Morning Fizz: Brawl Averted, Money Not Diverted
Caffeinated news and gossip featuring Carlyle vs. Kohl-Welles, mixed-use parks, and micro-parks.
1) There was a great deal of drama in the 36th Legislative District (Ballard, Fremont, Greenwood, Magnolia Queen Anne) over the weekend: First, Democratic 36th LD state Rep. Reuven Carlyle told Democratic 36th LD state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles he was going to run against her, and according to Kohl-Welles asked if she would "reconsider" running herself. Veteran Sen. Kohl-Welles, told him "I will beat you," and went in to campaign mode picking up endorsements from 36th LD Chair Jeff Manson, King County Executive Dow Constantine, several state senators (including Sens. Sharon Nelson, Karen Keiser, Steve Hobbs, and Maralyn Chase) and reps such as Cindy Ryu, Cyrus Habib, and Gerry Pollet—along with Kohl-Welles's former senate colleague Seattle mayor Ed Murray.
By Saturday night, Carlyle reversed course, and announced he was staying put and would run for reelection to his house seat.
Carlyle, a centrist, was first elected in 2008 and quickly rose to chair the powerful house finance committee. Despite the moderate tag, though, he's got cred on tax reform; Rep Carlyle is fond of calling the Republicans "rural socialists" for relying on metro tax money, and he's been hot on challenging longstanding tax breaks since taking office, successfully repealing R&D credits and tax exemptions for tech heavies this year.
Kohl-Welles, a liberal vet who's been in the senate since 1994 (she was in the house for four years before that) is best known for championing medical marijuana and legalization and is also a C is for Crank favorite for leading on feminist issues such as combating sex trafficking and making state code gender neutral.
What was Carlyle thinking? He's not saying, but after covering the state legislature for a while now, we're confident guessing that budget guru Carlyle was frustrated with the proposals that were coming over from the GOP-dominated senate during bicameral negotiations and—he's got some ego too—wanted to mix it up with the senate Republicans himself.
Of course, what the senate Democrats actually need is help fighting the GOP during this year's election—the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus are threatening to increase their 26-23 margin while the Democrats are trying (a bit desperately) to gain some ground. An intramural brawl in the 36th would have diverted fundraising. (Money would have also been sucked into the stampede to fill Carlyle's seat where, like the battle in 2012 to fill then retiring 36th District Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson's seat, labor money likely would have been diverted to back the liberal Democrat vs. the moderate instead of going to other swing turf fights.)
Kohl-Welles's rhetoric about "good Democrats" is likely part of the reason she drew a momentary challenge in the first place.
We will say this: Kohl-Welles's spin about "good Democrats" (she wrote on her FB page that "good Democrats" were shocked at Carlyle's uppity move) is likely part of the reason she drew a momentary challenge. "Good Democrats" have lost control of the senate, have they not? A debate between two Democratic party bright lights like Carlyle and Kohl-Welles may actually have been good for the party.
Democrats run against Democrats all the time in Seattle (Socialists run against Democrats too; it's why we're talking about a $15 minimum wage right now). Why is incumbency sacrosanct at one level, but not the other?
Footnote 1: 36th LD Executive Board member and chair of the nonprofit children's advocacy group the Children's Campaign Fund, Rene Murray, filed to run for Carlyle's seat during the weekend, but word is she isn't going to run for Carlyle's seat now that he has stood down.
Footnote 2: Earlier this year, local civil rights attorney David Perez announced he was going to run for Kohl-Welles's seat if she retired; Perez's move clearly emboldened Kohl-Welles to stay put.
2) Fizz hears The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is ready to announce three more parklets:
Harbour Pointe Coffeehouse in Madison Valley (2818 E Madison St)
Chuck’s Hop Shop in the Central District (2001 E Union St)
Equilibrium Fitness in West Seattle (3270 California Ave SW)
That brings the total of new parklet projects—spaces around the city where parking spots are converted into micro-parks—to 13.
Here's hoping the Equilibrium Fitness spot is converted into a calisthenics clinic, something we'd called for on our wishlist for the reclaimed turf in Friday's Pedestrian Chronicles column, where we also lamented the fact that most of the parklets are tied to businesses.
Anyone can apply, and we were hoping for some more idiosyncratic designs.
3) Speaking of new parks. The mixed ped/car zone on Bell Street between 1st and 5th—Bell Street Park—offiically opened on Saturday.