NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Saturday, September 10th, 2022

Pacific Northwest grapples with an increasing number of wildfires as summer’s end nears

The skies above many areas of the Pacif­ic North­west grew smok­i­er Sat­ur­day as the num­ber of wild­fires plagu­ing the region increased in num­ber and sever­i­ty, lead­ing to a fresh round of high­way clo­sures and prop­er­ty evac­u­a­tions with only days left until the end of sum­mer and the begin­ning of autumn.

Some of the newest fires are burn­ing on the west side of the Cas­cades in rugged ter­rain, pos­ing a chal­lenge to fire­fight­ing crews hop­ing to con­tain their spread.

Washington

In the Ever­green State, author­i­ties were rac­ing to respond to the Bolt Creek Fire, which ignit­ed near Skykomish and forced the clo­sure of U.S. Route 2, as well as evac­u­a­tions of rur­al King and Sno­homish Coun­ty res­i­dents. The Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources has deployed air­craft to fight the fire, includ­ing water scoop­ers, but it con­tin­ues to burn in rugged ter­rain. Smoke from the fire was being fun­neled over much of North­west Wash­ing­ton as of late after­noon Saturday.

The fire was report­ed­ly burn­ing a hun­dred acres as of 5 AM Sat­ur­day. By the after­noon the con­fla­gra­tion had engulfed more than 2,000 acres.

There were a total of five large fires burn­ing in Wash­ing­ton as of Sep­tem­ber 10th, accord­ing to the DNR’s wild­ifre intel­li­gence por­tal.

South of Mount Rainier, not far from Pack­wood, the weeks-long smol­der­ing Goat Rocks Fire was get­ting worse due to high winds.

“The Goat Rocks Fire is esti­mat­ed to be 1,500 acres in size,” said a Sep­tem­ber 10th sta­tus report. “The inci­dent was dis­cov­ered on August 9th, 2022 and was part­ly sup­pressed by a rap­pel attack crew. Crews sup­pressed what they safe­ly could and the fire was mon­i­tored. On Sep­tem­ber 9, 2022 the fire began to increase in size dur­ing a high wind event.” 

The fire prompt­ed the clo­sure of U.S. 12 lead­ing to White Pass and evac­u­a­tions of the Tim­ber­line, Goat Rocks, and High Val­ley neigh­bor­hoods east of Packwood. 

“This morn­ing crews are uti­liz­ing air­craft where they can to slow fire growth and low­er fire inten­si­ty before weath­er con­di­tions dete­ri­o­rate. As wind speeds increase air­craft become less effec­tive and con­di­tions become dif­fi­cult and dan­ger­ous to fly in. Once those winds pick up air­craft will return to their bases for safe­ty. Addi­tion­al resources arrived this morn­ing and they are work­ing to con­tin­ue  iden­ti­fy­ing and con­struct­ing fire breaks where they safe­ly can.”

Oregon

In the Beaver State, the Cedar Creek Fire con­tin­ues to imper­il Oakridge, a moun­tain com­mu­ni­ty in the Cas­cades not far from Bend and Sun­riv­er. Alarm­ing­ly, the fire dou­bled in size yes­ter­day and is now a much graver threat than before.

The fire’s cur­rent acreage is 73,922, accord­ing to an infrared flight. It has torched a sig­nif­i­cant amount of the shore­line of Wal­do Lake. Much of Route 58 through the Cas­cades is present­ly closed due to the fire. 

The Cedar Creek Fire ignit­ed August 1st and was caused by light­ning. 862 per­son­nel are cur­rent­ly work­ing on fight­ing this fire, with 29 engines, 19 crews, 46 pieces of heavy equip­ment and 8 helicopters.

The author­i­ties have set up a Face­book page for updates on this fire.

“The fire has not crossed west of High­way 19; fire­fight­ers are work­ing to hold and improve the east side,” a morn­ing update explained.

“Spot fires crossed south of High­way 58 at Kit­son Ridge. Fire­fight­ers are work­ing to keep the fire north of For­est Road 1928. Today’s fire activ­i­ty is expect­ed to be extreme with long-range spot­ting and crown runs.”

“Expect a large smoke col­umn to devel­op by mid-morn­ing. East of Wal­do Lake, the Alas­ka Inci­dent Man­age­ment Team has estab­lished two branch­es and six divi­sions to work in the Deschutes Nation­al For­est side of the Cedar Creek Fire. Where pos­si­ble, direct attack water drops with heli­copters is occur­ring on the south­east edge. Crews are prepar­ing Road 4290 from Charl­ton Lakes to the Cas­cade Lakes High­way to con­trol the spread of the fire to the southeast.”

“To pre­vent the spread of the fire toward the east, efforts are focused on shad­ed fuel breaks 100–200 feet in depth on both sides of the Cas­cade Lakes High­way. Crews are work­ing in the Brown Moun­tain area south of Crane Prairie Lake and work­ing north. From the north, crews are work­ing from the 2017 Nash Fire burned area near Elk Lake and improv­ing the fuel breaks on both sides of the Cas­cade Lakes High­way work­ing south. Addi­tion­al con­tin­gen­cies are being scout­ed for east of the Cas­cade Lakes Highway.”

Mean­while, up in the Mount Hood area, a small­er fire that ignit­ed in Milo McIv­er State Park close to the entrance and day use area (which con­tains a nice look­out offer­ing views of Mount Hood) forced the author­i­ties to evac­u­ate the entire park dur­ing the mid­dle of the night, includ­ing those who stay­ing in the campground.

Clacka­mas Coun­ty evac­u­at­ed near­by res­i­dents. Author­i­tieis told KATU 2 they have done a good job con­tain­ing the fire. “We have been doing a great job keep­ing it at bay,” an offi­cial said. “We real­ly expect to get a pret­ty good han­dle on it.”

Fur­ther to the south, fire­fighers were mak­ing progress on the Dou­ble Creek Fire.

“The cool­er weath­er has mod­er­at­ed fire behav­ior some­what in the tim­ber, but the fire is still active­ly spread­ing in the grass.  Struc­ture pro­tec­tion prepa­ra­tions are com­plete along Lostine Road. Ore­gon State Fire Mar­shal (OSFM) task forces con­tin­ue to assist with oper­a­tions on the south side of Dou­ble Creek.”

The fire is now at 147,582 acres in size. 

It is 15% con­tained, with 796 per­son­nel assigned.

“The west side of the fire has been secured and Upper Imna­ha Road from Imna­ha to Freeze­out Road is in patrol sta­tus,” a Sat­ur­day morn­ing update explained. 

“The fire con­tin­ues to active­ly spread in the dry grass on the north, east, and south side of the fire. Fire­fight­ers are work­ing in Horse Creek drainage on the north side of the fire to secure struc­tures and look for oppor­tu­ni­ties to build con­trol line to the east. Riv­er boats are being used to patrol and assess struc­ture pro­tec­tion needs along the Snake Riv­er. Fire­fight­ers con­tin­ue to pro­tect struc­tures along Upper Imna­ha Road on the south side of the fire and to scout for poten­tial con­trol lines to tie the road to the Snake Riv­er to the east.”

“The OSFM task forces are engaged in struc­ture pro­tec­tion prepa­ra­tions in Imna­ha Riv­er Woods four miles south of the fires edge. 

Index of significant fires

Amelia Road
Big Swamp
Boul­der Mountain
Cedar Creek
Chill­i­wack Complex‘
Clover­land Grade
Crock­ets Knob
Dou­ble Creek
Goat Rocks
Irv­ing Peak
Jones Creek
NW Pasayten Complex
Pot­ter
Rum Creek
Sev­en Bays
Sheep Head
Van Meter
White Riv­er
Windi­go

Friday, September 9th, 2022

Many local Republicans either back Donald Trump’s attacks on democracy or are giving them a wink and a nod in the 2022 midterms

The Big Lie by Don­ald Trump — his claim that the 2020 elec­tion was “stolen” — has become a lit­mus test for much of the Repub­li­can Par­ty, so much so that more than half of vot­ers in the 2022 midterm elec­tion will see a denier on their ballots.

Even more numer­ous, espe­cial­ly in the Pacif­ic North­west, are Repub­li­cans who have done a duck dive on Trump’s attack on democ­ra­cy or voiced “reser­va­tions” in such a way as to appease the MAGA cult and avoid Trump’s wrath.

They do not present pro­files in pub­lic courage.

Alek Skar­latos was one of three brave Amer­i­can tourists who tack­led and dis­armed an armed ter­ror­ist attack­er in 2015 on a Paris bound train. The trio were hon­ored at the Ely­see Palace with France’s Legion of Hon­or. Now, Skar­latos is run­ning for Con­gress in Oregon’s 4th Dis­trict.  When asked whether he believes the 2020 elec­tion was stolen, Skar­latos respond­ed: “No comment.”

In Wash­ing­ton, U.S. Sen­ate can­di­date Tiffany Smi­ley tried to strad­dle the issue. Until recent­ly, con­sul­tant-craft­ed prose on her web site read: “The 2020 elec­tions raised seri­ous ques­tions about the integri­ty of our elec­tions. I believe that courts have an oblig­a­tion to give all evi­dence of vot­er fraud a fair hearing.”

The web site was recent­ly scrubbed of these words, sup­pos­ed­ly to make room for post­ing Smiley’s plat­form in greater detail.

The squirm­ing hasn’t stopped.

“Tiffany’s posi­tion has always been that Joe Biden is our duly elect­ed pres­i­dent,” a cam­paign rep­re­sen­ta­tive told Axios.

Yet, in a week­end CNN appear­ance, Smi­ley did a dodge when asked by host Dana Bash if Biden won “fair­ly” and “legit­i­mate­ly.”

The North­west has deniers on the bal­lot, most notably U.S. House can­di­date Sarah Palin in Alas­ka and Joe Kent in Wash­ing­ton’s 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, who has charged with­out evi­dence that there was “ram­pant vot­er fraud” in 2020.

Kemp appeared at a Wash­ing­ton, D.C., ral­ly protest­ing “per­se­cu­tion” of those who stormed the U.S. Capi­tol last year.

Elim­i­nat­ed in Washington’s August Top Two elec­tion was Loren Culp, the Trump endorsed chal­lenger to Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan New­house, R‑WA-04. Culp, pre­vi­ous­ly the Repub­li­cans’ nom­i­nee for Gov­er­nor in 2020, has refused to con­cede a race that he lost to Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee by a half-mil­lion votes.

Two Repub­li­can gov­er­nors, Alas­ka Gov­er­nor Mike Dun­leavy and Ida­ho Gov­er­nor Brad Lit­tle, joined the 2020 Texas law­suit which sought to over­turn Biden’s vic­to­ry in four bat­tle­ground states. The suit was thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Curi­ous­ly, Trump opposed Lit­tle in this year’s Repub­li­can primary.

Dun­leavy kow­towed to the for­mer pres­i­dent. Trump made his endorse­ment of the Alas­ka gov­er­nor con­tin­gent that Dun­leavy not sup­port­ing Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Lisa Murkows­ki, who is seek­ing a new term. Dun­leavy agreed to keep quiet.

Murkows­ki is fac­ing Trump-backed Repub­li­can chal­lenger Kel­ly Tshiba­ka in Novem­ber. (Under ranked choice vot­ing, the top four fin­ish­ers in the August 16th pre­lim­i­nary round made the gen­er­al elec­tion ballot.)

Tshiba­ka has giv­en a wink and a nod to Trump’s attack on democ­ra­cy, say­ing: “We don’t know the out­come of the 2020 election.”

Murkows­ki ful­ly accepts Biden’s vic­to­ry, as does Sen­a­tor Mike Crapo, R‑Idaho. Oregon’s Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Chris­tine Drazan told FiveThir­tyEight this week that Biden won. So did Kim Schri­er’s remain­ing Repub­li­can chal­lenger, Matt Larkin, in an email to FiveThirtyEight.

As men­tioned, one of the ten Repub­li­can House mem­bers who vot­ed to impeach Trump after the Jan­u­ary 6th insur­rec­tion, Dan New­house, sur­vived elim­i­na­tion and accepts Biden’s win. But New­house has bom­bard­ed his Twit­ter fol­low­ers with Repub­li­can talk­ing points to show that he is a loy­al soldier.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers, R‑Washington, announced on Jan­u­ary 5th, 2021 that she would sup­port objec­tions to the Elec­toral Col­lege vote count “in states where there have been alle­ga­tions of vot­er fraud.” She back­tracked after thou­sands of Trump sup­port­ers stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher, R‑Idaho, fol­low­ing in Trump’s foot­steps, start­ed ques­tion­ing the 2020 elec­tion even before votes were cast and counted.

He went on Fox & Friends the fate­ful morn­ing of Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021, to say that “tens of mil­lions of peo­ple who want to see action” on elec­toral votes, warn­ing of “a real prob­lem on our hands if we don’t act here.”

Trump’s attacks on our democ­ra­cy notwith­stand­ing, the Repub­li­cans’ biggest most mil­i­tant, extreme voice on a North­west gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot has to be Ore­gon Sen­ate nom­i­nee Jo Rae Perkins. She is a long­time fan of the QAnon con­spir­a­cy cult, even email­ing a mes­sage: “I stand with Q and the team.” It was hasti­ly tak­en down by her con­sul­tant. Jo Rae Perkins is off, but running.

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

Desperation time: Republicans fervidly pitch Tiffany Smiley as Senate takeover hopes dim

With an increas­ing cho­rus of pun­dits and jour­nal­ists assess­ing that the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s hopes of recap­tur­ing the Unit­ed States Sen­ate this year are dim­ming, nation­al and state Repub­li­cans are engag­ing in a big coor­di­nat­ed push to try to con­struct and sell the nar­ra­tive that Wash­ing­ton State is in play for the Repub­li­can Par­ty this year, despite a lack of evi­dence sup­port­ing that contention.

