Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: elections


There’s no reason to drag out election process

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Are voters in Oregon smarter than those here in Washington?

Apparently. Somehow they’ve been able to get their ballots in by 8 p.m. on Election Day for the last 12 years.

But in this state, which only requires that ballots be postmarked by Election Day, opponents argue that so many people wouldn’t be able to figure out how to get their ballots in on time that they’d essentially be disenfranchised.

That argument doesn’t hold water, according to numbers from the Washington Policy Center. In the last election, voter turnout in Oregon was 82.8 percent. In Washington, turnout was lower – 81.25 percent – even with the extra time voters here had to turn in their ballots.

As for late ballots, the percentage that came in too late in Oregon’s five largest counties was 0.16 percent. In Washington’s: 0.25 percent.

If the Election Day requirement disenfranchised any Oregon voters, they’re not complaining about it. County auditors in Washington hear a lot more complaints about delayed election results due to the fact that only about 60 percent of ballots are turned in by Election Day.

When ballots come in after Election Day, they still have to be opened, inspected, logged in and tallied – which is why some close races aren’t called for weeks.

When results are delayed, with the apparent front-runner switching back and forth, as has happened many times, it can lead to voter cynicism and distrust.

The distrust spread across the state in 2004, during the multiple ballot counts of the infinitesimally close gubernatorial race between Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi. Even now, many Republicans remain convinced that massive voter fraud occurred in King County when “new” batches of ballots just kept popping up long after Election Day.
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Across America, the governed bestow their consent

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

You can almost hear history’s hinges creak today.

American government floats in limbo. Executive power in the world’s dominant nation teeters on a fulcrum. Control of Congress has become a guess.

In Washington, the entire House of Representatives and half the Senate are in flux. The governorship is changing hands, from Chris Gregoire, but will Rob McKenna or Jay Inslee inherit it? Will Washington legalize gay marriage or marijuana? Whose interests will have the upper hand in Olympia for the next four years?

As of this morning, no one knows. The pollsters are irrelevant. Elaborate campaign strategies have been reduced to frantic efforts to persuade supporters to fill out their ballots.

The process deserves awe. The status quo has been dissolved; under America’s constitutional order, political authority has been handed back to ordinary citizens. Their ballots, marked with felt-tips and ballpoints, are shifting or confirming the leadership of the nation and Washington state.

Behind today’s elections are a handful of clauses in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it …”

Election day is precisely when America’s national, state and local government derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Our ballots are the consent forms.
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6 days from election, the scariest Halloween of all

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print editon.

Witches, zombies, ghosts and ghouls. Lions and tigers and bears. Dare we venture out after dark with election day so close at hand?

A pall of horror shrouds the ballot from top to bottom.

It begins with revelations of Barack Obama conniving with top advisers to let terrorists kill his ambassador to Libya – perhaps in expiation for any sins he didn’t cover in his apology tour of the Middle East.

Mitt Romney is no less spooky: He said “binders of women” instead of “binders of names of women,” a telling omission that betrayed his plot to put half the human race in manacles.

But let’s not forget about Obama gutting the Navy by having fewer ballistic-missile warships than Woodrow Wilson had gunboats.

Washington’s elections are haunted by frightful apparitions. Put on the “Shriek” masks, everyone.

Charter schools are fluttering in the twilight, poised to feast on the blood of public education. Just ask the Washington Education Association.

Jay Inslee, running for governor, has exposed a terrifying truth about his rival, Rob McKenna. As attorney general of the nation’s most plaintiff-friendly state, McKenna actually settled lawsuits against the government.

In the race for attorney general, it’s Alien vs. Predator.

According to Democrat Bob Ferguson, Republican Reagan Dunn bought a $707 rug for his office.

According to Dunn, Ferguson bought a $707 table skirt for meetings.

According to Ferguson, Dunn has been charged with a “serious crime.” Which appears to consist of doing doughnuts in a Camaro on a snowy parking lot – at age 17.

According to Dunn, Ferguson once – as a law student, 20 years ago – helped a death row inmate get an attorney. Two would-be attorneys general, both steeped in criminality.
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A quick tour of our choices for the November ballot

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Since the middle of May – five months ago – the editorial board of The News Tribune has been immersed in homework on the ballots now arriving in mail boxes across the state.

We’ve been studying initiatives and issues, interviewing candidates for the August primary, and interviewing yet more candidates for the Nov. 6 election. Since July, we’ve been publishing our conclusions.

Just to the left is a summary of the endorsements and recommendations we’ve run to date. Here are highlights (or lowlights, if you prefer):

• For governor, we believe state Attorney General Rob McKenna is the better choice. Unlike his Democratic opponent, Jay Inslee, McKenna has made a serious effort to lay out detailed plans to deal with the state’s problems – funding basic education chief among them. He also has substantial administrative experience, which Inslee lacks.

• For the U.S. Senate, we’ve endorsed Maria Cantwell. For the House, we’ve endorsed Derek Kilmer in the 6th Congressional District, Dave Reichert in the 8th, Adam Smith in the 9th and Denny Heck in the 10th.

We’d like to make special mention of Kilmer, a state senator who faces a heavily self-funded opponent, Weyerhaeuser heir Bill Driscoll. Driscoll has much to recommend him, but Kilmer has been an effective and unusually thoughtful lawmaker. He has a profound understanding of job creation and grass-roots economics – expertise that’s desperately needed in Congress. He also possesses a quality that’s too scarce in Washington, D.C.: genuine niceness.

