June Jolt: What We Missed, Winners Edition

By Afternoon Jolt July 9, 2012

Winner: Bike, pedestrian and transit proponents at Northgate.

In a major victory for neighborhood activists who turned out in force at meeting after meeting (and Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin), the Sound Transit board unanimously approved  a compromise proposal reducing the size of a proposed parking garage at the planned Northgate light rail station and committing a total of $10 million in city and Sound Transit dollars to bike and pedestrian facilities at the station, potentially including a pedestrian bridge linking the station to North Seattle Community College across I-5. Even if the money needed to complete the bridge, an estimated $10 million, doesn’t come through, Sound Transit’s $5 million contribution would still go to pedestrian and bike improvements at the station---not parking.

Winner: 36th District state House candidate Noel Frame.

In the crowded field vying for retiring state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson's (D-36) seat, Gov. Chris Gregoire took the unusual step of endorsing one of the candidates: Progressive Majority Director Noel Frame.

Gregoire's stock isn't great with Seattle voters, but when it comes to bestowing credibility on one of the pack of young candidates this is a big deal.

Well-known Seattle Port Commissioner Gael Tarleton, who was endorsed by the Seattle Times this month, got the highest—"outstanding" —rating from the Muni League, and was endorsed by Rep. Dickerson early on, is likely to make it through the August 7 primary.

Gregoire's endorsement will elevate Frame for the older and more conservative voters who vote in state legislature primaries, above the rest of the young pack that's trying to nab the second spot in the general against Tarleton.

Frame, by the way, got a "Very Good" rating from the Muni League last week, the second highest possible rating, as did another young contender, Mike O'Brien aide Sahar Fathi. (Yet another hopeful, Brett Phillips, got a third-tier rating, "Good.")

Winner: Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. 

You'd think McKenna would be the big loser here. In opposing President Obama's health care legislation, he threatened his moderate cred by joining what was seen as a Tea Party cause. And then, for a moment, conventional wisdom made it look like he was going to be vindicated as most people predicted that the highest court in the land would, indeed, say Obamacare was unconstitutional.

But McKenna's cause came crashing down when the Supreme Court ruled on June 28 that the Affordable Health Care Act, Obama's signature legislation, was an all-American policy. Mckenna and other conservatives say the ruling is actually a Pyrrhic victory for liberals—and, in fact does vindicate McKenna's position—because the ruling held that the mandate was not justified by the Commerce Clause, the constitutional basis for much of the federal government's ability to regulate the economy. (It was, instead, upheld as a tax.)

We don't think McKenna (or Republicans, for that matter) get a victory there. The seesaw between federal power and state power is an ongoing theoretical debate that will never be definitively resolved. Moreover, if Tea Partiers think they got a victory because the government now won't be able to make us eat broccoli, um, okay. But we don't think that was in the works. Regular voters just want to know who won and who lost. McKenna's suit lost.

But there actually is a win here for McKenna. Ironically, with the health care lawsuit off the table (and you'll notice that once the ruling came down, McKenna didn't join the GOP chorus for repeal), King County moderate Democrats (key voters in McKenna's path to victory) who were likely reluctant to vote for someone who was leading a battle against Obama, can now cast a vote for McKenna (who appeals to them on other issues such as education) guilt free.
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