Saturday, June 16, 2007

Privacy risked at the Party Headquarters...

If you saw Thursday night's (June 14) KING 5 news report you probably saw that the Pierce County Republican Party had put "100s if not 1000s of donors and party members' privacy at risk for identity theft". If you did not see the report, or just want the straight information, here is what happened and what we have done about it. (Check out <> for a link to their report.)

On Wednesday afternoon, (June 13) Lucy, our office manager, put out the recycle bin for the first time since December. (It has taken that long to fill up.) Accidentally three folders which were not intended to be recycled were put into the recycle bin and taken to the curb for the normal Thursday morning pickup. During that Wednesday afternoon or early evening, a passerby noticed the recycle bin and noticed that some of the papers included privacy information that should have been protected. That passerby took the files and contacted KING 5 news to describe what he had. KING 5 news' Eric Wilkinson came down on Thursday, interviewed the passerby and called me to get my reaction. I had not heard of the incident and said so. I also said that the most important thing was to protect the records he now had in his possession so that we could quickly notify anyone whose privacy information was at risk to be extra vigilant in protecting their identity.

I drove to KING Broadcasting in Seattle last night, retrieved the documents intact and locked them up in the office.

How the records got into the recycle bin we are not sure. But today (June 15) Lucy and I personally reviewed each and every scrap of paper and discovered that the vast majority were meeting minutes, agenda and the like. Many were non-privacy Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) records of names, addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers of PCOs or donors - though these are the same records that are on-line and available for all to see at the PDC or at the Auditor's websites. Eleven records, however, were copies of personal services contracts from some of the folks who operated one of our phone banks in 2006 for a fee. Those contracts included their Social Security Account Number (SSAN). We wrote a certified letter today to each of the 11 whose SSAN was left in the recycle bin to warn them of the breach and to be extra cautious. We are confident that the numbers were not compromised, however, since we got all the records back.

That does not excuse the lapse. What could have happened would not have been acceptable. So in addition to having Lucy or me "dumpster dive" all of the trash or recycle containers before we put them out for pick-up to make sure that no personal or privacy data is included, we will shred every piece of paper we print or any other that has names, addresses, etc, even though the exact same information may be available on line. We also determined that the shredder we did have was more of a "home" variety and could not either handle the volume or do an adequate job of denying the data to anyone with a child's glue gun and Scotch Tape. We purchased an industrial variety shredder that also cross-cuts so that it is just too difficult to put the data back together. In fact, all of the data we recovered from this incident is either returned to the 11 individuals whose SSAN was available on the paper, or is totally (cross cut) shredded.

Additionally, we looked around and discovered a ton of old (some back to the early 90's) records
stored throughout the headquarters. To review and perhaps destroy those records, I will call a work party together in the next several weeks and review all of the old stuff and shred all that is not of historical value (or required to be maintained for the IRS for five years.) We do not want what is junk to us to be treasure to an identity thief.

I grant that our party is doing the public's business and must be very open and above board. I also grant that we are a group of volunteers, but none-the-less we must be vigilant in protecting party members and donors from unscrupulous activity - there is enough of that in politics and campaigns.

If you have any suggestions for improving our new protections let me or Lucy know right away.

I sincerely apologize for any concerns this may cause you, but I am absolutely confident that what was left in the recycle bin on Wednesday did not leak out.

I had already told the state party headquarters about this incident even as it was unfolding. Now, however, I am going to ask them to use us as an example of things that could happen to other county parties. Perhaps in that way they can find ways to resolve issues before the same thing happens to them that happened to us.

Deryl McCarty
Pierce County Republican Party

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

There’s something about IRV…

Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), now called Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), was one of the changes made to the county charter by the voters last November.

The Auditor formed a 10 person Blue Ribbon Review Panel to help give her ideas on how to implement RCV in Pierce County for the 2008 General Election.

While RCV “only” applies to the County Executive, County Council, Auditor, Sheriff (for now) and Assessor-Treasurer offices – it is no small undertaking. Besides, RCV is used in only one other voting area our size – the City and County of San Francisco. Uh-oh. And they use it only on NON-partisan races - we will use it in only partisan races. Double uh-oh.

As a member of that Blue Ribbon Review Panel we discussed some major RCV challenges over the past two months. Strangely, most panel members have agreed with each other as we’ve come up with ideas to help implement this new-fangled voting idea. (Even stranger, the rather likable and thoughtful Democratic Party Chair has agreed with me on almost every single issue.)

Here are some of the issues.

The “new” Charter says: “The County central committee of each major political party may determine which candidates may use their party label for each County level office.” Actually this sounds just like I’d want it to say, but how do we implement the concept? And more importantly, does the Auditor say “no” to someone who wants to file as a Republican, for example, and they are not endorsed by the Party? And how does she know? And do the parties specify who can carry their label before or after a candidate files for a particular office. (Remember, the smallest filing fee for partisan county office is over $900.)

Frankly, this was pretty easy to figure out. We agreed that the parties would specify in writing about 1 March that we would opt to exercise our Charter rights. And before you ask, it is entirely possible that one party (the Democrats this year) or both would choose NOT to exercise their right to specify to the Auditor who could file using the Party’s label.

We also agreed that by April 15th we would also notify the Auditor which candidates (and for which office) could run under the Republican banner. Any other folks who try to file using our name would be refused. This is way before filing week which is the first week in June.

The April 15th date gives plenty of time for those who choose not to run under a Republican banner (or who fail to get a Republican endorsement at the County Convention) to file as an independent or under a minor party label.

The only question remaining is what party rules will we use to determine who can use our name. That is NOT the Auditor’s business and will likely be different for each party. Currently our rules are that anyone who gets 25% of his caucus vote can run as a Republican. In theory up to four folks could be a “Republican”. Remember, though, an incumbent Republican can have no Republican opposition unless 67% of the caucus votes for another candidate.

Things could get even more interesting if the Washington State Republican Party Central Committee changes the rules to, say, require a candidate get 33% or even 45% of the caucus vote to be able to use the Republican name.

Another big subject for the Auditor is “how to vote”.

