nations Office for the Coor­di­na­tion of Human­i­tar­i­an Affairs.

“200 trucks were dis­patched from Nit­sana to the Rafah crossing.”

“137 trucks of goods were offloaded by the UNRWA recep­tion point in Gaza mak­ing it the biggest human­i­tar­i­an con­voy received since Octo­ber 7.”

“129,000 litres of fuel and four trucks of gas also crossed into Gaza.”

“21 crit­i­cal patients were evac­u­at­ed in a large-scale med­ical oper­a­tion from the north of Gaza. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple were assist­ed with food, water, med­ical sup­plies and oth­er essen­tial human­i­tar­i­an items.”

“The UN wel­comes the release of 24 hostages held in Gaza since Octo­ber 7 and renews its call for the imme­di­ate and uncon­di­tion­al release of all hostages.”

“Human­i­tar­i­an teams from the UN and part­ners will con­tin­ue to ramp up human­i­tar­i­an oper­a­tions to meet the needs of peo­ple through­out Gaza in the com­ing days.”

Thursday, November 23rd, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving 2023!

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 tru­ly a good Nation because we are a good peo­ple — the First Lady and I see it every time we trav­el the coun­try because we meet so many incred­i­ble peo­ple doing the most extra­or­di­nary things,” Pres­i­dent Biden’s 2023 Thanks­giv­ing Day Procla­ma­tion declares. “We have met with ser­vice mem­bers, vet­er­ans, and their fam­i­lies, who have self­less­ly served and sac­ri­ficed for our country.”

“We have wit­nessed the resolve of fire­fight­ers, police offi­cers, and first respon­ders, who risk their lives every day to pro­tect us. We have seen the best of our char­ac­ter in the doc­tors, nurs­es, sci­en­tists, pub­lic ser­vants, union work­ers, and teach­ers, who ensure every­one is tak­en care of and no one is left behind.”

“We have seen all the pos­si­bil­i­ties this Nation holds in the moth­ers, fathers, and care­givers, who work hard to build a future wor­thy of their chil­dren’s great­est dreams, and in young peo­ple across the coun­try, who are the most tal­ent­ed, engaged, and edu­cat­ed gen­er­a­tion in history.”

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

Snohomish County Sheriff-elect Susanna Johnson

We are thank­ful that vot­ers in Sno­homish Coun­ty, Wash­ing­ton’s third largest sub­di­vi­sion, have elect­ed a new top law enforce­ment offi­cial to replace right wing Sher­iff Adam Fort­ney: Susan­na John­son. John­son is a calm and thought­ful pro­fes­sion­al who was sup­port­ed by all liv­ing for­mer sher­iffs in her campaign.

“Susan­na is a dec­o­rat­ed grad­u­ate of the FBI Nation­al Acad­e­my, which is the most sought-after exec­u­tive law enforce­ment lead­er­ship train­ing in the world, and also worked her way through col­lege to earn a mas­ter’s degree,” her cam­paign biog­ra­phy states. “Like many peo­ple, Susan­na rec­og­nizes that this is a piv­otal time for the pro­fes­sion. Although the major­i­ty of police offi­cers with Susan­na’s tenure have elect­ed to retire, she believes this is the most crit­i­cal time for expe­ri­enced lead­ers to step up and lead the way.”

“A native of the Pacif­ic North­west, Susan­na lives in beau­ti­ful Lake Stevens. She is mar­ried and enjoys camp­ing, gar­den­ing, walk­ing the dogs, hang­ing out with the kids and grand­kids, and build­ing any­thing. She is also a long­time com­mu­ni­ty vol­un­teer, work­ing with youth across Sno­homish Coun­ty for over thir­ty years.”

We appre­ci­ate Susan­na step­ping up and being will­ing to serve!

Spokane Mayor-elect Lisa Brown

We are thank­ful that vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton’s sec­ond largest city have cho­sen a new chief exec­u­tive: Lisa Brown. For­mer­ly a Wash­ing­ton State Sen­a­tor and the Direc­tor of the Depart­ment of Com­merce, Brown has the expe­ri­ence and the vision to be a great leader for the Lilac City. She defeat­ed an unpop­u­lar right wing incum­bent, Nadine Wood­ward, who repeat­ed­ly demon­strat­ed bad judg­ment, such as when she went to event with mil­i­tant fun­da­men­tal­ist Matt Shea and accept­ed a bless­ing from him, then claimed she had­n’t intend­ed to share a stage.

“As an econ­o­mist, edu­ca­tor, civic leader, and for­mer state leg­is­la­tor, Lisa has used her skills and rela­tion­ships to get big things done for Spokane, bring­ing resources and invest­ments to the city and the region for decades,” her cam­paign web­site explains. “She loves this city for its peo­ple, neigh­bor­hoods, poten­tial and qual­i­ty of life, includ­ing abun­dant access to nature.”

“On the week­ends, you can find Lisa hik­ing and bik­ing with her hus­band Bri­an across the many trails in the region or enjoy­ing one of Spokane’s parks with her grand­son Blaze. She appre­ci­ates the fan­tas­tic culi­nary and cul­tur­al offer­ings of the city, espe­cial­ly live music when her son, Lucas Brook­bank Brown, is on the stage. Lisa has lived as a renter or home­own­er  in all four quad­rants of the city and is cur­rent­ly a res­i­dent of the West Cen­tral Neighborhood.”

Senate Bill 5082

We’re thank­ful that the Leg­is­la­ture and Gov­er­nor Inslee enact­ed SB 5082, our leg­is­la­tion to per­ma­nent­ly abol­ish Tim Eyman’s push polls and replace them with truth­ful, use­ful fis­cal infor­ma­tion. The half-decade effort to pass this bill was sup­port­ed by many NPI allies. Work­ing with Leg­isla­tive Direc­tor Kathy Saka­hara and the NPI staff, the Wash­ing­ton Vot­ing Jus­tice Coali­tion and Bal­ance Our Tax Code mem­bers helped us get this noble cause across the fin­ish line.

Many elec­tions offi­cials endorsed and cham­pi­oned our leg­is­la­tion too. We’re grate­ful to Sec­re­tary of State Steve Hobbs, Thurston Coun­ty Audi­tor Mary Hall, and King Coun­ty Elec­tions Direc­tor Julie Wise for their assistance.

Thanks to every­one who tes­ti­fied, wrote a let­ter to the edi­tor, con­tact­ed a leg­is­la­tor, or donat­ed to sup­port our advo­ca­cy. You made a difference!

My Health, My Data Act

We’re thank­ful that the Leg­is­la­ture took action this year to pass a nation-lead­ing repro­duc­tive data pri­va­cy law. Polling we released ear­li­er this year showed that more than sev­en in ten vot­ers sup­port the My Health, My Data Act intro­duced by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Van­dana Slat­ter and request­ed by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Ferguson.

“The My Health My Data Act is the first pri­va­cy-focused law in the coun­try to pro­tect per­son­al health data that falls out­side the ambit of the Health Insur­ance Porta­bil­i­ty and Account­abil­i­ty Act, or HIPAA,” the AGO explains. “The Act was devel­oped to pro­tect a consumer’s sen­si­tive health data from being col­lect­ed and shared with­out that consumer’s con­sent. Washington’s con­cern for the urgent need to enhance pri­va­cy pro­tec­tions for health data is wide­ly shared: 76% of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans express sup­port for the My Health My Data Act.”