• A yes vote on Referendum 74 would affirm the gay marriage law that cleared the Legislature this year. We see this as a civil rights issue and believe the law reflects Washington’s historic commitment to equality. Its passage could make Washington the first state to enact same-sex marriage by popular vote – a historic milestone.
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Our endorsements in the 26th and 28th district legislative races

This editorial will run in Wednesday’s print edition.

Running for the Legislature in Washington’s 26th and 28th legislative districts is not for timid souls.

The two districts always feature spirited battles between Republicans and Democrats and routinely send candidates from both parties to Olympia. This year is not likely to be the exception.

The 26th encompasses the Gig Harbor Peninsula, the Key Peninsula and Port Orchard. Both House seats are contested.

• In Position 1, Rep. Jan Angel – a four-year veteran of the Legislature – is challenged by Karin Ashabraner of Gig Harbor, a board-certified middle school teacher active in the Peninsula Education Association.

This is a clean choice between a traditional Republican and a traditional Democrat. Angel is a small-business advocate who sounds like she’d rather have her fingernails torn out than raise taxes. Ashabraner won’t close the door on taxes, but – like almost all Democrats this year – prefers to talk about closing “loopholes” in the tax code.

Angel spent eight years as a Kitsap County commissioner before running for the house; her experience is a good reason to keep her. We aren’t persuaded that Ashabraner would be a trade up.

• Position 2 also offers a strong Republican, Doug Richards of Olalla, a battalion chief for the South Kitsap fire district.

But the incumbent Democrat, Rep. Larry Seaquist, is one of the best this region has elected to the Legislature.
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Our choices for the 2nd and 25th legislative districts

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Politically, Pierce County’s 2nd and 25th legislative districts look red and purple. The November election will tell us just how red and how purple.

The 2nd is rural and conservative. It encompasses a strip of East Thurston County, including Yelm, and an enormous swath of southeast Pierce County, including Eatonville and Mount Rainier.

The district’s Senate seat is now held by Republican Randi Becker of Eatonville, who ousted Democrat Marilyn Rasmussen four years ago. She has a strong Democratic challenger in Bruce Lachney of Eatonville – a farmer, retired airline pilot and former member of the Eatonville School Board.

He’d be a fine state senator. We’re inclined to stick to Becker, a retired medical clinic administrator, who’s now had four years of experience in this office and has seen some successes despite being in the Senate minority.

The state redistricting commission gave the district a windfall last year when it drew state Rep. Gary Alexander out of the 20th and into the 2nd.
Alexander, a career budget manager who now works as Thurston County’s deputy auditor of finance, is the senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.

He’s a bulldog, and his influence will serve the area well. His Democratic opponent, Greg Hartman of Graham, should be thanked for making this a contest, but Alexander is the clear choice in this race for Position 1.

Speaking of competition, Republican J.T. Wilcox has none in Position 2.
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Washington will fare best with McKenna as governor

Rob McKenna

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Washington has two substantial candidates for governor this year, state Attorney General Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee. McKenna is the standout.

Inslee, a Democrat, has had a creditable career as a federal lawmaker. He represented the 1st Congressional District from 1999 until earlier this year, when he stepped down to focus on the governor’s race.

One stark difference between the two is administrative experience. Inslee’s résumé has nothing to compare with McKenna’s eight years running the
Office of the Attorney General, which amounts to an immense law firm employing hundreds of attorneys.

It’s not just that he ran the office; he ran it well. His most impressive achievement, perhaps, was his multi-pronged, multi-state offensive against banks that had preyed on homebuyers and homeowners with dishonest lending and foreclosure practices.

This year, he and several of his peers from other states pushed JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, City and GMAC into a $25 billion settlement. Read more »


For Congress: Kilmer, Smith, Reichert and Heck

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

The greater South Sound region is a nexus of four of Washington’s 10 congressional districts, which translates into generous representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and a quartet of choices on election days.

This year, two of those choices – in the 8th and 9th districts – are slam dunks. The other two – in the 6th and 10th – are tougher. Our take:
The 6th District – which embraces the Olympic Peninsula and slips a finger across the Narrows into Tacoma – was represented for decades by Norm
Dicks, a legislative giant now headed for retirement.

Competing to replace him are state Sen. Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor and businessman Bill Driscoll of Tacoma. Either would be a capable member of Congress.

Driscoll, a member of the extended Weyerhaeuser clan, has shown an impressive sense of duty as a Marine Corps officer. Kilmer is vice president of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County; he has effectively served in the Legislature since 2005.

Kilmer has already demonstrated, in office, an uncommon understanding of trade, business taxation, smart regulation, job-creation and other fundamentals of economic growth – which is certainly something the United States needs at the moment.

The 8th District, which once covered East Pierce and King counties, was extended deep into Central Washington last year by the state redistricting commission.

Dave Reichert, a Republican, has tenaciously hung onto to this swing district for six years despite ferocious Democratic challenges.

He’s an even better fit for the new, more conservative 8th, and his extensive experience in public life gives him a decisive edge over this year’s challenger, Karen Porterfield of Issaquah.
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