Ranked Choice Voting sounds pretty simple. If you see ten candidates on the ballot for a specific office you rank order them from 1 to 10 – with 1 being your first choice and 10 your last. On certification day, a computer program that adds all the votes, drops the candidates with the fewest votes, adds their second (third, fourth, etc) place ballots to the remaining candidates and when you are down to two candidates, the one with the most votes wins.


Unless you want to spend millions of dollars that we don’t have on new voting equipment, the equipment we do have will only let you rank order your top three candidates. You can still have ten candidates, you just can’t rank order them below three.

The problem: this was not what the voters voted for. If the Auditor cannot or will not spend the money to buy new machines, then is the County open to law suits based on a different definition of RCV than the voters intended? So does this mean we are going to spend either $$millions on new voting machines or law suits? And spending money is NOT what the voters intended. What a sticky wicket! I can just see the lawyers in a tax feeding frenzy. Sigh.

Another question we faced started out to me as a “no brainer”. The question: how and when does the Auditor report voting data after the polls close and until the time the votes are certified two weeks later?

Here is why this is a problem. When the votes are counted everyday AND the formula (insiders call it an algorithm) is applied so that the 2nd and 3rd place votes are redistributed to the candidates with the higher vote counts there could be wild swings in the winner category depending on whose votes at the bottom of the heap are being “redistributed”. We were told by our voting machine company that the San Francisco elections officer got so much flack when he released the full information everyday that the next election he released almost no information until the last day.

We cannot let our Auditor hide information. It may cause confusion if the voters see wild swings in the winner’s circle; but voters will be angry if they think an elected official is hiding something or that an elected official thinks the voters are too stupid to understand.

But here is some truth from the ages: a confused voter is enlightened with full disclosure. An angry voter is only happy when you are thrown out of office on your ear! (Especially after the 2004 Governor’s race debacle in King County.)

Our advice is that all the data be released at the end of every ballot counting day. But maybe we don’t need to run the formula everyday – besides we were told that San Francisco has to stop counting ballots and spend 3+ hours every day just to run the formula and put the information into a format that the voters and the media can understand. I think that if everyday we were told how many 1s, 2s, and 3s each candidate got, then voters, political junkies and the media could probably figure out “who’s on first” without having to delay all of the other counting that has to be done. Another way to solve the problem could be to publish all the data everyday but only run the formula twice a week until the last day. Either way works for me, but hiding data because it’s inconvenient does not.

Another question from the Auditor: RCV is going to mean second piece of paper in the ballot envelope which will increase the poll worker confusion factor, so do we need to go to an all mail in ballot system like 37 of the 39 counties in Washington. (Only King and Pierce will have polls in 2008). The Auditor even suggested a compromise to keep some polls by implementing a “Vote Center” concept, which is a high tech polling location in only 5-7 places across the county instead of the 50+ polling stations we have now. A vote center would have every kind of machine and anyone from any part of the county could vote – you would not be tied to a particular polling location. It would be the place to ask questions since only the real “experts” would man the vote center. I personally like having both vote-by-mail AND polling places. It minimizes confusion because if voters have questions, they have a close-by place to go to get answers. I also really like the “Drop Off” locations scattered around the county - it saves me a lot of money.

This issue is really a question of $$$$$$$$$$$$$ !!

Certainly polling places and vote centers cost money, but so does a mail in system. We talked about the extra money a few years ago when the vote by mail program was proposed and rejected by the County Council. Then the costs were a “wash”. But that has now changed.

The new postal rates and the method they are determined will really affect your wallet. Until now, it cost 11 cents for the Auditor to mail your ballot to you (it was presorted by zip code which is a cheaper rate) and it cost you 39 cents to mail it back (unless you used the “drop off” locations.) Now, it will cost the auditor over 20 cents each to mail you your ballot, and cost you somewhere between 92 cents and $1.11 for you to mail your ballot back because it is now two pieces of paper and not only weighs more it is thicker and both things are now how the Post Office calculates postage. Yikes!

Some suggested, including the Auditor, that the county pay the return postage, kind of like a business reply envelope. To me it makes no difference. We taxpayers pay either way. But if we use a business reply type envelope, we won’t have to buy a bunch of weird denomination stamps.

We’d better start figuring out how to vote by e-mail securely, because then it will cost us less than a penny to vote.

Our advice was to keep things as they are with a mix of drop off, poll and mail in voter systems. Just make sure that each of the 58 polling places can also accept drop off mail ballots so that voters can avoid a $1.11 postal charge if they choose.

I guess our point was that we just don’t need another change to our voting processes. Let’s get this first RCV election under our belt and then see what glitches need to be corrected; then lets’ get with the County Council to see if we need all mail in voting and what we can afford.

The final question the Auditor posed to us was this: how do we educate the voter and how much do we spend to do it? How do we reach the voter and tell him or her about how RCV works and how to mark their ballot. The Auditor suggested three general approaches measured by how many times the voter is contacted. If you measure by voter contact then a 1-2 contact per voter program was projected to cost $175,000, three contacts about $350,000 and five contacts about half a million. But the costs were pretty high and the actual contact is hard to determine. The voter can be contacted though snail mail (41 cents each), post card (23 cents each), TNT ads ($1000’s to get, but pennies per contact), cable (??); TV (lots and lots of $$$$ but why do we need to reach the voters in King, Kitsap, Snohomish and Thurston), website (a few pennies), door-to-door (cheap if you use college and high school kids), or e-mail (also cheap). The San Francisco election chief was on hand for that discussion and he said that what they concentrated on was just how to mark the ballot not to get cute and tell people how the formula works or why this was adopted. If you just let the media handle that part as a news story and concentrate on how the voter is to mark the new ballot, it did not cost so quite much and you can use the internet, citizen to citizen contact at Kiwanis, Rotary Clubs and PTA meeting to present a DVD for additional contact. You can also use bus bill boards to quickly tell or show people how to mark their ballots.

The Auditor will be meeting with the County Council soon to help iron out details. The Council may have to put some more Charter language updates on the ballot this November to clear up some of the unclear language that the Charter Review Commission left us with.

A number of citizens who attended the Blue Ribbon Review Panel meetings testified that they thought that the Charter Review Commission had not done their job well. Sloppy is the word used by several. I am not so sure they were sloppy, but some items were not clearly spelled out. And some of the language was not fully thought through.

