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September 20, 2006

Congrats to the Voters of WA State

Good sense reigned yesterday as the voters of Washington State turned away from all three BIAW-supported State Supreme Court challengers - Groen, Johnson and Burrage.  This is a huge win.  Washington voters have allowed the "non-partisan" races to float by under the radar in the past.  The supporters of Groen had in the neighborhood of $2 million, 20X the previous high in expenditures for a judicial race in Washington state.  Voters seem to be paying attention to a broader range of issues than anytime in the near past and seem more determined to maintain charge of our democracy.  Yeah!  Yeah to the citizens, Republican and Democratic, for stepping up to defend these seats from being out and out bought by interests from out of state being fronted by the BIAW.

Steve Johnson still has a chance in the general election since there were several candidates for that position and Susan Owens did not receive over 50% of the vote.  And, the enormous amount of money dumped into the race to support John Groen against Gerry Alexander is likely to be moved over to try to salvage Steve Johnson's challenge to Owens but a 13% deficit is going to be hard to overcome. 

One of our challenges will be to maintain vigilance.  John Groen's supporters have already said that they expect to run him again.  And indeed, they have had success in re-running candidates in the past.   

Federal Races

As of 3:08 AM this morning, with almost 100% of the precincts reporting, Cantwell has received 308,658 votes to McGavick's 207,266 votes.  I don't know how that transfers over to the general election but it seems to bode well.  Darcy received 19,529 votes to Reichert's 19,133 which seems hopeful at this point in the campaign.  With increased name visibility, and continued determination, Darcy should be able to pull this out. 

The numbers from east of the mountains are less hopeful.  In the 4th, Richard Wright received only 14,502 votes to Hastings' 33,264.  In the 5th, Peter Goldmark received 32, 937 votes to 43,642 for Cathy McMorris.  These numbers are not insurmountable for Goldmark.  With his charisma and on-going voter interaction, he may still be able to reach those many voters who tend not to vote in the primaries. 

Voter Turnout

This brings me to the big issue of voter turnout.  These numbers will go up as the last of the absentee votes are counted but here is a sampling of the voter turnout numbers so far:

Chelan             28.66
Clark               28.83
Douglas           24.76
Garfield           53.98
Grant              32.57
Jefferson        46.04
King               11.66
Okanogan       22.19
Pend Oreille    40.78
Pierce             23.40
Spokane         27.30

We are not done, folks.  The Democratic ground game for the general election is going to be critical.  I think these numbers tell us that the most critical thing we can do is to give money to the Burner and Goldmark campaigns.  Dan has put up a Northwest Netroots-endorsed candidates page for donations.  Try it out.

UPDATE: The Goldmark campaign is heartened by the primary results for their candidate.  In a press release sent out today, they cite Alonso Rosado, a statistical analyst in the 2004 congressional race in the 5th district, who says, “To see this strong a showing for a Democratic candidate in this district is a clear indication of broad-based support. It’s a sign to me that Goldmark is a strong and competitive candidate.”

The press release also discusses the impact of the closed primary ballot, saying that Spokane county and other counties in the 5th CD had hotly contested sheriff's races, which prompted both Democrats and Independents to cross over and vote Republican in the primary, thus lessening the vote for Goldmark, who, of course, was not on the Republican primary ballot.  Even with that, Goldmark received more votes in Okanogan county than McMorris and nearly as many in Spokane county.

Posted by Lynn Allen on September 20, 2006 at 08:58 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink

Comments

The huge influx of special interest money in judicial races in this years Washington State primary elections points to the need for further campaign finance reform.

Five suggestions:

1. Limit individual contributions to $1400 per donor per election whether given directly to a candidate's campaign committee or indirectly to any so called "independent" PAC.

The current law passed by the Legislature this year only limited the donation to the candidate's campaign committee and we see that this obviously allowed a giant loophole which the BIAW choose to use.

We seem to have been lucky this year that the BIAW could not buy a seat for Groen on the Court, but part of this only happened because the huge spending became an issue. We may not be so lucky in future years if this kind of outrageous special interest spending becomes common place.

2 Remove the high stakes spending for State Supreme Court by setting up public financing for judicial races. Such a system would match huge spending advantages by those choosing not to participate in the program.

3. Require that the Secretary of State, in cooperation with civic groups like the League of Women Voters of Washington, set up 4 or more state sponsored public forums and debates for candidates across the State, 1 in eastern Washington and 3 in western Washington.

4. Mandate that the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission upgrade their discloure website for all candidates to the caliber set by the www.VotingforJudges.org website. Timely day to day financial disclosure and analysis is important to keep voters informed.

5. Give the Public Disclosure Commission the ability and enforcement powers to ask for immediate disclosure of campaign finance information that is missing or erroneous. Allow larger fines to be levied for noncompliance.

Posted by: Steve Zemke MajorityRulesBlog | Sep 20, 2006 9:47:06 AM

HELLO PUBLIC FINANCING OF ALL ELECTIONS IS THE ONLY WAY TO STOP SOME OF THIS CRAP! 12345 PUBLIC FINANCING! END OF STORY~!

Posted by: ozy | Sep 22, 2006 9:44:41 PM

Whyy the hell is turnout in King and Pierce so abysmally low? Could it be that Pierce and King voters are sick of our choices and would be ready to vote for candidates from different parties? If so, Pierce voters ought to consider voting for Amendment 3, which will kick out the Pick-a-Party primary and give us one big happy slate in the general in which we can assess the candidates in order of preference, leaving off the ones we don't like. It's called Instant Runoff Voting, and it would be a huge step up!

Posted by: Tahoma Activist | Sep 25, 2006 6:49:12 AM

Turnout it King County rose to 29.47% once most of the absentee votes were tallied and turnout for Pierce went to 34.09%. Still bad, but not so bad.

Posted by: Lynn | Sep 25, 2006 9:54:38 AM

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