By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
So far this election year, you probably haven’t heard much about anything beyond the top of the ticket – where our country will be electing a new president.
But many other key, if not necessarily glamorous, offices will be on the ticket too, and that’s what dominated last night’s endorsement meeting for our area’s largest political group, the 34th District Democrats.
Some of the candidates were there to make their pitches, starting with Lieutenant Governor:
That’s State Sen. Cyrus Habib, who won the 34th Dems’ endorsement on a second ballot, after getting 57 percent on the first ballot, with the rest split between Sen. Karen Fraser and Rep. Jim Moeller. The group’s rules require 60 percent for an endorsement. Sen. Fraser spoke first, describing herself as a “loyal trouper Democrat.” Sen. Habib then spoke, saying he thinks the Lieutenant Governor should be “more than fair and responsible … should be a force for progressive change.” He also said he hopes to be the first Middle Eastern-American anywhere in the country elected to state office. He received 62 percent on the second ballot. Rep. Moeller was not present.
STATE AUDITOR: This race also went to a second ballot.
That resulted in a dual endorsement for candidates Jeff Sprung, a Seattle lawyer, and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. Both of their pre-vote pitches are in this clip:
Speaking first, Sprung said he would be ready “on the first day” to do the job, and described himself as a “true progressive.” McCarthy said she’s the only candidate who’s managed a governmental agency the size of the auditor’s office, and has served as county auditor. Neither got 60 percent on the first ballot, so it went to a second vote, and that was also the result – with Sprung getting more votes than McCarthy, but the ultimate result a dual endorsement.
This too went to a second ballot – 45 for Sprung, 30 for McCarthy on the first ballot. They were dual-endorsed on the second ballot.
STATE TREASURER: Alec Fisken was the only candidate nominated for consideration, and was endorsed.
He was introduced as a former Seattle port commissioner and described himself as having lots of experience in dealing with bonds, while he called our state’s public-finance system “tragic … something you might find in Mississippi.”
PUBLIC LANDS COMMISSIONER: Hilary Franz, Dave Upthegrove, and Karen Porterfield were nominated for consideration.
The only one present was Upthegrove, a King County Councilmember, who delivered arguably the most fiery speech of the night. He said that electing him would enable him to continue work he’s done for 15 years; he said he’s running “to be the people’s environmental champion.” Upthegrove was endorsed with 82 percent of the vote.
OTHER ENDORSEMENTS: The night’s first scheduled vote was for a block endorsement . Members moved to remove U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and Governor Jay Inslee from the list (which you can see here). After that, the block was approved by voice vote. The group did hear from two state Supreme Court candidates who were in the block vote:
Chief Justice Barbara Madsen spoke toward the start of the meeting and said that while she doesn’t have an opponent yet, she believes one might emerge.
Justice Charlie Wiggins spoke and noted that he does have an opponent who’s challenging him “because the court has become too political.”
Later in the meeting, the three candidates removed from the block endorsement came up again. Sen. Murray’s support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was brought up as a reason to oppose her endorsement, as was her role as a superdelegate for the upcoming presidential-nominating convention, committed to Hillary Clinton despite the majority of caucus participants supporting Bernie Sanders. Points of support included her advocacy for veterans. She was endorsed with 63 percent of a credential-raising vote.
Then, Gov. Jay Inslee. A supporter said it made no sense to withhold support because of what state legislators did. Next, a reason not to endorse, said a member: Inslee’s failure to veto the charter-school bailout bill. Another supporter: “He’s been a powerful force for clean energy.” Inslee was subsequently endorsed with 71 percent.
Attorney general Ferguson also was endorsed, with 64%.
INITIATIVES: The 34th Dems voted to oppose Seattle Initiative 123, an elevated waterfront park, in part because the Parks Department has enough to deal with, it was argued.
Two state initiatives also came up for consideration:
*The group endorsed signature-gathering for Initiative 1491, Extreme Risk Protection Orders.
*They also voted to support “declining to sign” Initiative 1515
MORE JUDICIAL CANDIDATES: Anthony Gipe, seeking Superior Court Judge position #52, was endorsed by acclamation, as were Laurel Gibson running for Southwest District Court (a position to which she’s just been appointed), and Lisa Paglisotti, also a judicial candidate who was recently appointed to the position she’s seeking.
PREVIOUS ENDORSEMENTS: Some were made before this meeting; they’re listed here.
WHO WAS THERE: Elected officials recognized as being present included State Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon (both endorsed in the block vote) and City Councilmembers Lorena Gonzålez and Lisa Herbold. 34th DDs chair Marcee Stone-Vekich thanked them for their recent votes against the arena-related street vacation.