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

Monthly Archives: August 2018

Dirty TransMountain pipeline dealt massive blow by Canadian Federal Court of Appeal

This is a huge victory… for the Pacific Northwest, for British Columbia, Washington State, and indigenous peoples seeking to protect their lands.

The Federal Court of Appeal dealt a major blow to the TransMountain pipeline expansion Thursday, overturning the federal government’s approval and effectively halting construction.

The court found the National Energy Board review of the $7.4-billion project was so flawed it failed to provide the government with the information needed to approve the project.

The ruling is a major setback and raised the prospects of a lengthy delay that could kill the expansion. The court has ordered the federal government to include project-related marine shipping in its reviews and to redo consultations with First Nations.

Shortly after the ruling, Kinder Morgan shareholders approved the previously announced sale of the pipeline and expansion project to the federal government for $4.5 billion.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a massive bet on the pipeline back in the spring when he decided to effectively nationalize it by buying the project from Kinder Morgan, which had concluded that proceeding with construction could be too risky for the company given uncertain prospects for completion.

Trudeau’s intention in taking over the project was to give it the stability and surety needed to overcome fierce opposition and logistical hurdles to completion.

But that move has now been foiled. The pipeline’s fate is as uncertain as ever.

Read the Court of Appeal’s decision against the TransMountain pipeline.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and through him Canadian taxpayers, now own a pipeline that may not be built for years, if ever,” observed The Globe and Mail’s Gary Mason. “While Ottawa will make all the appropriate noises about addressing the consultation shortcomings and other issues identified by the court, don’t be misled: This verdict has the effect of starting over again on many fronts.”

The ruling is a huge blow not only to Justin Trudeau and his not-that liberal Liberals, but also to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Alberta politicians who fiercely support building the pipeline at any cost.

“Disaster. Political, economic, even constitutional. Undiluted disaster.”

Those were the opening words of columnist Don Braid’s response to the court decision in the Calgary Herald, in which he lamented the ruling and predicted big trouble for Rachel Notley’s NDP government in Alberta. His colleague Jason Wood filed a separate story suggesting Notley’s reelection next year is in grave peril.

No one in Canada has been a bigger booster for the pipeline than Notley. She made a bad choice to tie her political future to the pipeline’s construction and now she will have to live with that choice. It could mean her defeat in 2019.

Canada’s future, and the United States’ future, cannot be based on dirty energy if we’re to have any hope of stopping the climate crisis from getting worse.

Yet Notley, just like Trudeau, wanted to bet big on dirty energy.

Next door in British Columbia, however, Notley’s fellow NDP Premier John Horgan was celebrating the decision, having staked out a very different position.

Although Horgan and Notley are both NDP leaders at the provincial level and would thus seem to be natural allies, they are actually at complete and bitter odds with each other on the question of constructing the pipeline. Horgan recognizes the threat the project represents… to the Salish Sea, to the southern resident orca population, to coastal ecosystems, and to the world’s climate.

“This case has always been about First Nations asserting their rights and today they carried the day,” said Horgan. “We joined the case to defend BC’s interests and highlight the risks to the province’s environment and economy.”

“Many British Columbians have been saying that the Trans Mountain project would create serious risks to our coast,” the Premier added.

“The Federal Court of Appeal has validated those concerns.”

“Today’s ruling is a victory for First Nations’ rights and for all those who have long held that this project was not approved based on evidence,” agreed B.C. Greens Leader Andrew Weaver in a statement.

(The B.C. Greens have a supply and confidence agreement with the B.C. NDP that allows the NDP, or the New Democratic Party, to govern the province.)

“I am particularly glad to see the court’s judgement that there was an unjustifiable failure at the heart of the federal government’s approval of this project: the failure to assess the impacts of marine shipping on the environment.”

“This was an outrageous omission on the part of the federal government that flies in the face of their stated commitment to evidence-based decision-making. The NEB acknowledged that the marine traffic from this project posed significant harm to the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. The government must now justify to Canadians, and to the world, why it is willing to herald the death knell of this irreplaceable species if it continues to pursue this project.”

“Coming off of the two worst wildfire seasons in B.C.’s history, it’s clear that we cannot continue down the misguided path of expanding fossil fuel infrastructure. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to begin the immediate transition to the low-carbon economy. B.C. is a leader amongst the provinces, adopting carbon tax increases that are ahead of federal requirements.”

“Our Caucus is working closely with the B.C. NDP minority government to create a clean growth strategy that will further advance our efforts. I hope the federal government will now realize that there is an enormous opportunity to support B.C.’s leadership, rather than attempting to force our province to shoulder the huge environmental and economic risks that this project presents.”

NPI congratulates the Raincoast Foundation, Living Oceans Society, the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby, the Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish First Nations, the Coldwater Indian Band, and all the other indigenous tribes who have stood up against this monstrosity of a project. This pipeline may not be dead, but it looks like construction has effectively been thwarted for the time being. That’s a huge win and one that our coast, orcas, and climate sorely needed.

Everyone involved in securing this court victory deserves a big round of applause and deep thanks from this side of the border.

State Supreme Court erred in ordering I-940 onto the ballot, but that mistake can be fixed

Yesterday, as we reported, the Washington State Supreme Court handed down a verdict in Eyman v. Wyman, Tim Eyman’s legal challenge to the constitutionality of the Legislature’s groundbreaking compromise on De-Escalate Washington’s use of deadly force initiative (I-940, an initiative to the Legislature for 2018).

The Court held that the Legislature stepped out of bounds when it nearly simultaneously adopted I-940 as originally submitted by the people along with a successor bill (ESHB 3003) which made changes to I-940 that were supported both by De-Escalate Washington and representatives of law enforcement groups.

However, the Supreme Court did more than just nix ESHB 3003. It also — in an unprecedented judicial act — ordered I-940 placed on the ballot for voters to consider, even though I-940 was adopted into law by the Washington State House and Senate as part of the proceedings of the 2018 Legislature.

In issuing its order, the Supreme Court itself stepped out of bounds, but attorneys for De-Escalate Washington have afforded the Court an opportunity to revise its verdict and avoid setting a very problematic, very troubling precedent. Late yesterday, after studying the ruling, they asked the Court to reconsider.

The Court’s lead opinion makes it sound as though a majority of justices voted to send I-940 to the ballot, but this is actually not the case. In reality, there are three blocs of justices with three different views.

  • Justices Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Steve Gonzalez, Mary Yu, and Charlie Wiggins voted to invalidate ESHB 3003, and stop at that. They filed an opinion signed by McCloud. Yu filed a concurring opinion.
  • Justice Barbara Madsen voted to invalidate ESHB 3003 and send I-940 alone to the ballot. She filed a solo opinion outlining her position.
  • Justices Debra Stephens, Mary Fairhurst, Charles Johnson, and Susan Owens voted to send both ESHB 3003 and I-940 to the ballot, arguing that neither the adoption of the bill nor the adoption of the initiative were unconstitutional acts, but rather acts that trigger a public vote under Article II. They filed an opinion signed by Stephens. Fairhurst filed a concurring opinion.

These are all different positions that we view as irreconcilable.

De-Escalate Washington looked at all the opinions and then naturally asked why the holding of a single justice should control the outcome when the other eight justices reached two sets of different conclusions and would have entered different orders.