Sensible gun safety legislation

We’re thank­ful that this year, the Leg­is­la­ture final­ly took the impor­tant step of ban­ning assault weapons in Wash­ing­ton, build­ing on past work to ban high-capac­i­ty mag­a­zines, ghost guns, and bump stocks. The Ever­green State has become a wide­ly respect­ed nation­al leader on gun safe­ty legislation.

We’re glad to have been able to sup­port the impor­tant work of our friends at the Alliance for Gun Respon­si­bil­i­ty with our research polling and leg­isla­tive advo­ca­cy. Our col­lec­tive good work has made our com­mu­ni­ties safer and saved lives.

NPI supporters

And final­ly, we’re thank­ful that we were able to bring our research polling to more local­i­ties this year, includ­ing Seat­tle City Coun­cil Dis­trict #3, which had a key city coun­cil con­test in 2023. Many Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate read­ers stepped up with con­tri­bu­tions to make that hap­pen. You’re the best! Have a great Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

Let’s Go Washington turns in signatures for measure to repeal Climate Commitment Act

This after­noon in Tumwa­ter, a net­work of right wing groups led by Repub­li­can megadonor Bri­an Hey­wood’s Let’s Go Wash­ing­ton polit­i­cal com­mit­tee sub­mit­ted what it said were peti­tions bear­ing 418,399 sig­na­tures for Ini­tia­tive 2117, one of six ini­tia­tives they are hop­ing to qual­i­fy to the 2024 Wash­ing­ton State Legislature.

Spon­sored by Repub­li­can State Par­ty Chair Jim Walsh, I‑2117 would repeal Wash­ing­ton’s land­mark Cli­mate Com­mit­ment Act and wreck the state’s plans to secure a just and respon­si­ble tran­si­tion to a clean ener­gy future. NPI con­sid­ers the ini­tia­tive a grave threat to Wash­ing­ton’s well-being and strong­ly oppos­es it.

Pri­or to sub­mit­ting sig­na­tures in Tumwa­ter, Hey­wood and his Let’s Go Wash­ing­ton crew held an event at a Kent gas sta­tion for the mass media, with a U‑Haul truck full of box­es of sig­na­tures parked behind them. The event was seem­ing­ly orga­nized to offer a visu­al to Seat­tle’s tele­vi­sion sta­tions, but none sent cam­era crews. The Seat­tle Times, Cross­cut, and NPI were rep­re­sent­ed, however.

In Kent, Hey­wood was the only speak­er, and he offered brief remarks that last­ed less than eight min­utes. After­ward, he answered ques­tions posed by The Seat­tle Times’ Jim Brun­ner, who worked with Claire With­y­combe to write an arti­cle about Ini­tia­tive 2117 and the Let’s Go Wash­ing­ton slate.

Brian Heywood speaking at a media event in Kent

Repub­li­can megadonor Bri­an Hey­wood touts Ini­tia­tive 2117 at an event in Kent as the Cli­mate Solu­tions team holds up a ban­ner declar­ing “Pol­luters Win, You Lose” a few meters away (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

In Tumwa­ter, Hey­wood and Walsh both spoke. Curi­ous­ly, they tried to claim that they are not opposed to hold­ing pol­luters account­able for the pol­lu­tion that they cre­ate. But of course, they don’t have a cli­mate action plan of their own to replace the Cli­mate Com­mit­ment Act in the event I‑2117 were to go into effect.

“We want the plan­et to be clean. We don’t want pol­luters to get off scot-free,” Hey­wood claimed in Tumwa­ter. “Frankly, what the car­bon tax does is it allows pol­luters to get off scot-free… They just pass the cost on.”

Hey­wood is wrong. Wash­ing­ton’s cap and invest sys­tem is actu­al­ly not a car­bon tax, nor does it allow pol­luters to get off “scot-free.”

Here’s a cor­rect char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the Cli­mate Com­mit­ment Act from the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Ecol­o­gy: “The cap-and-invest pro­gram sets a lim­it, or cap, on over­all car­bon emis­sions in the state and requires busi­ness­es to obtain allowances equal to their cov­ered green­house gas emis­sions. These allowances can be obtained through quar­ter­ly auc­tions host­ed by Ecol­o­gy, or bought and sold on a sec­ondary mar­ket (just like stocks and bonds).”

“The cap will be reduced over time to ensure Wash­ing­ton achieves its 2030, 2040, and 2050 emis­sions-reduc­tion com­mit­ments, which means we’ll issue few­er emis­sions allowances each year,” Ecol­o­gy’s primer goes on to explain.

A pol­lu­tion tax is a dif­fer­ent mech­a­nism for putting a price on pollution.

“Under a car­bon tax, the gov­ern­ment sets a price that emit­ters must pay for each ton of green­house gas emis­sions they emit. Busi­ness­es and con­sumers will take steps, such as switch­ing fuels or adopt­ing new tech­nolo­gies, to reduce their emis­sions to avoid pay­ing the tax,” the Cen­ter for Cli­mate and Ener­gy Solu­tions notes. “A car­bon tax dif­fers from a cap-and-trade [a.k.a. cap and invest] pro­gram in that it pro­vides a high­er lev­el of cer­tain­ty about cost, but not about the lev­el of emis­sion reduc­tion to be achieved (cap and trade does the inverse).”

Right wing groups like the Wash­ing­ton Pol­i­cy Cen­ter have spent months claim­ing that the Cli­mate Com­mit­ment Act has result­ed in an increase in prices for gaso­line, even though evi­dence shows that many fac­tors influ­ence fuel prices.

If you go on a Thanks­giv­ing road trip to Ore­gon, you’ll find the cur­rent price for gas there is very com­pa­ra­ble to prices in Wash­ing­ton. I was just in the Beaver State, and I paid $3.99 a gal­lon on each side of the Colum­bia. Ore­gon has no cap and invest sys­tem, yet just a few days ago, when I drove from state to state, I paid the exact same price there as I did for gas in Washington!

While it’s true that com­pa­nies can pass on the costs of com­ply­ing with a law to cus­tomers, or their cus­tomers’ cus­tomers, they don’t have to. The oil indus­try is heav­i­ly sub­si­dized and very prof­itable and can choose not to pass on its costs. The Wash­ing­ton Pol­i­cy Cen­ter counts oil com­pa­nies among its donors and has a vest­ed inter­est in crit­i­ciz­ing poli­cies that oil com­pa­nies do not like.

Amus­ing­ly, the Kent gas sta­tion where Let’s Go Wash­ing­ton had its event today — a Shell sta­tion with a Jack­son’s mini mart — is charg­ing a high­er price for gaso­line than a com­peti­tor right across the street. Peo­ple in the Kent area can eas­i­ly pay less for gas sim­ply by choos­ing a dif­fer­ent sta­tion to fill up at.

Repeal­ing the Cli­mate Com­mit­ment Act would gut bil­lions of dol­lars in invest­ments Wash­ing­ton needs with­out guar­an­tee­ing a decrease in fuel prices.

Oil com­pa­nies are under no oblig­a­tion to charge less if I‑2117 goes into effect, a crit­i­cal fact that went unac­knowl­edged by Hey­wood and Walsh today.

Demo­c­ra­t­ic State Sen­a­tors Joe Nguyễn and Marko Liias issued a joint state­ment defend­ing the Cli­mate Com­mit­ment Act a few hours before Let’s Go Wash­ing­ton showed up in Tumwa­ter with a U‑Haul truck full of box­es of petitions.

“The invest­ments fund­ed by the Cli­mate Com­mit­ment Act are already pro­vid­ing major ben­e­fits to the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton,” Nguyễn said.

