Reverse Jolt: GOP Tries to Blame Inslee for Extra Costs. Pfft. Dem Claim Flops Too.

By Afternoon Jolt April 9, 2012

When we explained the special election to both temporarily fill retiring US Rep. Jay Inslee's seat and elect the new permanent rep from his redrawn last week, we noted that the $770,000 cost was not a function of the confusing overlapping vote, but rather: The state would have to share some of the costs with the counties because it's a special election for Congress—a unique circumstance that requires the state to kick in.

However, the Washington State Republican Party held a press event today at Inslee's campaign headquarters presenting the Inslee campaign with "invoices" for the $790,000. [pullquote]"Governor Gregoire called the election and clearly is mentoring and supporting Inslee. So I’m not understanding the conspiracy"—Sec. of State spokesman, Dave Ammons[/pullquote]

The campaign gimmick apparently did not sit well with state elections director Katie Blinn, who shot out a memo documenting the total $770,000 costs ($385,000 per primary and general), stating emphatically:

Adding this one race to the Primary and General Election ballots does not add $385,000 to the overall costs of the election.  The issue is how election costs are billed.  The counties are allowed to bill the State for a prorated share of the cost of the election; normally they cannot in an even-numbered year.

Just about every reporter on the race called b.s. on Wilbur's stunt.

The TNT's Peter Callaghan wrote: "So there are no additional costs other than the postcard mailing. What Blinn’s response seems to indicate is that the costs will be shared by an additional governmental entity."

And The Seattle Times' Jim Brunner: "It turns out that figure is misleading. The bulk of that 'cost' is merely a budgetary shift from the state to the three counties involved in the special election."

Brunner also took the Democrats to task, though. They claimed the costs of the election had been exaggerated by Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican who co-chairs Rob McKenna's campaign. McKenna is running against Inslee. In a press release, the Democrats said of Reed:

The McKenna campaign's Thurston County co-chair, who is also the Secretary of State, released a questionably high cost estimate that wreaks of politics. The conflict of interest is clear.

However, Brunner reported:

Dave Ammons, a spokesman for Reed, pushed back on the Democratic attacks on Reed's motives, saying the cost figures came from the three counties involved, and "were not ginned up by this office." Reed's office has no plans to ask Inslee to share in the election cost.

And questioning the Democrats' even more, Ammons told PubliCola: "Governor Gregoire called the election and clearly is mentoring and supporting Inslee. So I’m not understanding the conspiracy."

Footnote: Ammons, a former longtime AP reporter, is one of the most respected voices among Washington's press corps.

Lots of speechifying from the Rs and Ds today, but losers all around.
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