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.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Denny Heck has twice as much support as Marko Liias for LG, but most voters undecided

This year’s con­test for Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor in Wash­ing­ton State pits two Democ­rats against each oth­er in the final round: U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Den­ny Heck and State Sen­a­tor Marko Liias. Heck is a four term mem­ber of Con­gress who is retir­ing from fed­er­al pol­i­tics while Liias is a vet­er­an state leg­is­la­tor who serves as Major­i­ty Floor Leader and would like to make the jump to high­er office.

It’s unusu­al for a statewide race to have two can­di­dates in it from the same par­ty in the final round. But Repub­li­can vot­ers were pret­ty split as to who they want­ed for Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor in the August Top Two elec­tion, which result­ed in both of the top two spots going to Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates. (Some­thing sim­i­lar hap­pened in 2016 in the Trea­sur­er’s race, which was a runoff between two Repub­li­cans.)

Our research finds that Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Den­ny Heck has a big advan­tage in the con­test for Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor. 32% of like­ly Wash­ing­ton vot­ers sur­veyed by our poll­ster a week ago said they are vot­ing for Heck, while only 16% said they were vot­ing for State Sen­a­tor Mark Liias. A whop­ping 52% said they were not sure.

(The high num­ber of not sure respon­dents is undoubt­ed­ly in part due to the fact that there was no Repub­li­can can­di­date avail­able for respon­dents to choose, though Joshua Freed is run­ning a write-in cam­paign.)

Each can­di­date has sup­port from key con­stituen­cies and dis­tin­guished lead­ers with­in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. For­mer Gov­er­nors Gary Locke and Chris Gre­goire back Heck, while cur­rent Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Cyrus Habib sup­ports Liias.

Most of Liias’ col­leagues in the State Sen­ate have endorsed him, as well, while Heck is endorsed by the major­i­ty of his in-state con­gres­sion­al col­leagues.

Here are the num­bers again and the exact ques­tion we asked:

QUESTION: The 2020 can­di­dates for Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor are Demo­c­rat Den­ny Heck and Demo­c­rat Marko Liias. Who are you vot­ing for?

ANSWERS:

  • Den­ny Heck: 32%
  • Marko Liias: 16%
  • Not sure: 52%

Our sur­vey of six hun­dred and ten like­ly 2020 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Octo­ber 14th through Thurs­day, Octo­ber 15th.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents.

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 4.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence lev­el.

The Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor of Wash­ing­ton State has three main duties:

  • Pre­sid­ing over the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate (the Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor also chairs the very impor­tant Sen­ate Rules Com­mit­tee);
  • Step­ping in for the Gov­er­nor and assum­ing that posi­tion when the state’s chief exec­u­tive is not avail­able or able to per­form their duties;
  • Serv­ing as liai­son between Wash­ing­ton State’s gov­ern­ment and diplo­mat­ic mis­sions from oth­er coun­tries.

The posi­tion is not as high pro­file as Gov­er­nor or Attor­ney Gen­er­al, but is nev­er­the­less impor­tant. Democ­rats have held the office of Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor for decades, and it is all but guar­an­teed to remain in Demo­c­ra­t­ic hands for anoth­er four years as a result of the August Top Two elec­tion.

Heck and Liias will appear tonight in a tele­vised statewide orga­nized by the Wash­ing­ton State Debate Coali­tion, which NPI is a sup­port­er of.

Jes­si­ca Jan­ner Cas­tro of KING 5 News, Michelle Este­ban of KOMO News, Scott Lead­ing­ham (NWPB News Man­ag­er) and TVW’s Mike McCla­hanan will mod­er­ate.

The debate can be seen here begin­ning at 8 PM Pacif­ic.

Vot­ing in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is cur­rent­ly in progress and is set to con­clude on Novem­ber 3rd, 2020 at 8 PM Pacif­ic in Wash­ing­ton State.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

King County Elections Director Julie Wise says that her team is seeing record early turnout

Yes­ter­day, like it does in advance of every elec­tion, King Coun­ty Elec­tions con­duct­ed a Log­ic & Accu­ra­cy Test wit­nessed by the Office of the Sec­re­tary of State, par­ty elec­tion observers, and media rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

The test, which was rou­tine and went off with­out a hitch, also afford­ed media out­lets an oppor­tu­ni­ty to see the staff of Elec­tions in action at their Ren­ton head­quar­ters and get Direc­tor Julie Wise’s take on recent events.

Below, you’ll find our inter­view with Direc­tor Wise in its entire­ty. Click “Play” if you’d like to watch it or scroll down below the video play­er to read it.

Complete transcript

NPI: We’re here with Julie Wise, the King Coun­ty Direc­tor of Elec­tions. It’s the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion; it’s an excit­ing time. Julie, can you describe what just hap­pened today? And what vot­ers can expect as they return their bal­lots?

JULIE WISE: Here at King Coun­ty Elec­tions head­quar­ters, we just com­plet­ed our offi­cial Log­ic and Accu­ra­cy test, where we’re [doing our] final test and vet­ting of the tab­u­la­tion sys­tem that is going to scan all of our bal­lots here in King Coun­ty. The test was suc­cess­ful, and now we are able to start pro­cess­ing bal­lots all the way through to scan­ning. That means that come Elec­tion Night, we’re going to have our results, of course, and with the num­ber of returns we’re see­ing already, we’re like­ly to see some real­ly mean­ing­ful elec­tion night results.

NPI: Now, how many peo­ple have vot­ed already?

JULIE WISE: We have seen near­ly three hun­dred thou­sand bal­lots [come] back here to King Coun­ty Elec­tions head­quar­ters. We had a lot of activ­i­ty at our drop box­es over the week­end, but a lot of activ­i­ty as well as the Unit­ed States Postal Ser­vice, as vot­ers are return­ing their bal­lots in droves.

NPI: So is that turnout of almost twen­ty per­cent?

JULIE WISE: Almost 20%? I think was it sev­en­teen per­cent? Okay. Wow.

NPI: It’s amaz­ing.

JULIE WISE: That is amaz­ing. We only have a mil­lion more to go.

NPI: So there’s two more weeks left. If vot­ers are con­cerned about how they return their bal­lot, what options do they have?

JULIE WISE: If vot­ers are con­cerned about how to return their bal­lot, they can either use [drop box­es or] the Unit­ed States Postal Ser­vice with extra track­ing, [more] than they’ve ever seen before. So, we have an intel­li­gent mail bar­code on every sin­gle piece. Not only [do we know if it] has it made its way to the vot­er, we know nine­ty-nine per­cent of our vot­ers received their bal­lot with­in just a few days. But also when it comes back to us. In fact, our bal­lot track­er is going to tell you when the USPS antic­i­pates it being back in our hands here.

So, we have more track­ing than ever for our vot­ers, [so they] feel com­fort­able with it. We also have, of course, web cam­eras where you can watch the team here hard at work; [we’re] not doing as many tours as we’ve done in the past. Vot­ers should also know that the polit­i­cal par­ty observers are on hand when­ev­er we’re pro­cess­ing bal­lots here at our elec­tion head­quar­ters as well as our vote cen­ters and our drop box­es.

NPI: Excel­lent. How high do you think turnout could get in the elec­tion?

JULIE WISE: You know, we chal­lenge King Coun­ty vot­ers to a nine­ty per­cent turnout, which is a bit of a sort of auda­cious goal if you will, but vot­ers are up for it. We can feel that ener­gy and excite­ment.

We’ve already seen a twen­ty per­cent turnout so far. So we need anoth­er mil­lion bal­lots back in the next cou­ple of weeks to get to that nine­ty per­cent vot­er turnout. Pret­ty typ­i­cal of King Coun­ty vot­ers to real­ly want to make sure that their voic­es are heard in elec­tions, espe­cial­ly our pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

So would­n’t be a sur­prise to see an eighty-five per­cent turnout, but I think King Coun­ty vot­ers are going to show up like they nev­er have before, and break a lot of records. Like they are already off to a great start.

NPI: Would you say that this elec­tion is just water­shed in terms of its scope, and the inter­est, and the inten­si­ty, and oth­er char­ac­ter­is­tics?

JULIE WISE: I think that there is just this ener­gy and buzz. I can feel it here at the elec­tions facil­i­ty. We real­ly feed off of our vot­ers’ excite­ment and ener­gy and pas­sion for the elec­tions. We’ve had a lot of time talk­ing about it lead­ing up into this impor­tant elec­tion cycle. Also, we’ve been busy with a cou­ple oth­er elec­tions this year as well. And we’ve seen record turnout here in King Coun­ty, not just in the pres­i­den­tial, but in our [Top Two] elec­tion, too. We should­n’t for­get we saw a fifty-six per­cent turnout when past records show us it should be in the thir­ties.

King County Elections Director Julie Wise

King Coun­ty Elec­tions Direc­tor Julie Wise kicks off a Log­ic & Accu­ra­cy Test at the agen­cy’s Ren­ton head­quar­ters (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

NPI: That’s incred­i­ble. Now, have peo­ple from oth­er states tak­en notice of what we’re doing here in Wash­ing­ton? Are you get­ting any calls from elec­tions offi­cials in oth­er states at the local lev­el or at the state lev­el? What are they ask­ing?

JULIE WISE: We had a cou­ple dozen juris­dic­tions start reach­ing out to us back in March as they pre­pared to see more vote by mail bal­lots in their juris­dic­tions for this pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, or as they moved to vote by mail.

We are hap­py to sup­port and pro­vide any sort of doc­u­ment [or] pro­ce­dures to real­ly help these juris­dic­tions as they move to vote by mail. We’ve been at it for a decade. Many of our vot­ers have been vot­ing via vote by mail for many decades. So, we do have that exper­tise, and we are known as a leader in the coun­try for run­ning accu­rate, secure, acces­si­ble, vote-by-mail elec­tions. So we’re hap­py to help, and hap­py to see this be the tip­ping point for vote by mail.

NPI: And I sup­pose that would include our vot­er intent man­u­al.

JULIE WISE: That would include our vot­er intent man­u­al. I love that Wash­ing­ton State takes the time. We say, we know that you’re excit­ed about the bal­lot results, but we want to take the time and make sure that your vote is count­ed how you intend­ed it. It might take us a lit­tle bit longer, but we’re going to make sure to open up that nine­ty page vot­er intent man­u­al that all thir­ty-nine coun­ties here in Wash­ing­ton State use to make sure that we’re all count­ing bal­lots the same way.

NPI: Final­ly, we’ve had a lot of leg­is­la­tion in recent years to reform our elec­tion sys­tem and make it even eas­i­er to vote, remov­ing bar­ri­ers. Past advances have includ­ed pre­paid postage, which your team led the way on a cou­ple of years ago. We’ve also seen auto­mat­ic vot­er reg­is­tra­tion, same day reg­is­tra­tion, pre-reg­is­tra­tion. One thing that peo­ple are now talk­ing about is per­haps improv­ing the bal­lot secu­ri­ty. We asked vot­ers statewide if they would like to move the sig­na­ture block off the return enve­lope and per­haps some­where else, like onto the bal­lot [secu­ri­ty] sleeve. Do you think that’s logis­ti­cal­ly fea­si­ble, or would we have to change our pro­ce­dures in order to accom­plish that?

