NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

Senator Maria Cantwell: Defender of Bristol Bay salmon and wild places in America

The dull floor of the Unit­ed States Sen­ate was the scene in 2005 of a melt­down by Alaska’s then-senior Repub­li­can U.S. Sen­a­tor Ted Stevens, who had a pen­chant for vent­ing his hot tem­per to staff and press.

With glass­es twirling in his hand, Stevens threat­ened he would come out to Wash­ing­ton and cam­paign against the reelec­tion of Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell.

He ful­mi­nat­ed about how Wash­ing­ton’s Sen­ate del­e­ga­tion used to car­ry water for Alas­ka devel­op­ment projects, but no more.

Cantwell and Sen­a­tor Joe Lieber­man of Con­necti­cut had just spot­ted and side­tracked a care­ful­ly laid Stevens plan. He was going to use the Defense Autho­riza­tion Bill to sneak in an amend­ment autho­riz­ing oil devel­op­ment in Alaska’s Arc­tic Refuge. After all, nobody dared fil­i­buster a defense bill.

Except the “Gen­tle­la­dy from Washington.”

Stevens did fume against Cantwell dur­ing a Taco­ma visit.

He endorsed a big fundrais­er for her Repub­li­can chal­lenger Mike McGav­ick with Anchor­age movers and shak­ers. It raised $14,000-plus, every dol­lar of which McGav­ick had to return because sev­er­al atten­dees were part of a “Cor­rupt Bas­tards Club” under inves­ti­ga­tion for pur­chas­ing Alas­ka leg­is­la­tors.

Cantwell won reelec­tion in a walk.

Maria Cantwell hosting a healthcare town hall

Maria Cantwell smiles as she lis­tens to a con­stituent ques­tion at a health­care town hall (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

The “Gen­tle­la­dy” is a climber, in Sen­ate senior­i­ty and as one who has sum­mit­ed  Rainier and Kil­i­man­jaro – the sum­mit of Africa – and scaled the Grand Teton while fundrais­ing in Jack­son, Wyoming. Rich lib­er­al patrons live there.

Cantwell is also an envi­ron­men­tal war­rior of tenac­i­ty and tac­ti­cal skill. She helped win a big one last week, when the Army Corps of Engi­neers denied a per­mit to the pro­posed Peb­ble Mine, a giant open pit – with a mam­moth tail­ings dam – cheek-to-jowl with two of Bris­tol Bay’s most pro­duc­tive salmon rivers.

Cantwell has been on the case for years. She was a dri­ving force behind EPA Region X stud­ies, dur­ing the Oba­ma-Biden Admin­is­tra­tion, that probed dam­age that the mine could do to the world’s great­est sock­eye salmon fishery.

Ear­ly on, Cantwell advo­cat­ed using the Clean Water Act to block con­struc­tion of the mine, sit­ed about two hun­dred miles south­west of Anchorage.

Cantwell does not and did not speak with lyri­cal beau­ty about the envi­ron­ment. Instead, she totaled up the 14,000-plus jobs sup­port­ed by the com­mer­cial, native and sport fish­ery of Bris­tol Bay. She not­ed the Puget Sound fish­ing boats with a license to work Bris­tol Bay. She helped line up allies, from restau­rants and chefs to jew­el­ry firms (such as Tiffany and Ben Bridge) who pledged not to use met­als from the Peb­ble Mine. On “low­er 48” issues, she rat­tles off sta­tis­tics on con­tri­bu­tions of America’s recre­ation indus­try to the economy.

Cantwell has spe­cial­ized in long caus­es, not lost causes.

She has spent two decades cham­pi­oning the Land and Water Con­ser­va­tion Fund. It was cre­at­ed long ago (1964) by Wash­ing­ton Sen­a­tor Hen­ry “Scoop” Jack­son, allo­cat­ing $900 mil­lion a year from fed­er­al off­shore oil rev­enues to con­ser­va­tion and recre­ation projects across the country.

The fund has under­writ­ten projects from Seattle’s Lake Union to the Appalachi­an Trail. But Con­gress has often ignored LWCF, some­times robbed it to pay for oth­er projects, and even shame­ful­ly let it expire.

No more.

Cantwell is an archi­tect of the Great Amer­i­can Out­doors Act, passed by Con­gress this sum­mer, which has locked in the $900 mil­lion for LWCF. It has also put up $1.9 bil­lion a year to address the back­log of projects at America’s nation­al parks.

The bill was passed by a Repub­li­can-con­trolled Sen­ate. It pro­vid­ed a pro-envi­ron­ment cause for two Repub­li­can sen­a­tors up for reelec­tion, Sens. Cory Gard­ner of Col­orado (who lost) and Steve Daines of Mon­tana (who won). Cantwell was not invit­ed to the White House when Don­ald Trump signed the bill.

Cantwell and Lisa Murkows­ki, R‑Alaska, are furi­ous oppo­nents when it comes to the Arc­tic Refuge. Still, they are adults, and senior mem­bers of the Sen­ate Ener­gy and Nat­ur­al Resources Com­mit­tee. Where they can col­lab­o­rate, they do.

They put togeth­er an ear­li­er omnibus pub­lic lands bill, which con­tained projects spon­sored by no few­er than forty Sen­ate colleagues.

It pro­tect­ed new wilder­ness, notably in Ore­gon, and gave nation­al recog­ni­tion to Seattle’s Nordic Her­itage Museum.

Of great­est con­se­quence, how­ev­er, it put 311,000 acres of Washington’s Upper Methow Val­ley off-lim­its to min­ing explo­ration. The lands lie out­side the North Cas­cades Nation­al Park Com­plex, and do not have wilder­ness des­ig­na­tion. Cana­di­an min­ers want­ed to drill. They have been sent away.

The Repub­li­cans even­tu­al­ly found a way to unlock the Arc­tic Refuge, though a back­door amend­ment to their 2017 tax bill.

The amend­ment antic­i­pat­ed rev­enue from drilling in the Refuge.

Cantwell tried to strip it, los­ing on a 52–48 Sen­ate vote.

The Trump admin­is­tra­tion is try­ing to rush through a leas­ing sale in the Coastal Plain of the Refuge, like­ly a day or two before leav­ing office.

Will they get away with it? Oppo­nents are seek­ing to block drilling in court, using grounds that the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment has ignored impacts of Arc­tic oil devel­op­ment on cli­mate. Gwit’chin natives have filed one suit. Anoth­er is the work of Wash­ing­ton’s Bob Fer­gu­son and Mass­a­chu­setts Attor­ney Gen­er­al Mau­ra Healey.

But years of delay may stop drilling. “Big Oil” is wor­ried about low prices, high Arc­tic pro­duc­tion costs, and has watched dirty gas become a major ener­gy source fol­low­ing a frack­ing boom in states like North Dako­ta and Penn­syl­va­nia. The holy grail of Alaska’s drill-baby-drill politi­cians may turn out to be a dry hole.

Cantwell has fought a three-front war in Alas­ka. She has tried to hold up drilling in the Arc­tic Refuge, orga­nized the defense of Bris­tol Bay’s fish­ery, and sought to block the Trump admin­is­tra­tion from dump­ing the Road­less Rule and open­ing old-growth trees of the Ton­gass Nation­al For­est to indus­tri­al logging.

Joe Biden greets Maria Cantwell

Then Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden greets Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell at a cam­paign event in Octo­ber 2014 (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Cantwell is a busy law­mak­er. She sits on three A‑list com­mit­tees – Finance, Com­merce and Energy/Natural Resources – as well as less­er pan­els. She is a pol­i­cy wonk who tries to one-up aides work­ing on issues that inter­est her. She knows the Methow, from vis­its to Tom & Sonya Campion’s land at Maza­ma. On a trip to the Arc­tic Refuge, she has wit­nessed America’s great­est wilderness.

An anec­dote from the trip: Cantwell was using a spot­ting scope to find wildlife on a slope across the riv­er. She spot­ted a bar­ren ground griz­zly bear at the bot­tom of the slope, gazed upward and saw a wolverine.

“Is this unusu­al?” asked Cantwell.

It’s Cantwell who is unusual.

Monday, November 30th, 2020

House Public Safety Committee reviews ideas for police reform ahead of 2021 session

This after­noon, the House Pub­lic Safe­ty Com­mit­tee, along with speak­ers from a mul­ti­tude of orga­ni­za­tions and back­grounds, con­vened vir­tu­al­ly to dis­cuss pos­si­ble police reform mea­sures and leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als for the State of Wash­ing­ton.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Roger Good­man (D‑45th Dis­trict: Red­mond, Kirk­land, Wood­inville, Sam­mamish) chaired the meet­ing, which heard pre­sen­ta­tions from invit­ed guests.

Mem­bers of the Wash­ing­ton Coali­tion for Police Account­abil­i­ty (WCPA) voiced their grave con­cerns about ongo­ing police bru­tal­i­ty and vio­lence, par­tic­u­lar­ly against BIPOC indi­vid­u­als. WCPA mem­bers showed great uni­ty in demand­ing increased account­abil­i­ty and trans­paren­cy from law enforce­ment agencies.

The WCPA empha­sized the need for deesca­la­tion tac­tics pri­or to any use of lethal force. Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Brad Klip­pert argued that deesca­la­tion is not always pos­si­ble, espe­cial­ly in sit­u­a­tions where the offi­cer must act in self-defense.

Fol­low­ing this exchange, there was a brief dis­cus­sion about the use of choke­holds; with many speak­ers assert­ing that con­stric­tion tech­niques are inhu­mane and often result in peo­ple dying at the hands of police offi­cers. (NPI sup­ports out­law­ing the use of choke­holds by law enforcement.)

Pas­tor Wal­ter Kendricks, speak­ing on behalf of Wash­ing­ton for Black Lives, deliv­ered a short speech cit­ing both the Bible and the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence to dri­ve home the impor­tance of equal­i­ty before the law.

Both Anne Levin­son, a for­mer judge, and Tim Burgess, a for­mer Seat­tle city coun­cil pres­i­dent and inter­im may­or, out­lined frame­works for reform leg­is­la­tion. Some of the mea­sures con­tem­plat­ed include:

  • manda­to­ry base­line training
  • giv­ing a ver­bal warn­ing before using force
  • requir­ing all offi­cers to report mis­con­duct they see
  • increas­ing com­mu­ni­ty oversight

For­mer King Coun­ty Sher­iff Sue Rahr argued that pun­ish­ment alone will not spur mean­ing­ful change in law enforce­ment. Rahr says that a deep exam­i­na­tion of his­to­ry is nec­es­sary to break down the deeply biased belief sys­tems of individuals.

Speak­ing for peo­ple work­ing in law enforce­ment, mem­bers from the Wash­ing­ton Asso­ci­a­tion of Sher­iffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC), the Wash­ing­ton Coun­cil of Police and Sher­iffs (WACOPS), Wash­ing­ton Fra­ter­nal Order of Police, and Wash­ing­ton State Patrol Troop­ers Asso­ci­a­tion out­lined ways in which they planned to assist and abide by cur­rent and pro­posed legislation.

James McMa­han from WASPC told law­mak­ers it is vital­ly impor­tant that we adopt a statewide stan­dard­ized train­ing pro­gram con­cern­ing use of force, which he said should include edu­ca­tion on implic­it bias and his­to­ry of race and law enforce­ment, tying into ear­li­er points made by for­mer Sher­iff Sue Rahr.

Reform advo­cates are par­tic­u­lar­ly keen to abol­ish pri­vate arbi­tra­tion in tri­als of offi­cers who have been sus­pend­ed or fired for mis­con­duct. In 52% of cas­es, pri­vate arbi­tra­tors have reduced or over­turned offi­cer dis­ci­pline, while in 42% of cas­es arbi­tra­tors have ordered law enforce­ment lead­ers to rehire officers.

