History, politics, people of Oly WA

Month: August 2006 (Page 1 of 4)

Penoyar for Judge


In addition to the conservative attempts to sandbag the state Supreme Court, there seems to be a similar effort to unseat a quality judge at the Appeal Court level in Southwest Washington. Judge Joel Penoyar is facing off with Brent Boger, who had been given a plus rating by the Faith and Freedom Network and is the former head of the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Northwest office.

Like the Supreme Court races, Appeal Judges can be unseated in the primary. Penoyar is a judge in Division II, District 3 (which covers Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties).

In addition to not liking the Faith and Freedom Network and the PLF, I have personal reasons for preferring Judge Penoyar, probably over most other candidates. I met Judge Penoyar when I was covering a small town controversy for the Montesano Vidette. The case of a McCleary Mayor that had been accused of stealing from the city was moved out of Grays Harbor and into Pacific County, where Judge Penoyar was then a Superior Court judge.

While I and my colleague waited for court to start (we got their early) Judge Penoyar chatted with us in his chambers. Somewhat about how he expected to behave (within the bounds of reason), but mostly he quizzed us about our impressions of college and how we’d come to choose ours. We were both young, and recently out of college. I was actually still working towards my degree at Evergreen, and it was odd feeling to be asked for advice from a judge. A really judgy looking judge too.

A year or so later I was back in South Bend covering a high school football game for the Aberdeen Daily World. I was walking up to the press box when I passed Judge Penoyar, this time in his civies. He recognized me and we chatted. His son had chosen a school (I forget where specifically, but I think it was a small liberal arts college in the midwest), and that he’d chosen it so he could play soccer (not a bad reason). Since I was a sports reporter (technically) at the time, Judge Penoyar also took the opportunity to suggest that the Daily World make an extra effort to cover more soccer games in Pacific County.

In my two run-ins with Judge Penoyar I always got the impression that he was a genuinely nice guy and a fair person. That he is a judge makes sense to me. That he is now being challenged by a far right lawyer feels offensive.

Here is what I can find out about Boger so far:

  • Former PLF Lawyer. The PLF is a right wing, property rights law firm that fights the bad fight on many environmental and land use fights in the West.
  • Plus rating by the Faith and Freedom Network. While Judge Penoyar declined to fill out their questionnaire, Boger got a plus rating by saying he supported the “U.S. Supreme Court, Boy Scouts can deny leadership positions to homosexuals” and for sending out a press release this year supporting the Supreme Court’s “defense of marriage” ruling.
  • His “bi-partisan” endorsements include: Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson, Dino Rossi (who gave him $100), and Senator Slade Gorton.
  • Two of his top contributions include $1,400 from the 49th LD Republicans (no Democratic organization gave him money) and $1,400 from the Washington Affordable Housing Council, the PAC of the Building Industry Association of Washington.

Sen. Tim Sheldon to be opposed by state party, officially

From email:

…please be advised that State Party Chair Dwight Pelz is convening a press conference at 10 AM tomorrow morning at our campaign office (506 SW Columbia) to announce the Washington State Democrats’ endorsement of Kyle Taylor Lucas in the 35th LD Senate primary race against incumbent Tim Sheldon.

And, our county party is also putting down a lot of money on Kyle Taylor Lucas, Sheldon’s opponent:

Thurston County Democrats Vote to Provide $15,000 to Kyle Taylor Lucas’ Primary Campaign

At its monthly central committee meeting tonight, the Thurston County Democrats (TCD) voted unanimously to donate $15,000 from the local party to 35th LD State Senate candidate Kyle Taylor Lucas. Ms. Lucas is vying for the seat currently held by incumbent Senator Tim Sheldon, who’s also running as a Democrat.
TCD Chair, John Cusick, stated “It’s amazing how critical this primary race is to our membership and, from what I’m hearing, Democrats across Washington state. Our members recognize Kyle, unlike the incumbent, doesn’t have big corporate contributions contributing to her primary election bid. Their long-standing, deep frustration with the incumbent’s votes against the interests of the district’s working men and women and their families, coupled with his outright support of George Bush and the Republican party compelled them to do whatever they could to help ensure she can get her message out to more voters during the next several weeks.”
Each of the local party organizations within the 35h LD has voted to support Lucas’ bid to gain the Democratic nomination during this season’s primary election.

More on Tim Sheldon:
Tim Sheldon Lied, he gave $10,000 to the GOP

Which Democratic candidates did Sheldon help beat in 2002?

Tim Sheldon fails to get campaign services from Thurston County Democrats

More Tim Sheldon thoughts: “shouting down”

Tim Sheldon loses endorsement of 35th District Dems

TC Blue: Sheldon and voting the represent the district
Flummo: Oly chat
Flummo: Recall the Hillbilly!
Evergreen Politics: Kyle Taylor Lucas: Sheldon-Slayer?
Chase’s blog: A New Letter That I Have Written

RE: SP’s “Suppression of Dissent in Mrs. Gregoire’s Amerikkka”

They… won’t… let… him … post… Legislative press releases on his campaign website! Oh my freaking God, what a travesty!!

