At Fuse we base our endorsements on two things: progressive values and research. Research means we base our decisions on what candidates do, not what they say. Progressive values means we evaluate candidates' records based on our commitment to values like fairness, opportunity, freedom, security, and responsibility. We believe a commitment to these values is essential to improving the lives of Washingtonians and addressing the challenges of our state.
For the primary, we have the full scoop on the five most important races in the state below.
Judicial races can be decided during the August primary in a Supreme Court or Court of Appeals race with two candidates. In these races, if one candidate gets a majority of votes in the primary election, then only the top vote getter advances. If neither candidate receives a majority of votes then both advance to the general election.
We will have a full slate of endorsements for the general election in November.
Governor Chris Gregoire has been a strong leader on many important issues, including education, health care, and global warming. (Back in May, she earned a Fuse Sizzle award for her global warming leadership.1) No leader is perfect, but she's definitely earned a second term.
Governor Gregoire has initiated significant improvements in Washington's schools, including: reduced class sizes and increased teacher pay and training, expanded pre-kindergarten programs for low income children, additional space for thousands of students in engineering, math and science in colleges and universities, and increased scholarships for low-income students.
Under Gregoire's leadership the State has also significantly improved access to health care -- expanding healthcare coverage to 84,000 new children, preventing more than 17,000 adults from losing their coverage, and establishing Mental Health Parity, which requires insurance companies to treat mental illnesses comparably to physical illnesses.
On the economic front, since Gregoire took office Washington has created more than 200,000 new jobs, doubled its exports, and is ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the five-best2 three best states to do business.3
Governor Gregoire has also been a leader on conservation issues, fighting for the passage of a sweeping Climate Action and Green Jobs bill that will generate real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and help triple the number of green collar jobs in our state to at least 25,000 by 2020. She also launched an ambitious new initiative to clean up Puget Sound. And Governor Gregoire is currently suing the Bush Administration's Environmental Protection Agency for refusing to allow stricter car emission standards, which she had proposed to implement in 2009.
Gregoire's opponent, Dino Rossi is a former State Senator with an extremely conservative voting record. And this is a track record he is trying to hide from--during this and previous campaigns, he has worked hard to avoid stating a position on many important issues. But he is anti-choice, and has a long track record of supporting conservative business interests while voting against transit, environmental protection, health care, education, and consumer protection.
Throughout his career, Dino Rossi opposed critical investments in the highway, transit and ferry systems. He voted against hundreds of million of dollars for the operations of ferries, eliminated funding for transit service and opposed investments in highway improvements. He sponsored a bill that would have eliminated Sound Transit, created by local voters in 1996 to operate light rail, commuter rail and express bus service. And he supported an unsuccessful statewide initiative to reverse state transportation investments in 2005.
Rossi's record on health care is also disturbing. The budget he designed as Chair of the Ways and Means committee in 2003 eliminated health care for 46,000 low-income kids, and slashed family planning in rural areas. He opposed a Patients Bill of Rights designed to help patients who were denied health care coverage and improve patient privacy, and he voted against a bill to require health insurance companies to cover birth control pills if they also covered other prescription drugs.
Rossi has a long track record of opposing environmental protection efforts and supporting environmental rollbacks. Until about two months ago, Rossi refused to admit that global warming was real and as a State Senator he voted against bills to reduce global warming pollution and to recognize climate change as a threat. He supported several bills over the years aimed at reducing or eliminating limits on irresponsible development in rural areas, as well as bills attempting to reduce protections for rivers and streams. And while the Bush Administration was rolling back important environmental standards, Rossi voted to limit Washington's ability to set standards exceeding federal limits.
There also real concerns about Rossi's ties to powerful business interests, and his record of supporting their self-serving agendas rather than the concerns of ordinary citizens. Rossi has a longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship with the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW)—a trade association led by ultra-conservative developers—who are the state's most powerful and extreme special interest. The BIAW is Dino Rossi's largest political patron, starting with his election to the State Senate. They spent close to $1 million promoting Rossi's failed bid for governor in 2004 and are already spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on his 2008 campaign. Two former State Supreme Court justices have called for an investigation into BIAW's contributions, saying they are skirting public disclosure rules.3
The BIAW reports that Dino Rossi voted with them 99 percent of the time as a State Senator, attempting to block legislation reducing global warming pollution, supporting efforts to weaken the Growth Management Act and opposing efforts to strengthen consumer protections against negligent building contractors. It is also important to note that while a State Senator, Rossi also purchased a multi-million dollar apartment building and co-founded a bank with BIAW lobbyists, which we believe is a conflict of interest.