JULIE WISE: We would def­i­nite­ly have to change our pro­ce­dures and re-look at how we uti­lize equip­ment. It would be a big change for us here at King Coun­ty. We’re always open to the con­ver­sa­tion. We want to make sure that peo­ple feel that they can cast their vote in a secure and a pri­vate man­ner.

That’s why — one of the rea­sons why — we real­ly want­ed to imple­ment drop box­es… [so that] vot­ers could feel com­fort­able not hav­ing their sig­na­ture going through the Unit­ed States Postal Ser­vice, though it is secure there as well, but they can put it right in the hands of King Coun­ty Elec­tions.

But if we want to have more con­ver­sa­tion about that sig­na­ture, because it cre­ates con­cern, we’re always wel­come to have that. But it would be a sig­nif­i­cant change, and I would imag­ine prob­a­bly a sig­nif­i­cant dol­lar amount asso­ci­at­ed with it.

NPI: Great. Thank you. Julie. Best of luck as you count the bal­lots.

JULIE WISE: Thank you so much for being here. Real­ly appre­ci­ate it.

NPI: All right. Take care.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Mike Pellicciotti ahead of Duane Davidson; office of State Treasurer could flip Democratic

Last year, when star Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tor Mike Pel­lic­ciot­ti declared his can­di­da­cy for Wash­ing­ton State Trea­sur­er, Demo­c­ra­t­ic activists rejoiced.

In Pel­lic­ciot­ti, they knew they had a can­di­date with a strong work eth­ic who could uni­fy their par­ty behind the goal of retak­ing the office of State Trea­sur­er, which Democ­rats gave up in 2016 when their field of can­di­dates split the vote so bad­ly that two Repub­li­cans were able to advance to the gen­er­al elec­tion.

Pel­lic­ciot­ti has done just that.

In fact, he’s been such a dynam­ic and effec­tive can­di­date that no one else both­ered to file for the posi­tion of State Trea­sur­er except for the incum­bent, Duane David­son, the Repub­li­can who got the most votes four years ago.

Pel­lic­ciot­ti won the August Top Two elec­tion with sur­pris­ing ease, fin­ish­ing well ahead of David­son, who has been large­ly invis­i­ble to Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers dur­ing the past four years, unlike Sec­re­tary of State and fel­low Repub­li­can Kim Wyman, who has a much high­er pro­file and is in a bet­ter posi­tion to win.

Pel­lic­ciot­ti gar­nered 53.22% of the vote in August, win­ning eight coun­ties: King, San Juan, Jef­fer­son, Thurston, What­com, Kit­sap, Island, and Sno­homish.

He also came very close to win­ning in Pierce Coun­ty, the sec­ond largest juris­dic­tion in the state. David­son, mean­while, got 46.67% of the vote.

Pel­lic­ciot­ti was already in out­stand­ing shape for a chal­lenger before the home stretch of the cycle, hav­ing pre­vailed over an incum­bent in Round One and cap­tured a major­i­ty of the vote, which just does­n’t hap­pen very often.

How­ev­er, our recent statewide poll found him with an even big­ger lead of ten points with a lit­tle less than three weeks to go until the end of vot­ing.

Here are the num­bers and the exact ques­tion we asked:

QUESTION: The 2020 can­di­dates for State Trea­sur­er are Demo­c­rat Mike Pel­lic­ciot­ti and Repub­li­can Duane David­son. Who are you vot­ing for?

ANSWERS:

  • Mike Pel­lic­ciot­ti: 46%
  • Duane David­son: 36%
  • Not sure: 18%

Our sur­vey of six hun­dred and ten like­ly 2020 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Octo­ber 14th through Thurs­day, Octo­ber 15th.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents.

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 4.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence lev­el.

Down­bal­lot races like State Trea­sur­er tend not to get much cov­er­age or atten­tion, but they cer­tain­ly do mat­ter. The win­ner of this con­test will be in charge of man­ag­ing the state’s mon­ey for the next four years and could play a role in help­ing Wash­ing­ton estab­lish a state invest­ment trust.

Pel­lic­ciot­ti — who has authored suc­cess­ful leg­is­la­tion to strength­en cam­paign finance laws and tough­en penal­ties for cor­po­rate crimes — has assailed David­son for not show­ing up to work (he’s missed a large num­ber of impor­tant board and com­mis­sion meet­ings) and sup­port­ing Don­ald Trump’s reelec­tion cam­paign.

David­son has belat­ed­ly respond­ed to these crit­i­cisms with an ad that calls Pel­lic­ciot­ti an “activist attor­ney” who is “soft on crime” and “lenient on crim­i­nals”. (The ad is nar­rat­ed by Assis­tant State Trea­sur­er Erhiza Rivera.)

What’s real­ly inter­est­ing about this ad is that it ends with this line: “A news­pa­per said it best: David­son is a CPA and a good one. But he’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly a great politi­cian. Vote Duane David­son because your mon­ey depends on him.”

Admit­ting to not being very good at pol­i­tics is tru­ly a strange thing to say in a cam­paign ad. You can watch David­son’s ad by click­ing Play below.

And here’s Pel­lic­ciot­ti’s ad assail­ing David­son. Click Play below to watch.

Vot­ing in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is cur­rent­ly in progress and is set to con­clude on Novem­ber 3rd, 2020 at 8 PM Pacif­ic in Wash­ing­ton State.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Kim Wyman ahead in tight Secretary of State contest; NPI’s Gael Tarleton gaining ground

The most close­ly con­test­ed race for a statewide posi­tion in Wash­ing­ton this year isn’t for Gov­er­nor, Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor, or Attor­ney Gen­er­al, but for Sec­re­tary of State, the office respon­si­ble for the admin­is­tra­tion of Wash­ing­ton’s elec­tions, archives, library, cor­po­ra­tions and char­i­ties, and address con­fi­den­tial­i­ty pro­gram.

Two can­di­dates made it through to the Novem­ber 2020 gen­er­al elec­tion: Repub­li­can incum­bent Kim Wyman and Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Gael Tar­leton, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s most senior board­mem­ber.

Like Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee and Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, Wyman is seek­ing a third term, hav­ing won her first statewide cam­paign in 2012 when her pre­de­ces­sor Sam Reed retired. She placed first in the August Top Two elec­tion with 50.89%, win­ning every coun­ty except for King, San Juan, and Jef­fer­son.

Wyman still has the edge in the race, accord­ing to our research, but the race has got­ten clos­er. 49% of respon­dents to our sur­vey said they were vot­ing for Wyman, while 43% said they were vot­ing for Tar­leton and 8% were not sure.

Wyman had a 7.6 advan­tage in the August Top Two elec­tion, and a recent Sur­veyUSA poll con­duct­ed for KING5 found her with a five point lead, though that poll put Wyman’s share of the vote at only 45%, as opposed to 49%.

Since we now have mul­ti­ple statewide polls show­ing a clos­er race than what we saw in the August Top Two elec­tion results, it’s fair to say that Tar­leton is gain­ing ground. To win, how­ev­er, she’ll need to quick­en the pace of her progress.

Vot­ing is under­way; 17.6% of bal­lots statewide have already been returned fol­low­ing the first week­end with­in the tra­di­tion­al eigh­teen day vot­ing peri­od.

At this same junc­ture in 2016, only 6.2% of bal­lots had been returned across the state, accord­ing to a data com­par­i­son pro­vid­ed by Wyman’s office on its bal­lot return sta­tis­tics page. The rate of return this cycle is almost three times that right now, which demon­strates that peo­ple are heed­ing exhor­ta­tions to vote ear­ly.

Here are the num­bers again, and the exact ques­tion we asked:

QUESTION: The 2020 can­di­dates for Sec­re­tary of State are Demo­c­rat Gael Tar­leton and Repub­li­can Kim Wyman. Who are you vot­ing for?

ANSWERS:

  • Gael Tar­leton: 43%
  • Kim Wyman: 49%
  • Not sure: 8%

Our sur­vey of six hun­dred and ten like­ly 2020 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Octo­ber 14th through Thurs­day, Octo­ber 15th.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents.

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 4.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence lev­el.

As a Repub­li­can in a state that usu­al­ly votes for Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates, Kim Wyman is no stranger to close statewide elec­tions.

Her first win for Sec­re­tary of State was in 2012, when she won by 21,873 votes out of 2,907,609 total votes cast, with just 50.38% of the vote.

Wyman nar­row­ly defeat­ed for­mer State Sen­a­tor Kath­leen Drew to extend the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s win­ning streak for the posi­tion, which goes back decades.

Wyman won a sec­ond term four years ago by a wider mar­gin, hand­i­ly defeat­ing for­mer Seat­tle City Coun­cilmem­ber Tina Pod­lodows­ki, who sub­se­quent­ly became the Chair of the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty.

Wyman has two main cam­paign themes this year: Expe­ri­ence (which has been a theme in each of her past cam­paigns) and “non­par­ti­san­ship” (despite her record of enthu­si­as­tic par­tic­i­pa­tion in Repub­li­can Par­ty pol­i­tics).

Watch Wyman’s gen­er­al elec­tion TV ad, “Plan”, by click­ing Play below.

NPI’s Gael Tar­leton’s cam­paign themes are bol­ster­ing cyber­se­cu­ri­ty, strength­en­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion, and improv­ing access to the bal­lot. She is deeply con­cerned about for­eign inter­fer­ence in our elec­tions, and says Wyman has­n’t done any­where near enough to pro­tect Wash­ing­ton’s data and vot­ing infra­struc­ture from bad actors.

Tar­leton’s gen­er­al elec­tion spot points out that Wyman has stat­ed that it isn’t her job to stand up to Don­ald Trump, who is unques­tion­ably the top domes­tic threat to efforts to hold free and fair elec­tions in 2020.

Watch Tar­leton’s gen­er­al elec­tion TV ad, “Defend”, by click­ing Play below.

Vot­ing in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is cur­rent­ly in progress and is set to con­clude on Novem­ber 3rd, 2020 at 8 PM Pacif­ic in Wash­ing­ton State.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Attorney General Bob Ferguson enjoys wide lead over Republican challenger Matt Larkin

A major­i­ty of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans want to keep incum­bent Demo­c­ra­t­ic Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son on the job for a third term, a sur­vey con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute has found.

53% of like­ly Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers sur­veyed last week for NPI by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling (PPP) said they’re vot­ing for Fer­gu­son, while 39% said they’re vot­ing for Repub­li­can chal­lenger Matt Larkin. 8% said they were not sure.

Back in the sum­mer, Larkin beat out two oth­er Repub­li­cans, includ­ing Mike Vas­ka and Brett Rogers, for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take on Fer­gu­son in the gen­er­al elec­tion. Fer­gu­son secured the sup­port of 55.79% of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans in the August Top Two elec­tion, while Larkin got 23.67% of the vote.

The Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty inex­plic­a­bly did not field a can­di­date against Fer­gu­son at all in 2016, which result­ed in Fer­gu­son hav­ing a Lib­er­tar­i­an oppo­nent on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot. Fer­gu­son won with 67.14% of the vote.

