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Morning Wire: 10th LD, Inslee endorses Anderson, OSPI Debate

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Lots for you this morning, but I want to start with a few things to make you smile – at least if you’re over 40 and had any connection to the state back in the 1990’s. See if you can spot the well regarded lobbyist up on stage. 

With help from Michael Goldberg

1. Inslee endorses Anderson over Mullet 

Over the weekend, Jay Inslee took the unusual step of publicly endorsing a Democratic challenger, Ingrid Anderson, to a Democratic incumbent senator, Mark Mullett. In Inslee’s endorsement of Anderson, he said Anderson will be helpful in passing his clean energy agenda. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Andy Billig said he was surprised at the decision and said that Mullet has often been a key vote in favor of Governor’s priorities. 

It’s notable that Inslee waded into this civil war within the Democratic Party. He didn’t have to. If he were focused on the next legislative session, this might not be the way to build momentum for his legislative agenda with the Senate Democrats. What is shows instead is that Inslee is still very attuned to the interests of the Democratic Party’s progressive funders over any specific member, or perhaps caucus, of the legislature. But every Democratic legislator took note that the Governor might come at you from the left, even if you’ve been a good vote for him.

2. “Day-to-day” issues could tip the scales in tight 10th LD races

After competitive primaries for all three of its seats, Washington’s 10th Legislative District is proving to be one of the state’s most closely divided swing districts. Reporter Michael Goldberg spoke with a number of Precinct Committee Officers (PCO) from both parties for a sense of what could differentiate candidates in the 10th. They say that issues like agriculture land zoning protections, transportation funding, and policies related shoreline access could tip the scales in a district that doesn’t shy away from ticket splitting. 

One PCO said candidates would be smart to display an understanding of the way voter’s needs differ based on the District’s varied geography: “Skagit County is a very agricultural, natural resource-based economy whereas Island County is more of a rural, Navy and retiree dominated area, depending on whether you are south or north…So the 10th is sort of this inter-jurisdictional area that is hard to characterize in any one way.

3. Report: Washington State is experiencing a child care affordability crisis

Over half a million children in Washington did not have access to licensed child care before the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Child Care Industry Assessment Report released by the Department of Commerce (DOC) last week. The report also found that although 61% of young children live in households where all parents work, the state has sufficient licensed child care capacity for only 41% of young children and 5% of school-age children.

While state unemployment claims have been declining for five consecutive weeks, the number of people filing remains at a historic high. Adding to the hardship, a number people are waiting on aid; some still haven’t received benefits months after becoming unemployed. Gridlock at the federal level could also prevent Washingtonians from seeing another round of weekly payments.

4. OSPI debate slated for September 17th

We are excited to be hosting a virtual debate between the general election candidates for Superintendent of Public Instruction on Thursday, Sept. 17th at 7:00 PM. In the primary, incumbent Chris Reykdal, a Democrat, won 40.24% of the vote in a field of six candidates. He’ll face Maia Espinoza, a conservative who ran for the state House as a Republican in 2018. Espinoza could pick up a significant number of votes from supporters of the candidates who didn’t advance.

The OSPI is technically a nonpartisan office, but the race has been animated by partisan divisions over the sex education bill that passed this session. In addition to overseeing health education, the winner of this race will guide the state’s public education system through an unprecedented transition to remote learning for many schools as the pandemic wears on. The debate will broadcast free of charge, and via our partners at TVW, but advance registration is required.

5. Putting summertime election polling in context

For the month of August, FiveThirtyEight’s average national polling shows Vice President Joe Biden with about an 8 point advantage over President Trump. But if we look back at presidential elections over the past 40 years, a lot can change between August polling and election day results. Remember when that July 1988 Gallup poll showed Michael Dukakis with a 17 point lead over George H.W. Bush?

It’s important to put summertime polling in context, not least because there is reason to believe a significant chunk of voters are still undecided. One pollster recently estimated that about 10 percent of voters are likely undecided. Based on 2018 voter registration numbers, that would indicate that around 21 million voters are up for grabs. Unpredictability aside, some Trump-friendly demographics are difficult to reach and there aren’t enough large sample, quality polls that succeed in including these voters.

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