In De-Escalate Washington’s analysis, the Court was not split 5-4 on the question of whether I-940 should go before voters, but rather split 4-1-4.

By this logic, since no majority existed in support of the position of sending only I-940 to the ballot, the Supreme Court should have left I-940 alone.

If Madsen had wanted to, she could have joined Stephens’ bloc. Then that bloc would have been a majority, and Stephens’ opinion would presumably have been the lead one, while McCloud’s bloc would have filed a dissent.

But Madsen did not make that choice.

The Supreme Court this morning responded to De-Escalate Washington by saying it would consider its request. The Court has asked the other parties in the case to submit a brief on the matter by the end of the day today.

Two days remain before August ends, which is when Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office told the Court that elections officials needed to know whether I-940 should appear on ballots or not. Accordingly, there is still time for the Supreme Court to revise its order and address the mistake that it has made.

As Justice Mary Yu said in her excellent concurring opinion, the Court ventured outside of its judicial realm by ordering I-940 onto the ballot.

In NPI’s view, the Court essentially created — in one fell swoop — a third class of initiatives not contemplated by the Framers of the Seventh Amendment: judicially-referred initiatives. I-940 was originally an initiative to the Legislature, but the Legislature voted to adopt it, so it is now the law of the land.

With yesterday’s order, though, the Court basically overrode the Legislature and turned I-940 into an initiative from the judiciary to the people.

The Washington State Constitution prescribes three fates for initiatives to the Legislature: they can be adopted by the House and Senate, ignored, or sent to the ballot with an alternative. In the case of I-940, the record is clear. Majorities of both chambers voted to adopt I-940. The measure was not ignored, and it wasn’t sent to the ballot with an alternative. Therefore, it is the adopted law of the state as opposed to a pending ballot measure waiting to go before voters.

Anyone who didn’t like that outcome and wanted I-940 on the ballot could have started a referendum campaign: the Constitution permits adopted initiatives to the Legislature to be subjected to referendum. That would have been the proper and constitutional avenue of sending the matter to voters. ESHB 3003 even contained a self-destruct clause in the event of a successful referendum drive.

But no one filed a referendum petition against I-940. Instead, publicity-seeking Tim Eyman filed a lawsuit, which was later joined by Senator Mike Padden.

The Supreme Court isn’t the Legislature; justices don’t get to play lawmaker for a day when they feel like it. Their job is to interpret the law, not make it.

It is clear the Court feels the Legislature erred when it tried to perfect I-940 by passing a separate bill to supersede the initiative in the same legislative session. So be it: we can respect that holding. What we can’t respect is the Court stepping out of its own bounds in response to what the Legislature did.

The Court needs to perform an about-face and issue a new order. It should decline to grant the plaintiffs’ request for a writ of mandamus compelling the Secretary of State to put I-940 on the ballot. It has the option of simply declaring ESHB 3003 null and void if it wishes. It should not go further than that.

State Supreme Court sends De-Escalate WA’s Initiative 940 to the November 2018 ballot

A deeply divided Washington State Supreme Court ruled today that De-Escalate Washington’s Initiative 940 must appear on the November 2018 ballot to be considered by the people because its adoption by the Legislature last winter was effectively not without change or amendment due to the Legislature’s passage of a separate compromise bill (ESHB 3003) intended to supersede I-940.

I-940 is an effort to change the standard of accountability for use of deadly force. The standard currently in statute requires prosecutors to prove that a law enforcement officer acted “without malice”, which is almost impossible to prove.

During the 2018 session, legislative leaders worked with both the De-Escalate Washington coalition and representatives from law enforcement groups to perfect the initiative with a successor bill so it wouldn’t have to go to the ballot.

Nice try, but sorry, I-940 has to go to the ballot, the Supreme Court said, bringing to an end a legal challenge to the I-940 compromise initiated by Tim Eyman.

“A majority of this court agrees that ESHB 3003 is void and unenforceable and, hence, that we cannot compel the secretary of state to place it on the ballot,” wrote Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud. “I believe that the legislature properly and validly enacted I-940; that I-940 complies with article II, section 1(a) [of the Constitution]; and hence, that this court lacks the power to compel the secretary of state to place 1-940 on the ballot. A majority of this court, however, disagrees. As a result, a majority of this court affirms the superior court’s decision to issue a writ of mandamus compelling the secretary of state to place 1-940 on the ballot.”

The opinions filed in this case are a challenging read due to the justices’ sharply differing views and will become interesting fodder for constitutional law classes.

Here is a summary of the opinions:

  • Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud wrote both for herself as well as for Justices Charlie Wiggins, Steven Gonzalez, and Mary Yu. As stated in the concluding except above, Justice McCloud’s party would have invalidated just the successor bill and left I-940 alone, but they were one shy of a majority.
  • Justice Yu wrote a concurring opinion expressing her dissatisfaction with the end result and the Court’s placement of I-940 on the ballot.
  • Justice Barbara Madsen authored an opinion concurring with Justice McCloud’s party to the extent that ESHB 3003 effectively amended I-940, but disagreeing with McCloud’s party that the appropriate remedy was to strike only the successor bill and leave the original initiative standing.
  • Justice Debra Stephens authored a dissenting opinion joined by Justices Susan Owens and Charles Johnson reasoning that both I-940 and ESHB 3003 were validly approved by the Legislature during the 2018 session, but that since ESHB 3003 constitutes an alternative to Initiative 940, it must be put on the ballot along with the original initiative for the people to consider.
  • Justice Mary Fairhurst authored a shorter dissenting opinion that argues for the same remedy, or outcome, as Justice Stephens’ dissent.

Not since the Andersen decision was handed down can I recall the Supreme Court splitting every which way like this in such a high profile case.

NPI shares Justice Yu’s unease about the precedent this verdict sets. It is the province of the judiciary to say what the law is, but with this decision, the Supreme Court is veering outside of its realm. It has done more than interpret the law.

De-Escalate Washington expressed its disappointment with the Court’s decision in a statement sent to the Northwest Progressive Institute.

“The work we did with law enforcement to reach a consensus agreement on police reform was tough, honest, and groundbreaking, and we are disappointed that the Court took the position it did,” said Tim Reynon, co-chair of De-Escalate Washington and a Puyallup Tribe of Indians Councilmember.

“From the start our goal was to reform the law and build bridges between the community and police. The improved relationship with law enforcement has been an incredible plus. Yes, we would have liked to see the Court uphold I-940 and ESHB 3003. We made commitments to law enforcement to get those polices into the law.  We are committed to working with law enforcement after the November election to make sure that the polices in 3003 are enacted by the 2019 legislature.”

Although unhappy with the outcome of Tim Eyman’s legal challenge to I-940, he coalition says it is nevertheless prepared to mount a strong campaign in favor of I-940 this autumn. Research by both the coalition and by NPI suggests the measure will be overwhelmingly popular with Washingtonians.

Voter support for Initiative 940: Poll comparison

Our polling and De-Escalate Washington’s polling were conducted months apart and by different firms, but the resulting numbers were very similar. Both polls found an almost identical level of support for the measure, while our survey found slightly higher opposition to the measure than the coalition did.

I-940’s addition to the ballot by the Supreme Court means that there will be a total of four initiatives before Washington voters this November.

