1. Bucking her party, Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) voted against the financial reform bill yesterday. The bill passed 59 to 39 with four Republicans—including Tea Party poster boy Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA)—voting for it, and liberal Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) joining Cantwell as the other dissident Democrat.
As opposed to Republican opponents of the bill, who were against putting regulations on the free market, Cantwell sought more regulations—including two amendments she'd been pushing: One to put a firewall between commercial and investment banking by reinstating the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act and another to tighten regulations on derivative markets.
Cantwell, who also voted with a successful GOP filibuster against the bill on Wednesday (before the Democrats rounded up enough votes to send it to the floor and pass it yesterday), went on Countdown with Keith Olbermann during last night's floor vote to explain her opposition.
Cantwell has been bucking the Democrats—and President Obama—ever since the Wall Street bailouts began in late 2008. And in an exclusive interview with PubliCola last February, she vowed to vote against the reform bill if it did not meet her standards.
2. Yesterday, former Washington State Republican Chair Diane Tebelius announced her candidacy against State Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina)—the Democrats' House Finance Chair in Olympia who oversaw the budget negotiations this year.
Tebelius, a former federal prosecutor who made an unsuccessful run in the GOP primary against now-U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) in 2004, said in a statement:
“Rep. Ross Hunter has been on the wrong side of key issues for voters in the 48th District and led the charge for tax increases and to gut voter-approved restraints on government spending.”
Ironically, Tebelius—who was ousted from the GOP Chair spot by her party in January 2007 after the Republicans lost their hold on Seattle's Eastside suburbs in 2006—is now a key candidate in current GOP Chair Luke Esser's drive to win back the swing turf (known as the Crescent.) It was Esser who replaced Tebelius during the bitter 2007 uprising.
3. Last night, North Seattle's 46th District Democrats nominated current Rep. Scott White to fill retiring state Sen. Ken Jacobsen's seat. They simultaneously nominated David Frockt to take White's House seat (Frockt had been running for the senate against Jacobsen before Jacobsen announced his retirement this week). They also nominated current incumbent Phyllis Kenney for her current House seat which put the kibosh on the possibility of an intramural battle between Kenney and White for Jacobsen's seat.
Rep. Kenney had complained to us on Monday that she'd been left out of what she thought was a closed-door agreement between Jacobsen and White—and she said was "considering" running against White for the Senate seat.
The sudden announcement Monday that Jacobson was retiring and had orchestrated a deal with Frockt and White (a story first reported by PubliCola) had set off speculation that Kenney might step in and challenge White for the Senate seat.
We heard on background that White and Jacobsen had been plotting together as early as Friday on the switcheroo. White and Jacobsen, however, said it was all spur-of-the-moment. "I found out on Monday" that Jacobsen was retiring, White told us, saying he called to ask Jacobsen for the endorsement the same day. Jacobsen said at the meeting, "there was no maneuvering on my part." (PubliCola is here to tell you—none of this is true. And a deal was made over the weekend.)
Rep. Kenney, confronted by White's massive list of endorsements and, she says, encouraged by Speaker of the House Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43, Seattle), announced she wasn't challenging White for the senate seat.
There were a couple of sparks when Gerry Pollet, who lost the race for 46th House seat against Scott White in 2008, halted the voting process to press the issue of whether the PCOs would vote via acclamation, or via secret written ballot—we thought it might have something to do with an open letter Pollett wrote to the 46th yesterday, urging PCOs to vote for a "placeholder" nominee to delay voting on a real nominee, which would give others—presumably Pollet and Kenney—time to decide whether they wanted to run in the 46th.
During the forum, the candidates talked about bills to create jobs and reintroducing the hazardous substance tax proposal that got dismantled in Olympia this session. White also said he wants to push mass transit in Olympia next session and Frockt said he wanted to work on tax reform and in particular get rid of some corporate exemptions. (In a previous interview he told us repealing the $50 million exemption for big banks on interest earned off mortgage loans was a no-brainer.)
Education funding was also a hot topic. White talked about work he has done in the off-season on the University of Washington's budget policy. "We have been systematically starving higher education in the state," White said. White also talked about increasing accountability for K-12 teachers—to which Kenney replied later, "I don't think that that's quite fair. Sometimes, you have an excellent teacher whose hands are just tied," she said, to scattered applause.
4. Erica is being honored by NARAL this Monday at the annual Power of Choice Luncheon.
NARAL's announcement says:
Erica became the News Editor at PubliCola in June of 2009. Erica has ... been an amazing advocate for reproductive justice in the media. Last December, she reported on the Senate health care reform language that “throws women’s health care under the bus.” She also covered the murder of late-term abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller, for the Stranger, saying that “there is no common ground—not when "common ground" is code for ceding women's rights to calm a storm we didn't create.” We are very excited to present the Power of Choice Award to such a devoted advocate!
The luncheon is at the Seattle Sheraton. The keynote speaker is actress Kathy Najimy. Tickets are still available. Info here.