Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. Forget about the Seattle Times (for a second). Let's turn our attention to some even bigger newspaper news.

On Wednesday, the publisher of the Wenatchee World reversed his longstanding position on the rule requiring a two-thirds vote to raise taxes and wrote an editorial urging voters to reject Tim Eyman's latest version of the rule, I-1185. (PubliCola came out against 1185 yesterday.)

Why did the Wenatchee World reverse course and come out against 1185 after supporting the previous incarnation, 1053?

Here's what WW publisher Rufus Wood told us:

The tax foundation ranks our state and local tax burden 29th out of 50 states. How low do we want to get?

"My two editors supported it but I struck out on my own. They can write in support of it if they choose. For one, I think the real issue isn’t overbroad taxation, that’s what 1185 proponents are claiming. The tax foundation ranks our tax state and local burden 29th out of 50 states. How low do we want to get? It’s how the tax overall burden is distributed that’s the problem—it’s too narrow. If you continue to narrow the base, you have to get the money from somewhere. Broader bases, lower rates, spread it around that to me makes more sense.

Secondly, I fundamentally am against supermajorities. Why’s my vote count for one if I’m in the majority and your vote counts for more than one if you’re in the minority? 1185 isn’t going to bring people together, it’s going to further the divisions. It just pushes the idea that it’s all [the other party’s] fault. It also drives us to be a low service, low tax state and it’s going to put the strain on the social services that are needed in this state. It’s the wrong approach."

2. And no, don't really forget about the Seattle Times. The news that they're doing an independent expenditure for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna is huge.

They're also doing an IE for R-74, the gay marriage measure, by the way. But that's not as shocking. Going all in on a single issue can make sense for a newspaper that otherwise trades in balance and objectivity. Newspapers can actually increase their integrity when they champion a specific cause—and in the case of gay marriage, a historic cause that has big support in Seattle (and in cities across the country). It's not really a big deal for a city paper to wear its pro-gay marriage bias on its sleeve.

But going to the mat for the standard bearer of one of the two major political parties—the Republican party in the Times' case (and the broad agenda that comes with the GOP platform)—is an unprecedented game changer for the media landscape in Seattle. Just wow. 

Daily newspaper editorial pages don't pack much punch these days. The Times' free McKenna ad was a publicity stunt to give their endorsement the horsepower it was lacking.  

Here's all our coverage of the big news: A Cola "One Question" with Republican party chair Kirby Wilbur (he thinks the ad is problematic); 100 Seattle Times editorial employees earned an Afternoon Jolt by coming out against the paper's decision; we report on the small list of hotly partisan groups that the Times is now in league with by going all in for McKenna and doing an independent expenditure; our own "Truth Needle" on the pro-McKenna ad itself (a pretty drab ad, by the way); Fizz suggests they use an actual political consultant next time when they bust out their R-74 ad); our interview with Times spokeswoman Jill Mackie; and Erica asks an interesting question—if Inslee wins, does that demonstrate that advertising in the Times is a waste of money?

By the way, Fizz's theory on this whole damn thing: The Times' official McKenna endorsement wasn't getting enough attention because daily newspaper editorial pages don't pack much punch these days. The Times'  free McKenna ad was a publicity stunt to give their endorsement the horsepower it was lacking. 

3. After months of making fun of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee for leaning on big donations from the Washington State Democratic Party to keep his numbers on par with Republican Rob McKenna's, the Washington State Republican Party ended up donating $1.7 million of their own to McKenna this month. (Inslee has gotten more than $2 million from the Democrats.)

So, we made fun of the GOP this week for all their earlier trash talking, throwing party spokeswoman Meredith Kenny's quotes from July—"the fact that the Democrats need to subsidize Jay’s campaign so heavily speaks volumes about his candidacy"—back in her face.

Kenny didn't take kindly to being our big loser of the day.

"The WSRP has never denied that we would be supporting Rob," she told Fizz this morning. "He’s the Republican Party’s nominated candidate. The difference is, Rob is not dependent on our money like Jay has been on his party’s. If you take away the money both candidates have received from their party, Rob has outraised Jay by $2 million, and so my quote from July still stands strong—the voters are speaking loud and clear.”

(And guess what, Meredith: According to a last-minute contribution report, the Democrats just kicked in another $93,000 to Inslee on Wednesday.)

This may explain why the environmental plan McKenna released yesterday got panned by environmental advocates.

4. Another difference between Inslee's and McKenna's fundraising?

McKenna has gotten $82,000 from the oil and gas industry (they were his third largest contributor behind the timber industry and the insurance industry, according to the Sunlight Foundation earlier this year). Indeed, according to the latest campaign finance reports, San Antonio–based Tesoro Corp. has kicked in $3,400 and Houston-based BP is at $3,600. Neither oil company has contributed to Inslee.

This may explain why the environmental plan McKenna released yesterday got panned by environmental advocates for devolving oversight of Puget Sound cleanup away from the state to the local level.

“McKenna’s environmental plan would let polluters—his campaign contributors—off the hook for Puget Sound restoration," Washington Conservation Voters Executive Director Brendon Cechovic said.