Our goal with the Morning Wire is to cover the politics and political economy of Washington while also highlighting some of the personalities playing a role in our political landscape. This week we feature a podcast with Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, an op-ed from Senator Mike Padden, and Jim Boldt’s commentary on the upcoming Seattle head tax vote.
With help from DJ Wilson and Kylie Walsh
1. Podcast: Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon on 2018 and beyond
Last week, DJ Wilson sat down with Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, Chair of the House Environment Committee. He has emerged as a leader on climate issues in the House, and is serving his second stint as the head of the House Democratic Campaign Committee. In this podcast, they talk through some of the climate issues he’s worked on, and where he expects the conversation to go. He also provides some insight into the midterm elections and what districts the Democrats are hoping to flip.
“I would say we’re going to see a lot of new Democrats elected to the Legislature this fall. We have a lot of momentum, I don’t want to just focus on climate, I think we have a lot of momentum on issues like healthcare affordability and gun safety. And I think that we’re on the verge of passing some really landmark things in this state whereas we’ve had such split control, even with majorities all on one side it’s such tight majorities, that we’ve kind of managed from crisis to crisis, whether that’s McCleary, or Hirst, or any given budget.”
Take a listen here, and be sure to subscribe to stay up to date on all our podcasts.
2. Padden denounces “sacrificing public safety”
In this op-ed, Senator Mike Padden criticized the decision that the State Dept. of Licensing will no longer provide personal information to federal agencies. In January, Gov. Inslee told the DOL to stop turning over certain records to the federal government over concerns regarding how information was being utilized by ICE. The DOL announced new steps to safeguard information that could be used to determine immigration status.
Sen. Padden argues that this decision jeopardizes public safety. “If law-enforcement agencies are unable to obtain and confirm basic information, public safety may be compromised. Social Security numbers are instrumental in identifying mental-health records and convictions during background checks. Banning access to this information could result in more guns getting into the wrong hands.”
3. HDC may suspend Rep. Sawyer’s chairmanship
On Friday evening, leaders from the House Democrats sent an email to all House Democratic Caucus members calling for a special meeting to consider a recommendation to suspend Representative David Sawyer from his role as Chair of the Commerce & Gaming committee. The recommendation for suspension comes after eight women accused Sawyer of crossing professional boundaries and inappropriate behavior.
The email states that an internal investigation into the accusations should be finished by the end of the month, but that “the investigator has confirmed evidence supporting some allegations.” The HDC Committee on Committees meeting will take place Wednesday, May 9th at 11am. A meeting of the full caucus will then take place at 1pm.
4. Independent candidates may find success in WA
A new poll released by Unite America Institute shows Washington may be a particularly advantageous state for independent candidates – as long as they can make it through the primaries. While an independent candidate may not fair well where there are competitive candidates from both parties, in single-party districts, things might open up. For example, Unite America Institute has endorsed Ann Diamond, an independent candidate running for Representative of the 12th LD, a solidly Republican district, and one where Diamond has a real chance at winning if she’s on the November ballot.
But, if successful, what would the election of independent candidates mean for control of the legislature? Who would they caucus with? If five were to get elected, perhaps they would caucus on their own. If one is elected and caucuses with one of the major parties, does their independent affiliation really matter?
5. A revolt, or revolution coming out of the head-tax vote?
Columnist Jim Boldt writes that “the citizens are restless” in Seattle, and that a pending Seattle City Council committee vote on Wednesday may set the Council on a collision course with Mayor Durkan. And political reality. Boldt highlights Speak Out Seattle, a new group forming to push back on what it perceives as a failure to follow the science, data and best practices on homelessness.
Boldt highlights the findings from City consultants to demonstrate the point: “The City Council paid $75,000 to a consultant to get a report they ignored. In their report, Focus Strategies opined, “We believe homelessness in King County can be dramatically reduced using existing resources.” An additional $102,000 was paid to Barbara Poppe, another member of the Homeless Industrial Complex. Ms. Poppe’s report was also ignored… Each consultation, in their own way, essentially reported that it’s not a money issue in Seattle. Homelessness explosion is a policy and management problem.”
6. Primaries to watch in 2018
There are a few interesting intra-party races shaping up this year. In the 47th, Debra Entenman (D) declared her candidacy for a seat held by incumbent Mark Hargrove (R). That’s the seat Bailey Stober, former King County Democratic Chair, has also announced for. In our podcast in #1, Joe Fitzgibbon told us that “There’s not a lot of enthusiasm among our members (the House Democratic Caucus) for Bailey Stober given the experience that he had at the King County Democrats.”
In the 32nd, Shoreline City Councilman Jesse Solomon (D) is doorbelling hard in his race to unseat Maralyn Chase (D) for the Senate. The 8th LD looks busy with five Republican candidates declared for two House seats. There, Brad Klippert faces a tough primary from Richland City Councilman Phillip Lemley, while Larry Haler’s seat is open due to his retirement. In the 26th, Jesse Young is trying to hold his seat against a challenge from fellow Republican Naomi Evans, who serves on the Bremerton School Board.