Repub­li­cans, as read­ers may know, have been defeat­ed in every statewide con­test for gov­er­nor and U.S. Sen­ate in Wash­ing­ton going back to the Clin­ton presidency.

The par­ty’s last Sen­ate vic­to­ry came in 1994, when the late Slade Gor­ton defeat­ed Ron Sims, who lat­er was repeat­ed­ly elect­ed to be King Coun­ty Executive.

That was the cycle that has since been dubbed “the Repub­li­can Rev­o­lu­tion,” and it saw huge Repub­li­can gains across Washington.

In Unit­ed States House races, George Nether­cutt defeat­ed Speak­er Tom Foley, Doc Hast­ings unseat­ed Jay Inslee, Rick White edged Maria Cantwell, Randy Tate pre­vailed over Mike Krei­dler, and Lin­da Smith replaced Jolene Unsoeld. Repub­li­can Jack Met­calf also picked up the seat held by Al Swift.

It has been almost thir­ty years since Repub­li­cans had that kind of suc­cess in the Ever­green State, today the nation’s thir­teenth most pop­u­lous state.

The par­ty, now chaired by Caleb Heim­lich, is des­per­ate­ly crav­ing a big, state­ment-mak­ing win, espe­cial­ly in the wake of a dis­as­trous Top Two elec­tion in which the par­ty’s can­di­dates for Sec­re­tary of State and State House, Posi­tion 1 in the 47th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict can­celed each oth­er out, and in which long­time incum­bent Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler was defeat­ed by ultra MAGA chal­lenger Joe Kent.

While Heim­lich and his crew can cred­i­bly claim that they have a chance of recap­tur­ing the 8th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict this year (it’s the only dis­trict in the state that either par­ty can arguably win in any cycle), they have set their sights high­er… much high­er. Aid­ed by nation­al Repub­li­can operaives and Rick Scot­t’s NRSC, they are going all out in the wake of the Top Two to claim that Demo­c­ra­t­ic U.S. Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray is vul­ner­a­ble this year, hop­ing to reset, ele­vate, and pol­ish chal­lenger Tiffany Smi­ley’s pub­lic image as the midterms approach.

Smi­ley — who is far more extreme than Chris Vance, the pre­vi­ous chal­lenger the par­ty put up against Mur­ray, wants to pull off a polit­i­cal­ly dizzy­ing feat this autumn: win a six year Sen­ate term in a Demo­c­ra­t­ic state that vot­ed for Hillary Clin­ton and Joe Biden, and as an ultra MAGA can­di­date to boot.

There are many in the Repub­li­can Par­ty eager to help her with that project.

Smi­ley is seen by many with­in Repub­li­can cir­cles as a dark horse who needs a boost. She’s already proven that she can raise mon­ey — lots of mon­ey — and quite a few Repub­li­cans think she match­es up well against Pat­ty Mur­ray as a charis­mat­ic younger alter­na­tive who has­n’t had a long career in politics.

To date, how­ev­er, Repub­li­cans have had lit­tle suc­cess con­vinc­ing peo­ple who don’t belong to the Par­ty of Trump that Mur­ray is vulnerable.

But with “can­di­date qual­i­ty” (to bor­row Mitch McConnel­l’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion) drag­ging them down and imper­il­ing their prospects in key swing states like Penn­syl­va­nia, Geor­gia, and Ari­zona, plus Wis­con­sin, they’re mak­ing one last big push for Smi­ley, try­ing to bol­ster her stature and pitch her as a top-tier challenger.

Rolling out a couple rosy polls

Smi­ley fin­ished around eigh­teen points behind Mur­ray in the first round of Wash­ing­ton’s two-part gen­er­al elec­tion sys­tem — not a great look for a top tier can­di­date. To address that, Repub­li­cans have pro­duced a pair of polls, one right after the oth­er, that pur­port to show Smi­ley with­in a few points of Mur­ray (though of course not ahead, because such fig­ures would real­ly be laughed at).

The first one was done by the McLaugh­lin Group for John Jor­dan, a Repub­li­can financier, and depicts Smi­ley about six points behind Murray.

The sec­ond was done by the Trafal­gar Group, a pro­lif­ic Repub­li­can poll­ster, and depicts Smi­ley only three points behind — a mas­sive­ly dif­fer­ent result from what poll­sters not aligned with either par­ty found back in July.

Nei­ther poll is cor­rob­o­rat­ed by any cred­i­ble pub­lic opin­ion research, but since there are two of them, Repub­li­cans are claim­ing that they cor­rob­o­rate each other.

NPI/PPP, Crosscut/Elway, and SurveyUSA/KING 5/UW/WSU/Seattle Times all polled the race in the weeks before the Top Two elec­tion and found a dou­ble dig­it lead for Mur­ray, which was borne out in the Top Two results. To hear Repub­li­cans tell it, that might as well be ancient his­to­ry and what mat­ters now is these new polls, which are con­ve­nient­ly not yet con­tra­dict­ed by any fresh polling from a spon­sor not a cog in the polit­i­cal machine sup­port­ing Don­ald Trump.

Our assess­ment is that both Repub­li­can polls have sam­pling prob­lems and lack cred­i­bil­i­ty. But that’s obvi­ous­ly not going to stop Repub­li­cans from cit­ing them.

Scrubbing the campaign website

Wash­ing­ton State vot­ed over­whelm­ing­ly for Biden-Har­ris in 2020, a fact not lost on Repub­li­can oper­a­tives and strate­gists. With the Top Two now over and all oth­er can­di­dates elim­i­nat­ed, Smi­ley’s team has been mak­ing changes to the cam­paign web­site in an effort to make the can­di­date more pre­sentable to an elec­torate that is expect­ed to be larg­er, more diverse, and more Demo­c­ra­t­ic. Via Huff­Post:

With the pri­maries over and a new focus on the gen­er­al elec­tion, the Repub­li­can Sen­ate can­di­date in Wash­ing­ton State has removed ref­er­ences to “seri­ous ques­tions about the integri­ty of our elec­tions” from her cam­paign website.

The episode is the lat­est in a string of inci­dents where some Repub­li­can can­di­dates in recent weeks appeared to be scrub­bing their online pres­ences of posi­tions that could allow them to be paint­ed as extreme, often relat­ed to the issue of abor­tion or for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Smi­ley’s cam­paign told Huff­Post that she has­n’t changed her posi­tion on elec­tion secu­ri­ty. Regard­less, the removal of the lan­guage from the web­site sug­gests that Smi­ley’s team con­clud­ed that that lan­guage could be a turnoff for inde­pen­dent and Demo­c­ra­t­ic-lean­ing vot­ers that Smi­ley needs to forge a bond with to even have a prayer of win­ning this race. So away it went.

But not before it had been archived.

Engaging on the airwaves

Pat­ty Mur­ray’s cam­paign decid­ed back in the spring to define Smi­ley before she could define her­self, and rolled out ads crit­i­ciz­ing Smi­ley (espe­cial­ly with regards to her posi­tion on repro­duc­tive rights) that have been air­ing for weeks.

With the gen­er­al elec­tion approach­ing and time run­ning out to con­nect with vot­ers, Smi­ley’s cam­paign has now respond­ed with its own ads. Two are defen­sive­ly themed. One is offen­sive­ly themed and attempts to change the subject.

In the defen­sive­ly themed ads, Smi­ley (who called her­self “100% pro-life” on a pod­cast) acknowl­edges she isn’t a sup­port­er of repro­duc­tive rights, but would­n’t sup­port a nation­wide ban on abor­tion, which Mike Pence and oth­ers have called for. That sounds about as believ­able to me as Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Bar­rett claim­ing that Roe was set­tled law dur­ing their con­fir­ma­tion hearings.

Here’s “She Said”:

Here’s “Dis­ease”:

The oth­er ad is infla­tion-themed, and cites how the cost of food for a game day par­ty has gone up, specif­i­cal­ly men­tion­ing the prices of hot dogs and eggs:

Smi­ley asserts that Mur­ray is to blame for high­er food prices. That is false. Mur­ray has both cham­pi­oned and vot­ed for poli­cies to low­er Amer­i­cans’ cost of liv­ing. But Smi­ley has to have some­thing to cam­paign on, and as a prized recruit, she’s basi­cal­ly oblig­ed to fol­low the play­book that D.C. Repub­li­cans wrote.

Making national media appearances

As part of the effort to raise her pro­file, Smi­ley said yes to an inter­view with Dana Bash on CNN’s State of the Union, which, unlike an FNC show, is an envi­ron­ment where a Repub­li­can can­di­date can expect to be asked some tough ques­tions as opposed to only get­ting soft­balls. Bash grilled Smi­ley on a num­ber of fronts, includ­ing repro­duc­tive rights and the state of Amer­i­can democracy.

Like back in July when she talked to Matt Markovich, Smi­ley acknowl­edged when asked that Joe Biden is the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, but when asked repeat­ed­ly whether he was legit­i­mate­ly elect­ed, she demurred, repeat­ed­ly, refus­ing to sim­ply say, Yes. He was legit­i­mate­ly elect­ed.

A rea­son­able Repub­li­can, as opposed to an ultra MAGA can­di­date with an alle­giance to Trump, should not have a prob­lem mak­ing that kind of statement.

Smi­ley and her pro­mot­ers have been try­ing to pass her off as a rea­son­able Repub­li­can despite her extreme views. This exchange with Bash showed pret­ty clear­ly that Smi­ley is a Trump Repub­li­can — not, say, a Slade Gor­ton Repub­li­can, under­cut­ting the work Repub­li­cans have under­tak­en to devel­op Smi­ley’s image.

(The esteemed Gor­ton, in the final months of his life, sup­port­ed Trump’s impeach­ment and called for Repub­li­cans to fol­low the facts.)

Pleading for money (and lots of it)

Inspired per­haps by the fundrais­ing appeals that Don­ald Trump and Tim Eyman so often send, Tiffany Smi­ley’s cam­paign team has gone all-in on doom will be our fate unless you open your wal­let and give right now as the theme of their pitch­es for mon­ey. Lest you think I am exag­ger­at­ing, here is an end of the month email — in its entire­ty — that Smi­ley’s cam­paign sent out a week ago:

Friend, you know I hate to be negative.

There’s tru­ly no one who believes in this cam­paign more than me, which is why it kills me to say I may have to call it quits.

My finance team just sat me down and deliv­ered some dev­as­tat­ing news… we’re about to come up $4,750 short of our August goal.

[Help meet Tiffany’s goal button]

Why is this such dev­as­tat­ing news, you ask? Well, my oppo­nent, Pat­ty Mur­ray, hit her goal days ago and is already launch­ing huge ad campaigns.

I’m gen­uine­ly over­whelmed by all of this. I don’t see how we can catch up to an ever-grow­ing and seem­ing­ly unbeat­able war chest.

And to make mat­ters worse, oth­er Repub­li­can can­di­dates are suf­fer­ing the same fate and are clos­ing up shop.

This couldn’t be more severe and is why I’m ask­ing – no beg­ging – you to read every word of this email.

I’m a first-time can­di­date, vet­er­an advo­cate, and polit­i­cal out­sider. I’ve spent so much of my life rais­ing my 3 incred­i­ble boys and car­ing for my hus­band when he was per­ma­nent­ly blind­ed while serv­ing in Iraq.

Unlike my oppo­nent, I haven’t spent the last 30 years build­ing con­nec­tions and rais­ing mon­ey from polit­i­cal elites.

But that’s pre­cise­ly why I have a real chance of defeat­ing her this Novem­ber. I’m bring­ing the fresh ideas and lead­er­ship Amer­i­ca needs, and the Democ­rats know it.

So I’ll get right to it.

I need you on my team. I won’t put a num­ber on it because I mean it when I say any­thing you give can and will be a game-chang­er in this election.

We’re creep­ing into the final hours of this month’s dead­line, but I know that we’ll keep this cam­paign going with your support.

So what do you think? Will you be a part of my his­to­ry-mak­ing cam­paign by chip­ping in what you can before tonight’s deadline?

I real­ly hope you under­stand where I’m com­ing from.

I promise I wouldn’t reach out like this if it weren’t the end of the road.

Sin­cere­ly,

Tiffany Smi­ley

Empha­sis is theirs.

The email’s atten­tion-grab­bing sub­ject line was Call­ing it quits.

The part that I enjoyed most of all was the line we’re about to come up $4,750 short of our August goal, which is described as “dev­as­tat­ing news.”

Dev­as­tat­ing? A statewide cam­paign that has already raised mil­lions of dol­lars is less than five grand short of a month­ly goal? How is that dev­as­tat­ing?

Ought a ship­shape, fis­cal­ly respon­si­ble cam­paign that has raised mil­lions be able to adjust to being a few thou­sand short of a month­ly goal?

I’m being face­tious, of course. There’s no log­ic to this email: it’s writ­ten delib­er­ate­ly to pro­voke an emo­tion­al reac­tion — espe­cial­ly from peo­ple who have already giv­en mon­ey to the cam­paign — with alarm­ing phras­ing such as: I may have to call it quits… I’m beg­ging you to read every word of this email… I promise I wouldn’t reach out like this if it weren’t the end of the road.

Sep­tem­ber 1st end­ed up not being the end of the road for the Smi­ley cam­paign; Repub­li­cans entered Sep­tem­ber still fren­zied­ly try­ing to pitch her candidacy.

Concern trolls, now is the time!

