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If you were hoping to find insight and inspiration on the Internet from local Washington State grassroots Democrats for the August 21, 2007 Primary you were bound to be disappointed. A close look at the websites of the local Democratic County and Legislative District organizations right before the Primary was disappointing to say the least.

The local grassroots Democratic groups were looked at first for how well they alerted people visiting their websites about the Primary. A second point of comparison was whether the organizations were using their websites to gear up for the Feb. 2008 Caucus and Presidential Primary next year. These are just a little over 5 months away.

The first step in evaluating the Grassroots Democratic organizations was to check whether or not they even had a website. The list of websites used was taken from the list on the Washington State Democrats website . Out of 39 county Democratic organizations, 11 (28%) did not have a website. Out of 49 Democratic Legislative District organizations in the state, 19 (39%) did not have websites.

Here is a summary of what was found when looking at the Democratic websites.

Washington State County Democratic organizations:

Washington counties – 39
county Democratic organizations with websites – 28 (72%)
August 21 Primary date mentioned- 10 on first page + 2 more in calender = 12 (31%)
counties with primary endorsements posted – 5 (13%) King, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston, Whatcom
number including a link to endorsed candidates – 4 (10%)
counties listing Feb. 9, 2008 Caucus date – 3 (8%)
counties listing Feb. 19, 2008 Presidential Primary date – 3 (8%)
county Democratic websites with links to Presidential candidates – 6 (15%)

Washington State Legislative District organizations:

Legislative districts -49
Legislative district organizations with websites – 30 (61%)
August 21 Primary mentioned – 7 on first page + 6 more in calender = 13 (27%)
Legislative District organizations with Primary endorsements posted – 12 (24%)
number including a link to endorsed candidates – 4 (8%)
Legislative Districts listing Feb. 9, 2008 Caucus date – 6 (12%)
Legislative District organizations listing Feb. 19, 2008 Presidential Primary date – 2 (4%)
Legislative District websites with links to Presidential candidates – 4 (8%)

To be fair 5 counties did not hold a primary. Those counties are Asotin, Ferry, Garfield, San Juan, and Wahkiakum. But that still leaves 34 counties that did hold a primary election.

Why is website presence in a campaign important? Googling on “Democratic endorsements Washington August 21, 2007 Primary” yielded the following results on the first 2 pages:

MajorityRulesBlog
47th Leg District Democrats
Lefty Blogs – Metropolitan Democratic Club
SEAMEC 2007 endorsements
47th District Democrats
the Stranger
King County Democrats
Wash Fed of State Employees

Googling on “Washington State Primary Endorsements” yielded:

MajorityRulesBlog
Sierra Club (MajorityRulesBlog post)
the Stranger
36th Distrct Democrats
LeftyBlogs
Washington State Women’s Political Caucus
SEAMEC endorsements

Googling on “King County Democrats 2007 endorsements” yielded:

King County Democrats
34th District Democrats
47th District Democrats
MajorityRulesBlog
Peter Sherman’s website
46th District Democrats
Gael Tartelton’s website
Jean Godden’s website
the Stranger

Having endorsements on the Democratic websites and candidates receiving endorsements and listing them on their website drove traffic to these sites. This gives additional exposure to the Democratic Party and their endorsed candidates.

By way of comparison, googling on “”Washington State Republicans 2007 Primary” produced one relevant Republican hit to a right wing blog at the bottom of the second page. Typing in “Washington State Republicans 2007 Primary Endorsements” yielded little of the Republicans but brought up the following in the first two pages:

Washington State Stonewall Democrats
MajorityRulesBlog
LeftyBlogs
Washington Federation of State Employees
the Stranger
47th District Democrats
BlogNet News
WashBlog

Despite the lack of a strong internet effort by the Democrats in making and listing endorsements, where it was done it obviously had an impact on visibility of the Democrats.

There is a reason that the Republican presence is so minor in the google searches. Despite the untapped potential of the Democrats in using the web to get exposure and use the internet for organizing , they were far ahead of Republican Party efforts.

The Washington State Republican website has only county organizations. There are no Republican legislative district organizations listed.

The Republicans had only 15 county websites listed for the 39 counties in Washington State. And they seemed to be even less aware that a Primary was occurring. Only 4 listed the August 21, 2007 Primary date on their website and only 2 had endorsements. Regarding the Presidential Campaign only 2 had a link to the 2008 Republican Presidential candidates.