Now that Fer­gu­son has a Repub­li­can oppo­nent again (his first oppo­nent for Attor­ney Gen­er­al was King Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber Rea­gan Dunn in 2012), he can expect a clos­er race. But he’s still posi­tioned to win reelec­tion in a land­slide.

Here are the num­bers again, and the exact ques­tion we asked:

QUESTION: The 2020 can­di­dates for Attor­ney Gen­er­al are Demo­c­rat Bob Fer­gu­son and Repub­li­can Matt Larkin. Who are you vot­ing for?

ANSWERS:

  • Bob Fer­gu­son: 53%
  • Matt Larkin: 39%
  • Not sure: 8%

Our sur­vey of six hun­dred and ten like­ly 2020 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Octo­ber 14th through Thurs­day, Octo­ber 15th.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents.

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 4.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence lev­el.

Fer­gu­son’s law­suits against the Trump regime and dis­hon­est ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er Tim Eyman have made him a reviled fig­ure in Repub­li­can cir­cles. Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers, on the oth­er hand, love Fer­gu­son. Most inde­pen­dents like him, too.

Fer­gu­son is a stick­ler for the rule of law and for account­abil­i­ty, which Fer­gu­son’s sup­port­ers say are extreme­ly good attrib­ut­es to have in an Attor­ney Gen­er­al.

Though Fer­gu­son often makes the news for his legal chal­lenges against Don­ald Trump’s White House and agency chiefs, it’s not his only focus. Fer­gu­son has pri­or­i­tized envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and civ­il rights as Attor­ney Gen­er­al in addi­tion to pro­tect­ing Wash­ing­to­ni­ans from unscrupu­lous mer­chants.

Repub­li­cans say the Attor­ney Gen­er­al ought to be more focused on crime.

“While Bob Fer­gu­son is focused on the wrong Wash­ing­ton, crime in Wash­ing­ton State is grow­ing because local pros­e­cu­tors are stretched too thin,” Larkin says in a state­ment post­ed on his cam­paign web­site.

Lark­in’s state­ment cites data from the FBI for the Seat­tle metro area over a five peri­od, 2013–2018, to but­tress his claims. NPI has not ver­i­fied this data.

How­ev­er, Wash­ing­ton State is more than the Seat­tle metro, and it has been almost two years since 2018 end­ed. Sta­tis­tics can be cher­ryp­icked to sup­port pret­ty much any nar­ra­tive imag­in­able.

I opened the Crime In Wash­ing­ton 2019 Annu­al Report to see what the Wash­ing­ton Asso­ci­a­tion of Sher­iffs and Police Chiefs have to say about recent inci­dences of crim­i­nal activ­i­ty in Wash­ing­ton.

I noticed the Statewide Crime Pro­file shows two key cat­e­gories of crime as hav­ing seen less inci­dents report­ed, while a third cat­e­go­ry saw only a slight increase:

  • In 2019, Crimes Against Per­sons showed an decrease of 2.9% with 95,294 offens­es report­ed; com­pared to 2018 offens­es report­ed of 98,092.
  • In 2019, Crimes Against Prop­er­ty showed an decrease of 7.9% with 295,906 offens­es report­ed; com­pared to 321,127 offens­es report­ed in 2018.
  • In 2019, Crimes Against Soci­ety showed an increase of 0.9% with 35,156 offens­es report­ed; com­pared to 34,840 offens­es report­ed in 2018.

The above sta­tis­tics refer to “Group A” offens­es — those are as fol­lows:

Ani­mal Cru­el­ty, Arson, Assault Offens­es, Bribery, Bur­glary, Counterfeiting/Forgery, Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Prop­er­ty, Drug/Narcotic Offens­es, Embez­zle­ment, Extortion/Blackmail, Fraud Offens­es, Gam­bling Offens­es, Homi­cide Offens­es, Human Traf­fick­ing Offens­es, Kidnapping/Abduction, Larceny/Theft Offens­es, Motor Vehi­cle Theft, Pornography/Obscene Mate­r­i­al Offens­es, Pros­ti­tu­tion Offens­es, Rob­bery, Sex Offens­es, Non-Forcible Sex Offens­es, Stolen Prop­er­ty Offens­es, and Weapon Law Vio­la­tions; in Wash­ing­ton State, an addi­tion­al Group A offense is col­lect­ed: Vio­la­tion of No Con­tac­t/Pro­tec­tion/An­ti-Harass­ment Order. Group A offens­es include sta­tis­ti­cal data on the inci­dent, all offens­es com­mit­ted, prop­er­ty involved, weapons involved, vic­tim and offend­er demo­graph­ics, arrest infor­ma­tion, and clear­ance sta­tus.

In oth­er words, major crimes.

(For Group B offens­es, which include crimes like dri­ving under the influ­ence, bad checks, and dis­or­der­ly con­duct, only arrest data is col­lect­ed.)

The above is only one slice of data, but it is for the state as a whole, it cov­ers all of the most seri­ous offens­es, it is recent data, and it con­tra­dicts Lark­in’s nar­ra­tive that “crime in Wash­ing­ton State is grow­ing”.

Ridicu­lous­ly, Larkin is run­ning tele­vi­sion ads that empha­size his “law and order” theme while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly sup­port­ing law­break­er Don­ald Trump’s reelec­tion.

Asked by The Seat­tle Times’ Jim Brun­ner (who is a first rate polit­i­cal reporter) to weigh in on Trump’s response to COVID-19, Larkin demurred.

“I don’t have a strong feel­ing,” he said. “If I were him, I would have worn a mask more. I’m not inter­est­ed in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. My focus is here.”

Larkin may not be inter­est­ed in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, but the peo­ple he wants to rep­re­sent are. They dis­ap­prove of Don­ald Trump’s job per­for­mance by a large mar­gin, and three out of five are vot­ing for Joe Biden, accord­ing to our research.

There were twice as many vot­ers who report­ed being unde­cid­ed in the race for Attor­ney Gen­er­al as there were in the race for gov­er­nor. How­ev­er, there isn’t a “not sure” option on the bal­lot. Giv­en that Fer­gu­son secured over 55% of the vote in the August Top Two elec­tion, our team would not be sur­prised if he wins reelec­tion this autumn with clos­er to 60% to the vote.

Vot­ing in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is cur­rent­ly in progress and is set to con­clude on Novem­ber 3rd, 2020 at 8 PM Pacif­ic in Wash­ing­ton State.

Monday, October 19th, 2020

Jay Inslee leads Loren Culp by sixteen points in Washington’s 2020 gubernatorial race

Incum­bent Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee is well posi­tioned to become the first chief exec­u­tive since Dan Evans to be elect­ed to a third term in office, a poll con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute has found.

56% of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans sur­veyed on Octo­ber 14th-15th by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for NPI said they were vot­ing for Inslee, while 40% said they were vot­ing for Repub­li­can chal­lenger Loren Culp, who is the town of Repub­lic’s only law enforce­ment offi­cer. 4% of respon­dents were not sure.

These results sug­gest Inslee could win by a big­ger mar­gin than he did in 2012 when his oppo­nent was then-Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rob McKen­na, or in 2016 when his oppo­nent was for­mer Seat­tle Port Com­mis­sion­er Bill Bryant.

Repub­li­cans have been insist­ing for years that vot­ers are itch­ing to vote Inslee out of office, but this data shows that the oppo­site is true. Vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State appear to be on the verge of giv­ing Inslee his biggest statewide man­date ever.

For con­text, in 2016, polls done in Octo­ber of 2016 showed Inslee with an aver­age lead of almost nine points over Bryant:

  • Sur­veyUSA con­duct­ed a poll from Octo­ber 31st – Novem­ber 2nd, 2016 that found Inslee at 50% and Bryant at 43%.
  • Elway Research con­duct­ed a poll from Octo­ber 20th–22nd, 2016 that put Inslee at 51% and Bryant at 39%.
  • KCTS 9/YouGov con­duct­ed a poll from Octo­ber 6th–13th, 2016 that had Inslee at 51% and Bryant at 45%.
  • Strate­gies 360/KOMO News con­duct­ed a poll from Sep­tem­ber 29th – Octo­ber 3rd, 2016 that had Inslee at 50% and Bryant at 40%.

Inslee went on to win by almost ten points, earn­ing 54.39% of the vote to Bryan­t’s 45.61%. This time around, it looks like Inslee could win by even more.

A big Inslee win would be sure to shock at least some Repub­li­cans, who appear con­vinced that Inslee’s response to the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic has hurt him.

Oth­er sur­veys have also shown Inslee with a com­fort­able lead over Loren Culp. A recent Sur­veyUSA poll, for exam­ple, found Inslee at 54% and Culp at 40%.

The gov­er­nor enjoys a slight­ly high­er mar­gin in our sur­vey (56% vs. 54%), but it still tracks pret­ty close­ly with Sur­veyUSA’s find­ing.

(Culp received 40% in both sur­veys).

Here are the num­bers again, and the exact ques­tion we asked:

QUESTION: The 2020 can­di­dates for Gov­er­nor are Demo­c­rat Jay Inslee and Repub­li­can Loren Culp. Who are you vot­ing for?

ANSWERS:

  • Jay Inslee: 56%
  • Loren Culp: 40%
  • Not sure: 4%

Our sur­vey of six hun­dred and ten like­ly 2020 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Octo­ber 14th through Thurs­day, Octo­ber 15th.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents.

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 4.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence lev­el.

Inslee’s sec­ond term has been char­ac­ter­ized by big changes in the state­house.

In 2017, Wash­ing­ton’s State Sen­ate flipped Demo­c­ra­t­ic after half a decade of Repub­li­can con­trol, thanks to the vic­to­ry of North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion board­mem­ber Man­ka Dhin­gra in the 45th Dis­trict.

In 2018, Democ­rats added sev­en seats to their major­i­ty in the State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and three seats to their major­i­ty in the State Sen­ate.

This year, Democ­rats are attempt­ing to add a few more seats to their majori­ties in each cham­ber. Repub­li­cans’ only seri­ous pick­up oppor­tu­ni­ties appear to be in the 19th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, where Democ­rats are work­ing furi­ous­ly to reelect State Sen­a­tor Dean Takko and State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bri­an Blake.

While the par­ty is anx­ious to defend its coastal seats, it looks set to remain in con­trol of both cham­bers of the Leg­is­la­ture regard­less of what hap­pens in the 19th. That means that Inslee would enter his third term with friend­ly majori­ties on both sides of the rotun­da, which was not the case in either 2013 or 2017.

The gov­er­nor has ambi­tious goals for the 2021 leg­isla­tive ses­sion.

In a recent address to North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute sup­port­ers, Inslee out­lined sev­er­al goals for a third term, includ­ing mean­ing­ful cli­mate action, expand­ing health­care, and strength­en­ing pro­tec­tions for work­ing fam­i­lies. Inslee has also cit­ed bring­ing Wash­ing­ton out of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic with as few deaths and bouts of ill­ness as pos­si­ble as a top pri­or­i­ty of his admin­is­tra­tion.

Culp has stat­ed that if elect­ed, he would rescind most of Inslee’s emer­gency orders. How­ev­er, he is doing his best to cam­paign as a pro-labor Repub­li­can, which is very inter­est­ing. In a state­ment on his cam­paign web­site, he writes:

I will nev­er sign any Right to Work leg­is­la­tion. That is my com­mit­ment to our won­der­ful union work­ers and their fam­i­lies.