Even if Repub­li­cans are not them­selves con­vinced that Tiffany Smi­ley is an oppo­nent Pat­ty Mur­ray should fear, they are nev­er­the­less hop­ing to alarm Democ­rats into think­ing that this is the case. They would love to get into their oppo­nents’ heads and get them to believe that Wash­ing­ton is in play… or, fail­ing that, at least prod them into doubt­ing that Wash­ing­ton is Safe Demo­c­ra­t­ic turf this year.

Per­haps the best case sce­nario for Repub­li­cans is that Democ­rats get spooked and spend a lot of mon­ey here rather than in those swing states I just mentioned.

Accord­ing­ly, the con­cern trolls are out.

One stopped by the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate last week, and said, in part:

Be care­ful, Democ­rats, or you’re going to have anoth­er old, worn out ver­sus young charis­mat­ic John James type sit­u­a­tion on your hands.

I not­ed, in reply:

Has it occurred to you that Repub­li­cans are just bad at going up against Pat­ty Mur­ray? Every cycle, it seems, they under­es­ti­mate her, and that works to her advantage.

Lin­da Smith was sup­posed to beat her in 1998. Didn’t hap­pen. Then in 2004, it was gonna be George Nether­cutt, who had knocked out Speak­er Foley in 1994. But nope. Then in 2010, Repub­li­cans recruit­ed Dino Rossi to chal­lenge Mur­ray. Again, she pre­vailed, and in a dif­fi­cult envi­ron­ment for Democ­rats. In 2016, Chris Vance (now an inde­pen­dent) tried to defeat Mur­ray, and got walloped.

Here we are in 2022 and Tiffany Smi­ley is run­ning. You imply she’s charis­mat­ic. But she is run­ning a ter­ri­ble cam­paign. She couldn’t even tell The Seat­tle Times’ David Gut­man what she would cut out of the fed­er­al bud­get despite claim­ing to be for rein­ing in spend­ing. The Smi­ley cam­paign con­sists main­ly of boil­er­plate and Biden/Murray bash­ing. We shall see how far that gets Smiley.

Our assess­ment, based on the evi­dence: Not far. But any­thing can hap­pen in pol­i­tics. Unlike some, we don’t lack for imagination.

Labor Day has come and gone and we’re now in the home­stretch of the cycle. Espe­cial­ly giv­en the Dobbs deci­sion and the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s con­tin­ued march towards becom­ing an enti­ty that is total­ly incom­pat­i­ble with democ­ra­cy, the NPI team does not see an open­ing for Tiffany Smi­ley to win Wash­ing­ton State in 2022.

Pat­ty Mur­ray was already a favorite even before the events of 2022. Impor­tant­ly, though, any­one who knows her knows she does­n’t take an elec­tion for granted.

If Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­cans were hop­ing to ben­e­fit from Demo­c­ra­t­ic com­pla­cen­cy this year, they’re going to be disappointed.

Sunday, September 4th, 2022

Republicans reaffirm their tight embrace of fossil fuels during a sweltering summer

The West has suf­fered under a heat dome for much of the past week, with hun­dred-degree tem­per­a­tures extend­ing north into the Inland North­west, as Spokane swel­tered at 95 degrees on Fri­day and the Snake Riv­er val­ley hit the triple digits.

On Fri­day, the Inland Empire’s mem­ber of Con­gress, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers, took occa­sion to chart America’s ener­gy future. She plant­ed wet kiss­es on the fos­sil fuels that are warm­ing the earth. “For ener­gy secu­ri­ty and afford­abil­i­ty, we must embrace a wide range of domes­tic ener­gy resources includ­ing coal, oil, nat­ur­al gas, hydropow­er and nuclear” came a release from the rank­ing Repub­li­can mem­ber of the House Ener­gy and Com­merce Committee.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

U.S. Con­gress­woman Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers of Wash­ing­ton speak­ing at the 2015 Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence (CPAC) in Nation­al Har­bor, Mary­land. (Pho­to: Gage Skidmore)

She didn’t men­tion solar pan­els and wind tur­bines, although one of America’s largest wind farms, the State­line project, sits atop hills on the Wash­ing­ton-Ore­gon bor­der west of Wal­la Walla.

Indeed, McMor­ris Rodgers has tak­en Twit­ter shots at Democ­rats for pro­mot­ing “a rushed tran­si­tion to less reli­able and more expen­sive solar and wind energy.

The sum­mer of 2022 has seen a dis­con­nect between Repub­li­can politi­cians of the South, Mid­west and Moun­tain West, and the swel­ter­ing, drought-strick­en states they rep­re­sent in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Just one thing brings on a chill these days: McMor­ris Rodgers will chair the Ener­gy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee should Repub­li­cans recap­ture con­trol of the House.

Even with the car­bon econ­o­my fuel­ing their cam­paigns, one is moved to ask: What are these peo­ple thinking?

They are embrac­ing coal at a time when it is being jet­ti­soned by the country.

Our state’s last coal plant, at Cen­tralia, is being phased out by agree­ment with the own­er. The Col­strip gen­er­at­ing sta­tion in Mon­tana is on its last legs.

Coal plants are pow­er­ing down across the coun­try. Few­er than 270 coal-burn­ing pow­er plants remain in the U.S., with more than 600 hav­ing been shut so far in this cen­tu­ry. Hawaii just shut­tered its last coal-pow­ered pow­er on Thurs­day, as part of its plan to tran­si­tion to hun­dred-per­cent renew­able ener­gy by 2045.

Glob­al warm­ing was hard­ly on the polit­i­cal radar screen back in the 2000 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. With a deep pock­et pay­ing, young green activists showed up at can­di­dates bear­ing signs that read: “What’s your plan?”

What would the can­di­dates do to slow down or curb cli­mate damage?

Only one per­son paid any atten­tion, Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor John McCain, R‑Arizona. When his cam­paign end­ed, McCain went back to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., dug into the sub­ject and held a cou­ple of hear­ings. He began to con­nect the earth’s warm­ing with heat in his home state and the already-declin­ing flow of the Col­orado River.

McCain was just about the last Repub­li­can to seri­ous­ly address the issue, an effort abrupt­ly end­ed in the 2008 campaign.

He picked as his run­ning mate Alas­ka Gov­er­nor Sarah Palin, who decried cap-and-trade pro­pos­als, to lim­it emis­sions, as “cap-and-tax.” Repub­li­can audi­ences chant­ed “Drill, baby, drill” when the Arc­tic Refuge was mentioned.

The Repub­li­can Par­ty seems to have adopt­ed a strat­e­gy of per­ma­nent denial, spot­light­ed in resis­tance to the mid-sum­mer Infla­tion Reduc­tion Act, the first real cli­mate action invest­ment pack­age ever autho­rized by Con­gress.

“It’s a gift to rad­i­cal envi­ron­men­tal­ists and the rich lib­er­al elites: It uses tax­pay­er dol­lars to sub­si­dize elec­tric vehi­cles while impos­ing even more tax­es to raise the price of gas,” thun­dered Sen­a­tor Ted Cruz, R‑Texas.

Hous­ton has just expe­ri­enced its hottest July on record.

Dal­las-Fort Worth has endured 41 hun­dred degree-plus days so far in 2022, suf­fer­ing a pro­longed drought fol­lowed by sud­den flooding.

Yet, here is Ted Cruz on Twit­ter last week: “Cli­mate alarmists have a polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy to pro­mote, and facts can’t get in the way.” (A tip of the hood­ie to Tyler Lin­festy, the teenage “plaid shirt guy” who rolled his eyes behind Don­ald Trump at a 2018 ral­ly in Billings, for “out­ing” the lat­est Cruz idiocy.)

Sen­a­tor Jim Inhofe, R‑Oklahoma, has pro­claimed glob­al warm­ing “a hoax” and once brought a snow­ball from out­side to the Sen­ate floor, osten­si­bly to demon­strate that the Earth was not warm­ing. (Neil deGrasse Tyson sub­se­quent­ly cre­at­ed this mem­o­rable video explain­ing the dif­fer­ence between cli­mate and weath­er: they aren’t the same thing.) Inhofe chimed in by describ­ing the Infla­tion Reduc­tion Act as “sub­si­diz­ing the lib­er­al coastal elites’ elec­tric vehi­cle purchases.”

In our state, Trump-backed 3rd Dis­trict U.S. House hope­ful Joe Kent told a recent ral­ly: “The cur­rent green agen­da is a stalk­ing horse to make Amer­i­ca weak. All these renew­able sources that we’re talk­ing about, it’s a pay­day for the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty, elec­tric vehicles.”

He is, of course, wrong on mul­ti­ple counts.

Cli­mate dam­age is being felt here, notably in shrink­ing win­ter snow­packs and the melt­ing of glac­i­ers that keep our rivers flow­ing and dams pro­duc­ing dur­ing sum­mer months… and the record for­est and range fires such as the 230,000-acre Car­leton Com­plex Fire in north-cen­tral Wash­ing­ton… and in the ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion that threat­ens our shell­fish industry.

Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell, D‑Washington, has wit­nessed China’s wind and solar devel­op­ment, urg­ing that the Unit­ed States deploy its resources to com­pete in the unfold­ing renew­able ener­gy econ­o­my of the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry. Instead, we have Repub­li­cans on the House Ener­gy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee snip­ing at West­ern Europe for mov­ing too quick­ly to jet­ti­son its depen­dence on fos­sil fuels.

In a New York Times puff piece last week, our green Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee spoke of Washington’s chal­lenge to the car­bon diox­ide econ­o­my, say­ing: “There isn’t a sin­gle Repub­li­can in my state who has lift­ed a fin­ger on cli­mate change.”

Sure makes progress tougher.

Alas, the right wing in Amer­i­ca is skilled in coor­di­nat­ing its disinformation.

Rupert Mur­doch’s FNC has chimed in with sar­cas­tic ridicule, much of it direct­ed at Cal­i­for­nia Gov­er­nor Gavin New­som for the Gold­en State’s deci­sion to phase out gas-pow­ered auto­mo­biles. Tuck­er Carl­son depicts West­ern Europe as a civ­i­liza­tion crum­bling because it has cho­sen to phase out coal.

The Repub­li­cans’ Ener­gy and Com­merce web­site car­ries pic­tures of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive McMor­ris Rodgers tour­ing the Colum­bia Gen­er­at­ing Sta­tion at Han­ford, the one nuclear plant that the Wash­ing­ton Pub­lic Pow­er Sup­ply Sys­tem man­aged to fin­ish (orig­i­nal esti­mate, $400 mil­lion, final cost $3.2 bil­lion) and wit­ness­ing fish lad­ders at Low­er Gran­ite Dam on the Snake River.

Defend­ing the dams has become a Repub­li­can talk­ing point ever since George W. Bush’s bloop­er ref­er­ence to “the riv­er on the Snake.”

As she holds forth about “the war on Amer­i­can ener­gy,” is it too much to ask McMor­ris Rodgers to dri­ve up the hills and wit­ness the State­line wind tur­bines? And learn of plans to expand the project?. Well, maybe it is since Trump took after wind tur­bines in his Penn­syl­va­nia ral­ly speech Sat­ur­day night.

We hear a lot on how the future of our democ­ra­cy is at stake in the 2022 mdi-term elec­tions, and the upcom­ing 2024 pres­i­den­tial campaign.

Wit­ness­ing the rapid­ly chang­ing cli­mate, and rapid­ly accel­er­at­ing impacts, the earth’s future hangs in the bal­ance as well.

Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers is acute­ly attuned to pow­er sources in the Repub­li­can Par­ty. She ought to pay atten­tion to what cli­mate dam­age is doing to the region of our plan­et that she rep­re­sents in Congress.

Sunday, September 4th, 2022

Jaime Herrera Beutler lost because WA-03 is becoming a more normal, nationalized district

When the final results showed incum­bent Repub­li­can Con­gress­woman Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler nar­row­ly com­ing in third place in the Top Two elec­tion behind Trump-endorsed Repub­li­can chal­lenger Joe Kent, it may have marked the end of an era for WA-03. At the very least, it was a notable point in the district’s con­tin­u­al shift towards being a less unique, more nation­al­ized dis­trict, the same direc­tion that so many dis­tricts across the coun­try have shifted.

The his­toric unique­ness of WA-03 is root­ed in the fact that both par­ties have a large amal­ga­ma­tion of dif­fer­ent coali­tions in the district.

The dis­trict cov­ers areas that have long been Repub­li­can, like Lewis Coun­ty. It stretch­es out to the coast, con­tain­ing Pacif­ic Coun­ty and vot­ers who are reliant on the fish­ing and oys­ter indus­tries. It includes many ances­tral­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic rur­al vot­ers that now often vote Repub­li­can and, when they vot­ed blue, tend­ed to be more con­ser­v­a­tive than urban and sub­ur­ban Democrats.

The dis­trict extends to cen­tral Wash­ing­ton, going as far east as Klick­i­tat Coun­ty in the pre­vi­ous dis­trict lines, though it now only extends as far east as Ska­ma­nia Coun­ty. WA-03 is anchored in and by Clark Coun­ty, which nor­mal­ly encom­pass­es over six­ty per­cent of the district’s voters.

Clark Coun­ty includes many Van­cou­ver vot­ers that more and more vote like res­i­dents of oth­er big city sub­urbs, but the coun­ty also has more con­ser­v­a­tive exur­ban vot­ers in its out­er parts, in towns such as Bat­tle Ground. There are towns his­tor­i­cal­ly reliant on the tim­ber indus­try through­out the dis­trict. The dis­trict is most­ly white, but does have sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of Asian and Lati­no voters.

