Thursday, August 31, 2006

Primary Election Predictions

Well, the ballots are in the mail, so this is where is where the rubber meets the road...

There has been a lot of talk about voters from each party taking ballots for the other party to try and skew the results so their party candidate can face the weakest opponent in November. Frankly, with so many primary challenges in so many important races, I just don't see that happening. But here’s how I do see the outcome. Let me make it very clear this is not meant as an endorsement for any candidate, just my unscientific predictions of the results in contested races only.

Commissioner — Republican: Patty Lent. I believe in spite of the backlash against Lent by her own party over her Critical Areas Ordinance vote, she will prevail. But in spite of how much money Lent has raised, this could be a lot closer than most people think. The Democrats can live with Lent - she votes with Chris Endresen more often than Jan Angel - and they know they will have a difficult time electing Josh Brown who is wet behind the ears and has yet to have an original thought.

I believe a lot of people in this county would like to see Jack Hamilton elected commissioner, because he is a pretty straight shooter when it comes to standing up for what he believes in. However, on the off chance he actually beats Lent, the Democrats will pull out all the stops against him because they are afraid of him, knowing he is conservative on issues - especially environmental regulation - he is not the least bit intimiated by Chris Endresen, and that he is not afraid to make the hard choices that Patty Lent does not have the stomach for. And it is also no secret those choices do not usually agree with the liberal positions of the elitists that control the local Democratic Party.

Commissioner — Democrat: Josh Brown. Brown should beat Wally Carlson, who simply got started way too late, and isn't up to speed on the issues. Neither is Brown actually, he just tries to make you believe he is. And finally, no one is going to elect a guy county commissioner who steadfastly refuses to wear a suit, opting for overalls instead. Carlson, a genuine nice guy who is sincere in his beliefs and is running for all the right reasons, has engaged some first-class campaign help, but it may be too little, too late.

26th District House — Republican: Could go either way. Ron Boehme has more money, and presents himself well, but his right-wing religious beliefs scare people. Trent England is easily the most knowledgeable of all candidates - from either party - where the issues are concerned. He is sincere, earnest, thoughtful, and pretty impressive when you talk to him one-on-one. The problem is, he is also somewhat shy, and just needs to get a lot more comfortable pressing the flesh at every opportunity. While he would, in my view, probably make a better state representative than Boehme - or Democrat Larry Seaquist - his limited comfort zone with strangers is a major handicap to getting elected. Because of those shortcomings, coupled with Boehme and his fanatical right wing religious views making many voters uncomfortable, I believe this could go either way - although if England actually talks to enough people, he could prevail.

26th District Senate — Republican: A toss up. But I give Jim Hines a slight edge. Perennial candidate Lois McMahan has been running for well over a year, but enraged the party leadership in both Kitsap and Pierce counties - not to mention at the state level - by openly insulting retiring Senator Bob Oke by announcing for his seat right after he had been diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer - and pissing off a fair number of people by doing that. She still may pull it out - but it will be close if she does. I have to concur with Republican leadership in its belief that McMahan is a polorizing figure who has proven she is not electable over the long term, and that if she wins this primary, will most likely hand that seat to popular Democrat Derek Kilmer for as long as he wants it. The Kilmer campaign is salivating at the prospect of another run against McMahan (he beat her two years ago for the House seat he now occupies), but isn't very prepared for Hines. Hines is vastly more qualified for the office in terms of practical business and financial experience than McMahan, and has the support of Oke and the backing of the party in both both counties - and at the state level. However, McMahan has raised a lot more money, owns the religious conservative vote, and really does work hard. If McMahan loses, hopefully this will be her swan song, and she will retire from politics - and finally stop hamstringing her party from fielding truly electable candidates.

35th District Senate — Democrat: Tim Sheldon. The party’s bitter, all out war against Sheldon will backfire. Kyle Taylor Lucas is a carpetbagger and party lap dog — and voters in the 35th know it. She doesn't even live in the district. She rented a Shelton address from Rep. Kathy Haigh just so she could run. The Democratic Party hates Sheldon because he votes for the best interests of his district - NOT how the party demands he vote. That means he has been on the wrong side of most tax-and-spend issues - and there is no worse sin than voting against a tax if you are a Democrat.