“Wash­ing­ton is lead­ing the way to a clean­er, green­er future, and we can’t stop our cli­mate progress. We need to defeat cli­mate change and rein in the pol­lu­tion that the oil and gas indus­try is caus­ing across our state and nation — the Cli­mate Com­mit­ment Act is how we make that happen.”

“Our Move Ahead Wash­ing­ton pack­age is a com­pre­hen­sive, fif­teen-year vision for our state to reduce traf­fic con­ges­tion, expand tran­sit and mobil­i­ty options, and fix pot­holes and pre­serve aging bridges. The Cli­mate Com­mit­ment Act is the foun­da­tion of these invest­ments, with­out it all of these crit­i­cal invest­ments are at risk,” Liias said. (He cur­rent­ly serves as Sen­ate Trans­porta­tion Chair.) “Right as our econ­o­my is begin­ning to recov­er from the pan­dem­ic, we shouldn’t jeop­ar­dize this progress. Wash­ing­ton fam­i­lies can’t afford to spend more time stuck in traf­fic or blocked by a fail­ing bridge, and our kids can’t keep breath­ing pol­lut­ed air.”

Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee is also strong­ly opposed to I‑2117.

“Basi­cal­ly, my mes­sage is not in our house… We are cer­tain­ly not going to cut our state off at the ankles and go back­wards,” Inslee said at a rib­bon cut­ting for the Olympic Her­itage Behav­ioral Health psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal, in remarks report­ed by the Wash­ing­ton State Stan­dard­’s Jer­ry Corn­field.

Takeaways from Let’s Go Washington’s I‑2117 events

Hav­ing spent hours with the Let’s Go Wash­ing­ton crew in Kent and Tumwa­ter, I got the sense that Hey­wood, Walsh, and the peo­ple they’ve hired to work for them are deeply enmeshed in their own right wing echo cham­ber and love to lis­ten to them­selves talk. They appear to be utter­ly con­vinced that Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee and Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tors are total­ly out of touch, even though recent elec­toral his­to­ry sup­ports the argu­ment that it’s they who are out of touch.

This par­tic­u­lar state­ment from Hey­wood speaks vol­umes: “Law­mak­ers had their fun, but now it’s time for the adults to clean up the mess.”

The impli­ca­tion is that law­mak­ers are imma­ture chil­dren behav­ing irresponsibly.

In real­i­ty, Wash­ing­ton vot­ers sup­port tak­ing cli­mate action and a major­i­ty are even will­ing to pay high­er gas prices and home heat­ing costs to get aggres­sive cli­mate laws, as our pub­lic opin­ion research has demon­strat­ed.

Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tors act­ed respon­si­bly and in the best inter­est of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans when they passed the Cli­mate Com­mit­ment Act.

If Hey­wood, Walsh, and their ilk were in charge, we’d have no cli­mate action laws at all despite decades — decades! — of warn­ings from cli­mate sci­en­tists about the per­il our plan­et faces and the urgent need to reduce emissions.

Bri­an Hey­wood and Jim Walsh have not iden­ti­fied any poli­cies that they would sup­port as alter­na­tives to the CCA that would help us raise the resources need­ed to secure a clean ener­gy future. Per­haps they do believe in cli­mate sci­ence, but they cer­tain­ly don’t believe in respond­ing to it.

They also seem not to appre­ci­ate that there’s a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence between a pub­lic vote on a pro­pos­al to cre­ate some­thing brand new and a pub­lic vote on a pro­pos­al to repeal some­thing. Ini­tia­tive 732 and Ini­tia­tive 1631, which were defeat­ed in 2016 and 2018, were attempts to put a price on pol­lu­tion. Ini­tia­tive 2117 is an attempt to repeal a price on pol­lu­tion that already exists.

The oppo­si­tion to I‑2117 has recent­ly been test­ing its bal­lot title (the words that vot­ers will see on the bal­lot rep­re­sent­ing the mea­sure) and has found it’s a real clunk­er, which is a prob­lem for the mea­sure’s prospects.

Bri­an Hey­wood has dis­missed this research, laugh­ing and telling The Stan­dard­’s Jer­ry Corn­field: “I hope they believe their polls with their entire souls.”

That’s a very curi­ous state­ment com­ing from some­one who pro­fess­es to be data-dri­ven. Hey­wood appears to not be inter­est­ed in any infor­ma­tion that con­tra­dicts his nar­ra­tive. I keep hear­ing Hey­wood tout the polling he’s com­mis­sioned in favor of his six ini­tia­tives, includ­ing today. He has bragged that the ini­tia­tives are viewed favor­ably even by Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers. But he has­n’t pro­duced this polling for eval­u­a­tion and scruti­ny. If Hey­wood is tru­ly con­fi­dent that his data is sound and ours isn’t, why not pub­lish the research? Why not show instead of tell?

If the sci­en­tif­ic method was­n’t fol­lowed and cor­ners were cut by his ven­dors (as was the case last year when many right wing firms were putting out garbage polls right before the elec­tion) then Hey­wood will have paid for data that tells him what he wants to hear but does­n’t reflect the opin­ions of a major­i­ty of Washingtonians.

Per­haps this is why Hey­wood has­n’t shown us his numbers.

Our team at NPI has decades of expe­ri­ence fight­ing destruc­tive right wing ini­tia­tives like I‑2117. We are already putting that expe­ri­ence to use to ensure that I‑2117 gets the vig­or­ous and effec­tive oppo­si­tion that it deserves.

We invite you to learn more by vis­it­ing our new cam­paign web­site oppos­ing Hey­wood and Wal­sh’s slate of ini­tia­tives at

Monday, November 20th, 2023

Big plurality of voters unsure about crowded 2024 race for Commissioner of Public Lands

Who should replace Hilary Franz as Wash­ing­ton’s next Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands? That is one of the impor­tant deci­sions that Ever­green State vot­ers will have to make in next year’s huge­ly con­se­quen­tial pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, which will decide not only what kind of fed­er­al gov­ern­ment the coun­try will have for the next few years, but what kind of gov­ern­ment Wash­ing­ton State has as well.

With Franz leav­ing the exec­u­tive depart­ment to run for Con­gress, there’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty for some­body else to take the helm of the Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources (DNR), which man­ages the state’s for­est lands and aquat­ic lands.

A large field of can­di­dates have declared for the posi­tion over the past six months, includ­ing five Democ­rats and two Repub­li­cans. The group of Democ­rats have lit­tle statewide name recog­ni­tion, but they hope to make a favor­able impres­sion with Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers just like Franz did back in the 2016 cycle.

They have their work cut out for them. Accord­ing to our lat­est poll of the Wash­ing­ton elec­torate, a big plu­ral­i­ty of vot­ers (48%) aren’t sure who they’d vote for if the elec­tion for this office were being held today. Repub­li­can Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler got the most sup­port of the group of sev­en with 18%, fol­lowed by fel­low Repub­li­can Sue Kuehl Ped­er­sen (Franz’s 2020 oppo­nent) with 14%.

The five Democ­rats, mean­while, were all the sin­gle dig­its, which we fig­ured they would be when we designed the sur­vey. If you’re a vot­er tak­ing a poll, it can be hard enough to pick from between two can­di­dates from your par­ty you haven’t heard of before — choos­ing from between five is a whole ‘nother lev­el of difficult.