The others are the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy’s I-1631 (which seeks to levy a fee on pollution to fund a just and responsible transition to clean energy), Big Soda’s I-1634 (which seeks to ban jurisdictions other than Seattle from levying taxes on sugary beverages for public health purposes), and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s I-1639 (which seeks to raise the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle, impose new safe storage requirements, and enhance background checks on weapons purchases.)

NPI gets a sibling: Announcing the formation of the Northwest Progressive Foundation

Last week, when NPI turned fifteen, I said I’d soon be sharing some exciting news about NPI’s future as well as next steps for the development of progressive political infrastructure here in the Pacific Northwest.

Today, I’m excited to announce that after fifteen years, NPI has gained a sibling: the Northwest Progressive Foundation.

Our objective in forming the Foundation is to give several of NPI’s existing and planned projects their own organizational home, so that NPI can embrace the philosophy of less, but better. Research-driven advocacy is what NPI has always been about, which is why NPI is organized as a social welfare organization under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.

If you’re at all familiar with federal tax law, then you know that social welfare organizations are legally allowed to engage in unlimited grassroots lobbying, which 501(c)39) charitable organizations cannot do.

A 501(c)(3) organization may, however, be organized for religious, educational, scientific, or literary purposes (or in addition to) charitable purposes, defined by the IRS to mean causes like the relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged. A 501(c)(3) is also permitted to focus on fostering national or international amateur sports competition and and preventing cruelty to children or animals.

Accordingly, together with State Senator Manka Dhingra, NPI boardmember Keitha Bryson, founding/retired NPI boardmember Ralph Gorin, and NPI Commonwealth Bondholder Rich Erwin, I have formed the Northwest Progressive Foundation to undertake the educational projects that NPI has on its roadmap.

Our Articles of Incorporation were filed last week on the very day NPI turned fifteen. The Articles have since been approved by the Secretary of State.

Here are the complete set of purposes for which the Foundation was formed, as stated in the Articles of Incorporation:

  • Provide civics education and activism training to people who would like to become more engaged in the politics of the Pacific Northwest and the U.S.;
  • Encourage citizens to vote and take seriously jury duty obligations when called to serve;
  • Create tools that anyone can use to more effectively research current events, proposed public policy changes, and issues affecting our communities;
  • Promote awareness, appreciation, and understanding of the founding documents that underpin our system of government, including the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the constitutions of states like Washington, Oregon, and Idaho;
  • Teach reframing skills and language arts to activists, candidates, and elected officials;
  • Equip the public with factual, reliable, and evidence-backed information about the usefulness and effectiveness of local, state, and federal public services;
  • Organize events and facilitate opportunities to learn about inequities in our current system of laws, especially inequities in our tax codes and criminal codes;
  • Support efforts to translate English-only civics texts into other commonly-spoken languages.

For practical reasons, the Foundation will initially focus on creating and sustaining a single project from NPI’s roadmap… most likely Activism Matters.

Our aim with Activism Matters is to provide a hub for the teaching of skills needed to be an effective activist. If it were up to me, these skills would be taught in our public schools as part of a basic course in civics.

But as most readers of the Cascadia Advocate probably know, the civic curriculum currently available to our youth is sorely lacking.

We need to plug the gap as best we can.

Activism Matters courses will primarily be offered online through the very same learning management system (or LMS) used by Washington’s public colleges and universities, so that people with day jobs can participate on their own schedule, but there may be in-person learning opportunities offered from time to time as well.

If you are well versed in an essential activism skill (like writing letters to the editor, grassroots lobbying, petitioning, or organizing events) and would be interested in teaching that skill as a volunteer instructor with Activism Matters, then we would welcome hearing from you.

I will have another update on the Foundation’s formation in a few weeks once we are further along. In the meantime, NPI’s essential work will continue.

Thanks to everyone who came out for our Fifteenth Anniversary Picnic last night… we so appreciate you! If you couldn’t make it but are able to make a donation to NPI or become a member, we invite you to do so today.

Don’t expect right wing media to apologize for deceptively declaring I-1639 to be dead

Last week, when Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon ruled in favor of the National Rifle Association and Alan Gottlieb’s legal challenge to Initiative 1639, ordering Secretary of State Kim Wyman not to place it on the November 2018 ballot, right wing blogs and media outlets had a field day.

In their rush to celebrate, they neglected to emphasize (or didn’t mention at all) that Dixon’s decision was being appealed and wouldn’t be the final word.

“NRA Wins Lawsuit in Washington State, Prevents I-1639 From Appearing on Ballot,” read a triumphant headline on the National Rifle Association’s website.

“Judge Sides with NRA, 2nd Amendment Foundation, Disqualifies Washington Gun Control Initiative,” proclaimed a lede on the right wing website Breitbart.

“NRA wins Washington case, stops gun control initiative from going to ballot,” read the title of the staff report on Dixon’s ruling. (MYNorthwest is the online home of right wing talkers like Dori Monson and Jason Rantz.)

Even Sinclair-owned KOMO TV got in on the deception.

“This fall, you won’t be voting on an initiative to make it more difficult to buy a semi-automatic rifle,” anchor Molly Shen imprudently told KOMO viewers at the top of an evening newscast on August 17th. Coanchor Eric Johnson added by way of explanation: “A Thurston County judge ruled today that the petition for Initiative 1639 did not meet all the requirements to make it onto the ballot.”

KOMO's Molly Shen pronounces I-1639 as dead

KOMO’s Molly Shen pronounces the Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s I-1639 to be dead as the August 17th 5 PM newscast opens

All of those ledes consisted of what are now indisputably erroneous statements. People were wrongly encouraged to believe that I-1639 was dead, when it wasn’t.

Last night, in an opinion signed by Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst, the Washington State Supreme Court put the kibosh on Dixon’s ruling, unanimously overturning his decision and holding that he erred in granting the NRA and Gottlieb’s motion for a writ of mandamus. The high court’s ruling means that the NRA has actually lost its lawsuit and Washingtonians will get to vote on Initiative 1639 this November.

But you wouldn’t necessarily know that from looking at the NRA’s website. While the NRA did link to Joseph O’Sullivan’s Seattle Times story on the Supreme Court’s verdict, it has not updated its original post from last Friday to clarify that it didn’t actually prevent I-1639 from appearing on the ballot after all.

The only indication that Dixon’s ruling (hailed by the NRA as a “Washington Win!”) might not be an enduring victory is at the end of its posting, where it admits: “The initiative proponents will likely appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.”

KOMO’s story likewise acknowledged that an appeal had been filed with the Supreme Court, but that came much later in the segment than it should have.

Here’s a transcript for full context:

ANCHOR MOLLY SHEN: This fall, you won’t be voting on an initiative to make it more difficult to buy a semi-automatic rifle.

ANCHOR ERIC JOHNSON: A Thurston County judge ruled today that the petition for Initiative 1639 did not meet all the requirements to make it onto the ballot. KOMO’s Suzanne Phan joins us from Bellevue with the reaction tonight. Suzanne?

REPORTER SUZANNE PHAN: Well, gun-control advocates say they are shocked [and] they’re surprised that a judge sided with the NRA and not the 378,000 people who signed the petition. Meanwhile, gun rights advocates say that initiative is flawed.


SUZANNE PHAN: It’s a big blow for some, and a big win for others. Thurston County Superior Court ruled today in favor of the NRA, and stopped I-1639 from appearing on the ballot. The initiative has to do with the sale of semi-automatic rifles in Washington State.

The measure raises the age limit from eighteen to twenty-one to purchase semi-automatic rifles. It would have required a ten-day waiting period for the purchase of those guns. It requires more extensive background checks for the weapons.

The NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation [in actuality, Alan Gottlieb, not the Second Amendment Foundation] filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of State claiming the petitions didn’t follow the law, that the font size was too small to read, and didn’t include strikethroughs. The judge agreed.

JUDGE DIXON: It’s not readable to me.

SUZANNE PHAN: Supporters of I-1639 were stunned.

PACIFICA LAW GROUP’S GREG WONG: At no point in Washington State has [a court] ever prevented an initiative from going to the ballot based on alleged defects in the petition.

SUZANNE PHAN: Amanda Turner of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was surprised by the court ruling.

AMANDA TURNER [VIA PHONE]: They know Washington supports safer communities and safer schools. Because they can’t change the hearts and minds of Washingtonians, they’re going through the court system, and trying to nitpick things apart, because that is the only way they can win.

SUZANNE PHAN: Alan Gottlieb is with Second Amendment Foundation. He agrees with what the judge did this morning, and says the initiative is flawed.

ALAN GOTTLIEB [ON-CAMERA INTERVIEW WITH PHAN]: We all want to end gun violence, we all want to end shooting deaths, but you don’t do it by taking away law-abiding people’s rights and restricting things that aren’t going to solve the problem.

SUZANNE PHAN: And we talked to the Alliance for Gun Responsibility this afternoon. They say they’ve already appealed today’s decision with the state Supreme Court. Live in Bellevue, Suzanne Phan, KOMO News.

ERIC JOHNSON: Secretary of State Kim Wyman reacted to the decision. She certified the petitions at the end of July. Her statement said: “No matter the issue, this office has a long track record of protecting the people’s constitutional right to initiative and referendum. Whenever questions are raised about petitions submitted by initiative backers facing a statutory deadline, my office has consistently acted accordingly.” And she thanked the judge for making a quick decision so her office can continue to prepare for the election.

Last night, about ten minutes into its 11 PM newscast, KOMO reported on the Supreme Court’s ruling reversing Judge Dixon. In a brief segment, anchor Mary Nam informed viewers that I-1639 would be on the ballot after all.

Of course, no mention was made of last week’s erroneous lede.

As bad as the KOMO and NRA ledes were, though, Breitbart and MYNorthwest’s conduct was even worse. Neither bothered to mention to their readers that an appeal had been filed with the Supreme Court when they wrote about Dixon’s decision. Omitting that key piece of information was irresponsible.

For the sake of comparison, here is the opening paragraph of the MYNorthwest story on Dixon’s decision and the opening paragraph of the story written by The Seattle Times’ Joseph O’Sullivan, who is a respected journalist:

MYNorthwest.comSeattle Times
Organizers behind gun control Initiative 1639 did not comply with state signature gathering rules, according to a Thurston County superior court judge who ruled in favor of the NRA Friday. I-1639 will now be removed from the November ballot.A Thurston County judge Friday dealt a major blow to a proposed firearms-regulation measure, raising questions about whether Initiative 1639 will appear on Washington’s fall ballot.

Notice how different those ledes are. One lends the impression that I-1639 is dead and buried. The other lede (O’Sullivan’s) accurately conveys the true state of affairs, relating that I-1639 has been dealt a blow by a judge, but isn’t dead yet.

Only a few paragraphs later, O’Sullivan’s story responsibly informs readers that the Supreme Court has been asked to weigh in by Safe Schools Safe Communities, the Yes on I-1639 campaign, represented by Pacifica Law Group’s Greg Wong.

The MYNorthwest staff report, meanwhile, didn’t mention this fact at all.

It’s too bad that the right wing blogs and media outlets called out above chose not to be forthright with their audiences when they trumpeted Dixon’s ruling. Even advocacy journalists can be committed to fair, honest, and sound reporting.

If we held our breath waiting for an apology or a correction from these guys, we’d pass out from a lack of oxygen, so we certainly won’t be doing that.

But we do think this deceptive reporting makes for a good case study. It’s a reminder that many right wingers just don’t care about journalistic ethics. They’re more interested in publishing propaganda and projecting their dishonesty onto others. When you hear somebody regularly screaming “Fake news!”, that’s a sure sign they’re a regular purveyor of information that is false or out of context.

Unanimous Supreme Court rules Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s I-1639 will stay on ballot

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s Initiative 1639 will remain on the November 2018 ballot, the Washington State Supreme Court decided late today, in a unanimous ruling signed by the Court’s Chief Justice, Mary Fairhurst.

I-1639, sponsored by Paul Kramer, would increase the minimum age to buy a semiautomatic weapon, impose new safe storage requirements, and require enhanced background checks. NPI has taken a position supporting the measure.

“This action was not properly brought under RCW 29A.72.240,” Chief Justice Fairhurst wrote for the Court in a four-page opinion.

“The purpose of this statute is narrow; it does not allow for preelection judicial review of the form, process, substance, or constitutionality of an initiative petition. The plain language of RCW 29A.72.240 limits the court to examining whether the petitions “contain the requisite number of signatures of legal voters.”

The high court’s verdict is a stinging defeat for the National Rife Association and Alan Gottlieb, who last week persuaded Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon to take the unprecedented step of removing the measure from the ballot on the grounds that the text on the back of the petition was too small and lacking formatting marks indicating new and deleted language.

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility hailed the ruling.

“This isn’t the first time the gun lobby has tried to stop Washington voters from enacting safer gun laws,” noted Alliance CEO Renee Hopkins.

“When the people of this state have tried to put responsible laws into place, the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation have always stood in the way. It’s disappointing when they do so, but the Alliance has prevailed each time the gun lobbyists and their allies irresponsibly attempt to take power away from Washingtonians. The decision today is just another example of Washingtonians defeating the gun lobby’s callous disregard for our lives and our futures.”

“The gun lobby and their lawyers have been making desperate, Hail Mary attempts to stop Initiative 1639 from the start,” added campaign manager Stephen Paolini.

“They know they won’t be able to prevent voters from passing the initiative in November, so they have tried to stop us from even getting there.”

“We will not be silenced so easily and we will not stand by as the gun lobby endangers the lives of our fellow Washingtonians. The Court today declared unanimously that we will get the chance to stand up, be heard, and make our schools and our communities safer, no matter what the gun lobbyists want.”

The Supreme Court’s decision will undoubtedly anger the right wing, but it is in keeping with precedent. The Court has repeatedly declined over the years to set aside initiatives that had sufficient signatures to qualify from going before the people for a vote — even Tim Eyman initiatives that had clear scope defects.

“If you can’t win a vote, you try to cancel it or block it,” Eyman asserted in 2015 when his I-1366 was being challenged on scope grounds.

I-1366 stayed on the ballot and was later struck down as unconstitutional in a post-election legal challenge that Eyman did not believe would be successful.

Going by Eyman’s logic, it’s no wonder that the NRA and Alan Gottlieb were so desperate to get I-1639 tossed off the ballot. They are clearly very afraid of losing to the Alliance for Gun Responsibility for the third time in a row.

Their attempt to invalidate the signatures of the 378,000 Washingtonians who signed I-1639 has now failed, however, and the measure has a green light to proceed to the November 2018 ballot.