I believe in the val­ue and impor­tance of col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing and I believe an hon­est day’s work is worth an hon­est day’s wage. It’s the most impor­tant mech­a­nism we have for deter­min­ing the price and terms of dif­fer­ent types of work in our econ­o­my. And in our soci­ety.

Though Culp’s cam­paign has for the most part been play­ing to the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s loy­al base, it’s evi­dent from read­ing his cam­paign web­site that he is now try­ing to appeal to Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Demo­c­ra­t­ic lean­ing vot­ers.

It’s not pos­si­ble to win a statewide race in Wash­ing­ton with just the Repub­li­can base, and Culp’s team appears to have belat­ed­ly fig­ured this out. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for them and the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty, Culp already has a record of deny­ing cli­mate sci­ence and embrac­ing right wing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.

While Culp has more sup­port than he did a few months ago, that is most­ly due to hav­ing secured a spot on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot, where he is the one and only alter­na­tive to Gov­er­nor Inslee. Dozens of oth­er can­di­dates filed for the posi­tion, but all of them were elim­i­nat­ed in the August Top Two elec­tion.

Vot­ing in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is cur­rent­ly in progress and is set to con­clude on Novem­ber 3rd, 2020 at 8 PM Pacif­ic in Wash­ing­ton State.

Monday, October 19th, 2020

Three out of five Washingtonians surveyed are voting for Joe Biden, NPI poll finds

Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Joe Biden remains on track to win Wash­ing­ton State by a mar­gin not seen in a pres­i­den­tial race since the 1960s, a sur­vey con­duct­ed last week for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute has found.

60% of like­ly vot­ers sur­veyed said Biden was their choice for Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, while 37% said they were vot­ing for Don­ald Trump.

2% were not sure.

These num­bers are almost iden­ti­cal to our pre­vi­ous find­ings from last May and from a year ago (Octo­ber of 2019). This new data point just rein­forces that the vast major­i­ty of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans were pre­pared long ago to vote either to reelect Don­ald Trump or vote to replace him with his Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger.

In our May 2020 sur­vey, 59% expressed sup­port for Biden, 37% expressed sup­port for Trump, and 5% were not sure. In our Octo­ber 2019 sur­vey, 59% pre­ferred Biden, 37% pre­ferred Trump, and 3% were not sure.

(Note that fig­ures don’t always add to one hun­dred per­cent due to round­ing.)

Biden’s sup­port has now increased slight­ly to 60% while Trump’s sup­port has remain unchanged. The num­ber of unde­cid­ed vot­ers has dimin­ished.

The fig­ures also mir­ror — exact­ly — our find­ing con­cern­ing Don­ald Trump’s job per­for­mance, which makes sense. The same 60% of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans who dis­ap­prove of Trump’s job per­for­mance are pre­sum­ably vot­ing for Biden, while the 37% who approve are Trump back­ers who want Trump to get a sec­ond term.

Here are the statewide num­bers again, and the exact ques­tion we asked:

QUESTION: In the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, are you vot­ing
for Demo­c­rat Joe Biden, or Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump?

ANSWERS:

  • Joe Biden: 60%
  • Don­ald Trump: 37%
  • Not sure: 2%

Now, here are the num­bers by age, par­ty, and gen­der iden­ti­ty:

QUESTION: If the can­di­dates for Pres­i­dent this fall were Demo­c­rat Joe Biden and Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump, who would you vote for?

ANSWERS:

  • Age
    • 18 to 29: 71% for Biden, 29% for Trump
    • 30 to 45: 65% for Biden, 31% for Trump, 4% not sure
    • 46 to 65: 57% for Biden, 42% for Trump; 2% not sure
    • 65 & old­er: 57% for Biden, 40% for Trump, 3% not sure
  • Par­ty
    • Demo­c­ra­t­ic: 92% for Biden, 7% for Trump, 1% not sure
    • Repub­li­can: 91% for Trump, 7% for Biden, 2% not sure
    • Inde­pen­dent: 64% for Biden, 30% for Trump, 6% not sure
  • Gen­der
    • Women: 65% for Biden, 33% for Trump, 3% not sure
    • Men: 57% for Biden, 41% for Trump, 2% not sure
    • Non­bi­na­ry gen­der iden­ti­ty: 33% for Biden, 65% for Trump, 1% not sure (note the mar­gin of error for the non­bi­na­ry gen­der sub­sam­ple is extreme­ly high because only a few respon­dents iden­ti­fied as non­bi­na­ry)

Our sur­vey of six hun­dred and ten like­ly 2020 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Octo­ber 14th through Thurs­day, Octo­ber 15th.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents.

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 4.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence lev­el.

No pres­i­den­tial tick­et has cap­tured more than six­ty per­cent in Wash­ing­ton State since Lyn­don Baines John­son and Hubert Humphrey in 1964. It looks like Joe Biden and Kamala Har­ris could be in LBJ and Humphrey ter­ri­to­ry this year.

There will be some minor par­ty can­di­dates list­ed on Wash­ing­to­ni­ans’ bal­lots that were not includ­ed as choic­es in our poll, and those can­di­dates are sure to get some votes. The actu­al elec­tion results are thus guar­an­teed to be dif­fer­ent than our find­ing this month and ear­li­er this year. How­ev­er, it will be inter­est­ing to see if the gap between Biden and Trump ends up being about twen­ty-three points or so, which is what we’ve been see­ing con­sis­tent­ly in our polling for years.

Unlike with state and local offices, the posi­tions of Pres­i­dent and Vice Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States are not restrict­ed to two sets of can­di­dates (or, to be more accu­rate, two elec­tor slates, because we don’t direct­ly elect the Pres­i­dent and Vice Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States.) For all oth­er offices, Wash­ing­ton State law allows only two can­di­dates to be list­ed on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot.

Vot­ing in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is cur­rent­ly in progress and is set to con­clude on Novem­ber 3rd, 2020 at 8 PM Pacif­ic in Wash­ing­ton State.

Friday, October 16th, 2020

Pandemic politics in Washington State, 2020: “This is the weirdest election cycle ever”

In-per­son con­tact is usu­al­ly the essence of pol­i­tics on Whid­bey Island, with capa­bly run, well attend­ed can­di­date forums, and church base­ment break­fasts fea­tur­ing live­ly dia­logue and con­gealed eggs.

Not so in 2020, although the 10th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict has split rep­re­sen­ta­tion, an open House seat, and a State Sen­ate race fea­tur­ing a can­di­date – Demo­c­rat Helen Price John­son – who used to stage brisk League of Women Vot­ers forums.

It’s so across the Ever­green State, save for close quar­ters, large­ly mask-less events for Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Loren Culp, State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jim Walsh, and Top Two elec­tion los­er Tim Eyman.

Back in the spring, Eyman invit­ed Island Coun­ty Repub­li­cans to defy Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s first order lim­it­ing crowd size. Few showed up.

What are can­di­dates and cam­paigns doing?

“Lots of Zoom and can­di­dates are plac­ing a huge num­ber of calls them­selves,” mes­saged State Rep. J.T. Wilcox, the House Repub­li­can leader.

The nov­el coroan­virus pan­dem­ic has tak­en away a near­by plea­sure of grass­roots democ­ra­cy – the oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet and jaw­bone with neigh­bors and vis­i­tors who are on the cam­paign trail – but extend­ed the reach of polit­i­cal activism.

“I think it has hurt local involve­ment, but has made it eas­i­er to get involved in swing states,” said Demo­c­ra­t­ic activist and par­ty leader Derek Richards, who chairs the Young Democ­rats of Wash­ing­ton (YDWA).

“For exam­ple, I do love to go to forums in per­son and get a feel of how an audi­ence reacts and how can­di­dates then react to con­stituents. And I miss knock­ing doors. But because COVID-19 has forced cam­paigns to be com­plete­ly online, it makes it just as easy for me to phone bank or text bank peo­ple in Maine as it would be for me to bus to a swing dis­trict and knock doors for a can­di­date. So, as a vol­un­teer for cam­paigns it is eas­i­er.”

“As a lover of in-per­son events, it isn’t so great.”

Sen­a­tor Susan Collins, R‑Maine, should be very con­cerned that Derek Richards is reach­ing Down East to oppose her. At the same time, how­ev­er, 10th Dis­trict Repub­li­can can­di­date Bill Bruch – chal­leng­ing State Rep. Dave Paul – has to face far few­er ques­tions over his coro­n­avirus skep­ti­cism and his sup­port for the Navy’s Growler jets, whose noise is shat­ter­ing the peace­ful life of Coupeville.

The 19th Dis­trict in South­west Wash­ing­ton is home to a human gen­er­a­tor of noise, Eyman wing­man Jim Walsh, as well as two endan­gered Democ­rats, State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bri­an Blake and State Sen­a­tor Dean Takko.

Blake trailed Repub­li­can chal­lenger Joel McEn­tire by 3,000-plus votes in the pri­ma­ry. He is spend­ing less time hunt­ing elk, and hunt­ing votes back at the doorstep. “Zoom has allowed debates to hap­pen and we have door­belled the dis­trict after the [Top Two elec­tion],” said Blake.

He is run­ning as “A Dif­fer­ent Kind of Demo­c­rat,” an impor­tant dis­tinc­tion to make in per­son giv­en the noisy Seat­tle bash­ing of dis­trict Repub­li­cans.

Tere­sa Pur­cell, a Longview-based con­sul­tant to cam­paigns around the coun­try, has long fought to have the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty court young peo­ple, work­ing moms and oth­er folk under­rep­re­sent­ed in the vot­ing pub­lic.

The pan­dem­ic has uproot­ed cam­paigns.

“This has total­ly changed cam­paign­ing: Cre­ative folks are hav­ing Zoom hap­py hours, lis­ten­ing ses­sions or just pain meet and greets,” Pur­cell mes­saged.

“I don’t know of any­one hav­ing events (except a few Repub­li­cans, like Culp and Jim Walsh). Folks are doing lots of phone call­ing, social­ly dis­tanced can­vass­ing (just some cam­paigns are doing that) and mak­ing good use of social media.”

“This is the weird­est elec­tion cycle ever.”

Pan­dem­ic pol­i­tics have pro­duced one reveal­ing vir­tu­al debate.

In the 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler has long resist­ed in-per­son pol­i­tics, steer­ing away from town meet­ings and min­i­miz­ing expo­sure for her oppo­nents. She did accede to a League of Women Vot­ers-spon­sored debate last week with her Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nent Car­olyn Long.

The debate allowed Long to ham­mer at Her­rera Beutler’s role as a rub­ber stamp for Don­ald Trump, and to hit the incum­bent for a fail­ure to pro­duce on replac­ing the Inter­state 5 bridge link­ing Van­cou­ver with Port­land.

Her­rera Beut­ler coun­tered that she is work­ing bridges, cit­ing $5 mil­lion to pay for work lead­ing to replace­ment of the White Salmon-Hood Riv­er Bridge.

It was a spir­it­ed hour, although it’s not like­ly that Her­rera Beut­ler will be lured into anoth­er vir­tu­al face-off with the fast talk­ing Long.

