Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Political Roundup

I’ve been quiet on local politics for the past few weeks, primarily because I don’t know exactly what’s been happening. Which puts me in the same boat as most of the rest of the State – changes come, things evolve, decisions are made, life goes on, but there has been no really hot, sudden news. So here’s a quick roundup:

The GOP lawsuit for governor (“The Undying Campaign”) is progressing in fits and starts, and here’s the pattern in the past couple months:
• State GOP demands the judge makes his decision right now.
• Judge refuses, forcing both sides to collect evidence to prove their points.
• State GOP declares victory.

Would-be-Governor Rossi held one of those victory-declaring press conferences after one such set-back (when the judge said no to a revote), declaring it a victory. Rossi also made a statement that, if the election is thrown out, he will call for a new election immediately (yeah, there’s a recommendation for deciding in his favor – if elected, he’ll make you do it all over again). At least that was what he clarified after the press conference, because it was a little unclear at the time. My big gripe about Rossi, which goes way back to watching him in the early debates, is that he takes on the issues by surrounding them from all sides.

Meanwhile, Still-Governor Gregoire is dealing head-on with the problem of, you know, actually governing. Which, when you look at it, is a money problem. Everyone wants cash, in particular since federal support is disappearing. So her mantra has become “Good idea – how do we fund it?”

Washington has always been accused of being out of step with the rest of the country, but it has gone positively bizzarro, where Dems are the party of fiscal responsibility and the GOP is the party of lawsuits and vitriol.

More court stuff: The suit against Sam Reed, the Secretary of State who was accused of not doing his job when he was doing his job, has been dismissed. This cause has now been replaced in wingnut-land by a call for Eastern Washington to secede. Which feeds in with the “States of Mind” series I’ve been running off and on. So some of the more radical dunderheads on the right are threatening to leave, and some of the more radical dunderheads on the left are saying “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Which is of course ridiculous on both sides.

My research on the “States of Mind” does point out that such in-house secession – Jefferson, UP, Franklin, West Virginia, always revolves around the pro-secession group feeling they don’t have enough of a piece of the action and funding from the parent state. The prob with the Eastern Washington is, like a lot of the conservative heartland, we’re pouring more money in than we’re getting back. Which makes sense because there is a lot more land and a lot fewer people out there, so basic improvements (like a bridge or a community center) will affect fewer people while holding the same price tag. Look for this to rankle on for a while, and I’ll get back to the State of Mind write-ups.

In the legislature, legislators and Sam Reed are backing reforms in the process, many of these proposals actually have a chance of becoming law. Most of the proposals are pretty solid – move the primary up, get the absentee ballots in before Election Day, provide the option of all-mail-in ballots. A couple I have problems with. One is to make Secretary of State a non-partisan office. I think this one is a bad idea, in that it creates the chance of “stealth” candidates, who claim no political affiliation, but get backing from one major group or the other. State Supreme Court justice Jim Johnson, backed heavily by the developers, was effectively running as Republican, but without the downside of having to identify himself as one. I’d prefer the man in the office to be non-partisan, not the office itself.

And lastly, what of the OTHER Republican in State Government, Attorney General Rob McKenna? Well, so far he’s been doing a pretty good job - he has been pushing for greater transparency in state business, and has been moving forward on fighting identity fraud. If the GOP keeps throwing talented individuals into office, the Dems would have something to worry about. For the moment, the State GOP still always has spin, lawsuits, and radio.

More later,