This Washington

Focus on the Family Drops $35K in State Races

By Erica C. Barnett November 1, 2010

The Family Policy Institute of Washington---a Focus on the Family-affiliated Lynnwood group that's perhaps best known for fighting against Referendum 71, which expanded domestic partnerships for gay couples---just dropped nearly $35,000 on  independent expenditures supporting and opposing candidates for the state legislature.

The group, identified on its literature as Family Policy Action, was behind a mailer attacking 32nd District state house candidate Cindy Ryu for wanting to “protect the abortion industry’s bottom line.” According to NARAL Pro-Choice Washington director Lauren Simonds, the group has already put out three mailers in the 32nd alone, all of them "with a focus on being anti-choice." We have a call in to the group to find out how they chose which candidates to support and target.

Founded by evangelical minister James Dobson, Focus on the Family is the largest Christian right-wing organization in the US. Among other issues, the group fights legislation to bar pharmacists from denying access to emergency contraception; opposes abortion rights; opposes assisted suicide; supports abstinence-only education; opposes gay marriage; opposes hate crimes legislation; and supports prayer in public schools.

According to the state Public Disclosure Commission, the group's mailers were produced by the Transform Group, whose clients include the anti-choice, anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund, Jesus Spoken Here Ministries, and Christian Leadership Concepts, a group that "equips men to be leaders."

So who are they interested in getting elected in Washington State? Here's a complete list, including how much they've spent and which incumbents they're trying to oust.

In Eastern Washington's 6th District, the group has spent $4,336 opposing incumbent Democratic state Rep. John Driscoll and supporting former John Ahern, a vocal supporter of privatizing government services who used to hold Driscoll's position.

Also in the 6th, they've spent $3,252 opposing incumbent Democratic Sen. Chris Marr and supporting Republican challenger Michael Baumgartner, who headlined a recent Tea Party rally in downtown Spokane.

In the 14th District, they've spent $880 supporting Republican challenger Michelle Strobel and opposing incumbent Republican state Rep. Norm Johnson. Strobel's main issues are overturning domestic partnerships and returning government to "godly principles."

In the 17th District, the group has spent $2,200 supporting Republican Paul Harris and opposing Democrat Monica Stonier in the race to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Deb Wallace. Harris' main claim to fame during the campaign was "forgetting" to license his truck in Washington State.

Also in the 17th, they've spent $880 supporting Republican Brian Peck, a political newcomer and Vancouver gas-station owner who's challenging one-term Democratic state Rep. Tim Probst.

In the 25th District, the group has spent $3,313 opposing incumbent Democratic Rep. Dawn Morrell and supporting Republican challenger Hans Zeiger, who infamously once wrote that the Girls Scouts are "overrun by radical feminists [and] lesbians."

In the 28th District, they've spent $2,205 opposing Democratic state Rep. Tami Green and supporting Republican challenger Paul Wagemann. Green has been a strong advocate for women in the legislature, recently passing legislation allowing women to breast-feed in public.

Also in the 28th, they've spent $1,470 opposing Democratic state Rep. Troy Kelley and supporting Republican challenger Steve O'Ban---an attorney who has fought against gay marriage, abortion rights, and the death with dignity initiative.

In the 30th District, the group has spent $2,432 opposing Democratic state Sen. Tracey Eide and supporting her Republican opponent, Tony Moore, a church founder who opposes background checks for firearms purchases at gun shows.

In the 32nd, they've spent $2,456 opposing Democratic state Rep. Cindy Ryu and supporting Republican challenger Art Coday.

In the 42nd District, the group has spent $3,334 opposing Democratic incumbent state Rep. Kelli Linville and supporting Republican challenger Vincent Buys, whose main issue is reducing taxes.

Also in the 42nd, they've spent $3,345 opposing Republican Allan Jenson and supporting Republican Jason Overstreet, a privatization proponent, for the state Rep seat being vacated by Republican Doug Erickson.

In the 44th District, the group has spent $1,612 opposing Democratic incumbent state Sen. Steve Hobbs and supporting Republican challenger David Schmidt. Schmidt served in the legislature for 12 years before losing to Hobbs in 2006.

In the 49th, they've spent $2,506 supporting Republican challenger Craig Riley and opposing incumbent Democratic state Rep. Jim Moeller. Moeller is one of the only openly gay members of the state legislature.
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