All the speak­ers agreed that appeals should be open to pub­lic scruti­ny and be guid­ed by polic­ing stan­dards, which has not been the case in the past.

Requir­ing greater trans­paren­cy could help rebuild shat­tered pub­lic con­fi­dence in law enforce­ment agen­cies and allow sys­temic racism to be more effec­tive­ly con­front­ed. House Pub­lic Safe­ty Chair Roger Good­man promised as he end­ed the meet­ing to con­tin­ue review­ing the ideas pre­sent­ed so that the Leg­is­la­ture can be ready to move mean­ing­ful leg­is­la­tion in the 2021 leg­isla­tive session.

Monday, November 30th, 2020

Washington State Senate Democrats unveil their 2021 standing committee assignments

The increas­ing­ly diverse Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus has announced its com­mit­tee assign­ments for the 2021–2022 leg­isla­tive bien­ni­um, hav­ing once again secured a sol­id major­i­ty with which to govern.

The cau­cus will remain twen­ty-eight mem­bers strong for the next leg­isla­tive ses­sion, owing to long­time incum­bent Dean Takko’s defeat in the coastal 19th Dis­trict and chal­lenger T’wina Nobles’ vic­to­ry in the sub­ur­ban 28th District.

“I am proud of the work Sen­ate Democ­rats have done in putting peo­ple first in recent years,” said Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Andy Bil­lig (D‑2nd Dis­trict: Spokane).

“The pan­dem­ic has chal­lenged our state like nev­er before and this upcom­ing ses­sion will be unlike any oth­er,” Bil­lig added, allud­ing to the Sen­ate’s plan to work remote­ly in a most­ly dis­trib­uted fash­ion. “I am con­fi­dent that we have the team to meet these chal­lenges head on and do our part in help­ing all Wash­ing­to­ni­ans bat­tle back stronger than before.”

The East­side of King Coun­ty’s all Demo­c­ra­t­ic del­e­ga­tion will have even more clout in the 2021 ses­sion, as Sen­a­tor Lisa Well­man is join­ing the all-impor­tant Ways & Means Com­mit­tee, which Sen­a­tors Man­ka Dhin­gra (a North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion board­mem­ber) and Mark Mul­let already serve on.

Well­man will con­tin­ue to chair Ear­ly Learn­ing & K‑12 Edu­ca­tion, while Dhin­gra will con­tin­ue to chair Beha­vo­r­ial Health. Mul­let will con­tin­ue to head the finan­cial ser­vices com­mit­tee, now dubbed Busi­ness, Finan­cial Ser­vices, & Trade.

Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Kud­er­er, mean­while, will remain chair of Hous­ing & Local Gov­ern­ment and retain her posi­tion on the pow­er­ful Rules Committee.

Kud­er­er rep­re­sents the 48th Dis­trict, Well­man rep­re­sents the 41st, Dhin­gra rep­re­sents the 45th, and Mul­let rep­re­sents the 5th (pre­sum­ing a recount that begins tomor­row affirms that he won reelection).

Sen­a­tor-elect T’wina Nobles, the only Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger to win a race in 2020, will serve on four key com­mit­tees: Ear­ly Learn­ing & K‑12 Edu­ca­tion (as one of Well­man’s Vice Chairs), High­er Edu­ca­tion & Work­force Devel­op­ment (as Sen­a­tor Emi­ly Ran­dal­l’s Vice Chair), Behav­io­r­i­al Health, and Transportation.

Sen­ate com­mit­tees will typ­i­cal­ly meet dur­ing four times­lots in 2021:

  • 8 to 10 AM
  • 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM
  • 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
  • 4 PM to 6 PM

Buffers have been built into the com­mit­tee sched­ule to accom­mo­date a vir­tu­al meet­ing for­mat. Some com­mit­tees will meet twice a week, while oth­ers (includ­ing Trans­porta­tion and Ways & Means) will have three meet­ings per week.

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic com­mit­tee on com­mit­tees pro­pos­al can be read in its entire­ty below. As Democ­rats have a major­i­ty in the Sen­ate, they have the votes to adopt their pro­posed com­mit­tee struc­ture, but the com­mit­tee ros­ters will not be com­plete until Repub­li­cans respond and announce their assignments.

Demo­c­ra­t­ic com­mit­tee on com­mit­tees pro­pos­al for the 2021 session

There will also be a few lead­er­ship changes for 2021. Emi­ly Ran­dall is becom­ing the Major­i­ty Whip, while Sen­a­tor Bob Hasegawa will serve as Major­i­ty Cau­cus Chair. Sen­a­tor Mona Das will become the Assis­tant Major­i­ty Whip.

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

Washington’s thirty-nine counties certify the (almost record setting) 2020 general election

With the excep­tion of a few recounts and the state cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process, the 2020 gen­er­al elec­tion is in the books. Wash­ing­ton State’s thir­ty-nine coun­ties today cer­ti­fied their returns, com­plet­ing the vote count­ing phase of the state’s 2020 pres­i­den­tial gen­er­al elec­tion. Vot­er turnout reached 84.14% — not quite as high as the 2008 gen­er­al elec­tion twelve years ago, but pret­ty close to a record.

A total of 4,116,894 bal­lots were count­ed in this elec­tion; 4,892,871 vot­ers were reg­is­tered and eli­gi­ble to par­tic­i­pate, accord­ing to the state vot­er rolls.

San Juan Coun­ty earned brag­ging rights for the high­est turnout of any coun­ty, with 90.76% par­tic­i­pa­tion, trailed hot­ly by NPI Pres­i­dent Diane Jones’ home coun­ty of Jef­fer­son with 90.06%. (Jef­fer­son and San Juan are, along with King Coun­ty, the state’s three reli­ably lib­er­al strongholds.)

Round­ing out the top ten were Garfield, Colum­bia, What­com, Lin­coln, Kit­ti­tas, Wahkakum, and Skag­it, which all came in between 86% and 89%.

King Coun­ty came in four­teenth in terms of turnout, with 85.35%. King Coun­ty Elec­tions Direc­tor Julie Wise had set an auda­cious goal of 90% turnout, which was not real­ized. Still, the coun­ty saw its best ever performance.

“Out of 1.4 mil­lion reg­is­tered vot­ers in King Coun­ty, 86.67% turned out this elec­tion, break­ing the last record of 85% in 2012,” King Coun­ty Elec­tions announced in a press release cel­e­brat­ing the end of counting.

“This year over 909,000 (73.9%) vot­ers returned their bal­lots to bal­lot drop box­es, with more than 307,000 (24.98%) return­ing by mail and over 13,500 (1.1%) by fax. A lit­tle over 10,000 (0.85%) bal­lots were reject­ed for sig­na­ture issues, and 707 (0.06%) were returned too late, mak­ing up just 0.91% of total ballots.”

Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton’s Yaki­ma Coun­ty again came in last in terms of turnout, with 75.95% par­tic­i­pa­tion. Adams, Franklin, Grays Har­bor, Grant, Asotin, Spokane, Ska­ma­nia, and Ben­ton are the oth­er coun­ties in the bot­tom ten.

While vot­ing over­whelm­ing­ly against Don­ald Trump, vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State opt­ed to keep every incum­bent who sought reelec­tion in the state’s exec­u­tive depart­ment, with the lone excep­tion of Repub­li­can State Trea­sur­er Duane David­son, who was oust­ed in favor of Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Mike Pellicciotti.

Vot­ers also returned all of the incum­bent jus­tices to the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court (two were guber­na­to­r­i­al appointees) and enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly affirmed the Leg­is­la­ture’s pas­sage of ESSB 5395, Wash­ing­ton’s new com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion law, which was a 2020 NPI leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ty.

The Leg­is­la­ture will have the same bal­ance of pow­er that it had in 2019–2020, with the over­all cau­cus num­bers unchanged, though some Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can incum­bents were sent pack­ing (Repub­li­cans flipped the 19th Dis­trict, while Democ­rats flipped the 28th and also took a seat in the 42nd.)

The House and Sen­ate’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus­es will be more pro­gres­sive and the Repub­li­can cau­cus­es will be more fun­da­men­tal­ist as a result, though the arch­mil­i­tant Matt Shea will no longer be a state legislator.

In King Coun­ty’s 5th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, incum­bent Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Mark Mul­let end­ed the count­ing with a fifty-sev­en vote lead out of over 90,000 votes cast, tri­umph­ing over fel­low Demo­c­rat Ingrid Ander­son by the slimmest of mar­gins. A recount in that race is expect­ed to begin next week.

In Pierce Coun­ty, vot­ers elect­ed a Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty for the first time in near­ly two decades, which will sig­nif­i­cant­ly change the dynam­ics in Wash­ing­ton’s sec­ond largest coun­ty. Pierce Coun­ty will con­tin­ue to have a Repub­li­can exec­u­tive, how­ev­er, as Bruce Dammeier defeat­ed Lar­ry Seaquist to earn a sec­ond term.

This year’s rate of par­tic­i­pa­tion was like the day to 2019’s night.

In the 2019 gen­er­al elec­tion, only 2,035,401 Wash­ing­to­ni­ans returned bal­lots. More than twice that num­ber vot­ed this year, which real­ly under­scores the point we’ve been mak­ing about the impor­tance of phas­ing out odd-year elec­tions. Par­tic­i­pa­tion mat­ters. There’s an enor­mous dif­fer­ence between a gen­er­al elec­tion in which over 84% of vot­ers par­tic­i­pate ver­sus an elec­tion in which only 45.19% par­tic­i­pate (as was the case last year), or 37.10% (as was the case in 2017).

Our south­ern neigh­bor Ore­gon and our north­ern neigh­bor British Colum­bia both hold state/provincial elec­tions less fre­quent­ly than we do. It’s time we rec­og­nized that see­saw­ing between real­ly great turnout in even num­bered years and real­ly bad turnout in odd num­bered years is dumb. Let’s hold elec­tions in even num­bered years like 2020 and ensure local elec­tions get the same robust par­tic­i­pa­tion that pres­i­den­tial and midterm elec­tions already do.

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

Formal transition to Biden-Harris begins as GSA finally recognizes Democratic victory

After weeks of need­less delay, Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden and Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Kamala Har­ris have final­ly been rec­og­nized by the fed­er­al Gen­er­al Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion (GSA) as the legit­i­mate vic­tors of the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, a des­ig­na­tion that allows the offi­cial tran­si­tion process to begin in earnest, with less than two months to go until Don­ald Trump is out of office.

The Trump appoint­ed GSA Admin­is­tra­tor Emi­ly Mur­phy, who has the author­i­ty to release sev­er­al mil­lion dol­lars in funds to sup­port the tran­si­tion, noti­fied Pres­i­dent-elect Biden of her deci­sion after elec­tion offi­cials in Michi­gan vot­ed to cer­ti­fy the results, and after the Penn­syl­va­nia Supreme Court turned back anoth­er Trump cam­paign legal chal­lenge to the results in the Key­stone State.

“As the Admin­is­tra­tor of the U.S. Gen­er­al Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion, I have the abil­i­ty under the Pres­i­den­tial Tran­si­tion Act of 1963, as amend­ed, to make cer­tain post-elec­tion resources and ser­vices avail­able to assist in the event of a pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion,” Mur­phy’s let­ter began.

“I take this role seri­ous­ly and because of recent devel­op­ments involv­ing legal chal­lenges and cer­tifi­ca­tions of elec­tion results, am trans­mit­ting this let­ter today to make those resources and ser­vices avail­able to you.”