The dan­ger for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty is that when vot­ers do decide who they want to sup­port, they grav­i­tate in rough­ly even num­bers to three or more of the five can­di­dates, which would split the Demo­c­ra­t­ic vote so bad­ly that Her­rera Beut­ler and Kuehl Ped­er­sen would end up advanc­ing to the gen­er­al elec­tion, lock­ing the par­ty out of the Novem­ber 2023 bal­lot and vir­tu­al­ly guar­an­tee­ing a Repub­li­can vic­tor in the con­test for Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands.

Sound implau­si­ble? Well, it’s not. It has hap­pened before.

In 2016, three Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates for Trea­sur­er split the vote so effec­tive­ly that the gen­er­al elec­tion runoff con­sist­ed of two Repub­li­cans. Duane David­son went on to serve a sin­gle term as Trea­sur­er. He was defeat­ed for reelec­tion in 2020 by Demo­c­rat Mike Pel­lic­ciot­ti, a ris­ing star in the state House.

Repub­li­cans sub­se­quent­ly locked them­selves out of the 2020 con­test for lieu­tenant gov­er­nor and the 2022 con­test for Sec­re­tary of State by hav­ing too many can­di­dates of equiv­a­lent elec­toral strength split­ting the vote.

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has time to reduce the size of its field, but that time can arguably now be bet­ter mea­sured in weeks as opposed to months since the fil­ing peri­od is quick­ly approach­ing. The par­ty and its key stake­hold­ers will have to decide what actions, if any, they want to take to win­now the field before then.

Here’s the exact text of the ques­tion we asked and the responses:

QUESTION: If the elec­tion for Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic  Lands of Wash­ing­ton State were being held today and the can­di­dates were Demo­c­rat Mona Das, Repub­li­can Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Demo­c­rat Kevin Van De Wege, Repub­li­can Sue Kuehl Ped­er­sen, Demo­c­rat Rebec­ca Sal­daña, Demo­c­rat Dave Upthe­grove, and Demo­c­rat Patrick DePoe, who would you vote for?

Half the poll sam­ple saw the ques­tion with the order of can­di­dates as shown above and half the sam­ple saw the ques­tion with the order of can­di­dates shown below. The word­ing was the same, but the order was invert­ed to make the ques­tion as neu­tral as possible. 

If the elec­tion for Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands of Wash­ing­ton State were being held today and the can­di­dates were Demo­c­rat Patrick DePoe, Demo­c­rat Dave Upthe­grove, Demo­c­rat Rebec­ca Sal­daña, Repub­li­can Sue Kuehl Ped­er­sen, Demo­c­rat Kevin Van De Wege, Repub­li­can Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, and Demo­c­rat Mona Das, who would you vote for?


  • Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler (R): 18%
  • Sue Kuehl Ped­er­sen (R): 14%
  • Rebec­ca Sal­daña (D): 6%
  • Patrick DePoe (D): 5%
  • Mona Das (D): 5%
  • Dave Upthe­grove (D): 3%
  • Kevin Van De Wege (D): 2%
  • Not sure: 48%

Our sur­vey of 700 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Tues­day, Novem­ber 14th through Wednes­day, Novem­ber 15th, 2023.

The poll uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (42%) and online answers from respon­dents recruit­ed by text (58%).

It was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling (PPP) for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.7% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

Fol­low this link for addi­tion­al method­ol­o­gy details, includ­ing demo­graph­ic data.

NPI and PPP have worked togeth­er for a decade and have a track record of excel­lence, as detailed in this 2022 elec­toral polling recap and this 2020 one.

Insights from the crosstabs

In the toplines, none of the Democ­rats real­ly stand out. The crosstabs are more inter­est­ing. Among female vot­ers, Rebec­ca Sal­daña and Patrick DePoe each got 9%, while Das got 3%, Van De Wege 1%, and Upthe­grove 4%. Vot­ers iden­ti­fy­ing as male, mean­while, were very sup­port­ive of Repub­li­can Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler’s can­di­da­cy — 24% of them, near­ly a quar­ter, said they’d vote for her.

54% of Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers said they were unde­cid­ed, joined by 54% of inde­pen­dent vot­ers and 30% of Repub­li­can vot­ers. A plu­ral­i­ty of Repub­li­can vot­ers (35%) favored Kuehl Ped­er­sen, like­ly owing to Her­rera Beut­ler’s impeach­ment vote. Her­rera Beut­ler has plu­ral­i­ty sup­port with inde­pen­dents (21%) and pulls some Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers as well, like­ly for the very same reason.

DePoe is the most pop­u­lar choice of Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers, with 12%, fol­lowed by Sal­daña at 10%, Das at 6%, Upthe­grove at 5%, and Van De Wege at 2%.

A small num­ber of Repub­li­can vot­ers picked Das (2%), Sal­daña (3%), and Upthe­grove (3%), but none were inter­est­ed in Van De Wege or DePoe.

Her­rera Beut­ler leads among vot­ers of col­or with 18%. DePoe gets 13% from vot­ers of col­or, Kuehl Ped­er­sen 11%, and Das 12%. Only 34% of vot­ers of col­or said they were not sure, com­pared to 48% of the whole sample.

Her­rera Beut­ler also has some appeal with young vot­ers: 30% of vot­ers ages eigh­teen to twen­ty-nine picked her in the sur­vey. Das was the run­ner-up among that group with 16%, fol­lowed by Sal­daña and DePoe, each with 11%.

No young vot­ers picked Upthe­grove, Kuehl Ped­er­sen, or Van De Wege.

Van De Wege was the worst per­former in the sur­vey, with 2% sup­port among Democ­rats, 0% among Repub­li­cans, and 1% among independents.

The sen­a­tor has been rais­ing mon­ey, but his path to vic­to­ry seems to have got­ten rock­i­er, giv­en that well-fund­ed groups that might have been inter­est­ed in his can­di­da­cy now have Her­rera Beut­ler as an alter­na­tive option.

Pro­gres­sive and envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions, mean­while, may opt to endorse one of the oth­er four Democ­rats giv­en Van De Wege’s posi­tions and record of occa­sion­al­ly vot­ing against Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­or­i­ties in the statehouse.

We’ll keep an eye on this race and bring you more data in 2024.

Monday, November 20th, 2023

A wide open race for AG: Democratic hopefuls tied, while a third of 2024 voters aren’t sure

Next year, vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton will be choos­ing a new Attor­ney Gen­er­al to serve as the state’s chief law enforce­ment offi­cer, because incum­bent Bob Fer­gu­son is run­ning for gov­er­nor. So far, two high­ly qual­i­fied Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates have launched cam­paigns to seek the job: State Sen­a­tor Man­ka Dhin­gra, a North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion board­mem­ber, and for­mer U.S. Attor­ney Nick Brown.

We decid­ed to put them and a hypo­thet­i­cal Repub­li­can oppo­nent up against each oth­er in this mon­th’s autumn sur­vey of 2024 like­ly Wash­ing­ton vot­ers to see how the race for AG is shap­ing up, and found that nei­ther Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date has yet estab­lished an advan­tage over the oth­er. That sug­gests that Brown and Dhin­gra will be head­ing into the new year on a pret­ty even footing.

In the sur­vey, con­sist­ing of 700 inter­views with like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State gen­er­al elec­tion vot­ers, Dhin­gra had 14%, Brown had 13%, hypo­thet­i­cal Repub­li­can oppo­nent Paul Graves had 38%, and 34% were not sure.

