1. In serious WTF news: Former state Rep. Brendan Williams (currently Deputy Commissioner in state insurance commission), a flaming liberal, endorsed conservative Democratic state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens) in the crowded race to take US Rep. Jay Inslee's (D-WA, 1) seat in Congress. Inslee is running for governor.
The 1st was redrawn this week from a blue district to a swing district taking in both the liberal Microsoft suburbs and conservative rural Whatcom County on the Canadian border. Williams says Hobbs has the best shot at holding the seat for the Democrats.
2. Speaking of congressional redistricting, DC insider web site Hotline On call has some analysis of the new Washington map that was proposed this week.[pullquote]The Family PAC challenge was brought by anti-campaign-finance regulations guru James Bopp, a legal adviser on the Citizen United case which famously struck down disclosure and contribution limit rules for corporations.[/pullquote]
They're wrong about the new 1st being blue (crunching the past voting history of the districts that now comprise the 1st shows it leans Republican 51.6 percent), but otherwise it's nice to hear what reporters in DC who have some objective distance think of all this, making US Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, for example, the big winner.
-- 3rd's The Charm: If you were to write up a list of winners following the release of the draft map, 3rd District freshman Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler would be at the top.
Herrera Beutler's district sheds Democratic-leaning Olympia in Thurston County to the new 10th District and picks up GOP-leaning Klickitat County to the southeast, along the Oregon border.
3. The 9th Circuit US District Court of Appeals ruled against Washington State's strict campaign finance rules yesterday, striking down the state ban on last-minute contributions to initiative campaigns. The state rule banned contributions of more than $5,000 to initiatives during the last three weeks of the campaign.
Family PAC, a conservative political committee formed to oppose Washington's domestic partnership law through a voter referendum, filed a lawsuit in 2009 to challenge the disclosure requirements and $5,000 contribution cap. The group argued that the laws were an unconstitutional restraint on its freedom of speech under the First Amendment. At trial, the committee presented evidence that, but for the limit, it would have received contributions during the referendum campaign of $60,000 and $20,000 from Focus on the Family, another lobbying group.
The state responded that most Washington counties use a vote-by-mail system, which requires sending out ballots 18 days before the election date. The $5,000 cap during the three weeks before the election was necessary to inform voters of big-money donors by the time ballots were mailed out, the state argued. But the district court and 9th Circuit disagreed.
The limit imposed a "significant burden" by restricting donations "during the critical three-week period before the election, when political committees may want to respond to developing events," Judge Raymond Fisher wrote for the three-judge panel. Voters who chose to cast their ballots by mail while the campaign was in full swing made a voluntary choice to forego relevant information that might later surface, he wrote.
The Family PAC challenge was brought by anti-campaign finance regs guru James Bopp (Bopp was a legal adviser on the Citizen United case which famously struck down disclosure and contribution limit rules for corporations.) Bopp is also the lawyer on the R-71 case in which conservatives are losing their battle to conceal the names of people who signed the anti-domestic partnership referendum that lost in 2009.
The 9th Circuit did uphold another aspect of the contribution law yesterday, though, ruling that political committees had to report the names and occupations of donors.