We think that Dino Rossi is out of touch with Washington residents. His beliefs and values are too conservative for Washington residents and are not in line with what voters have shown their support for.
We believe that the strong leadership Governor Gregoire has shown on issues including education, health care, and global warming has earned her another term as Governor of the great state of Washington.
12008 Fuse Sizzle Awards: Cool Leadership
We believe that the State's Attorney General is an important position of public trust, fighting for and protecting the people of Washington State. The job requires representing our State, standing up to corporations and even the federal government. It means fighting for what is right: for consumers, for the environment, and for our future.
John Ladenburg is the kind of Attorney General our state needs. He is a former Prosecutor who knows about fighting for justice. He has fought the Federal EPA to provide clean drinking water. He set up the state's first "drug court" to provide alternatives for first-time offenders. He handled tough cases involving racketeering and gang violence.
John Ladenburg has a strong leadership record of getting things done. He served as Pierce County Executive and as the Chair of Sound Transit. He built coalitions, worked to protect the environment, restore salmon runs, and build transit. He has the management experience to understand how to represent the state and the passion to take the initiative to protect its citizens.
Incumbent Attorney General Rob McKenna is smart, very ambitious, and very conservative. He has opposed limits on irresponsible development and fought rail transit, while failing to stand up for ordinary citizens and challenge corporations on consumer protection issues like mortgage abuses.
A recent article in Consumer Affairs said the Attorney General is the "consumer's first line of defense". In an era where states now have to deal with everything from toxic toys to corrupt, predatory lenders, who is fighting for the consumers of Washington state? We are alarmed that Washington is the second worst state in the country for consumer fraud and thirteenth worst for identity theft5. We wonder why Rob McKenna did not join other state AGs in looking into corrupt mortgage lenders selling people loans that they could not afford6.
McKenna's failure to solve Washington's identity theft and consumer fraud problems, hasn't discouraged him from engaging in a major self-promotional campaign using public airtime donated to the people of Washington state for public service messages7. We believe such messages should be limited in a campaign year.
We believe one test of Justice is willing to stand up even when it is unpopular with your friends. Rob McKenna was silent when George W. Bush illegally fired John McKay, the United States Attorney in Washington State. John Ladenburg spoke up--even though McKay is a Republican. Ladenburg has also served as an appointed defense attorney, representing defendants who faced the death penalty.
McKenna has never served in a courtroom. His record on the county council was very conservative, opposing community limits on irresponsible development, and fighting rail transit investments.
5"Consumer Fraud and Identity Theft Complaint Data", Federal Trade Commission, February 2008
Peter Goldmark has an impressive resume that makes him an ideal candidate for Commissioner of Public Lands. In addition, he's no stranger to serving his community. Goldmark is a volunteer firefighter and Molecular Biologist who maintains a small scientific research facility at his ranch in Okanagan, Washington. He served as Director of Agriculture for State of Washington, appointed by Governor Lowry in 1993 and has experience serving as Chairman of the Governor's Council on Agriculture and the Environment from 1994-1996, member of Governor's Council for a Sustainable Washington from 2002-2003, and member of Governor's Council on Biodiversity from 2004-2005. In addition, Goldmark was a member of the Okanogan School Board from 1998-2005 and currently serves of the board of the Washington State University-University of Washington Policy Consensus Center.
Incumbent Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland has lost sight of his responsibility to protect the public interest and manage resources sustainably. He has reduced oversight, increased clear-cuts, and is too cozy with industries he regulates- with literally disastrous results.
Under Sutherland, the Department of Natural Resources has established a track record of excessive clear-cutting and failures to protect important wildlife habitat. Two weeks ago we told you about a shocking investigative report by the Seattle Times, which reported that widespread failures at Commissioner Sutherland's DNR contributed to the landslides, flooding, and destruction during December's storm8. According to the Times, the DNR reduced monitoring and allowed Weyerhaeuser to clear-cut dangerous, unstable slopes with "scant oversight," despite a history of landslides from previous logging, clear evidence of unstable slopes, and concerns from local officials.
That same week the Seattle P-I reported that due to lax oversight at DNR, Taylor Shellfish had been allowed to illegally harvest on public lands - despite one complaint filed with DNR over a decade ago. DNR is now investigating the shellfish farm, which comprises 17-25 acres of state land9.
