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Two interesting polls in governor’s race
Plus a big bipartisan vote on the Blake fix, some budget vetos, and a transparency contest
Pollsters were in the field this week testing positive and negative messages about potential candidates for governor, including two who aren’t in the race just yet.
The survey — passed to us by a friend of The Observer — asked about Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Commissioner of Public Lands Hillary Franz, the two prominent Democrats already in the race. It also asked about Republican Raul Garcia, who’s in, and moderate Democratic Sen. Mark Mullet, who’s openly considering. But somewhat weirdly, it also floats the name of Seattle City Council Debora Juarez, who isn’t seeking reelection next year.
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While the Seattle City Council is generally regarded as the springboard to nowhere in Washington politics, Juarez is that body’s first Native American member. There’s some angst on the left that the two Democrats currently in the race are white politicians from affluent areas. It’s not clear who’s behind this survey. It’s most likely some deep-pocketed player looking for a horse that isn’t Attorney General Bob Ferguson, the presumptive front-runner.
The survey tested positive and negative messaging on all the candidates. At this point in the campaign, you’re looking for strengths and weaknesses, both in your opponents and in the candidate or candidates you might favor. This is smart money looking to see whether there’s likely to be a political return on investment:
For example, here’s the positive message on Juarez:
And here’s the negative message on Mullet:
Mullet and some of his likely supporters might not necessarily view this as particularly negative messaging; his path to victory wouldn’t involve many folks motivated by strict loyalty to the Democratic Party.
Some list of somebodies is going to get the results of that poll in a few days. If any of our readers are on that list, don’t hesitate to drop us the toplines.
While we’re on the subject of polls we’ll likely never see…
One of the biggest political donations of the year thus far wasn’t strictly money, but rather information. Late last month, the Washington State Democratic Central Committee dropped $28,000 worth of opinion research on now-lame duck Gov. Jay Inslee’s re-election campaign, which was then still technically alive.
Inslee peaced out a few days later, announcing he wouldn’t seek an unprecedented fourth term. These two events may or may not be related. This is the kind of poll that never sees the light of day, both because it likely contained some unflattering numbers on Inslee and because it will be full of strategically important information for the party going forward. Under Washington’s campaign finance restricts, the state party is uniquely allowed to give Inslee’s campaign such a large in-kind donation.
We found this tidbit in Inslee’s latest filing with the Public Disclosure Commission. Interestingly, the survey hasn’t shown up yet on Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s disclosures. That suggests the party conducted it at Inslee’s behest. Again, if you’ve seen the results, don’t be shy.
A big bipartisan compromise on Blake fix
We’re not going to get deep in the weeds on the Legislature’s special session to clean up it’s last-day mess on the Blake fix. If you want to go deep, the folks at the Washington State Standard were all over it.
We’ll just note that the negotiators on this bill found a really big center with their compromise. The vote was 83-12 in the House and 43-6 in the Senate, which is an absolute landslide on an issue this controversial. Lawmakers — especially majority Democrats in the House — were subjected to extended scolding both in the traditional news media and online over the end-of-session meltdown.
Broadly speaking the bill increases penalties for drug possession over current law and creates a new offense for public use of illegal drugs. It also envisions spending heavily to divert offenders into addiction treatment instead of jail.
That so few progressive Democrats voted “no” is also remarkable given the strong opposition to the compromise from the ACLU of Washington, which was all over Twitter early Tuesday urging a “no” vote. The ACLU was last seen on this issue folding a high-dollar initiative campaign for broad decriminalization.
The big issue going forward on this new law is going to be the availability and effectiveness of drug treatment in lieu of going to jail for drug possession. There is a broad shortage of treatment, and the treatment that exists is frequently ineffective.
A nugget from the budget vetoes
Gov. Jay Inslee waited until the last day to act on the state’s budget, and used his veto pen to excise a few select items. Most of them were for pretty straightforward reasons. (The bill the money was earmarked to implement didn’t pass, for example.)
Perhaps most notable was a proviso directing the Department of Social and Health Services to consult with Native American tribes before placing a sexually violent predator in less restrictive alternative housing within a mile of a tribal reservation. We’re told Inslee vetoed it despite strong lobbying from tribes to leave it in. Inslee’s veto message decribed the proviso as “administratively burdensome.”
A public-records race
We just kicked off a little impromptu government transparency race between the two statewide officeholders running for governor next year.
We submitted identical public records requests on Monday for the calendars of Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Commissioner of Public Lands Hillary Franz from April 24 through May 15. For a baseline, we made a similar request for Gov. Jay Inslee’s calendar.
Inslee’s office, to his credit, sets a high standard in this area. They typically cough up his calendar in a matter of days, even though we routinely mine it for stories that aren’t great for them. In this case, they shipped itover to us just a day later, so the aspirants to that sweet suite in the capitol are already in the hole.
We’ve requested Franz’s calendar once before, back in 2021. Her office took more than a month to get it to us.
Ferguson’s calendar is new territory for us. Because Since he’s the state’s top lawyer, he’ll frequently be in the position to invoke attorney-client privilege.
Clock’s ticking, folks.
No Friday edition this week
Our man Tim Gruver is taking a well-deserved week off and the weather is insanely beautiful, so there will be no Friday edition of the Observer. Fold up that laptop and get outside.
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Caption contest starts …. now
We reached out to the party, but we’re not optimistic….
The governor, as usual, enjoys him some good seats a sporting events. He made time for Opening Day both at T-Mobile Park, where La Piedra spun six scoreless innings for the Seattle Mariners in a 3-0 win over Cleveland, and at Cheney Stadium, where the Tacoma Rainiers hung a 12-5 beating on the Reno Aces.