Last Week in Politics

Top 10 Stories: Election Results, Joe Fain, and a Protest to Protect Mueller Investigation

Your weekly dose of top political stories.

By Anne Dennon November 14, 2018

1. Kim Schrier will be the first Democrat to represent the Eighth Congressional District, taking the lead in the competitive race against Dino Rossi. Rossi, a longtime politician and former state senator, conceded on Wednesday night. Schrier, an Issaquah pediatrician was a first-time candidate running on a health care reform platform. 

2. Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, the property tax levy that will raise more than $600 million over seven years aimed to close the educational achievement gap. The city's largest education levy to date will fund increased access to pre-school, K-12 programs helping minority and at-risk students, and two years of free community college.

3. In big wins for gun safety and police reform activists, voters statewide approved Initiative 1639—which includes increasing the age of purchase for semiautomatic assault rifles to 21 and enhanced background checks—and Initiative 940.

With the passage of I-940, law enforcement will no longer be allowed to use the lack of "malice" as a defense for deadly force, a word that makes it essentially impossible to prosecute police officers for misuse of deadly force. Progressive elected officials like David Frockt had long been trying to remove the word from state law in the Legislature. 

4. In the fight for the carbon fee initiative and a ban on soda taxes, big money won. Oil companies spent millions on its campaign against the carbon fee measure, while the soda industry invested millions in its support for Initiative 1634—which prohibits any other local jurisdictions from passing a tax on beverages or certain grocery items. 

5. Governor Jay Inslee may be eyeing a presidential race, but I-1631's failure was another hit to his climate-related advocacy, KUOW reportedPolitical analysts assume Inslee would feature climate change legislation prominently should he run. (On the subject of his suspected 2020 run, Inslee remains tight-lipped.)

But voters' response to the carbon "fee" is the latest in a recent lineup of Inslee's environmental failures-to-start, including a carbon tax vote that didn't make it into the Legislature earlier this year and the statewide measure that failed in 2016.

6. State senator Joe Fain, accused by a Seattle woman of raping her in 2007, lost to Democratic challenger Mona Das. In the days immediately following the vote, Fain held a sliver of a lead in south King County, which KUOW contrasted with the pronounced victory of state representative Matt Manweller in a Republican stronghold in Central Washington.

While both men deny wrongdoing, Manweller had already undergone extensive investigations before campaigning and committed to resigning in January if elected (but continued to run so his seat could be passed onto a fellow Republican).

7. A state Senate committee meeting on Fain's alleged sexual abuse unanimously approved hiring an outside investigator—but given Fain's defeat, it's unclear whether the investigation will continue. The committee had already discussed possible third-party investigators with a motion to hire one by December 31. 

8. With Seattle City Council elections still a year away, council member Rob Johnson announced he won't run for another term, The Seattle Times reportedThe 40-year-old former transit activist represents Seattle's 4th District, which includes Eastlake, Wallingford, the University District, and Northeast Seattle. 

Johnson focused on transit and zoning during his four years on the council and counts the Sound Transit 3, housing, and education levies as some of his greatest accomplishments.

9. Seattle protestors rallied against the firing of attorney general Jeff Sessions Thursday night. President Donald Trump asked Sessions to step down Wednesday and replaced him with Session's former chief of staff Matthew Whitaker.

The move elicited nationwide outrage as the new acting attorney general will oversee special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference. