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.

Battleground states still close, dependable blue and red states called

As the night stretches on, more and more states are being colored in and added to the map. Hillary Clinton is projected to win in New York, the New England states of Maine, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, plus Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia, while Trump has added states like Texas, Arkansas, North Dakota, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Dakota to his tally.

In Illinois, Tammy Duckworth has been projected as the winner in that state’s U.S. Senate contest, defeating incumbent Republican Mark Kirk.

The big battleground states, however, remain uncalled. These include Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Florida. Trump is ahead in several of them, but not all.

In Florida’s U.S. Senate contest, incumbent Republican Marco Rubio has declared victory over Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy.

More state projections: Trump takes West Virginia, South Carolina; Ohio too close to call

The minutes continue to tick by and the projections continue to roll in. Sort of.

News networks tend to be skittish about calling a state for a candidate when there isn’t enough data to definitely indicate which way the vote is going to go, so many of the projections so far have really been non-projections — in other words, too close to call or too early to call.

As was noted previously, Trump is projected to take Indiana and Kentucky; but now West Virginia and South Carolina have been called for him as well. He was expected to win easily in all those states. Indiana has backed the Republican nominee for the last few cycles, with the exception of 2008, when Obama narrowly won it.

Ohio has joined the list of states too early to call. However, Republican Senator Rob Portman is projected to have won reelection, defeating former Democratic Governor Ted Strickland, who didn’t wage a very good campaign.

“Strickland says he called Portman to concede and “wish him well in representing the people of Ohio in the Senate,” reports Burgess Everett.

Meanwhile, in Florida, early tallied votes suggest good news for Hillary Clinton, but there’s a long night of counting ahead.

First state projections: Trump wins Indiana and Kentucky; Clinton takes Vermont

Polls have closed in several states in the Eastern timezone, and the first state projections are in. News networks are calling Bernie Sanders’ home state of Vermont for Hillary Clinton (3 electoral votes), while Indiana and Kentucky have landed in the Trump column. Georgia and Virginia are considered too close to call.

Exit polling suggests that the Georgia electorate has become more diverse since the last presidential election, which may produce some interesting results.

The night is only just beginning. There are many, many more projections to come.

Heads up: King County Elections will be counting ballots *around the clock* this year

Since the advent of vote by mail in Washington State’s largest county several years ago, journalists, activists, and citizens around these parts have become accustomed to a King County Elections results schedule that looks like this:

  • Election Night: 8:15 PM results drop
  • Subsequent days: Additional results posted around 4 or 4:30 PM

But this year, things are going to be different. Very different.

Determined to speed up the processing of ballots, King County Elections has added a night shift, and plans to release fresh numbers in the middle of the night, every night, for the next several days. This is the posting schedule for this year:

  • Election Night, 8:15 PM: First results drop
  • Wednesday, 1:30 AM: Second results drop
  • Wednesday, 3:30 PM: Third results drop
  • Thursday, 3:30 AM: Fourth results drop

Yes, you read that correctly… King County Elections plans to release new numbers at 3:30 AM — as in the middle of the night — every day starting Thursday, November 10th, and ending Sunday, November 13th.

They are not stopping for Veterans Day or the weekend. They will be counting around the clock until we get to Sunday. The pace will slow after that, but there will still be daily releases up until Thanksgiving hits.

Thereafter, the plan is for there to be one results posting a day at 3:30 PM. That changes to 5:30 PM once we get to Thanksgiving week.

You can see the calendar for yourself here.

So, for the next few days, you can expect fresh numbers to already be available out of King County when you wake up, due to the night shift and the new twenty-four hour operations King County has instituted.

Clearly, management at King County Elections doesn’t want to be a laggard in this election. They have been anticipating a huge volume of ballots, and they have obtained funds from the King County Council to work around the clock so that the pile of unprocessed ballots doesn’t get out of hand. As a consequence, results watching is going to feel very, very different here than it has in years past.

Pierce County Elections also plans a Wednesday AM release, though not in the middle of the night. They’ll drop fresh numbers at 9:30 AM tomorrow.

Today is General Election Day 2016. Haven’t voted yet? It’s time to get that ballot in!

Today is General Election Day in Washington State and across the United States. Much is at stake. The presidency, four hundred and thirty five seats in the U.S. House, and a third of the seats in the Senate are all on the line. And that’s just the federal level positions. Nine statewide executive department positions, three Supreme Court positions, and three-fourths of the Legislature are also up.

In Oregon, there is a governor’s race (owing to the resignation of John Kitzhaber) and a U.S. Senate contest in addition to U.S. House contests.

Have you voted yet? If you have, congratulations on fulfilling your civic duty. Haven’t voted yet? It’s time to get that ballot in! You’ve only got a few hours left before time runs out to participate. There’s no excuse for not voting.

You should have received your ballot in the mail a few weeks ago from the county you reside in. If you did not receive a ballot, or if you have misplaced your ballot, you should call your county auditor or elections office to obtain a provisional ballot.

Don’t forget to sign your ballot before putting it in a drop box or the mail. Washingtonians, locate the nearest drop box to you by going here.

If you live in Oregon, don’t take your ballot to a post office, as it’s too late to mail it. Find a drop box instead, and take your ballot there.

Not sure who to vote for? If you belong to or prefer a particular political party, you may want to consult their list of endorsements.

There’s also the Progressive Voters Guide maintained by Fuse Washington.

NPI has taken positions on the following statewide ballot measures in Washington and Oregon (we do not endorse candidates for office).

Washington

Oregon

  • Measure 94: YES
  • Measure 95: YES
  • Measure 96: YES
  • Measure 97: YES
  • Measure 98: YES
  • Measure 99: YES
  • Measure 100: YES

We also urge you to vote YES on Sound Transit/Regional Proposition 1 if you live in urban King, Pierce, or Snohomish counties.

But above all…. VOTE!

Hillary Clinton wins Dixville Notch, New Hampshire in midnight vote

In keeping with tradition, the tiny community of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire has announced the results of its midnight elections… and for President of the United States, Hillary Clinton won the town, just like Barack Obama did before her.

The results were as follows:

  • Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine: Four votes
  • Donald Trump and Mike Pence: Two votes
  • Gary Johnson and William Weld: One vote
  • Mitt Romney (presumably a write-in): One vote

Other communities that traditionally vote at midnight and announce their results minutes thereafter are Hart’s Location and Millsfield.

MSNBC has a nice story on the background of midnight day-of voting in Dixville Notch for those interested. There’s also this account, from Wikipedia:

Dixville Notch is best known in connection with its longstanding middle-of-the-night vote in the U.S. presidential election, including during the New Hampshire primary (the first primary election in the U.S. presidential nomination process). In a tradition that started in the 1960 election, all the eligible voters in Dixville Notch gather at midnight in the ballroom of The Balsams. The voters cast their ballots and the polls officially are closed when one-hundred percent of the registered voters have voted, sometimes one minute later. The results of the Dixville Notch vote in both the New Hampshire primary and the general election are traditionally broadcast around the country immediately afterwards.

A similar tradition in the community of Hart’s Location, New Hampshire began in 1948; theirs was discontinued in the 1960s in light of the abundance of media attention, and revived only in 1996.

This post will be updated with additional information as more results roll in.

President Obama, Chelsea Clinton lead huge rally for Hillary in Ann Arbor on election’s eve

Editor’s Note: Matt Villeneuve is a graduate student at the University of Michigan who has interned with the National Park Service and The White House. He holds a Master’s Degree in Social Sciences/U.S. History from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in History from the University of Oregon. The team at NPI is delighted to welcome him to the Cascadia Advocate and thanks him for representing us as our correspondent in Ann Arbor, covering today’s get out the vote events.

On the eve of the 2016 presidential election, two kinds of fog greeted President Obama in Michigan today. The first kind was the fog that deposits dew on the grass, leaves car windows opaque,  and sends your hands searching for pockets in the early morning air. The second is of the electoral kind.

After FBI Director James Comey handed Republicans a gift in the form of a letter revealing the Bureau was reviewing emails from a computer shared by Anthony Weiner and Clinton adviser Huma Abedin, the Clinton campaign found their comfortable lead here in Michigan dwindling.

The clarity of October 21st — when Clinton was up 11.6 points over Trump — has largely disappeared. Michigan has supported the Democratic nominee for President for many cycles now, but Hillary For America is not taking the state for granted.

Only one day before the election, Michigan has suddenly become a battleground state again, with Clinton up over Trump by only 4.7 points. At this eleventh hour of the campaign, the Clinton camp has ordered a full-court press on Michigan.

With Hillary in Grand Rapids and former President Bill Clinton in the state capital of Lansing, it was up to Chelsea and Barack to make the case to Ann Arbor and the thousands of millennial voters at the University of Michigan.

Waiting for Obama

Rally attendees (Photo: Matt Villeneuve/NPI)

If there is anything that this son of Washington knows, it’s the capacity of fog — and rain — in spoiling a good day’s weather. Quite less familiar to me, however, is the feeling of being in a battleground state on the eve of a presidential election.

While the TV spots, billboards, and radio ads exist here in Michigan in a quantity unknown back home, the otherwise pernicious bombardment of campaign noise has one perk: the attention of the principals.

So it was that, with an HFA press credential in hand, I made my way into Ray Fisher stadium on the campus of the University of Michigan to observe what it was like to be at a campaign rally with the President of the United States in a battleground state just twenty-four hours prior to the last day of this unprecedented election.

I was not alone. The campaign had released tickets for more than 4,000 attendees, and the line started forming at the first base line before around 7 AM.

Outside the stadium, a long line snaked down past the railroad tracks. A band of #NoDAPL protestors chanted and banged on drums to the nods of affirmation by the crowd. Inside, the field had been taken over by the typically rally paraphernalia: sections of fencing, security checkpoints, and risers for the press.

The speaking podium bearing the seal of the President of the United States was situated on the third-base line — a fitting place usually reserved for the likes of Kyle Seager, now the stage was a new “hot corner” for these Democratic speakers. The stadium was at full capacity for Obama’s scheduled noontime speech by 10 AM.

A packed house for President Obama

Panorama of Ray Fisher Stadium (Photo: Nicole Navarro)

Once inside, the assembled gathering had nearly two hours to wait for POTUS — the press’ often-used nickname for the President of the United States — to arrive.

It was a typical Ann Arbor crowd and a motley crew marshaled to support Hillary: among the crowd could be seen veterans of the Korean War ballcaps, a cowboy hat, a USS New Jersey jacket  (a longtime member of the Bremerton mothball fleet), headscarves, a Nez Perce vest, and a Clinton campaign hoodie sporting the slogan “Michigan Hustles Harder” complete with a punny hashtag, #MIshecan.

Rally attendees

The crowd at the rally with President Obama (Photo: Matt Villeneuve/NPI)

Around me in the press area were a faculty member who teaches journalism, a freelance photographer for Politico, a reporter for Reuters banging away on his laptop, and high school journalism student there covering the event for his school newspaper. A nearby TV correspondent who spoke into a microphone for his own newscast set the narrative for the whole press corps:

The problem here for Hillary is that her poll numbers have really slipped… Clinton was up as high as eleven points in this state, though her lead is now only around five…

Though the crowd had assembled for the common attraction of the President in Ann Arbor, it also be proved to be a captive audience for other speakers.

While Obama was the main course, the rally audience was treated to a series of appetizers: local representatives, candidates for the UMich board of regents, and Michigan senators. Debbie Dingle, representing the 12th District of Michigan in which Ann Arbor resides, kicked the day off by setting the stakes.

“I am pleased that President Obama is here in Michigan to finish the campaign,” she said. “I’m not old, I’m seasoned. We hear every year that this is the most important election of our lifetimes, but this year it really is, and let us never see one like it ever again.” The crowd agreed.

Wider view of the rally

A packed Ray Fisher Stadium (Photo: Matt Villeneuve/NPI)

Larry Deitch, running for re-election to the UMich Board of Regents implored attendees to “join hands in a coalition of decency to reject fear and bigotry,” and his colleague Denise Illitch announced: “I agree the with the First Lady and I quote her when I say education is the most important element for freedom and equality.”

In addition to the kind of solidarity talk found in many  political rallies in safely blue states like Washington and Oregon, unifying all of these speeches was the added rhetoric of electoral leverage. Here the crowd was exhorted not just to support Democratic candidates in down ballot races, but to get out the vote for Hillary.

Solomon Rajput, a Clinton campaign field organizer, gushed with great sincerity and eagerness about the homeliness of his family: a mother who left loving notes in his lunch box and a father that always tried to pay the bill at dinner for guests.

His family was the same as many others in the crowd, he insisted, save for one thing: “In Donald Trump’s America, my Muslim family would not be welcome here.” Solomon laid out the obvious calculus: “There’s a reason Trump and Pence are here in Michigan. A day before the election. It’s because Michigan matters!”

His voice cracked in excitement as he spoke. “The eyes of the world [are] on Michigan. Let’s show them what we got!”

Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence of Michigan’s 14th District had a similar message for potential battleground voters. Her refrain was “I still believe” — and she charged the crowd with keeping faith that if America was a place where it was possible to elect a black man to the Oval Office, it could elect a woman as President.

“I still believe,” she repeated, “And as a woman and an African-American, I have a lot to lose!” The crowd cheered.

Then Lawrence perhaps best epitomized the rather privileged position of a battleground state when she said, “When God made the world, on the seventh day, he rested and put his hand down on the earth and made Michigan.” (Michigan is often referred to as The Mitten due to its geography.)

I had to laugh. If the eyes of the world, the hand of God, and President Barack Obama were in your state in the same twenty-four hour period, you sure couldn’t argue that your vote didn’t matter.

Michigan’s U.S. Senator Gary Peters gave the most fiery speech of them all. “Who would’ve thought that Michigan would decide the election?” he began.

“The entire country will be watching the State of Michigan and they will see not only did we win for Clinton, but we won big.”

After Peters left the stage, music played while the crowd waited for the president’s arrival. The sky was clearing and the sun was coming out. At one point, a cheer from the crowd went up to herald the arrival of the president, but it was premature.

“False alarm,” the word went around. “It’s just Harbaugh.” A series of football chants followed for Ann Arbor’s second largest celebrity of the day.

Finally, just past noon, the presidential motorcade arrived and Chelsea Clinton took the stage to introduce the President. She described how it was up to voters to decide “if Stronger Together is just a campaign slogan or an ethos of our values.”

Chelsea Clinton speaking

Chelsea Clinton introduces President Barack Obama (Photo: Matt Villeneuve/NPI)

She described her mother with great pride and enumerated all the progressive causes for which she stood. “If you want to protect the progress of President Obama, progress that he’s not given enough credit for, then you’ve got to vote,” she insisted. With great acclaim, POTUS then took the stage.

The President’s remarks were part stump-speech, part character reference for Hillary. “I’m feeling sentimental. This will be my last day of campaigning for a while,” Obama said. He began with gratitude: “I want to say thank you to so many grassroots organizers who pick up phones, hit the streets — you are the best organizers on the planet, and I am here today because of you.”

President Obama speaks in Ann Arbor

President Barack Obama addresses a big crowd in Ann Arbor, urging support for Hillary Clinton (Photo: Matt Villeneuve/NPI)

“Think about where we were eight years ago… I just realize some of you were ten.” The president then went on to mention by name a range of Disney Channel shows, each title met with great laughter from the audience, clearly a form of millennial pandering. Nevertheless, it brought out many smiles.

The President then chronicled all of the progressive causes that had been championed by the Democratic Party over the last two terms. The list should by now be long and familiar: the Recovery Act, the Patient Protection Act, the Paris climate accord, the death of Osama bin Laden, marriage equality, and so on.

However, among all the applause and celebration, the President offered a warning: “All that progress goes down the drain if we don’t vote.”

Taking a dig at Donald Trump in ways the name at the top of the ticket cannot, the President spent a good portion of his speech on the attack.

“I’ve seen what makes America great,” the President said. “Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be Commander-in-Chief. Did you hear this weekend that his campaign took away his Twitter account? Can you imagine him with the nuclear codes?” This was an effective laugh line, but Obama lobbed his sharpest barb of criticism against Donald Trump on the question of the fate of working-class people.

“Do not be bamboozled. In his seventy years on this earth, the Donald has never shown respect for working people. It isn’t clear he even knows working people save for those who clean his hotels and mow the lawns of his golf courses.”

The President then seemed to address the difficulty that both he and Hillary Clinton face in getting the support of mostly white working-class communities, some of which are largest in places like Michigan.

“Donald Trump said, ‘Let them go bankrupt,'” the President reminded the audience, referencing the country’s biggest automakers, which were rescued by his administration. “To every autoworker on the line, barkeeper, or small business owner, I think I’ve earned some credibility here.”

He added, “Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified for this office… but the good news is, Michigan, is that you are uniquely qualified to make sure he doesn’t!”

Obama ended his speech like so many others he’s given — by calling to mind our finest traditional values and highest democratic ideals. Obama urged all present to shake off the cynicism of this entire campaign cycle, saturated by what the President decried as “a dust cloud of nonsense.”

He then returned to making the case that Hillary Clinton is a true progressive.

Establishing her progressive bona fides, he implored his Ann Arbor audience: “Whatever credibility I’ve earned over eight years as your president… trust me on this one.” As the crowd cheered, the President leaned into the conclusion of one of his last stump speeches while in office. “The most important office in the democracy is that of citizen,” he stated. “The most powerful word in our democracy is ‘we.’ We shall overcome. Yes we can. I never said, ‘Yes I can,’ I said ‘Yes we can.’”

Channeling the spirit of 2008, the President concluded his final campaign speech by asking the crowd to “do what you did for me, for Hillary. Finish what we started.”

President Obama waves to the crowd in Ann Arbor

President Obama waves to the crowd in Ann Arbor (Photo: Matt Villeneuve/NPI)

By the time the president left the stage, the music returned, and the cheering reached its fever pitch, the sun was high in the sky.

At half past noon, it was by then quite hot. Not only had the fog been lifted Ann Arbor, but the star power of both the President and the sun itself had Ann Arbor, if not Michigan, fired up and ready to go.

The Michigan polls close at 8 PM Eastern Time tomorrow.

Andy Hill: 1962-2016

A key figure in the Washington State Senate’s Republican caucus has died after battling a recurrence of lung cancer, his colleagues and family divulged today.

Senator Andy Hill (R-45th District: Redmond, Kirkland, Sammamish, Woodinville, Duvall) has been the Senate’s chief budget writer since late 2012. He assumed the chairmanship of the Senate Ways & Means Committee following Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon’s defection to the Republican Party four years ago, which resulted in Democrats becoming a minority in the Senate despite having been elected to a majority by the voters of Washington State in the 2012 elections.

Hill was first elected to the Washington State Senate in 2010, defeating Eric Oemig, and was narrowly reelected in 2014 to a second four-year term, overcoming a challenge from Navy veteran Matt Isenhower. A physics major, Andy was a program manager at Microsoft before becoming involved in PTSA and Lake Washington Youth Soccer/Crossfire. Together with his wife Molly, he has three children.

“In 2008, he was diagnosed with lung cancer, despite never having smoked,” noted a public letter posted on Hill’s campaign website acknowledging his death, put together by his good friend and colleague Joe Fain.

“Beating all the odds and through the use of a cutting-edge cancer treatment, Andy managed the disease for years living cancer free. With the new perspective of having come so close to death, Andy leaned further into community service.”

Sadly, Andy’s cancer came back, and has now taken his life.

Andy was my state senator, and I enjoyed interacting with him, despite our very different political views. Our last substantive conversation, which I remember fondly, took place last March, when I was in Olympia for the Washington State Supreme Court’s oral argument in Lee v. State, the case against Tim Eyman’s I-1366.

(I-1366 was Eyman’s scheme to wipe out $8 billion in sales tax funding over six years unless the Legislature agreed to change the state’s Constitution to make it impossible to raise revenue without a two-thirds vote.)

At the time, Andy was working on trying to finish negotiating the supplemental budget, while I had just finished liveblogging the goings-on at the Temple of Justice. After hearing what I’d been up to, Andy opined that he felt certain the Supreme Court would strike I-1366 down — a view long held by the team here at NPI. And a few weeks later, the Court did exactly that, rendering a unanimous verdict declaring the initiative unconstitutional in its entirety.

What stood out to me during that conversation were Andy’s perceptive and confident comments. He had clearly read up on the initiative, analyzed its defects, and concluded that it would not hold up in the courts.

I was glad to hear his take on the case, for it demonstrated that he understood the incredibly destructive consequences of I-1366’s implementation.

After we wrapped up our discussion, I found myself wishing he had been part of our campaign against I-1366 only a few months prior. I would have enjoyed campaigning alongside him to defeat that awful initiative.

Last year, Andy was encouraged to run against Governor Jay Inslee by a number of well known Republicans, including the distinguished Sam Reed, but he demurred, and for good reasons, choosing to put his family and personal health first.

Today, Governor Inslee was one of the first to react to news of Hill’s passing, stating: “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Senator Andy Hill. Trudi and I extend our condolences to Molly, their three children, and Andy’s family and friends. Senator Hill was dedicated legislator who served with distinction. He was a strong champion for education and a compassionate advocate for people with disabilities. His voice in Olympia will be missed.”

“Andy was a strong advocate for his East King County district,” added King County Executive Dow Constantine in a statement on behalf of King County. “I am grateful for his work to expand access to cultural programs and secure dedicated funding for public health. He leaves a legacy of compassion and pragmatism, and we at King County offer condolences to his family and friends.”

“Andy Hill embodied what it means to be a public servant,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “He was a pleasure to work with, both professionally and personally. Andy’s dedication to hard work and mastery of detail resulted in a thorough and thoughtful approach to policy. His independence and commitment to the state of Washington made collaborating with him downright enjoyable. My heart goes out to Andy’s wife Molly and their three children as they grieve this enormous loss.”

“We are heartbroken by the passing of a true servant leader and exemplary father, husband, friend and colleague,” said David Ammons, Communications Director for  Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “Senator Hill was one of the ‘best and the brightest’ and will be sorely missed at the Capitol and across the state. His collaborative, collegial style was a model for us all.”

“Andy’s selfless courage to overcome his first encounter with cancer and seek public office, serving the state and its citizens until the cancer returned this summer, is an inspiration to all of us,” said State Republican Chair Susan Hutchison.

She added: “We will miss his intellect, good humor, his ability to solve complex problems and bring people together across the political aisle. He is a model for citizenship and service for all those in public life.”

“Andy Hill was a dedicated public servant respected by Democrats and Republicans,” said Washington State Democratic Party Chair Jaxon Ravens. “His service in Olympia and in his community proved there is much more that unites us than divides us. I join other Washingtonians in grieving over his loss.”

“We are grieved to hear of the passing of Senator Andy Hill,” said King County Democratic Chair Rich Erwin and 45th Legislative District Democratic Chair Ken Albinger in a joint statement. “Senator Hill was a devoted father, parishioner, state lawmaker, and community leader entrusted by his caucus with the important responsibility of negotiating with House Democrats and Governor Inslee on state budgets. We appreciated Andy’s willingness as one of our elected representatives to engage us and our legislative action teams on many issues of mutual concern.”

“We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Molly, their three children, and his many friends, and commend them for faithfully supporting Andy during his multiple battles against cancer.”

Memorial services for Andy have been scheduled for Friday, November 11th, but further details are not yet available. I will update this post when they are.

Tim Eyman’s wealthy benefactors funding Rodney Tom’s attacks on Justice Wiggins

Newly filed reports with the Public Disclosure Commission show that several of Tim Eyman’s top wealthy benefactors are working with Medina’s Rodney Tom to fund $350,000 worth of attack ads against Supreme Court Justice Charlie Wiggins, who is one of three incumbents seeking reelection to the state’s highest court this year.

Tom’s political action committee, disingenuously named “Judicial Integrity Washington”, previously targeted Chief Justice Barbara Madsen in the Top Two election. Although the PAC spent several hundred thousand dollars in an attempt to defeat her, Madsen still managed to swamp both of her opponents, winning 63.9% of the vote. And she enjoys the support of all the state’s major newspaper publishers, whose recommendations in judicial contests can have some influence.

Having apparently concluded that Wiggins is actually more vulnerable than Madsen, Rodney Tom has decided to change targets for the general election, hoping to knock out at least one of the justices responsible for striking down the League of Education Voters’ I-1240 (charter schools) and Tim Eyman’s numerous unconstitutional schemes to starve public services by requiring a two-thirds vote to pass revenue bills in the Washington State Legislature.

“Judicial Integrity Washington” has so far raised $453,100.00. $350,000 of that is from billionaire Kenneth Fisher of Camas. Kemper Freeman, Jr. of Bellevue has given $50,000, and former wireless mogul John Stanton has given $50,000 as well. Artie Buerk has given $3,000 and Rodney Tom himself gave $100.

Those are the only contributions on record to date.

Rodney Tom is the PAC’s sole officer. The PAC’s C1-PC lists him as both the “campaign manager” and the Treasurer.

The PAC is Tom’s operation, but Tim Eyman is also peripherally involved.

Not coincidentally, Eyman yesterday sent out an email to his followers eviscerating Wiggins and calling for his ouster from the Supreme Court.

“Charles Wiggins is an embarrassment and deserves to be removed from office,” snapped Eyman. “He and Barbara Madsen and Mary Yu are running for reelection and on the November ballot. They all feel entitled to their positions and annoyed that they need to defend their indefensible rulings.”

(Emphasis is Eyman’s.)

As usual, Tim Eyman has no idea what he’s talking about. I have seen each of the aforementioned justices this year out on the campaign trail, and I can attest that Eyman’s characterization of them is false. Justices Yu, Madsen, and Wiggins are some of the most accessible jurists I’ve ever met. They are glad to engage citizens in conversation and talk about issues like access to justice. They are very serious about complying with judicial ethics rules, and follow those to the letter.

Eyman’s vicious and vindictively worded email from yesterday suggests he has been itching to take a swing at Justice Wiggins for some time.

Wiggins, readers may recall, memorably defeated Richard Sanders six years ago, leaving Tim Eyman with just one friend on the Supreme Court: Jim Johnson. Johnson subsequently chose to retire and was succeeded by Mary Yu, one of the few jurists to have struck down an Eyman initiative at the trial court level.

All three justices enjoy strong bar associating ratings.

Justice Mary Yu is rated “Exceptionally Well Qualified” across the board. Justice Barbara Madsen has three “Exceptionally Well Qualified” ratings and one “Well Qualified” rating. Justice Charlie Wiggins, meanwhile, has four “Exceptionally Well Qualified” ratings and two “Well Qualified” ratings.

None of their opponents appear to have any “Exceptionally Well Qualified” ratings.

The last time the right wing in Washington made a major play for positions on the Supreme Court was ten years ago, when the once powerful Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) spent large sums of money in an attempt to knock out incumbent Justices Gerry Alexander and Susan Owens. The BIAW spent over a million dollars in 2006 to elect their handpicked candidates, but voters resoundingly returned Alexander and Owens to the bench for new terms.

Tom’s attack ads against Madsen were ineffective back in the summer, but he’s evidently convinced Eyman’s benefactors to give him another massive pile of cash so that he can try to pick off a different Supreme Court justice.

Rodney Tom was once a state lawmaker who worked on causes like ensuring homeowners victimized by negligent construction had access to justice.

Now, like Tim Eyman, he’s a mouthpiece for right wing billionaires.

Ignore the Seattle Times editorial board and the naysayers — vote YES on Sound Transit 3

To the astonishment of no one, the Seattle Times editorial board this week published an editorial formally recommending a “no” vote on Regional Proposition 1, the bold and much needed plan to expand light rail, commuter rail, and express bus service that’s on the ballot in urban Puget Sound.

Vote to Approve Regional Proposition 1

NPI urges an “Approved” vote on Regional Proposition 1 (Sound Transit 3)

Commonly known as Sound Transit 3 (ST3), Regional Proposition 1 is a once in a generational opportunity for Washington’s urban residents to ensure that transit can keep up with regional growth and expand to meet the mobility needs of communities across King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties, where the vast majority of the state’s population is concentrated.

Proposition 1 would authorize Sound Transit to expand our light rail spine north to Everett, south to Tacoma, east to downtown Redmond, west to West Seattle, northwest to Ballard, and southeast to Issaquah.

Proposition 1 would also significantly expand bus service. New bus rapid transit lines would be created to run on I-405 and SR 522, while existing ST Express service would be significantly enhanced.

Additionally, Sounder commuter rail would expand, getting a new southern terminus in DuPont and running more frequently.

ST3 is the result of years of extensive outreach and planning conducted by Sound Transit, yet the Seattle Times editorial board bizarrely calls it “rushed onto the presidential-year ballot”. It’s no secret that the Blethen-owned Times doesn’t like Sound Transit, but this editorial makes it sound like the scribes the paper employs simply haven’t been paying attention to ST’s work at all.

At NPI, we have, and we can attest that the groundwork for Sound Transit 3 has been laid over the course of many years because we’ve been participants in it.

We stepped up to contribute our ideas when Sound Transit announced it was updating its Long Range Plan. We traveled to Olympia to lobby the Legislature to give Sound Transit the revenue authority it needed to ensure ST3 would not be dependent solely on one volatile revenue source like ST2 was. And when Sound Transit asked the public what the final plan to submitted to voters should look like, we weighed in. So did many other citizens and organizations.

We’re very happy with how ST3 turned out. So are many local leaders across the region. A plethora of city councils have endorsed ST3 because they recognize that a robust transit system leads to greater opportunity and broad prosperity.

When people are free to get to where they want to go without being forced to drive, they can liberate themselves from traffic.

For transit to be appealing to people who have the means to drive, it must be convenient, frequent, clean, and reliable. That means it needs to run in its own right of way. Building new right of way is not cheap, simple, or easy, which accounts for ST3’s significant price tag. But it is definitely worth it. Ask anyone who regularly rides University Link since it opened to the public back in March.

The Blethens and the scribes they employ have become less harsh towards Sound Transit since 2008, when we voted resoundingly to pass ST2. But they’re still undermining the noble cause of transit for all with their call to reject ST3.

In an apparent attempt to sound more reasonable than it did eight years ago, the Times has adopted a mantra, “Press pause!”, which it originally debuted back in June when Sound Transit’s Board was preparing to submit ST3 to voters.

Perhaps the most galling part of this editorial are the passages that refer to Sound Transit 2 and omit the context needed to understand that vote and this one.

The Times opines:

Pressing pause would not doom the region to traffic hell nor would it kill transit.

Sound Transit already has funding to build a bus-and-rail network that will handle most of the region’s transit demand through 2040.

The Sound Transit 2 project now under way extends light rail from Seattle to Lynnwood and almost to Federal Way, and between Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond. This ST2 work will be done by 2023 no matter what — we’re already paying for it. That won’t slow or stop if the region spends another year or two refining plans for its future expansion.

The Times disingenuously fails to mention that none of “this ST2 work” would be happening at all if they’d gotten their way in 2008. They emphatically called for ST2’s rejection that year, after having enthusiastically backed Sound Move (ST1) only twelve years prior. (That prompted this response here on the Cascadia Advocate, which The Stranger’s Dan Savage called “required reading”.)

The Times now seems to be tacitly admitting that Sound Transit 2 is a good thing. So are they going to admit they were wrong in 2008 when they characterized ST2 as “a bad proposal” consisting of “a few stops at hugely expensive stations”?

I rather doubt an apology will be forthcoming, but I still wouldn’t mind seeing one.

If that weren’t bad enough, the Times again omitted vital facts with this next bit:

Remember, voters rejected ST2 in 2007 because the original proposal was too big and unwieldy. That didn’t kill transit. Voters pressed pause, leadership produced a more reasonable plan and ST2 was approved the following year.

That is not a good explanation of what happened in 2007.

Here’s a better one.

In 2007, at the behest of state lawmakers, voters were presented with a plan called Roads & Transit, which was the result of a shotgun marriage arranged by the Legislature between the now-dissolved RTID and Sound Transit.

RTID, short for Regional Transportation Investment District, was an entity created by the Legislature to fund urban highway construction.

The Legislature told RTID and Sound Transit they needed to go to the ballot together with a plan to invest money in roads as well as transit.

After voters rejected the joint plan required by this shotgun marriage, Sound Transit’s pollster conducted research to find out why people voted no. The key finding that came out of that research was that voters did not want to vote on a package that combined road projects with transit projects.

So Sound Transit went back to the ballot alone in 2008 — a presidential year — with a plan comparable to what it had offered the previous year (though a bit scaled back), and voters enthusiastically said yes. As before, the plan called for expanding light rail north, south, and east, and expanding ST Express and Sounder.

RTID, meanwhile, ended up getting killed. It was unceremoniously dissolved, while Sound Transit began moving forward with its Phase 2 implementation.

Since we voted on ST2, Sound Transit has demonstrated it can consistently deliver projects on time or ahead of schedule and under budget. The agency is very well run and has been lauded locally and nationally for its strong track record. Its new CEO, Peter Rogoff, left a federal position to run the agency because he considered it to be a fantastic opportunity. That’s a credit to the great work of CEO Emeritus Joni Earl and her team, who endured years of bad press as they turned ST around.

But all of this great work apparently doesn’t count for much, because the Blethens and their scribes still don’t trust Sound Transit. They say:

Pressing pause would direct regional leaders to produce a more reasonable plan with more accountability, including periodic public votes, rather than allow a perpetual blank check that ST3 offers Sound Transit.

ST3 is not a “perpetual blank check”. Sound Transit is not asking voters to give it money so it can build something to be determined later; it is asking voters to authorize a specific set of projects connecting specific neighborhoods that would be completed by specific dates. The estimates are conservative (accounting for the long timeframes, which the Times also complained about) in keeping with Sound Transit’s philosophy of under-promising and over-delivering. Many of the proposed projects may be completed sooner, especially if federal funding can be secured.

And what is meant by “periodic public votes”? Do the scribes at the Times not realize that elections themselves are a public service, and cost money?

Holding more frequent votes on transit expansion would mean incurring additional costs, because we’d be in the habit of paying to vote on whether to build a set of projects before we actually start paying to build those projects.

And it would mean more confusion and uncertainty. Sound Transit can work with Patty Murray to pursue federal funds and collaborate with cities on project delivery much more effectively if it doesn’t have to go back to the ballot every other November to get another station or segment approved.

It seems to us that in calling for “periodic public votes” on transit expansion (without ever defining “periodic”), the Times is holding Sound Transit to a very different standard than it holds WSDOT, which is responsible for highways, ferries, freight mobility programs, and Amtrak Cascades in partnership with Amtrak and ODOT, the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Last year, the Governor and Legislature agreed on a major transportation package, Connecting Washington, giving WSDOT the go-ahead to design and construct a slew of highway projects all over the state. Unlike ST3, those highway projects have not been subjected to a public vote, nor are they likely to be.

By the way, here’s what the Times editorial board had to say about Connecting Washington in July of 2015, after the package was finalized:

Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a $16.2 billion transportation-investment package that had been hammered out over two years of grueling negotiations with lawmakers. It is a very good, well-balanced deal for Washington state. It includes funding to finish the Highway 520 bridge and other megaprojects, and provides transit grants. It is well worth the 11.9-cent-per-gallon gas-tax increase.

Well worth the gas tax increase and also, apparently, the bonds the state is selling to obtain additional financing for the projects (lest we forget).

So the $16 billion Connecting Washington package was “well worth it” (and, by implication, WSDOT can be trusted to deliver it) but ST3 isn’t worth it — and Sound Transit can’t be trusted with $27 billion in new tax revenue?

That’s some tortured logic. Are the Blethens and their writers aware that research shows the public has a higher regard for Sound Transit than WSDOT?

We do not have “periodic public votes” on WSDOT’s plans and projects, but that doesn’t mean that WSDOT is without oversight. We have a Governor and a Legislature for that, as our state’s founders intended.

Sound Transit is likewise governed by elected officials. With the exception of the Secretary of Transportation, all members of Sound Transit’s board are county executives, city and council councilmembers, and mayors.

The elected officials WSDOT answers to have the power to direct WSDOT to move forward with megaprojects without a public vote. However, the elected officials Sound Transit answers to cannot sign off on system expansion on their own; state law requires that proposals for system expansion go before the voters.

That is why we are voting this month and next month on ST3.

Sound Transit’s leadership did their homework prior to submitting ST3. The plan is ambitious because people have told Sound Transit they want an ambitious plan.

Accountability is a popular buzzword in politics, but when it’s not defined, it really doesn’t mean much. Sound Transit is already a heavily scrutinized agency with a citizen oversight panel that undergoes regular audits, and the Seattle Times goes out of its way to feature the agency’s critics in its news coverage and on its editorial page — sometimes even simultaneously, as you can see from this screenshot:

Screenshot of Seattle Times bashing Sound Transit 3

The Times baselessly suggests that if the region says no to ST3, voters will get an opportunity to vote on a “more reasonable” plan next year or the year after.

That is highly unlikely. If ST3 goes down, we probably won’t see another proposal for Sound Transit system expansion until 2020, which is the next election that will see high turnout. And we can expect that a future proposal will cost much more, while delivering less than what we’d get with this plan. Saying no to ST3 means waiting longer and paying more to connect communities to our rail spine.

We’ve squandered opportunities to invest in high capacity transit before, like when we turned down Forward Thrust in the 1960s.

Eight years ago, a majority of voters in Sound Transit’s jurisdiction made the wise decision to ignore the Seattle Times and the naysayers and pass Sound Transit 2. We must do that again this year, so we can accelerate the buildout of the rail spine that our region needs and complement it with even better bus service.

We can continue to stew in ever-worsening congestion on our highways, or we can vote to liberate more of our communities from traffic by passing ST3.

We hope you’ll join us in making the latter choice.

Vote APPROVED on Regional Proposition 1.

Paul Ryan keeps invoking Bernie Sanders to rile up his base, delighting Bernie’s team

Bernie Sanders and his team are certainly having a banner week.

While the Vermont Senator travels the country campaigning for Hillary Clinton, his team has been working to fully capitalize on Paul Ryan’s recent attempts to rile up his right wing base by invoking Sanders as a bogeyman.

Team Sanders has responded by sending out a series of fundraising appeals to raise money for Democratic candidates running downballot in key congressional races.

Ryan first invoked Sanders last Friday while speaking to a group of University of Wisconsin students, warning of what would happen should Democrats retake the Senate majority by defeating some of Mitch McConnell’s enablers.

“If we lose the Senate, do you know who becomes the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee? A guy named Bernie Sanders. You ever heard of him?” Ryan said, emphasizing his words for dramatic effect.

It wasn’t long before Ryan’s memorable comments became the basis for an email appeal sent out to Bernie’s rather large campaign list:

Andrew,

Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan issued a very dire warning this week. You need to see it:

“If we lose the Senate, do you know who becomes chair of the Senate Budget Committee? A guy named Bernie Sanders. You ever heard of him?”

You heard the man. Let’s take back the Senate.

Four of our best opportunities to take back the Senate are in Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Each race is incredibly close. But if the Democratic nominees win, we will have a far more progressive Senate – and a majority to enact our progressive agenda.

The final FEC fundraising deadline of the campaign is Wednesday at midnight. Split a $4 contribution now between Catherine Cortez Masto, Maggie Hassan, Deborah Ross, and Katie McGinty before tomorrow’s deadline.

How close are these races? The latest poll averages have Deborah Ross down by just two points in North Carolina. In Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto is up by two. Maggie Hassan is down by a little more than two points in New Hampshire. And in the tightest race of all, Katie McGinty is up by less than a half percent in Pennsylvania.

Four Senate seats we need for a majority. Four dedicated leaders who could serve with Bernie Sanders. At most a two percent difference in the polls for every race.

Your contributions can be the difference between victory and defeat in each of these elections. Small-dollar contributions from emails like this can push Catherine Cortez Masto, Deborah Ross, Maggie Hassan, and Katie McGinty over the top on election day.

With tomorrow’s FINAL fundraising deadline for the FEC, the time is now for us to step up and help take back a Senate majority.

Split a $4 contribution between the campaigns of Catherine Cortez Masto, Deborah Ross, Maggie Hassan, and Katie McGinty before tomorrow’s deadline.

You can make the difference in this election to take back a Senate majority. Thank you.

In solidarity,

Jeff Weaver
Team Bernie

This first email generated nearly half a million dollars, prompting several follow-up appeals which have also been very successful… like this one from Wednesday, which was signed by Bernie Sanders himself:

Andrew,

I heard what Paul Ryan said about me: that if the Republicans lose the Senate, I will be the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

That sounds like a very good idea to me. It means that we can establish priorities for working people, and not just the billionaire class.

What would be equally exciting is if the Democrats took back the House, and Congressman Ryan was no longer Speaker. That would mean the clearest possible path to enact our agenda – the most progressive agenda of any party in American history.

In the last day, you have responded tremendously to our call to support four leaders who will help shift the balance of the Senate. More than 20,000 people have contributed more than $900,000 to ten candidates who are inspired by the political revolution.

During our campaign we pushed ourselves to reach goals that many thought impossible. That is why we set a very big, very audacious goal that we didn’t know if we could reach, but that we thought it was very important to try. But you’re about to smash that $1 million goal.

So, we’re going to need a bigger goal.

Let’s raise $2 million before tonight’s final FEC deadline of the campaign for candidates for the House and Senate.

Can you start with a $3 contribution between Paul Clements, Catherine Cortez-Masto, Deborah Ross, Zephyr Teachout, Morgan Carroll, Nanette Barragan, and Rick Nolan?

Consider for a moment the power that exists in the U.S. Senate. Right now, the Republican majority is using their power to block any meaningful action on addressing income inequality or climate change. In addition, without a Democratic majority the Senate is refusing to confirm federal judges and, incredibly, has left open a critical seat on the Supreme Court.

With a Democratic majority, we can change all of that. What Paul Ryan is specifically afraid of is the power of the budget committee. That committee defines the spending priorities of the entire government. The work of that committee says how much revenue the government should have, and where its money should go.

I have some thoughts on how the government should allocate its spending. I’m sure you do, too.

The first step to being able to enact our progressive agenda is taking back the Senate. And if we take back the House… well, the sky is the limit for what we can achieve.

Help us reach for our new, audacious goal of raising $2 million for candidates for the House and Senate by midnight tonight. Add a $3 contribution now split between Paul Clements, Catherine Cortez-Masto, Deborah Ross, Zephyr Teachout, Morgan Carroll, Nanette Barragan, and Rick Nolan.

Thank you for all you do.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

Paul Ryan’s operatives responded by forwarding the email to their own list in an attempt to generate more cash for endangered Republicans:

— Fowarded Message —

From: Paul Ryan
Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2016 5:09 PM
Subject: FWD Bernie’s Email (Please Read)

I spoke last week about what would happen if we lose our majority in Congress. It looks like Bernie Sanders was listening, because a staffer showed me the message he sent to his supporters yesterday….

Read it and find out why it is so important to hold the House and Senate this November.

Bottom line: we must stop Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, and the Progressive Democrats from taking over Congress. Please consider making a donation today to stop this dangerous, progressive agenda.

Thank you.

Let’s do this,

Paul Ryan
House Speaker

But two can play at that game, and Bernie’s team has now responded in kind.

Andrew,

It looks like you got Paul Ryan’s attention. And he’s not happy.

The Speaker of the House forwarded the email Bernie sent to you to his entire fundraising list. You can see what he said below.

Paul Ryan really doesn’t like that you donated more than $1.8 million in two days to take back the House and Senate (which is an AMAZING feat, and something for which we are so grateful).

He even put in a big, red button when he forwarded Bernie’s email that says “HELP STOP SANDERS.”

We’ve got their attention. Now let’s show what we really can do.

Split a $3 contribution between Bernie’s thirteen candidates for the House and Senate so we can take back Congress, make Bernie a committee chairman in a Democratic Senate, and enact our progressive agenda.

The incredible contributions you’ve made in the last two days are completely changing the dynamics of these races for Congress. We are so grateful, because your support means campaigns can train more volunteers, talk to more voters, and turn out more people on Election Day.

Paul Ryan knows the tremendous impact you’re having, and he’s scared. Let’s keep it going.

In solidarity,

Team Bernie

Paul Ryan’s intention in invoking Bernie Sanders  may have been to rile up his base, but what he may not have realized is that he was also doing the Democratic Party and its ticket a big favor at the same time.

Democratic Party leaders have been longing to see Sanders deploy his campaign machinery and email list in support of Democrats running downballot. Ryan’s comments provided Team Bernie with the perfect grist for a days-long series of reinforcing email blasts appealing for funds to help Democratic candidates in pivotal U.S. Senate contests — right in the middle of October.

Thanks to Paul Ryan, Bernie Sanders supporters have a better appreciation for what  the future could hold. Effective activism is all about sizing up the possibilities and working to turn those into reality, not aimlessly dwelling on the past.

Bernie Sanders may not have won the Democratic nomination for President, but he could be a very influential leader in a Democratically-controlled United States Senate. He could be a key committee chair, perfectly positioned to shape legislation.

I have been telling other activists this for months, but I’m so glad that the Republican Speaker of the House has now come out and said the same thing.

Ryan’s intent was to use Sanders as a bogeyman, as bait for his base. But in bringing up Sanders, Ryan also legitimized him — affirming his importance in this election.

In the span of less than twenty seconds, Ryan concisely painted a vivid picture of the fiercely beloved progressive Senator’s potential role in the 115th Congress… and his comments have clearly excited the imaginations of Sanders’ legions of supporters, who have now been reminded of what is possible instead of what might have been.

Team Bernie has now exploited Ryan’s comments to the tune of nearly $2 million. That’s a lot of money for downballot Democrats in key races.

“If we lose the Senate, do you know who becomes the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee? A guy named Bernie Sanders. You ever heard of him?”

Yes, Paul Ryan, I’ve heard of Bernie Sanders. I was a proud delegate for him to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. And like millions of other people in this country, I’d love to see him as the chairman of a key committee in the United States Senate come January — whether that’s Appropriations or HELP.

Liveblogging the final presidential debate of 2016 from the great Pacific Northwest

Good evening, and welcome to NPI’s live coverage of the final presidential debate of 2016. NPI staff will be watching and sharing impressions of the debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump as it progresses. The debate, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, is being broadcast on all major networks as well as Facebook and Twitter.

We recommend C-SPAN if you’re livestreaming the debate as opposed to watching it on a cable or broadcast television network.

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas is hosting the debate, which will be moderated by Fox’s Chris Wallace. The format is as follows:

The debate will be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator and announced at least one week before the debate. The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond.

Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.

Our live coverage begins below.

We will begin…

UPDATE, 6:10 PM (Andrew): Wallace’s first question is about the Supreme Court. Hillary Clinton gave a superb answer, talking about the need to overturn bad decisions like Citizens United.

UPDATE, 6:11 PM (Greg Evans): Donald Trump discusses Justice Ginsburg’s ‘attacks’ on his character at length before addressing the question itself. The people he will appoint see ‘the Constitution the way it is meant to be.’

UPDATE, 6:14 PM (Andrew): Bad framing here from Chris Wallace on gun responsibility. Most Americans want to see gun safety laws, including laws that mandate universal background checks.

UPDATE, 6:14 PM (Andrew): “Let me bring Mr. Trump back in,” Chris Wallace says.

UPDATE, 6:15 PM (Andrew): “I am very proud to have the endorsement of the NRA,” Donald Trump says. “We are going to appoint justices that feel very strongly about the Second Amendment.”

UPDATE, 6:16 PM (Andrew): “Do you want to see the court overturn Roe v. Wade?” Wallace says. “That’ll happen automatically, in my opinion,” Trump says.

UPDATE, 6:17 PM (Greg Evans): Trump says Clinton was very upset about the DC vs Heller decision, and that people ‘who feel very strongly about the second amendment’ would not. Otherizing people who support certain limited restrictions on gun access is typical of dangerous identity politics and part of Trump’s political handbook.

UPDATE, 6:17 PM (Andrew): Clinton notes that many states, controlled by Republicans, are attempting to roll back women’s reproductive rights and defunding Planned Parenthood. “I will defend Planned Parenthood,” Clinton says. “We have come too far to have that turned back now.”

UPDATE, 6:18 PM (Andrew):

UPDATE, 6:18 PM (Andrew): Trump sips water while Clinton fields a follow-up question from Chris Wallace about abortion (framed, of course, using right wing values).

UPDATE, 6:20 PM (Andrew): Clinton slams Trump for his fearmongering. She’s in top form here.

UPDATE, 6:21 PM (Greg Evans): Clinton calls out Trump’s scare tactics and visceral language around ‘partial birth’ abortions: “that is not what happens, and that is scare-rhetoric.”

UPDATE, 6:21 PM (Andrew): We’re now moving on to immigration. While we don’t like Chris Wallace’s framing of questions, he’s helping keep the debate focused on issues instead of attacks on character.

UPDATE, 6:23 PM (Andrew): Sniff. Another defective mic?

UPDATE, 6:24 PM (Greg Evans): Single biggest problem is ‘heroin pouring over our borders…we cannot give amnesty…now we’re gonna build a wall…we’ve got some bad bad people in this country…bad hombres’ -Donald Trump

UPDATE, 6:25 PM (Andrew): Clinton doing a great job here explaining what Trump’s deportation schemes would actually look like.

UPDATE, 6:26 PM (Andrew): “We are a nation of immigrants and we are a nation of laws — and we can act accordingly,” Clinton says.

UPDATE, 6:27 PM (Andrew): Chris Wallace interrupts Trump in order to allow Clinton to respond. One of the few times we’ve seen a moderator effectively cut Trump off.

UPDATE, 6:29 PM (Andrew): Big league, believe me! Drink…

UPDATE, 6:31 PM (Andrew): Clinton: “Will Donald Trump admit and condemn that the Russians are doing this [trying to influence the 2016 presidential election]?”

UPDATE, 6:31 PM (Andrew): Chris Wallace admonishes the audience to keep quiet.

UPDATE, 6:31 PM (Andrew): Trump slams Clinton for pivoting, then does a pivot of his own.

UPDATE, 6:32 PM (Andrew): Puppetry of the Presidential Campaign…

UPDATE, 6:33 PM (Greg Evans): Clinton ignores question in order to pin Russian involvement in hacks on Trump. Trump notices it and calls it a ‘nice pivot,’ but he then proceeds to ramble on and return to his weak spot of Russian links to his campaign.

UPDATE, 6:35 PM (Andrew): “I’ve never met Putin,” Trump says, for like the umpteenth time. He’s really flailing here.

UPDATE, 6:36 PM (Andrew): Clinton explains how launching a nuclear strike works, reminding the audience that Donald Trump can’t be trusted with the nuclear codes.

UPDATE, 6:38 PM (Andrew): Moving on to the economy… and more right wing/anti-government framing from Chris Wallace.

UPDATE, 6:43 PM (Andrew): C-SPAN’s debate feed seems to be having some problems. If that’s affecting you, switch to PBS’ NewsHour feed on YouTube.

UPDATE, 6:45 PM (Andrew): Chris Wallace has shown his colors. He never should have been asked to moderate this debate.

UPDATE, 6:47 PM (Andrew): Trump has no idea how to bolster American manufacturing or protect jobs.

UPDATE, 6:49 PM (Andrew): Clinton unequivocally says she’s against the TPP — now, after the election, and as President.

UPDATE, 6:52 PM (Andrew): Clinton compares her thirty years of experience to Trump’s, drawing stark contrasts.

UPDATE, 6:52 PM (Andrew): “She gave us ISIS,” Trump says, lying through his teeth.

UPDATE, 6:54 PM (Andrew): Trump falsely accuses of Clinton and Obama of inciting violence at his rallies.

UPDATE, 6:54 PM (Andrew): Trump claims every woman who has accused him of groping or kissing is lying.

UPDATE, 6:56 PM (Andrew): “Donald thinks belitting women makes him bigger,” Clinton says.

UPDATE, 6:57 PM (Andrew): Trump tries to pivot away from his lies about encounters with women by bringing up the damn emails.

UPDATE, 7:02 PM (Andrew): Sounds like Clinton anticipated a Clinton Foundation question from Wallace.

UPDATE, 7:05 PM (Andrew): Clinton retakes control of the debate by bringing up Trump’s taxes again.

UPDATE, 7:06 PM (Andrew): Wallace seems to be trying to get Trump to stop, but Trump will not stop.

UPDATE, 7:07 PM (Andrew): Trump refuses to pledge to accept the result of the election, potentially setting the stage for an Election Night where he doesn’t concede.

UPDATE, 7:08 PM (Andrew): You’re not excused, Donald.

UPDATE, 7:10 PM (Andrew): “This is how Donald thinks,” Hillary Clinton says, after citing multiple examples of times Donald Trump said things were rigged against him.

UPDATE, 7:13 PM (Andrew): Clinton expresses hope that the offensive to retake Mosul will be successful, pledging not to put U.S. troops back into Iraq (not counting special forces and advisors).

UPDATE, 7:17 PM (Andrew): “‘Google Donald Trump Iraq’,” Hillary Clinton tells the nation.

UPDATE, 7:18 PM (Andrew): Clinton reminds Trump that she was in the Situation Room participating in the decisionmaking for Operation Neptune Spear while he was doing Celebrity Apprentice.

UPDATE, 7:20 PM (Andrew): Clinton reminds Trump that Bernie Sanders is supporting her and campaigning against him as the most dangerous person to be nominated by a major party for President in modern U.S. history. Trump apparently couldn’t think of a response.

UPDATE, 7:26 PM (Andrew): This segment of the debate was brought to you by Peter G. Peterson.

UPDATE, 7:27 PM (Andrew): Our infrastructure deficit is what we should be talking about. We’ve had a national debt for nearly all of our history; we won two world wars on borrowed money.

UPDATE, 7:29 PM (Andrew): “We are going to ask the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share,” Clinton says, making the case for progressive revenue reform at the federal level.

UPDATE, 7:30 PM (Andrew): Terrible final question. Right wing framing galore.

UPDATE, 7:32 PM (Andrew): Fox’s Wallace is just making stuff up.

UPDATE, 7:33 PM (Andrew): “I want to enhance benefits for low income workers,” Clinton says. #ExpandSocialSecurity

UPDATE, 7:35 PM (Andrew): Strong closing statement by Hillary Clinton.

UPDATE, 7:36 PM (Andrew): Doubling down on his campaign themes, Trump is countering Clinton’s optimism with loads of cynicism.

UPDATE, 7:37 PM (Andrew): And we’re done, finally.

UPDATE, 7:37 PM (Andrew): Chris Wallace closes with a pitch to Americans to vote.

Washington’s incumbent Secretary of State could be doing more to lead on cybersecurity

Responding to Donald Trump’s absurd recent allegations about election rigging, incumbent Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman today published a sternly-worded statement rebuking her party’s nominee (though not by name) and expressing full confidence in Washington State’s own elections systems.

Said Wyman:

In recent days, we have heard heated campaign rhetoric about American elections being “rigged” and somehow predetermined. This kind of baseless accusation is irresponsible and threatens to undermine voter confidence on this most basic foundation of democracy.

As a twenty-four year election administrator at the state and local level, with close relationships with the national elections community, federal security experts and independent academics, I have full and complete confidence in our system. Every eligible ballot will be handled securely and will be tabulated carefully and accurately.

As ballots go out this week, I am pleased to note that our paper-based system creates an audit trail. Our state registration system remains cybersecure and our tabulation systems in the counties are air-gapped and not connected to the Internet.

We have multiple layers of security, both physical and electronic.

Voter fraud in the United States is considered extraordinary unlikely by experts. The voting system is highly decentralized, with each state, red, blue and purple, running their own elections with a total of over 9,000 election professionals who are directly accountable to elected or appointed officials. The culture is that professionals leave their personal politics at the door and treat every ballot with integrity.

This is quite true of our 39 tireless county auditors and election directors. Our counties operate with full transparency and welcome observers, some even using live webcams to show ballot processing.

It makes no sense that election managers would somehow indulge in a conspiracy across party lines and state lines.

As with concerns about cybersecurity, Washington remains vigilant to any possible voter fraud. Voters should have trust in our elections system. My hope is that every registered voter will confidently cast their ballot. We will ensure their ballot is tabulated just as they cast it. There will be no rigging on our watch.

The paper trail our vote-by-mail system produces is indeed a great thing, and we’re glad to see Secretary Wyman denouncing Donald Trump’s recent comments.

But we have not forgotten that she recently called for legislation that would allow her office to conduct “citizenship checks”. As she says in the release above, voter fraud in the United States is considered extraordinarily unlikely by experts. We agree, and that’s why we don’t need “citizenship checks” of our voter rolls.

Republicans in other states (like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) have used nonexistent “voter fraud” as an excuse to ram through voter suppression schemes that target Democratic voters. Some Republicans have even admitted that the point of these laws are to disenfranchise voters.

Like Pennsylvania Republican Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), who boasted in 2012, “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done.” (Pennsylvania ultimately supported Barack Obama, but the law did cost the Democratic nominee some support, as Republicans intended.)

Washington State doesn’t need citizenship checks, but it does need a strong commitment from its next Secretary of State to bolster cybersecurity.

Kim Wyman’s Democratic challenger Tina Podlodowski has made this a campaign issue. Last month, Wyman’s office put out a press release announcing that a “design flaw” in the state’s MyVote voter lookup tool had been corrected. The release neglected to thank Podlodowski’s campaign for flagging the issue. The “design flaw” exposed voter data that isn’t supposed to be available to the public.

That particular issue has been corrected, but there are other steps that Washington’s Secretary of State should take to improve cybersecurity.

Here are several recommendations from NPI.

Force HTTPS on all websites

As a security-conscious organization, NPI is a proponent of secure protocols that encrypt data as it travels across the Internet.

One of the most important protocols available to us is HTTPS, which utilizes Transport Layer Security, or TLS, for its modern implementation. (TLS replaces the now deprecated Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL.)

Over the past two years, we’ve worked to enable HTTPS on all of the websites we maintain, and route insecure HTTP requests to HTTPS instead.

Try to connect to nwprogressive.org over HTTP, and you’ll find you can’t — you’ll be upgraded to HTTPS automatically by default.

The Secretary of State should follow suit, as should all public agencies at all levels of government — local, state, and federal. At present, HTTPS is not required on all websites operated by the Secretary of State. Recently, the main website (www.sos.wa.gov) went HTTPS only, which we’re glad to see, but this is not yet the case for many other domains/subdomains the Secretary of State controls.

Here are some examples of pages/URLs where HTTPS is not yet being forced:

For HTTPS to be properly forced, all images, scripts, and embedded media must be served over HTTPS, otherwise mixed-content warnings will be generated.

A quick crawl of www.sos.wa.gov by NPI found a number of pages that still have insecure content, such as this one, this one, and this one.

Qualsys Labs grades www.sos.wa.gov as having an “A” on its highly useful secure hosting server test, which is reassuring.

(nwprogressive.org also scores an “A” along with other NPI websites.)

Reset passwords by having the user follow a link and answer questions

The Secretary of State’s website allows Washingtonians to create online accounts in order to do business with the office electronically. For example, a citizen may create an account to file initiatives online. If you lose your password, it’s possible to reset it without having to call up the Secretary of State’s office.

Unfortunately, the password reset tool currently sends new passwords across the Internet, unencrypted, in the body of an email. That’s bad.

Here’s an example password reset message that the system currently generates:

Your password has been reset at. You may login with your email address and password below at http://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/login.aspx

Notice the URL above begins with the http:// prefix, not https://. Because sos.wa.gov is now HTTPS by default, the user is thankfully redirected and cannot login over an insecure connection. This used to be an issue but has been corrected.

Email: somebody@example.com

Note that this is a fake email address substituted for a real one.

New Password: r3o!OhvUjqr

Note this is an fake password generated by NPI, replacing the one that came in the actual email generated today from the Secretary of State’s system.

===
Office of the Secretary of State, Elections Division
520 Union Ave SE, Olympia 98501
PO Box 40229, Olympia 98504
360-902-4180
InitiativeSupport@sos.wa.gov

Making matters worse, users aren’t prompted to change passwords once they login, nor is it obvious how to update one’s account information once logged in using the insecurely sent password. We recommend the Secretary of State do the following:

  • Make it simple and easy for users to update their passwords once logged in. For example, on the initiatives portal, there should be a prominent links to Manage My Account / Update My Password on the My Filings screen, and every other screen a user sees while logged in to the system.
  • Send users a link to change their password and put that in the body of the email instead of sending the new password in the body of the email. The link should expire after twenty-four hours or less. The new password should be chosen by the user and should meet minimum complexity requirements. Punctuation should be allowed and encouraged in all passwords.
  • Require users to set up answers to a set of security questions and provide the correct answers to at least two of those questions before allowing the account password to be reset. Questions like “What is your mother’s maiden name?” should be avoided. Questions like “What is your favorite vacation spot?” are more appropriate. Users should also be able to create their own questions. Users who cannot answer the security questions should be prompted to call the Secretary of State to unlock their account.

Harden web applications

Like NPI, the Secretary of State’s office uses software such as WordPress to manage content. By doing some quick inspecting of the website’s source code and probing for README files, I was able to learn a lot about the software the site is running, including plugins, and what versions of that software are currently in use. This could be valuable information to someone trying to break in.

For security reasons, I’m not going to elaborate any further in this post regarding what I found, as I believe in practicing responsible disclosure.

NPI recommends the Secretary of State take steps to harden its web applications to guard against unwanted intruders. Steps that should be taken include tightening permissions, enabling defenses that can thwart and deflect brute force attacks, and preventing plugins from embedding HTML comments in web page source code.

Implement Content Security Policy and XSS protection

For bonus points, the Secretary of State’s office ought to begin working on implementing Content Security Policy across all of its websites.

This is something we’re starting to work on at NPI, to take our sites’ security to the next level. It’s done by setting server headers.

As Mozilla’s wiki explains:

Content Security Policy (CSP) is an HTTP header that allows site operators fine-grained control over where resources on their site can be loaded from. The use of this header is the best method to prevent cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities. Due to the difficulty in retrofitting CSP into existing websites, CSP is mandatory for all new websites and is strongly recommended for all existing high-risk sites.

The primary benefit of CSP comes from disabling the use of unsafe inline JavaScript. Inline JavaScript — either reflected or stored — means that improperly escaped user-inputs can generate code that is interpreted by the web browser as JavaScript.

By using CSP to disable inline JavaScript, you can effectively eliminate almost all XSS attacks against your site.

Replacing inline JavaScript is certainly not simple or easy to do — it takes work. But implementing CSP leads to securer websites. We intend to do it, and we urge the Secretary of State to commit to doing it as well.

X-XSS-Protection can and should be implemented in the meantime to protect users who use Internet Explorer or Chrome/Chromium.

The recommendations outlined above, incidentally, are recommendations that we would urge every public agency everywhere to adopt.

But because the Secretary of State’s office is responsible for so much vital recordkeeping, coordinating with Washington’s thirty-nine county governments, it should be a cybersecurity leader, setting a good example for all to follow.

Tim Eyman: “All the initiatives are awful this year – vote no over and over and over again”

Big media may think of Donald Trump as the star of the 2016 election cycle, but here in Washington State, the real stars of this election are not people, but ideas. Washington’s ballot this year features a plethora of worthy progressive policy proposals, from raising the minimum wage to passing extreme risk protection orders to putting Washington on record as calling for a federal constitutional amendment stipulating that corporations are not people and money is not speech.

The right wing, meanwhile, failed to qualify anything at all, for the first time in decades. That’s left notorious political scam artist Tim Eyman pretty disgruntled.

In an email this morning to his followers, Eyman bemoaned the progressive movement’s dominance of the ballot, instructing his followers to simply vote no on every statewide initiative plus Sound Transit 3 (which only appears on the ballot in urban King, Snohomish, and Pierce County precincts).

The Donald Trump admirer opened his email with this plea: “Don’t let the crazies take over the insane asylum. All the initiatives are awful this year – vote NO over and over and over again when you get your ballot.”

By crazies, Eyman means us — all the progressive organizations and people who are working hard to raise our state and region’s qualify of life. And presumably, insane asylum is Eyman’s inappropriate, ridiculous metaphor for Washington State.

(You know, Tim, if you don’t like living in a state with a progressive majority, you don’t have to stay here. America’s a free country. There are states and communities elsewhere in the country you can move to where right wing politics predominate.)

The initiative happens to be a progressive invention. Well-meaning activists brought it to Washington State over a hundred years ago with the intention of giving the people the power to enact laws needed to protect and improve everyone’s well-being. They promoted it as a tool for the common good. They likely never imagined it being hijacked to serve a militant, extremist agenda.

But, sadly, that’s what happened in the late 1990s when Tim Eyman came along. Eyman realized the initiative could be wielded as a weapon, and he made qualifying schemes to defund public services and wreck government his business.

In his early years, Eyman pretended to be an unpaid volunteer, but was eventually forced to admit he was diverting money from his initiative factory to line his own pockets. Eyman subsequently dropped his initiative factory’s Permanent Offense moniker, but did not abandon the concept that had prompted its name, and was able to keep going even after having been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

The stem of progressive is progress. Progress in a democratic society is only possible when people are given the opportunity for vote for a better future… in other words, when the qualified electors of the society have the ability to elect representatives who will make their communities freer, safer, and more prosperous, or approve laws themselves that would do the same.

When elections are a choice between the status quo or going backwards, there is no opportunity for progress. It’s vital that progressives oppose destructive schemes like Eyman’s initiatives, but is even more vital that progressives offer Washingtonians the opportunity to vote on ideas that will make our state better.

And that’s exactly what is happening in 2016. To Eyman’s chagrin, progressives this year are once again using the initiative in accordance with its original intended purpose — allowing citizens to vote on worthy ideas that died or could not get traction in the Legislature. Meanwhile, he’s got nothing. More significantly, neither do any of his confederates. Progressives own Washington’s 2016 ballot.

That’s a big deal. It is very, very satisfying to see Eyman in the position of having to call for a NO vote on every initiative that’s in front of Washington voters this year.

We at NPI enthusiastically support most of the ideas on the ballot in 2016. We urge a YES vote on I-1433, I-1491, I-1501, I-735, SJR 8210, and Sound Transit 3/Regional Proposition 1. Though we are unable to support I-732 or I-1464 due to defects in each, we would definitely like to see successor initiatives or bills that would tackle the same problems those measures seek to address.

Polling indicates that all of the initiatives we support are likely to pass, because voters like them. That’s very good news. But we need to be ready as a movement to build on these potential successes by qualifying even more progressive ideas to the ballot in 2017 and 2018. Our research shows that voters are hungry for progressive revenue reform and corporate tax accountability. If the Legislature will not act on these priorities, then the people must be given a chance to.

That is, after all, one of the uses for which the initiative was actually intended. In the words of the Direct Legislation League, the leading proponents of bringing the initiative, referendum, and recall to our corner of the country:

We shall need the Initiative in the future to secure the passage of just tax laws. Past experience indicates that tax dodging interests will powerfully oppose such laws.

— 1900s era DLL pamphlet, archived by the Washington State Library

As we finish out this election cycle, we must commit ourselves to staying on offense and bringing an end to the Eyman error. A better future is within reach if we can continue to give the people the power to vote on the progressive ideas we need.

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