Just in terms of number of sites, the Democrat’s 58 grassroots organization sites outnumbered the Republicans by almost 4 to 1. Now if they can just get some web savy and get links up for the General Election in November with endorsements listed and links to endorsed candidates they can have a much stronger presence on the web.

And they also need to copy the Democratic State Party’s Road to the White House Presidential candidate’s links and add them to their webpages. Island County Democrats have links with pictures of the candidates which is a nice touch. So do the Spokane Democrats. and the Walla Walla County Democrats. Whitman County, Thurston County and Mason County are the only other counties that currently have links to the Democratic Presidential candidates.

And I could only find links available on the websites of the 1st , 6th, 44th and 45th District Democrats.

One additional element that the Democratic organizations should add to their websites is the free fundraising link for Democrats by ActBlue. ActBlue is set up to raise funds for all the Democratic Presidential candidates. John Edwards for President, for example, using the ActBlue website has raised $3,599,983 from 44,058 donors.

MajorityRulesBlog recently set up an ActBlue page for all the Presidential candidates. You can click on the link to see what one could look like for the Democratic organizations. Each organization would get exposure and credit for funds raised for the candidates.

Darcy Burner is a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 8th Congressional District in Washington State. She narrowly lost in 2006 to Republican incumbent Dave Reichert. She is already running hard to beat him in 2008.

She is continuing her challenge not by being timid but by speaking up for her principles. Witness this just released web ad posted on U-Tube where she talks about the recent vote by many Democrats in Congress to support Bush’s expanded warrantless wiretapping in the name of fighting terrorism. She asks at what price do we give up the principles embedded in our country’s Constitution.

Watch it and ask yourself – isn’t this someone we need in Congress? Too many, including Democrats, are willing to cave in to fear at the expense of weakening protections in our Constitution. We need more elected officials willing to defend the Constitution.

To support Darcy Burner, you can go to her campaign website and make a contribution today.

Last week a conservative Supreme Court candidate named Annette Ziegler won election to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. A record amount of spending occurred by both candidates and third parties in a nasty negative campaign. Sound familiar?

According to an opinion entitled “Campaigns Badly Need Cleaning Up” by The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin, Ziegler

was a candidate who spent most of the past year orchestrating one of the most negative judicial campaigns in Wisconsin history, starting with a vicious letter authored by former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow and ending with a barrage of TV spots that depicted her opponent as a know-nothing “zero.”
An out-of-state outfit called the Club for Growth pumped $250,000 into Ziegler’s primary campaign alone to underwrite attack ads on Ziegler’s behalf, and even the public relations firm that engineered the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’s slimy campaign against John Kerry in 2004 got involved on her side.
And none of this counts the onslaught by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the experts in negative campaigning, that piled on Ziegler’s opponent, Linda Clifford, for the better part of three months.”

In a separate article it is noted that besides the $1.7 million spent by the two candidates

The race saw unprecedented spending by third parties. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business lobby, spent $1.45 million on ads supporting Ziegler and criticizing Clifford, according to Clifford’s campaign. ”

So is it any surprise that today a group of legislators in Wisconsin started circulating for co-sponsors a bill for public financing of state campaigns?

Any of this sound even more familiar now? Last year Washington went through a similar attack by the Building Industry Association of Washington and out of state money to try to elect right wing ideologues to the Washington State Supreme Court. We also saw record spending by special interests. We fared much better than Wisconsin but unfortunately the Washington State Legislature has done nothing to address the expected impact of large amounts of independent expenditures in future elections when the public is over the shock impact of last year’s races.

The Washington State Legislature this session has chosen to ignore public financing for judicial races as well as other state wide races. The reason is mainly that Legislators are also the recipients of large contributions spent by independent PAC’s in their own races. Speaker of the House Frank Chopp visualizes how such unlimited independent expenditures can be used to benefit his Democratic agenda and further solidify his caucus numbers. Republicans see it as their way back into power in the future.

They have however chosen to ignore the fact that we now have two separate and unequal campaign finance structures set up in our state that discriminate against the average citizen contributor. By limiting individual contributions directly to a candidate’s campaign committee, while allowing unlimited contributions by special interest groups, individuals and out of state funders to so called “independent PAC’s”, candidates lose control of their own campaigns and can be vastly outspent by outside interests.

