Saturday, September 06, 2003

The Friends of Mr. Fortunato (Cont.)

For those coming in late, the first installment of this is found in the archives under the above name. The short version is - I live in the 9th District of King County, a strongly rural Republican turf with a wedge of Suburbia in its northwest border. Three hard-conservative Repubs are contending for the seat on the King County Council made vacant by the previous office-holder's death (Kent Pullens, another Republican). The three are - the current appointed conservative Republican (Steve Hammond), the opportunistic conservative Republican (Pam Roach), and the populist conservative Republican (Phil Fortunato). There's also a Democrat in the greater race, but its assumed that whoever gets the Repub nomination in the primary will get the seat.

Now, all three have platforms which are pretty darn similar, and of course, are written in code. Translations are provided for their near-identical stands.
- Reduced Government (Translation - take King County Council from 13 district-voted positions to 9 county-wide positions, which the Republicans hope they may dominate).
- Reduced Spending and Taxes (Translation - Reduced spending on anything that does not immediately affect the southeast corner of King County).
- Increased Services (Translation - Increased spending on anything that DOES affect the southeast corner of King County)
-Better Highways (Translation - We get contributions from developers, and they can't make money if we don't get them more roads).

That's pretty much it. Beyond that, it gets nasty and personal. Here's some of the latest:

Fortunato, despite the number of yard signs (campain hint - its a bad idea to put "Another Friend of Phil Fortunato" signs on a vacant lot), is being pretty much ignored by the other two. Regarded a bit of a gadfly, and has been wrapped up with a small business scandal (this is from the Seattle Times - a bookkeeper had accused Fortunato of altering two checks). He's got good name recognition, and is pitching himself as the people's candidate, unafraid to ask tough questions. This is to say that he gets on people's nerves. He says that the current office-holder, Hammond, "owes" the council for his position, and as such would not be a independent voice. Needless to say, county Republican leaders are not fond on independence. Fortunato is trailing in the money race, with less than 10k of contributions.

Pam Roach is the carpetbagger, a very mobile candidate that has changed residences depending on the openings in various local governments. She refers to Hammond as "The Placeholder", and portrays herself as the rightful heir to Pullens (she was one of his aides). She was a state senator for 13 years, and as a result has the best name recognition of the three (Fortunato is close, Hammond is far behind). Unfortunately, as a State Senator, she has a lot of baggage as well, in particular for stunts like standing up on the Senate Floor to demand who moved a bouquet of flowers from her desk. Per the Times, she's gota campaign fund of about 20k, mostly from trucking and development interests. While none of these guys are environmentalists (and I say this knowing Fortunato's job is as an Environmental Consultant), Roach is the most pave-the-earth of the lot.

And then there is Steve Hammond, the current office-holder, a minister from Enumclaw, who is the party leader's choice and has a war chest of 31K, mostly from Republican Party sources and the afore-mentioned develpment interests. He's ignored Phil, but makes the fact that he is a "real resident" part of his mailings and statements for the press, taking on Pam as an interloper. The best thing he has going for him is that, except for his term replacing Pullens, no one knows about him, so he hasn't had a chance to really cheese people off - Fortunato and Roach are in many ways running against their own records as much as against an incumbent.

Anyway, they've been sniping at each other in mailings and in the press, and since there is not a lot of primary action (most of it is incumbant versus sacrificial lamb), this particular race has gotten a lot more press than it might otherwise get from the city newspapers. It has been nasty between the three of them so far, and will probably get nastier in the next two weeks. Fortunato, in particular, is a master of the 11th-hour blitz.

And now you know why I don't comment on California recall election - we have too much fun at home.

More later.