The rest of the let­ter, except for the clos­ing line, attempts to jus­ti­fy why this deci­sion was not made soon­er, and com­plains that Mur­phy has been the tar­get of “thou­sands of threats” from Amer­i­cans upset by her refusal to do her job.

Emi­ly Mur­phy’s let­ter to Joe Biden

Yohannes Abra­ham, the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Biden-Har­ris Tran­si­tion, wel­comed the deci­sion, char­ac­ter­iz­ing it as very much needed.

“The GSA Admin­is­tra­tor has ascer­tained Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden and Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Kamala Har­ris as the appar­ent win­ners of the elec­tion, pro­vid­ing the incom­ing Admin­is­tra­tion with the resources and sup­port nec­es­sary to car­ry out a smooth and peace­ful trans­fer of pow­er,” said Abra­ham in a statement.

“Today’s deci­sion is a need­ed step to begin tack­ling the chal­lenges fac­ing our nation, includ­ing get­ting the pan­dem­ic under con­trol and our econ­o­my back on track. This final deci­sion is a defin­i­tive admin­is­tra­tive action to for­mal­ly begin the tran­si­tion process with fed­er­al agen­cies. In the days ahead, tran­si­tion offi­cials will begin meet­ing with fed­er­al offi­cials to dis­cuss the pan­dem­ic response, have a full account­ing of our nation­al secu­ri­ty inter­ests, and gain com­plete under­stand­ing of the Trump administration’s efforts to hol­low out gov­ern­ment agencies.”

Pri­or to Mur­phy’s deci­sion, Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray had added her voice to the cho­rus call­ing on the GSA to get a move on and stop dithering.

“Your agency’s mis­sion is to ensure the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has the prod­ucts, ser­vices, and facil­i­ties it needs to serve the pub­lic,” Mur­ray told Murphy.

“Yet, you are choos­ing to put polit­i­cal loy­al­ty ahead of pub­lic health and safe­ty by refus­ing to make a deter­mi­na­tion of ascer­tain­ment to begin a for­mal tran­si­tion of pow­er to the President-elect.”

“By delay­ing the start of the for­mal tran­si­tion, you are imped­ing the abil­i­ty of the incom­ing admin­is­tra­tion to receive access to resources and per­son­nel. Such a delay could ham­per the fed­er­al response to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, which has already claimed over 250,000 lives,” Mur­ray observed.

“It is com­plete­ly unac­cept­able to delay the crit­i­cal work to save lives, improve edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents, or ensure work­ers are safe and healthy and fam­i­lies are able to make a liv­ing dur­ing this cri­sis,” the Sen­a­tor added.

The Biden-Har­ris tran­si­tion team has so far been oper­at­ing with­out fed­er­al fund­ing and with­out an offi­cial­ly oper­at­ed U.S. gov­ern­ment web­site. With Mur­phy’s deter­mi­na­tion, that is now set to change.

A grow­ing num­ber of Repub­li­can elect­ed offi­cials and busi­ness titans, jus­ti­fi­ably con­cerned that Trump’s refusal to con­cede could impede the trans­fer of pow­er to the Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion, had also been call­ing on Mur­phy to rec­og­nize the deci­sion made by the Amer­i­can peo­ple and release the funds need­ed to kick the tran­si­tion into high­er gear. Today, that lob­by­ing paid off.

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

The Biden-Harris administration takes shape with the announcement of key appointees

As Don­ald Trump con­tin­ues to deny the fact that he is com­ing to the end of his time in the White House, Joe Biden is rapid­ly putting togeth­er a team to replace the four year long real­i­ty TV show that has been the Trump presidency.

Over the past week, the Biden tran­si­tion team has been appoint­ing staffers and mulling over can­di­dates for a pres­i­den­tial cab­i­net that will, in the words of the Pres­i­­­dent-elect, “look like Amer­i­ca”.

Biden seems set to meet that pledge.

Of the ten offi­cial appoint­ments he has so far made to offices in the West Wing, half are women and about a third are peo­ple of col­or – com­pare that to Don­ald Trump’s over­whelm­ing­ly white and male cab­i­net.

Many of the appointees come from “Biden­world,” the tight cir­cle of friends, advi­sors and loy­al­ists that have sur­round­ed the Pres­i­­­dent-elect for decades.

Every mem­ber of the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion who has so far been named has worked under Biden, either dur­ing his time as Vice Pres­i­dent or in his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign (or both). While spec­u­la­tion has swirled about nom­i­nees for cab­i­net posi­tions, Biden has so far focused on fill­ing the offices of the White House.

This is a sim­ple polit­i­cal cal­cu­lus: the Sen­ate (which has the pow­er to con­firm or deny major cab­i­net appoint­ments) could be hos­tile to the incom­ing admin­is­tra­tion, depend­ing on what hap­pens in the Geor­gia runoffs, so Biden wants to assem­ble his West Wing team to strate­gize before launch­ing into gru­el­ing con­fir­ma­tion bat­tles in the upper cham­ber of Congress.

Biden will for­mal­ly intro­duce sev­er­al Cab­i­net picks on Tues­day. His cam­paign released a list of nom­i­nees today for impor­tant Cab­i­net and diplo­mat­ic or nation­al secu­ri­ty posi­tions, which con­sists of the following:

  • Antony Blinken, Sec­re­tary of State
  • Ale­jan­dro May­orkas, Sec­re­tary of Home­land Security
  • Avril Haines, Direc­tor of Nation­al Intelligence
  • Lin­da Thomas-Green­field, U.S. Ambas­sador to the Unit­ed Nations
  • Jake Sul­li­van, Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advisor
  • John Ker­ry, Spe­cial Pres­i­den­tial Envoy for Climate

Biden has not only promised diver­si­ty, but has also indi­cat­ed that his will be a “cli­mate admin­is­tra­tion.” The Biden team plan to tack­le cli­mate change “straight out of the box,” in the words of Sen­a­tor Tom Udall of New Mex­i­co. Udall and oth­er insid­ers have told reporters that cli­mate pol­i­cy will not only be the focus of a few key agen­cies, but rather “a whole gov­ern­ment approach,” and that the key ques­tion for each Cab­i­net appointee will be “is this per­son climate-ambitious?”

As a result of this focus, many of the most like­ly can­di­dates for Cab­i­net posi­tions have encour­ag­ing records on climate.

While all of these poten­tial picks are sources of encour­age­ment to pro­gres­sives, cli­mate activists have sound­ed a note of caution.

Of par­tic­u­lar con­cern for activists is the appoint­ment of Cedric Rich­mond to over­see the new administration’s pub­lic outreach.

Rich­mond, a con­gress­man from Louisiana, is one of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party’s largest recip­i­ents of fos­sil fuel mon­ey, and fre­quent­ly votes against his Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­leagues when it helps the inter­ests of oil and gas com­pa­nies – despite rep­re­sent­ing one of the most bad­­­ly-pol­­­lut­ed areas of the coun­try.

The Sun­rise Movement’s exec­u­tive direc­tor Varshi­ni Prakash (who is a mem­ber of Biden’s pol­i­cy task­force) described Richmond’s appoint­ment as a “betray­al.”

Of equal or greater con­cern is the pos­si­ble renom­i­na­tion of Ernest Moniz to the role of Ener­gy Sec­re­tary, a job he held from 2013 to 2017. Moniz has exten­sive ties to the ener­gy indus­try, and cur­rent­ly serves on the board of a com­pa­ny that spent the Oba­ma years fil­ing law­suits against emis­sions regulations.

Pro­gres­sives should applaud Pres­i­­­dent-elect Biden’s deter­mi­na­tion to make cli­mate change the focus of his admin­is­tra­tion; it is, after all, the great­est threat fac­ing human­i­ty. At the same time, though, we must be on our guard, and chal­lenge any back­slid­ing on cli­mate action and cli­mate jus­tice by Biden’s team.

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020

Jay Pearson, 1948–2020: Mellow manager of Democrats’ victories and comebacks helped build Washington’s governing party

The punch-in-the-gut phone call came mid­day last Sat­ur­day from friend Jeff Smith. We had lost Jay Pear­son, a friend since he turned out young can­vassers for Sen­a­tor George McGovern’s 1972 pres­i­den­tial campaign.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, due to the accursed pan­dem­ic, there can be no gath­er­ing of friends, lift­ing cups togeth­er and telling sto­ries. Zoom is no substitute.

Instead of griev­ing, I leaned back, closed my eyes, and remem­bered Jay’s role as builder/nurturer of Washington’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty for almost half-a-century.

The book­ends of Jay’s involve­ment began with cham­pi­oning Sen­a­tor McGovern’s anti-war can­di­da­cy as a Young Demo­c­rat in Everett, home­town of Sen­a­tor Hen­ry “Scoop” Jack­son, McGovern’s hawk­ish rival for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion. The final time Jay tuned in was on a Zoom call with friends cel­e­brat­ing Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden.

The 1972 Demo­c­ra­t­ic race saw a con­fronta­tion between old-school Democ­rats and the insur­gent McCarthy-Kennedy-McGov­ern wing of the party.

With state con­ven­tion shenani­gans, Jack­son forces pre­vailed here. “Lone­some George” car­ried the day at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Convention.

The rivals of spring had to work togeth­er that fall. Wash­ing­ton was a tar­get state for McGov­ern. Lone­some George paid us four vis­its, run­ning mate Sar­gent Shriv­er was here twice, and Eleanor McGov­ern watched her hus­band speak on Viet­nam at a low-bud­get fundrais­er in a school lunch­room at Blessed Sacra­ment parish.

Jay Pear­son was the McGov­ern coor­di­na­tor who put boots on the ground and decid­ed where to deploy them. He gift­ed a sense of humor to the ten­sion of set­ting up can­di­date events, notably when a grumpy Jack­son was thrust into intro­duc­ing McGov­ern at a Seat­tle Cen­ter rally.

Sen­a­tor War­ren Mag­nu­son was tit­u­lar chair of the cam­paign here. When it was over, Maggie’s aides recruit­ed Jay to work on the senator’s 1974 campaign.

Mag­nu­son was run­ning for a sixth term.

He didn’t walk very well. Still, it was Jay who sug­gest­ed how he would run: “Young, lib­er­al and for the peo­ple.” Mag­gie had come out for an end to the Viet­nam War, was oppos­ing the anti-bal­lis­tic mis­sile. He mum­bled wicked­ly fun­ny jokes about Nixon. Mag­nu­son was reelect­ed in a walk.

The liberal/activist wing was ascen­dant in the King Coun­ty Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. Jay was embarked on a thir­ty-five year col­lab­o­ra­tion with coun­ty (and future state) Chair Karen Mar­chioro. Jay moved on and up, man­ag­ing Jim­my Carter’s 1976 cam­paign in the state. Two years lat­er, Jay was man­ag­ing the shoe­string cam­paign for Con­gress of for­mer Belling­ham broad­cast­er Al Swift.

Swift was an under­dog, to Jackson’s press sec­re­tary Bri­an Cor­co­ran in the pri­ma­ry, and to Repub­li­can John Nance Gar­ner, who had near­ly knocked off retir­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lloyd Meeds.

The cam­paign was run out of the back of a bar­ber­shop. Its min­i­mal tele­vi­sion bud­get was spent on “60 Min­utes.” A big boost came when Jay leaked (to the Post-Intel­li­gencer) a Gar­ner “game plan”. It treat­ed the can­di­date as a ser­vant of his man­ag­er, with such instruc­tions as nev­er hold­ing a drink in his right hand.

Why not? To avoid a “wet and clam­my handshake.”