The pan­dem­ic has put a crimp on Long, who in 2018 used a series of town meet­ings in a bid to recon­nect rur­al South­west Wash­ing­ton with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee is not pop­u­lar in the region and is not fre­quent­ly seen in such places as Cowlitz and Grays Har­bor coun­ties.

On Whid­bey Island, I know I can expect 10th Dis­trict can­di­date mail­ings to pour out of my post office box. They will be signed (in very small print) by cam­paigns, labor unions, and par­ties’ front groups. I’m lucky enough to have wit­nessed work as Island Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­ers by Helen Price John­son and Demo­c­ra­t­ic House nom­i­nee Ang­ie Homo­la. Long­time Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Nor­ma Smith isn’t run­ning again: She made me a tick­et split­ter with strong sup­port for net neu­tral­i­ty, and cospon­sored bipar­ti­san leg­is­la­tion allow­ing the Attor­ney Gen­er­al to crack down on neglect­ed, pol­lut­ing boats. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son has done just that.

Still, I’ll miss forums.

They could be reveal­ing, such as watch­ing Repub­li­can State Sen­a­tor Bar­bara Bailey’s abrupt, rude treat­ment of crit­i­cal but polite­ly posed ques­tions at a 2016 LWV forum in Oak Har­bor. Down in Lan­g­ley, the League’s can­di­date nights could hold an audi­ence for two hours. The park­ing lot argu­ments typ­i­cal­ly went on for anoth­er thir­ty min­utes after that. Inside the Methodist Church hall, Island Coun­ty Demo­c­ra­t­ic Chair “Uncle Paul” Fournier and long­time Repub­li­can leader Dorothy Cleve­land would be tak­ing up and fold­ing chairs.

Sure, Fournier and Cleve­land were on oppo­site sides of hot­ly con­test­ed races. After the elec­tion, how­ev­er, they would come togeth­er to pass the local school levy – over grum­bling from a group of local con­ser­v­a­tive called the Old Goats – and to sup­port pro­grams to keep trou­bled teenagers from going to seed.

Before all pol­i­tics was Trump, all pol­i­tics was local. In some ways, it still is.

Friday, October 16th, 2020

As voting ramps up, NPI poll finds fewer rural Washingtonians approving of Donald Trump

Don­ald Trump’s posi­tion with rur­al vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State appears to have wors­ened since the spring of 2020 and is back to about where it was in 2019, a new sur­vey con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute has found.

Over­all, 60% of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans dis­ap­prove of Trump’s job per­for­mance, while 37% approve. 3% of respon­dents said that they were not sure.

Those statewide num­bers, from a poll just back from the field this morn­ing, are iden­ti­cal, or near­ly iden­ti­cal, to what we’ve been find­ing for years.

How­ev­er, at the region­al lev­el, Trump’s posi­tion in regions with high­er con­cen­tra­tions of right wing and con­ser­v­a­tive vot­ers has dete­ri­o­rat­ed, which def­i­nite­ly isn’t good news for the Repub­li­can tick­et.

Take East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton.

Back in the spring, we found Trump’s approval rat­ing in that region had improved to 52%, up from 49% in Octo­ber of 2019 and 47% in May of 2019.

Just 43% there said they dis­ap­proved of Trump’s job per­for­mance back in May.

How­ev­er, Trump has giv­en up those gains. Our newest sur­vey finds vot­ers in East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton even­ly split on whether Trump is doing a good job. Half (49%) say he is. Half (50%) say he is not. Only 1% are not sure.

It’s a sim­i­lar sto­ry in South­west Wash­ing­ton and on the Olympic Penin­su­la, where Trump has regressed from 47% approv­ing and 48% dis­ap­prov­ing back in May 2020 to 51% dis­ap­prov­ing and 45% approv­ing now.

It’s not all bad news for Trump and the Repub­li­cans, how­ev­er. Trump is doing bet­ter in the sub­urbs (par­tic­u­lar­ly north of Seat­tle) than he was back in May, at least in this sur­vey. He’s also doing some­what bet­ter in the South Sound, though 64% of vot­ers in the Pierce-Thurston area still dis­ap­prove of him.

King Coun­ty vot­ers’ views remain basi­cal­ly unchanged. 72% dis­ap­prove of Trump, the same as back in May, while 24% approve com­pared to 23% back in May.

Let’s dive into the num­bers. Here’s the statewide results again:

QUESTION: Do you approve or dis­ap­prove of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s job per­for­mance?

ANSWERS:

  • Dis­ap­prove: 60%
  • Approve: 37%
  • Not sure: 3%

Now, here are the num­bers by region:

QUESTION: Do you approve or dis­ap­prove of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s job per­for­mance?

ANSWERS:

  • King Coun­ty
    • Dis­ap­prove: 72%
    • Approve: 24%
    • Not sure: 3%
  • North Puget Sound
    • Dis­ap­prove: 57%
    • Approve: 41%
    • Not sure: 3%
  • South Sound
    • Dis­ap­prove: 64%
    • Approve: 36%
    • Not sure: 1%
  • Olympic Penin­su­la and South­west Wash­ing­ton
    • Dis­ap­prove: 51%
    • Approve: 45%
    • Not sure: 4%
  • East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton
    • Dis­ap­prove: 50%
    • Approve: 49%
    • Not sure: 1%

As we can see, Trump has returned to neg­a­tive ter­ri­to­ry in every region.

Because all pol­i­tics is Trump nowa­days, these find­ings indi­cate that Democ­rats in Wash­ing­ton State may be in a bet­ter posi­tion to secure down­bal­lot vic­to­ries in places like the 19th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict (where State Sen­a­tor Dean Takko and State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bri­an Blake are work­ing hard for reelec­tion) than they were back in the sum­mer when the Top Two elec­tion was held.

Repub­li­can elect­ed offi­cials and par­ty oper­a­tives are well aware that Trump’s pres­ence atop their tick­et could have an inverse coat­tails effect this year. (It’s some­thing they’re talk­ing about inter­nal­ly on an almost con­stant basis.)

They are also aware that Trump’s cam­paign is going bad­ly.

“Y’all have a good chance of win­ning the White House,” South Car­oli­na’s Lind­sey Gra­ham said yes­ter­day, con­ced­ing to his Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­leagues that Repub­li­cans are des­per­ate to get Amy Coney Bar­rett con­firmed before their hold on the exec­u­tive branch and the Sen­ate poten­tial­ly goes away.

“Thank you for acknowl­edg­ing that,” Min­neso­ta’s Amy Klobuchar replied.

“I think it’s true,” Gra­ham added.

Not only is Trump on the verge of defeat, but so are Mitch McConnell and the Sen­ate Repub­li­cans, to the sur­prise of many pun­dits. Democ­rats have suc­ceed­ed in cre­at­ing a broad­ly com­pet­i­tive map, with pick­up oppor­tu­ni­ties in states won by Trump as well as states that Hillary Clin­ton won, like Maine and Col­orado.

Wash­ing­ton has a strong Demo­c­ra­t­ic tilt, espe­cial­ly at the statewide lev­el, and no cred­i­ble ana­lyst expects Repub­li­cans to be com­pet­i­tive in either the pres­i­den­tial or guber­na­to­r­i­al races here. How­ev­er, the state does have close­ly con­test­ed down­bal­lot races that could be affect­ed by how vot­ers per­ceive Don­ald Trump and the Repub­li­can Par­ty, which is effec­tive­ly the new Trump Orga­ni­za­tion.

Our sur­vey of six hun­dred and ten like­ly 2020 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Octo­ber 14th through Thurs­day, Octo­ber 15th.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents.

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 4.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence lev­el.

Nation­wide polls show that more Amer­i­cans also dis­ap­prove of Trump’s job per­for­mance than approve, although the dis­par­i­ty is less pro­nounced than it is in Demo­c­ra­t­ic-con­trolled states such as Wash­ing­ton.

Vot­ing in the Novem­ber 2020 gen­er­al elec­tion will end on Tues­day, Novem­ber 3rd. Don­ald Trump’s cur­rent term in office expires on Jan­u­ary 20th, 2021.

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

AG Bob Ferguson lays the blame for I‑976 debacle where it belongs: with Tim Eyman

Though this morn­ing’s Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court deci­sion strik­ing down Ini­tia­tive 976 in its entire­ty was cer­tain­ly a major defeat for spon­sor Tim Eyman, it was also a loss for Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son’s office, because the office was required by law to defend the ini­tia­tive after it was sub­ject­ed to a legal chal­lenge.

Rather than out­sourc­ing the work of defend­ing the ini­tia­tive to a pri­vate law firm, as Eyman had want­ed, Fer­gu­son kept it in-house. In accor­dance with agency pro­ce­dures, Fer­gu­son instruct­ed that a fire­wall be set up to sep­a­rate the team respon­si­ble for defend­ing I‑976 and the team work­ing to hold Eyman account­able for major vio­la­tions of Wash­ing­ton’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure law in the high pro­file cam­paign enforce­ment suit filed by Fer­gu­son in March of 2017.

That, of course, was­n’t good enough for Eyman. The dis­hon­est ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er imme­di­ate­ly began accus­ing Fer­gu­son of “sab­o­tag­ing” I‑976’s legal defense, and has kept that par­tic­u­lar fire burn­ing, at least with his fans, for near­ly a year now.

The real­i­ty, how­ev­er, is that Fer­gu­son’s office was set up for fail­ure, because Tim Eyman did­n’t give them any­thing to hang their hats on.

I‑976 was a bad­ly writ­ten ini­tia­tive, not just flawed in one or two ways, but chock full of con­sti­tu­tion­al defects. The Court did not dis­cuss all of the defects in its deci­sion because there was no need; the jus­tices were in agree­ment that the mea­sure was uncon­sti­tu­tion­al on Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 19 grounds. How­ev­er, the plain­tiffs laid out all of the alleged defects in their court briefs.

I can’t see how any lawyer or law firm in the state, no mat­ter how bril­liant, could have saved I‑976 from the wreck­ing ball. It was a piece of junk at its incep­tion and it’s now been put in the scrap heap where it belongs. I’m guess­ing Bob Fer­gu­son was think­ing sim­i­lar thoughts when he approved the state­ment below.

I’m proud of my legal team, who worked long hours to defend the will of the vot­ers, argu­ing suc­cess­ful­ly at the tri­al court that Ini­tia­tive 976 was con­sti­tu­tion­al.

To be can­did, we knew this would be a dif­fi­cult case.

I‑976 is the lat­est in a long list of Eyman tax ini­tia­tives struck down by the courts. In fact, Tim Eyman has nev­er writ­ten a suc­cess­ful tax ini­tia­tive that passed legal muster. Every one of his tax ini­tia­tives has been thrown out or par­tial­ly blocked by the courts.

Tim Eyman will, of course, do what he has done through­out this case — blame every­one but him­self. He will again blame my out­stand­ing legal team, even though the Supreme Court allowed inter­ven­ers to present Eyman’s argu­ments.

