Political Buzz

Talking WA politics.

NOTICE: Political Buzz has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Political Buzz.
Visit the new section.

Political rivals get into Election Night dust-up at Pierce Co. Election Center

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Nov. 4, 2009 at 4:42 pm with 13 Comments »
November 4, 2009 4:43 pm

On one side, the campaign manager of Tacoma mayoral candidate Jim Merritt claims an Election Night spat turned physical and had her fearing for her safety until a Pierce County Council member stepped in to defend her.

On the other side, the chairman of the Tacoma Housing Authority Commission who supported Merritt’s opponent, Marilyn Strickland, dismissed the dispute as little more than verbal “sparring.”


Regardless, something went down between Merritt campaign manager Ronnie Bush and Strickland supporter Ken Miller at the Pierce County Election Center late Tuesday.

Bush, with her candidate
Bush, with her candidate

Both well-known area political figures were among a crowd gathered to find out the latest elections results for the mayor’s race, which remains too close to call.

Neither Bush nor Miller wanted to talk about the encounter Wednesday, but when pressed by a reporter, each gave conflicting versions of events.

Bush claimed she arrived at the center in her best silk suit, feeling confident about her candidate and receiving warm greetings and congratulations from several people.

That’s when Bush said Miller “very scoffing, said to me, `Oh yeah, you just ran the perfect race.’”

As she walked by him, Bush said she retorted: “Oh, it’s the TNT’s newest reporter, Ken Miller.”

The reference was to a different dust-up in the final days before the election, when Miller called Merritt’s campaign treasurer and questioned him about the campaign’s finances.

Merritt treasurer Jim Whitacre claims during the call, Miller misrepresented himself as affiliated with The News Tribune, then later Miller called back to retract his stated involvement with the newspaper.

Miller doesn’t dispute making the call, but said he only told Whitacre that he was going to contact the newspaper, not that he worked for it. A friend Miller wouldn’t name who listened to the call suggested Miller call Whitacre back so there was no misunderstanding, Miller said.

At the Election Center Tuesday, after Bush said she made the TNT comment, “all of a sudden, Ken Miller put his hands around the back of my neck,” she said.

“Ken kind of banged his head into the back of my head, then kind of nuzzled his face into my ear, and said, `I’m going to get you down,’” Bush said. Miller then called Bush a derogatory term for a female, she said.

Pierce County Councilman Tim Farrell, who was standing nearby, then intervened and yelled at Miller to stop, Bush said.

Farrell “stopped (Miller) somehow, because when I turned around, Ken was in Tim’s face saying, `Come on, Let’s take it outside and get this over with,’” Bush said.

“Timmy told Ken very affectionately to go away,” Bush added. “It was quite the moment.”

Asked about the incident Wednesday, Farrell declined comment.

But Miller gave a different account.

“I think we just jabbed verbally,” Miller said. “Just poked at each other.”

When asked more specifically if he grabbed or threatened Bush and then challenged Farrell, Miller said: “It was a long night. I can’t even remember the specifics.”

“I don’t think I had my hands on her, or threatened her, or invited Tim outside,” Miller added. “She made some comments in passing. And I responded. It was sort of like ball players just yakking at each other.”

After the encounter, Bush said she walked to a different part of the center to stay clear of Miller.

“Did I start it? Well, I probably shouldn’t have said (the retort to Miller), but you know, I’m from Brooklyn,” Bush said. “Still, I don’t expect anyone to touch me physically. I was really frightened.”

Miller said the issue has been blown out of proportion.

“If there were knives drawn, obviously that would be news,” he said. “But if you get anything less than that, it may or may not be, depending on how much space you need to fill.”

Leave a comment Comments → 13
  1. for anyone who has ever had a run in with mr. miller, this should come as no surprise…i have heard many stories like this. i really like a lot of people who associate with him, but it boggles my mind that he has not been ostracized by the local political community by now. he seems to have significant anger management issues – so i don’t doubt for a second that he physically intimidated someone.