NPI urges a YES vote on I-1639. People who are killed by guns do not have the freedom to enjoy the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that this country was founded upon. Gun violence is preventable, and it’s up to us as a society to decide what we value. We choose life, which is why we support I-1639.

Malcom Turnbull out as Australian Prime Minister after latest Aussie leadership spill

The Commonwealth of Australia is getting a new Prime Minister for the sixth time since 2007, after the Liberal Party of Australia (which is, despite its name, the country’s major right wing party) decided to boot out its current leader Malcom Turnbull, who himself ousted his predecessor in a leadership spill three years ago.

The BBC explains:

Scott Morrison is to be Australia’s new prime minister after Malcolm Turnbull was forced out by party rivals in a bruising leadership contest.

Mr. Turnbull had been under pressure from poor polling and what he described as an “insurgency” by conservative MPs.

Mr. Morrison, the treasurer, won an internal ballot 45-40 over former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton – who had been Mr. Turnbull’s most vocal threat.

Mr. Turnbull is the fourth Australian Prime Minister in a decade to be ousted internally.

“It has been such a privilege to be the leader of this great nation. I love Australia. I love Australians,” he said on Friday.

Turnbull’s predecessor, archconservative Tony Abbott, had thrown his weight behind Dutton, but as the BBC noted, Dutton was edged out by Morrison in the party room (or caucus room in American political parlance). Having lost the confidence of his own party, Turnbull is now in his final hours as prime minister.

Turnbull has also decided to leave politics and resign his seat in the Australian parliament. A by-election will be held to fill his seat in Wentworth.

Morrison, the incoming prime minister, served in the governments (we in the United States would say administrations) of both Abbott and Turnbull.

Here’s a backgrounder on his political career from the BBC:

Mr. Morrison, a former Tourism Australia official, entered parliament in 2007 and has since held three key ministerial portfolios.

  • A social conservative who appeals to the moderate elements of the Liberal party
  • Rose to national prominence as immigration minister in Tony Abbott’s government
  • Built a reputation as a tough operator in enforcing Australia’s hardline “stop the boats” policy
  • Drew criticism over the controversial asylum seeker policies and offshore detention centres
  • Seen as a pragmatic, ambitious politician who has long eyed the top job
  • The 50-year old father-of-two is a leading religious conservatives and opposed last year’s same-sex marriage bill.

Speaking after the vote on Friday, Mr. Morrison said he would be working to “bring our party back together which has been bruised and battered this week”.

It has now been more than a decade since an Australian Prime Minister served out their entire term. Leadership spills have felled the last four PMs.

The political and international editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, considered by many to be Australia’s newspaper of record, has harshly criticized the latest leadership spill as “pointless” in a searing column, writing:

Of all the pointless convulsions in Australian politics in the last decade, this is surely the most pointless. It achieved no benefit on any level but came at great cost to the government and to Australia.

There was no great principle at stake.

The only policies at issue could have been worked through with a bit of goodwill, as Malcolm Turnbull said. The new prime minister isn’t even as electable as the one he replaced.

Only fifty-four percent of the Australian electorate had even heard of Scott Morrison in an April recognition poll conducted by the Australia Institute. In truth, a piece of factional foot-stamping within the ruling party created an earthquake.

It brought down a prime minister, destabilised the government, damaged the standing of the ruling party, unsettled the country, and made Australian democracy an even bigger laughingstock. Without satisfying the disgruntled faction that started it all.

The Australian Labor Party — which is currently Her Majesty’s Official Opposition in Parliament — went through its own drawn out period of tumult and strife when it was in power between 2007 and 2013. Former Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard repeatedly battled for the party’s leadership during that period.

Rudd, who had led Labor through a successful election cycle in 2007, was ousted by Gillard in 2010, though he remained in Parliament.

Three years later, after a couple of false starts, the tables were turned and Rudd returned as Prime Minister after Labor MPs lost confidence in Gillard, fearing defeat in an impending election. (They lost anyway, even after bringing back Rudd.)

That 2013 election ended in victory for Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party of Australia. But the archconservative Abbott proved to be an in incredibly ineffective leader and his restless party dumped him for Turnbull in 2015.

Turnbull was able to keep the Liberal Party in power in the 2016 Australian federal election, but his party nonetheless lost fourteen seats to Labor.

After two additional years Prime Minister, Turnbull’s own popularity has been sagging and it’s now his turn to be ousted. It remains to be seen if Morrison can lift his party’s fortunes before the next federal election in 2019.

Australian Labor, now led by Bill Shorten, is ready to pounce.

“Changing Liberal leaders is a bit like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic,” the party tweeted, posting an animation of a large sinking ocean liner.

“The problem is actually the policies: cutting funding to schools and hospitals, cutting penalty rates, and trying to give the big banks a tax handout.”

Shorten pronounced Australian politics “a brutal business” in a statement released through his social media accounts and offered Turnbull best wishes.

“I hope Malcom knows that I have always respected him as a formidable opponent, as an advocate of great intellect and eloquence and as someone who came to parliament, relatively late in life, because he was driven by the desire to serve. Australian politics will always need people like that, on all sides,” Shorten said.

We’ve been revolutionizing grassroots politics for a decade and a half: NPI is fifteen today!

Today is the fifteen year anniversary of the founding of the Northwest Progressive Institute, which publishes this blog, the Cascadia Advocate.

At the time I started the Northwest Progressive Institute, I had been working in opposition to Tim Eyman’s initiative factory for about a year and a half. During those eighteen months, I made two important discoveries:

  1. It’s not enough to be against bad policies and bad actors like Tim Eyman and Donald Trump, nor is it satisfying to be on defense all of the time. People want to know what you are for — how you’d govern if given the chance.
  2. A massive infrastructure gap existed (and arguably still exists) between the right wing and the progressive movement.

These discoveries were very unsettling.

Towards the end of this eighteen month period, George W. Bush ordered American troops to invade Iraq under false pretenses — an action that Congress could have and should have opposed, but ended up going along with.

The invasion of Iraq helped galvanize what the late Molly Ivins called “the great liberal backlash of 2003”, which saw the founding of several new national progressive organizations and the strengthening of many existing ones.

Drawing inspiration from what I saw happening at the federal level, I decided to do my part to build progressive infrastructure here in the Pacific Northwest, figuring that our long term success absolutely depended on it.

As Gandhi said, you must be the change you want to see in the world.

Those wise words still ring true today. I couldn’t find a center for progressive thought working to equip activists with the intelligence needed to advance progressive causes, so I started building one.

And a decade and a half later, NPI remains under construction.

At the time it was founded, NPI had no money, no mailing list, no board, and no resources. All it had that first day was a web presence.

It would be a whole ‘nother year and a half before NPI was legally established as a nonprofit corporation. Talk about a humble beginning!

Today, NPI is a valuable center of progressive thought for the Pacific Northwest, serving activists, candidates, elected leaders, journalists, and the public.

We conduct research to gauge support for progressive ideas using surveys of our own design, provide essential intelligence to elected leaders and ballot measure coalitions working to advance progressive causes, and actively lobby for revenue reform and neglected causes that hardly anybody else is working on — like funding for geologic hazards research, which was one of our 2018 legislative priorities.

We develop and maintain nifty tools like our Statehouse Bill Tracker and Pacific NW Portal to help activists make sense of the legislative and electoral landscapes.