He will again blame my office for lan­guage in the bal­lot title that he specif­i­cal­ly request­ed to be includ­ed in the title, and that was pulled word-for-word from his ini­tia­tive. He should look in the mir­ror and apol­o­gize to vot­ers for once again send­ing them an ini­tia­tive that failed to sur­vive a legal chal­lenge and deliv­er on its promis­es.

I agree with every­thing AG Fer­gu­son says above, except his com­ment about I‑976 being found con­sti­tu­tion­al at the tri­al court lev­el. It’s true that Judge Mar­shall Fer­gu­son ini­tial­ly upheld most of the pro­vi­sions of the ini­tia­tive. How­ev­er, Judge Fer­gu­son lat­er went on to strike down some of the pro­vi­sions as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. It end­ed up being a split deci­sion; it did­n’t go entire­ly the AGO’s way.

Tri­al court rul­ings are not bind­ing on the State Supreme Court, and Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son knows that. The Supreme Court over­turns Supe­ri­or Court judges reg­u­lar­ly, espe­cial­ly in cas­es per­tain­ing to ini­tia­tives and recalls. (Take the recall against May­or Jen­ny Durkan as an exam­ple.)

Fer­gu­son’s team had what I con­sid­ered to be an unpleas­ant and impos­si­ble task: Con­vince Wash­ing­ton’s nine extreme­ly thought­ful State Supreme Court jus­tices that I‑976 did­n’t vio­late the Con­sti­tu­tion when it clear­ly did.

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, they could­n’t do it.

At one point in the lead opin­ion, Jus­tice Steven Gon­za­lez remarked that the jus­tices were “unper­suad­ed by the State’s argu­ment” that the I‑976 bal­lot title (which I’ve pre­vi­ous­ly ana­lyzed as a blaz­ing dump­ster fire) was not mis­lead­ing.

“The bal­lot state­ment of an ini­tia­tive con­cerns the effect of the ini­tia­tive,” Gon­za­lez wrote. “It is not the place for tru­isms about leg­isla­tive pow­er.”

Reflect­ing on the lan­guage that false­ly stat­ed that vot­er approved charges would be exempt­ed from vehi­cle fee roll­backs, Gon­za­lez added:

“We hold that the ini­tia­tive vio­lates the sub­ject-in-title rule because it is decep­tive and mis­lead­ing since the aver­age informed lay vot­er would con­clude vot­er approved tax­es – such as those used to fund local and region­al trans­porta­tion projects across our state – would remain.”

No cred­i­ble analy­sis of the I‑976 bal­lot title can con­clude it is any­thing but mis­lead­ing and decep­tive. It is telling that the lead opin­ion was signed by eight of the nine jus­tices. (A ninth jus­tice, Bar­bara Mad­sen, dis­agreed that the bal­lot title was defec­tive, but agreed that the mea­sure had more than one sub­ject.)

Tim Eyman has spent much of the day assert­ing that “vot­ers were not con­fused”. But he does not speak for the vot­ers. In fact, just two months ago, Wash­ing­ton vot­ers told Eyman to get lost and end­ed his can­di­da­cy for gov­er­nor.

Regard­less of what the degree of con­fu­sion among vot­ers may have been, peo­ple were lied to by Eyman, both direct­ly and through I‑976’s text and bal­lot title.

And those lies had an effect on the out­come.

As John Ker­ry mem­o­rably remarked in one of his debates with George W. Bush in 2004, it is pos­si­ble to be cer­tain and still be wrong. The I‑976 bal­lot title makes it sound like I‑976 is a pro­pos­al that would have the effect of giv­ing every­one vehi­cle fees no high­er than thir­ty dol­lars with the excep­tion of any “vot­er approved charges”. Nei­ther of those state­ments is true.

The I‑976 bal­lot title also com­plete­ly neglects to men­tion any of the con­se­quences that would result from imple­ment­ing such a scheme.

We can­not know how many vot­ers were duped by Eyman’s fab­ri­ca­tions. What we do know is that Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 19 of the Con­sti­tu­tion requires that bal­lot titles and bill titles express­ly refer to their sub­jects. And I‑976’s does­n’t.

Accord­ing­ly, the ini­tia­tive can­not stand.

Today was a vic­to­ry for jus­tice, the Con­sti­tu­tion, and Wash­ing­ton’s future. While Bob Fer­gu­son’s team did­n’t pre­vail, they can take com­fort in the knowl­edge that they tried to mount a zeal­ous defense despite hav­ing very lit­tle to work with.

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

HUGE VICTORY: Washington’s highest court rules Tim Eyman’s I‑976 is unconstitutional!

Wash­ing­ton State’s Con­sti­tu­tion has once again been upheld and a destruc­tive, decep­tive Tim Eyman ini­tia­tive that sought to vio­late it firm­ly struck down.

In a deci­sion sup­port­ed by all nine jus­tices, the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court today ruled that Tim Eyman’s I‑976 (which sought to wipe out bil­lions of dol­lars in fund­ing for mul­ti­modal trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture across the state) vio­lates Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 19 of the state’s plan of gov­ern­ment. The Court held:

The peo­ple of our state have the pow­er to pro­pose and approve leg­is­la­tion. When the peo­ple act in their leg­isla­tive capac­i­ty, they are, like any oth­er leg­isla­tive body, bound by con­sti­tu­tion­al con­straints. Under our con­sti­tu­tion, “[n]o bill shall embrace more than one sub­ject, and that shall be expressed in the title.” Ini­tia­tive Mea­sure 976 con­tains more than one sub­ject, and its sub­ject is not accu­rate­ly expressed in its title. Accord­ing­ly, it is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al.

In addi­tion to declar­ing the ini­tia­tive uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, the jus­tices remand­ed the mat­ter back to King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge Mar­shall Fer­gu­son “for fur­ther pro­ceed­ings con­sis­tent with this opin­ion.” (Fer­gu­son had pre­vi­ous­ly ruled that most of the ini­tia­tive was con­sti­tu­tion­al while strik­ing down two sec­tions.)

Eight jus­tices signed the lead opin­ion authored by Jus­tice Steven Gon­za­lez, who is one of the most for­mi­da­ble legal minds in Wash­ing­ton State… a jurist of excep­tion­al wis­dom, integri­ty, and char­ac­ter. Jus­tice Bar­bara Mad­sen filed a con­cur­ring opin­ion agree­ing that I‑976 vio­lates the sin­gle sub­ject rule of the Con­sti­tu­tion, but dis­agree­ing that it vio­lates the sub­ject-in-title require­ment.

Supreme Court rul­ing strik­ing down I‑976

As a con­se­quence of the deci­sion, I‑976 will not go into effect. Bil­lions of dol­lars in fund­ing for roads, bus­es, fer­ries, side­walks, bike lanes, trains, the State Patrol, and projects to improve mobil­i­ty, includ­ing the move­ment of freight, will be pre­served. This is a huge vic­to­ry for Wash­ing­ton State’s future.

We’ve post­ed a state­ment at NPI’s Per­ma­nent Defense hail­ing the deci­sion.

Kudos to the legal team that suc­cess­ful­ly brought this legal chal­lenge, includ­ing David Hack­ett, David James Eldred, Jenifer C. Merkel, and Erin Baine Jack­son of King Coun­ty (which NPI is proud to call home!), Car­olyn Boies, Eri­ca Franklin, and John Ben­jamin Kerr Scho­chet of the City of Seat­tle, and Paci­fi­ca Law Group’s team: Matthew Segal, Paul Lawrence, Jes­si­ca Anne Skel­ton, and Shae Blood.

NPI is very proud to be a client of Paci­fi­ca Law Group.

Among Paci­fi­ca’s oth­er clients is the Wash­ing­ton State Tran­sit Asso­ci­a­tion (WSTA), one of the plain­tiffs Paci­fi­ca ably rep­re­sent­ed in this case.

“We are pleased with the Court’s deci­sion to rec­og­nize the uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of this ini­tia­tive,” said WSTA Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Justin Leighton in a state­ment inform­ing the local tran­sit agen­cies that WSTA serves of the deci­sion.

“Our State Con­sti­tu­tion, the bedrock of our laws, out­lines firm­ly how an ini­tia­tive should be pre­sent­ed to the peo­ple for a vote, and I‑976 did not pass that test.”

“More­over, I‑976 was explic­it­ly designed to under­mine the direct fund­ing to pub­lic safe­ty on our roads, preser­va­tion and main­te­nance of our bridges, and hit­ting home to us all, the mobil­i­ty and access for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, seniors, tran­sit-depen­dent, and essen­tial rid­ers,” Leighton observed. “It was incum­bent upon us to ensure the due dili­gence of bring­ing this case for­ward late in 2019, not just for our mem­bers but for our rid­ers and com­mu­ni­ties.”

In addi­tion to the Wash­ing­ton State Tran­sit Asso­ci­a­tion, plain­tiffs includ­ed King Coun­ty, the City of Seat­tle, the Port of Seat­tle, Garfield Coun­ty Trans­porta­tion Author­i­ty (the name­sake of the case), Inter­ci­ty Tran­sit, Asso­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton Cities, Amal­ga­mat­ed Tran­sit Union of Wash­ing­ton, and Michael Rogers.

King Coun­ty and Seat­tle were rep­re­sent­ed by their own coun­cil, while Paci­fi­ca rep­re­sent­ed the oth­er plain­tiffs, includ­ing Garfield Coun­ty Trans­porta­tion Author­i­ty, the named lead plain­tiff. (Hur­rah for Garfield Coun­ty, which stood up and fought to save its rur­al bus and para­tran­sit ser­vice!)

King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine, who is a long­time sup­port­er of NPI’s research, also praised the Supreme Court for its well rea­soned deci­sion.

“Today’s rul­ing resound­ing­ly rejects this uncon­sti­tu­tion­al mea­sure, just as the peo­ple of King Coun­ty reject­ed it at the polls, and we can now move for­ward to build a trans­porta­tion sys­tem and econ­o­my that gives every per­son the oppor­tu­ni­ty to cre­ate a bet­ter future,” said Con­stan­tine.

“I‑976 threat­ened to reduce or elim­i­nate local and vot­er-approved fund­ing for pub­lic trans­porta­tion, bridges and roads, and oth­er crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture and ser­vices across our state,” the Exec­u­tive not­ed.

“It jeop­ar­dized near­ly $100 mil­lion in fund­ing in King Coun­ty, includ­ing Region­al Mobil­i­ty Grant Pro­gram awards that fund RapidRide expan­sion and reli­a­bil­i­ty improve­ments, and fund­ing for tran­sit serv­ing per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties.”

“At King Coun­ty, we are grat­i­fied to be able to con­tin­ue to work with local juris­dic­tions, oth­er tran­sit agen­cies, and part­ners to fund safe, sus­tain­able, and equi­table mobil­i­ty for all our res­i­dents.”

“Tran­sit and mobil­i­ty invest­ments will be cen­tral to our recov­ery as we rebuild from the eco­nom­ic dev­as­ta­tion from the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, and I’m pleased to have this shad­ow of uncer­tain­ty lift­ed by the Court.”

“Today is a good day,” agreed Trans­porta­tion Choic­es Coali­tion.

“2020 brings us good news?!!,” TCC’s Keiko Budech tweet­ed.