In the final analysis, though, this is not a question of whether we like or want RCV – I don’t and didn’t and neither did the Republican Party - nor the Democratic Party for that matter. But this is a question of governance. The voters approved RCV. The county is now obligated to “faithfully execute” the voters’ choice at the least possible cost. Besides, it is never wise to poke the voters’ in the eye by not executing the law as they gave it.

Unfortunately, the terms “faithfully execute” and “least cost” are mutually exclusive terms unless you watch county officials like a hawk!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Too Far…

Last weekend the Washington State Democrat Party went too far. In their effort to draw a distinction between Republican and Democrat policy ideals, the Democrats decided to promote a traitor as a “policy ideal”. This is beyond just their normal Bush bashing or race baiting, what they did was anti-American.

What happened?

By an overwhelming vote, the Washington State Democrat Central Committee voted to support Lieutenant (for now) Ehren Watada’s refusal to go to Iraq to fight the war on terror. Certainly we civilians can argue about whether fighting terrorists in Iraq and building an infrastructure to help Iraqis form a more just and a more open society – one not inclined to treat women as third class chattel or murder and maim men and innocent villagers with abandon – is a good thing or a bad thing. We civilians can argue whether the “methodology” or “location” or “how much” (in both treasure and blood) is worth the effort. Those are political and policy questions to be discussed and decided by political parties, Congress, citizens, news media, talk show hosts and presidents. These are NOT policy questions to be decided by an active duty military officer who is scared, inconvenienced, doesn’t want to get his parade uniforms dirty or whose family doesn’t like the commander-in-chief’s politics.

Like it or not ours is a volunteer military and Watada is a willing participant who volunteered in time of a congressionally authorized and appropriated conflict (HJR 114 in 2002) – hence fully legal. Watada was ordered to participate in that fully legal conflict but refused to go. He is therefore guilty of “missing a movement” a court martial (felony) offense with a maximum penalty of two years in prison, a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

But wait there’s more…

Watada “refused to go” in order to make a political statement designed to embarrass the President thereby weakening US resolve. That means his actions gave aid and comfort to the enemy in time of conflict – a classic definition of “aiding the enemy” or treason. And “aiding the enemy” my friends, is the highest court martial offense. The penalty: “…shall suffer death or other such punishment as a court-martial or military commission may direct.” (UCMJ Article 104)

It is sad that the Democrat Party fell victim to supporting a traitor like Watada. It is sad that a once noble party has succumbed to and is now lead by its virulent and hate-filled radical left wing.

It’s no secret that our political success as a nation results from having two “big tent” parties that historically govern from slightly to the left or slightly to the right of center depending on the party in power. The main stream media and the campaign staffs don’t always like to highlight these historically narrow differences, because it doesn’t make good headlines. But if you look closely at state and county government the vast majority of laws are enacted by overwhelming majorities of both Republican and Democrat legislators. The contentious bills we all hear about (and argue over) are often only 5-10% of the total bills that are seriously considered.

In the final analysis, the once noble Democrat Party chose a corrosive path to convince voters that they are should be governing Washington. If we are not vigilant, we will see more and more Democrat candidates who will govern from far into the radical left field.

We Republicans must also be vigilant by offering Republican candidates who are measured, thoughtful and don’t spend money like drunken sailors (apologies to sailors – you are doing a great job under extreme circumstances.) We Republicans must support - both materially and morally – the 99.99999% of military members who are answering America’s call with distinct honor. We must never support traitors who would see American’s enemies comforted just to make a domestic political point.
Deryl McCarty
Chairman, Pierce County Republican Party

Friday, June 30, 2006

Wednesday, Rep Dan Roach (R-31) called and asked if I had read this week’s Bonney Lake Courier Herald. I had not. I called the paper and got a copy and read. One article in particular got me pretty miffed (this is a family friendly blog). I called the paper back and asked if I could respond. They said yes, if I could get a rebuttal back to them by this morning at 10 AM. Now, I usually don’t work well at 3 AM, but below is my response. It is way too long so the paper will likely cut it down. Did I miss anything? (After my response, you can read what the Democrats wrote.)

Here’s what I wrote on the Party’s behalf:

In an editorial last week, you were treated to a somewhat inflammatory class warfare editorial on why you should vote against your locally elected Republicans. The article suggested that because oil companies were getting record profits (much of which comes back to us as dividends to retirement trusts, 401k’s, and mutual fund distributions, etc) we should vote against the one group of people who are trying to make sure that the profits are directed to research, dividends (well, not me, I chose high tech stocks and am getting lambasted), new wells and refining capacity. The article aims at the wrong target. The profit per gallon of gas is far less that the taxes we are paying per gallon (and we are paying three more cents per gallon starting this week). It’s big government that needs reining in. In fact, during this last legislature, our Democrat majority and our Democrat governor approved the single largest spending increase in state history – 17%. Yikes! The Democrat majority, faced with an unexpected increase in revenue because the state’s economy finally started to climb out of its anti-business doldrums, couldn’t spend the money fast enough. Yet we have a state retirement account under-funded by billions and no where near the 5% emergency fund we should have.

If “all politics is local” (apologies to Speaker Tip O’Neil) then we need to elect local politicians who are more skeptical of big government spending than our local democrats appear to be. Around here, that means re-electing Senator Pam Roach and Representatives Jan Shabro and Dan Roach. I have worked for Pam and Jan (and worked with Dan on his campaigns) and I can tell you first hand, they are the most trustworthy, dedicated, hard-working folks you will ever meet. And they get part-time wages working for you full-time. In fact, I got more money working as a Legislative Assistant ($36k) than they did as YOUR elected representative ($34k) – and I went home at 5PM and they stayed on for hours going to committee meetings, constituent meetings and town hall meetings. Yet they are willing to stay on and fight for you. They listen and translate that listening into law or defeating bills that interfere with your daily lives. In fact, each of your Republican legislators spends far more time stopping intrusive, land-grabbing, “I know what’s best for you” legislation submitted by the majority than almost any other job.

