IIW That

1. Isn't it weird that ... one of the top five contributors to the independent political committee backing state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill) for mayor is the conservative Washington Restaurant Association, historically the state's main antagonists of increasing the minimum wage?

The WRA, which has helped fight sick leave requirements, defeat soda taxes (that Murray fought for), and short-circuit increased benefits for unemployment insurance (they also backed Republican Rob McKenna in 2012), doesn't show up as contributor to the People for Murray committee finance reports yet, but People for Murray group confirms that the WRA contributed $5,000.

Strange bedfellows can always agree on a tax exemption. I've got a call in to the WRA to find out why they like liberal Murray, but one thing they did ally with him on this year was his successful dance tax repeal (strange bedfellows can always agree on a tax exemption).

Dean Nielsen, spokesman for the Murray committee, says: "Like many people, I'm sure WRA appreciates the way Ed Murray has reached across the aisle to get things done in Olympia."

And Thomas Goldstien, who's on the People for Murray steering committee, says simply that they have a broad coalition of supporters. (Aaron Ostrom, director of lefty group Fuse, which fights against the WRA's agenda in Olympia every session, is also on the PAC's steering committee.)


2. Isn't it weird that ... Mike McGinn's first campaign ad hypes his success on education issues?

We totally understand why the ad doesn't focus on McGinn himself (unlike the other candidates who've gone up with ads this week starring themselves, the viewer doesn't get any face time with McGinn in his ad). After all, McGinn's favorables are low. It makes sense to focus on an issue rather than the man himself; and even more so to have another person—in this case Estela Ortega, the executive director of El Centro de la Raza—speak on his behalf.

But here's the misfire in McGinn's ad. Voters don't feel very good about education right now. If you're going to hype an issue as the incumbent mayor, you might want it to be a notable win, not something people are despondent about. 

Boasting about education simply reminds voters that they aren't happy about education.

The ad trumpets services provided by the families and education levy, something that's first passed in 1990.

McGinn's boast is that he doubled the money. This is true, though the city council deserves equal credit, and it's the voters who approved it, not a stroke of McGinn's pen. And bottom line: People don't feel very victorious about school funding these days.

The ad also hypes McGinn's attendance program, a noble push by the city to help the school increase student attendance. And some early data does show that attendance rates are nudging north.

But the numbers (a small system-wide uptick among students who have a 90 percent attendance rate) aren't well known; nor is McGinn saying anything about graduation rates, test scores, and other metrics that people are actually antsy about.

Boasting about education simply reminds voters that they aren't happy about education. It's a little bit like George W. Bush saying "mission accomplished" on that aircraft carrier.


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