Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. In a sign of either confidence or desperation, the Washington State Republicans made two big last-minute contributions to a pair of GOP state senate  candidates this week.

The Republicans gave $26,657 to state Sen. Randi Becker (R-2, Eatonville) who's facing a tough challenge from Democrat Bruce Lachney. And the Republicans gave $20,000 to state Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island) who's facing a surprising threat from Democratic challenger Maureen Judge.

The Becker and Litzow races are two of six key state senate races currently in play that could shift power in the senate. The Democrats ended the last session with a 27-22 advantage. However, they immediately lost state Sen. Jim Kastama (D-25, Puyallup), who gave up his seat to run (unsuccessfully) for Secretary of State. Republican state Rep. Bruce Dammeier (R-25) is expected to easily win the conservative district, scaling the Democrats' advantage down to 26-23. (Kastama, of course, was a conservative Democrat and gave the Republicans a key vote in their budget coup last year.)

In a sign of either confidence or desperation, the Washington State Republicans made two big last-minute contributions to a pair of state senate GOP candidates this week.

In addition to the Becker and Litzow races, seats are in play in: the 10th Legislative District (Island County), where Democratic incumbent Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen is facing a strong challenge from Republican candidate Barbara Bailey; in the 5th (Issaquah), where Democrat Mark Mullet is threatening to pick up the open seat in traditionally Republican turf against Republican hopeful Brad Toft; in the 17th (Vancouver) where Democratic state Rep. Tim Probst is threatening the incumbent, Republican Sen. Don Benton; and in the 1st (Northeast King County and South Snohomish) where a strong Republican challenger, Dawn McCravey, is taking on incumbent Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe.

2. Speaking of the 1st Legislative District: The teachers' union, which has spent more than $70,000 on independent expenditures in the race helping McAuliffe and opposing McCravey (McAuliffe is chair of the education committee and the union sees her as an ally against education reformers), released a new TV ad against McCravey.

The union's rivals, the ed reformers at Stand for Children, have spent more than $220,000 in independent expenditures opposing McAuliffe. 

3. In the other 1st District—the 1st Congressional District: KING 5 has released a new poll that shows Democratic hopeful Suzan DelBene ahead of conservative Republican John Koster 47-44.

DelBene, the former director of the state Department of Revenue, was trailing Koster, a Snohomish County Council Member, 46-42 in KING 5's poll a moth ago.

4. And speaking of attack TV: The Washington Committee for Justice and Fairness, a DC-based group which has raised $900,000, put up a hard hitting TV spot against Republican Attorney General candidate Reagan Dunn this week.

Curious footnote: When you look on the Public Disclosure Commission's site to see who exactly contributed to the Washington Committee for Justice and Fairness, it says: The Washington Committee for Justice and Fairness. Um...

It turns out, the group is backed by a federal PAC which is funded by the Democratic Attorneys General's Association. However, that information is only available at the Federal Elections Commission.

The ad itself lists some local donors at the bottom of the screen, including the Service Employees International Union and the Washington State Association for Justice—a local trial lawyers' political committee.