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We’re also really excited about the original content we have for you this week. It’s sort of a podcast explosion, to be honest. We have 4 of the most important names in Washington State politics in 2017 joining us for extended interviews, which you’ll see below.
In total, we have 8 things we think are worth knowing about on the most recent landscape of Washington State policy, politics and economics for you to scan. As always, thanks for reading the Washington State Wire.
1. Podcast: David Postman, Chief of Staff to Gov. Inslee
Our first podcast this week is with David Postman, Chief of Staff to Gov. Jay Inslee. He’s straddled both sides of the media/government divide during his career, having previously served among the most important members of the Olympia press corp. Now, all of state government reports to Gov. Inslee through him.
What does he know now that he didn’t know as a reporter? “Friends are as difficult in this business as your enemies. You’ve got to bring along a vast array of Democrats. There’s a lot of political spectrum here. I once said about the Seattle City Council that it represents the political spectrum all the way from A to B… I thought, yeah, give me that. It just doesn’t work that way (in Olympia).”
2. Podcast: Sen. Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley)
Sen. Mike Padden has been at the game of politics for a long time. He served 14 years in the state house, held a vote in the Electoral College in 1976, and was elected three times county-wide in Spokane Co. He’s been in the Senate since 2011 where he now chairs the Senate Law and Justice Committee. Kylie Walsh interviewed Sen. Padden for the Washington State Wire Podcast, where Padden was critical of the governor’s oversight of the Department of Corrections.
“I guess where I get disappointed is the lack of support to do a good job that they (Dept. of Corrections) get from the Governor’s office, and I don’t really understand it. It would seem to me that after this big scandal the Governor would want to reach a solution and deal with some of these issues, but at the very end they even refused to come to our committee. The Department came but we invited the governor’s office also and they did not show up.”
“It’s a troubled agency that needs some good leadership. Hopefully, Mr. Sinclair will be able to be there a while… Our investigation showed that Bernie Warner, the former head, bore most of the responsibility for this bad management and also that he was not properly supervised by the governor’s office.”
3. Podcast: Cary Moon, candidate for Seattle Mayor
Cary Moon joined us last Friday to talk through her campaign for Seattle mayor. The podcast conversation touched on some of the key policy proposals that Moon is putting forward on housing and workers rights. We also talked about the strong surge of women running for office, which she pegged as a response to President Trump.
I asked her if she thought this election was a referendum on Mayor Murray’s four years in office. She said she thought it was, and connected Jenny Durkan directly to Murray’s legacy. “I’ve spent 20 years kind of working with, in and around this city… I’m a problem solver by nature… I’ve been transparent and fairly deep around solutions. Her (Durkan) campaign has been less about policy, less about solutions, and I think she’s more in line with the Ed Murray way of operating… She’s kind of, I think, filling in the same path that he was on.”
4. Podcast: Jenny Durkan, candidate for Seattle Mayor
We interviewed Jenny Durkan last week for our podcast series. As you know, she’s also running for the mayor of the Seattle. We touched on a number of interesting policy topics, including her recent proposal for higher education, the subject of police reform, her thoughts on housing. This included reflecting on Seattle’s readiness for a natural disaster: “It’s not good news.”
We also spent time on some of her political philosophy, on that bedrock thinking that will underpin how she approaches city governance. I might boil that down to this statement:
“If we’re going to solve these big problems we have, we’ve got to come together but we’ve got to be led to real solutions. It’s just not enough to have ideas, you’ve got to know how to get those ideas working on the ground. So, that’s what I’m good at. That’s what I’ve done for my career is to take those big ideas, bring the right people together and make real progress.
Because if you want to be progressive, you’ve got to make progress.”
5. Hearing set for nuclear attack planning
Sen. Mark Miloscia is holding a hearing on Sept. 13th to review the state’s planning for a nuclear attack and a major natural disaster. Miloscia is sponsoring SB 5936 to repeal a prohibition on nuclear event preparedness. He’s joined by Democrats Sen. David Frockt, Sen. Kevin Ranker and Sen. Guy Palumbo. The bill came late in the session, but is likely to move easily in the 2018 session.
The Spokesman Review has a new story on what such an attack would mean for Spokane. Crosscut spelled out how the state is “shockingly unprepared.” Notably, the Washington State Military Department just completed a “table top” emergency preparedness exercise in August. The focus: volcanic eruptions.
6. Lisa Brown files to run in 5th CD
Former Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown has announced she will take on Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the 5th CD. The announcement is the first major Democratic candidate to file against an incumbent Republican member ahead of the 2018 general election.
In many years, the 5th CD might be considered a relatively safe Republican seat. CMR has won re-election with about 60% of the vote in recent elections.
However, it’s still too early to tell what effect Donald Trump’s presidency will have on the electorate. What is known, however, is that Brown is a formidable candidate. She’ll likely attract significant funding from Washington DC. Expect Emily’s List to get behind her soon, which means money and a national elevation. Brown hosts her kick off Sept 19th.
7. Ferguson files anti-trust against CHI Franciscan in Kitsap
That Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed an anti-trust suit against one of the state’s largest hospital systems – CHI Franciscan – is a very big deal. Anti-trust lawsuits have been really very few and far between since the Clinton presidency. The Dept. of Justice’s failed attempt to break up Microsoft and changes in federal law that loosened some of the regulatory framework both took steam out of activist anti-trust interventions.
Ferguson’s new engagement on the topic could foreshadow a renewed target of the health sector. I’m told by the AG’s office that Ferguson “will announce a major consumer protection lawsuit involving access to affordable health care affecting thousands of Washingtonians” later today at 10:30 am.
And, given that the Affordable Care Act created incentives to more closely align health care organizations, which often led to mergers or acquisitions, it’s entirely likely AG Ferguson will have a wide range of potential targets should he choose to expand his scope.
8. Master Builders’ Affholter to step down
The Executive Director of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish County is stepping down. Shannon Affholter is leaving to serve as COO of Oakpointe Communities, the Kirkland developer working on a master planned community at Black Diamond. Affholter, a former Everett City Council Member, stepped in to the MBA four years ago after the organization fell into some disarray, including attempted cover ups of sexual harassment in Snohomish County.
Affholter is credited with strengthening the MBA’s political profile as a more centrist, more solution oriented organization. He brought on both former Democratic State Senator Nick Harper to lead government affairs. Patricia Akiyama also joined the team, who previously served both Speaker Frank Chopp and US Senator Patty Murray.
I’d be willing to bet we see Affholter’s name on a ballot again in the future after his run in the private sector. I’d bet a campaign for Mayor of Everett or Snohomish County Executive will one day be in his future.