And, of course, through our Permanent Defense project, we continue to give Tim Eyman the vigorous, year-round opposition that he deserves.

Last month, on July 12th, the value of our many capabilities was on full display when we held a press conference in Seattle with Attorney General Bob Ferguson and five state legislators (Manka Dhingra, Jamie Pedersen, Roger Goodman, Laurie Jinkins, and our own Gael Tarleton) to announce our finding that 69% of Washingtonians surveyed prefer life in prison alternatives to the death penalty.

Bit by bit, NPI has been turning into the reframing hub and center for strategic progressive thought and long term thinking that I concluded our region needed all the way back in 2003. That would not have happened without the commitment of a great many people. As they say, it takes a village.

Nobody makes it on their own… there are no self-made individuals in this country or anywhere else, for this matter. We know this to be true because we are progressives. Empathy and mutual responsibility are our core values. We all get by with help from our friends… and our families… and our community.

The community of people who have come together to build NPI is truly incredible. To those Cascadia Advocate readers who have donated to support NPI’s work, thank you. I also want to recognize our current board and staff — Gael, Robert, Rick, Essie, Mario, Garrett, Diane, Keitha, Rennie, Greg, David, Theresa, Tammi, Alison, Caitlin, Brad, and Sungea — for their essential and invaluable contributions, as well as our members, who donate annually or monthly to support NPI.

Everyone who is a dues-paying member (including our awesome Commonwealth Bondholders) has played a special and instrumental role in NPI’s development.

If you are not a member, I invite you to take the next step and become one today. It’s easy: just follow this link and select a giving level, then complete the one-page form. You can choose to donate annually or monthly as a Bondholder. Even five dollars a month really helps.

At NPI, we are experts at stretching a dollar, so each membership represents great value to us. Every time a new member signs up is a cause for celebration.

We value all our members individually as opposed to only the cumulative power of lots of people giving small amounts.

When you become a member, you’re making a commitment to invest in NPI’s work.

That commitment is what drives our team to continue laying more bricks and reaching for new heights. And no matter what your giving level is, we will put your dues payment to work to accomplish progressive change. Count on it.

This Sunday is our Fifteenth Anniversary Picnic at Redmond’s Perrigo Park. Cooler marine air is rolling into the region and displacing the toxic smoke that has enveloped our region for much of the month. (Those east of the Cascades will unfortunately have to wait a bit longer for relief.) The forecast for this weekend calls for cooler temperatures and maybe even a few rain showers.

Given the smoky, yucky weather we’ve experienced, we’re not complaining. We fortunately have the biggest picnic shelter in Redmond, so there will be plenty of room under cover in the event it happens to be raining on Sunday evening. We are still accepting RSVPs for the picnic and we’d love to see you there.

If you will be joining us at Perrigo Park on Sunday evening, then I look forward to sharing some exciting and happy news about NPI’s future and the future of progressive infrastructure development at that time.

Again, readers, thank you so much for being part of the NPI community and for everything you do for progressive causes. The struggle continues. Let’s keep keeping on… we are the last, best hope for those coming after us.

Judge blocks Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s I-1639 from the ballot; campaign appeals

Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon this morning granted a request from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and right wing activist Alan Gottlieb to block the Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s Initiative 1639 from the November 2018 statewide ballot, deeming I-1639’s petitions to be fatally defective.

It’s the first time in state history that an initiative certified for a statewide vote by the Secretary of State has been ordered off the ballot. However, Judge Dixon’s ruling will not be the final word on I-1639’s fate, as the campaign has already appealed his decision to the Washington State Supreme Court.

I-1639 seeks to raise the minimum age required to purchase semiautomatic firearms, impose new safe storage requirements, and create an enhanced background check system. Its signature drive took place over the span of only four weeks, owing to the Alliance waiting until after the legislative session had adjourned Sine Die to decide to go to the ballot and launch a campaign.

When I-1639’s petitions were prepared, an error resulted in the text on the reverse side of the petitions appearing without the usual markup (underlines and strikethroughs) commonly used in legal documents to signify new text and deleted text. The NRA and Gottlieb have argued that this defect should result in all of the petitions being invalidated — an argument Dixon found persuasive.

The campaign has countered that invalidation of the petitions would cause hundreds of thousands of Washington voters to be disenfranchised.

“Washingtonians already made it clear they want stronger gun laws,” I-1639 campaign manager Stephen Paolini said in a statement released following Dixon’s ruling. “That’s why hundreds of thousands of people signed I-1639. Those voters deserve the opportunity to vote on a measure they support. It’s disappointing and unacceptable that the court would ignore the obvious and clear interests and desires of Washingtonians to keep their schools and communities safe.”

In 2015, when progressive organizations sued to block Tim Eyman’s I-1366 from the ballot on scope grounds in Huff v. Wyman, Eyman and his amen chorus cried foul, asserting that the First Amendment rights of the voters who signed the measure would be violated if I-1366 was voided in a preelection challenge.

Yesterday, however, Eyman publicly called on Judge Dixon to nullify I-1639 in a statement intended to show solidarity with the NRA and Gottlieb.

“Tomorrow this judge should boot the billionaires’ anti-gun-rights initiative off the ballot,” Eyman wrote. “It’ll send a message that even billionaires have to follow the law. And besides, because they have unlimited resources, they can sponsor it again next year (and next time they’re likely to follow the law). So voters won’t be ‘robbed’ of their right to vote on this initiative, their vote will just be delayed.”

Wow! That is some incredibly tortured logic right there.

In 2015, Eyman was howling in fury over the prospect of I-1366 being blocked from the ballot. Again and again, he declared it would be an utter travesty if the courts were to prevent his billionaire-funded measure from going to a vote, and he repeatedly circulated this statement made by his pal Pam Roach, which is also deliciously applicable to the current case involving I-1639:

No one is harmed by a public vote on an initiative. It is the voters who will be irreparably harmed if Initiative 1366 is removed from the ballot and blocked from a vote because it will prevent the voters from expressing their views on the measure. It is the 339,236 voters who signed petitions who will be irreparably harmed if Initiative 1366 is blocked because they signed those petitions to ensure a vote. … I urge that the court not take the unprecedented and undemocratic step of preventing the people from voting on a qualified statewide initiative.”

— Former State Senator Pam Roach, now a Pierce County Councilmember, in an August 2015 amicus brief

Emphasis is ours.

No one is harmed by a public vote on an initiative. Tell that to the NRA and Alan Gottlieb, who brought this legal challenge against I-1639. They’re clearly afraid of being handed their third consecutive ballot defeat in November, and they don’t want the public to have the opportunity to decide the fate of this initiative.

The NRA and Gottlieb’s don’t-let-the-people vote lawsuit was to be expected. What is more surprising is that Tim Eyman is publicly supporting it.

Eyman not only released a statement cheering on the NRA and Gottlieb and calling for I-1639’s demise, he went down to Thurston County Superior Court for the hearing in front of Judge Dixon and afterward recorded a video message for his followers from his car, which he posted on social media.

Regardless of what defects the I-1639 petitions have, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution cannot apply to some and not others.

If blocking I-1366 from the ballot in 2015 would have violated the United States Constitution (as Eyman and his attorneys argued then), then blocking I-1639 from the ballot this year would also violate the United States Constitution.

The right wing cannot have it both ways.