Turns out Rep. Toby Nixon wants to cut and past some press releases written for him by his legislative staff onto his campaign website. Also turns out this is against the rules (for Democrats, Republicans and theoretical Libertarians) and he is being asked to take them down. Turns out that the legislative caucus websites basically become blank during campaign season so as not to run imply that state money is being used for campaigns.

Stephan casts this as a “public information” sort of bad thing, that by asking Nixon to take the state-funds written press releases down, they’re also asking him to take information away from the public. Oh, ok. Because there is no other way for people to find out what their legislators are doing, other than through legislative caucus press releases.

Two possible ways they could get around this one.

1. Get a nice eager Young Republican intern (or paid staffer) to rewrite the press releases. This isn’t that hard, shouldn’t take anyone very long. In most circles its called plagiarism, most students these days are familiar with the technique. Shouldn’t be a problem.

Take these rewritten press releases and then post them on your website. For of course they were actually written by your campaign staff, but were based on publicly available information.

2. Understand the Internet. Just because something is taken off a website, doesn’t mean it is gone. Both Google Cache and the internet archive are really good at finding old versions of websites, such as the House Republican Caucus newspapge. In this case, Google Cache wins though.

For example: House approves loans for public works projects benefiting East King County communities

While they’re copies of the original works of state employees, they aren’t actually hosted on state servers, possibly getting around the letter, if not the intent, of the law.

UPDATE: Here’s Nixon’s letter and press release on the topic. Nothing new to add, but it was funny to see him mention the difference between a paper society and a digital one. FYI, Michael O’Connell and Emmett O’Connell, no relation.

Will the Grange non-partisan initiative turn into IRV?

Could the Democratic majority in the legislature and the Democratic governor get the Grange to put their guns down and craft a deal on elections in Washington? The end result being an Instant Runoff Voting system?

For more information on how IRV works, go here.

Assume two things happen by December:

1. The Democratic Party maintains its lead in both the state House and Senate.

2. The Grange puts together a campaign and files an initiative for a totally non-partisan primary.

I’m not that well informed enough to know if the first is going to happen, but what I haven’t heard there is much of a chance of Democrats losing our majorities.

And as for the second, from what the Grange folks have been saying, they’re on their way to developing their initiative, either for 2007 or 2008. Seattle Times:

“This is our most viable option, no party designation,” said Dan Hammock, spokesman for the Grange

“Now is the time for the voters of this state to unite to take control of elections back from the political parties,” state Grange President Terry Hunt said. “The Grange will go forward with the top-two initiative, and follow the court’s direction by removing any and all party designations on the ballot.”

But, instead of pushing for a Top Two non-partisan qualifying primary, what if the Grange dropped its guns and joined the Democratic Party majority in the legislature to craft an Instant Runoff Vote bill? While it seems the Grange is dead set on resurecting the original 1935 Open Primary, Democratic activists across the state seem to like the idea of IRV.

IRV has the unique position of actually being what the Grange would like (allowing anyone to vote for any candidate) and being a political possibility with at least one of the parties in the state. For example at least two county Democratic parties included IRV in their platforms recently (Whatcom this year and Thurston in 2004).

Also, famous rocker, Granger and Democrat, Krist Novoselic is a big supporter of IRV (his post at Washblog here), and could help make this happen.

In terms of convincing legislators on and IRV system, it is a matter of convincing them that first the Grange’s non-partisan primary initiative would actually be filed and win. Given the above quote, the Grange is going to do it. Whether it would win or not, remember I-872 won by over 60 percent and won in every county Washington.

And, two they would need to think that IRV would have to be a system they could live with. Given number one would be true, would they rather live in a world where their political affiliations didn’t appear beside their names? I’m not a legislature, I don’t really know, but I have an idea.

Sort of a preview of this possibility, an IRV charter amendment is on the ballot in Pierce County this fall. It uses the same type of language that you would assume the next Grange iniative would use “Want Something Different than the Pick A Party Primary?” and “Any Candidate, Any Party.”

It also has the support of a diverse and bi-partisan group of Pierce County politicians, including two sitting county council members (on Dem and one R) the Republican auditor candidate, a couple of Democratic PCOs and a Bonney Lake city council member. If Proposition 3 ends up passing, it would say a lot about whether IRV has broad support.

Democratic Party Builder

A year or so ago when I wrote about meetup.com starting to charge for their services, I complained that the DNC needed to come out with their own out of the box solution. Since then DFA launched theirs, Townhall did so too and some private sector replacements have sprung up.

Yesterday, though, the DNC launched their own package, including a meetup type application, Party Builder:

Over a year ago, a few of us here in the DNC’s Internet department started talking about devolving our technology to users. After all, you’re Democrats too, so why were we the only ones with a blog on Democrats.org? Well, after a lot of work by a lot of people, now you do — along with a lot of other things.

