Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

BIAW's paid media attack campaign against Governor Gregoire has begun

The virulently right wing Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), perhaps the state's meanest and nastiest special interest, recently began an "independent" advertising campaign on behalf of Republican Dino Rossi which is designed to distort Governor Chris Gregoire's record on transportation.

The BIAW, which relies on a loophole in Washington State law for its political war chest and is Rossi's staunchest ally, has been hammered in recent ballot battles after a string of victories earlier this decade.

It lost on nearly every front in 2006, when voters rejected Initiative 933, declined to support the BIAW's handpicked candidates for Supreme Court justice, and gave Democrats legislative victory after legislative victory.

But the BIAW is undeterred. Its attempts to install Rossi in the governor's mansion may have failed in 2004, but its attachment to Dino is so strong that it's hard to know exactly where his campaign ends and the BIAW begins.

Each is loyal to the other and neither has any qualms about playing political hardball to cross the finish line first.

The BIAW's efforts to savage Governor Gregoire have been constant and unyielding. Back in January, in its official newsletter (Building Insight), the BIAW declared that Gregoire was "a heartless, power-hungry she-wolf who would eat her own young to get ahead."

It hasn't just made thoughtless comments about Gregoire, however.

Recently, the BIAW absurdly compared the state Department of Ecology and its leadership to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany and asserted that environmental protection groups "silently approve" of loosely organized, militant campaigns like the Earth Liberation Front to burn down housing developments.

In 2004, the BIAW spent over half a million dollars on ads attacking Gregoire. One ad even attempted to blame Gregoire for the open (or pick a party) primary system first used by the state in 2004.

The BIAW seized on the issue not because it loved the blanket primary struck down as constitutionally by the Supreme Court, but because it wanted to convert voter unhappiness with the open primary to unhappiness with Gregoire.

The BIAW even deceptively used the term "open primary" in its ads to refer to the blanket primary, which is incorrect. In a true open primary, voters must still choose a party ballot, but they don't have to register with a party beforehand, as is the case with a closed primary.

The open primary is thus open because there is no party registration.

The conservative Seattle Times editorial board slammed the BIAW for its dishonesty then, writing in an unsigned editorial:
There isn't a mop big enough to clean the sludge seeping into the increasingly nasty campaign for Washington governor.

The Building Industry Association of Washington, which supports Republican candidate Dino Rossi, bought $500,000 worth of air time to peddle ads that are lies and distortions. The ads feature different colors of paint splattering on bewildered voters, then up pops the visage of Attorney General Christine Gregoire, a Democratic candidate for governor, and the words "Fought Against Open Primaries."

Not true.
The BIAW, of course, is used to such criticism, and is also used to deflecting it by repeating the false claim that the corporate media is liberal, which is completely untrue. Most of the state's newspaper publishers and editorial boards actually lean conservative or are adamantly right wing.

This ideological bent is not all that obvious, because editorial boards tend to back incumbents seeking reelection, regardless of party.

What is much more telling is an editorial board's choice in a race with no incumbent, or when it gives a challenger its support.

The Seattle Times, for instance, endorsed Dino Rossi in 2004, one of the few high profile races for open seats that year. It also endorsed Rob McKenna for Attorney General, though it supported Dave Ross in the 8th Congressional District.

Last cycle (2006) the Times famously endorsed Mike McGavick in a widely panned editorial that was thoroughly discredited by extensive critique.

The BIAW's new round of radio ads are pretty slick, according to reports we've heard. The motto of the right wing hacks who put them together could have been "Doubt is our product". The whole idea is to convince voters that Gregoire hasn't done anything to solve the state's transportation problems, and that thanks to her, the state is wasting the resources it already has.

This is a lie.

Unlike Dino Rossi, Governor Chris Gregoire has stepped up to the plate and taken on the transportation challenge. In 2005, she insisted that the Legislature take meaningful action to undo the hole created by Tim Eyman's Initiative 695, which the Legislature foolishly reenacted in 2001 after Gary Locke buckled under.

The result was the 2005 Transportation Package, which was unsuccessfully assaulted twice by Dino Rossi's own allies, whose initiatives to repeal the funding (Initiative 912 in 2005, Initiative 917 in 2006) were complete failures.

It is Gregoire who has refused to ignore safety concerns on our roads in favor of dumping money into new lanes. It is Gregoire who stood up and called for new investments in our common wealth when few were willing to do so. It is Gregoire who has been left to deal with the mess created by her predecessor Gary Locke and Republicans in the state Legislature.

And it is Gregoire who has grappled with the difficulty of replacing aging structures like the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge at a time when construction costs are soaring, federal help is practically nonexistent thanks to the Bush administration's priorities, and money is tight.

And what of Dino Rossi?

As a legislator in Olympia, Rossi voted against the 2001 statewide transportation budget, proposed eliminating Sound Transit (which conservatives like Tim Eyman are still itching to do) and refused to support funding for the ferry system.

In 2005, after losing the gubernatorial election contest, Rossi declined to take a position on Initiative 912, a measure which divided his allies. While Governor Gregoire defended the importance of fixing unsafe bridges, resurfacing washed out roads, and eliminating dangerous choke points, Rossi was silent.

In 2007, shortly after declaring his second candidacy for Governor, Rossi was again evasive, first declining to take a position on Roads & Transit, and then saying that he "expected" to "vote against it".

After months of showing no leadership, Rossi finally rolled out his own plan back in April, at which point it instantly became clear why he'd waited so long: Rossi doesn't have anything that resembles a solid plan.

His proposal was laughed out of the state the same day it was introduced.

The Lewiston Tribune called it a "something for nothing scheme", noting Rossi didn't just forget about specifics, he "faked" them.

Experts have expressed incredulity, too:
Mark Hallenbeck, director of the Washington state Transportation Center at the University of Washington, said Rossi's numbers are "completely divorced from reality."

"He lowballs almost all the estimates and never says where all the funds are going to come from. It's a political statement. It's complete silliness," Hallenbeck said.
The BIAW and Rossi hope to distort and obscure Gregoire's strong record, which is key to her reelection bid. This first round of advertising is pretty subtle, but the BIAW is just getting started. Millions of dollars in attack expenditures by Rossi's allies could already be in the pipeline.

Fortunately, voters have seen through trashy attempts at persuasion by the BIAW before, and we believe they will do so again this year.


Blogger Stormy said...

It should also be noted that the BIAW, and therefore Rossi, waged a legal and PR campaign to overturn the listing of the Southern Resident orca community as Endangered under the ESA. Their attempt to deny protection for the orcas was summarily tossed out of court, with prejudice (

June 9, 2008 7:07 PM  

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