  2. DragonQuest says:

    No one should lay hands on anyone and treaten them with violence. If this is a known characterist of Miller, then charges should be filed and an investigation into this man’s background be made.

  3. yoeddy_ says:

    Miller touched Bush in an unwanted manner. Bush should fill a police report. I’m sure there are plenty of witnesses.

  4. way to be Tim Farrell!

  5. twigamwezi says:

    I’m surprised Miller, a grown man, has to resort to such juvenility. I’ve also watched his obssession to be at the center of political groupies and emergents over the years and just find this incident more evidence of his pretentiousness. I would have hoped he would have found an alternative outlet by now to tame himself.

  6. Ah the memories: “Lay your hands on me” Bon Jovi


  7. S_Emerson says:

    If what Bush said about Tim intervening is true, then YAY TIM!!!!!!!!

    (and a boooooo-hish to Mr. Miller)

  8. franktheliberal says:

    Prior to last week’s Equal Time broadcast, I received a rather odd call from Mr Miller. I wouldn’t have mentioned it if not for this story. I THINK we ended on a positive note, but now I’m not so sure. This was kind an odd race all along. Mr Merritt was being painted as an icky republican “developer” by the left, and Ms Strickland got money and the endorsement of the MBA. I interviewed BOTH candidates and asked Mr Merritt tough questions about some GOP contribution he made. I asked Ms Strickland general questions. I don’t THINK i was biased, I was tougher on Merritt that Strickland, but was NOT accused of bias by the Merritt people. Strange race. I like BOTH of these people. BUT ya have to be careful who and WHAT your supporters do.

  9. kevin22262 says:

    slarssen, I do not know who you are, but your comment reads like it came from the mouth of kenny miller.

    What is being reported here IS ken miller’s MO. For you to try and condone his actions by making Another hit on Ms. Bush is sick.

    And how about this?
    … When asked more specifically if he grabbed or threatened Bush and then challenged Farrell, Miller said: “It was a long night. I can’t even remember the specifics.”…

    So is kenny now channeling dick cheney?

    I AM a Strong Democrat and always have been and always will be… if this is how he plays, then he is hurting the PC Democrats internally and he needs to stop his destructive behavior.

    as you said… “consider the source” ..

  10. kevin22262 says:


    Comments like yours and the things ken miller says and does are what can and does hurt the PC Democrats.

    I am not standing up for or condoning anything Ms. Bush ‘may’ have done or said, but as you say ” Ask ANYONE in Tacoma politics about ‘him’ (city, county etc…)”, some fear him and others can not stand him. He is, as you say, ” Nasty, unethical, and pathological in ‘his’ approach to campaigns.”

    You condone his actions, you defend his actions and by the comments you make, you also sound like him.

    Also, you keep saying to “consider the source”. Nobody was talking about this until the trib went to them. “Neither Bush nor Miller wanted to talk about the encounter Wednesday, but when pressed by a reporter,…”
    So, both of them are “the source”. One “source”, ken miller, seems to be having a dick cheney moment.

  11. slarssen’s comments are unreal. Once again, he just likes to see his writing on blogs so he feels someone will listen to him. It is a shame. Once again, no real substance but a bitter man. Grow up

  12. norse1943 says:

    He should have been arrested. Makes me wonder about Strickland’s judgment having Miller as key part of her campaign staff. Obviously, he doesn’t have much respect for women. Miller owes MS. Bush an apology, or at the very least the Strickland campaign does.

  13. If some stranger on South Tacoma Way did that to her would she file a police report? If so, what’s the difference? If not I’m curious which kind of assaults she thinks women should ignore?

    The accusation is that she was called the C word. Doesn’t that also make it a hate crime? It should if it doesn’t.

    If he did this, I can’t imagine how much of a time bomb he is that he would dare to even whisper such a word at such an event.

    If he did this, what will he do to a woman he is angry with – where no one is looking or near? For other women – if for no one else, if she is telling the truth, I wish she would formally document this crime.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0