Jay became Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Swift’s dis­trict direc­tor, at a time when the 2nd Dis­trict stretched from the Cana­di­an bor­der to the Olympic Penin­su­la. A coun­ter­part, work­ing for Tom Foley, once defined the job as “keep­ing the boss out of trouble.”

Jay took the oppo­site approach, keep­ing Swift ahead of any trouble.

A self-described “great indoors­man,” Al became a major archi­tect of the 1984 Wash­ing­ton wilder­ness bill. Per­pet­u­al­ly dis­sat­is­fied Bel­lling­ham activists found Mount Bak­er, Noisy Diob­sud and Bound­er Riv­er Wilder­ness Areas in their back­yards. Al Swift’s first hike was through mag­nif­i­cent cedar forests of the Boul­der Riv­er. Arriv­ing at the trail­head, Al asked: “Do you have a sedan chair?”

Swift was kept out ahead.

He voiced doubts about Puget Power’s (now Puget Sound Ener­gy) giant pro­posed Skag­it Nuclear Project, just before UW sci­en­tists dis­cov­ered an active earth­quake fault in the area. Swift came out against Seat­tle City Light’s pro­pos­al for a fourth dam on the Skag­it Riv­er, which would have wiped out salmon spawn­ing habitat.

The 1980 elec­tion was a disaster.

Swift was reelect­ed, but Carter lost. Mag­gie lost.

A Repub­li­can was (for the last time) elect­ed Gov­er­nor in Wash­ing­ton State.

The Repub­li­cans took over the Legislature.

The night after the elec­tion, Pear­son was at The Pines Tav­ern in Everett, telling dis­con­so­late young vol­un­teer Kevin Hamil­ton that this, too, shall pass.

Today, Hamil­ton is one of the Democ­rats’ crack nation­al elec­tion lawyers, work­ing on the par­ty’s behalf to scru­ti­nize the Biden-Trump recount in Georgia.

The Democ­rats, with Mar­chioro as state chair, came back – big time.

They retook the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 1982, retook the Governor’s office with Booth Gard­ner in 1984, defeat­ed Sen­a­tor Slade Gor­ton in 1986, and car­ried the state for Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Michael Dukakis in 1988. The state hasn’t elect­ed a Repub­li­can gov­er­nor since 1980, and it has­n’t vot­ed for a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date since 1984.

Jay could lift his cups at The Pines, or lat­er after work at the New Orleans Café in Pio­neer Square, with Mar­chioro and par­ty exec­u­tive direc­tor Jeff Smith.

Away from work, how­ev­er, Jay had a life. He was a gourmet cook.

He would duck down to Ash­land, Ore­gon, for Shake­speare performances.

Jay was state direc­tor for the 1992 Clin­ton-Gore cam­paign, nur­tur­ing two more future tal­ents – Josh Drew and Rick Des­i­mone – and hand­i­ly car­ry­ing the state.

With a new admin­is­tra­tion in office, young Democ­rats of the 1970s entered gov­ern­ment. Jay became Region 10 direc­tor of the Gen­er­al Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion, Gretchen Soren­son went to work for the U.S. Depart­ment of Com­merce as region­al boss of the Small Busi­ness Administration.

Jay immersed him­self in build­ing man­age­ment, learned that the GSA could do a lot to ease stress­es on fed­er­al employ­ees, and improve work­ing con­di­tions for fed­er­al judges and juries. A cap­stone came when the SBA offered a small busi­ness export assis­tance cen­ter in Seattle.

Who should show up but Repub­li­can U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jack Met­calf, who had called for abo­li­tion of the U.S. Depart­ment of Commerce?

“(Jay) not only made mul­ti­tudes of friends among his staff and also among the fed­er­al work­ers through­out the North­west, espe­cial­ly among the fed­er­al judges who sat on the courts here,” said Jeff Smith.

The Supreme Court’s post-2000 elec­tion deci­sion gave us Pres­i­dent George W. Bush. Still, Rick Larsen recap­tured Swift’s old U.S. House seat, and Maria Cantwell sent Sen­a­tor Gor­ton pack­ing a sec­ond time (with assis­tance on pro­vi­sion­al bal­lots from super lawyer Kevin Hamil­ton). Jay Pear­son took on anoth­er task, as man­ag­er of con­stituent ser­vices for Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell.

He did his job too well. Cantwell’s office became the go-to place for knot­ty immi­gra­tion dis­putes and prob­lems of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans stuck in for­eign coun­tries. Jay had one more, unspo­ken, role. The Sen­a­tor is a demand­ing boss.

“(Jay) was my every­day calm, steady-Eddie in Cantwell’s office, and just a beau­ti­ful soul,” remem­bered cowork­er Bill Dunbar.

In retire­ment, Jay host­ed annu­al Swift staff reunions, set­ting a splen­did table.

A friend dat­ing from 1972, Tere­sa McMahill, noted:

“A sim­ple but won­der­ful Jay-the-gourmet cre­ation I’ll always remem­ber is his Grand Marnier with blue­ber­ries and can­taloupe salad.”

Jay’s was a life well-lived, from which activists can take lessons.

He hung in there work­ing off great vic­to­ries, and the occa­sion­al shel­lack­ing (1980, 1994, and 2010). He helped rebuild and regain lost territories.

He nur­tured young talent.

He nev­er lost per­spec­tive and o sense of humor, even get­ting Al Swift to laugh off a bloop­er in which Mag­gie referred to the con­gress­man as “your man Al Smith.”

I can well remem­ber Jay inter­ven­ing to break up a furi­ous argu­ment over the pro­posed Gate­way Pacif­ic coal export ter­mi­nal, pit­ting a pro-coal port labor leader against a green Belling­ham envi­ron­men­tal activist. The coal port was killed thanks to oppo­si­tion from the Lum­mi Indi­an Nation.

A final sto­ry: Mar­chioro, Smith and Pear­son were enjoy­ing a liba­tion at the New Orleans Café. A King Coun­ty Cour­t­house con­tin­gent arrived, full of itself. At vot­ers’ direc­tion, the King Coun­ty Coun­cil was being reduced from thir­teen to nine seats. The cour­t­house insid­ers were chuck­ling that they’d just drawn bound­aries to elim­i­nate the dis­trict of a first-term Demo­c­ra­t­ic coun­cilmem­ber who’d backed the shrink­ing of the Coun­cil, a mea­sure cham­pi­oned by the jail guards’ union.

Karen, Jeff and Jay lis­tened to talk at the neigh­bor­ing table, adjourned one by one to the next room, and hit the phones.

They tipped off off a friend in the press, called pro­gres­sive activists they knew, and got word to the tar­get­ed councilmember.

That coun­cilmem­ber was Bob Fer­gu­son. He moved, unseat­ed a sup­pos­ed­ly pro­tect­ed incum­bent, and picked the New Orleans Café to cel­e­brate his reelection.

The rest is history.

Karen, Jeff and Jay rec­og­nized tal­ent. They had fun doing good.

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (November 16th-20th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, Novem­ber 20th.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

EXPANDING FEDERALLY FUNDED APPRENTICESHIPS: Vot­ing 246 for and 140 against, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Novem­ber 20th passed a bill (H.R. 8294) that would autho­rize $3.5 bil­lion over five years to expand fed­er­al­ly fund­ed appren­tice­ship programs.

While the bill would pre­pare work­ers for jobs in tra­di­tion­al indus­tries such as man­u­fac­tur­ing, trans­porta­tion and con­struc­tion, it also would fund instruc­tion and on-the-job train­ing for spe­cial­ized fields such as ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­tion, advanced health care and green energy.

In addi­tion, the bill would pro­mote work oppor­tu­ni­ties for per­sons with diverse back­grounds and crim­i­nal records tra­di­tion­al­ly left out of appren­tice­ship programs.

The bill drew Repub­li­can oppo­si­tion, in part, because it would quash Trump’s Indus­try Rec­og­nized Appren­tice­ship Pro­grams (IRAPs), which receive fed­er­al fund­ing but oper­ate with few reg­u­la­tions and are not wel­com­ing to unions.

Jahana Hayes, D‑Connecticut, said the bill “would cre­ate one mil­lion appren­tice­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties… with an aver­age start­ing salary after com­ple­tion of around $70,000” free of of stu­dent debt.

“It ensures busi­ness­es can fill key vacan­cies with cre­den­tialed, skilled employ­ees — in short, putting peo­ple back to work,” Hayes said.

Vir­ginia Foxx, R‑North Car­oli­na, said the bill “rein­forces the idea, there’s only one way to do things, the gov­ern­men­t’s way. When will the Democ­rats learn that the Amer­i­can peo­ple are not inter­est­ed in gov­ern­ment-man­dat­ed social­ist poli­cies. Once again, Democ­rats are choos­ing to bend to the will of ‘big labor’ instead of putting Amer­i­can work­ers first.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan Newhouse

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 5 nay votes, 1 not voting

DEFEATING REPUBLICAN APPRENTICESHIPS PLAN: Vot­ing 142 for and 243 against, the House on Novem­ber 20th defeat­ed a Repub­li­can alter­na­tive to HR 8294 (above). The amend­ment sought to shift the focus of fed­er­al­ly fund­ed appren­tice­ships from Depart­ment of Labor-reg­is­tered pro­grams, which issue nation­al­ly rec­og­nized work cre­den­tials and allow exten­sive union involve­ment, toward region­al busi­ness-run Indus­try Rec­og­nized Appren­tice­ship Programs.

IRAPs receive tax­pay­er fund­ing but oper­ate with few fed­er­al rules and dimin­ished or non-exis­tent union par­tic­i­pa­tion. The Repub­li­can mea­sure also would slash fund­ing lev­els in the under­ly­ing bill and end coor­di­na­tion between the depart­ments of labor and edu­ca­tion in struc­tur­ing apprenticeships.

Vir­ginia Foxx, R‑North Car­oli­na, said the Repub­li­can alter­na­tive removes “bar­ri­ers that have developed…in the cur­rent [eighty-year-old] sys­tem, cre­ates par­i­ty between union and non-union spon­sored pro­grams and makes it eas­i­er for every­one to par­tic­i­pate, par­tic­u­lar­ly the small businesses.…”

Bob­by Scott, D‑Virginia, said the pro­pos­al backed by Foxx and her col­leagues “under­mines the core premise…to cre­ate one mil­lion more [appren­tice­ships] over the next five years. There is a 77 per­cent reduc­tion in fund­ing” in the Repub­li­can plan, “result­ing in only 219,000 mil­lion new appren­tice­ship opportunities.…”

A yes vote was to adopt the Repub­li­can plan.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden

Vot­ing Nay (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Vot­ing Nay (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan Newhouse

Cas­ca­dia total: 5 aye votes, 11 nay votes, 1 not voting

BLOCKING JUDY SHELTON AS FED GOVERNOR: Vot­ing 47 for and 50 against, the Sen­ate on Novem­ber 17th failed to advance the nom­i­na­tion of lib­er­tar­i­an econ­o­mist Judy L. Shel­ton, 66, to the Fed­er­al Reserve Sys­tem Board of Gov­er­nors. But Repub­li­cans left open the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a revote this year on her appoint­ment to the sev­en-mem­ber board that sets U.S. mon­e­tary policy.

Shel­ton served under Don­ald Trump as U.S. envoy to the Euro­pean Bank for Recon­struc­tion and Devel­op­ment. She has been affil­i­at­ed with con­ser­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions includ­ing the Hoover Insti­tu­tion and the Atlas Net­work and numer­ous “sound mon­ey” and “free mar­ket” causes.