We includ­ed Graves in our ques­tion because we expect Repub­li­cans to find a can­di­date for this impor­tant office by May of 2024, when the fil­ing peri­od arrives, and we’ve heard Graves’ name float­ed in Wash­ing­ton State polit­i­cal cir­cles as a pos­si­bil­i­ty. Giv­en that no Repub­li­can has even filed paper­work with the PDC to seek this office so far, the odds don’t seem high that the par­ty will have more than one cred­i­ble can­di­date inter­est­ed in tak­ing on Dhin­gra and Brown.

If Graves were to run for Attor­ney Gen­er­al with no Repub­li­can oppo­si­tion, our polling sug­gests that he’d eas­i­ly pick up the sup­port of Wash­ing­ton’s Repub­li­can vot­ers. 38% is exact the same per­cent­age that Don­ald Trump and Raul Gar­cia received in our sur­vey — it cor­re­sponds to the por­tion of the Wash­ing­ton elec­torate who reli­ably vote Repub­li­can in par­ti­san contests.

Brown and Dhin­gra haven’t run statewide before, so nei­ther is well known to vot­ers, which accounts for the sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of unde­cid­ed respondents.

Dhin­gra has been elect­ed three times in the 45th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, which includes parts of Red­mond, Kirk­land, and Sam­mamish as well as Duvall in east King Coun­ty, and is a mem­ber of Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic leadership.

Brown, mean­while, has some name famil­iar­i­ty of his own thanks to his recent stint as the U.S. Attor­ney for the West­ern Dis­trict of Washington.

Each has raised about half a mil­lion dol­lars so far for their cam­paign. Brown’s receipts total $497,880.11, while Dhin­gra’s total $500,885.91.

Brown has spent $142,402.72 and Dhin­gra has spent $236,622.08.

There is one oth­er per­son besides Brown and Dhin­gra who has filed with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion as a can­di­date for AG: inde­pen­dent Eliz­a­beth Hal­lock. Since Hal­lock has not report­ed rais­ing or spend­ing any mon­ey and does­n’t appear to have an active cam­paign, she was not includ­ed in our question.

Wash­ing­ton uses a “Top Two” elec­tion sys­tem to decide who appears on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot. As the name sug­gests, the top two vote get­ting can­di­dates advance regard­less of par­ty. It only takes a plu­ral­i­ty to win in the Top Two; the run­ner-up gets the sec­ond avail­able spot. Espe­cial­ly if Repub­li­cans were to fail to field a can­di­date, as they shock­ing­ly did in 2016 for this office, or if they end up field­ing too many can­di­dates who can­cel each oth­er out, it is pos­si­ble that Dhin­gra and Brown could end up fac­ing each oth­er next November.

But per­haps a like­li­er sce­nario is that either Dhin­gra or Brown gets through the Top Two along with a Repub­li­can such as Graves.

Here’s the exact text of the ques­tion we asked and the responses:

QUESTION: If the elec­tion for Attor­ney Gen­er­al of Wash­ing­ton State were being held today and the can­di­dates were Demo­c­rat Man­ka Dhin­gra, Repub­li­can Paul Graves, and Demo­c­rat Nick Brown, who would you vote for?


  • Paul Graves (R): 38%
  • Man­ka Dhin­gra (D): 14%
  • Nick Brown (D): 13%
  • Not sure: 34%

Our sur­vey of 700 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Tues­day, Novem­ber 14th through Wednes­day, Novem­ber 15th, 2023.

The poll uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (42%) and online answers from respon­dents recruit­ed by text (58%).

It was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling (PPP) for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.7% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

Fol­low this link for addi­tion­al method­ol­o­gy details, includ­ing demo­graph­ic data.

NPI and PPP have worked togeth­er for a decade and have a track record of excel­lence, as detailed in this 2022 elec­toral polling recap and this 2020 one.

Background on the position

The posi­tion of Attor­ney Gen­er­al is estab­lished in the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion as an inde­pen­dent­ly elect­ed office. Unlike at the fed­er­al lev­el, the AG is not appoint­ed by the chief exec­u­tive and con­firmed by the Sen­ate, but is rather cho­sen by the vot­ers. Here’s what the Con­sti­tu­tion says about the job:

ARTICLE II, SECTION 21. ATTORNEY GENERAL, DUTIES AND SALARY. The attor­ney gen­er­al shall be the legal advis­er of the state offi­cers, and shall per­form such oth­er duties as may be pre­scribed by law. He shall receive an annu­al salary of two thou­sand dol­lars, which may be increased by the leg­is­la­ture, but shall nev­er exceed thir­ty-five hun­dred dol­lars per annum.

That last bit about the AG’s salary has since been super­seded by anoth­er part of the Con­sti­tu­tion that deals with salaries for elect­ed officials.

As you can see above, the Con­sti­tu­tion express­ly says that the Leg­is­la­ture can pre­scribe the AG’s duties by law, and it has done so in RCW 43.10.030, which spec­i­fies eleven spe­cif­ic respon­si­bil­i­ties of the posi­tion, includ­ing appear­ing before and rep­re­sent­ing the state in cas­es that come before the appel­late courts.

Because the AG is the state’s chief legal offi­cer, they are respon­si­ble for bring­ing enforce­ment actions against com­pa­nies that vio­late Wash­ing­ton’s con­sumer pro­tec­tion and data pri­va­cy laws, and they are often in the news.

Just this morn­ing, incum­bent Bob Fer­gu­son’s team announced that hos­pi­tal chain Peace­Health will be refund­ing up to $13.4 mil­lion to more than 15,000 low-income patients of its five west­ern Wash­ing­ton hospitals.

“The refunds are a result of an Attor­ney General’s Office inves­ti­ga­tion into the hos­pi­tal chain’s finan­cial assis­tance and col­lec­tion prac­tices. Ferguson’s inves­ti­ga­tion found that Peace­Health billed thou­sands of low-income patients who like­ly qual­i­fied for finan­cial assis­tance with­out inform­ing them of their eli­gi­bil­i­ty,” the Office of the Attor­ney Gen­er­al announced in a news release.

AGs often become future gubernatorial candidates

As men­tioned, cur­rent AG Bob Fer­gu­son is run­ning for gov­er­nor of Wash­ing­ton. His most recent two pre­de­ces­sors did that too: Repub­li­can Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rob McKen­na ran in 2012, los­ing to Jay Inslee, while Demo­c­ra­t­ic Attor­ney Gen­er­al Chris Gre­goire ran in 2004 and nar­row­ly beat Dino Rossi. (Gre­goire beat Rossi again in 2008 by a more com­fort­able mar­gin in a big wave year for Democrats.)

Con­se­quent­ly, hold­ing this office is a pri­or­i­ty for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, since the next Attor­ney Gen­er­al of Wash­ing­ton could become a can­di­date for gov­er­nor in a future cycle, like 2032. Democ­rats cur­rent­ly hold every posi­tion in Wash­ing­ton’s exec­u­tive depart­ment, which means they have a deep bench of can­di­dates for top offices, while Repub­li­cans have a thin to nonex­is­tent one.

More polling to come

We’ll con­tin­ue to keep an eye on this con­test through­out 2024. Per­haps by the time our next statewide sur­vey fields, Repub­li­cans will actu­al­ly have one or more declared can­di­dates and we’ll have a fuller field to ask vot­ers about.

Saturday, November 18th, 2023

Semi Bird offers hilariously incoherent response to NPI’s new gubernatorial polling

Despite hav­ing recent­ly been oust­ed from the Rich­land school board in a recall by his own con­ser­v­a­tive con­stituents, ultra MAGA guber­na­to­r­i­al hope­ful Semi Bird is still pub­licly main­tain­ing that his cam­paign can go the dis­tance and vault him into the gov­er­nor’s man­sion. So on Thurs­day, when NPI’s lat­est guber­na­to­r­i­al polling came out and showed Bird way behind fel­low Repub­li­can Dave Reichert and Demo­c­ra­t­ic Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, he was­n’t happy.