I was a little offended by the comment that “Pam Roach has received the maximum amount of donations allowed from big oil companies.” And “…Pam Roach voted against the Energy Independence Bill…” Well, in her last campaign she took $1,350 from Chevron and $600 from BP - $1,950 out of a total of $169,321.15: 1.2%. It makes absolutely no sense to then suggest that Pam would sell her vote to oppose legislation that requires nothing more than what the governor had already mandated for state vehicles – the use of some ethanol in gasoline and 2% bio-diesel. And yet, not enough ethanol stocks existed to do more than what did happen: force a per gallon gasoline price increase this summer. Even worse, bio-diesel quality forced the only other state to have such a requirement (Minnesota) to temporarily suspend its bio-diesel requirement and the Washington State Ferries requested exemption from the Governor’s Executive Order after experimentation with bio-diesel clogged fuel filters. This law was not ready for prime time and Pam said so. That’s her job.

At the national level, we in the 8th Congressional District have one of the most effective freshman legislators America has ever had. He is the most respected elected authority on Homeland Security in the nation; he has direct access to the President; and, after only one year of his first two year term of office was selected as a Subcommittee Chair – only the sixth time in US history that Congress has selected a freshman for such responsibility. And where did he convene one of the crucial First Responder hearings in the field? Washington, DC? Nope. New York City? Nope. Seattle? Nope. Bellevue? Nope. Orting. Right here in our neck of the woods. Why? Because Congressman (and Chairman) Dave Reichert felt that we here in the rural and suburban areas have just as much at stake in Homeland Security as the big city boys and a lot fewer resources to do it with. Besides, I have a real problem when someone slams a guy whose integrity and dedication is proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. Dave Reichert is a real hero, whose 35 years of public service in the Air Force Reserve and the King County Sheriff’s Department exceed his opponents total life experience. Here is a guy who maintains a positive attitude, unbeatable work ethic, phenomenal energy and absolute dogged determination to get the job done. The proof: Dave Reichert literally gets his throat slit defending a woman whose husband was beating her. And still he comes back to doggedly chase down and jail the worst serial killer in US history – the Green River killer – and was the law enforcement officer who chased WTO vandals who were destroying Seattle businesses. Most of all, when you meet Dave you know that here is a real gentleman, a gentle giant of a leader who listens to you and then gets the job done. This guy is made of Presidential timber. For us in the 8th District it should be a no-brainer to return Dave Reichert to Congress this November

Where Washington has less effective representation is in the US Senate. Why? Mostly because that august, ponderous debating society too often degenerates into a rancorous, uncivil, squabbling mess. We need Senators who talk about facts, keep a civil tongue and treat colleagues with respect. Alas, we hear nothing but sound bites and biting sounds. That’s why Republican Mike McGavick is doing so well against incumbent freshman Democrat Maria Cantwell. Mike brings a fresh sense of civility. He is a quiet, thoughtful guy who bases decisions on facts, human need and common sense. He has served in Washington, DC and knows the territory. He was called up on to captain one of Washington’s premier companies – SAFECO. And at the time SAFECO was on its proverbial butt, it was bleeding millions of dollars. We were going to lose the company. But Mike saved it and then turned it around from big-time loser to profitable. Mike’s opponents will say that he fired a bunch of employees in order to save the company. But if a company only has one real cost, its employees, and if the company’s sail has to be trimmed in order to save it, you have no other choice but to trim some of the fat. Oh did it hurt! Yet we have talked to some of those same “fired” (downsized) employees who swear by Mike and believe that he did exactly the right thing for the company, for its thousands of policy holders, and for Washington. (Besides, I have finally gotten used to calling it SAFECO Field. You “gotta love those guys” when a winning company is sponsoring a winning team.)

Where I do agree with last week’s article is that YOU determine which way our state and federal policies go through the ballot box. You send the message and they write the law. Please hear out the candidates of both parties. Listen to them with your heart and head. Ask yourself if their ideas and vision are about what yours are. Don’t expect to agree with anyone 100%, but at 70-80% agreement, they are probably your best bet. Then look them in the eye and let your heart decide if you can trust them. It’s your money not theirs. I recommend to you our Republican candidates. In the words of the Car Pro guys, “You’re going to like what you see.”

This is what our Democrat brethren and sisteren (?) wrote:

Last month, Congress, with President Bush¹s blessing, passed a Republican-sponsored tax plan that allows the big oil companies to continue receiving tax breaks. Why now, when big oil companies are raking in record-breaking windfall profits while the little guy is getting gouged at the pumps?
U.S. Congressman Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) supported this skewed plan by voting, as usual, his party¹s line. U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) voted against it, noting, ³The oil and gas industry does not need more giveaways, and they certainly shouldn¹t come at the expense of tax cuts like the sales tax deductionŠ² In this tax-break plan that assures big oil companies even bigger profits, the Republicans eliminated a sales tax deduction that would have afforded much-needed tax relief for many Washington citizens. Earlier this year Cantwell championed that same sales tax exemption and the Senate approved it.
Since her election in 2000, Pam Roach, Republican state senator from the 31st District, has accepted the maximum amount of donations allowed from big oil companies. These maximum donations were from Chevron, Texaco, Tesoro and the BP Corporation. Also, in 2005 Sen. Roach received a donation from the Washington Oil Marketers Association. Does the ³Pay to Play² behavior so prevalent in Washington, D.C., have the same effect in Washington state?
During the 2006 legislative session, Pam Roach voted against the Energy Independence Bill (ESSB 6508) designed to decrease our reliance on foreign oil ­ a bill that was vehemently opposed by big oil interests. Does the ³Pay to Play² behavior so prevalent in too many Washington, D.C. politicians possibly have the same effect on Sen. Roach and other career politicians in Washington state?
What is fair or ethical? While you and I continue to be robbed at the pumps, the five largest oil and gas companies pulled in gross profits of
$287 billion in 2005. Recently retired Exxon Mobil chairman Lee Raymond received an astoundingly lucrative retirement package. Even a U.S. House committee looking into Raymond¹s package of nearly $400 million called it an ³exorbitant payout.² Yet this unbelievable tax plan designed to benefit big oil companies passed that same Republican-controlled House.
The Republicans¹ response to the consumer¹s plight, instead of promoting energy independence, they proposed a one-time payment of $100 per consumer.
Most realized this ploy did little to address price gouging; for many, it played out like a bad joke. Entrenched Republicans can¹t seem to break from the ³pay to play² philosophy.
How do these facts set with you? Each time you gasp at the cost of filling your gas tank, remember that by voting you can initiate change. Washington state voters have viable choices in District 31, the 8th Congressional, and the U.S. Senate elections. It is your job as a voter to send a message.
Yvonne Ward, a community lawyer who has a long track record of helping local citizens and neighborhoods, believes in energy independence and renewable fuels. She is running for the 31st District Senate Seat against Pam Roach.
Karen Willard, a new, fresh, independent voice, is running for the 31st House Seat, position 1, currently held by Dan Roach. Former State Rep. Chris Hurst has left retirement to reclaim House seat No. 2, currently held by Jan Shabro. Democrats Ward, Willard, and Hurst have long histories with, and a depth of understanding of, the 31st District; they are independent of big business influence; and they will champion what is best for all Washington
Finally, send a message to the folks in Washington, D.C. that we in the other Washington demand change. Democrat Darci Burner has strong ideas to make Congress more responsive to citizens rather than special interests.
Burner is challenging Dave Reichert for our 8th Congressional District Seat.
And our community benefits from Maria Cantwell¹s strong, tireless efforts to help our nation become energy-independent.
We need to free ourselves from big oil gauging and corporate misconduct; the key is at the voting box.
Sandra Loveland works for the Democratic Party.

