Big doings this November. At stake are three competitive seats in Congress (just one, the 8th district in east King County, is in Puget Sound country), control of the Washington State House and Senate in Olympia, and four statewide ballot measures.
In more than 40 years of voting, I have never voted a straight party ticket. Not even when I was the Republican nominee for Governor 18 years ago. This year I am breaking with tradition and urging you – with one exception - to vote a straight Republican ticket. Reason? Increasing partisanship, particularly within the Democratic Senate and House, essentially makes other qualities of Democratic legislators peripheral. Simply put, with the exception of Tim Sheldon in Mason county’s 35th district, there are no Democrats who are willing to buck the Seattle oriented leadership in the Senate or House Caucus. Some of these legislators are friends of mine, and good people. But none – at least none in genuinely competitive districts – are preferable to the Republican alternative. That’s true for both congressional and legislative races. That’s my advice for 2018. First time ever.
In addition to candidates, there are also four statewide initiatives on the ballot. Most are clear calls:
I-1631. VOTE NO. The misnamed “pollution fee” initiative is really a massive energy tax that will raise gasoline prices 14 cents in year one, which increases to 55 cents – on TOP of the existing gas tax – by 2035. The money would be sent to a new board appointed almost entirely by the Governor with wide open authority to spend on anything related even indirectly to “clean energy”. Board members can even vote money for their own organizations and pet interests. VOTE NO. This is the worst initiative of the year. And the competition is tough.
I-1634. VOTE YES. This would prevent local governments from enacting city taxes “on groceries”. In reality, it’s intended to keep other cities from following Seattle’s lead into taxing soft drinks. Odd, how the same city that shrugs its shoulders at public marijuana smoking is horrified by people sipping carbonated soft drinks – especially if they use a plastic straw. Vote 'yes'. It might save you some money and it will annoy the Food Police.
I-1639. VOTE NO. A grab bag of ideas designed to make it more of a hassle for law abiding people to purchase and own a firearm. This one is simple: if you think gun violence is caused by law abiding people owning firearms, vote yes. But if you think that gun violence (itself a misnomer; guns don’t commit violent acts, people do) happens because we find it easier to harass law abiding gun owners instead of cracking down on illegal gun sales, stolen weapons and violent felons carrying them, then vote 'no'.
I-940. VOTE NO. Ignore the nonsense that this is an initiative about “police training”. No one quarrels with updating police training. That section is there only to distract attention from its central aim: make it easier to prosecute police officers for discharging their weapon in the line of duty. My concern, as a member of the Seattle Police Foundation, is that the “real world” affect of this measure will make officers hesitate before pulling their weapon in the line of duty. This initiative might imperil the lives of police officers.
Last and certainly least is another one of those non-binding advisory votes on whether the senate should have passed a bill (SB 6269) expanding an oil spill tax. It passed overwhelmingly in both chambers. Did you hear about it? That’s what I thought. A stealth tax vote. Vote to REPEAL, but don’t get excited if a majority agrees with you. Like all “tax advisory” votes it is only that – advisory and non-binding.
Final exhortation: Make sure you VOTE. Get everyone in your family to VOTE. Get everyone on your Christmas Card list to VOTE. It’s that important.