In a lengthy, hilar­i­ous­ly inco­her­ent post on Twit­ter, Bird strug­gled to respond to the num­bers that show his cam­paign is not gain­ing momen­tum, vac­il­lat­ing from denounc­ing it to look­ing for a sil­ver lin­ing in the data. It might be the weird­est and also most enter­tain­ing rant ever pub­lished in response to an NPI poll finding.

Let’s go through it and you can see what I mean.

And here we go! The Uni-par­ty pro­pa­gan­da machine is in full oper­a­tion to ensure that their top-two can­di­dates are in the gen­er­al elec­tion next year, thus influ­enc­ing elec­tion out­comes and muf­fling the voice of “we the people.”

I’ve heard plen­ty of peo­ple argue that both major polit­i­cal par­ties are cor­rupt over the years, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase “Uni-par­ty pro­pa­gan­da machine” before. Very inter­est­ing. So, is every­one not on board with Semi Bird part of a con­spir­a­cy to keep him out of the gov­er­nor’s mansion?

This should not come as a sur­prise to any­one. It’s time to unite as cit­i­zens com­mit­ted to a “One-Wash­ing­ton” move­ment, not defined or manip­u­lat­ed by the Uni-par­ty establishment.

Good luck try­ing to fig­ure out what any of that is sup­posed to mean.

If there’s already a “Uni-par­ty” in exis­tence, then why do we need a “One-Wash­ing­ton” move­ment to com­pete with it? And why would such a move­ment even be desir­able giv­en the impli­ca­tion that “the Uni-par­ty” is bad?

FACTS: We have been endorsed by over 14 GOP coun­ties and have pledges of sup­port from Democ­rats, Inde­pen­dents, and Repub­li­cans alike.

There’s no such thing as “GOP coun­ties” — what Bird means here is Repub­li­can coun­ty par­ty orga­ni­za­tions. Wash­ing­ton has thir­ty-nine coun­ties and each of them, or at least most of them, have a Repub­li­can cen­tral committee.

We have more mul­ti-demo­graph­ic sup­port than any GOP can­di­date in the last 40 years.

Inter­est­ing claim. Where’s the evi­dence for it?

We have dri­ven over 40,000 miles and cam­paigned in almost every coun­ty in the state.

Great, so Semi has done a lot of dri­ving around. Con­grat­u­la­tions on that. Hope you’ve had a chance to enjoy some of our state’s won­der­ful land­scapes, Semi.

THE POLL: North­west PROGRESSIVE Institute

This non-val­i­dat­ed poll with a 700-per­son sam­ple group solic­its results from approx­i­mate­ly 18 peo­ple per coun­ty. As a trained researcher, this method­ol­o­gy is heav­i­ly flawed and non-rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the vot­ing populace.

Despite claim­ing to be “a trained researcher,” Semi clear­ly does not under­stand how cred­i­ble pub­lic opin­ion research is obtained. Polling makes use of sam­ples by neces­si­ty, and sam­ples need not be enor­mous to be prop­er­ly representative.

The com­po­si­tion of the sam­ple is what mat­ters, not the size.

Wash­ing­ton’s pop­u­la­tion and vot­ing elec­torate not even­ly dis­trib­uted across its thir­ty-nine coun­ties. Some coun­ties are real­ly big, like King, Sno­homish, and What­com. Oth­ers are real­ly tiny, like Garfield, Wahki­akum, or Stevens. If the tiny coun­ties had just as much rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the sam­ple as the big ones, the sam­ple would be unrep­re­sen­ta­tive and worth­less. It is non­sen­si­cal to char­ac­ter­ize our sam­ple as hav­ing “results from approx­i­mate­ly 18 peo­ple per county.”

From which pool were these “pre­sumed” vot­ers drawn, per­haps selec­tive­ly from the Pro­gres­sive Institute?

Like our results post clear­ly says, this sur­vey was con­duct­ed for NPI by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling, who we have worked with for over ten years. They han­dled the field­ing. 42% of the vot­ers who par­tic­i­pat­ed were inter­viewed on their land­lines and took the sur­vey using inter­ac­tive voice response tech­nol­o­gy, while 58% were recruit­ed by text to take the sur­vey online. If Semi were a trained researcher like he claims, he would­n’t be embar­rass­ing him­self with sil­ly com­ments like this.

Our stand­ing at 10% con­trasts stark­ly with the 5% of a cur­rent Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor who, despite amass­ing over $923,000 in cam­paign funds, falls behind.

The polling’s unre­li­a­bil­i­ty becomes evi­dent, espe­cial­ly as we antic­i­pate cap­tur­ing the unde­cid­ed 22% of vot­ers. Our appeal lies in being a non-estab­lish­ment can­di­date, offer­ing a non-par­ti­san plat­form focused on uni­ty and com­mon sense.

These last two para­graphs are my favorite part.

If Semi does­n’t think our polling is cred­i­ble or reli­able, then why is he talk­ing about cap­tur­ing the 22% of vot­ers who said they were not sure? And why brag that he has twice as much sup­port as State Sen­a­tor Mark Mullet?

He could have just said “we saw NPI’s polling and we think it’s worthless.”

But nope… he decid­ed to post this instead.

If noth­ing else, it’s a time­ly reminder that not every­one who runs for an impor­tant posi­tion of pub­lic respon­si­bil­i­ty pos­sess­es good judg­ment or qualifications.

Friday, November 17th, 2023

The Roberts/Alito Supreme Court’s toothless new code of ethics isn’t good enough

The U.S. Supreme Court, its pub­lic approval rat­ings and rep­u­ta­tion sag­ging, is respond­ing with a new code of con­duct in which the nine jus­tices decide by them­selves the “best prac­tices” for avoid­ing con­flicts of inter­est and recusal from pend­ing cases.

In words of John McK­ay, for­mer U.S. Attor­ney for West­ern Wash­ing­ton: “The ‘code’ was only issued to clean up ‘mis­un­der­stand­ings’ accord­ing to Chief Jus­tice John Roberts. Like, mis­un­der­stand­ing that you prob­a­bly shouldn’t accept a lux­u­ry RV worth a quar­ter of a mil­lion dol­lars or lux­u­ry trips from per­sons with inter­ests before the court.”

The code asks jus­tices not to play a part in cas­es where they have a pro­fes­sion­al con­nec­tion or per­son­al inter­est. Com­pli­ance is entire­ly vol­un­tary and based the judg­ment of the jus­tice. By con­trast, U.S. Court of Appeals and Dis­trict Court judges are required to com­ply with a fed­er­al Judi­cial Con­duct and Dis­abil­i­ty Act.

While try­ing to be char­i­ta­ble, court crit­ic Sen­a­tor Shel­don White­house, D‑Rhode Island, point­ed to the document’s glar­ing defi­cien­cy. “This is a long over­due step by the jus­tices,” said White­house, “but a code of ethics is only bind­ing if there is a mech­a­nism to inves­ti­gate pos­si­ble vio­la­tions and enforce the rules.”

In observ­ing behav­ior of the cur­rent jus­tices, one is remind­ed of words of detec­tive Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun movie: “Noth­ing to See Here.”