Although Shel­ton pre­sent­ed her­self to the Sen­ate as an ortho­dox econ­o­mist, she has endorsed a return to the gold stan­dard; called for abol­ish­ing the Fed; ques­tioned whether the Fed should remain inde­pen­dent; doubt­ed the accu­ra­cy of gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics; advo­cat­ed a sin­gle North Amer­i­can cur­ren­cy; urged the elim­i­na­tion of fed­er­al deposit insur­ance; and both sup­port­ed and opposed the cen­tral bank’s use of low inter­est rates and bond pur­chas­es to fight reces­sions. She has walked back some of her most provoca­tive com­ments on eco­nom­ic policy.

Nobody spoke on behalf of Shel­ton on the Sen­ate floor.

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Chuck Schumer, D‑N.Y., said Shel­ton’s crit­i­cism of fed­er­al deposit insur­ance, “an insti­tu­tion that has pro­tect­ed Amer­i­can sav­ings since the 1930s,” helps explain why “over one hun­dred and thir­ty of the nation’s top econ­o­mists, includ­ing sev­en Nobel lau­re­ates, have opposed her nom­i­na­tion, as have count­less alum­ni of the Fed­er­al Reserve Board of Governors.”

A yes vote was to advance the nom­i­na­tion to a final vote.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

CONFIRMING STEPHEN VADEN AS U.S. TRADE JUDGE: Vot­ing 49 for and 43 against, the Sen­ate on Novem­ber 18th con­firmed Stephen A. Vaden, thir­ty-eight, the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture gen­er­al coun­sel, for a life­time appoint­ment to the Unit­ed States Court of Inter­na­tion­al Trade.

A spe­cial­ized unit of the fed­er­al judi­cia­ry, the nine-judge pan­el adju­di­cates trade and cus­toms-law dis­putes involv­ing fed­er­al agen­cies, cor­po­ra­tions, labor unions, pri­vate cit­i­zens, for­eign gov­ern­ments and oth­er litigants.

A yes vote was to con­firm the nominee.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

LWIC will be on hiatus again until December

Con­gress is in Thanks­giv­ing recess until the week of Novem­ber 30th.

Edi­tor’s Note: The infor­ma­tion in NPI’s week­ly How Cas­ca­di­a’s U.S. law­mak­ers vot­ed fea­ture is pro­vid­ed by Votera­ma in Con­gress, a ser­vice of Thomas Vot­ing Reports. All rights are reserved. Repro­duc­tion of this post is not per­mit­ted, not even with attri­bu­tion. Use the per­ma­nent link to this post to share it… thanks!

© 2020 Thomas Vot­ing Reports.

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

Republican civil war: Loren Culp lashes out at Kim Wyman and J.T. Wilcox after big loss

Polit­i­cal jour­nal­ists at the nation­al lev­el have spent a good por­tion of the last few weeks chron­i­cling how frac­tured the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty sup­pos­ed­ly is. But as Jim Brun­ner’s report­ing reminds us today, the Repub­li­can Par­ty has some pret­ty seri­ous divi­sions of its own, includ­ing here in the Pacif­ic Northwest.

Loren Culp lost Washington’s guber­na­to­r­i­al race by more than 545,000 votes, but he’s not con­ced­ing — and says he’s not going away.

Culp, the Repub­li­can who took 43% of the statewide vote against Gov. Jay Inslee, has tak­en a page from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s play­book by attempt­ing to sow doubts about the elec­tion results and lob­bing unsub­stan­ti­at­ed claims of vot­er fraud.

In recent days, he and his cam­paign man­ag­er, Chris Ger­gen, also have turned their anger on top Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­cans, includ­ing Sec­re­tary of State Kim Wyman and state House Minor­i­ty Leader J.T. Wilcox.

Culp does not need to con­cede for Jay Inslee to begin a third term, as con­ces­sions don’t have any legal sig­nif­i­cance. But in a coun­try and state with free and fair elec­tions, con­ces­sions are a noble tra­di­tion that have served us well. It is cus­tom­ary, in a con­ces­sion, for the los­ing can­di­date to acknowl­edge defeat and wish the win­ner well. Occa­sion­al­ly, los­ing can­di­dates will offer to help the win­ning can­di­date with their tran­si­tion into office, espe­cial­ly if they cur­rent­ly hold it.

Culp has no inter­est in uphold­ing such tra­di­tions. He expect­ed to win, even though all the polling showed that he would­n’t (includ­ing ours). Hav­ing nev­er led in a sin­gle vote count, or been any­where close to a lead, he has been angri­ly alleg­ing, with­out a shred of evi­dence, that the elec­tion was rigged and improper.

Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State Kim Wyman — who did pre­vail in her reelec­tion cam­paign over NPI’s Gael Tar­leton — has con­tin­u­al­ly asked Culp’s camp to pro­duce evi­dence of the “irreg­u­lar­i­ties” they keep say­ing exist, or else shut up, but Culp and his peo­ple have done nei­ther. Like the Trump fam­i­ly and its enablers, they’d rather just mak­ing sweep­ing alle­ga­tions in the court of pub­lic opin­ion, where no proof is required to be tak­en seri­ous­ly, unlike in a court of law.

Angry that Wyman is not sid­ing with them, Culp’s peo­ple have lashed out at her and her staff, accus­ing her of treach­ery to the Repub­li­can Par­ty, which is real­ly now the Trump Par­ty. Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Chair Caleb Heim­lich has not sur­pris­ing­ly tak­en Wyman’s side, call­ing her “a nation­al­ly respect­ed elec­tions admin­is­tra­tor who pri­or­i­tizes the fair­ness and secu­ri­ty of our elections.”

Culp’s cam­paign man­ag­er has also vowed vengeance against State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive J.T. Wilcox, the leader of the House Repub­li­can caucus.

“I will make sure you are unseat­ed, because you want­ed to run your mouth in front of the cau­cus and throw my guy under the bus. It’s a debt you’ve cre­at­ed and it’s a debt you are going to pay,” Ger­gen said in a video post­ed to Facebook.

Wilcox rep­re­sents a safe Repub­li­can dis­trict, is well liked by his col­leagues (he was reelect­ed with­out oppo­si­tion to his cau­cus lead­er­ship posi­tion this week), and is respect­ed across the polit­i­cal spec­trum as some­one who believes in dia­logue and look­ing for oppor­tu­ni­ties to coop­er­ate on issues. He isn’t going anywhere.

It is Ger­gen who is run­ning his mouth. Repeatedly.

But there’s a rea­son for that.

Culp and Ger­gen know they’ll get a sym­pa­thet­ic hear­ing on right wing talk radio and that their unfound­ed claims will be duti­ful­ly picked up by media out­lets com­mit­ted to objec­tiv­i­ty. Fol­low­ing in Trump’s bad exam­ple, they are spread­ing poi­son as fast and as furi­ous­ly as they can, out of the belief that attack­ing democ­ra­cy itself is good pol­i­tics that will ben­e­fit them now and down the road.

Our cur­rent objec­tive report­ing mod­el (tell both sides of the sto­ry and let the read­ers draw their own con­clu­sions) does not serve democ­ra­cy well against foes like Loren Culp, Tim Eyman, or Don­ald Trump. Espe­cial­ly in the polar­ized, hyper­con­nect­ed envi­ron­ment we are in. Bad actors know that objec­tive media can be manip­u­lat­ed to serve their pur­pos­es, legit­imiz­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­in­for­ma­tion. Culp wins — and democ­ra­cy los­es — just by hav­ing his posi­tion tak­en seri­ous­ly and report­ed upon by news organizations.

Loren Culp’s alle­ga­tions and state­ments are ludi­crous. If they are to be dis­cussed at all, then it should be a con­text where they are com­ment­ed upon as being ludi­crous — includ­ing by the per­son doing the writ­ing, as I’m doing with this post.

All of the pub­lic opin­ion research con­duct­ed before the elec­tion sug­gest­ed Jay Inslee would win big, and that’s exact­ly what hap­pened. We had a well run elec­tion in which more than eight out every ten reg­is­tered vot­ers participated.

None of Culp’s sup­port­ers have demon­strat­ed that any “nonci­t­i­zens” vot­ed, or that any­one vot­ed twice. Nev­er­the­less, they are ask­ing peo­ple to donate mon­ey so that the imag­i­nary “irreg­u­lar­i­ties” they say exist can be investigated.

This sounds to me like a Tim Eyman style gam­bit to keep their cam­paign run­ning well into the future, as some kind of con­tin­u­ing polit­i­cal com­mit­tee. I doubt any of the mon­ey donat­ed will actu­al­ly be used for the stat­ed purpose.

But Ger­gen and Culp will per­son­al­ly benefit.

Eyman, who is cur­rent­ly on tri­al for seri­ous pub­lic dis­clo­sure law vio­la­tions, has made prey­ing on the gullible a career. Loren Culp’s occu­pa­tion before run­ning for gov­er­nor was police offi­cer, but now that the town of Repub­lic has elim­i­nat­ed his job due to wors­en­ing finances, it looks like Culp could be fol­low­ing in Eyman’s foot­steps, and becom­ing a full time right wing agi­ta­tor and provocateur.

Friday, November 13th, 2020

The mother of all grocery bills: GMA must pay $18 million fine for 2013 disclosure violations

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son is not only a chess mas­ter, but a marathon man of the legal pro­fes­sion, as can be  sev­en-year legal bat­tle that is like­ly to car­ry a price tag of $18 mil­lion for a pow­er­ful nation­al lob­by­ing apparatus.

The $18 mil­lion rep­re­sents a tre­ble dam­age award against the Gro­cery Man­u­fac­tur­ers Asso­ci­a­tion, in a mon­ey laun­der­ing law­suit brought by Fer­gu­son in clos­ing days of the 2013 cam­paign over Ini­tia­tive 522.

The award was unan­i­mous­ly affirmed ear­li­er this week by the Wash­ing­ton State Court of Appeals, in a deci­sion which held:

“Because of GMA’s inten­tion­al actions, Wash­ing­ton vot­ers were deprived of know­ing the mul­ti­ple com­pa­nies who were spend­ing mil­lions of dol­lars to defeat Ini­tia­tive 522 and the iden­ti­ty of those companies.”

Ini­tia­tive 522 was a bal­lot mea­sure that would have required that genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered foods and seeds be “clear­ly and con­spic­u­ous­ly” labeled as such.

The food and agribusi­ness indus­tries spent $22 mil­lion to defeat it, blan­ket­ing the air­waves with such spokes­men as Dan Newhouse.

If the Gro­cery Man­u­fac­tur­ers Asso­ci­a­tion antic­i­pat­ed a slap on the wrist, or a cost-of-doing-busi­ness penal­ty, they vast­ly under­es­ti­mat­ed (or “mis­un­der­es­ti­mat­ed”, as George W. Bush would put it) the tenac­i­ty of Attor­ney Gen­er­al Ferguson.

The sto­ry must be told again, as an exam­ple of unre­strained cor­po­rate clout in an ini­tia­tive cam­paign, and a rare case where those who sow the wind reap the whirl­wind. “We intend­ed to send a strong mes­sage to all: If you want to engage in polit­i­cal cam­paigns in Wash­ing­ton, you have to play by the rules,” Fer­gu­son said at one point in the battle.

The rules – Washington’s pio­neer­ing Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Act.

The Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s law­suit pro­duced a com­pelling trail of doc­u­ments from with­in “Big Food,” the indus­try lob­by fight­ing the ini­tia­tive. Food man­u­fac­tur­ers and agribusi­ness spent more than $47 mil­lion in 2012 to nar­row­ly beat back a Cal­i­for­nia bal­lot propo­si­tion to require label­ing of genet­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied foods.