Jaime Herrera Beutler at an AWB event

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler signs the AWB Man­u­fac­tur­ing Week Bus dur­ing its stop at Great West­ern Malt­ing in Van­cou­ver on Fri­day, Octo­ber 12th 2018. (Pho­to: Bri­an Mittge/AWB, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

WA-03 is also notable for its tax sen­si­tiv­i­ty, because many towns in the dis­trict are par­tic­u­lar­ly reliant on small busi­ness­es and because many vot­ers move to the area to take advan­tage of Washington’s lack of income tax and Oregon’s lack of sales tax.

Before Her­rera Beut­ler rep­re­sent­ed South­west Wash­ing­ton in Con­gress, WA-03 was held by Demo­c­rat Bri­an Baird, who — like Her­rera Beut­ler — was known for his will­ing­ness to break ranks in Con­gress. He spoke out against Demo­c­ra­t­ic House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi and was crit­i­cal of the Oba­ma-Biden administration’s fis­cal agen­da. Like Her­rera Beut­ler, he alien­at­ed mem­bers of both his own par­ty and of the oth­er par­ty, only to win reelec­tion comfortably.

Baird won his last elec­tion in 2008 by a colos­sal twen­ty-eight-point mar­gin in what was a great night for Democ­rats. Oba­ma-Biden won WA-03 in that same elec­tion as well, but trailed Baird’s mar­gin by around twen­ty points.

Her­rera Beut­ler was first elect­ed to Con­gress in 2010 in an elec­tion that saw Democ­rats lose dozens of seats across the country.

Pow­ered by a coali­tion of vot­ers that would be unimag­in­able today, she beat Den­ny Heck by six points, with an eleven-point mar­gin in Clark Coun­ty and a thir­ty-four-point romp­ing in Lewis Coun­ty to more than off­set Heck’s large vic­to­ries in Pacif­ic Coun­ty and in the more pro­gres­sive Olympia-Lacy-Tumwa­ter area. The Con­gress­woman was elect­ed on a mes­sage of low­er­ing tax­es for busi­ness­es and res­i­dents, low­er­ing the nation­al debt and oppos­ing health­care reform. This rep­u­ta­tion would stick with her in Con­gress for years to come.

Redis­trict­ing gift­ed Her­rera Beut­ler a more Repub­li­can dis­trict begin­ning in the 2012 cycle, with most of the Olympia-Lacy-Tumwa­ter core giv­en to the new­ly formed 10th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict (WA-10).

Her­rera Beut­ler won by over twen­ty points in 2012, 2014 and 2016.

She defeat­ed Demo­c­rat Jon Hau­gen in 2012 by near­ly twen­ty-one points while Repub­li­can Mitt Rom­ney car­ried her dis­trict by just two points. She then cruised to a twen­ty-three-point vic­to­ry in 2014 over Demo­c­rat Bob Dingethal.

The 2016 elec­tion was a water­shed elec­tion in many dis­tricts, and WA-03 was no excep­tion. Her­rera Beut­ler refused to endorse Trump in 2016, but this evi­dent­ly did not hurt her in the gen­er­al elec­tion that year, as she rolled to a twen­ty-four ‑point vic­to­ry over Demo­c­rat Jim Moeller.

That same elec­tion, Trump won the dis­trict by sev­en points.

In a trend that was observ­able across Amer­i­ca in 2016, the rur­al com­mu­ni­ties in WA-03 exhib­it­ed gar­gan­tu­an shifts towards Trump com­pared to Romney’s 2012 mar­gins. For exam­ple, Cowlitz Coun­ty vot­ed for a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date (by four­teen points!) for the first time since 1980.

Pacif­ic Coun­ty vot­ed for the Repub­li­can for the first time since 1950.

All in all, while Clark Coun­ty bare­ly budged (and made up over 60% of the dis­trict that elec­tion), the parts of the dis­trict out­side of Clark Coun­ty went from sup­port­ing Rom­ney by a five-point mar­gin to sup­port­ing Trump by over 20 points.

Her­rera Beut­ler out­per­formed Trump in every coun­ty in 2016, and in most by dou­ble dig­its. But many WA-03 vot­ers showed their will­ing­ness to split their tick­et not only by vot­ing for Her­rera Beut­ler and Clin­ton, but also by vot­ing for both the Con­gress­woman and Demo­c­rat Pat­ty Mur­ray in the Sen­ate elec­tion, who lost WA-03 by only around one point.

Senator Patty Murray speaks at the 2022 Washington State Democratic Convention

Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray deliv­ers an address at the evening gala ban­quet of the 2022 Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­ven­tion (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)​

Mur­ray won Clark Coun­ty 51% to 49%, nar­row­ly out­per­form­ing Clin­ton there, but also won many ances­tral­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic Trump vot­ers in the dis­trict — or at least vast­ly out­per­formed Clin­ton among them — even win­ning Pacif­ic Coun­ty 55% to 45%. Mur­ray out­per­formed Clin­ton by thir­teen points in the non-Clark Coun­ty parts of WA-03.

2018 was a Demo­c­ra­t­ic wave year, and Her­rera Beut­ler — rep­re­sent­ing a dis­trict Trump only won by sin­gle dig­its — was a tar­get for the Democ­rats. The Con­gress­woman was able to fend off well-fund­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Car­olyn Long by argu­ing that she had pro­vid­ed tax cuts for con­stituents, sup­port­ed small busi­ness­es, stopped tolls on the Colum­bia Riv­er and some­times coop­er­at­ed with Democ­rats to get leg­is­la­tion passed.

She was not as vul­ner­a­ble to attacks on health­care that many oth­er Repub­li­cans suf­fered from because she vot­ed against repeal­ing the Patient Pro­tec­tion and Afford­able Care Act in 2017. Still, Long attacked Her­rera Beut­ler for vot­ing numer­ous times to take away health­care from Americans.

Her­rera Beut­ler won by just over five points, but it came at a cost.

The incum­bent won the dis­trict the same way a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date would. She lost Clark Coun­ty by two points, but ran up the score else­where in the dis­trict, par­tic­u­lar­ly in ruby red Lewis County.

Her­rera Beutler’s vic­to­ry in Lewis Coun­ty was so large that she net­ted over 7,000 more votes over Long in Lewis Coun­ty than Long net­ted over Her­rera Beut­ler in Clark Coun­ty, even though Clark Coun­ty made up 63% of the elec­torate and Lewis Coun­ty made up just eleven per­cent of it that election.

Lewis Coun­ty makes it very dif­fi­cult for Democ­rats to win WA-03, and this dynam­ic will be a prob­lem for Democ­rats in the dis­trict for years to come.

Her­rera Beut­ler vot­ed against both arti­cles to impeach Trump dur­ing his first impeach­ment in 2019 and vot­ed for him in 2020.

Car­olyn Long ran against her again, but could not muster the same sup­port she did two years ear­li­er, los­ing to the Con­gress­woman by thir­teen points.

Mean­while, Biden-Har­ris lost the dis­trict, but by just four points.

Once again, Biden-Har­ris won Clark Coun­ty, but could not keep up with gar­gan­tu­an Repub­li­can mar­gins elsewhere.

Her­rera Beut­ler out­per­formed Trump across the dis­trict, and did so the most in the Port­land sub­urbs, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Ridge­field and Camas.

It was always going to be dif­fi­cult for Her­rera Beut­ler to main­tain her bipar­ti­san sup­port and inde­pen­dent appeal while not mak­ing her pro-Trump base vot­ers angry. Numer­ous Repub­li­cans have had this prob­lem across the country.

After the events of Jan­u­ary 6th, Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler loud­ly crit­i­cized Don­ald Trump, argu­ing that he played a major role in the event.

She was one of ten House Repub­li­cans to vote to impeach Trump.

It drew the ire of many Repub­li­can vot­ers and Trump him­self. Repub­li­cans lined up to chal­lenge her, and Trump endorsed Repub­li­can Joe Kent.

Her­rera Beutler’s record and pol­i­cy posi­tions did not shield her from anger over her anti-Trump stance. In the end, five Repub­li­cans — includ­ing the Con­gress­woman her­self — were on the bal­lot, along with two Democrats.

The Democ­rats coa­lesced around Marie Glue­senkamp Perez, who won first place with 31%. The anti-Her­rera Beut­ler vote was divid­ed, but not enough to save the incum­bent. When all of the votes were count­ed, Kent took 22.8% while Her­rera Beut­ler took 22.3%, putting Kent over the incum­bent by just over one thou­sand votes. Hei­di St. John, anoth­er pro-Trump Repub­li­can, took 16%.

Liz Cheney speaking at a press event

Liz Cheney speak­ing at a press event (Offi­cial photo)

Many peo­ple have com­pared Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler to Liz Cheney for their crit­i­cism of Trump. But they also have in com­mon that they both lost their seats with coali­tions of sup­port that looked like those of a Democrat.

The only two coun­ties Liz Cheney won in her pri­ma­ry were the same two that Biden-Har­ris won in Wyoming in the 2020 Gen­er­al Election.

In fact, in many recent Repub­li­can pri­maries, the can­di­date who is con­sid­ered more rea­son­able has per­formed bet­ter than the Trump-endorsed can­di­date in more Demo­c­ra­t­ic areas.

In WA-03, Democ­rats could eas­i­ly vote for the Repub­li­can anti-Trump cru­sad­er in a Top Two elec­tion, which almost cer­tain­ly com­pound­ed this phe­nom­e­non.

Her­rera Beut­ler beat Kent in ances­tral­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic Pacif­ic Coun­ty by three points and beat him by one point in Clark County.

But, like Her­rera Beut­ler did in the 2018 gen­er­al elec­tion, Kent ran up the score in Lewis Coun­ty. Her­rera Beut­ler net­ted 1,498 votes over Kent in Clark County.

He net­ted 1,458 over her in Lewis Coun­ty, effec­tive­ly can­cel­ing out her Clark Coun­ty mar­gin, despite the fact that Lewis Coun­ty made up just 11% of the dis­trict and Clark Coun­ty made up 64%.

Kent also per­formed extra­or­di­nar­i­ly well in Thurston Coun­ty, tak­ing 33%, com­pared to 19% for Her­rera Beut­ler, net­ting 1,269 votes over the incum­bent, despite the fact it made up just 4% of the district.

Pop­u­la­tion den­si­ty was a big indi­ca­tor of sup­port for Her­rera Beut­ler. Although Kent out­per­formed Her­rera Beut­ler in Bat­tle­ground and Washou­gal, Her­rera Beut­ler tend­ed to do best in the towns, par­tic­u­lar­ly on I‑5.

Her­rera Beut­ler received more votes than Kent in Van­cou­ver, Camas, Ridge­field, Kala­ma, Kel­so, Longview and Long Beach. Even while get­ting destroyed in Lewis Coun­ty, Her­rera Beut­ler edged out Kent in both Cen­tralia and Chehalis.

Her­rera Beut­ler is a vic­tim of the fact that the Repub­li­can coali­tion in her dis­trict became increas­ing­ly rur­al. She became reliant on pro-Trump vot­ers who saved her in 2018, and as a result, when she broke with and then con­tin­ued to crit­i­cize Trump, she scared them away and no longer had enough votes to win.

This is a coun­try­wide trend and is a symp­tom of the fact that WA-03 is becom­ing a more nor­mal and nation­al­ized dis­trict, which now has the stan­dard Amer­i­can polit­i­cal divide based on pop­u­la­tion density.

But still, many vot­ers could see Repub­li­can Joe Kent as too extreme and too pro-Trump in the forth­com­ing gen­er­al elec­tion. Anoth­er WA-03 twist — thanks to Marie Glue­senkamp Perez’s can­di­da­cy — may well be in the cards.

Edi­tor’s Note: McCauley Pugh is an Asso­ciate Ana­lyst at Lake Research Part­ners. He is orig­i­nal­ly from Fed­er­al Way. He stud­ied Pol­i­tics and Inter­na­tion­al Rela­tions and Ital­ian Stud­ies at Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege Dublin and has an MSc in Com­par­a­tive Pol­i­tics with a spe­cial­ism in Nation­al­ism and Eth­nic Pol­i­tics from the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics and Polit­i­cal Sci­ence. Pri­or to work­ing at LRP, McCauley worked for The Mell­man Group and was an intern for U.S. Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell.

Friday, September 2nd, 2022

Poll Watch: Trafalgar tries to bolster Tiffany Smiley’s longshot challenge to Patty Murray

A right wing poll­ster claimed today that Wash­ing­ton’s 2022 con­test for Unit­ed States Sen­ate is “a sur­pris­ing­ly close race” based on a sin­gle find­ing from a sur­vey it con­duct­ed last week that dubi­ous­ly puts Repub­li­can Sen­ate hope­ful Tiffany Smi­ley with­in three points of Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent Pat­ty Murray.

The sur­vey, by Trafal­gar Group, is uncor­rob­o­rat­ed by any oth­er pub­lic opin­ion research and is con­tra­dict­ed by the results of last mon­th’s Top Two, an actu­al elec­tion in which almost two mil­lion Wash­ing­to­ni­ans cast ballots.

Trafal­gar found Mur­ray at 49.2% and Smi­ley at 46.3%, with a mere 4.5% unde­cid­ed. The sam­ple con­sists of 1,087 like­ly gen­er­al elec­tion vot­ers, inter­viewed from August 30th through yes­ter­day, Sep­tem­ber 1st.

Just half a month ago, in the ini­tial round of Wash­ing­ton’s two-part gen­er­al elec­tion, Mur­ray received 52.22% of the vote against Smi­ley and six­teen oth­er chal­lengers. Smi­ley, mean­while, received 33.69% of the vote.

The total vote received by can­di­dates iden­ti­fy­ing them­selves in some form or fash­ion as Repub­li­cans was 41.47%, while the total vote received by Mur­ray and oth­er can­di­dates iden­ti­fy­ing them­selves as Democ­rats was 55.36%. That is typ­i­cal of the split we usu­al­ly see between groups of can­di­dates pro­fess­ing an affil­i­a­tion with the major par­ties in Wash­ing­ton State in a post-2016 Top Two election.