One simple solution to end this segregated campaign system is to extend the present $1400 contribution limit per election for donations to major statewide candidate campaign committees, including Supreme Court Justices, to all campaign committees supporting or opposing a candidate. Whether given directly to the candidate or indirectly to a PAC, everyone is limited to the same $1400 contribution to support or oppose a candidate in a campaign.

The other solution to try to limit special interest mega-spending is to enact public financing for campaigns. Washington Public Campaigns attempted do this with a strong grassroots push to get the Washington State Legislature to pass legislation like Arizona and Maine have for all statewide candidates and North Carolina has for State Supreme Court races. Governor Gregoire supported a trial program for Supreme Court and Appellate Court races. The Washington State Legislature held hearings but ultimately passed nothing.

The 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee who probably really won but didn’t become President has decided not to enter the 2008 race. According to the Washington Post Kerry

“announced today that he has decided not to run for president again in 2008, saying that he will devote his energy instead to ending the war in Iraq.

Kerry made the announcement at the end of a lengthy speech on the Senate floor about the war. He said he felt a personal responsibility to work toward ending the involvement of U.S. combat troops in Iraq because he had “made the mistake” of voting for the 2002 congressional resolution that authorized Bush to take military action in Iraq.

Kerry said he came close enough to winning the presidency in 2004 to be tempted to try again. “But I’ve concluded this isn’t the time for me to mount a presidential campaign,” he said. Rather, it is time “to do all I can to end this war” and focus on fighting “the real war on terror,” he said.”

Senator John Kerry is an honorable man and would have served our country well as President. His campaign in 2004 was assaulted by right wing fear mongers inspired by Karl Rove who falsely attacked Kerry’s war record in a Swift Boat ad campaign that falsely distorted Kerry’s record. Rovian tactics were also behind labeling Kerry a flip flopper – another deceitful ad campaign that relieved on repetitious ads amplified by the right wing noise machine of talk radio and Internet postings and right wing media outlets like Fox news. Also numerous instances of attempts to disenfranchise voters like those documented in Florida and efforts to mislead voters and malfunctioning voting machines in places like Ohio as documented by Robert Kennedy Jr and others helped to keep Bush in office.

Kerry was again attacked in 2006 by the right wing propaganda campaign in the telling of a joke about Bush that the media turned into a diatribe about making fun of Kerry. Meanwhile the ineptitude of Bush was ignored by the media for most of Bush’s time in office until finally the 2006 national elections brought home the fact that it was not Kerry but Bush who was the real joke. Its one of those joke where you only laugh at because it’s so painful otherwise.

Kerry leaving now opens up the Democratic race for President by leaving behind the baggage of Kerry’s loss. It also opens up the race to new visions and hopes for a different future.

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Women who run for President shouldn’t be power hungry. And they should never forgive their husband if he has an extramarital affair, particularly if they want to run for President. Right wing talk radio? Michael Savage? Rush Limbaugh? No, a post by a “progressive” blogger.

I can’t vote for someone who I perceive as so cravenly hungry for power that she’ll do absolutely anything to obtain it.” so says Carla over at Preemptive Karma.

While Carla says ” I can’t pretend to understand the goings on in people’s marriages” she savagely trashes Hillary for sticking with Bill anyway after the Monica Lewinsky affair. Carla ” can fathom no reason for staying in such a dysfunctional situation except to stay next to power.”

The vast right wing conspiracy loves you Carla. The right wing long ago launched a “Stop Hillary Movement” See efforts like Stop Hillary clothes at Cafe Press, Stop Hillary PAC, the Hillary Project -educate yourself on the most corrupt politician in recent history, Blogs Against Hillary, and on and on. The right wing is afraid of Hillary. Such right wing noise and fear mongering makes me suspicious of any anti -Clinton spin and so here’s my response to Carla which I posted on her site:

I truly don’t see that your argument makes sense. Maybe a different perspective is that Hillary leaving Bill would have added fuel and support to the mean spirited partisan right wing Republican power play to impeach Bill Clinton and push him out of office. Maybe it was more an act of courage to stay and deny the right wing satisfaction in their meddling in a family personal matter and trying to use it for their right wing political ends. In fact your link to wikipedia speaks to this – the vast right wing conspiracy.

As some who took after Clinton found out, they had things to hide also. Hillary Clinton was hardly the first person to be married to a straying husband who had sex with someone else.