The Dobbs deci­sion, over­turn­ing Roe v. Wade, was writ­ten by Supreme Court Jus­tice Samuel Ali­to. Weeks after it was issued, Ali­to was flown to Rome by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame Law School’s Reli­gious Lib­er­ty Initiative.

Ali­to was fea­tured speak­er at a gala din­ner in which he thanked the group for its “warm hos­pi­tal­i­ty” and pro­vid­ing a room which “looks over the Roman Forum.” He deliv­ered a snarky speech mock­ing crit­ics of his abor­tion ruling.

The justice’s hosts were a group which has filed numer­ous “friend of the court” briefs in pend­ing cases.

An inves­ti­ga­tion by ProP­ub­li­ca dis­closed that Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas and wife Gin­ny have tak­en vaca­tions on pri­vate jets and lux­u­ry yachts, the prop­er­ty of bil­lion­aire friend Har­lan Crow.

The val­ue of these trips are in the hun­dreds of thou­sands of dollars.

Yet, Thomas dis­closed none of this trav­el in his finan­cial fil­ings. Gin­ny Thomas was active in Pres­i­dent Trump’s bid to over­turn results of the 2020 elec­tion. Yet, Thomas did not recuse him­self from cas­es involv­ing the attempt­ed coup.

All this is noth­ing new.

In 2001, Jus­tice Antonin “Nino” Scalia flew down to Louisiana on Air Force Two with then-Vice Cheney for a duck hunt­ing trip host­ed by an oil indus­try exec­u­tive. At the time, a legal chal­lenge to Cheney’s deci­sion to keep secret pro­ceed­ings of his ener­gy task force was pend­ing before the Supreme Court.

The Sier­ra Club chal­lenged Scalia to recuse him­self from the case.

Scalia angri­ly refused, declar­ing in a state­ment: “If it is rea­son­able to think that a Supreme Court jus­tice can be bought so cheap, the nation is in deep­er trou­ble than I imagined.”

Lib­er­als, too, can play the con­flict game. The Sier­ra Club was plain­tiff in a chal­lenge to the U.S. For­est Ser­vice deci­sion to approve Disney’s plans for a big ski resort in California’s Min­er­al King val­ley. Supreme Court Jus­tice William O. Dou­glas was a direc­tor of the club. “Wild Bill” resigned from the board and par­tic­i­pat­ed in the case, writ­ing a famous dis­sent when the brethren ruled that the Sier­ra Club lacked stand­ing to sue. (Dis­ney lat­er can­celed the Min­er­al King resort and the val­ley became part of Sequoia Nation­al Park. It is still wild.)

Supreme Court Jus­tice Ele­na Kagan has recused her­self from cas­es han­dled when she was Solic­i­tor Gen­er­al and sug­gest­ed the need for a code of ethics. “Our whole sys­tem is one of checks and bal­ances: We’re not impe­r­i­al and we too are part of a check­ing and bal­anc­ing sys­tem in var­i­ous ways,” she told a judi­cial con­fer­ence this sum­mer in Portland.

But Roberts sound­ed irri­ta­ble unveil­ing the code, as if a press had forced this unwel­come action on the Court. “The absence of a code has led in recent years to the mis­un­der­stand­ing that the jus­tices of the court, unlike all oth­er jurists in this coun­try, regard them­selves as unre­strict­ed by ethics rules,” he wrote. “To dis­pel this mis­un­der­stand­ing, we are issu­ing this code which large­ly rep­re­sents a cod­i­fi­ca­tion of prin­ci­ples that we have long regard­ed as gov­ern­ing our conduct.”

Oh, c’mon. As Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia law pro­fes­sor Aman­da Frost told the New York Times, “The prob­lem is how to give these rules teeth. Espe­cial­ly in light of the fact that there have been repeat­ed vio­la­tions of these very rules.”

Just look at Clarence Thomas.

He has trav­eled the world on Har­lan Crow’s tick­et. He paid the $6,000-a-month board­ing school tuition for Thomas’ grand­nephew. He spent $133,000 to buy prop­er­ties in Savan­nah, Geor­gia, from Thomas and his rel­a­tives, one of which is a house in which Thomas’ moth­er still lives. None of these deals was reported.

Thomas nev­er repaid a “sub­stan­tial por­tion” of a $267,230 loan from anoth­er wealthy friend, Antho­ny Weller, that was used to buy a lux­u­ry RV, accord­ing to a Sen­ate Finance Com­mit­tee inves­ti­ga­tion. It is unclear whether he paid tax­es on a “sig­nif­i­cant amount of tax­able income” real­ized by not repay­ing the loan. The RV loan was nev­er report­ed on the justice’s finan­cial dis­clo­sure form.

The bil­lion­aire bud­dy of Jus­tice Ali­to flew the judge on his pri­vate jet to Alaska’s Bris­tol Bay for a fish­ing trip, with stay at the King Salmon Lodge.

Ali­to has jus­ti­fied fail­ure to report the trip on grounds that it con­sti­tut­ed “per­son­al hos­pi­tal­i­ty.” Besides, Ali­to has respond­ed, he was occu­py­ing “a seat that, as far as I am aware, would have oth­er­wise been vacant.”

In his 2011 report on con­di­tion of the fed­er­al judi­cia­ry, Chief Jus­tice Roberts declared: “I have com­plete con­fi­dence in the capa­bil­i­ty of my col­leagues to deter­mine when recusal is war­rant­ed.” They were, he declared, “jurists of excep­tion­al integri­ty and (unques­tioned) char­ac­ter and fitness.”

Such is not always the case, espe­cial­ly as sug­gest­ed by actions of Thomas.

He has sim­ply ignored the code of con­duct which the court is now adopt­ing. As Sen­a­tor White­house points out: “Jus­tices are sup­posed to recuse them­selves from cas­es where they have a per­son­al inter­est but Thomas has nev­er been asked about his wife’s Jan­u­ary 6 (2021) role and what he knew.”

The Supreme Court is jus­ti­fi­ably referred to in news sto­ries as “the high court.” There is none higher.

But our democ­ra­cy is anchored on the prin­ci­ple of account­abil­i­ty. It’s time for the Supremes to drop anchor on some con­crete requirements.

Friday, November 17th, 2023

Senator Maria Cantwell leads Republican challenger Raul Garcia by thirteen points

Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent Maria Cantwell holds a dou­ble dig­it lead over Repub­li­can chal­lenger Raul Gar­cia in Wash­ing­ton State’s 2024 U.S. Sen­ate race and appears to be on a smooth tra­jec­to­ry to win­ning reelec­tion next Novem­ber, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s lat­est statewide sur­vey has found.

51% of 700 like­ly Wash­ing­ton State gen­er­al elec­tion vot­ers said they would sup­port Cantwell if the elec­tion for U.S. Sen­ate were being held now. 38% said they would sup­port Gar­cia, the same per­cent­age who said they’d sup­port Don­ald Trump in a rematch with Joe Biden. 11% were not sure.

Cantwell was first elect­ed to the Sen­ate in 2000 and has been Wash­ing­ton State’s junior sen­a­tor ever since, serv­ing along­side Pat­ty Mur­ray, who is now the most senior mem­ber of the entire Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus. Cantwell nar­row­ly defeat­ed Repub­li­can Slade Gor­ton and joined a cham­ber even­ly divid­ed between the two major par­ties. She has won reelec­tion with ease three times since then — in 2006, 2012, and 2018, all of which were Demo­c­ra­t­ic wave years.