The courts have never stopped a statewide initiative that had enough signatures to qualify for a spot on the ballot from going to voters. In siding with the NRA and Gottlieb, Judge Dixon has just taken the “unprecedented and undemocratic step of preventing the people from voting on a qualified statewide initiative” that former State Senator Pam Roach warned against in 2015.

But again, Dixon won’t have the final word on I-1639. The Washington State Supreme Court will. The state’s highest court normally takes months to hear and decide a case like this, but since ballots have to be designed and mailed within a very short timeframe, the Court will have to decide within days.

Contrary to what Tim Eyman told his followers in his video message, the Court will be accepting briefs from the parties in this matter. It may also hear oral argument.

“Both sides anticipated that the loser would appeal to the state Supreme Court, and with a deadline for the printing of ballots and the state Voter’s Pamphlet looming, an expedited schedule has already been set,” the Spokesman-Review’s Olympia correspondent Jim Camden explained to readers in his report on Dixon’s ruling.

“Sponsors will file a brief Monday arguing why Dixon’s decision should be overturned, opponents will file their brief on Wednesday and sponsors must reply by Thursday. If the court wants oral arguments, they will happen on August 28th.”

If the Supreme Court sticks to precedent, then Dixon’s ruling will be overturned and voters will get the opportunity to vote on I-1639 this fall. Otherwise, we could end up with a new precedent that will have serious ramifications for future initiatives.

Dr. Kim Schrier to speak at NPI’s Fifteenth Anniversary Picnic on Sunday, August 26th

Ten days from now, the team here at the Northwest Progressive Institute will be hosting our annual summer anniversary picnic at Redmond’s Perrigo Park to commemorate NPI’s founding. This year, we’re celebrating our fifteenth anniversary, and we’re delighted to announce that pediatrician Dr. Kim Schrier will be joining us as a featured speaker along with State Senator Patty Kuderer.

The daughter of an elementary school teacher and an aerospace engineer, Dr. Kim Schrier says she thought she’d never leave pediatrics… that is, until the current Republican-controlled Congress came along and tried to take away the healthcare of millions of Americans. Disgusted by Dave Reichert’s refusal to stand up to his party and put his constituents’ health before Donald Trump’s agenda, Dr. Schrier became a candidate for the position Reichert currently holds in Congress.

Currently, there are no women doctors serving in Congress — not even one. Dr. Schrier is determined to change that. We’re looking forward to hearing about her priorities for the 116th Congress if she’s elected on Sunday, August 26th.

We cordially invite all Cascadia Advocate readers to join us for the picnic. As in the past, we are not charging admission to this event, but we do ask if you can make a donation of $25 or more if you can afford to. All proceeds raised from the picnic will support NPI’s essential research and advocacy.

After Washington’s Top Two election is certified next Tuesday, Dr. Kim Schrier will be moving on to the general election along with Republican Dino Rossi. The Washington State Democratic Party has not yet formally endorsed her, but the party is expected to vote to nominate her next month when it meets in Spokane.

At a unity event yesterday in Issaquah, Schrier was enthusiastically endorsed by Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski and by the two other principal Democratic candidates who also challenged Rossi in the Top Two election: attorney Jason Rittereiser and Dr. Shannon Hader.

The seat being vacated by Reichert is considered the party’s best pickup opportunity within Washington State, but WA-03 and WA-05 are also districts where the party hopes to oust a Republican incumbent this year.

It is worth mentioning that U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler (WA-03) — who is a four-term incumbent — actually has a lower percentage of the vote than Dino Rossi does in the 8th, to the astonishment of many national observers (but not progressive activists in southwest Washington).

Meanwhile, over in WA-05, Lisa Brown’s candidacy has really spooked Cathy McMorris Rodgers and the Washington State Republicans. Brown was only a few hundred votes behind on Election Night. McMorris Rodgers has since widened the gap, but Brown is still a threat of the highest order to her reelection chances.

Should Schrier, Brown, and Herrera-Beutler challenger Carolyn Long all win, Washington State would have nine Democratic representatives in the United States House: five women and four men. Republicans would be left with just one federal officeholder from Washington State: Central Washington’s Dan Newhouse.

To win a majority in the United States House this autumn, Democrats will need to capture districts like WA-08 with candidates like Dr. Kim Schrier. We hope you can join us on Sunday, August 26th for a thoughtful discussion about taking our country forward instead of continuing to resurrect bad policies from the past, as Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell have been attempting to do.

Jason Rittereiser suspends congressional campaign; congratulates Kim Schrier

Attorney and former prosecutor Jason Rittereiser announced moments ago that he is suspending his campaign for Congress after concluding that his chances of overtaking Kim Schrier in Washington’s Top Two election are slim to none.

Here’s the full statement released by his campaign.

Today, I have suspended my campaign for Congress in WA-08. Despite making up ground in the vote total since election night in this close race, with today’s ballot release, it has become clear that the path to victory is unlikely. As a result, I have reached out to Kim Schrier to offer my congratulations, support, and best wishes in the general election.

This race has always been greater than any one individual. The 8th Congressional District will help determine control of the House of Representatives. I care deeply about this district, and as Democrats, we must win this seat. The best thing for our party, the district, and our nation, is to come together to ensure we take back control of Congress and put a check on the Trump Administration.

To the voters in the 8th District, we are at a defining moment in America. We all want a nation that is secure, families that are healthy, a job that is stable, our children educated, and our environment protected. These values transcend political divides and define us not by party but as Americans. Please cherish the opportunity to affect our democracy by voting in November and send the first Democrat to Congress from our great district.

To our volunteers, I will be forever grateful for your tireless and dedicated work on our campaign.

It is our shared values and vision for better days ahead that united us in our effort to change the tide of politics and break through the partisan divide to connect with voters in every corner of the 8th Congressional District. Our campaign was better because of your work.

To our supporters, thank you. My wife, Michelle, and I remain overwhelmed by your encouragement, your generosity, and your commitment to us and our campaign. Please know that our gratitude is immeasurable, and we are forever thankful for your support.

Running for the United States Congress has been the privilege of my professional life. I am proud of our staff, the campaign we built, and the race we ran. We launched our campaign centered on living our values, to stand up for what’s right, and to send the next generation of leaders to Congress. Unfortunately, today, we came up short of our goal. But, there remains much work to be done to return progress to our politics and to deliver a better nation for the next generation.

We are just getting started.

As of this afternoon, Republican Dino Rossi had 72,185 votes (43.17% of the vote), while the top Democratic contender, Dr. Kim Schrier, had 31,312 votes (18.73% of the vote). Rittereiser is in third place with 30,196 votes (18.06% of the vote). He trails Schrier by 1,116 votes after five days of ballot counting.

Within his home county of Kittitas, Rittereiser is the top Democratic vote getter, with 28.15% of the vote. However, Kim Schrier is the Democratic candidate with the most support in every other county in the district, and appears set to move on.

Twelve candidates filed for the open seat being vacated by incumbent Dave Reichert last May. Now just two are left: Dino Rossi and Kim Schrier. They will be locked in a fierce battle for supremacy in Washington’s 8th Congressional District between now and the conclusion of the November general election in several months.

Good news: Washington State seeing highest August electoral voter turnout since 2012

After spiraling downward across elections for more half a decade, voter turnout in Washington State is finally on the rise, thanks in part to the removal of barriers to voting and thanks in part to the resistance and backlash to Donald Trump’s regime.