Ok, now it’s off my chest.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Friday was one of those highlights of a lifetime.

I stood in a line with only nine other people and on your behalf welcomed the President of the United States to western Washington. “W” was in fine form. Tanned, relaxed and in good humor, he evinced every mannerism the press whines about but that are endearing to Americans: the impish grin when he is amused, looking you (and only you) in the eye when he talks with you, and saying things in ways that put you at ease.

The President was here to help Congressman Dave Reichert as Dave seeks to defend his seat for the first time (which conventional wisdom says is the most difficult.) I don’t see Dave losing, but we have to work to get the job done. At the state convention, I noted that Dave had really grown in the job and because of his looks, history, and heroism, he has real star power – a sure winner.

But, truth be told: compared to the President of the United States coming down the stairs from Air Force One silhouetted against the Great Seal of the United States, no one has star power. No one!

After leaving Boeing Field, the President; Dave and his campaign staff; and the Washington State Republican Party (our own Andrea Innes playing a prominent role) put on a world class event in Medina that netted somewhere north of $750,000 – shared about equally between the State Party and the Reichert Campaign. They all put themselves on the map with that event. They did us proud.

I suspect that the President will return before the 2006 campaign season is over because there was one person missing from last Friday’s event: Mike McGavick. Our next US Senator was attending his son’s college graduation, which is one of the few reasons one could miss a presidential event. In fact, if I had been on his staff I would have counseled him to do exactly as he did. Fatherhood is a series of once in a lifetime events that you cannot miss. The important thing is that Mike has what it takes to win and better than that, he has the guts, class and smarts to be a great Senator. And right now Washington is sorely under-represented in the United States Senate.

I read that our students are having trouble with the math portion of the WASL. Well it’s no wonder. The Democrats are trying to tell us that when we add up our two partly good Senators we get a great one. But addition is not what it’s all about. It’s multiplication. And however you cut it, two times zero will always be zero.

C’mon back Mr. President.

Monday, January 30, 2006

What’s Past is Prologue, Part II

What’s Prologue…

“May you be condemned to live in interesting times” is, according to urban myth, an old Chinese epithet that is both haunting and thoughtful. Unfortunately 2006 is looking to be an interesting time.

The year starts with lots of moving parts. In general; we have four elections in 2006: a US Senate race, US House races, the legislative races and county partisan races. So, what’s shakin’ with the races so far?

1. The US Senate race to remove Can’tdowell is actually looking pretty good. At first it looked like we’d have four pretty credible candidates who would fight right down to the primary wire. This, of course, guaranteed that no money would come into our senate race and Maria would win in a walk (even without Dean Logan’s professional
vote counters.) (You remember Maria, don’t you? She’s the I-will-never-take-PAC-money-but-I-am-in-$2.5-million-debt-so-I-have-to-take-PAC-money lady. But it's not her fault. She is a victim of McCain-Feingold. But, I digress.)

We have actually have a bit of good news. One of the early contenders, state Senator Linda Evans Parlette (R-Wenatchee) chose not to run. Not to put a too fine a point on it, but it is really hard to get an Easterner elected in a Washington-wide race.

Then Diane Tebelius, our new party Chair and a pretty darn sharp US Attorney-type bowed out. (I don’t think we have seen the last of her. She has a very strong resume and I see her as our primary bench for a statewide or judicial run.)

Susan Hutchison, the former KIRO-7 anchor, was still considering running for the Senate until last week or so. But she since has indicated to the press that she is no longer actively seeking the nomination. She spoke well at the State Central Committee meeting this weekend and underscored her credentials as a moderate speaking, but conservative Republican. And, my goodness, someone has done a really good job teaching her how to talk, walk, dress and speak. She is prime time (pun intended) for a King County or Seattle City run, then on to statewide or
federal job.

That brings us to the front runner – Mike McGavick. The life and times of Mike will be the subject of much media interest, but it’s all good – if not great.

Besides his political work as Slade’s campaign manager and subsequently Slade’s Chief of Staff for four years, Mike took on a failing Washington company – SAFECO – and turned it around, big time! But be prepared to look at the stuff you don’t easily see, though. Along with SAFECO comes boards, commissions and non-profit foundations that let Mike see a side of the Washington community that is full of possibility. When you hear him talk, what you hear is unusual, non-government approaches to the usual problems. What you hear is a thoughtful Republican
who is Catholic, conservative and cogent. (Think about why I said Catholic, then read on.)

In any case, Mike will be a great top of the ticket in Washington. His name ID , especially in Seattle, will eat into Maria’s numbers; and even if it is just a little, that is enough. Remember she only “won” by 2,200 votes in a Dean Logan like election contest – with new ballots discovered, accidentally, every day. The conventional wisdom is that if a Republican can get 42% of King County and a normal showing elsewhere, he or she wins.