The sec­ond and final round will most like­ly con­sist of an elec­torate that is larg­er, more diverse, and more Demo­c­ra­t­ic, yet Trafal­gar would have us believe that Mur­ray is now crum­bling while Smi­ley is sud­den­ly soar­ing. There is no evi­dence what­so­ev­er to sup­port this con­tention. Trafal­gar­’s sur­vey is a clas­sic outlier.

As I say often here on The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, the key to cred­i­ble, accu­rate polling is neu­tral ques­tions asked of a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sample.

Based on what Trafal­gar pub­lished, I have seri­ous doubts that their sam­ple is prop­er­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton Novem­ber electorate.

Remem­ber, the gap between Mur­ray and Smi­ley in the Top Two was over eigh­teen points, about in line with what the cred­i­ble pub­lic polling con­duct­ed in the pre­ced­ing month by Elway Research and Sur­veyUSA indi­cat­ed it could be.

This sur­vey puts Smi­ley’s lev­el of sup­port (46.3%) sev­er­al per­cent­age points above and beyond the per­cent­age that every Repub­li­can Sen­ate can­di­date com­bined got in the Top Two. Mur­ray, mean­while, is sup­pos­ed­ly under fifty per­cent despite hav­ing secured more than a major­i­ty of the vote against a field of sev­en­teen oppo­nents as of when the elec­tion was cer­ti­fied on August 16th.

Sor­ry, Trafal­gar, but that dog won’t hunt.

In the gen­er­al elec­tion, there will be no names on the bal­lot besides Smi­ley and Mur­ray. Our own most recent head-to-head poll find­ing, pub­lished at the begin­ning of June, found Mur­ray eleven points ahead of Smi­ley in a hypo­thet­i­cal gen­er­al elec­tion matchup. That was back in the spring, before Mur­ray launched her ads, before the gut­ting of Roe v. Wade, and before the Top Two.

Trafal­gar says on its method­ol­o­gy state­ment page that it con­ducts its sur­veys using live callers, inte­grat­ed voice response, text mes­sages, emails, and “two oth­er pro­pri­etary dig­i­tal meth­ods we don’t share pub­licly,” which is a red flag.

Sub­jec­tive orga­ni­za­tions are per­fect­ly capa­ble of car­ry­ing out objec­tive research, but it appears that Trafal­gar­’s goal here (giv­en their deci­sion to pub­lish these unsup­port­able fig­ures) is to bol­ster Smi­ley’s long­shot can­di­da­cy, rather than mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion to the body of cred­i­ble pub­lic opin­ion research in this race.

Friday, September 2nd, 2022

Democratic congressional hopeful Marie Perez: We can beat Joe Kent, win WA-03

The cam­paign of Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gres­sion­al hope­ful Marie Glue­senkamp Perez released inter­nal polling today that shows Perez nar­row­ly ahead of ultra MAGA Repub­li­can rival Joe Kent in the forth­com­ing gen­er­al elec­tion for Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Wash­ing­ton’s 3rd, sug­gest­ing that there is a path to vic­to­ry for Perez and the Democ­rats in a dis­trict they haven’t cap­tured since 2008.

Glue­senkamp Perez and Kent emerged as the two final­ists in last mon­th’s Top Two elec­tion, oust­ing incum­bent Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, who was first elect­ed to rep­re­sent the dis­trict in 2010. Her­rera Beut­ler angered the Trump base by vot­ing to impeach Trump fol­low­ing the Jan­u­ary 6th insur­rec­tion that Trump incited.

Kent — an ultra MAGA Repub­li­can in the mold of Lau­ren Boe­bert, Matt Gaetz, and Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene — secured and cam­paigned with Trump’s endorsement.

Glue­senkamp Perez, who declared her can­di­da­cy only a few weeks before Fil­ing Week, placed first in the Top Two as a con­se­quence of Repub­li­can vote split­ting. Anoth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date, Brent Hen­nrich, bowed out and endorsed her before the dead­line to file, help­ing uni­fy Democ­rats behind her.

Now, with Her­rera Beut­ler out, Glue­senkamp Perez is the only alter­na­tive on the bal­lot to Kent. Her cam­paign hopes the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty will pri­or­i­tize the race, espe­cial­ly now that she has data indi­cat­ing she has a path to victory.

Marie Perez with her family

Marie Perez with her fam­i­ly (Cam­paign photo)

“In an ini­tial head-to-head bal­lot test, before vot­ers are primed with any addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion, Glue­senkamp Perez leads Kent, 47% to 45%, with eight per­cent of vot­ers unde­cid­ed,” Perez’s cam­paign said in a release.

“These results are incred­i­bly encour­ag­ing and show that peo­ple are tired of extrem­ists hijack­ing Wash­ing­ton. They want their rep­re­sen­ta­tive to under­stand their every­day chal­lenges and are will­ing to work with any­one to solve them,” Glue­senkamp Perez said in a state­ment sent to the press.

“As a small busi­ness own­er of a repair shop, I know first-hand that gov­ern­ment is often in the way and that crime is out of con­trol. I’ll work to stream­line bureau­cra­cies and secure invest­ments for things like job train­ing pro­grams to give peo­ple real skills to get good jobs, so small busi­ness­es like mine can final­ly solve work­er shortages.”

The poll was con­duct­ed for the Glue­senkamp Perez cam­paign by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic-aligned firm Expe­di­tion Strate­gies from August 25th-30th, 2022. 400 like­ly gen­er­al elec­tion vot­ers par­tic­i­pat­ed. The poll has a mar­gin of error of +/- 4.9%.

The cam­paign says that in addi­tion to find­ing Glue­senkamp Perez just ahead of Kent in an ini­tial head-to-head, its research has found that Kent is “well known and wide­ly dis­liked among dis­trict vot­ers.” Specif­i­cal­ly, 75% of respon­dents said they know enough to have formed an opin­ion of Kent, with 39% express­ing an unfa­vor­able view. Notably, 30% have a strong­ly neg­a­tive view.

Few­er vot­ers have formed an opin­ion about Glue­senkamp Perez yet, but most of those who do have an opin­ion indi­cat­ed their first impres­sions are pos­i­tive. 29% over­all view her favor­ably and anoth­er 17% view her unfavorably.

The cam­paign’s inter­nal polling was men­tioned and repro­duced by Politi­co’s Play­book newslet­ter this morn­ing, ensur­ing it will be noticed by at least some folks in the Oth­er Wash­ing­ton. The Cook Polit­i­cal Report already reclas­si­fied the con­test as “Leans Repub­li­can” fol­low­ing Her­rera Beut­ler’s loss last month.

Glue­senkamp Perez’s cam­paign has pub­lished and dis­trib­uted a memo shar­ing select­ed high­lights from its inter­nal poll, which you can read below.

Inter­nal Marie Perez polling highlights

A notable num­ber of respon­dents said that they think the terms “a MAGA sup­port­er” and “extrem­ist” best describe Kent, who has loud­ly gone on record in defense of the Jan­u­ary 6th insur­rec­tion­ists and demand­ed they be left alone.

Right wing talk show host Michael Medved recent­ly opined that the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty is in trou­ble in the wake of Ken­t’s vic­to­ry.

Medved also char­ac­ter­ized Glue­senkamp Perez as the lead­ing candidate.

“I think that most peo­ple of con­science will not be able to sup­port Joe Kent, whether he’s the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee or not. And this is the basic point. These are pri­maries we’re talk­ing about. The rea­son Jaime [Her­rera] Beut­ler lost is not because she doesn’t have major­i­ty sup­port in her dis­trict. It’s because Repub­li­cans were split here,” Medved said in an appear­ance on the Gee and Ursu­la Show. “Democ­rats were unit­ed, there was only one Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date, who I believe has to be con­sid­ered the front run­ner right now in that district.”

Medved then point­ed out that the Repub­li­can Par­ty has turned into a cult.

“I find it intense­ly wor­ri­some and very depress­ing that one of our two major par­ties has become a more like a cult of per­son­al­i­ty where basi­cal­ly every­thing is mea­sured, and every­thing is eval­u­at­ed based upon your loy­al­ty to one man.”

While Medved’s obser­va­tion about the Repub­li­can Par­ty is spot on, it’s worth not­ing that Wash­ing­ton State uti­lizes a two part gen­er­al elec­tion rather than a real pri­ma­ry to select can­di­dates for office. If Her­rera Beut­ler did in fact have over­all major­i­ty sup­port in WA-03, she would have sur­vived and advanced to the Top Two, regard­less of the ultra MAGA fac­tion vot­ing for anoth­er candidate.

But she lost because most Repub­li­can vot­ers turned on her and she could­n’t get Demo­c­ra­t­ic sup­port to make up for it. Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers not sur­pris­ing­ly opt­ed for a Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date — Glue­senkamp Perez. It is a sce­nario that the can­di­date has been talk­ing about for months on the trail with any­one who would listen.

Now that sce­nario has come to pass. There’s no incum­bent in this race any­more. By all accounts, inter­est in her can­di­da­cy among Democ­rats is skyrocketing.

So are dona­tions: Glue­senkamp Perez raised more than $600,000 just in August.

Repub­li­cans may scoff at the notion of WA-03 flip­ping this Novem­ber. But Mary Pel­to­la’s win this week in Alas­ka demon­strates that what has long been thought of as Repub­li­can turf can be won by a Demo­c­rat, espe­cial­ly when the Repub­li­cans put up an unap­peal­ing can­di­date. Any­thing is pos­si­ble in politics.

Wednesday, August 31st, 2022

Democratic hopeful and Alaska Native Mary Peltola wins special election for U.S. House

The greater Pacif­ic North­west­’s con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion appears to have just got­ten more diverse and more Democratic!

Today, the Alas­ka Divi­sion of Elec­tions released the final tab­u­la­tions in the state’s spe­cial elec­tion for the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and it turns out that Demo­c­ra­t­ic hope­ful Mary Pel­to­la has pre­vailed over sev­er­al Repub­li­can rivals — includ­ing Sarah Palin! — to fin­ish out the unex­pired term begun by the late Con­gress­man Don Young, who passed away sev­er­al months ago.

Pel­to­la, forty-nine, is the first Alas­ka Native to be elect­ed to Congress.

The results do still have to be cer­ti­fied, but things look sol­id for Pel­to­la. She appears des­tined to become the first fed­er­al offi­cial in Alas­ka to be elect­ed under the state’s new ranked choice vot­ing sys­tem, which allows vot­ers to rank can­di­dates in the order they pre­fer rather than vot­ing for just one candidate.

Here’s how the rank­ing exer­cise played out:

  • In Round One, Repub­li­can Nick Begich got 28.52% of the vote, Repub­li­can Sarah Palin got 31.28% of the vote, and Pel­to­la got 40.20% of the vote. Begich was elim­i­nat­ed because he received the fewest votes.
  • In Round Two, Palin received 48.53% of the vote, while Pel­to­la remained in first place with 51.47% of the vote. Pel­to­la is the vic­tor and Palin is the los­er. Pel­to­la was able to win because some of Begich’s vot­ers pre­ferred her as their next choice over Palin, a mil­i­tant extremist.

Specif­i­cal­ly, 27,042 Begich sup­port­ers’ votes were trans­ferred to Palin, while 15,445 Begich sup­port­ers’ votes were trans­ferred to Peltola.

That left Pel­to­la with 91,206 votes at the end of Round Two, while Palin had 85,987 votes. There were 3,401 blanks, 11,222 exhaust­ed bal­lots, and 342 over­votes, for a non-trans­fer­able total of 14,965.

It is a rare event to be able to report that a Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date has won a statewide elec­tion in The Last Fron­tier. The last time a Demo­c­rat won fed­er­al office in Alas­ka was in 2008, when Mark Begich (anoth­er mem­ber of the Begich fam­i­ly) defeat­ed Ted Stevens for a six year term in the Unit­ed States Senate.

And, as men­tioned, this is the very first time an Alas­ka Native has won an elec­tion for fed­er­al office in the nation’s forty-nine state. It’s a tru­ly his­toric night.

“It is a good day,” Pel­to­la’s cam­paign declared after the results were announced.

“We’ve won tonight, but we’re still going to have to hold this seat in Novem­ber. Donate today to help us make it happen.”

In an ear­li­er tweet, she told back­ers: “When Alaskans work togeth­er, we win. That’s why I know the broad coali­tion we’re build­ing has the real chance of build­ing the momen­tum we need to win in Novem­ber. For the sake of our nat­ur­al resources, our work­ers, and our right to choose, we have to.”

“From the onset of her cam­paign, Mary unabashed­ly artic­u­lat­ed her posi­tions on the issues most impor­tant to Alaskans. We can’t stress enough how deeply her mes­sage res­onat­ed with vot­ers in light of tonight’s elec­tion out­come,” said Alas­ka Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Lind­say Kavanaugh.

“Tonight rep­re­sents a vic­to­ry for democ­ra­cy and Alaskans. We stand behind Con­gress­woman-Elect Pel­to­la as she pre­pares to head to Wash­ing­ton, D.C. and begin her work fight­ing for a bet­ter Alaska.”

“Mary has run a tremen­dous cam­paign and in the process, won over the hearts and minds of Alaskans. She has refused to shy away from her demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues and has been noth­ing less than her authen­tic self,” said ADP Par­ty Chair Michael Wen­strup. “Alaskans have made clear they want a ratio­nal, stead­fast, hon­est, and car­ing voice speak­ing for them in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., not oppor­tunists and extrem­ists asso­ci­at­ed with the Alas­ka Repub­li­can Party.”