Antic­i­pat­ing bat­tles to come, specif­i­cal­ly in Wash­ing­ton, the GMA set out to, in its words, “scope out a fund­ing mech­a­nism while bet­ter shield­ing indi­vid­ual com­pa­nies from attack for pro­vid­ing fund­ing” to defeat bal­lot initiatives.

A bevy of food giants – Pep­si­co, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods and Camp­bell Soups – had come under fire for their mas­sive spend­ing in the Cal­i­for­nia campaign.

The solu­tion was for the Gro­cery Man­u­fac­tur­ers Asso­ci­a­tion to solic­it con­tri­bu­tions from big food com­pa­nies into a new­ly cre­at­ed “Defense of Brand” fund, so the Asso­ci­a­tion – not the com­pa­nies – could appear as the big donor in fil­ings with the state Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Commission.

Weeks before elec­tion day in 2013, Fer­gu­son struck with a lawsuit.

The com­pa­nies retreat­ed and released fig­ures on who gave how much to the No on 522 cam­paign. Just $600 out of a stag­ger­ing war chest of more than $20 mil­lion came from with­in the Ever­green State.

Five cor­po­ra­tions donat­ed $14 mil­lion-plus to defeat the mea­sure: Pep­si­Co donat­ed $2.5 mil­lion, with Nes­tle and Coca-Cola donat­ing $1.5 mil­lion each. Gen­er­al Mills donat­ed $500,000. Out of the agribusi­ness sec­tor, Mon­san­to spent $5.4 mil­lion, while DuPont put up $3.9 million.

The indus­try cam­paign, true to form, set up a front group.

A woman was put in place as tit­u­lar spokesper­son. The real work was done by a con­sult­ing firm that has run cor­po­rate cam­paigns against ini­tia­tives for near­ly forty years. Win­ner & Mand­abach (for­mer­ly Win­ner-Wag­n­er) is based in Bev­er­ley Hills, and cut its teeth fight­ing nuclear safe­guards ini­tia­tives. It blan­ket­ed the air­waves with tele­vi­sion spots fea­tur­ing Washingtonians.

As he is empow­ered to do under law, Fer­gu­son sought tre­ble dam­ages argu­ing that the GMA’s vio­la­tion of cam­paign laws was fla­grant and intentional.

Inter­nal doc­u­ments backed him up.

In Novem­ber of 2016, Thurston Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge Anne Hirsch agreed GMA’s actions were inten­tion­al. She tripled GMA’s penal­ty to $18 million.

Almost two years lat­er, the Wash­ing­ton State Court of Appeals upheld the $6 mil­lion penal­ty, but not the tripling. Big Food would not get off that easy, though.

In a rul­ing last April, the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court rein­stat­ed the full $18 mil­lion judg­ment and penal­ty. The Supremes sent the case back to the Court of Appeals to hear the gro­cers’ legal challenge.

At one point, dur­ing the drawn-out legal bat­tle, an attor­ney rep­re­sent­ing the GMA pri­vate­ly acknowl­edged pri­vate­ly that Big Food expect­ed a fine or judg­ment, but with­in the real of cost-of-doing-busi­ness. He voiced sur­prise, speak­ing for his clients, at Ferguson’s relent­less pur­suit of the case.

So, the appel­late court has now upheld the full award of dam­ages and penalties.

In words I wish applied to forty-nine oth­er states, Fer­gu­son declared: “Dark mon­ey has no place in Wash­ing­ton elec­tions. This deci­sion con­firms that our courts take inten­tion­al vio­la­tions of our cam­paign laws seriously.”

Tim Eyman, are you listening?

The Gro­cery Man­u­fac­tur­ers Asso­ci­a­tion has changed its name to the Con­sumer Brands Asso­ci­a­tion after los­ing many of its biggest mem­bers.

It react­ed to this week’s rul­ing with what amount­ed to exhaus­tion, say­ing it is “eager to close the door on one of the last legal issues of the Gro­cery Man­u­fac­tur­ers Asso­ci­a­tion, and put this case behind us.”

But they’re not done fight­ing, and nei­ther is the Attor­ney Gen­er­al of Washington.

Friday, November 13th, 2020

Scramble for the Senate: The results are in; here’s how the candidates and parties fared

It’s final­ly over! Last week, Don­ald Trump was defeat­ed by his Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Joe Biden, sig­nal­ing an end to four years of cru­el­ty, cor­rup­tion, incom­pe­tence, and nation­al dis­grace. The humil­i­a­tion of the Nar­cis­sist-in-Chief is how­ev­er, far from the only impor­tant sto­ry emerg­ing from Elec­tion Day.

The Democ­rats had high hopes of win­ning not only the White House, but both branch­es of Con­gress. In the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Democ­rats held onto their major­i­ty, but in the Sen­ate, the pic­ture was more complicated.

Here at the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, we have been track­ing a num­ber of key Sen­ate races that Demo­c­ra­t­ic strate­gists had their eyes on. How did these can­di­dates do?

Arizona

Repub­li­can incum­bent Martha McSal­ly was always a weak can­di­date. She was defeat­ed in her run for Arizona’s oth­er Sen­ate seat in 2018, and was sub­se­quent­ly appoint­ed to fill John McCain’s vacan­cy by Arizona’s Repub­li­can gov­er­nor – hard­ly a man­date from the peo­ple of the Grand Canyon State.

Her Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nent, by con­trast, was one of the strongest in the coun­try. Mark Kel­ly is a pilot, engi­neer and for­mer astro­naut whose new­com­er sta­tus to elec­toral pol­i­tics is off­set by his mar­riage to Gab­by Gif­fords, a pop­u­lar for­mer mem­ber of the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives who sur­vived a hor­rif­ic assas­si­na­tion attempt in 2011. Kelly’s high-pro­file sta­tus allowed him to amass a for­mi­da­ble war chest dur­ing the campaign.

Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords

U.S. Sen­ate can­di­date Mark Kel­ly and his wife, for­mer Con­gress­woman Gab­by Gif­fords (Cam­paign photo)

Although Kel­ly is only par­tial­ly pro­gres­sive, his vic­to­ry should encour­age those on the left of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. For one thing, his win in the bor­der state of Ari­zona marks a rejec­tion of Trump’s racist, anti-immi­grant brand of pol­i­tics. As a bonus, Kel­ly is a pas­sion­ate sup­port­er of gun safe­ty, and could be a dri­ving force in final­ly get­ting some sen­si­ble gun laws in this country.

Colorado

Sen­a­tor Cory Gardner’s upset win in 2014 was premised on his being “a new kind of Repub­li­can” that the pur­ple state of Col­orado could get behind. How­ev­er, the past six years have shown Gardner’s true col­ors as a same-old-same-old Repub­li­can; dur­ing a ral­ly in Feb­ru­ary, Don­ald Trump claimed Gard­ner was “with us all the way.” This was aimed to fire up the right-wing base, but prob­a­bly hurt Gard­ner more than it helped, as his state large­ly finds Trump repellent.

John Hickenlooper speaks to Iowans during his presidential campaign

John Hick­en­loop­er speaks to Iowans dur­ing 2019 (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic vic­tor, for­mer Gov­er­nor John Hick­en­loop­er, did not have an aus­pi­cious start to his cam­paign; for most of 2019 he was run­ning a quixot­ic bid for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, peak­ing in the polls at around 1%. How­ev­er, once he entered the Sen­ate race, he was boost­ed by endorse­ment from influ­en­tial fig­ures in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, which helped him to see off a more pro­gres­sive pri­ma­ry challenger.

Although Hick­en­loop­er is a marked improve­ment com­pared to a Trump crony, pro­gres­sives should be wary of him. As Gov­er­nor, he act­ed as Colorado’s chief oil-and-gas indus­try advo­cate, opposed an attempt to repeal the death penal­ty, and worked against civ­il rights leg­is­la­tion. Dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry, he even com­pared pro­gres­sives to Josef Stal­in. Pro­gres­sive Democ­rats will need to lean hard on Hick­en­loop­er to force him to sup­port much-need­ed leg­is­la­tion that, left to his own devices, he would prob­a­bly oppose.

Maine

Susan Collins has spent her career in the Sen­ate play­ing the role of the rea­son­ably mind­ed Repub­li­can who is wil­ing to eschew par­ti­san divides in pur­suit of com­pro­mise. Although her actions through­out the Trump era put her on decid­ed­ly thin ice with her con­stituents (and dropped her to the posi­tion of the most unpop­u­lar mem­ber of the U.S. Sen­ate), Main­ers seem to have decid­ed to once again reward her with anoth­er six years in the Senate.

Senator Susan Collins

Susan Collins, U.S. Sen­a­tor, (R.-Maine), U.S. Sen­ate speak­ing at For­tune’s Most Pow­er­ful Women sum­mit. Pho­to­graph by Stu­art Isett/Fortune Most Pow­er­ful Women

Collins’ vic­to­ry was prob­a­bly helped by the unwill­ing­ness of her Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nent to take any stances that seemed con­tro­ver­sial or too partisan.

Maine’s State House Speak­er, Sara Gideon, defeat­ed a more pro­gres­sive chal­lenger to gain the nom­i­na­tion, but was hound­ed by both Collins’ team and many on the left of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty for refus­ing to give firm answers on big ques­tions such as health­care and cli­mate change. Ulti­mate­ly, when giv­en the choice between two can­di­dates try­ing to prove their bipar­ti­san chops, Main­ers went for the can­di­date with more expe­ri­ence – Collins.

North Carolina

In the ear­ly months of 2020, Demo­c­ra­t­ic strate­gists real­ized that almost any path to a major­i­ty in the Sen­ate would run through North Carolina.

The state is in many ways a geopo­lit­i­cal micro­cosm of the nation itself, with heav­i­ly red rur­al areas, grow­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­stituen­cies in the cities, and sub­ur­ban­ites weigh­ing their loyalties.

Thom Tillis was virtually unknown until this year.

Sen. Thom Tillis was vir­tu­al­ly unknown until this year. (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Incum­bent Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Thom Tillis has had to walk a tricky tightrope this year, tee­ter­ing between the oppos­ing risks of alien­at­ing cru­cial sub­ur­ban­ite vot­ers and enrag­ing his right-wing base. His task was made even more dif­fi­cult by the President’s mer­cu­r­ial style, and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party’s will­ing­ness to throw untold sums of mon­ey towards unseat­ing him.

The pan­dem­ic threw the odds even fur­ther against Sen­a­tor Tillis.

The politi­ciza­tion of basic pre­cau­tions like social dis­tanc­ing and mask-wear­ing by Trump and the Repub­li­cans made it even more dif­fi­cult for Tillis to simul­ta­ne­ous­ly appease con­ser­v­a­tives and bicon­cep­tu­als – espe­cial­ly since he sup­port­ed slash­ing health reg­u­la­tions ear­li­er in his Sen­ate career.

He also had to con­tend with a scan­dal engulf­ing North Carolina’s oth­er Sen­a­tor, Richard Burr, who used secret Sen­ate coro­n­avirus brief­in­gs to enrich him­self.

To top it all off, in ear­ly Octo­ber Tillis test­ed pos­i­tive for the coro­n­avirus after attend­ing a “super spread­er” event at the White House.

Yet, in spite of every­thing, Tillis squeaked out a vic­to­ry (although it took until Novem­ber 10th for enough votes to be count­ed before his win was projected).

Tillis’ against-the-odds vic­to­ry can­not be ascribed to any per­son­al charis­ma on the part of the can­di­date. Tillis was one one the least well-known sen­a­tors in the coun­try before Elec­tion Day. More like­ly, Don­ald Trump’s pres­ence atop the tick­et buoyed the Repub­li­can sen­a­tor in the key bat­tle­ground candidate.