It's also important to note that contributions from the timber industry and shellfish companies make up over half of Commissioner Sutherland's 2008 campaign contributions, which we believe is a clear conflict of interest10.
We believe Peter Goldmark will be a breath of fresh air who will provide proper accountability and oversight to the DNR, which has lost the public's trust under Commissioner Sutherland.
We are also disturbed by a recent Seattle Times story about Commissioner Sutherland's personal conduct. As reported in the Seattle Times, "Sutherland, inappropriately touched and made remarks to a young female employee who soon quit the Department of Natural Resources despite his formal apology, according to public documents on the incident from his own department."11 Sutherland "acknowledged that the incident probably contributed to her departure."
Peter Goldmark has vowed to clean up the Timber Industry by reforming wasteful, short-term practices, demanding that the rules are followed, and strengthened as needed, and ending what he calls "the current policy of trading high-value forests to developers." As a former school board member, Goldmark says his strategies will protect the money rural schools rely on from timber sales.
We believe that Peter Goldmark will take the right approach to logging, which will lead to improved health and safety for Washingtonians, and will protect jobs, recreation access and habitat. And it's music to our ears that Goldmark has also vowed that he will not accept money from the industries he is supposed to regulate.
8"Logging and landslides: What went wrong?", The Seattle Times, July 13, 2008.
Justice Mary Fairhurst is running for reelection for a second term for the Washington State Supreme Court. Justice Fairhurst has distinguished herself in her first term as a champion for equal rights and for protecting civil liberties. Her lead dissent on the Anderson Case, relating to Gay marriage, was a well-written profile in judicial courage. But her leadership on individual rights has been consistent in many other critical cases as well.
She is being challenged by Michael J. Bond of Seattle whose background is as a military and private lawyer. Bond believes he "would bring a broad range of experience in civil litigation, criminal cases and advising business owners to the court" but we believe he lacks public service and judicial experience when compared to Fairhurst.
Justice Fairhurst has also distinguished herself as a leader on issues promoting equal access to justice and working on eliminating inequities in our court system. A former President of the Washington State Bar Association, she has continued to demonstrate this leadership ability on the court.
Justice Fairhurst has been an advocate for victim's rights and has been a leader in her work to protect women and children from violence. She worked on the constitutional amendment to increase the rights of crime victims while still honoring the constitutional rights of the accused. She organized the first statewide conferences on domestic violence and also planned and facilitated a youth violence summit and organized and moderated conferences dealing with sex offenders in the community.
Throughout her career, Justice Fairhurst has worked to enhance the opportunities for women and minorities in the profession and to ensure access to justice for low-income individuals and families.
Her contrast with her opponent's qualifications is quite stark. The Spokesman Review glowing editorial endorsement of Justice Fairhurst said this very well:
"...She has performed well, moreover, earning top ratings from a variety of bar associations - from qualified to extremely well qualified. Bond's ratings have been mediocre or lower. The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys considers him unqualified."12
Justice Fairhurst earned the highest rankings from The King County Bar Association, Washington Women Lawyers, The Municipal League, and the Asian Bar Association.
We believe that Justice Fairhurst has done an outstanding job serving on Washington's Supreme Court. We believe that her performance coupled with her background and experience have earned her a second term on the Court and she strongly deserves our support for reelection.
12"Re-elect Fairhurst", The Spokesman-Review, July 26, 2008
Judge Robin Hunt has served eleven distinguished years on our Court of Appeals. During this time, she has proven herself as the most prolific opinion writer in the State of Washington. Her consistently high quality of work has earned her the highest possible rating, "Exceptionally Well Qualified" from every single Bar Association evaluation process. This is a great testament to her solid reputation for quality work and dedication to justice.
By contrast, her opponent Tim Ford, has never held judicial office, and has in fact done virtually no real trial work, and very little courtroom work at all. He served as an in-house counsel for the Building Industry Association of Washington, then moved to the Attorney General's Office. (The BIAW—which we have to mention yet one more time—has extreme positions wanting to limit a community's ability to stop irresponsible development, preserve the character of their community, and protect the environment.) The only Bar Group he applied to for rating, The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, rated him "Unqualified."13
The Olympian summarizes well:14
"Hunt is the obvious choice in this race, based on her experience and depth of knowledge about the workings of the appellate courts."
Questions? Comments? Let us know!