As you might expect, Palin isn’t tak­ing the loss well.

She’s already blam­ing RCV for her defeat.

“Ranked-choice vot­ing was sold as the way to make elec­tions bet­ter reflect the will of the peo­ple. As Alas­ka — and Amer­i­ca — now sees, the exact oppo­site is true,” Palin groused. “Though we’re dis­ap­point­ed in this out­come, Alaskans know I’m the last one who’ll ever retreat. Instead, I’m going to reload.”

Begich, mean­while, declared that the out­come shows Palin is a weak candidate.

“The biggest les­son as we move into the 2022 Gen­er­al Elec­tion, is that ranked choice vot­ing showed that a vote for Sarah Palin is in real­i­ty a vote for Mary Pel­to­la. Palin sim­ply doesn’t have enough sup­port from Alaskans to win an elec­tion,” said Begich. “As we look for­ward to the Novem­ber elec­tion, I will work hard to earn the vote of Alaskans all across the state.”

Begich’s com­ments refer to the upcom­ing vote for this same office for a full two-year term. What Pel­to­la has just won is an unex­pired term last­ing a few weeks. She’ll only be in office until Jan­u­ary unless she can con­vince Alaskans to retain her in the quick­ly approach­ing gen­er­al elec­tion to decide the com­po­si­tion of the next Con­gress, which will be seat­ed right after the new year.

The next time we pub­lish a House roll call vote here on The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, we’ll be able to include the vote cast by Mary Pel­to­la. How about that!

This tru­ly is a his­toric night for Alas­ka, the Pacif­ic North­west, and the country.

Friday, August 26th, 2022

Patty Murray is currently the highest-rated elected official in King County, NPI poll finds

Vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State’s largest coun­ty are pret­ty hap­py with the job per­for­mance of their Demo­c­ra­t­ic elect­ed offi­cials at the fed­er­al, state, and local lev­els, with Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion get­ting the high­est marks over­all, a poll recent­ly con­duct­ed for NPI across all of King Coun­ty has found.

64% of 2022 like­ly King Coun­ty vot­ers sur­veyed said they approved of Mur­ray’s job per­for­mance, while 26% dis­ap­proved. 9% were not sure.

That com­pares to 65% approval / 31% dis­ap­proval rat­ing for Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee, the state’s chief exec­u­tive, who was elect­ed to a third term in 2020.

While Inslee’s approval per­cent­age is as strong as Mur­ray’s, Mur­ray’s net approval (approval minus dis­ap­proval) is four points bet­ter… 38%, to Inslee’s 34%.

That makes Mur­ray the high­est-rat­ed elect­ed offi­cial in the sur­vey, which field­ed from July 22nd until the begin­ning of this month (August 1st).

Also rat­ed in the poll were Pres­i­dent Joe Biden, Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris, Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands Hilary Franz, King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine, King Coun­ty Elec­tions Direc­tor Julie Wise, and King Coun­ty Asses­sor John Wilson.

Every offi­cial was in pos­i­tive ter­ri­to­ry, as you can see from the answers below:

QUESTION: Please indi­cate whether you approve or dis­ap­prove of the fol­low­ing elect­ed offi­cials’ job performance.

ANSWERS: 

Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray (Net: 38%)

  • Approve: 64%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 26%
  • Not sure: 9%

Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee (Net: 34%)

  • Approve: 65%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 31%
  • Not sure: 4%

Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell (Net: 34%)

  • Approve: 59%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 25%
  • Not sure: 16%

King Coun­ty Elec­tions Direc­tor Julie Wise (Net: 30%)

  • Approve: 43%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 13%
  • Not sure: 44%

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son (Net: 28%)

  • Approve: 52%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 24%
  • Not sure: 24%

King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine (Net: 24%)

  • Approve: 50%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 26%
  • Not sure: 24%

Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands Hilary Franz (Net: 21%)

  • Approve: 36%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 15%
  • Not sure: 49%

Pres­i­dent Joe Biden (Net: 18%)

  • Approve: 57%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 39%
  • Not sure: 4%

Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris (Net: 14%)

  • Approve: 53%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 39%
  • Not sure: 8%

King Coun­ty Asses­sor John Wil­son (Net: 10%)

  • Approve: 26%
  • Dis­ap­prove: 16%
  • Not sure: 58%

Our sur­vey of 687 like­ly 2022 King Coun­ty gen­er­al elec­tion vot­ers was in the field from Fri­day, July 22nd until Tues­day, August 1st, 2022.

The poll was con­duct­ed entire­ly online for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute by Change Research. The poll has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.0%.

Fol­low this link if you’re inter­est­ed in a detailed primer on the survey’s method­ol­o­gy along with infor­ma­tion about who took the poll.

Although Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Coun­ty is one of the most Demo­c­ra­t­ic juris­dic­tions in the whole coun­try, these find­ings are nonethe­less sig­nif­i­cant. They nice­ly aug­ment the results of the recent Top Two elec­tion in demon­strat­ing that vot­ers pre­fer con­tin­ued Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nance to a Repub­li­can takeover.

As reg­u­lar read­ers are like­ly aware, Repub­li­cans have spo­ken of 2022 repeat­ed­ly as the Year of the Red Tsuna­mi. That includes not only nation­al Repub­li­cans, but local ones, too. The likes of Tim Eyman, Bri­an Hey­wood, and Caleb Heim­lich have glee­ful­ly fan­ta­sized about the prospect of Repub­li­cans gain­ing majori­ties in not one but both cham­bers of the Legislature.

For that to hap­pen, though, they’d need to be able to win in sub­ur­ban leg­isla­tive dis­tricts like the 30th and 47th, which are most­ly locat­ed in… King County.

And as the just-cer­ti­fied Top Two elec­tion results show, vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State’s biggest pop­u­la­tion cen­ter sim­ply aren’t inter­est­ed in dump­ing their Demo­c­ra­t­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tion and join­ing up with the Par­ty of Trump.

Vot­ers in King Coun­ty can see that their Demo­c­ra­t­ic U.S. sen­a­tors are part of a razor slim major­i­ty that has suc­cess­ful­ly deliv­ered the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan, the Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Sci­ence Act, the Hon­or­ing Our PACT Act for vet­er­ans, a long over­due postal reform bill, the ground­break­ing cli­mate and health focused Infla­tion Reduc­tion Act, and the con­fir­ma­tion of the most diverse slate of judges ever to be nom­i­nat­ed to the fed­er­al bench, includ­ing new U.S. Supreme Court Jus­tice Ketan­ji Brown Jackson.

In a field of eigh­teen can­di­dates for Unit­ed States Sen­ate this month, a whop­ping 70.09% of King Coun­ty vot­ers this month backed Pat­ty Mur­ray. Tiffany Smi­ley did­n’t even crack twen­ty per­cent coun­ty­wide in the Top Two election.

So long as Mur­ray keeps Smi­ley at bay in big swing coun­ties like Sno­homish, Pierce, Kit­sap, and What­com, she will be on track to eas­i­ly win anoth­er term thanks to the mas­sive lev­el of sup­port she enjoys in King County.

Our team sees no fea­si­ble path to vic­to­ry for Smi­ley right now. That does­n’t mean Smi­ley is cer­tain to lose — any­thing can hap­pen in pol­i­tics — but there would have to be a polit­i­cal earth­quake to cre­ate an open­ing for Smiley.

There used to be a time — and it was­n’t even that long ago — when Repub­li­cans were com­pet­i­tive in King Coun­ty. Vot­ers once entrust­ed gov­er­nance of the coun­ty to Repub­li­cans like John Spell­man and Louise Miller. (Exec­u­tive Spell­man notably went on to become the last Repub­li­can to win the gov­er­nor­ship, in 1980.)

Those days are over. Repub­li­cans have almost com­plete­ly for­feit­ed the are­na of King Coun­ty pol­i­tics to the Democ­rats. Not a sin­gle Repub­li­can holds coun­ty­wide office any­more, or rep­re­sents the coun­ty in Con­gress. No leg­isla­tive dis­trict with a major­i­ty of its precincts in King Coun­ty has Repub­li­can rep­re­sen­ta­tion. It is not uncom­mon to see two Democ­rats fac­ing off in con­tests in King Coun­ty, as was the case last year when Joe Nugyen chal­lenged Dow Con­stan­tine for Executive.

It is nev­er­the­less pos­si­ble to win statewide while los­ing King Coun­ty, as for­mer Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State Kim Wyman demon­strat­ed three times.

But for Slade Gor­ton’s “boa con­stric­tor strat­e­gy” to work, a Repub­li­can can­di­date like Smi­ley needs to be able to appeal to at least some of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic-lean­ing vot­ers in King Coun­ty. That’s impor­tant to build­ing a statewide major­i­ty of vot­ers. Even peel­ing off just a few vot­ers in King Coun­ty can make a difference.

Wyman, for exam­ple, out­per­formed guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Rob McKen­na in 2012 in King Coun­ty. He got 37.64% of the vote; she got 39.05%. (Wyman eked out a nar­row vic­to­ry that year over Demo­c­ra­t­ic rival Kath­leen Drew.) Wyman also out­per­formed Bill Bryant in 2016, get­ting 41.3% while Bryant got 32.15%.

It is hard to see Tiffany Smi­ley even equal­ing Bryan­t’s per­for­mance this fall.

Repub­li­cans have tout­ed Smi­ley as a per­fect foil for Mur­ray, but aside from rais­ing a lot of mon­ey, her cam­paign has fall­en com­plete­ly flat, with a huge empha­sis on boil­er­plate in cam­paign mate­ri­als and inef­fec­tive cri­tiques based pri­mar­i­ly on the longevi­ty of Mur­ray’s length of ser­vice in office. Mur­ray’s cam­paign, mean­while, has made sure vot­ers know that Smi­ley is opposed to repro­duc­tive rights and would put Mitch McConnell back in charge of the Unit­ed States Senate.

No inde­pen­dent pub­lic poll has shown Smi­ley close to Mur­ray, let alone ahead.

Our research sug­gests a slight­ly clos­er race than either Crosscut/Elway or Sur­veyUSA and its part­ners, prompt­ing right wing talk show host Jason Rantz to recent­ly cite our polling on-air when pro­mot­ing Smi­ley’s candidacy.

Rantz neglect­ed to men­tion, of course, that we have con­sis­tent­ly assessed that Tiffany Smi­ley is not putting Wash­ing­ton in play for the Repub­li­cans every sin­gle time we’ve released one of our U.S. Sen­ate poll findings.

Even if Smi­ley were run­ning the best pos­si­ble cam­paign Wash­ing­to­ni­ans have seen from a Repub­li­can in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry, she’d still have to con­tend with Mur­ray’s advan­tage in King Coun­ty. As today’s polling release shows, vot­ers here are not vot­ing for Mur­ray reluc­tant­ly. More than three in five have a pos­i­tive view of Mur­ray’s job per­for­mance, and Mur­ray has a bet­ter net job per­for­mance rat­ing than any oth­er high pro­file elect­ed offi­cial around. That is a key rea­son why Mur­ray is well posi­tioned to eas­i­ly pre­vail over Smi­ley this autumn.

Thursday, August 25th, 2022

“For the benefit and enjoyment of all of the people”: Denali-inspired reflections on the necessity of conservation’s future in Alaska

The cre­ation and expan­sion of nation­al parks in Alas­ka drew howls from the state’s polit­i­cal lead­ers dur­ing the lead-up to the Alas­ka Nation­al Inter­ests Lands Con­ser­va­tion Act of 1980 (ANILCA). Park­lands would become a domain of “the effete rich,” snarled the late Sen­a­tor Ted Stevens, R‑Alaska, with mil­lions of acres giv­en over to what recent­ly deceased Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Don Young, R‑Alaska, described as “jet-set­ting hip­pie backpackers.”

Min­ers, log­gers and oil com­pa­nies want­ed pub­lic lands of the 49th State for pri­vate exploita­tion with­out restraint. They failed to com­pre­hend a com­pet­ing val­ue. As put by Franklin D. Roo­sevelt: “There is noth­ing so Amer­i­can as our nation­al parks. The scenery and wildlife are native and the fun­da­men­tal idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the coun­try belongs to its people.”

Amer­i­cans, of all ages and back­grounds and in num­bers far beyond expec­ta­tions, have “dis­cov­ered” places pro­tect­ed by ANILCA.

South­east Alas­ka was once dri­ven by two giant pulp mills in Sit­ka and Ketchikan, with a third planned in Juneau. The mills are long gone. In 2019, the last pre-pan­dem­ic year, the econ­o­my was dri­ven by 1.3 mil­lion cruise ship pas­sen­gers, as well as fish­ing vis­its to Sit­ka and bear-watch­ing ven­tures to Admi­ral­ty Island.

Bumper stick­ers read­ing “Sier­ra Club: Kiss my Axe” sprout­ed in the coastal town of Seward, which resist­ed cre­ation of Kenai Fjords Nation­al Parks. The local econ­o­my has boomed as boat­loads of vis­i­tors head out to wit­ness marine mam­mals, tide­wa­ter glac­i­ers and a fas­ci­nat­ing array of bird life. Such was the new pros­per­i­ty that the city coun­cil rescind­ed its anti-ANIL­CA resolution.

We head­ed this month for Denali Nation­al Park, a Con­necti­cut-sized park and pre­serve cen­tered on the high­est moun­tain in North America.

Sunrise over Denali and the Alaska Range, shown with an inset of the park map

Nine­ty miles west of the park entrance is the Won­der Lake / Kan­tish­na area — the heart of Denali Nation­al Park. For­mer­ly acces­si­ble by the now-sev­ered Park Road, the area offers stun­ning views of the Alas­ka Range and Mount Denali, includ­ing the sun­rise depict­ed in this image. (Pho­tog­ra­phy by Andrew Vil­leneuve; graph­ics by the Nation­al Park Ser­vice’s Harpers Fer­ry Cen­ter, which cre­ates the icon­ic maps for the NPS’ park brochures.)