We’re pushing out a group of tools today we call PartyBuilder. A literal name for obvious reasons: the Party belongs to you, and it’s built upon the work and passion so many of you have put into things like door knocking, phone banking and, yes, contributing. Now, we’re giving you the tools to build it online.

There’s a lot here. Social networking, grouping, a community blog, the events tool you’ve used for things like the 50-State Canvass or the Democratic Reunion, personal fundraising tools, and a petitions and letters section that we’re going to expand on. You should take a minute to look through it…it’s exciting stuff.

I’d like to tell you more, but I can’t seem to log in. I know I have an account with democrats.org, it won’t let me create a new account with my email address, but it also won’t let me sign in with it. Even when I request a new password. Weirdness.

Anyway.

This is a good description of the different tools. I’m mostly interested in the local meeting tool, friends tool (which could replicate the “getting the newbies involved” greatness of meetup) and the My Friends tool (kind of like MySpace for Democrats?).

One thing I hope happens is that the CIOs of the various state parties and the tech geeks at the county and local parties latch onto this and try to meld as much of what we’re doing to what is going on at the national level. Actually, that would be something tell you could happen if I could sign in. A great idea would be to have an RSS feed based on a search of local events from democrats.org. That feed could be published on the sites of local Democrat clubs. Would be pretty cool.

Which Democratic candidates did Sheldon help beat in 2002?

When Sen. Tim Sheldon sent $10K to the Republican Senate Campaign Committee in 2002, $7K of it came before the election when the Republicans took back control of the Senate. While $10K may not be a lot in the grand scheme of things, it may have actually swung the election, it was so freakin’ close.

Said Chris Vance in 2002:

The post-election lay of the land is this: Republicans lost two seats in the state House and are in a 46-52 minority. In the state Senate, however, the GOP came from behind to capture a 25-24 majority

In the campaigns for state Senate, on the other hand, Republicans showed the strength of our get-out-the-vote drive. Of the seven competitive Senate races, the GOP won six. Winning the majority in one chamber of the state Legislature — while the House and governor’s office are still controlled by the Democrats — is no small feat. It means Republicans will be able to help set the agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

So who were the Democrats that lost to Tim Sheldon and the RSCC in 2002?

Laurie Dolan lost to Jim West (yes, that Jim West) by less than 2,000 votes out of almost 50,000 cast in LD 6.

Betty Ringlee lost to Robert Oke 49.5 percent to 50.4 percent up in Kitsap County. This is the same seat that Rep. Derek Kilmer has a good chance at winning this year, if Sheldon doesn’t ship money off to his opponent, Lois McMahan (yes, that Lois McMahan).

Yvonne Ward lost to Pam Roach (yes, Pam Roach) by just over a thousand votes and a couple of percentage points in LD 31.

Georgia Gardner lost in the 42nd to Dale Brandland, where a Green Party candidate pulled enough votes that would have put Gardner on top.

Phil Doerflein (47 percent) lost to David Schmidt (53 percent) in LD 44.

Deborah Jacobson (45 percent) lost to Stephen Johnson (55 percent) in LD 47.

The Democratic Party shouldn’t have sued to overturn the Top Two primary

It would have been thrown out anyway, because I’m sure the Republicans would have taken it this far too. But, that isn’t my real reason.

In 2004, political participation spiked. But, not in a way that benefited organized politics or parties.

More people tried to influence how others voted:

A lot more people put a sticker on their car or wore a button:

But only a small amount of additional people attended political meetings in 2004. This increase probably has to do with the increase in non-traditional meetings available (such as meetups) that the parties never intended to happen:

And the percentage of people who actually “worked” for a candidate during 2004 stayed exactly the same as in 2000, 2002 and in 2004:

Even though more people were engaged in 2004 it didn’t translate into the deep sort of engagement that turns people out during March of an off season to build the party. Our local and state parties couldn’t translate increase participation in 2004 into increased participation later on because we aren’t built to catch those kinds of citizens.

So, what does this have to do with the Top Two primary?

The most blistering attack on the Top Two is that it hurts parties, and therefore hurts democracy. I’d agree that parties are good for Democracy, but the kinds of parties that are built for closed primaries are not the kinds of parties people are seeking to join. In essence, we need parties that are built for people that tried to get their friends to vote a certain way and put bumper stickers on their cars, but didn’t attend a political meeting.

As politics is becoming less traditional, moving out into the world of personal relationships, so do the parties (or at least the Democratic Party does, I don’t really care what the Republicans do).

I like the ideas of the Blue Tiger Democrats in this regard. They say the local parties should be as interested in civic engagement on the local level as they are with winning elections. The more people see the Democratic Party itself as a force for good, the way you see the Shriners or the Lions, and less as an organization that sues to overturn a popular initiative and win elections for the sake of winning elections, the better.

Granted, the Top Two primary is gone and was obviously unconstitutional. But, I would have loved to see the party that thrived under those conditions. How would you have built a party, with broad participation, if you had an open primary system?

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