Back in the olden days when PubliCola was in its infancy – 2009 to be exact – this site endorsed Tom Carr for reelection as City Attorney. During his tenure, the erratic, mercurial, and prudish Carr had repeatedly embroiled himself in needless controversies like pushing a heavy-handed nightlife crackdown, but PubliCola endorsed him in part because Carr was pro-bike and had the support of the Cascade Bicycle Club.
I remember shaking my head at the time, thinking, WTF? Well, now they’ve gone and endorsed ultraconservative Tea Party candidate James Watkins for state auditor. And in his favor, they cite that while he’s extremely conservative, he’s a member of the Cascade Bicycle Club. Once again, WTF? To be blunt, the Watkins nod is this site’s worst endorsement since that Tom Carr clunker.
I am doing work for Democratic auditor candidate Troy Kelley, so you can dismiss my opinion if you want, but the truth is the truth. And the truth here is that Watkins is an extreme ideologue who has repeatedly exhibited severe anti-government views that call into question his ability to act as a fair-minded and non-partisan auditor. And there are real questions about whether he has anywhere near the auditing experience he has claimed.
He’s on the record making extremely disparaging comments about public education – he has said we’d be better off shutting down our public schools and using the money to send all kids to private schools. Can we trust him to do fair audits of education spending in Washington?Watkins thinks the Arizona immigration law doesn’t go far enough. He’s gushed about the Glenn Beck 9/12 March on Washington. He’s ranted against the Obama administration’s “big government plans to remake America in its image – expansion of big government through redistribution of our money and the massive nationalization of health care and private industry.” He has called for defunding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) until it can be repealed. And he does not believe global warming is related to human activity.
All of his hyperpartisan statements raise serious red flags, but some of them apply directly to how he’d conduct himself as auditor. He’s on the record making extremely disparaging comments about public education – he has said we’d be better off shutting down our public schools and using the money to send all kids to private schools – and yet he’s going to audit school districts and education spending in Washington? We’re going to be implementing the ACA over the next few years. Do we want to hand over the power of the auditor’s office to someone who believes it is part of a socialist plot to take over America?
Troy Kelley, by way of contrast, is a moderate Democrat with an independent streak. He’s not particularly close to the Democratic constituencies in Olympia. He’s experienced, and unlike Watkins can document his wide range of relevant experience. Yes, Troy has gotten himself embroiled in a couple of messy business disputes that led to lawsuits, but those cases were settled and Troy has never been charged with anything, or himself audited. To me, the choice here is clear: Troy Kelley should be Washington State’s next auditor.
Thinking back to 2009, I recall that most PubliCola readers apparently ignored the Carr endorsement – that election he went down to a crushing defeat to Pete Holmes, who has since proven himself the steady, smart leader that Carr never was. I suspect something similar will happen in this case.