At any rate, the State Central Committee overwhelmingly endorsed Mike yesterday, which should trigger a national flow of campaign contributions to match Maria’s (and her friend Hillary’s) money raising efforts.

Mike’s well-organized, so far well-executed and soon to be well-financed campaign should produce some long coattails for our west side Congressional and legislative races – as well as producing an new US Senator. (Mike: 52-48)

2. Of the three Congressional seats up this year in Pierce County only two are contested. Obviously the incumbent in the 8th, Dave Reichert, a Republican and personal hero of mine and yours, is running hard. But the conventional wisdom is that a legislator, state or national, is most vulnerable during the first defense of his or her seat. So the Democrats are coming after Dave Reichert with a vengeance. And even now, we are subject to the anti-Dave telephone, radio, blog and TV crap from, and its costing them a ton of money.

The bad news for the Democrats is they have no credible candidate. There is no one out there with the stature and name ID to take Dave. It will not be Dave Ross nor will it likely be Ron Sims. Who then? Twice failed Laura Ruderman? Or the perennial Heidi Behrens-Benedict? No, Dave is probably not going to have the challenging race many Democrats would hope for. But it is not going to be easy despite the fact that Congressional Republicans will make sure Dave has plenty of money. Dave and we in the 8th Congressional District have to work at it, and
that means he will campaign in Pierce County just like he has been doing. Pierce County gave him 73% of his winning margin in 2004, and he has not forgotten it. (Of course, we won’t let him forget.) (Dave: 60-40)

The other contested Congressional race is in the 9th District against Adam Smith. Running against Adam is our own Steve Cofchin. Steve is an eminently likeable, smart, tireless Republican who is running for the first time. Unfortunately, the latter factor makes the race very difficult unless we get out and help him (and we get the Congressional Republican Caucus to spend some of their money on Steve.) The other problem is that listening to Adam as he campaigns you would absolutely swear that he is a Republican and a fairly conservative one at that. I freely admit, that, in fact, the only liberal thing about Adam is his voting record.

In the 6th Congressional District there is no one who has yet to seriously consider running against Norm Dicks. Lane Judson (Crystal Brame’s dad) did think about it for a while, but he is now being very successful in getting the Crystal Clear laws enacted in Congress and throughout the states, so he may not have the time.
I have heard of no one else in Pierce County (or any of the other counties) who is even looking.

3. The are four partisan County races this year: Auditor and Councilmembers in Districts 1, 5 and 7.

The Auditor race could be interesting, but we have no candidate – and it may now be a bit too late for a serious challenger. The current Auditor, Pat McCarthy, has been pretty cordial to us and we have seen nothing that would indicate she is otherwise a straight arrow vote counter (unlike King County.) Yes, I had a real problem with her decision to allow a candidate to handle primary ballots, but we watched him closely (thanks to Eddie Hamilton and our Observer Corps) and she did honor her commitment not to allow that same candidate to handle the ballots in
the general election. I am pretty sure of her standing in the Democrat Party, she is/was a Democrat PCO, but as an Auditor she is closer to Technocrat than Democrat which is probably why we can’t find a good candidate to run against her. On the other hand, I fully expect to see someone like Dale Washam (who has filed and run as a D, an I and an R in the past) or Will Baker (F=felon) file for Auditor at the last minute – as Republicans. But in neither case do I see either of them getting the requisite 25% of the vote at our Republican Convention (April 15, Steilacoom HS) in order that they may use our Republican name. And because of this, I can easily see us being the center of a law suit that asks a judge to declare them Republican even if we do not. That’ll frost my butt!

In Council District 1 (Sumner, Edgewood, Bonney Lake, Orting – basically eastern Pierce county) the incumbent, Shawn Bunney is running for a second term and enjoys wide popularity in a very Republican district. The fact that as a brand new Councilmember he was elected Chairman of the Council, and still is, is a tribute to his administrative and political skills. I don’t expect to even see much of a Democrat challenge – but it could happen. And if it does, better for us. I see Shawn winning as County Executive in 2008 and a hotly contested
2006 council race that he wins handily will set that up. (Shawn: 63-37)

At the other end of the county in Council District 7, Terry Lee should also have a less challenging race than he did the first time. Terry – much like his friend Shawn - is very popular in a Republican district. His long experience in county land use issues, especially on the Planning Commission and on the Peninsula Advisory
Commission, will continue to keep him in good stead with his voters. (Terry: 58-42)

The third council race, District 5 (south Tacoma, Spanaway, Parkland) pits long time county elected official Barbara Gelman against…? Again, we can’t find anyone to run. Perhaps it is because the district is soooo Democrat. Or perhaps it’s because Barbara is somewhat centrist and pro-business. Or perhaps it’s because she is
so set against the loony left wing of her own county party. Whatever the reason, we have no one who will run against her. The only one I could think of to run is Grace Bennett. She and Barbara are matched. Both are leaders, able to speak well and are distinctly heard. They have long resumes in leadership positions in Pierce County. And Grace has infinitely more business experience that Barbara. Infinitely. But I am just not sure that Grace’s hip surgery will allow her to campaign anytime soon and I think Grace lives a few blocks south of the borderline for the 5th District.

4. The Legislative races are at the heart of this year’s recruiting efforts and fund raising activities.

In the Senate there are three races in Pierce County and, strangely, they match up with the county council races in location and party – the 31st (eastern Pierce County – Bonney Lake, Sumner, Buckley, Edgewood); the 29th (south Tacoma, pieces of Lakewood, Parkland, part of Spanaway); and the 26th (Kitsap and Key Peninsulas.)

In the 31st we have long time Senator Pam Roach against Yvonne Kinoshita-Ward, who ran a real mud-slinger last time against Pam – fruitlessly. I suspect the same match up will occur this time, except it will be more expensive (Yvonne may spend up to $400-500,000), she’ll sling more mud, but in the final analysis be more
fruitless than last time. Some say that former Democrat Representative Chris Hurst will run against Pam. I don’t see it. He can’t afford the 3% advantage that a woman has in that district, he can’t afford to run against such an adept campaigner, and he certainly can’t afford to run against someone so anti-crime even though he is a police officer. In fact, there may be no one in this state with a better anti-crime record than Pam and the only one her equal is also our Senator, Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood).