“I‑976 was a dev­as­tat­ing blow to #WA’s trans­porta­tion sys­tem. Today the State Supreme Court ruled it uncon­sti­tu­tion­al! This is a big win! We need more trans­porta­tion choic­es to get peo­ple where they need to go, not less.”

That’s exact­ly how we feel.

Free­dom of mobil­i­ty is a mat­ter of free­dom. You should­n’t be forced to dri­ve to get where you want to go. And if you do want to dri­ve to get where you’re going, then you ought to be able to reach your des­ti­na­tion safe­ly and with­out the headaches involved in sit­ting in bumper to bumper traf­fic jams.

Trans­porta­tion Choic­es Coali­tion is so named because Wash­ing­to­ni­ans deserve choic­es. I‑976’s defeat means that invest­ments in mul­ti­modal trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture are like­ly to con­tin­ue. The pan­dem­ic has already tak­en a toll on oth­er rev­enue sources. Imple­ment­ing I‑976 (as Repub­li­cans now want to do through leg­is­la­tion) would gut what’s left of the trans­porta­tion bud­get.

Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee knows how unwise and fool­ish that would be.

Unlike his pre­de­ces­sors Gary Locke and Chris Gre­goire, Inslee has shown zero inter­est in adopt­ing Eyman’s agen­da and mak­ing it his own mere­ly because Eyman suc­ceed­ed in run­ning anoth­er con against the vot­ers.

In addi­tion, Repub­li­cans are out of pow­er in the Leg­is­la­ture and are high­ly like­ly to remain out of pow­er in 2021 and 2022, as Democ­rats appear poised to retain their robust majori­ties in both cham­bers, and per­haps even build upon them.

Repub­li­cans will be rel­e­gat­ed to clam­or­ing for a spe­cial ses­sion and a vote on an I‑976 do-over bill from the side­lines. Democ­rats must reject these pro­pos­als.

Wash­ing­to­ni­ans do deserve leg­is­la­tion to improve our state’s tax code. We’d like to see a vehi­cle fee sched­ule that is fair­er and eas­i­er to under­stand, and so do most leg­is­la­tors we’ve talked to. That’s an achiev­able reform.

We also sore­ly need ini­tia­tive reform.

His­to­ry repeat­ed itself today when the Supreme Court struck down I‑976. It’s a movie we’ve all seen before, as I‑976 is the lat­est in a long line of Eyman ini­tia­tives to be declared uncon­sti­tu­tion­al.

The Court would not have need­ed to pro­tect our Con­sti­tu­tion from I‑976, how­ev­er, if those vot­ers who turned out last autumn had reject­ed it. And those vot­ers were lied to, by spon­sor Tim Eyman and by I‑976 itself.

We need to over­haul how bal­lot titles (the only lan­guage that vot­ers see on their bal­lots sum­ma­riz­ing the mea­sures) are devel­oped and cho­sen, to elim­i­nate the pos­si­bil­i­ty that vot­ers will see mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions on their bal­lots in the future.

Had vot­ers not been lied to in 2019, they might have decid­ed I‑976 dif­fer­ent­ly.

We can’t know what would have hap­pened, of course.

But what we do know is what our Con­sti­tu­tion says.

Our founders insist­ed that pro­posed laws accu­rate­ly describe their sub­jects with­in their titles. They also insist­ed that pro­posed laws be lim­it­ed to a sin­gle sub­ject to pre­vent logrolling. Tim Eyman delib­er­ate­ly ignored these rules in his quest to wreck as much mul­ti­modal trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture as pos­si­ble.

Tim has also repeat­ed­ly tried to argue that vot­ers weren’t con­fused.

But that’s an absurd thing for some­one who lied to vot­ers to say.

We doc­u­ment­ed and debunked many of Eyman’s lies about I‑976 at Per­ma­nent Defense dur­ing the cam­paign. Despite our efforts to cor­rect the record, those lies received lots of air­play dur­ing the runup to the elec­tion, and undoubt­ed­ly influ­enced the vote. Here are some of the lies that Eyman told:

Per­haps the biggest lie of all was the state­ment in the bal­lot title that said vot­er approved charges would be exempt from the roll­back of vehi­cle fees. There is no such exemp­tion in the ini­tia­tive, as the Supreme Court not­ed.

Eyman’s mar­ket­ing slo­gan was also a lie. Eyman told Wash­ing­to­ni­ans they would get “thir­ty dol­lar car tabs” if the mea­sure went through. But in real­i­ty, the low­est any­one would pay would be $43.25 had the ini­tia­tive sur­vived legal scruti­ny. $43.25 is not thir­ty bucks. Eyman him­self was forced to con­cede in an inter­view with The News Tri­bune of Taco­ma that I‑976 does­n’t deliv­er “$30 tabs”.

For­tu­nate­ly, the pile of dis­hon­esty and bad pol­i­cy that is I‑976 is no more. Good rid­dance to I‑976. After a mul­ti-year effort to van­quish this hor­ri­ble ini­tia­tive, we have won. We will remain vig­i­lant and on guard through our Per­ma­nent Defense project to pro­tect Wash­ing­ton from more bad bal­lot mea­sures… but today, we cel­e­brate a great vic­to­ry for our Con­sti­tu­tion and free­dom of mobil­i­ty!

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

Ahead of snap election, British Columbia holds cool, courteous, issue focused leaders’ debate

British Columbians are a peo­ple of the north, and the province’s polit­i­cal lead­ers know how to keep their cool. They showed as much Tues­day night in a respect­ful, issue-cen­tered debate between the peo­ple who want to serve as B.C.‘s pre­mier.

The only sign of America’s pol­i­tics, the Trump Tow­er in Van­cou­ver, closed in August due to finan­cial woes brought on by the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic.

Less than two weeks before they vote in a provin­cial elec­tion – although 646,000 have request­ed bal­lots to vote in advance — B.C. vot­ers watched a nine­ty-minute debate that was cour­te­ous, cen­tered on sub­jects rang­ing from the pan­dem­ic to the envi­ron­ment, with a mod­er­a­tor, Shachi Kurl, shut­ting down inter­rup­tions.

“Thank you all for a respect­ful debate: You all get a cook­ie,” Kurl, who heads the Angus Reid Insti­tute, said as she closed the face­off between three par­ty lead­ers.

The debate did noth­ing to halt momen­tum of the left-lean­ing New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty of out­go­ing Pre­mier John Hor­gan, which had a fif­teen-point lead in a pre-debate poll. The par­ty which wins a major­i­ty in the eighty-sev­en mem­ber British Colum­bia Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly forms the gov­ern­ment. Its leader becomes Pre­mier, com­bin­ing the exec­u­tive and leg­isla­tive branch­es of gov­ern­ment.

Once an angry pres­ence in the Leg­is­la­ture, Hor­gan has become avun­cu­lar, smil­ing and at times agree­ing with and thank­ing fel­low lead­ers, par­tic­u­lar­ly over what has been a uni­fied response to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic.

He side­stepped ques­tions about a “megapro­ject” that has turned into a mega-white ele­phant, the Site C dam under con­struc­tion on the Peace Riv­er.

“It wasn’t my project: The BC Lib­er­als start­ed it,” he said, refer­ring to the oppo­si­tion par­ty that ruled British Colum­bia for sev­en­teen years until 2017.

The fate of Site C has been punt­ed to a con­sul­tant report, due out after the Octo­ber 24th provin­cial snap elec­tion.

The Lib­er­als’ leader, Andrew Wilkin­son, is of a type not unfa­mil­iar to the Great White North. He is a doc­tor, a lawyer, and a Rhodes Schol­ar.

But he’s also stiff.

In a province known for flam­boy­ant lead­ers, Wilkin­son has had trou­ble con­nect­ing with the folks. He has shown less-than-rapid response on the cam­paign trail.

Wilkin­son was present at a fundrais­er when a B.C. Lib­er­al can­di­date made a rude, sex­ist com­ment about a leg­isla­tive col­league, New Demo­c­rat Bowinn Ma, the youngest mem­ber of the B.C. Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly.

He said noth­ing at the time, lat­er issu­ing a tepid apol­o­gy.

The oppo­si­tion leader also failed to stand up for LGBTQ rights after rev­e­la­tions about two Lib­er­al can­di­dates in the con­ser­v­a­tive Fras­er Val­ley: One leg­isla­tive hope­ful vot­ed in local coun­cil against a rain­bow cross­walk, the oth­er helped finance a pub­li­ca­tion pro­mot­ing con­ver­sion ther­a­py.

Wilkin­son deliv­ered a sort-of mea cul­pa, say­ing he has “gay and les­bian mem­bers in my fam­i­ly.” In last night’s debate, he effec­tive­ly ban­ished the Lib­er­al can­di­date in North Van­cou­ver who com­mit­ted the Ma gaffe, say­ing: “It was abun­dant­ly clear by the end of the roast she’d made a bit of a fool of her­self.”

And: “It was so clear what she did was wrong.”

The episode helps reveal a dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal cul­ture on the oth­er side of the 49th Par­al­lel. While Repub­li­cans in “the States” rail against Medicare for All, Canada’s nation­al health care pro­gram is, as John Hor­gan described it Tues­day night, “what sep­a­rates us from our neigh­bors to the south.”

British Colum­bia has expe­ri­enced 10,734 cas­es of the coro­n­avirus, although five hun­dred and forty-nine new cas­es report­ed this week rep­re­sent an upswing.

The province has expe­ri­enced a total of two hun­dred and fifty deaths. Wash­ing­ton has expe­ri­enced 98,792 con­firmed cas­es with 2,294 deaths.

The dus­tups over sex­ism and anti-LGBTQ feel­ings are also instruc­tive. Human rights and social tol­er­ance are part of Canada’s DNA. Nation­al­ly, the Con­ser­v­a­tive Par­ty of Cana­da lost last year’s elec­tion in part due to pre­vi­ous oppo­si­tion to mar­riage equal­i­ty by leader Andrew Scheer. British Colum­bia has twice had senior cab­i­net min­is­ters who are gay, and twice seen women in the premier’s office.

The New Democ­rats were kept in pow­er since May of 2017 thanks to the votes of three Green Par­ty mem­bers (all from Van­cou­ver Island) in the Assem­bly. The NDP and Greens had an agree­ment that was due to last until Octo­ber of 2021.

Just after selec­tion of a new Green leader, Sonia Furste­nau, Hor­gan pulled the plug, dis­solv­ing the Assem­bly and call­ing a snap elec­tion. Because B.C. has a par­lia­men­tary gov­ern­ment, he could do that. The Greens were furi­ous, and Furste­nau took after Hor­gan on Tues­day night for the “unnec­es­sary” elec­tion.

The new Green leader had her moment, notably an elo­quent dis­cus­sion of how racism and priv­i­lege live on in the province.

Furste­nau wasn’t buy­ing the New Democ­rats’ new pol­i­cy set­ting aside old growth forests, argu­ing: “We are cut­ting down way more trees than we can sus­tain.”

As with Amer­i­can gov­er­nors, Cana­di­an pre­miers have watched their pop­u­lar­i­ty rise after quick, ear­ly response to the pan­dem­ic. “All of us are fac­ing pres­sures and chal­lenges that could not have been imag­ined before this year,” said Furste­nau.

