Jolt: The Biggest Bombshells from the Weirdest Local Election Season Ever
Locally, Election 2012 has featured jarring jolt after jarring jolt. We thought we'd gotten numb to it after a Republican US Senate candidate told PubliCola's Josh Feit to "go fuck yourself" and the Cola landed on the Rachel Maddow show, but then came the viral Gangnam video featuring Rob McKenna ... to say nothing of the Belize bank accounts.
Here's our Greatest Hits list from this year's bizarro election.
March 27: Darcy Burner, a failed Democratic primary candidate for Congress, got caught tweeting that she thought President Obama was a Republican.
May 18: Burner pissed of the Democrats again when party officials tried to get her and all the other candidates in the race for the new 1st District to sit out a related special election to fill the temporary seat in the old 1st District. The party wanted to avoid any more confusion or intramural bickering. No luck. Confusion ensued. Burner defied party chair Dwight Pelz and jumped in. The others quickly followed.
July 10: Retiring state Sen. Cheryl Pflug, a Republican (R-5, Issaquah), endorsed Mark Mullet, the Democratic candidate for her open seat, over the Republican, Brad Toft, accusing Toft of attempting to cover up mysterious "disreputable behavior."
July 11: In response to Pflug, Republican state party chair Kirby Wilbur verbally excommunicated Pflug from the party, saying "nobody cares what she says," and that she "should keep her irrelevant thoughts to herself."
Things went into Arrested Development territory when Ruderman sent her mom a letter asking her to pull the ads.
July 11: Pflug responded to Wilbur’s comments, saying that Wilbur’s “abuse of power [like Wilbur’s] only stops when you put your grown-up pants on, look the bullies in the eye, and call their bluff. I call.”
July 15: Laura Ruderman, running in the same facacta primary as Burner, saw her chances fade when her mom started spending money on a supposedly uncoordinated independent expenditure attacking Ruderman's Democratic opponents.
The nasty mailers and TV spots hit at the exact same time that Ruderman's mom was featured in Ruderman's own offical campaign commercial. Things went into Arrested Development territory when Ruderman sent her mom a letter asking her to pull the ads.
July 16: A McKenna policy staffer had to resign after posting tweets making fun of Asians ("shut up and speak english #asians" and the elderly (If it takes you an entire green light to walk in front of my car GET A WHEELCHAIR #toooldtowalk.")
July 18: And back to the Pflug vs. Toft mess: Details emerged about Toft's efforts to seal court records showing that he had $4,000 in wages garnished for failing to pay a $10,000 franchise fee; failed to pay thousands in wages to an employee; drove with a suspended license; was arrested for failing to show up for a bench warrant; and allegedly swung a bat at an employee's head as a "joke."
July 18: In the wake of a nationwide spate of shootings: King County Sheriff Steve Strachan, who's running for reelection, held an ill-timed fundraiser at a gun shop, hyping the event with "Shootin' with the Sheriff" flyers.
July 23: Another shooting-related pratfall: After Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna refused to answer KIRO TV reporter Essex Porter's question about gun control in the wake of the Colorado movie theater shootings, Porter let the tape roll as McKenna stonewalled all the way out to his car.
July 27: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie contributed a whopping $2.5 million to the campaign for R-74, the gay-marriage proposal, doubling the amount the group had at its disposal. The pro-gay marriage campaign—landing other high-profile, big-dollar donations (Brad Pitt, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and regional corporate titans such as Microsoft, Nordstrom, and Nike)—ended up raising nearly $12.2 million for the cause, dwarfing the anti-gay marriage campaign's $2.6 million raised.
August 14: In a truly amazing feat, medical-marijuana spokesman Philip Dawdy managed to get fired in the middle of his own press conference, reflecting the divide between medical pot proponents and those who support I-502, the marijuana legalization initiative.
In a truly amazing feat, medical-marijuana spokesman Philip Dawdy managed to get fired in the middle of his own press conference
August 21: Republican US Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner sent a late night email to our very own Josh Feit, telling him to "go fuck yourself" after Josh interviewed him and published a story about Baumgartner's views on abortion.