The bottom line is that Pam has been doing things very right. She is in constant contact with her district and is the most instinctively accurate political leader
in the state. She can hear about an issue for the first time and can accurately judge whether it is important in her district and then act on that issue in the space of minutes. She is uncanny. The Democrats in the district have no equal. Besides which, Pam will work her buns off. (Pam: 56-44)

In the 29th we can find no one to run against Senator Rosa Franklin – even if she weren’t running again. The district is sooo Democrat and she is sooo likeable. On the other hand, I would love to see someone like Christine Cronk in the race. Here is a former district leader with tons of charisma, a large dollop of common
sense and likeability to boot. But it would be Christine’s first race, so perhaps against one of the Democrat House members would be a better start.

In the 26th District, the Senate race is a tough call. Senator Bob Oke, who won a cliff hanger last time, is facing life threatening health challenges. However, things seem to be in remission, but for how long. The legislative session he is in now is a bit contentious, which may extract a toll. But he sure looked good last
week on the floor. If he chooses not to run again, it looks like former Representative Lois McMahan is in the saddle to run. She is an indefatigable campaigner who has won a House seat twice in the district. But she stays
in constant contact with Republicans on both sides of the county lines on the Kitsap Peninsula which is to her credit. She actually lives in Kitsap, Olalla, but she is always at our events and meetings, and is always ready to lend a hand to help a Pierce County Republican - so we seemed to have adopted her. The problem Lois seems to have is what year she runs. It’s weird. She runs and wins her district during off year (non-presidential) elections. At those times, the Pierce County portion of the district (which comprises only 45% of the voting population) generally votes at a higher percentage than those in Kitsap County. Hence, we generate 2,000 more
votes than Kitsap and we tend to vote Republican. In the Presidential election years, Kitsap votes about the same percentage as Pierce, but that percentage generates about 2,000 more votes from Kitsap than we generate and
they tend to vote Democrat. The good part of the 26th Senate race is that it is always in the non presidential years. The bad news is who the Democrats may field against Lois. It may be Representative Derek Kilmer who has visions of replacing Norm Dicks when he retires. If so, his pro-business stances will make this race nip and tuck.

In the state House races, Pierce County has become ground zero in the struggle to take back the House. Of the top tier races in the state, two or two and a half are in here in the county. But lets start at the top.

In the 2nd District, long time Rep Tom Campbell is not facing much of a challenge. As before, his anti-crime and pro-veteran stances hold him in good stead with most of the voters in this conservative district that includes South Hill, Orting, Eatonville, Graham, Spanaway, and the Mountain. (It includes about 10,000 voters in Thurston County as well.) While he has had run-ins with the Republican Caucus, he is probably one of the most knowledgeable health care legislators we have. He is a Chiropractor after all. (Tom: 56-44)

Jim McCune, a Republican first-termer in the 2nd, should be facing a challenge, but isn’t. The Democrat bench is pretty light in the 2nd. They could put up Cindy Poysnick who is a strong campaigner, but she just lost a squeaker school board election and may want to regain strength. Jim is another indefatigable campaigner. He and his sons doorbelled over 20,000 homes in 2004, and he will likely repeat the effort. While his success rate in getting bills passed is not high, (some say that is a good thing), the ones he did get are awesome. In fact,
he and Tom Campbell worked hard and sometimes alone last year to get a meth precursor bill passed and they got it. Since the 2nd District is a meth center, their successful work to get ephedrines/pseudoephedrines off the shelves and behind the counter was a huge gift to district voters. (Jim: 57-43)

In the 25th, Joyce McDonald is running again. Joyce is in perfect tune with the district and is well liked by all. She is anti-crime, pro-business and pro-police – well, duh, she is married to a cop. Her steady and effective legislation is exactly what the doctor ordered. (Joyce: 57-43). (Which may set her up for a Senate
or County Council run in 2008.)

The other seat in the district is held by Dawn Morrell, a liberal Democrat nurse with some major pro-military leanings. The problem for her is that the military is not a responsibility of the state – except for the National Guard. Wally Nash, a voluble, conservative Brit immigrant is taking Dawn on. He ran in 2004, but lost
in the primary to Michele Smith. His name ID is higher now and he has been getting deeper into issues and community groups. He is a salesman by trade and inclination, so selling himself on the stump is just his cup of tea. Jim Downs, the 25th District leader is helping Wally out and Jim is a great guy to make sure the campaign
details get done and the signs are out. If the House Republican Caucus (often called HROC) gives Wally some resources, he has a fighting chance.

In the 26th District, we are starting to get over-blessed with House candidates. Against venerable and vulnerable Democrat Pat Lantz, we have a bright new star, Beckie Kranz. Beckie is a former District Leader, a lawyer by training (but not practice) and business owner. She is extremely well versed in legislative matters,
because her unique business is monitoring all states' legislative workings and sharing them among other legislative bodies. She is well organized and deeply committed. With the promised resources from HROC she has a great winning opportunity. Remember, Pat won by only 200+ against newcomer Matt Rice last time and when the Kitsap side delivered 2,000 more votes than they will this time. This is probably the top race in the state for picking up a seat. (Beckie: 53-47)

Also in the 26th, Trent England a 27 year old, brand new law school graduate and Heritage Foundation writer and researcher is squaring off against Derek Kilmer (unless Derek is running for the Senate). Trent is one smart guy and his kids cuter than bugs in a rug, but though he is Gig Harbor born and bred, he has not been back home for a few years. Ed Meese, Trent’s Heritage Foundation boss may also campaign for Trent, which could put a real national spin on the race.

A second Republican is also nosing around and may declare: Ron Boehme. Ron is a
local pastor whose obvious public speaking skills and ready-made campaign workforce may be a big factor if he enters the race. On the other hand, he is less familiar with the whole range of issues legislators face than is Trent, even though there is a 20 year spread between them. Also if Derek chooses a Senate run, Matt Rice may
rethink his staying out of this year’s races. If Matt enters the race and Derek is out then it's Matt in a 50-30-20 primary run and Matt 55-45 in the general against a now unknown Democrat – Betty Ringlee?