Kitsap County Assessor: Jim Avery. This Republican-only (the Democrats have not fielded a candidate) race will be decided in the primary. Avery has name recognition, experience both in the job and in the real estate industry, and the power of incumbency. Challenger Kris Danielson has none of these and is an opportunist who sees our recently released and highly increased property tax assessments as a chance to get a $100,000 a year job. In spite of her campaign rhetoric, assessment calculations are governed by state law, and would have been the same whether Danielson was Assessor or not. Informed people understand that.

Kitsap County Sheriff: Steve Boyer: This is another race that will be decided in the primary since there is no Republican opposition. Jim Rye, the Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff's Guild-backed candidate challenging incumbent Boyer, is afraid to debate his boss, and has relied on the union to do his dirty work. Rye publicly announced he will make Guild President Mike Rodrique Undersheriff — which is second in command at the cop shop. So the election comes down to this: Do citizens of Kitsap County want the police union in charge of law local enforcement, or a proven Sheriff whose policies have measurably reduced the crime rate? The answer is a no-brainer in my opinion.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Reprisals" Are a LAME Excuse to Duck a Debate

Jim Rye, the Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff's Guild-backed candidate challenging incumbent Sheriff Steve Boyer, has said he is afraid of "reprisals" if he debates his boss.

Gimme a break! That is about the most lame and pathetic excuse I have ever heard. Rye has openly challenged Boyer to an election for crying out loud. Why is he suddenly afraid of a simple debate?

Frankly, I think Rye is scared to debate Boyer because he knows Boyer has done a good job, is very well liked by the people of Kitsap County, and knows he will get his ass kicked from Port Orchard to Bainbridge Island and back again when actual facts are being debated, not innuendo, accusations and rumors. The differences in their personal styles and the likeability factor will also become extremely transparent in a public setting. Rye can't risk that. But as long as he can hide out and lob cheap shots at Boyer from behind the union’s "blue wall," rather than face him in public, he isn't accountable either.

Rye brags he has been with the department for 30+ years. You have to wonder why he never advanced beyond the rank of Patrolman. The answer is because you have to pass the Sergeant’s exam to do so, and Rye has failed it — more than once.

In my view, Rye is actually a stand-in for Guild President Mike Rodrique, who really wants to be Sheriff, but probably couldn't get elected. But if Rye wins, look for Rodrique to be named Undersheriff — which is second in command at the cop shop.

The issue facing the voters is really pretty simple: Do the citizens of Kitsap County want the police union in charge of law local enforcement, or do they want a proven Sheriff who isn't afraid of a simple public debate? The answer is a no-brainer in my opinion. Boyer deserves to be re-elected. Hopefully, a large margin of victory will send a message to the union. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the leadership wants to hear it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Does Partisan Politics Get ANY Sleazier Than This?

The recent lawsuit filed against Senate Candidate Mike McGavick, stinks worse than Liberty Bay after one of its infamous sewer line breaks.

A Safeco Insurance shareholder, 27-year old Emma Schwartzman, a distant relative of Safeco's founders who inherited a small number of shares of the insurance company, has filed a lawsuit accusing McGavick of malfeasance and "looting" the company. Never mind the company was on the verge of bankruptcy when McGavick took over and turned it around. Makes you wonder what Schwartzman's stock would have been worth without McGavick.

Schwartzman and her attorney, Knoll Lowney, actually say with a straight face that the suit isn't politically motivated. We have a name for that kind of thing where I come from — it's what comes out of the northern end of a southbound bull.

McGavick received $28 million in a severance package approved by Safeco's board of directors. It's my understanding that $20+ million of that was in stock options — not cash. That board includes former Governor Gary Locke, as well as Kerry Killinger, head of Washington Mutual, Robert Cline, retired CEO of Airborne Freight, Joshua Green III, head of Bainbridge Island-based Sage Fly Rods, and Judith Runstad, of the law firm of Foster Pepper, among others. Runstad is also a director of Wells Fargo and Potlatch Corp, and most other members serve on other corporate boards — including those of Paccar, MBIA Insurance, Esterline Technologies, Delta Airlines, CNET Networks, Nike and Coke.

Like Locke, more than one of those board members are Democrats. This is a pretty high-powered, financially savvy group of folks who aren't about to let Safeco — which is doing quite well these days thanks to McGavick — do anything fiscally irresponsible.

Rather than belabor just how underhanded and squalid this is — other than to say it's about as low and sleazy as hardball partisan politics gets — and a true measure of exactly how desperate the Democrats and incumbent Senator Maria Cantwell must be, I'll just let KING 5's Robert Mak tell the story.