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Morning Wire: Lt. Gov. Debate, 29th LD race, Special Session unlikely

Thank you to Janet Bliss of the Children’s Therapy Center, as well as Alicia Goodman, Linda Zenger, Daniel Hodun, John Brewer and Mary Bingham, all of whom have made recent contributions to our independent coverage at the Wire.

It means a ton to us that you all are putting wind in our sails, so thank you. We’ll keep at it if you’ll keep supporting our work!

With help from Michael Goldberg

1. Why there won’t be a special session 

In talking with legislators and reading the good coverage that Michael Goldberg has been providing, it’s clear there is a logic that will keep legislators away from a special session this summer. And, I think it’s a logic that keeps them out until the regular session in January.

I detail that logic here, but it goes like this. The state has enough reserves to get to about February, and that’s without any significant cuts. The election is shaping up to be a once-in-a-generation wave for Democrats, so why give Republicans the opportunity for wedge votes in a special session? And, with even larger majorities next session, capital gains and corporate payroll taxes will be easier for Democrats to pass. 

One may not like that logic, but it’s pretty compelling if you’re a legislative Democrat.

2. Tomorrow night: Lt. Governor Candidate Debate

We are looking forward to hosting candidates for Lt. Governor in a cross-party, one-on-one debate tomorrow night. We have invited the top candidates by fundraising efforts in the race, including Marko Liias, Ann Davison Sattler and Denny Heck (who has yet to confirm). They will answer questions on a variety of topics of interest to Washington State voters, such as the state’s public health and economic response to COVID-19, the candidates’ legislative priorities, and their readiness to accede to the governorship in case of a vacancy.

Liias reports raising $167k so far, while Davison Sattler has hauled in $69k. But Heck has been able to move over a good amount of his congressional funds, now leading with $655k in funds for his Lt. Gov. race. No other candidate reports more than $15k. The event is free but you’ll need to register to join us at 7 P.M. PST. 

3. A primary to watch in 29th LD House race

When two candidates from the same party make it to the general election ballot, things get interesting. And, that may be about to happen in the 29th LD House seat. Steve Kirby, the senior House member of the Pierce County Delegation, is facing an intra-party challenge from Sharlett Mena, a Special Assistant to the Director of the Washington Department of Ecology. The 30-year old Mena is seeking to oust the fifth most senior member of the House in Kirby.

In their co-endorsement of Kirby and Mena last week, the Tacoma News Tribune Editorial Board wrote that this race “illustrates a dynamic sweeping America right now, a collision between Baby Boom and Boomlet.” Mena’s progressive platform has won the endorsements of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Sen. Joe Nguyen while Kirby’s experience has earned him the backing of figures like Speaker Laurie Jinkins and Congressman Derek Kilmer. With the lone other candidate in the race, Republican Terry Harder, trailing significantly in fundraising, the November general election may end up an intraparty contest.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Sen. Rebecca Saldaña had endorsed Ms. Mena, which is incorrect.

4. “Red-boxing” and campaign finance

Unless you’re familiar with the nitty gritty of campaign finance, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard the term “red-boxing”. The term is used to refer to the practice of publishing information on a public domain, such as a campaign website, to indirectly advise outside groups on which messages to push in ads made on a candidate’s behalf. After it came up in the 10th CD debate we hosted, Reporter Michael Goldberg took a closer look at “red-boxing”.

Second quarter 2020 FEC reports are due tomorrow, which will be the last big report before the primary. The reports will offer a look at the status of key races within Washington’s House Congressional Delegation. In addition to the 10th CD race, incumbent freshman Democrat Kim Schrier is attempting to defend the 8th CD seat she flipped in 2018. In the 3rd CD, voters will get a rematch between Republican incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler and Democrat Carolyn Long, with Long likely to report very strong numbers.

5. Run down of PDC complaints in election season

With an election looming, it is the season for complaints to the PDC, many of which require a grain of salt when considering.  Ann Rivers is getting hit with charges of “extortion” and “bribes” in relation to her solicitation of a party donation. Her primary opponent, John Ley, reports “vulgarity laced” texts from Rivers’ husband, comparing him to Don Corleone in the godfather, though Ley has a complaint filed against himself, too.

Matt Shea got hit with a complaint for buying curtains for his home from campaign funds, though he isn’t running for re-election. John Lovick got hit with a weak complaint because the Everett School District shared a Facebook post about Lovick hosting a Juneteenth event. You can scan all of the complaints to the PDC here.


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