Today's Potential Winner: The State Democrats

In a post last month, we stuck with the conventional wisdom that the GOP has a much better chance of retaining control of the state senate in November than the Democrats do of taking it; the Democrats have a 23-21 advantage when it comes to safe seats, but of the five seats in play this year, the GOP, coming off big primary wins, appears to have the momentum.

However, one silver lining for the Democrats about August's primary was—as we noted in our earlier post (note the part we're bolding this time around)—the low turnout was a GOP blessing, and that may be about to change:

Footnote: Despite the GOP numbers and the fact that the Republican candidates, mostly incumbents, have the built-in name ID advantage in these races, there are certainly some positive Democratic angles. Three of the districts lean Democratic—the 28th, the 30th, and the 45th. Also, the primary featured a stunningly low turnout (which hurt the Democrats); a different electorate in the general could mean a different outcome.

And that brings us to today's Jolt, which we found on Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman's homepage. Wyman is predicting a 62 percent turnout—about double the primary's 31.15 percent showing.


And some more good news for the Democrats: Add (literally) $1 million from California billionaire Tom Steyer, the environmentalist who's going all in nationwide ($100 million) to elect green Democrats. Steyer, profiled for his status as a big political spender late last year in the New Yorker (in a story slot usually reserved for the latest Koch Bros. expose), contributed $1 million last week to the Washington chapter of his NextGen Climate Action PAC.

(Steyer ran into some problems for his last-minute contributions in Washington state last year when he tried, unsuccessfully, to help the Democrats defeat state Sen. Jan Angel, R-26, Port Orchard).  

In a press release today, Steyer name-checked Democratic candidates Tami Green and Matt Isenhower—running as challengers in the 28th (Tacoma/Lakewood/University Place) and the 45th (Kirkland, Redmond, Woodinville, Duvall)  respectively against incumbent Republican Sens. Steve O'Ban and Andy Hill. (Green is currently a rep from the 28th and is sacrificing her position to run in the Democrats' battle for the senate.)

Isenhower was the only Democratic challenger to top 45 percent (46.25) in the primary, making him one of the Democrats biggest hopes in their quest to take the senate; they need to win two of the five races. Green lost to O'Ban in the primary 56.23 to 43.77. 

Today's Second Winner: Proposition 1A, the Union-Backed Preschool Ballot Measure. 

The campaign for Prop. 1A, one of two competing local preschool ballot measures, just got a big financial boost of its own: $125,000 from the statewide Service Employees International Union, which has now put a total of $150,000 behind the campaign—an enormous sum for a Seattle-only ballot initiative.

Shortly after SEIU reported its latest contribution, the Prop. 1A campaign, known as Yes for Early Success, announced pledges of another $450,000 total from SEIU International and SEIU Local 925, which is sponsoring the measure along with the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.

Prop 1A, which would mandate an immediate $15 minimum wage for child care workers, increase training requirements, and set universal access to prekindergarten as a goal for the city, will be on the November ballot alongside a competing measure, Prop. 1B, that would raise taxes to fund pre-K classes for around 2,000 Seattle 3- and 4-year-olds. Prop. 1A is unfunded, and no one knows exactly how much it will cost; Prop. 1B, organized as Quality Pre-K For Our Kids, would be funded by a new local property tax levy.

The two competing measures—which are pitted against each other on the same ballot thanks to a court ruling that found the proposals pertained to the same subject (pre-K education)—have split the city's power brokers (including the unions) into two pro-pre-K camps: On one side are the city council and Mayor Ed Murray, with their funded proposal to pay for pre-K expansion; on the other, the unions, with their unfunded proposal to increase pay and training standards for existing pre-K workers.

Labor is split too. The King County Labor Council, the umbrella group for the county's unions, endorsed the city's measure and declined to support the union measure.

As a footnote to today's fundraising announcement, Yes for Early Success points out that Prop. 1B's financial supporters include people who have previously given big to Republican candidates such as former gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, ex-U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, and the Bush/Cheney campaign, as well as people who gave money to groups supporting charter schools and "education reform."

While it's certainly true that Quality Pre-K's contribution list includes a number of ed reform (charter school) proponents, many of the donors the group castigates for giving to Republicans have also contributed generously to liberal candidates and causes, including developer Matt Griffin (Gov. Jay Inslee, the 43rd District Democrats, KC Exec Dow Constantine, the Seattle Metro funding campaign) and Jeannie Nordstrom (progressive Democratic state Sen. Marko Liias, D-32, Edmonds, Mukilteo, and this year's pro-gun control campaign).  

The city's Prop. 1 B measure is lagging far behind in fundraising overall, having raised just $128,217 to Prop. 1 A's half-a-million raised prior to today's big fundraising announcements. 



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