Sev­en years ago, Pres­i­dent Oba­ma rid the 20,320-foot peak of the name “Mount McKin­ley” and for­mal­ized its native name mean­ing “the high one.”

The remote Camp Denali retreat and nature cen­ter became more remote in August of 2021. Melt­ing per­mafrost on a cliff face called Pret­ty Rocks forced clo­sure at the 43-mile point of the restrict­ed nine­ty-two-mile-long most­ly grav­el road into the park. The closed por­tion of road is now a path­way for cari­bou escap­ing the muskeg and wolves seek­ing prey.

“Pret­ty Rocks is the poster child for melt­ing per­mafrost,” said Camp Denali co-own­er Simon Hamm, in an inter­view. “Over a decade, it melt­ed a cou­ple inch­es a year, then sev­er­al inch­es a month, and then sev­er­al inch­es a week.”

Until a bridge is built over the sink­ing slope – esti­mat­ed costs, up to $75 mil­lion — Camp Denali guests must be flown in, along with sup­plies for an oper­a­tion found­ed more than sev­en­ty years ago by pio­neer women bush pilots and Alas­ka con­ser­va­tion­ists Celia Hunter and Gin­ny Wood.

Pretty Rocks slide: An aerial view, August 2022

A close­up view of the Pret­ty Rocks slide, glimpsed from the air dur­ing a mid-August flight over the park. The slide prompt­ed the indef­i­nite clo­sure of the Park Road beyond the East Fork Riv­er on August 24th, 2021. (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Our fel­low trav­el­ers sure didn’t meet the stereo­types of Ted Stevens and Don Young. We had three gen­er­a­tions of one fam­i­ly, din­ing com­pan­ions from the Mid­west and South, and a fel­low from Switzer­land: just an array of folks who dreamed of an Alas­ka adven­ture while liv­ing inter­est­ing lives.

We sure did get one.

Dur­ing one for­ay out into the near­by Tok­lat Riv­er val­ley, we encoun­tered no few­er than sev­en griz­zly bears. The bears were inhal­ing berries to fat­ten up for win­ter hiber­na­tion. The griz­zlies of Denali do not feast on salmon like their dis­tant kin­folk in Kat­mai Nation­al Park. They run 300–500 pounds, less than half the size of the bru­ins at Kat­mai or along the Cop­per Riv­er in Wrangell-St. Elias Nation­al Park.

A Denali grizzly bear

A mature female griz­zly bear takes a break from eat­ing berries in Denali Nation­al Park and Pre­serve to gaze at her sur­round­ings (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

The east end of Denali Park is get­ting a lit­tle crowd­ed dur­ing the three-month sum­mer sea­son. It’ll like­ly reach the pre-pan­dem­ic lev­el of 600,000 visitors.

Tour bus­es, going out on the open part of the park road, are crowded.

Com­mer­cial oper­a­tions take raft par­ties through the canyon of the Nenana Riv­er. Alas­ka native cor­po­ra­tions are own­ers and part­ners in tour oper­a­tions and in the Grande Denali and Denali Bluffs hotels.

I heard a lot of non­sense while report­ing ANILCA for the Seat­tle Post-Intel­li­gencer. The U.S. For­est Ser­vice claimed it was “devel­op­ing” South­east Alas­ka in build­ing log­ging roads where the return was five cents on the dollar.

And sell­ing eight hun­dred year-old trees for the price of a Big Mac.

Cari­bou alleged­ly loved pipelines. In words of Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush: “You’ve got to shake them away with a stick. They’re all mak­ing love lying up against the pipeline and you got thou­sands of cari­bou up there.”

The forces that fought ANILCA are still around. They were thwart­ed by sup­port for pro­tect­ing what U.S. Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Cecil Andrus described as “the crown jew­els” of Alas­ka. But devel­op­ment schemes run deep, even if they run dry.

The sug­ges­tion here: If you love the wild Alas­ka, if you appre­ci­ate its parks and wilder­ness, do some­thing to defend it. Here are some points of involvement:

The Peb­ble Mine: A Van­cou­ver-based min­ing com­pa­ny is still pur­su­ing plans to cre­ate a mas­sive open pit cop­per and gold mine between two of Bris­tol Bay’s main salmon spawn­ing streams. Bris­tol Bay sup­ports the world’s great­est salmon fish­ery, with a return this year of 78 mil­lion sockeye.

Under a strat­e­gy first per­fect­ed by Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell, D‑Washington, and the EPA, the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion is seek­ing to block the project as a (mas­sive) vio­la­tion of the Clean Water Act.

Big min­ing com­pa­nies, Anglo-Amer­i­can and Rio Tin­to, long ago pulled out, but pro­mot­ers claimed this month to have found anoth­er deep pock­et­ed investor.

The pro­posed mine is between two “crown jew­els”, Kat­mai and Lake Clark Nation­al Parks. If you val­ue salmon and wild­ness, write to your lawmaker.

Our eco­nom­ic stakes? Thou­sands of North­west­ern­ers fish in Bris­tol Bay, or work in its can­ner­ies, or par­tic­i­pate in its sports fishery.

The Arc­tic Refuge: A back­door pro­vi­sion in Repub­li­cans’ 2017 tax give­away to the wealthy opened the Coastal Plain of the nine­teen mil­lion-acre Refuge to oil and gas leas­ing. The Plain is the unspoiled, majes­tic, and wild calv­ing grounds for the 100,000-plus ani­mals of the Por­cu­pine Cari­bou Herd.

The Trump regime sought to sell leas­es with­in days of leav­ing office. With an eye to pub­lic opin­ion, and the eco­nom­ics of Arc­tic devel­op­ment, big oil com­pa­nies bailed out. The Biden admin­is­tra­tion is admin­is­tra­tive­ly work­ing to stop oil drilling. Repub­li­cans in Con­gress have tak­en up Sarah Palin’s old slo­gan: “Drill, baby, drill.”

The Wil­low Project: Cono­coPhillips has a major oil devel­op­ment pro­posed on the North Slope, just west of Prud­hoe Bay. It would boost Alaska’s petro econ­o­my at a time when Prud­hoe Bay pro­jec­tion is on the decline. Cono­coPhillips is even pledg­ing mea­sures to keep per­mafrost from melt­ing, and to min­i­mize its footprint.

The down­side: Arc­tic Alas­ka is warn­ing faster than any oth­er place on the plan­et. The Arc­tic icepack is shrink­ing, endan­ger­ing polar bears. Bering Sea storms pum­mel coastal vil­lages with­out pro­tec­tion of the ice. Melt­ing per­mafrost is releas­ing methane, a lethal green­house gas, into the atmosphere.

The Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion faces a final deci­sion on Willow.

A recent envi­ron­men­tal impact state­ment hints at approval. The project is cham­pi­oned by Sen­a­tor Lisa Murkows­ki, R‑Alaska.

Ton­gass Nation­al For­est: At six­teen mil­lion acres, the Ton­gass in South­east Alas­ka is America’s largest nation­al forest.

It is the world’s largest intact tem­per­ate rain­for­est, a major source of car­bon diox­ide seques­tra­tion and sus­tain­er of salmon runs.

A road­less rule, enact­ed by the Clin­ton Admin­is­tra­tion, stopped the log­ging of val­ley-bot­tom old growth forests, keys to the ecosys­tem of the Ton­gass. The indus­try rav­aged these trees in days gone by, par­tic­u­lar­ly on Prince of Wales Island. Ancient cathe­dral trees were used to make pulp. The Trump regime sought uni­lat­er­al­ly to repeal the rule. Pres­i­dent Biden is pledged to its restoration.

The Denali Park road: The cost will be steep, and there’s an allure to let­ting ani­mals use the road. Still, pub­lic pres­sure was key to the 1980 act that tripled the size of Denali Nation­al Park and Pre­serve to 6 mil­lion acres.

The west end of the road is where you can see Mount Denali in all its glo­ry, with the 14,000’ high Wick­er­sham Wall in your face.

Ansel Adams took a sem­i­nal pho­to of Denali from above Won­der Lake, where NPI’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Andrew Vil­leneuve was tak­ing one of the pho­tos that accom­pa­nies this piece with a set of pro lens­es made by Olympus.

Mount Denali and the Alaska Range, reflected in Reflection Pond

A world-famous view: Mount Denali and the Alas­ka Range, reflect­ed in the waters of Reflec­tion Pond (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Film­ing his PBS series on nation­al parks, doc­u­men­tary film­mak­er Ken Burns expe­ri­enced (in his words) a “super holy $#!& moment” watch­ing the Alas­ka Range bathed in late day gold­en sun­light. Such expe­ri­ences sus­tain the park expe­ri­ence — an expe­ri­ence that Amer­i­ca gave the world.

Above all, cli­mate dam­age is strik­ing quick­ly in the north. It is a threat to earth, water, ice and ecosys­tems. We ignore it at our per­il, and par­tic­u­lar­ly the per­il it will post to the next and future generations.

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2022

NPI at Netroots Nation 2022: Talking smart campaign strategies with Stephanie Taylor

Wel­come to the third install­ment of NPI at Net­roots Nation, a spe­cial lim­it­ed pod­cast series record­ed live from the David L. Lawrence Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Pitts­burgh. NPI staff jour­neyed to Steel City this past week to par­tic­i­pate in the nation’s largest annu­al gath­er­ing of pro­gres­sive activists.

As part of our con­fer­ence cov­er­age, we’re bring­ing you a series of con­ver­sa­tions with key move­ment lead­ers and elect­ed officials.

In this install­ment of NPI@NN, we’re hon­ored to be joined by Stephanie Tay­lor, co-founder of the Pro­gres­sive Change Cam­paign Com­mit­tee. Press play below to lis­ten to the audio, or read the tran­script below.

Listen

Read the transcript

(Note: this tran­script has been edit­ed light­ly for clarity) 

CAYA: Wel­come to NPI at Net­roots Nation 2022, a spe­cial lim­it­ed pod­cast series from the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, record­ed live from the David L. Lawrence Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Pitts­burgh, Penn­syl­va­nia! I’m your host, Caya Berndt. We’re so glad to have you with us. For this install­ment, we are excit­ed to be joined by Stephanie Tay­lor, the Co-Founder of The Pro­gres­sive Change Cam­paign Com­mit­tee. Welcome!

STEPHANIE: Thank you so much.

CAYA: Stephanie, just to start us out, would you mind telling us a lit­tle bit about your­self, your orga­ni­za­tion, and what you do?

STEPHANIE: Absolute­ly. So, the Pro­gres­sive Change Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, we have a mil­lion mem­bers nation­al­ly, and we sup­port can­di­dates who are run­ning for office. Our mantra is “change the world by chang­ing who holds power.”

We work with can­di­dates… mak­ing sure that they have every­thing they need to run a best-prac­tices cam­paign and win. So we do every­thing from fundrais­ing, to plug­ging in our mem­bers as vol­un­teers, to train­ings, to send­ing “Get Out the Vote” emails, to every­thing in between.

We actu­al­ly have tech­nol­o­gy that we’ve devel­oped, that’s a cam­paign in a box, that allows our can­di­dates to set up their own web­site, run their own email list, design their own direct mail…. basi­cal­ly mak­ing sure that these great activists who are run­ning for school board and state leg and city coun­cil can have a best-prac­tices cam­paign going from Day One.

So that’s very much the work of the Pro­gres­sive Change Cam­paign Committee.

CAYA: That’s fan­tas­tic. Do you seek out can­di­dates, or are they more like­ly to come to you?

STEPHANIE: It’s a lit­tle of both. We also have done… Pre-pan­dem­ic, we used to have four hun­dred can­di­dates at a time that we would bring togeth­er for four-day boot camps where we’d even do things like design their logos, take their head­shots. We can’t wait to get those back to those boot camps!

CAYA: You know, the pan­dem­ic has changed a lot about… I think it’s changed a lot about how can­di­dates are run­ning their cam­paigns. Like, for exam­ple, old fash­ioned meth­ods like door­belling became more fraught for some peo­ple. How has the pan­dem­ic changed how you’re able to sup­port can­di­dates on the ballot?

STEPHANIE: That’s a great question.

I think that you’ve def­i­nite­ly seen a rise in more vir­tu­al cam­paign­ing, more folks who are try­ing to reach out and con­nect with vot­ers through social media, through Insta­gram Live and through Zoom calls, and things like that.

But I also think it’s changed the sub­stance of our pol­i­tics, not always for the best. Now, you’ve seen a real rise in the right-wing dis­in­for­ma­tion sphere.

You’ve seen a huge rise in peo­ple being online all day and there­fore get­ting their pol­i­tics, and get­ting their polit­i­cal con­tent, through right wing memes and through a lot of the dis­in­for­ma­tion that’s circulating.

So I think that it’s been a two-edged sword that we’ve seen.

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Monday, August 22nd, 2022

NPI at Netroots Nation 2022: Talking abortion rights and disability justice with Cori Frazer

Wel­come to our sec­ond install­ment of NPI at Net­roots Nation, a spe­cial lim­it­ed pod­cast series record­ed live from the David L. Lawrence Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Pitts­burgh. NPI staff jour­neyed to Steel City this past week to par­tic­i­pate in the nation’s largest annu­al gath­er­ing of pro­gres­sive activists.

As part of our con­fer­ence cov­er­age, we’re bring­ing you a series of con­ver­sa­tions with key move­ment lead­ers and elect­ed officials.