As of this morning, voter turnout in the August 2018 Top Two election stood at 38.45%, a level of participation not seen since 2012, when Barack Obama was the Democratic Party’s nominee for President for the second time.

An estimated 78,587 ballots remain left to be counted, which means the percentage will go higher before the election is certified a week from this Tuesday. If all the remaining estimated ballots are counted, turnout will climb above 40%.

And that would put us above the mark set in 2012.

Surpassing 40% would also be a nice symbolic accomplishment. The last time we saw August turnout that high was eight years ago, during the 2010 midterms.

Thanks to King County’s leadership, this election is the first in which every Washington voter was provided with prepaid postage on their ballot return envelopes. Stamps are no longer needed to return a ballot through the mail, which means that every post office is now effectively a ballot drop box.

Meanwhile, the number of drop boxes has also been increased as a consequence of legislation approved last year. It’s never been easier to return a ballot.

The turnout we’re seeing in this election is evidence that removing barriers to voting can have a positive effect on turnout.

Next year, more of the Access to Democracy bills are set to be implemented, including automatic, pre, and same day voter registration. These much needed changes will hopefully continue to lift turnout.

Here’s the percentages for every August Top Two election, going back ten years:

Prior to 2008, Washington held an open primary (also called a pick a party primary) as its preliminary election, in which voters chose nominees for partisan offices.

Here are the same Top Two percentages plotted on a chart:

Washington State Top Two Election Turnout: 2008-2018

The “mountains” in the chart are presidential and midterm election years; the “valleys” are local election years. Notice that even in the even-numbered years, turnout was on a downward trajectory. 2016 had worse turnout than 2012, for example, and 2014 had worse turnout than 2010.

When making comparisons, it is best to compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges, bananas to bananas, and so on. So when we’re looking at turnout, the most similar election is the one held four years ago in an equivalent cycle.

There are nine main election types, not counting special elections in April and February: a preliminary and a general election corresponding to each year in a four year cycle (presidential, local, midterm, local) and the presidential primary.

By our reckoning, this is only the second election in six years in which turnout has climbed above a preceding election of the same type.

The first to buck the falling turnout trend was last year’s Top Two election, which had slightly higher turnout (26.92%) than its 2013 predecessor (25.99%).

Washington State Voter Turnout By Election Type, 1996-2017

As we can see, the 2017 November general election sadly did not buck the trend.

Turnout in that election — which was a pitiful 37.10% — ignominiously became the worst in state history. More voters have already voted in this Top Two election than voted in last November’s general election, which really says something, because those are different types of elections and not directly comparable!

There’s more we can do to make voting easier and encourage people to vote, but we can be proud of the steps we’ve already taken. Unlike right wing dominated states, we are working to expand suffrage and participation instead of constrict it.

Senator Sharon Nelson’s successor will likely be either Shannon Braddock or Joe Nguyen

Good evening from West Seattle, where NPI is among the media organizations represented at Senate hopeful Shannon Braddock’s election results watch party. Braddock, as readers may know, is running to succeed Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson as the 34th District’s state senator.

The mood was light and optimistic at the beginning of the night, as supporters filed inside the pizzeria. The campaign ordered beers and pizza and encouraged a casual ambiance that was easy to feel comfortable in.

The candidate everyone was here to support, Shannon Braddock, has been deeply involved in advocacy for children and under-privileged in her local area.

As Deputy Chief of Staff under King County Executive Dow Constantine, much of her focus has been on funding for local schools and responsible firearm laws.

She hopes to translate her local experience with some of Washington’s most contentious issues into statewide policy, planning to teach and learn in the Washington State Senate, which Democrats gained control of last year.

While the mood was always bright, once the results rolled in, the atmosphere became more and more jovial.

It quickly became apparent that along with Joe Nguyen, Braddock was leading the pack and is likely to move on to the general election as one of two Democrats on the ballot. She stood up on a chair in the middle of the room, hands above her head, gesturing gratefully at the packed house that was there to see her.

Senate hopeful Shannon Braddock addresses her supporters in West Seattle

Senate hopeful Shannon Braddock addresses her supporters in West Seattle (Photo: Greg Evans/NPI)

“Standing for someone is hard,” she knowingly intoned.

“Thank you for all the support. Thanks so much.”

Her speech was brief, and lacked the sort of grandiloquence you might expect from someone angling for what could be called a promotion. She returned again to the sense of camaraderie and community that has been her strength up to this point, and rather delightedly added: “To think a single mother could do this.”

Her supporters cheered and applauded.

Her common refrain of responsible firearm laws, schools that work for all children, and intentional fiscal pragmatism was well received by everyone in the room. Obviously, her campaign has also been well received by a significant proportion of voters in the deeply blue 34th Legislative District. Braddock and Nguyen will face off in the general election later this year, on November 6th.

Braddock currently has 26.87% of the vote, while Nguyen has 27.69%. The next closest candidate is also a Democrat, Lois Schipper. She’s got just 9.51%.

Eight other candidates were also in the running, but it looks like they will all be out of the hunt when the election is certified in a couple of weeks.

Check out NPI’s Pacific NW Portal for up to date election results and continuing coverage of the August Top Two election, the first round of the state’s two part elections system, which concludes with the general election in November.

5th District Democrats celebrate as early returns put Bill Ramos and Lisa Callan ahead

At an election night watch party for Democratic state House hopefuls Bill Ramos and Lisa Callan in Issaquah, a cheer erupted as the initial election results appeared on the big screen. The numbers showed both candidates with a majority of the vote.

Ramos, an Issaquah City Councilmember, has 53.64% to Republican Chad Magendanz’s 46.36%, while Callan, an Issaquah school board member, has 52.92%. Opponent (and incumbent) Paul Graves has 45.67%. A third candidate, Ryan Dean Burkett, has 1.42% of the vote and will not be going on to November.

Callan and Ramos were joined at the Rogue Issaquah Brewhouse by a large contingent of family, friends and volunteers.

The night began with casual conversation and warm greetings as guests took an occasional peek at the developments in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, where Democrat Danny O’Connor remains locked in a fierce battle with his Republican opponent Troy Balderson in a special election.

Both campaign managers took time out to recognize some of the most active callers and door-knockers for their vital efforts over the past several weeks.

Minutes after the ballot drop boxes closed, the first results were posted and it was clear both candidates were going to finish the night in first place.

Ramos and Callan gathered with their campaign managers at the front of the hall, smiling and posing for celebratory pictures.

Happy phone calls were made and there were plenty of hugs to go around.

As the candidates took a moment to thank their guests and supporters, Callan made a point of highlighting the volunteers who fueled both campaigns, knocking on over 31,000 doors and making more than 3,000 calls to voters.

As she put it, volunteers formed the “backbone of this campaign.”

“It’s absolutely all about voter contact,” she added. “People are engaged, they’re listening, and they like what they hear.”

Ramos also focused on volunteer efforts and how they reached more than 30,000 donors so far. “And we’ll reach 30,000 more in the next ninety days,” he pledged. “The work pays off. It’s the work that does it.”

The evening continued with food, drink and joyful conversation as guests stayed to visit, celebrate, and watch the rest of the results roll in across the state, with cheers for every Democratic candidate leading and winning tonight.