Tillis was prob­a­bly helped by the fact that his oppo­nent, state Sen­a­tor Cal Cun­ning­ham, was an utter­ly unin­ter­est­ing candidate.

Cun­ning­ham relied on mon­ey from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­ate Cam­paign Com­mit­tee to beat a pro­gres­sive chal­lenger to the nom­i­na­tion, and then pro­ceed­ed to cam­paign as a com­plete­ly for­get­table “gener­ic Demo­c­rat,” in the hopes that the “D” next to his name would be enough to push him over the line. Even a sex­ting scan­dal he got caught in seemed some­how rather boring.

Cunningham’s defeat in an eas­i­ly winnable cam­paign should be a warn­ing to Democ­rats for future cam­paigns that run­ning can­di­dates who vot­ers don’t iden­ti­fy with is a recipe for watch­ing a major­i­ty slip away.

Kansas

The state of Kansas is about as deep-red as you can get, with Kansans send­ing Repub­li­cans to the U.S. Sen­ate in every elec­tion since 1932.

How­ev­er, in recent years res­i­dents of the Sun­flower State have shown signs of sour­ing on the Republicans.

This is part­ly due to nation­al con­di­tions – Don­ald Trump has spent the last four years alien­at­ing every­body but the most extreme right-wing big­ots – but deep­er local issues are also con­tribut­ing to Kansans’ dissatisfaction.

The finan­cial­ly dis­as­trous trick­le-down eco­nom­ic poli­cies pur­sued by state lev­el Repub­li­cans, along with the almost freak­ish lev­els of xeno­pho­bia dis­played by the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for the 2018 guber­na­to­r­i­al race led to a shock vic­to­ry for Demo­c­rat Lau­ra Kel­ly (despite Kobach’s dis­en­fran­chise­ment of thou­sands of his con­stituents as Sec­re­tary of State).

Kobach’s return in 2020 to con­tend for the Repub­li­can Sen­ate nom­i­na­tion threw the race into tur­moil and boost­ed the can­di­da­cy of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date, Bar­bara Bol­lier. Bol­lier was a Repub­li­can until 2018 and is still to all intents and pur­pos­es a con­ser­v­a­tive, albeit one who refus­es to slav­ish­ly praise Don­ald Trump.

Kobach was ulti­mate­ly defeat­ed by a less well-known (and less unpop­u­lar) pro-Trump Repub­li­can, State Sen­a­tor Roger Mar­shall, but the unex­pect­ed­ly bit­ter pri­ma­ry left Mar­shall weakened.

Although Mar­shall ulti­mate­ly tri­umphed over Bol­lier, McConnell can hard­ly rejoice in his win. Unable to sim­ply cruise to vic­to­ry, Repub­li­cans were forced to spend resources in Kansas that could have been spent in much more con­test­ed seats.

Montana

Montana’s gov­er­nor Steve Bul­lock had great ambi­tions for 2020; he was one of the over two dozen Democ­rats who launched cam­paigns for the party’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion. How­ev­er, like the vast major­i­ty of can­di­dates in that com­pe­ti­tion, Bul­lock failed to make an impact – and was forced to drop out of the race igno­min­ious­ly in Decem­ber of 2019.

Bullock’s polit­i­cal aspi­ra­tions did not end there, though.

He was quick­ly tapped by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­to­r­i­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee (DSCC) to run against incum­bent U.S. Sen­a­tor Steve Daines. Bul­lock was the per­fect fit for the job – a two-term gov­er­nor who won reelec­tion despite his state vot­ing for Trump by twen­ty points – and eas­i­ly won his party’s primary

Despite Bullock’s high per­son­al pop­u­lar­i­ty in Mon­tana (boost­ed by his strong response to the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic), the Gov­er­nor was unable to repeat his 2016 trick of win­ning as a Demo­c­rat when Trump was on the ticket.

Despite Sen­a­tor Steve Daines’ low approval rat­ings and lack of effort to dis­tin­guish him­self (beyond prais­ing Trump for attack­ing peace­ful pro­test­ers back in June), Don­ald Trump’s pop­u­lar­i­ty in the Big Sky State was able to car­ry the Repub­li­can sen­a­tor over the line.

Alaska

Despite the fact that the “Last Fron­tier” vot­ed for Don­ald Trump in 2016 by a mar­gin of 15%, Democ­rats had high hopes for win­ning Alaska’s Sen­ate seat in 2020. The DSCC threw its sup­port behind Dr Al Gross, an inde­pen­dent can­di­date with deep roots in Alaskan pol­i­tics (Gross’ father served as the state’s attor­ney gen­er­al). Gross has two decades of expe­ri­ence as an ortho­pe­dic sur­geon, along with an even longer career as a com­mer­cial fish­er­man – a per­fect résumé for a can­di­date seek­ing to win an elec­tion in Alas­ka dur­ing a pandemic.

Despite Gross’ strong résumé and back­ing from the anti-Trump group the Lin­coln Project, Sen­a­tor Dan Sul­li­van man­aged to hold on to his seat. Sul­li­van was helped by an endorse­ment from the Unit­ed Fish­er­men of Alas­ka, who reject­ed Gross’ requests for an endorse­ment due to the fact that Sul­li­van had advo­cat­ed for the indus­try dur­ing nego­ti­a­tions over the CARES Act. More infu­ri­at­ing for Democ­rats, Trump’s attacks on mail-in vot­ing and the Postal Ser­vice prob­a­bly had an impact on turnout in a state where many vot­ers live in remote areas.

Georgia

Geor­gia – once a reli­ably red state that has become increas­ing­ly pur­ple over the years, as evi­denced by Joe Biden’s pro­ject­ed win there – was the only state this cycle to have two seats in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate up for grabs this cycle.

The reg­u­lar­ly sched­uled elec­tion pit­ted incum­bent Sen­a­tor David Per­due against a famil­iar fig­ure in Geor­gia pol­i­tics, Jon Ossoff.

Ossoff, a thir­ty-three year old for­mer Con­gres­sion­al staffer, inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist and doc­u­men­tary film­mak­er, rock­et­ed to fame dur­ing the spe­cial elec­tion to Georgia’s 6h Con­gres­sion­al dis­trict in 2017. In the most expen­sive House race ever record­ed, he nar­row­ly lost to his Repub­li­can opponent.

Jon Ossoff and Rep. John Lewis

Jon Ossoff and Rep. John Lewis (Pho­to: Jon Ossoff, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Ossoff is young and charis­mat­ic, with an impres­sive cam­paign chest (boost­ed ini­tial­ly by the mon­ey he raised for his 2017 run). His time as a doc­u­men­tar­i­an spe­cial­iz­ing in expos­ing cor­rup­tion made him a lethal oppo­nent to Per­due, who has a long and sto­ried past in the world of inter­na­tion­al business.

Ossoff’s pol­i­cy shift to the pro­gres­sive left (espe­cial­ly over civ­il rights issues) helped him appeal to Georgia’s young and diverse population.

Although Georgia’s elec­toral sys­tem is thor­ough­ly rigged to advan­tage Repub­li­cans, Ossoff man­aged to grind Perdue’s num­bers down to less than fifty per­cent , mean­ing that the two will pro­ceed to a runoff elec­tion in January.

Georgia’s oth­er Sen­ate seat will also ulti­mate­ly be decid­ed in Jan­u­ary, with the state’s “jun­gle pri­ma­ry” sys­tem ele­vat­ing the Repub­li­can incum­bent Kel­ly Loef­fler, and a Demo­c­ra­t­ic first-time can­di­date, Raphael Warnock. Loef­fler – who faced a chal­lenge from a fanat­i­cal right-wing U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive – ran as far to the right as human­ly pos­si­ble, even run­ning an ad com­par­ing her­self to Atti­la the Hun!

Rev. Warnock addresses supporters

Rev. Warnock address­es sup­port­ers (Pho­to: Raphael Warnock, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Warnock, by con­trast, ran a cam­paign that focused on the gains Stacey Abrams made in her 2018 guber­na­to­r­i­al bid and sought to turn out as many vot­ers of col­or as possible.

Warnock end­ed up with 33% of the vote, while oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates togeth­er receiv­ing about 15.5%. The com­bined Repub­li­can vote was 49.4%.

The results of the Geor­gia runoffs could have major con­se­quences for the demo­graph­ics of the Sen­ate as well as its pol­i­tics. In a body that is over­whelm­ing­ly white and elder­ly, Warnock would be Georgia’s first Black U.S. Sen­a­tor, while Ossoff would be the youngest mem­ber of the chamber.

Over­all, the 2020 Scram­ble for the Sen­ate was a dis­ap­point­ment for the Democ­rats. Although con­trol of the Sen­ate won’t be decid­ed until the Jan­u­ary runoffs in Geor­gia, what­ev­er the final result is will be a far cry from lib­er­als’ hopes of a blue tsuna­mi wash­ing up to a dozen Repub­li­cans out of their seats.

This elec­tion (like every elec­tion since the Repub­li­cans seized con­trol in 2014) shows the neces­si­ty of reform­ing the upper cham­ber of Con­gress to be more rep­re­sen­ta­tive and account­able to the peo­ple of the Unit­ed States. It is sim­ply not sus­tain­able in a democ­ra­cy for one par­ty to con­tin­u­al­ly lose the pop­u­lar vote and main­tain con­trol over the most impor­tant institutions.

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden appoints Ron Klain as his incoming White House Chief of Staff

Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden named Ron Klain as his White House chief of staff on Wednes­day, the first pick for the future Biden administration’s Cab­i­net. The chief of staff is nor­mal­ly one of the most pow­er­ful roles in Wash­ing­ton D.C., since the role involves man­ag­ing access to the Pres­i­dent and plan­ning their schedule.

Klain (left) advised the Obama Administration during the West African Ebola epidemic.


Klain (left) advised the Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion dur­ing the West African Ebo­la epi­dem­ic. (Pho­to: the White House, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Klain is high­ly expe­ri­enced at fed­er­al pol­i­tics; he worked as Biden’s vice-pres­i­den­tial Chief of Staff from 2009 to 2011, and has served in vary­ing roles under Pres­i­dent Oba­ma, Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Janet Reno, and a num­ber of Sen­ate com­mit­tees. Per­haps most impor­tant­ly, giv­en the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, Klain served as the White House’s Ebo­la Response Coor­di­na­tor at the height of the West African Ebo­la epidemic.

Klain was picked for his close per­son­al ties to Joe Biden. He has worked with the Pres­i­dent-elect ever since the 1980s, serv­ing in all three of Biden’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns (1988, 2008, and 2020), as well as advis­ing Biden when the lat­ter was serv­ing as a U.S. sen­a­tor. Klain’s appoint­ment is a sign that, rather than con­scious­ly hew­ing to the pro­gres­sive or neolib­er­al wings of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, Biden is like­ly to appoint inhab­i­tants of “Biden­world” to top positions.

Although Klain is a Capi­tol Hill vet­er­an, promi­nent pro­gres­sive lead­ers expressed opti­mism about the pick. Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren of Mass­a­chu­setts tweet­ed that Klain is “a superb choice” who has “earned trust all across the entire Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty.” Ever­green Action, a cli­mate-focused pres­sure group, released a state­ment point­ing out Klain’s work with Al Gore and prais­ing his will­ing­ness to “put the sci­ence first” when craft­ing policy.

David Segal, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of Des­mand Progress, said that while Klain is “not a move­ment pro­gres­sive by any means…the alter­na­tives were square­ly aligned with the wants of cor­po­rate elites.” Segal’s group had been qui­et­ly lob­by­ing for Klain’s appoint­ment before the election.

