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Morning Wire: David Postman, Re-Wire Conference, Legislative majorities

Well at least it’s still morning in Hawaii, which is not where my body is but is perhaps where my mind is… Pardon the delay in this week’s newsletter. 

Welcome to the eye of the hurricane. The storm of the 2020 election is increasingly behind us. The winds of the 2021 session are up ahead. Enjoy the (relative) calm while you can.

1. Postman: “I worked hard at it, you know?”

Jay Inslee had two chiefs of staff from 1999 to 2013. The first time someone else held the position from outside the close Inslee circle, that person was removed within a year, and replaced with one of the two prior chiefs. So, when David Postman took over as chief in 2015, it was not clear that he would be a success.

But, a success he was. Postman proved to be very adept at the job, earning the trust of Gov. Inslee and a wide range of stakeholders not easily wooed or won. When I asked him in 2017 how he would like to be remembered when the day came to look back on his time in public service, he answered “I work hard at it, you know? I’m not the smartest guy in the room about any of these issues, and not always the nicest guy, but I do put a lot of effort into it and work really hard, and try to reflect the governor’s values every day…”

2. A mostly status quo election in legislature 

Like the Washington State Primary, and like the national results, the results from last Tuesday’s election didn’t quite fit the narrative of what many folks thought 2020 was going to be. Maybe the polling was uniformly wrong. Maybe there was a late surge by Republicans. It’s not clear. 

While legislative Republicans overperformed expectations this year, for now, they remain in the minority. The Senate looks to remain a 27-22 Democratic majority, with flips in the 19th (Takko) and the 28th (O’Ban). In the 5th, it would appear incumbent Sen. Mark Mullet has fought off a challenge, holding a 78 vote lead, or .1%, over challenger Ingrid Anderson. In the House, the Democratic majority looks to remain at 57-41. They lost Brian Blake in the 19th and gained Alicia Rule in the 42nd. The 11th saw longtime legislator Zach Hudgins give way to challenger David Hackney.

3. Alaska’s US Senate race decided today 

Our neighbor to the north has yet to count about 156,000 ballots in this year’s election. That process will start today. The number represents 45% of the total counted. A number of observers think this round of ballots will tend towards Democratic candidates by as much as 60%.

US Senator Dan Sullivan holds a 62% lead over his challenger, Democrat Al Gross. Dean of the House of Representatives Rep. Don Young holds 63% of his vote. So, it’s worth keeping an eye on as results start coming in at 6:00 pm PST, but one would think these remain holds for Congressional Republicans.

4. Re-Wire Detailed Agenda is out later this week

We were honored to host a 3-hour live election night show last week with folks like JT Wilcox, Chris Reykdal, Joe Fitzgibbons, Mike Padden, Kim Wyman, and others. Thanks to Renee Sinclair for the trust in us to (mostly) pull it off.

Our next big event will be the 2020 Re-Wire Virtual Policy Conference coming up on December 10th. It’ll feature some of the smartest policy observers and actors in Washington State. And, it’s the primary tool we use to fund our reporting here at the Wire. So, we’d love to have you with us. And if you can’t make it, your regular on-going contributions of $5 or $10/month is always appreciated!

5. ICYMI: DOE changes meeting minutes following Boldt’s questioning

Columnist and former legislator Jim Boldt has been tracking the Environmental Justice Task Force. It was borne out of a budget proviso in the 2019-2021 budget. Recent minutes show an employee of the Dept. of Ecology on the EJTF saying “The State should focus on the unpaid debts from slavery and colonization” in its upcoming report. In another part, there was a “discussion for the draft reparations recommendation.”

So, is a call for reparations the official Dept. of Ecology position?

When Boldt started asking about the language and directives in the minutes, the Dept. of Ecology changed the minutes shortly after his questioning. It was only later, after amending the minutes, that DOE got back to him saying those statements by the DOE official were “misstatements” and that the employee was only conveying the opinions of others, captured in this memo. A report from the Task Force with recommendations for the legislature is expected next month.

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