If you ask me, your comments fall into the Republican game plan to have us buy into this idea that there is something wrong with Hillary both because she stayed with her husband and because now she wants to be President. Why is she being singled out as someone wanting power that we should judge as bad? Could it be that this is parroting back one of the Republican talking points to stop Hillary? Tell me the name of one candidate for President that doesn’t want power?

You have to want power to be able to reach your goals and implement your visions. Remember the event that did in Ted Kennedy’s 1980 attempt at running for President – the CBS Roger Mudd interview where he couldn’t explain why he wanted to be President?

If a candidate doesn’t have the drive and ambition to be President, do you think they’re going to run a strong campaign or be a strong President? Would you vote for a Democrat that didn’t have the passion to want to be President and that couldn’t persevere through adversity – including an extra marital affair of a spouse?

How about judging Hillary and the other candidates on what they say they want to do as President and whether they have what it takes to get elected and take this nation forward after the dismal Bush years? Let’s not buy into Republican spin mongering. That’s what this Hillary “power” trip thing is. It’s also a sexism thing because it supports the image that women wanting power are not O.K while men wanting power are OK.

Let’s not buy into Republican spin mongering. That’s what this Hillary “power” trip thing is. It’s also a sexism thing because it supports the image that women wanting power are not O.K while men wanting power are OK. Why is this discussion only about Hillary wanting power? Seems to me that this is what the Republican spin machine wants us to talk about. Its part of their stop Hillary campaign.

I looked up John McCain on nndb.com. It said “McCain had an extramarital affair with Cindy Lou Hensley, whose father owned Hensley & Co., a Phoenix-based liquor company that is the nation’s second largest Anheuser-Busch distributor. McCain and Shepp were divorced in 1980, and he married his millionaire mistress the following month” So is John McCain a better candidate for President?

Remember the Kerry criticism by the right wing of marrying into the Heinz family money. It’s all a matter of where you’re coming from politically as to whether it matters or not about the details of ones personal marital life it seems.

Or lets look at Gingrich who pushed for Clinton’s impeachment. “Gingrich has been married three times. In 1962, Gingrich married his first wife, Jackie Battley, resulting in the birth of two daughters. He began to discuss divorce with Jackie in 1981, while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery. Gingrich married his second wife, Marianne Ginther, in the fall of 1981. [4] They divorced in 1999 because of her dislike for Washington D.C. and other difficulties. A year later, he married a House aide, Callista Bisek [5] amid rumors the two had an affair during his previous marriage, even while presiding over Clinton’s impeachment”

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Important Washington State Legislative Hearing on
Public Financing of Judicial Races
Senate Bill 5226
Thursday January 25, 2007 at 3:30 pm
Government Operations & Elections Committee
Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 2J.A.
Cherberg Building Olympia, WA

Right now the Building Industry Association is the main financier of candidates running for the Washington State Supreme Court. Two of their candidates won election in the last several years – Jim Johnson and Richard Saunders. And they spent several million trying to elect two more Supreme Court Justices this last year. Such outrageous and out of control special interest money in campaigns destroys a fair and impartial judiciary.

It’s time for citizens to take back the electoral process and remove special interest money trying to pack our courts with hand picked candidates that are beholden to the special interests, not the law or the public good.

This Thursday starts the process to get the Washington State Legislature to enact public financing of campaign elections. Come and testify that you want to take back control of our elections. Testify in support of SB 5226. The hearing starts at 3:30 P.M. Thursday January 25, 2007. Sign up at 3:00 if you want to speak.

If you can’t come, send an e-mail or call your Senator urging they support SB 5226. You can contact your legislators at www.leg.wa.gov.

You can learn more about Washington Public Campaigns by visiting their website at http://www.washclean.org/

Surprise. Surprise. “I’m in” says Hilliary Clinton. Hilliary Clinton’s website contained the announcement this morning that she is joining the long list of candidates running for President in 2008.

I’m in. And I’m in to win.
Today I am announcing that I will form an exploratory committee to run for president.
And I want you to join me not just for the campaign but for a conversation about the future of our country — about the bold but practical changes we need to overcome six years of Bush administration failures.”


…”Only a new president can renew the promise of America — the idea that if you work hard you can count on the health care, education, and retirement security that you need to raise your family. These are the basic values of America that are under attack from this administration every day.”