Pri­or to defeat­ing Gor­ton, Cantwell was a vice pres­i­dent at Real­Net­works. She joined the com­pa­ny after los­ing her U.S. House seat in the “Repub­li­can Rev­o­lu­tion” of 1994. A fun bit of elec­toral his­to­ry: Future Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee won Cantwell’s old seat back for the Democ­rats in 1998 and held it for over a decade. Vot­ers chose Suzan Del­Bene to replace Inslee in 2012 and have con­tin­ued to reelect her; Del­Bene now chairs the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, the cam­paign arm of the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic caucus.

Raul Gar­cia is a doc­tor with exten­sive expe­ri­ence in emer­gency med­i­cine. He was born in Cuba and emi­grat­ed to Spain at the age of eleven with his fam­i­ly to escape the Com­mu­nist regime of Fidel Cas­tro. They moved to Flori­da after suc­cess­ful­ly apply­ing for asy­lum from the Unit­ed States. Gar­cia is a grad­u­ate of both the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mia­mi and the New York Col­lege of Osteo­path­ic Med­i­cine. He ran for gov­er­nor in 2020 against Jay Inslee, but was elim­i­nat­ed in the Top Two elec­tion, which Inslee and for­mer Repub­lic police chief Loren Culp won.

Gar­cia was a guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date for sev­er­al weeks ear­li­er this year, but dropped out in favor of Dave Reichert when Reichert decid­ed to run. Gar­cia prompt­ly endorsed Reichert and jumped into the U.S. Sen­ate race as Cantwell’s oppo­nent, solv­ing a prob­lem for the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty, which had not at that point found a cred­i­ble chal­lenger to oppose Cantwell.

Gar­cia is endorsed by Reichert, for­mer Gov­er­nor Dan Evans (who is still a Repub­li­can despite what has hap­pened to his par­ty), for­mer Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rob McKen­na, for­mer State Sen­a­tor Dino Rossi, Pierce Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Bruce Dammeier, for­mer Sec­re­taries of State Ralph Munro and Sam Reed, and an impres­sive­ly long list of Repub­li­can state legislators.

Accord­ing to the lat­est data avail­able from the FEC, Gar­cia has raised $204,437.42 since he began cam­paign­ing in July. Cantwell, mean­while, has report­ed total receipts of $7,177,955.29 and con­tri­bu­tions of $6,521,143.09. Sen­a­tor Cantwell’s reelec­tion cam­paign is among the many finan­cial spon­sors of NPI’s research, but was not involved in the design or the field­ing of this survey.

Here is the full text of both ques­tions we asked and the answers we received:

QUESTION: If the elec­tion for Unit­ed States Sen­ate were being held today and the can­di­dates were Demo­c­rat Maria Cantwell and Repub­li­can Raul Gar­cia, who would you vote for?


  • Maria Cantwell: 51%
  • Raul Gar­cia: 38%
  • Not sure: 11%

Our sur­vey of 700 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Tues­day, Novem­ber 14th through Wednes­day, Novem­ber 15th, 2023.

The poll uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (42%) and online answers from respon­dents recruit­ed by text (58%).

It was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling (PPP) for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.7% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

Fol­low this link for addi­tion­al method­ol­o­gy details, includ­ing demo­graph­ic data.

NPI and PPP have worked togeth­er for a decade and have a track record of excel­lence, as detailed in this 2022 elec­toral polling recap and this 2020 one.

Corroborating data

This is the sec­ond time this week that a pub­licly-released poll find­ing has found Sen­a­tor Cantwell com­fort­ably ahead in the 2024 U.S. Sen­ate race.

The first was on Wednes­day, when Cross­cut pub­lished Elway Research’s lat­est statewide poll. That sur­vey found Cantwell ahead of Gar­cia by twen­ty points, with a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of respon­dents unde­cid­ed. Here’s the breakdown:

QUESTION: Cantwell cur­rent­ly has one declared oppo­nent. As things stand today, are you inclined to vote for…


  • Demo­c­rat Maria Cantwell: 43%
  • Repub­li­can Raul Gar­cia: 23%
  • A dif­fer­ent Demo­c­rat: 3%
  • A dif­fer­ent Repub­li­can: 6%
  • Unde­cid­ed: 25%

Elway’s sur­vey con­sists of 403 reg­is­tered vot­ers. 82 were inter­viewed on land­lines, 179 were inter­viewed on mobiles, and 133 were recruit­ed by text to take the sur­vey online. The mar­gin of error of the sur­vey is +/- 5%. The sur­vey field­ed from Octo­ber 30th — Novem­ber 3rd. Data is avail­able here.

Unlike in our poll, which was a very sim­ple head-to-head, Elway respon­dents were giv­en the addi­tion­al answer choic­es of “a dif­fer­ent Demo­c­rat” or “a dif­fer­ent Repub­li­can.” That’s not a design choice we would make in our ques­tion­naires, but as the say­ing goes, to each their own. Elway Research has a most­ly sol­id track record and we’re always hap­py to have their data avail­able to scrutinize.

We can see from the answers above that twice as many respon­dents picked “a dif­fer­ent Repub­li­can” than “a dif­fer­ent Demo­c­rat,” so the inclu­sion of those addi­tion­al options seems to have impact­ed Gar­cia more than Cantwell.

In our sur­vey, Gar­cia ben­e­fits from being the only option for Repub­li­can vot­ers, and Cantwell like­wise ben­e­fits from being the only option for Demo­c­ra­t­ic voters.

Sen­a­tor Cantwell is above fifty, which to us is the key indi­ca­tor — an incum­bent at or above fifty in an ear­ly poll is con­sid­ered to be in good shape for reelection.

And Gar­cia is right about where we’d antic­i­pate a Repub­li­can oppo­nent of Cantwell to be. The per­cent­age Gar­cia has in our sur­vey (which mir­rors Trump’s as men­tioned ear­li­er) is prob­a­bly much clos­er to the per­cent­age Gar­cia could con­ceiv­ably be expect­ed to get in next year’s gen­er­al elec­tion. It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that nei­ther polls or pun­dits can pre­dict elec­tions, but we can dis­cuss pos­si­ble out­comes using avail­able elec­toral and pub­lic opin­ion research data.

Last cycle (2021–2022) versus this cycle (2023–2024)

In the 2021–2022 cycle, our polling con­sis­tent­ly found Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray at or above fifty per­cent, with Repub­li­can chal­lenger Tiffany Smi­ley usu­al­ly behind by a dou­ble-dig­it mar­gin. Our final pre­elec­tion sur­vey put Mur­ray at 52% and Smi­ley at 42%, with 6% unde­cid­ed. Mur­ray sub­se­quent­ly picked up most of the not sure vot­ers and received 57.15% of the vote. Smi­ley got 42.63%.

Here in the 2023–2024 cycle, we’ve now found Sen­a­tor Cantwell above fifty per­cent three times: in March of this year, in June of this year, and now this month. Our March and June sur­veys pit­ted Cantwell against a hypo­thet­i­cal can­di­date, for­mer Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaime Her­rera Beutler.

Her­rera Beut­ler took a pass on run­ning for Sen­ate, but she is run­ning statewide in 2024, just for a dif­fer­ent office: Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands.

Now that Cantwell has a declared oppo­nent in Raul Gar­cia, we can final­ly start doing head-to-head polling between the can­di­dates Wash­ing­to­ni­ans are like­ly to see on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot next year for this office. As in 2022, we plan to con­tin­ue tak­ing the pulse of the Wash­ing­ton elec­torate. We’ll con­tin­ue to bring you find­ings in this mar­quee U.S. sen­ate con­test at key inter­vals in 2024.

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