In this install­ment of NPI@NN, we’re hon­ored to be joined by Cori Fraz­er, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor at the Pitts­burgh Cen­ter for Autis­tic Advo­ca­cy. Press play below to lis­ten to the audio, or read the tran­script below.

Listen

Read the transcript

(Note: this tran­script has been edit­ed light­ly for clarity) 

CAYA: Wel­come to NPI at Net­roots Nation ‘22, a spe­cial lim­it­ed pod­cast series from the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute record­ed live from the David L. Lawrence Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Pitts­burgh, Penn­syl­va­nia! I’m your host, Caya Berndt. We are so glad to have you with us again. For this install­ment, we are excit­ed to be joined by Cori Fraz­er from the Pitts­burgh Cen­ter for Autis­tic Advocacy. 

Wel­come to the pod­cast, Cori! 

CORI: Thank you Caya.

CAYA: Would you mind start­ing by telling our lis­ten­ers… tell us about who you are and what you do? 

CORI: I’m Cori Fraz­er; my pro­nouns are they/them. I am a mul­ti­ply dis­abled, non-bina­ry licensed social work­er here in Penn­syl­va­nia. I am the co-founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Pitts­burgh Cen­ter for Autis­tic Advocacy. 

I do a lot of work both local­ly, statewide, and nation­al­ly, to address dis­par­i­ties faced by peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, par­tic­u­lar­ly neu­ro­di­ver­gent peo­ple, but we have worked with any dis­abled per­son who needs basi­cal­ly any kind of sup­port. If we can fig­ure out how to do it, we try and make it happen.

I also do con­sult­ing work, jus­tice work, and work with researchers and school dis­tricts. How­ev­er we can use mutu­al aid and crit­i­cal and rad­i­cal social work, and jus­tice frame­works to make the world a more sur­viv­able place for dis­abled folks, we try to do it. 

CAYA: What led you into your own advo­ca­cy jour­ney? How did you get start­ed on this path? 

CORI: I often say the first action that I led was a Day of Silence back in maybe 2007 or 2008 in my rur­al con­ser­v­a­tive high school. I was a queer kid, I came out when I was like six­teen, and in a place where peo­ple weren’t queer, that’s obvi­ous­ly never…

CAYA: That’s nev­er a fun time.

CORI: So, you know. I fig­ured it out because things weren’t right. And I don’t like it when things aren’t okay and peo­ple are being hurt. 

And I kind of… I moved away. I moved to Pitts­burgh for col­lege and got involved with work with Planned Par­ent­hood. My first year of col­lege was also the year that Occu­py hap­pened here in Pitts­burgh. I was very involved with cam­pus wom­en’s orga­ni­za­tion at col­lege. I still iden­ti­fied as a girl. I did a lot of work, sort of around sex­u­al assault on cam­pus­es… and I don’t know, a lot of dif­fer­ent issues that came up in my life around trans rights. 

When the Uni­ver­si­ty of Pitts­burgh was being sued for expelling a trans stu­dent for using the wrong lock­er room, and they had this pol­i­cy where trans folks were sup­posed to present their birth cer­tifi­cate to use the bath­room, like…. I don’t know. My lived expe­ri­ence led me to be involved in a lot of things. 

And then, right after col­lege, I was diag­nosed with autism. 

I real­ly was­n’t in a posi­tion to work in the main­stream work­force. It was­n’t some­thing, with my dis­abil­i­ty, that I was real­ly able to handle.

And com­ing at that from the same kind of per­spec­tive, think­ing about pow­er and oppres­sion, I start­ed work­ing with the autis­tic self-advo­ca­cy net­work to do work here, and as they moved away from a chap­ter mod­el, I moved into lead­ing my own orga­ni­za­tion. Well, I say mine, but it’s ours. Our com­mu­ni­ty’s orga­ni­za­tion to real­ly give autis­tic peo­ple self-deter­mi­na­tion and a voice here in Pittsburgh. 

Read More »

Sunday, August 21st, 2022

NPI at Netroots Nation 2022: Talking media and movement history with Markos Moulitsas

Wel­come to the inau­gur­al install­ment of NPI at Net­roots Nation, a spe­cial lim­it­ed pod­cast series record­ed live from the David L. Lawrence Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Pitts­burgh. NPI staff jour­neyed to Steel City this past week to par­tic­i­pate in the nation’s largest annu­al gath­er­ing of pro­gres­sive activists.

As part of our con­fer­ence cov­er­age, we’re bring­ing you a series of con­ver­sa­tions with key move­ment lead­ers and elect­ed officials.

In this inau­gur­al install­ment of NPI@NN, we’re hon­ored to be joined by Markos Moulit­sas, the founder of Dai­ly Kos, which pub­lish­es news you can do some­thing about. Press play below to lis­ten to the audio, or read the tran­script below.

Listen

Read the transcript

(Note: this tran­script has been edit­ed light­ly for clarity) 

CAYA: Wel­come to NPI at Net­roots Nation 2022, a spe­cial lim­it­ed pod­cast series from the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute from the David L. Lawrence Con­ven­tion cen­ter in Pitts­burgh. I am your host, Caya Berndt. We are glad to have you with us for this install­ment. We are thrilled to be joined by Markos Moulit­sas, founder of the Dai­ly Kos! How are you doing, Markos?

MARKOS: Doing great. Thank you very much.

CAYA: Great, I’m real­ly glad to hear that! So just to start this off, would you mind telling our lis­ten­ers a lit­tle bit about your­self, your orga­ni­za­tion and what you do?

MARKOS: So I am the founder of Dai­ly Kos. I start­ed that twen­ty years ago. This is the twen­ti­eth year anniversary.

CAYA: Hap­py anniversary!

MARKOS: A big land­mark, for sure! And, we all got old­er some­how. I don’t know if that was to be expect­ed, but appar­ent­ly did­n’t have a choice. So twen­ty years ago, we start­ed this in a world where – and by start­ing this, I start­ed just blog­ging on a dinky lit­tle blog – it was 2002, and there was frus­tra­tion in the pro­gres­sive world because all the media voic­es were conservative.

Fox News was ascen­dant, Rush Lim­baugh dom­i­nat­ed the air­waves, the radio air­waves. There were no lib­er­al voic­es. There was a show on Fox News called Alan and Colmes — sor­ry, Colmes and Han­ni­ty. Colmes and Hannity.

Alan Colmes was the lib­er­al; Sean Han­ni­ty, which we know today, was a con­ser­v­a­tive. And Alan Colmes was your stereo­typ­i­cal wee­nie lib­er­al who just got beat up by Sean Han­ni­ty. It was designed to make lib­er­als look bad.

And so this was the envi­ron­ment in the rise of George Bush’s [pres­i­den­cy] after he basi­cal­ly stole the elec­tion. And then you have the war­mon­ger­ing towards Iraq and Sep­tem­ber 11th hap­pens, and you use that as an excuse to launch an inva­sion against an unre­lat­ed mat­ter, just because Bush Jr. want­ed to, I don’t know, set­tle a score with Sad­dam Hus­sein from his dad’s presidency.

I mean, it was just this crazy world and there were no lib­er­al voic­es. And you even had Joe Klein, [who] was a con­ser­v­a­tive colum­nist in Time Mag­a­zine, and he wrote some­thing – and he was sup­posed to be the lib­er­al! — and he wrote some­thing like “all right-think­ing peo­ple know that Sad­dam Hus­sein has weapons of mass destruction.”

And then there were peo­ple like me say­ing, “Well, we haven’t seen any of the so-called evi­dence. They can’t tell us that there is such evi­dence and what they show us is clear­ly not evi­dence. So, no, this is not quite right. And so, I like to say that there’s a mar­ket need for strong, pro­gres­sive, unapolo­getic, lib­er­al voices.

That’s what Dai­ly Kos sort of sprung out of.

And… what was it? It was 2002. So, just four years lat­er, a bunch of the com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers decid­ed they want­ed to meet offline. And that’s not my world — there’s a rea­son I’m a blog­ger. I’m not real­ly com­fort­able in pub­lic set­tings. But a bunch of the com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers want­ed to meet in public.

And that’s what birthed the first Year­lyKos, which became Net­roots Nation a few years after that [after the sec­ond con­ven­tion in 2007]. So it was the sort of col­lec­tive envi­ron­ment gath­er­ing of lib­er­als that did­n’t have a home in those ear­ly — not ear­ly days rel­a­tive to the world — but ear­ly days of this polit­i­cal era.

That’s the birth of what is now Net­roots Nation, and it real­ly fueled the use of online tools for polit­i­cal activism and polit­i­cal cam­paign­ing that is pret­ty nor­mal today.

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Saturday, August 20th, 2022

Netroots Nation 2022 — Day 3 — Featured Panel: Post-Roe Does Not Mean Post-Abortion

“Every move­ment can be tracked back to the impor­tance of abor­tion access,” said Lizz Win­stead of the Abor­tion Access Front. This was the cen­tral theme of Sat­ur­day morn­ing’s Net­roots Nation pan­el titled: Post-Roe Doesn’t Mean Post Abortion…If You Step Up. This pan­el also includ­ed Cece Caru­so from Plan C Pills, Tara Murtha from the Women’s Law Project, Lara Chilean from North­land Fam­i­ly Plan­ning, and Kristin Hady from Abor­tion Access Front.

Tara Murtha addressed this issue as well, not­ing that abor­tion access has been strate­gi­cal­ly iso­lat­ed on all sides: the pro­ce­dure being iso­lat­ed from hos­pi­tals, the move­ment stig­ma­tized in the broad­er pro­gres­sive move­ment, and racism with­in the repro­duc­tive free­dom move­ment per­pet­u­at­ing this iso­la­tion. Murtha cit­ed mass incar­cer­a­tion and LGBTQIA+ rights as two addi­tion­al areas that clear­ly lead one back to the need for abor­tion jus­tice.

For these rea­sons, pro­gres­sives need to have very open con­ver­sa­tions about abor­tion. Lizz Win­stead said that if you can­not say abor­tion, if you can­not talk about abor­tion, the peo­ple in your com­mu­ni­ty who have had them will not trust you with their sto­ry. She notes that if you do not know many peo­ple who have had abor­tions, this could eas­i­ly be the issue.

Murtha also talked about the need to call out pro­gres­sive rep­re­sen­ta­tives and can­di­dates who oppose abor­tion but avoid tak­ing a posi­tion. Peo­ple need to know where their law­mak­ers stand, mak­ing it very impor­tant to pub­li­cize abor­tion stances or the refusal to offer one. Murtha tasked advo­cates to “…make life hard for your local politi­cian.” This means mak­ing phone calls and vis­it­ing gov­ern­ment offices to demand meet­ings and demand the space to share your sto­ry before state leg­is­la­tures.

Cece Caru­so point­ed out the active nature this kind of advo­ca­cy demands: “It’s always ‘vot­ing and’ not ‘vot­ing just.’” Vot­ing just rhetoric tends to be per­pet­u­at­ed by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, which Caru­so believes to be extreme­ly prob­lem­at­ic. Their call to action in response to this is to per­sis­tent­ly “agi­tate” both con­ser­v­a­tives and pro­gres­sives to “…remem­ber who they rep­re­sent and who they work for.”

Caruso’s work at Plan C Pills includes pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion and resources for self-man­aged abor­tions, a par­tic­u­lar­ly con­tro­ver­sial form of abor­tion access. They addressed the need to be care­ful about this option’s legal­i­ty and risk, but also pur­sue it as a viable option for peo­ple in abor­tion care desserts with­out the abil­i­ty to trav­el. As areas where abor­tion care is inac­ces­si­ble grows, the group of peo­ple this ser­vice can ben­e­fit increase.

A siz­able por­tion of this pan­el focused on what the peo­ple can do now to help abor­tion providers and sup­port the move­ment. All pan­elists gen­er­al­ly agreed on the ben­e­fit of ask­ing cur­rent­ly exist­ing providers which areas they need the most help in. Lara Chilean encour­aged advo­cates to avoid self-start­ing move­ments with­out con­sult­ing abor­tion providers in the area — for exam­ple, counter-protest­ing out­side of clin­ics with­out ask­ing first. She said that this is often harm­ful and has the poten­tial to cre­ate a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion for peo­ple seek­ing care.

Win­stead added to this by also dis­cour­ag­ing sup­port­ing “Aun­tie Net­works,” which most often include inde­pen­dent forums where peo­ple offer their homes to peo­ple cross­ing state lines to seek legal abor­tions. She point­ed out the prob­lem­at­ic nature of these net­works as they are like­ly to vio­late the right to pri­va­cy when seek­ing abor­tion access. Peo­ple should not be forced to be a “good guest” in order to receive an abor­tion. Instead, Win­stead sug­gest­ed donat­ing to an exist­ing provider that finan­cial­ly assists with trav­el and hotels.

Cece Caru­so con­clud­ed the pan­el with three help­ful resources to spread in com­mu­ni­ties that are list­ed below. The Repro Legal Helpline pro­vides sup­port to those who are seek­ing legal infor­ma­tion and guid­ance con­cern­ing state abor­tion laws. This resource con­nects those seek­ing abor­tion with legal advo­cates and resources. The sec­ond resource, Plan C’s Guide to Pills, pro­vides exten­sive infor­ma­tion on self-man­aged abor­tion and also includes a loca­tor for clin­ics that offer this ser­vice. Final­ly, the Mis­car­riage and Abor­tion Hot­line is run by abor­tion clin­i­cians seek­ing to give advice to those self-man­ag­ing mis­car­riages and abor­tions.


Repro Legal Helpline: 844–868-2812
Plan C’s Guide to Pills
The Mis­car­riage and Abor­tion Hot­line: 1–833-246‑2632

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