The 27th District races in north and Downtown Tacoma features only one Republican – but what a Republican! The two Democrats there are difficult to dislodge since the district is very Democrat. But Dennis Schroader is loaded with fire, energy and enthusiasm. He is walking the district and the Democrats are not. Feeling a bit
overconfident are we? Dennis is exactly the kind of candidate we dream of, but would rather have in a swing or Republican district. Dennis is in business with his dad and is a veteran. There is a chance to win for Dennis, because the 27th is just like his 30th District neighbor to the north. They are virtually identical. The 30th is 43% Democrat and 28% Republican, yet Republican Skip Priest is elected by 5%. Why? Because Skip spent a few terms as the successful Federal Way mayor. So I see Dennis using the same strategy. It's called the Sutherland strategy. You run for a partisan office a few times, get your name out there, then switch to a non-partisan City Council race, win, then Mayor THEN to a partisan race on the County Council or a County-wide race.

The 28th District is also a ground zero for holding and maybe picking up another seat in the House. Long time Representative Gigi Talcott is retiring and Don Anderson, an Eisenhower-Carlson partner is running to replace her. Haven’t seen any Democrat wanting to file against Don, but it will happen. HROC will make sure he
is well funded, and since he is well versed in the issues, he should do well if he ramps up his campaigning and door to door activities. (Don: 53-47)

Democrat Tami Green is the prime target in the state for a Republican pickup. Tami is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but has been given a lot of high visibility Democrat bills and allowed to vote against some taxes to keep her in sync with the conservative 28th. Bob Lawrence is running for the seat he lost by 200+ in 2004. He
has the campaign skills, the organization and the discipline to win. He has to overcome the perception that he did not campaign well in 2004 (cause he got married and decided to do the honeymoon thing then rather than wait), even though he knocked on some 10,000 doors. If he builds on that, he’ll do just fine. Joining the Republican team and also wanting to challenge Tami Green is defense attorney and local activist Jim Oliver. Jim is another of those irrepressible guys who will be a great candidate and legislator (or something). He still needs to get a wider exposure to the community with activism in the local Kiwanis, Rotary, and such. But then again, a primary run for the House will give him additional exposure. Also seen nosing around is Ken Witkoe, a 1992 candidate for the House. He is a financial/insurance guy who is also a Lakewood reserve cop – a great combination in a
district plagued by Pierce County’s fastest growing cottage industry: Storing other county’s level 3 sex offenders. Ain’t that just peachy keen? In a three way primary race, I see Bob winning 45-35-20. And in the general winning 52-48.

In the 29th district, as in the Senate race and that of the 5th Council District, we just have no bench to choose from. This district is probably the most Democrat in the County, and one of the top two or three in the state. Sigh.

In the 31st we have a strongly Republican district with Pam Roach and Dave Reichert at the top of the ticket. But the two House seats are also held by strong Republican House leaders who campaign well and are well financed.

Jan Shabro now in her second term and is the Republican Caucus Chair, is looking for a third term And she has yet to face a challenger. That may end this term since she has been told that in fact Chris Hurst will run against her, not Pam. While she may hold the seat that Chris held 4-5 years ago, it is not Chris’ best bet to
run against a strong woman – Pam or Jan. In the final analysis, I see Jan drawing a weak unknown or no opponent. It is Jan who is the prime sponsor for Jessica’s Law this term and it has a 92% approval among the electorate and lots of press. (Jan: 60-40 or 100-0)

I actually see Dan Roach drawing Chris Hurst as a challenger this time. The problem for Chris is that Dan is well-liked, well financed and has lots of upside potential in the state. Dan gets lots of help from the family name and from the top of the ticket in the area: Dave Reichert. (Dan: 57-43).

There you got it. Now lets see what kind of guesser I am.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A week from today, I have to vote for a new Republican Party Chair. The Pierce County Central Committee strongly advised me to vote for Diane after she gave a quite good speech at the committee meeting last weekend. Still, I am torn. Why? A Joni Balter editorial piece (Seattle Times, January 19, 2006) that made me think. Joni, (whom I usually ignore because she is neck and neck with Karl Marx in a race to extreme left), said:

"Political parties are shaped in part by the individual who leads them. The party leader becomes the personality of a party, one who sets the tone for candidates and elections."

I agree, with one minor change. It's not an individual who leads the party it's individuals - and in our case two. There is the "statesman leader" (at the national level the President, at the state level the governor) and the "executive leader" (the Party Chair.) For the foreseeable future we fortunately have an active, popular, engaged and engaging statesman leader, the twice elected governor: Dino.

Our opponents have the unpopular, sworn-in Lawyer-Governor: Christine.

So who is Christine supporting for the new Democrat Party Chair (strangely, both parties are picking new executive leaders on the same day)? Well, Joni’s words are helpful:

"Democrats are most likely to pick former King County Councilman Dwight Pelz, who would be the Democratic equivalent of Vance. Pelz is strident and flies off the handle as a matter of routine. Outbursts are part of his shtick. He is comfortable alienating friends and colleagues with ridiculous tirades about off-beat issues like Cuba."

Peas in a pod. Passionless and poisonous.

Ok, what about Dino’s inclination for Party Chair? Again, back to Joni's words:

"Republican Party leaders are backing Fredi Simpson, a young, grass-roots leader from Chelan County. She is Hispanic and has been a small-business woman, which provides a different public face for the GOP. Party leaders favor her over the often-unpleasant Diane Tebelius, whose name pops up frequently for political jobs."

Now Diane has never been unpleasant to me, though I obviously don’t know about her relationship with the press. But the Republican Party is not a courtroom, it is people who are passionate about issues, about candidates and about the American dream.

Dino is passionate about Washington and American dream. He is not cold, nor does he denigrate his opponents. He uses self-deprecating humor to disarm them. We need someone with just his style to be the executive leader of the party and set the tone for issues and candidates. Someone with an undying smile, self-deprecating humor and passion. Someone, like Dino, who is respectfully received in our cities' colorful central districts and hilltops, the rural Granges, corporate boardrooms and union halls.

Knowing both candidates, Fredi is the one closest to the Dino style. She is passionate, joyful, steel backboned, effective and all with a smile. She is equally and respectfully received in the barrios, the boardrooms, the orchards and the Boeing factory floor.

So, Dino and Fredi. Peas in a pod. Passionate and poisonless.