NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Washington’s Democratic Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen files to run for reelection

Wash­ing­ton’s incum­bent Demo­c­ra­t­ic Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Brad Owen recent­ly filed paper­work with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion to start up a reelec­tion cam­paign for 2016, PDC doc­u­ments show, join­ing sev­er­al oth­er statewide Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bents who have active 2016 cam­paigns, includ­ing Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee, Lands Com­mis­sion­er Peter Gold­mark, and Trea­sur­er James McIntire.

Owen, six­ty-five, has been Wash­ing­ton’s lieu­tenant gov­er­nor since Jan­u­ary 15th, 1997. He is cur­rent­ly the longest-serv­ing lieu­tenant gov­er­nor in the Unit­ed States. As lieu­tenant gov­er­nor, he pre­sides over the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate and fills in for Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee when Inslee is out of state or unable to ful­fill his duties.

Owen pre­vi­ous­ly served along­side Gov­er­nors Chris Gre­goire and Gary Locke.

Though Owen is wide­ly con­sid­ered to be a fair, even-hand­ed Pres­i­dent of the Sen­ate, it is an open secret in Olympia that top Sen­ate Repub­li­cans don’t care for him. Owen has reg­u­lar­ly used his author­i­ty as Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor to uphold the deco­rum of the Sen­ate as well as the Wash­ing­ton State Constitution.

For instance, back in March, Owen ruled that a new rule imposed by Sen­ate Repub­li­cans requir­ing a two-thirds vote to raise rev­enue was unen­force­able because it vio­lat­ed the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion, cit­ing the Supreme Court’s Feb­ru­ary 2013 League of Edu­ca­tion Vot­ers deci­sion.

A few weeks ear­li­er, Owen sent a let­ter of rep­ri­mand to Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Pam Roach after Roach embar­rassed her­self, her cau­cus, and the Sen­ate by turn­ing a pub­lic hear­ing on ini­tia­tive reform leg­is­la­tion into The Pam Roach Show.

“Peo­ple appear before your com­mit­tee to pro­vide infor­ma­tion and answer ques­tions; they do not appear in order to hear you talk,” Owen wrote in the let­ter. “Our goal is to hear from the peo­ple, not ourselves.”

He referred to Roach’s inter­ac­tion with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from NPI’s NO on I‑517 coali­tion part­ners The Wash­ing­ton Food Indus­try Asso­ci­a­tion and the North­west Gro­cery Asso­ci­a­tion as “stun­ning­ly inap­pro­pri­ate”, and warned Roach that if she con­tin­ued her bad behav­ior, there would be consequences.

And a few weeks pri­or to that, Owen angered mil­i­tant Repub­li­cans when he pro­hib­it­ed firearms from being open­ly car­ried into the Sen­ate’s pub­lic gallery.

“I don’t want the peo­ple who are on the floor being fear­ful of doing their job,” Owen said at the time, in remarks that were report­ed by the Asso­ci­at­ed Press. “I don’t want par­ents con­cerned about the safe­ty of their kids as pages.”

Owen has also been will­ing to assist Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship when they have need­ed his help. For instance, dur­ing the Gre­goire years, the Sen­ate dead­locked on a key bill. Owen broke a 24–24 tie by cast­ing the deci­sive vote in favor, as per­mit­ted by the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion, allow­ing the bill to pass the Senate.

Owen also sup­port­ed Lisa Brown’s chal­lenge to Tim Eyman’s I‑601 clones, which uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly required a two-thirds vote to raise rev­enue dur­ing the late 2000s and ear­ly 2010s. Brown’s law­suit, which became the case Brown v. Owen, was planned with Owen’s knowl­edge and support.

After the Supreme Court dis­missed the case, deny­ing Brown the writ of man­damus she sought, The Olympian’s Brad Shan­non talked to Owen about the outcome.

“I didn’t agree with them [the jus­tices],” Owen told Shan­non. “I think it was an issue they should have ruled on… I felt it was some­thing that need­ed to have a fin­er inter­pre­ta­tion, rather than punt­ing. I thought Brown made a good point. That’s why we need­ed an interpretation.”

Although Brown v. Owen was unsuc­cess­ful, the Supreme Court ulti­mate­ly did strike down the super­ma­jor­i­ty vote require­ment at the heart of I‑601 and its clones I‑960, I‑1053, and I‑1185 (all spon­sored by Tim Eyman) in League of Edu­ca­tion Vot­ers v. State of Wash­ing­ton, ref­er­enced above. As men­tioned, Owen relied on that rul­ing when he declared Repub­li­cans’ ill-con­ceived change to the Sen­ate’s rules to require a two-thirds vote to advance a rev­enue bill unenforceable.

Owen already has two Repub­li­can oppo­nents for 2016, accord­ing to the PDC, but if his­to­ry is any indi­ca­tion, he will eas­i­ly cruise to reelection.

In 2012, Owen faced a strong chal­lenge by Repub­li­can Bill Finkbein­er, who once rep­re­sent­ed the 45th Dis­trict and served as Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader, but was nev­er­the­less reelect­ed hand­i­ly with 53% of the vote.

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  1. Cyrus Habib, has announced he will run for Lt. Governor

    # by Mike Barer :: September 18th, 2015 at 12:53 PM
  2. Good Luck Cyrus! Ethics charges haunt­ed Brad Owen

    And then, in May 2014 he told Chi­nese that their EB‑5 invest­ment would com­plete a 41 sto­ry tow­er in down­town Seat­tle by “this sum­mer [2014].” We now know that prop­er­ty as only a 9 sto­ry hole in the ground in Bell­town which was used as a lure for Chi­nese Investor funds that were alleged­ly mis-appro­pri­at­ed by Lob­sang Dargey and used as funds for Pota­la Vil­lage Kirk­land, oth­er unre­lat­ed prop­er­tys, a $2.5 Mil­lion home and mon­ey with­drawn at casinos.

    The Chi­nese investors may not only lose much of their $500,000 invest­ment, they may also lose their chance at the green card since the project did not con­form to the busi­ness plan sub­mit­ted to USCIS

    Phase II fundraising

    Pg 2 Para 6 says 41 sto­ry Pota­la Tow­er to open “this sum­mer [2014]”

    We could use some­one with your strong sense of ethics. We’re sick of the horse trading.

    # by Mike Boykoff :: September 19th, 2015 at 7:42 AM
  3. Is this a press release or just spin giv­en by Lt Gov Owen’s campaign?
    Notably, it fails to acknowl­edge oth­er active statewide cam­paigns and min­i­mizes the wide-spread dis­like for him.
    There are a LOT of Dems and inde­pen­den­t’s who are fed up with his actions and don’t see him as fair nor even-hand­ed as the arti­cle alleges.

    # by ardy :: September 21st, 2015 at 1:02 PM
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