Baumgartner then threw his staff under the bus by telling the media he hadn't signed off on a press release from his campaign issuing an apology. Baumgartner's classy behavior made the national news.
August 28: Ramtha guru and "enlightenment school" leader JZ Knight raised some eyebrows when she got involved in politics and started donating big money to the Democratic party.
September 18: State Sen. Don Benton threatened to sue his challenger, state Rep. Tim Probst, for "slander and libelous statements" after Probst pointed out (correctly) that Benton has missed 299 votes since 2009.
September 27: Probably setting the record for spending in a state house race, in another heated Democratic intramural featuring misleading attack ads, Tacoma trial attorney (and anti-choice, anti-gay marriage social conservative) Jack Connelly spent nearly $1 million of his own money to take out incumbent Rep. Jeannie Darnielle (D-27, Tacoma).
September 28: After the dust settled on his earlier series of mini-scandals, Toft tried to get a restraining order against the employee who accused him of swinging a bat at her head, accusing her of "harassing" him in person and on Twitter. He failed.
October 2: Who knew? 46th District Democratic state house candidate Sylvester Cann has a police record for drag racing and shoplifting.
October 9: Speaking of #Asians: McKenna made national headlines with a goofy video showing him and his wife dancing to "Gangnam Style," the K-Pop megahit, at the Washington State Korean Association's Korean Day event.
October 11: KPLU radio revealed that state auditor candidate Troy Kelley, who had also been sued for theft, misappropriating funds, tax evasion, and other charges, acknowledged in a deposition in 2010 that he wired millions of dollars from bank account to bank account, with the money ending up in an account that was eventually linked to a bank in Belize, an offshore tax haven.
October 18: The Seattle Times, supposedly the region's beacon of objective journalism, spent $150,000 on ads supporting R-74 and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, claiming the move was an experiment to prove political ads in newspapers work.
Whatever the outcome of the election—the paper also endorsed both campaigns—the experiment backfired immediately, prompting a revolt among subscribers and an outraged letter from the paper's own editorial staff.
The Seattle Times, supposedly the region's beacon of objective journalism, spent $150,000 on ads supporting R-74 and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna.
October 24: More internecine intrigue: GOP congressional candidate John Koster dissed his potential Washington delegation seatmate, Republican US Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA, 5), by holding a fundraiser with US Rep. Tom Price (R-GA).
At the time, Price was running against McMorris Rodgers for a top leadership spot in the GOP house caucus and was wooing potential Republican reps by helping them raise cash.
October 26: Democratic state Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48) called for a formal investigation into whether Gov. Chris Gregoire conspired with Pflug to help secure her former seat for Democrat Mullet, by appointing her to a state position shortly after the deadline for filing for office.
October 26: A coalition of labor groups spent $100,000 to help Democrat Noel Frame beat another Democrat, Gael Tarleton in the race for the open 36th District state house seat.
October 31: In the closing days of the campaign, John "The Rape Thing" Koster, the Tea Party candidate for Congress, said abortion shouldn't be allowed even in instances of rape. (For other white, male, Republican experts on women's bodies, see: Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, Joe "All Pregnancies are Safe" Walsh, and Robert "God Intended it to Happen" Murdouck.
Koster made the comments—where they were caught on tape—at the aforementioned Price fundraiser.
November 2: The state Democrats ended up having to donate money the the Anti-Defamation League and the pro-gay marriage campaign after Ramtha school guru Knight was caught on tape during a sermon at the enlightenment school making anti-Semitic, homophobic, and anti-Catholic statements.
November 2: In the final bizarro brouhaha of the season (maybe?): Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna came under fire for a GOP scheme to have partisan operatives pickup ballots from voters.
November 5: Just days before the election, Tarleton accused Frame supporters of making harassing phone calls while posing as volunteers with the Tarleton campaign.
November 6: The Secretary of State's office demanded a full account of the questionable GOTV operation that came to light on November 2, sending out a mean letter to the campaigns and political parties on election day.