Extra Fizz: Spokane Surprise, Seattle Schools, and City Hall Repeal
Jayapal talks about education reform, conservative group shows up on rideshare initiative reports, and Republicans nervous in Eastern Washington?
1. A follow-up on this morning's Morning Fizz item about the Southeast Seattle state senate race.
Noting some donations to former OneAmerica director, frontrunner Pramila Jayapal, from high-profile education reformers, including Mary Jean Ryan, the head of Community Center for Education Results (Jayapal was on Ryan's board and is also a longtime family friend, she says), we speculated that Jayapal's opponent, Louis Watanabe, might be able to make some hay. Watanabe is an anti-charter schools activist and education reform is a hot-button issue in the district.
Here's the update: Jayapal says definitively that she does not support charter schools, arguing that they suck money away from public schools.
We asked Jayapal how she would have voted on this year's big ed reform bill, legislation that failed after the teachers' union talked Democrats who originally supported it to vote against it.
Of course, charter schools are not the only "ed reform" issue. Most prominently, ed reformers advocate for tougher teacher evaluations and want student test scores to be a part of teacher evaluations.
We asked Jayapal how she would have voted on this year's big ed reform bill, legislation that failed after the teachers' union talked Democrats who originally supported it to vote against it. The bill would have mandated that statewide testing scores be part of teacher evaluations rather than the current standard, which says statewide test scores "can" be part of teacher evaluations. That more lenient status quo put $38 million in federal money for low-income, underachieving students in jeopardy; without the change, the feds warned, the money would not go directly to district classrooms.
Jayapal said she would have to study up on the issue to give us a definitive answer, but she did say she had "questions about requirements and strings" that come with federal money.
2. The campaign to repeal City Council legislation putting caps on ridesharing or "Transportation Network Companies," such as Lyft, SideCar, and UberX, which allow private citizens to play cabbie through an app-based service, is paying a political consultant who has a history of working for conservative causes.
Seattle Citizens to Repeal Ordinance 124441—which has so far gotten $400,000 from Lyft, $400,000 from Uber, and $500 from SideCar—has paid $14,000 to Amplified Strategies, whose previous campaign work includes: YES on I-1107, the soda tax repeal; YES on I-1183, the liquor privatization measure; YES on I-1240, the charter schools campaign; NO on I-522, the anti-GMO labeling effort; NO on I-1098, the anti-income tax effort; and NO on Referendum 1, the Seattle bag tax.
3. Is the GOP nervous about what should be a safe seat in this year's state senate races—the 6th Legislative District in Spokane? The Washington State Republican Party's sole contribution to date to this year's contests indicates as much.
But first, let's make fun of the Democrats. We've been calling attention to the Washington State Democratic Party's curious nonchalance about the upcoming state senate races. With several seats in play—the 28th, the 48th, the 45th—that could either solidify the GOP hold on the state senate for years to come or put the Democrats back in the game—the Democrats have seemed, with the exception of state Rep. Tami Green going all in to run against Republican state Sen. Steve O'Ban in Tacoma/Lakewood's 28th Legislative District—oddly low-key about the state of things.
Witness: Democratic state Sen. Tracey Eide (D-30, Federal Way) resigned without warning, leaving the Democrats without a candidate (Democrat Shari Song has since entered the race) against the well-known and formidable Mark Miloscia, a Democrat-turned-Republican.
Additionally, earlier this year, the Democrats failed to get powerhouse Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina) to take on their supposed enemy #1, state Sen. Rodney Tom, settling for former Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride, who is not well-known in the district. (The Democrats actually lucked out on this one this week when Tom announced he isn't running for reelection.) Meanwhile, Repbulican Sen. Andy Hill (R-45, Kirkland), whose subservience to the party's right wing could have made him vulnerable in the moderate Microsoft 'burbs, has $174,000 more cash on hand than his Democratic opponent, Navy vet and Amazon.com employee, Matt Isenhower.
The only candidate the Republican Party has given money to—$20,000 at that—is supposedly secure state Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-6, Spokane). This is all to say: The GOP is behaving curiously as well. With the aforementioned swing-turf races front-and-center, the only candidate the Republican Party has given money to—$20,000 at that—is supposedly secure state Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-6, Spokane).
In a bit of surprise, Sen. Baumgartner's challenger, Rich Cowan, a film production company owner who ran against U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in 2012, has already raised $86,000 with $56,800 on hand. (Incumbent Baumgartner has raised $130,000, with $87,000 on hand.)
Much of Cowan's money comes from traditional Democratic supporters—$900 from the Muckleshoot Tribe, $900 from the public employees union—but as a small businessman, Cowan's also getting business support.
Baumgartner's Tea Party showmanship—he dramatically told the Washington State Supreme Court to mind their own business when it came to education funding—can certainly go over well in the district, but his colorful approach also risks making him seem like a bit of an oddball.
Obama only got 47 percent in the district—and Inslee just 44. Why is the GOP prioritizing this one?