Thursday, April 21, 2005

Local Politics

So it's been a while since checking on the madness of local politics. For those who haven't been paying attention (meaning most of us), here's the way it has been going out here since November:
1. Republican officials declare there is a serious, stunning, obviously-criminal problem in the count.
2. Local Hate-Radio latches on and pummels away at the Democrats
3. Someone actually examines the offered evidence and finds it to be less serious and less stunning and likely more uncriminal than it first appears.
4. Republican officials declare there is a NEW serious, stunning, obviously-criminal problem in the count.

And the cycle turns - dead voters, military ballots, felons, provisional votes - each in turn have risen like haunted house ghosts popping up behind cardboard tombstones. There may even be an ember of truth at the bottom of all this, but it is covered by a pyroclastic flow of rhetorical ash. The latest attempt, an attempt to pull everything together, was a GOP report that stated that if EVERYTHING that they claim is true, and then a bit of statistical voodoo is worked, Rossi would have won, though by a even-smaller margin of victory than Gregoire finally got.

The problem is, while these GOP accusations make good sound bites, these never seem to make their way into court with the official suit that they have brought (which starts officially in early May).

The suit, by the way, seems to be shaping up this way:
1. The State GOP must show there was error.
2. The State GOP must show that the error favored the Dems.
3. The State GOP must show that it was a conspiracy.

The first, I think is a lead-pipe cinch - despite the fact that the Washington State Election got high marks from other states for the accuracy of its election, the fact remains that this was a very close election, and a few hundred votes could (and did) swing it.

The second is more difficult, and is why the GOP is leaning on King County for its evidence, while simultaneously seeking to suppress Democrat efforts looking for similar mistakes in other, redder counties. The GOP, when they talk about "Felons voting" want you to think about poorer, more urban felons, who should therefore be Democrats. Unfortunately, the nature of a felony in the state of Washington includes more upscale crimes like fraud, conspiracy, embezzlement, cooking the books, voter fraud (cue the irony) and building a device to get free cable. In other words, a lot of Washington State's felons might just be getting the Wall Street Journal as home delivery. For my part I'm waiting for the political poll of former felons to surface.

The last charge is the hardest one to prove, given the nature of Democrats themselves. As Abby Hoffman once put it; "Conspiracy? Hell, we couldn't agree on lunch!" Will Rogers chimes in;"I don't belong to an organized political party - I'm a Democrat". The GOP is legendary for its marching orders (more on that later in this column), while the Dems seem, at the best of time, to be like herding cats. And the fact that it works at all is one of the good things about the party.

Whatever the result of the court case will be, this is going to end up in the State Supreme Court, because the loser (Blue or Red) will not let it rest. They should have gone there directly, but I suppose this is how the dance is done.

In other news, having failed to unseat the Governor or bring down the (Republican) Secretary of State, the GOP guns are now turned on the King County Election Director, and by coincidence King County Executive Ron Sims, who is (surprise) coming up for re-election. The latest big gun rolled forward to attack is former Senator Slade Gorton, who is shocked, simply shocked by the corrupt, slipshod way Sims allows things to be run. Which would have more ethical tonnage, of course, if Gorton didn't happen to be the campaign chair for the guy running AGAINST Sims.

Meanwhile, real reform is moving through the state senate, the biggest piece (supported by Secretary of State Sam Reed) being moving the primary date forward, to give the state more time to get the general election ready. Oddly, the state GOP opposes this bit of rationality, which at the time surprised me. Then I saw this bit in the Seattle Times, where the state GOP pretty much announced that they don't want to deal with a primary for upcoming Senate seat anyway, but would rather have their candidate selected by the White House.

I'm serious about this. The party directive (with an apology for any Republican readers who thought they would actually be given a choice) is that would-be Governor Rossi gets first crack (he has said he has no interest in the position, but is it truly a lie when no one really believes you?). But if he doesn't bite (and despite everything, he remains the best-liked potential GOP candidate), then a hand-picked candidate will be offered. Making the pilgrimage east to visit the big boys in DC has been former congressman Rick White, and state GOP chairman Chris Vance (who has been the chief verbal bomb-thrower in this post-election campaign). Mike McGavick, a former Slade Gorton aide (yeah, its is a small world) and CEO of Safeco is also having his name bandied about. But the directive is clear - no primary. The last time they took this route was with Nethercutt, silencing more conservative voices in the process and cheesing off support.

Of course, I'd feel a little better about the state GOP's defense of democratic principles if they, you know, practiced them occasionally.

More later,