Friday, September 12, 2003

The Friends of Mr. Fortunato (Cont).

Meanwhile, in King County’s 9th District, the Republicans are putting their best feet forward, dishing their opponents only slightly, and there is a curious sighting of the Democratic contender.

The official vote pamphlets are out, the local media has made its endorsements, and we are four days away from the election. Now we see the mailings.

Phil Fortunato is almost restrained this time, pitching himself as “The Taxpayer’s Choice”in a red, white, and blue mailing that stresses that he has real ideas to solve the traffic problem, and, given his background as an environmental consultant (and property rights advocate) he can bring all sides to the table. He also supports Family, Small Business, Seniors, Mom, Apple Pie, and Bunnies. It’s a pretty standard mailer, and surprising only in its restraint.

Incumbent Steve Hammond is also pretty straightforward, running as “Respected. Effective”. He rolls out the endorsements of both the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Times (though wisely excerpts those primary endorsement from the entire editorial, which describes him as “the best of a weak field”). He also claims the mantle of his predecessor, bringing the wife of the previous office-holder in with a quote that Hammond is the recognized heir to the throne. He does deplore his opponents both for saying that he is not the true dauphin, and also chides them for “playing games” with their residency “in order to get a political paycheck”. Its fun to watch the incumbent run declare his opponent to be a “career politician.” A few swipes here, but nothing really horrible.

So we have to turn to Pam Roach, who has put four mailings into my mailbox, including a four-color newpaper-style version, for more fire and brimstone. She’s putting the cash in for this, and has a couple great moves that show up repeatedly, including linking Sexual Predators with Higher Property Taxes. It’s a bit of a bend, but every time she mentions the need to keep sexual criminals at bay (her personal accomplishment is that she got the state to move a half-way house elsewhere) she follows up with a push against higher taxes. Obviously the two are connected! She wants lower taxes, but also supports GPS tracking for sexual predators, because that, of course, will be money well spent.

She is also running against Hammond, since he was put into office “by Democrats”, and that “Liberals are planning to increase utility taxes Unless We Stop Them.’ Just a whiff of grapeshot, there, the Republican rallying song. She is, of course, the Taxpayer’s Friend, with Experience That Counts (Phil and Steve’s experiences, of course, do not count, and she notes it accordingly). She also warns that her opponents are bringing out “attack mail”. Cool. I’m still waiting for it.

Also regarding Ms. Roach, a King County judge has ruled that Pam Roach is able to run, despite her most recent move to the area. The P-I reported this news using the words “dubious” and “reluctantly” in describing the judge’s decision. The Times was more neutral, but brought up some of Roach’s past actions, including her reportedly threatening her aides with a handgun. Roach remains her own worst opponent.

Yet it’s the Democrat who provides the most ammo in the fight this week, which surprises me. Barbara Heavey has been invisible through most of this process, the George Harrison of this quartet. Without an opponent in the primary, she can gather her forces against the winner. Yet she’s in four-color territory with both of her mailings, but I don’t know why.

One of them is pretty smartly-aimed at the demographic here – “It’s not about a Party Line, It’s about the Bottom Line.” She’s put herself in as a pragmatic Democrat – lower taxes and smaller government, supporting our medical resources, and positioning herself as a moderate. “Vote the person, not the party.” It’s a good push for this region, and I don’t believe that she’s not what she claims.

The other mailing is interesting in the extreme – it’s a 4/4 foldout attack on the three Republicans. The outer folds tell how bad “sprawl” in (more taxes, worse highways, poorer services), and then on the inside goes after the three Repubs for their campaign contributions from developers and “pro-sprawl” special interests. Its meant to swing people over to her “person of the people” stance, but instead it raises questions -
• What’s a pro-sprawl special interest, anyway? Is it a box you check on the form?
• Why count entire careers? Yeah, Pam Roach got 85 K, but only about 2 K of that for this campaign. Hammond, listed as 13 K, got 6 of it for this campaign (7k for a failed big for State Representative three years earlier that I hadn’t known about).
• And this is interesting – Phil pitched that his was a small campaign, but according to this (and its pulled from Public Disclosure Commissions Records), he’s gotten 3 K from these interests, more than supposedly Developer favorite Pam Roach (The Times identified Roach and Hammond as having strong developer support, but not Fortunato)
• So Barb, thanks for the information, but where are YOU getting your money from?

This is an interesting development – an Attack Moderate. I can’t imagine this playing in the more rural neighborhoods further to the south, and this mailing may only be targeted to the Benson Hill area. Are her cash reserves that secure? Does she want to make a solid showing against the split Repub field, making her seem a sure thing? Is she doing groundwork to show her opponents as being “too controversial” for elected office? I don’t know, but I’ll keep you posted.

More later.