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As Democratic governor Jay Inslee and his low-profile GOP opponent, former Port of Seattle commissioner Bill Bryant, get set to debate in Spokane tonight, Washington polling firm Elway released new numbers this week showing Inslee with a 12-point lead, 48-36. Elway reports that it’s the exact same margin Inslee led Bryant by in April, the last time they polled. It also resembles Inslee’s recent 49.3 to 38.33 August 2 primary win.

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Elway also identifies a Trump “tightrope” conundrum for Bryant; this week, after months of dodging the question, Bryant said he wouldn’t back Trump. Overall, “Staying away from Trump appears to be the smart move,” Elway says, noting that by a net margin of 33 percentage points, voters favor a candidate who doesn’t endorse Trump. But 38 percent of Republicans (versus 12 percent of Republicans) wouldn’t support a Republican who disavowed Trump. Unfortunately for Bryant, he needs GOP voters badly. Inslee, has the Democratic vote locked up, getting 92 percent support from Democratic voters in the poll while Bryant has 83 percent of GOP voters. But it gets even trickier for Bryant. He also needs to maintain his lead among Independent voters (he’s currently leading there 39-31 percent.) However, 38 percent of undecided voters (versus 10 percent of of undecideds) would vote against a candidate who supported Trump.

In more discouraging news for Bryant, voters aren’t as down on Inslee as they’ve traditionally been. (Ha. That’s not exactly high praise for Inslee, but even Inslee’s negatives aren’t going Bryant’s way right now.)

Noting an “Uptick for Inslee Job Rating,” Elway reports:

Governor Inslee’s overall job performance rating ticked up to its best mark since July 2014, with 43 percent of respondents saying he is doing a “excellent” (7 percent) or “good” job (36 percent) vs. 52 percent saying “only fair” (28 percent) or “poor” (24 percent). His ratings for all 5 measures remain in negative territory, but all 5 were better than they were in January. His overall rating was higher than any of the 4 specific measures.

Also in Elway’s poll, no surprise, Hillary Clinton is ahead of Donald Trump in Washington state 43 to 24—and 55 to 13 in King County. Four percent of Democrats (86 percent of whom are for Clinton) support Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, while seven percent of Republicans (60 percent of whom are for Trump) are for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

Overall, the downballot Trump impact isn't quite as horrendous as it used to be: Last April, 55 percent of voters wouldn't support a candidate who endorsed Trump (for a net negative impact of -36 percent.) Today, the Trump Effect is "just" negative 33 percent "only" 50 percent of voters saying they wouldn't support a candidate who endorsed Trump. 

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2. In other news, the Seattle Times has a story on new Seattle City Light director Larry Weis. Weis was the subject of a workplace investigation at Austin Energy where workers' complained of a sexist environment. Weis, the former head of Austin Energy, was exonerated, but the story raises questions about Seattle's own vetting process. 

Mike Baker's investigative story at the Seattle Times begins:

Larry Weis, Seattle City Light’s new general manager and CEO, did not inform city officials interviewing him for the job that he was the subject of an active workplace investigation in Texas concerning an allegation that he presided over a culture of harassment, retaliation and discrimination against women, The Seattle Times found.

Seattle officials also did not learn of the investigation from The Search Partnership, an executive recruiting firm City Light paid nearly $50,000 to identify and vet qualified candidates. A Seattle Times reporter obtained 50 pages of investigative records by filing public-records requests with the city of Austin, where Weis served as Austin Energy’s general manager since 2010. Those records cost nothing.

The Austin investigation ended in November, two days after Seattle Mayor Ed Murray named Weis as his pick for the City Light job. The investigation exonerated Weis and determined that there wasn’t evidence of a pattern of discriminatory conduct.

But the fact that the Austin probe coincided with Weis’ effort to lead City Light, an agency with its own history of gender-diversity problems, raises the question of whether he should have been more forthcoming with Seattle officials — and whether the search firm paid to check Weis’ background fulfilled its role.

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