“…I believe that change is coming November 4, 2008. And I am forming my exploratory committee because I believe that together we can bring the leadership that this country needs. I’m going to start this campaign with a national conversation about how we can work to get our country back on track.”
“This is a big election with some very big questions. How do we bring the war in Iraq to the right end? How can we make sure every American has access to adequate health care? How will we ensure our children inherit a clean environment and energy independence? How can we reduce the deficits that threaten Social Security and Medicare? “

You can read the full text and also see her video at her website.

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Washington Governor Christine Gregoire has put money in her state budget to use public money to finance Supreme Court and Appellate Court races. Majority House Leader Frank Chopp has said the House will pass legislation to finance public campaigns for judges. Want to learn more about the issue of publicly financed campaigns and why they are needed? Washington Public Campaigns has put together 4 great forums this week that can help change the future of politics in Washington State. Plan on attending.

CLEAN ELECTIONS FORUM
Friday, January 5 – 7:30 PM

Seattle Town Hall, 8th & Seneca
With: DAVID SIROTA
New York Times’ best-selling author of “Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Have Conquered Our Government-and How We Can Take It Back”

State Representative Linda Valentino (Maine) and State Senator Ed Ableser (Arizona)

WA Senator Jim Kastama WA
and Representative Mark Miloscia
Moderator Ken Alhadeff,
philanthropist, activist, Advisory Board member for national Public Campaign
$5 Donation Suggested at the door – no one turned away
**** PRIVATE RECEPTION, 6 p.m. ****
Also at Seattle Town Hall
Attendance is limited.
Payment must be received by December 30th to reserve signed book.
Light fare provided.
Mail your check for admission to private reception (payable to Washington Public Campaigns) to B.Schlosstein, 10101 SE 3rd St., Bellevue, WA 98004,
$25 Reception only, or $35 per couple
$50 Reception plus signed copy of “Hostile Takeover”
More information: Annie@washclean.org, or call 206-784-9695
Everett Clean Elections Forum
Thursday, January 4th – 7p.m. (Reception, 6:15 p.m.)
PUD Auditorium
2320 California St, Everett
Contact: Chad Shue, chadshue@hotmail.com, 425-341-1061,
or: Harry Abbott, harry.abbott22@verizon.net, 425-783-0270
Tacoma Clean Elections Forum
Saturday, January 6th – 11 a.m
Unitarian Universalist Congregation
1115 S. 56th Street, Tacoma
Contact: Susan Eidenschink, susaneiden@juno.com, 253-572-9305
Olympia Clean Elections Forum
Saturday, January 6th – 3:00 p.m.
Olympia Center
222 Columbia N., Olympia
Contact: Chris Stegman, c.stegman@comcast.net, 360-705-3528

This last election cycle in Washington State pointed out the vulnerability of our state judicial system to special interest money. One group, the BIAW (Building Industry Association), made a play for buying several seats on the Washington State Supreme Court to represent their special interests – interests like getting rid of growth management and zoning laws and environmental laws they didn’t like.

The BIAW’s raw power play pointed out the dangers of special interest money intent on winning no matter what the cost. The campaigning became a slug fest and saw spending records broken. It woke many people up to the reality that while the BIAW didn’t succeed this time, they or some other group could next time.

That is why there is a sudden urgent swelling of support for a solution to reduce the impact of money in elections. A grassroots citizens organization, Washington Public Campaigns, has been working for several years on public financing of campaigns and it seems it’s in the right place at the right time.

Washington Public Campaigns has 3 legislative bills they are pushing in the Legislative session starting in January in Olympia. One is to allow a local option for public campaign financing. The second is for public financing of judicial races. And the third is for public financing of all local legislative and state wide races.

Today the Seattle PI endorsed public financing of judicial races. Governor Gregoire has added $4.4 million dollars in her proposed budget to do just that. And House Majority Leader Frank Chopp has said that it is a priority of his and fellow Democrats to pass a bill. He also supports and believes that a local option for public financing will pass.

The more comprehensive bill covering state and legislative races is more of a long shot, even though both Maine and Arizona have enacted such legislation with good results. North Carolina enacted legislation for public financing of judicial races in 2002.

Its time for Washington State to take the first step and support public financing of State Supreme Court and Appellate races. The Judiciary needs to independent for it to be fair and impartial. It can not be so if court seats go to the biggest spenders.

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