Biden him­self said of Klain:

“Ron has been invalu­able to me over the many years that we have worked togeth­er… His deep, var­ied expe­ri­ence and capac­i­ty to work with peo­ple all across the polit­i­cal spec­trum is pre­cise­ly what I need in a White House chief of staff as we con­front this moment of cri­sis and bring our coun­try togeth­er again.”

Klain’s main tasks in the com­ing days will be to advise the Pres­i­dent-elect, help assem­ble the rest of his Cab­i­net picks, and work towards a smooth tran­si­tion of pow­er. This last task will be the hard­est, as Don­ald Trump and most oth­er Repub­li­cans con­tin­ue to refuse to accept defeat.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

Trump booster Doug Ericksen wants to abolish vote at home in Washington State

Wash­ing­ton State’s vote at home sys­tem is an inspi­ra­tion to many peo­ple across the Unit­ed States. It allows peo­ple to ful­fill their civic oblig­a­tions secure­ly and eas­i­ly, and it is a sys­tem that is hard to manip­u­late to sup­press the vote. So, nat­u­ral­ly, Don­ald Trump back­ers like Doug Erick­sen want to get rid of it.

State Sen­a­tor Doug Erick­sen is prepar­ing leg­is­la­tion to return Wash­ing­ton state to in-per­son vot­ing, require vot­er ID at the polls and inval­i­date most absen­tee bal­lots that arrive by mail after Elec­tion Day. Erick­sen, a Fer­n­dale Repub­li­can, claimed with­out pro­vid­ing evi­dence or cit­ing specifics that there are “long­stand­ing con­cerns” about elec­tion security.

Erick­sen is one of Don­ald Trump’s most ardent fans and admir­ers. He jumped on board the Trump band­wag­on ear­ly in the 2016 cycle, and was the co-chair of Trump’s Wash­ing­ton State oper­a­tion along with Don Benton.

The leg­is­la­tion Erick­sen is “prepar­ing” is dead on arrival in the truest sense of that term, and Erick­sen sure­ly knows that. The Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate will remain con­trolled by Democ­rats in 2021. There’s no rea­son why Erick­sen’s non­sense should con­sume any of the Leg­is­la­ture’s valu­able time and atten­tion, espe­cial­ly giv­en the reduced capac­i­ty com­mit­tees will have for hear­ing bills.

Nonethe­less, Erick­sen and oth­er Trump boost­ers are sig­nal­ing that they’re going to do their darn­d­est to dis­tract us from talk­ing about ideas that real­ly would improve elec­tions here in Wash­ing­ton State, like abol­ish­ing Eyman’s push polls, switch­ing to a two-year cycle for ini­tia­tives and ref­er­en­da, or reform­ing the process for devel­op­ing bal­lot titles, or pro­vid­ing for cit­i­zen review of initiatives.

The dis­cus­sion over whether Wash­ing­ton should have vote at home or not is over. We made a deci­sion over a decade ago that we were going to be a vote at home state like Ore­gon. Since them, we have added drop box­es and pro­vid­ed for pre­paid postage on bal­lot return envelopes to make vot­ing even easier.

The work we’ve done is wide­ly admired around the coun­try, and for good reason.

We’re not going backwards.

Though recent­ly reelect­ed Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State Kim Wyman has not always mount­ed a strong defense of vote at home when appear­ing in front of Repub­li­can audi­ences, she did make it clear, when asked about Erick­sen’s leg­is­la­tion by the Belling­ham Her­ald, that she oppos­es it.

“Wash­ing­ton elec­tion offi­cials have worked dili­gent­ly for more than ten years to make the state’s vote-by-mail sys­tem acces­si­ble, secure, and fair,” Wyman told The Belling­ham Her­ald in an email.

“I’m proud of the hard work and thought­ful­ness the Office of the Sec­re­tary of State and coun­ty elec­tion offi­cials have put into mak­ing this sys­tem suc­cess­ful. I believe it has served as a mod­el for oth­er states look­ing to tran­si­tion to full mail-in vot­ing,” she said.

We agree that Wash­ing­ton has served as a mod­el and should con­tin­ue to. This is anoth­er area where we and Kim Wyman agree. We hope that Sec­re­tary of State Wyman will use her influ­ence to urge Erick­sen’s Repub­li­can col­leagues not to cospon­sor his coun­ter­pro­duc­tive leg­is­la­tion. The pan­dem­ic has demon­strat­ed just how use­ful and valu­able vote at home is. Let’s build on that, and dis­cuss ways to make it eas­i­er for peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate in our democ­ra­cy, not harder.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

Tim Eyman’s latest obsession: Trying to get the Supreme Court to reverse its I‑976 ruling

Late last year, after vot­ing con­clud­ed in the 2019 gen­er­al elec­tion, dis­hon­est ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er Tim Eyman announced that his sin­gu­lar focus in 2020 would be get­ting rid of Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee, as opposed to attempt­ing to qual­i­fy an ini­tia­tive to the pres­i­den­tial gen­er­al elec­tion ballot.

Eyman has now spent almost a year bash­ing Inslee and run­ning for office him­self, with noth­ing to show for it. Vot­ers resound­ing­ly reject­ed his guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­da­cy and then reject­ed the can­di­da­cy of Repub­li­can Loren Culp (who Eyman had endorsed), over­whelm­ing­ly back­ing Gov­er­nor Inslee’s bid for a third term.

Inslee’s big vic­to­ry has had quite the effect on Eyman.

Instead of ques­tion­ing the results of the elec­tion (as Loren Culp has), Eyman has sim­ply stopped talk­ing about the guber­na­to­r­i­al race alto­geth­er, at least in pub­lic. He has cho­sen to focus on anoth­er, even more painful loss… the demise of I‑976, his 2019 ini­tia­tive, which the Supreme Court unan­i­mous­ly over­turned last month.

Since Novem­ber 3rd, Eyman has sent four con­sec­u­tive emails ask­ing his band of loy­al fans to lob­by the nine mem­ber Supreme Court to recon­sid­er its rul­ing, pri­mar­i­ly with polit­i­cal argu­ments, as opposed to legal arguments.

The jus­tices are not leg­is­la­tors, but Eyman does­n’t care. He’s treat­ing them as such any­way, and ask­ing his fans to fol­low his example.

Eyman’s bud­dy Stephen Pid­geon has also filed a recon­sid­er­a­tion motion ask­ing for the Court to reverse itself, which the Court will most assured­ly deny.

Hilar­i­ous­ly, both that motion and the the pre­fab­ri­cat­ed email Eyman is sup­ply­ing to his fans relies heav­i­ly on the legal con­clu­sions of King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge Mar­shall Fer­gu­son, who Eyman harsh­ly attacked dur­ing the ear­li­er phase of the case as hope­less­ly in the pock­et of I‑976 opponents.

When Judge Fer­gu­son land­ed the case, Eyman argued he should be dis­qual­i­fied on the basis that he sits on the bench in King Coun­ty and was appoint­ed by Gov­er­nor Inslee… stu­pid, utter­ly non­sen­si­cal argu­ments that were not tak­en seri­ous­ly by Judge Fer­gu­son or the oth­er par­ties in the case, but which were sad­ly repeat­ed by many media out­lets. After Judge Fer­gu­son issued an injunc­tion about a year ago block­ing I‑976 from going into effect, Eyman was livid.

Lat­er, how­ev­er, when actu­al­ly weigh­ing the ini­tia­tive’s con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty or lack there­of, Fer­gu­son upheld much of I‑976, which pleased Eyman. Though Fer­gu­son did strike down two of I‑976’s pro­vi­sions, he left the rest of the mea­sure intact.

The case then moved up to the Supreme Court, where it had been des­tined to go from the begin­ning. All nine jus­tices dis­agreed with Judge Fer­gu­son’s analy­sis, and I‑976 was void­ed in its entire­ty, leav­ing Eyman seething.

Eyman’s anger is understandable.

He real­ly, real­ly, real­ly wants I‑976 to be imple­ment­ed. He is deeply and per­son­al­ly obsessed with wreck­ing tran­sit fund­ing in Wash­ing­ton State.

Specif­i­cal­ly, Eyman wants to see bus routes dis­con­tin­ued, rail expan­sion projects ter­mi­nat­ed, fer­ry rid­ers made to shoul­der even more of WSF’s oper­at­ing costs, and local roads left in a state of neglect and dis­re­pair… all because he believes the only trans­porta­tion-relat­ed pub­lic ser­vice worth invest­ing in is highways.

Eyman delib­er­ate­ly engi­neered I‑976 to be a wreck­ing ball for mul­ti­modal trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture, tar­get­ing not only vehi­cle fees for repeal, but even the slice of the sales tax that goes to the state’s mul­ti­modal account.

Eyman was trans­par­ent about his agen­da with Repub­li­can audi­ences, but to the gen­er­al pub­lic, he pitched I‑976 as a tax fair­ness mea­sure, because his tran­sit destroy­ing agen­da is not some­thing most peo­ple agree with.

Enough vot­ers were duped by Eyman’s lies (not con­fused, but duped) that I‑976 was on its way to being imple­ment­ed as of Elec­tion Day a year ago, despite the efforts of a broad and diverse coali­tion to defeat the measure.

For­tu­nate­ly, after the elec­toral effort end­ed, a coali­tion of local gov­ern­ments and pro-tran­sit orga­ni­za­tions joined forces to keep the fight against I‑976 going.

Since Eyman had not both­ered to take care when draft­ing I‑976 to ensure it could with­stand judi­cial scruti­ny, there were plen­ty of defects avail­able for the coali­tion to cite as a basis for argu­ing that I‑976 should be struck down.

All nine Supreme Court jus­tices agreed that I‑976 was uncon­sti­tu­tion­al on Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 19 grounds. That’s the very same pro­vi­sion that has been the undo­ing of many oth­er Eyman ini­tia­tives, too. Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 19, which dates back to state­hood, requires that the titles of bills and bal­lot mea­sures express­ly state what the mea­sure is about. It also pro­hibits the prac­tice of logrolling: tying mul­ti­ple unre­lat­ed things togeth­er into one piece of legislation.

In strik­ing down Eyman’s I‑976, the Court was dis­charg­ing its duty and respon­si­bil­i­ty to uphold the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion, with­out regard to whether its deci­sion would be well-received or not.

The Court’s nine jus­tices are all for­mi­da­ble jurists. Many of them were once Supe­ri­or Court judges them­selves, includ­ing incom­ing Chief Jus­tice Steven Gon­za­lez (the author of the opin­ion in the case), Jus­tice Mary Yu, Jus­tice Raquel Mon­toya-Lewis, and Jus­tice G. Helen Whiten­er. Oth­er jus­tices have worked in dis­trict and munic­i­pal courts, like Jus­tices Bar­bara Mad­sen and Susan Owens.

Unlike Tim Eyman, each of the jus­tices has a strong back­ground in the law. Many of them even teach the law in addi­tion to serv­ing on the Court.

Sad­ly, rather than respect­ing their wis­dom and judg­ment, Eyman is attack­ing them, base­less­ly accus­ing them of vio­lat­ing their oaths of office and return­ing a deci­sion based on pol­i­tics.… while plead­ing them with them to over­turn them­selves so that Eyman’s plot to defund tran­sit can go ahead.

Pret­ty pathetic.

It won’t be long before Eyman drops this futile effort to res­cue I‑976 from the legal grave­yard where it’s now buried and switch­es gears to pro­mote a new con. In fact, Eyman has indi­cat­ed he’ll be shar­ing his plans for 2021 lat­er today in a Face­book stream­ing appear­ance with his fan club.