Virtual Conversation | Washington Lt. Governor’s Race: Candidate Debate, Jul 15, 2020 Learn More

Morning Wire: Latest on COVID-19, Lt. Gov.’s race, Kamau Chege

We live in scary, interesting, and consequential times. We are writing the playbook now for how to manage existential community crises. We’re likely to have more of these as the years continue, so it’s useful to start taking notes of what’s working and what isn’t. 

Key question for you: what are the characteristics of resiliency that you, your business, or your organization need right now? How do we adapt to the “new normal?” As we endured earthquakes, we learned to retrofit buildings. How will we retrofit this economy and society once we rebuild?

I’d welcome your thoughts in submissions we can feature to our community of readers. Send them my way.

With help from Michael Goldberg

1. Latest on COVID-19

Gov. Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order announced last night was something he appeared to try to forestall as long as possible. While I think we are all at some point in the five stages of grief, apparently too many Washingtonians are still in the “denial” phase – to the point of embarrassment. Inslee’s hand was forced, with communities like EdmondsYakima and Everett all declaring similar orders over the weekend.

One data analysis suggests we’re already past the point of no return in Washington State, though other states may have time. Last week, it appeared the trend of confirmed cases in Washington might have begun to slow. That’s no longer the case as other regions start to report more cases. Whatcom County reported 29 residents and staff at a long term care facility have tested positive. Meanwhile, cases in King County more than doubled in the last 5 days, from 562 on the 18th to 1170 yesterday. Spokane, Island, and Pierce Counties are all seeing numbers rise from community spread.

2. Week in Review: COVID-19 and the Legislature 

This past Friday I had the pleasure of joining Allison Williams of Seattle Met and Charles Mudede of the Stranger on KUOW’s Week in Review, hosted by Bill Radke. From each of our isolated quarters, we discussed the latest on COVID-19 and how the Legislature is responding to the outbreak. You can take a listen here.

While this was a sober conversation about the adjustments being made in our state, I offered some positive reviews for Gov. Inslee, and for the Legislature’s budget writers in both parties for their response so far to COVID.

3.  Lt. Governor election is the big, new race in 2020

Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib announced he will not seek re-election this year, stepping down to enter the Jesuit order of the priesthood. Sen. Steve Hobbs immediately announced “I’m in,” bringing a surplus of $41k with him, according to the latest PDC filings. In 2016, Hobbs raised over $400k. Given that he’ll remain chair of Senate Transportation, a number of interest groups will be happy to send checks even if he loses this year.

Republicans have already fielded a compelling candidate in Ann Davison Sattler. She ran for the Seattle City Council in 2019, having been self-described as a Democrat. She’s switched parties and has a good profile for a statewide candidacy, but has only raised $13k in her first 6 weeks as a candidate.

4. Wire Insider: Kamau Chege

Ahead of the 2020 census and before the COVID-19 outbreak began, the Wire spoke with the manager of the Washington Census AllianceKamau Chege, to hear about the widespread relational organizing campaign the coalition launched to ensure that historically undercounted communities are counted this time.

While COVID-19 has forced the U.S. Census Bureau to suspend all field operations and extend its timeline for accepting responses and conducting follow ups, the census is continuing on. Census forms became available on March 12th and in an unprecedented and prescient first, the forms can be completed online or by phone. As of Wednesday March 18th, 11 million households had already submitted their responses. 

5.  Why gubernatorial candidate Joshua Freed is calling for a special session

The most thoughtful Republican gubernatorial candidate in the field, in my view, is Joshua Freed. He is calling for a special session to rescind some of the spending increases passed by the Legislature this year to offset the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. Reporter Michael Goldberg spoke with Freed recently to find out why he thinks a special session is necessary to mitigate the economic impacts of this crisis and what he thinks legislators should be doing differently. 

While Governor Inslee and leaders in the Legislature view the new spending as necessary to help workers affected by social isolation measures, Freed thinks the actions of the state don’t go far enough to help small businesses. He wants to see to see more tax relief for small businesses, such as halting any additional B&O tax rates, as well as the curtailment of “non-essential new spending.”

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