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Afternoon Jolt

1. Winner: State Rep. Ross Hunter

State Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina) has not changed his mind.

Hunter's colleagues in the Democratic Party and Democratic voters in the Microsoft suburbs had been nudging him to run all session as they watched the state senator from the same district, Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina), a dissident Democrat who's been caucusing with the Republicans, give the GOP majority effective control over the Senate and thwart the Democratic agenda. 

Hunter, liking his gig as the house appropriations chair, didn't take the bait.

Hunter, liking his gig as the house appropriations chair, never seemed excited about the idea of moving to the senate; he's also personal friends with Tom—they're roomies in Olympia during the session. He didn't take the bait.

When Tom announced he was not seeking reelection earlier this week, citing health and family reasons, the spotlight fell on Hunter again, even though the Democrats already have a candidate in the race, former Kirkland mayor Joan McBride.  (The other rep in the district, Cyrus Habib, is reportedly considering a run as well now that Tom is out—which seems counter-intuitive from a practical perspective: Now that Tom is out, the race is easier for the Democrats, not harder.)

I called Hunter when Tom dropped out on Monday to see if was going to run (Habib called me to say the Democrats were assessing their next move.) Hunter didn't respond on Monday, but called today to alert me to his Facebook page, which outlines his reasons for opting out of the senate race and simply seeking reelection in the house.

He says he believes he can get more work done as the budget leader in the house than as freshman senator. He also uses his FB post to explain one of his original reasons for not wanting to run against Tom, which he uses as an opportunity to criticize campaign finance rules: He had feared negative ads from independent expenditure groups (done on his behalf) that would have prevented him from running a "clean" campaign. 

He writes:

Outside forces control ever-larger slices of campaign expenditures. I could run a clean campaign, but I cannot imagine that the external forces would agree to do so as well, and they would have probably outspent my campaign by over a million dollars. I was concerned about “wearing” this negative advertising against someone I consider a friend. It’s too bad we are are in a world where campaigns are no longer controlled by the candidate. This specific concern is obviously gone today, but it still a problem in the campaign world in general that I do not know how to solve.

Karma points for Hunter.

2. Tomorrow's Potential Losers: Transit Riders, if Prop. 1, the measure to prevent drastic cuts, 550,000 hours of service to Metro, doesn't pass. 

Why? Because, as Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci, and Redmond Mayor John Marchione announced today when they unveiled their future options for transit if 156 routes, as Metro has warned, have to be cut, reduced, or eliminated altogether: Commuters will have to rely on the Seattle-to-Redmond zip-line and the Capitol Hill-to-Downtown Slip'n-slide.

Voters were able to test the new transit technology today at Freeway Park.

3. Not a winner or loser, just a Jolt to the system: Ridesharing companies including UberX and Lyft filed 36,000 voter signatures today to overturn legislation passed by the Seattle City Council that regulates the popular cab-like companies, limiting them to 150 drivers on the road at one time and mandating minimum insurance requirements. 

The companies opposed the new regulations, which the council passed last month, claiming that they would put the companies out of business—particularly the limit on the number of drivers, which is the first such limit any city has imposed on ridesharing companies in any city in the U.S. 

The companies needed about 16,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot; since the number they got is more than double the number required, it seems likely they'll make it onto the November ballot. 

 

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