The province’s tourism/visitor indus­try has hol­lowed out.

Con­certs, Canucks games, and B.C. Lions foot­ball are out.

The bor­der is closed to all but “essen­tial” traf­fic. The province some­times nick­named Canada’s “lotus land” is fac­ing a gloomy win­ter.

Except for John Hor­gan. Wilkin­son didn’t lay a glove on him Tues­day night.

Hor­gan mocked the Lib­er­als’ pro­pos­al to let pri­vate auto insur­ance plans com­pete with the gov­ern­ment-run Insur­ance Cor­po­ra­tion of British Colum­bia, not­ing that the Lib­er­als in pow­er had made a mess of I.C.B.C.

At one point, the New Democ­rats’ leader turned to Wilkin­son and said, “You need to get out in the neigh­bor­hood and talk to peo­ple, my friend.”

Hor­gan stands to “win” the job of plan­ning the province’s recov­ery from a pan­dem­ic with no end in sight. It will be a dif­fi­cult jour­ney.

Monday, October 12th, 2020

Poll Watch: Jay Inslee and Bob Ferguson well ahead; race for Secretary of State is close

Wash­ing­ton State’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic tick­et is well posi­tioned for vic­to­ry in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, a new poll by Sur­veyUSA for KING5 has found.

With less than a month to go until vot­ing ends, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee has a four­teen point lead over his Repub­li­can chal­lenger Loren Culp, while Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son has an eleven point lead over his Repub­li­can chal­lenger Matt Larkin. (Both Inslee and Fer­gu­son are Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bents.) Mean­while, in the con­test for Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor, which has two Demo­c­ra­t­ic final­ists, U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Den­ny Heck leads Sen­a­tor Marko Liias by thir­teen points.

The clos­est race by far is that of Sec­re­tary of State, which pits NPI’s Gael Tar­leton against Repub­li­can incum­bent Kim Wyman (who, like Inslee, and Fer­gu­son, is seek­ing a third term). The sur­vey found Wyman with a lead of just five points, which is small­er than her mar­gin of vic­to­ry in the August Top Two elec­tion.

Here are the num­bers for each statewide exec­u­tive race for com­par­i­son:

RaceCur­rent­ly Lead­ingCur­rent­ly Trail­ingUnde­cid­ed
Gov­er­norJay Inslee: 54%Loren Culp: 40%6%
Lieu­tenant Gov­er­norDen­ny Heck: 31%Marko Liias: 18%52%
Attor­ney Gen­er­alBob Fer­gu­son: 49%Matt Larkin: 38%13%
Sec­re­tary of StateKim Wyman: 45%Gael Tar­leton: 40%14%

Sur­veyUSA also found 55% sup­port for Joe Biden and 34% sup­port for Don­ald Trump in the pres­i­den­tial race. A sim­i­lar per­cent­age indi­cat­ed sup­port for Wash­ing­ton State’s com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion law, which is on the bal­lot as Ref­er­en­dum 90. 52% said they would vote Approved, while 34% said they would vote Reject­ed. 14% said they were unde­cid­ed.

The sur­vey’s method­ol­o­gy was as fol­lows:

The poll, which was con­duct­ed by Sur­veyUSA, sur­veyed 850 adults in Wash­ing­ton state from Octo­ber 8th-12th. Of those adults, 591 were like­ly Novem­ber vot­ers, and 290 watched the guber­na­to­r­i­al debate. Poll respon­dents were rep­re­sen­ta­tive of statewide demo­graph­ics with 36% iden­ti­fy­ing as a Demo­c­rat, 24% as Repub­li­can and 29% as Inde­pen­dent. Half were from the metro Seat­tle area, one-third were from west­ern Wash­ing­ton and 17% were from east­ern Wash­ing­ton.

Pre­vi­ous Sur­veyUSA polls found Inslee with an even big­ger lead over Culp, but those were con­duct­ed before Culp beat out a big field of Repub­li­cans for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take on Inslee. With Culp now on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot, he’s con­sol­i­dat­ed the sup­port of Repub­li­can and Repub­li­can lean­ing vot­ers. How­ev­er, that’s prob­a­bly about the extent of the bump he’s going to get.

Only 6% of respon­dents say they are unde­cid­ed in the guber­na­to­r­i­al race, and Sur­veyUSA found Inslee’s posi­tion to be about as good as that of Joe Biden’s.

Repub­li­cans love to fan­ta­size about the prospect of a red tsuna­mi in Wash­ing­ton State. But this is a pipe dream. Wash­ing­ton has not been a swing state in decades. There’s no data to sup­port Caleb Heim­lich’s claim that vot­ers are just itch­ing for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to put Repub­li­cans in charge of state gov­ern­ment.

It is def­i­nite­ly pos­si­ble for a Repub­li­can to win statewide in Wash­ing­ton, as Kim Wyman and her pre­de­ces­sors have proven, but only by attract­ing some sup­port from Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Demo­c­ra­t­ic lean­ing vot­ers who are will­ing to split a tick­et. Wyman can­not win with just the Repub­li­can base, and she cer­tain­ly knows it.

The rest of the Repub­li­can tick­et seems to be cam­paign­ing under the illu­sion that Wash­ing­ton is a swing state up for grabs and open to elect­ing can­di­dates who open­ly espouse ardent right wing views. But it is not. Don­ald Trump did not car­ry Wash­ing­ton in 2016. Susan Hutchi­son did not car­ry Wash­ing­ton in 2018.

Repub­li­can loss­es in con­se­quen­tial statewide races actu­al­ly pre­date the Trump error by sev­er­al decades. The last Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date to win here was Ronald Rea­gan in 1984. The last Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date to win here was John Spell­man in 1980. And the last Repub­li­can sen­a­to­r­i­al can­di­date to win here was Slade Gor­ton in 1994. All are deceased: it’s been that long.

Repub­li­cans might wish to be on offense, but they are actu­al­ly on defense.

While Democ­rats look poised to com­fort­ably return their five exec­u­tive incum­bents to new terms (plus keep the Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor’s office in Demo­c­ra­t­ic hands), the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s two incum­bents are in grave dan­ger.

Again, the num­bers bear this out.

State Trea­sur­er Duane David­son was hand­i­ly beat­en by Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Mike Pel­lic­ciot­ti in the August Top Two elec­tion, and as men­tioned, NPI’s Gael Tar­leton is mount­ing a seri­ous chal­lenge to Kim Wyman. She’ll have to come from behind to win, but that was always going to be the case — Wyman is a two-term incum­bent who has appeared on many statewide bal­lots, while Tar­leton has not run out­side of King Coun­ty and the 36th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict.

We don’t know what the future holds, but if we go by the data, then we can con­clude there will be anoth­er blue wave as opposed to a red tsuna­mi.

What’s hard­er to know is how big that blue wave will be.

We can say this: The only poll that will be deter­mi­na­tive is the one that will be tak­en of the reg­is­tered vot­ers of Wash­ing­ton Stat until Novem­ber 3rd.

Monday, October 12th, 2020

Tim Eyman claims he sold the family home to pay legal bills, but there’s no record of a sale

After hav­ing been wiped out by the vot­ers as a can­di­date for gov­er­nor back in the sum­mer, dis­hon­est ini­tia­tive ped­dler Tim Eyman quick­ly went back to his old habit of shak­ing his elec­tron­ic tin cup and ask­ing his fan club for mon­ey. Not for a cam­paign or a future polit­i­cal project of some sort, but for him per­son­al­ly.

“I real­ly need your help to sur­vive the Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s per­se­cu­tion of me and my fam­i­ly,” Eyman’s post-elec­tion email pitch begins. (This is a ref­er­ence to the law­suit that Eyman is a defen­dant in, which alleges that he com­mit­ted seri­ous vio­la­tions of Wash­ing­ton State’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws back in the 2010s.)

Orig­i­nal­ly, Eyman’s email went on to say: “The only rea­son we’re still here is thanks to the heart­felt prayers and gen­er­ous sup­port from friends like you.”

How­ev­er, last week, an increas­ing­ly des­per­ate Eyman began using a mod­i­fied pitch that removed the line above. The new pitch goes like this:

I real­ly need your help to sur­vive the AG’s per­se­cu­tion of me and my fam­i­ly. After 8 years of inves­ti­ga­tion and lit­i­ga­tion, Fer­gu­son’s law­suit explic­it­ly asks for a life­time ban on all my future polit­i­cal activ­i­ty. That’s what it’s always been about — shut­ting down the most effec­tive tax­pay­er pro­tec­tion orga­ni­za­tion in state his­to­ry.

Tax­pay­ers pay for his team of lawyers — I got­ta pay for mine — do your best — I real­ly need your help (recent­ly had to sell house in Muk­il­teo to pay my lawyers — that’s how bad this is).

Empha­sis is mine.

Ordi­nar­i­ly, when some­one states that they’ve sold their house (whether in con­ver­sa­tion or in anoth­er medi­um), they can be pre­sumed to be telling the truth. But the words above came from the key­board of Tim Eyman, for whom lying is like breath­ing. And when it comes to peo­ple like Eyman (and Trump) the “trust but ver­i­fy” prin­ci­ple does­n’t work. There is no trust, there is only ver­i­fi­ca­tion.

Accord­ing­ly, our team at NPI looked to see if Eyman’s home had been sold.

But we could not find any evi­dence of a sale.

We checked Zil­low and Redfin and pub­lic records. Eyman’s home is nei­ther list­ed as on the mar­ket, nor shows as hav­ing passed into new own­er­ship. It remains in his and Karen’s pos­ses­sion, just as it has been since they bought it new in 1998.

Tim Eyman's home on Redfin

The Eyman fam­i­ly home, list­ed as “off mar­ket” on Redfin

TIm Eyman's home on Zillow

The Eyman fam­i­ly home on Zil­low, show­ing as hav­ing last sold on 08/20/1998, when it was pur­chased brand new by Tim and Karen Eyman

Now, it could be that Eyman is plan­ning to sell the home and has­n’t done so yet.

But remem­ber his email said “recent­ly had to sell house”.

“Had to” is past tense. The impli­ca­tion is that the home is no longer in the Eyman fam­i­ly’s own­er­ship. But that’s not true. It’s a fab­ri­ca­tion. One appar­ent­ly intend­ed to secure the sym­pa­thy of Tim’s fans and get them to open their wal­lets.

“Recent­ly had to sell house in Muk­il­teo to pay my lawyers — that’s how bad this is” is a lot more pow­er­ful of a sales pitch than “The only rea­son we’re still here is thanks to the heart­felt prayers and gen­er­ous sup­port from friends like you.”

It is impor­tant to note that Tim Eyman’s legal and finan­cial prob­lems are entire­ly of his own mak­ing. After get­ting sued and fined by the state for vio­lat­ing pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws in 2002, Eyman could have cleaned up his act and care­ful­ly fol­lowed the law. But he did­n’t. Instead, he con­coct­ed new schemes for evad­ing pub­lic dis­clo­sure and lin­ing his own pock­ets. Rather than accept­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for his wrong­do­ing, Eyman is whin­ing about being per­se­cut­ed and ask­ing the peo­ple he already duped to bail him out… with a fresh fab­ri­ca­tion as a lure.

The con just goes on… and on… and on.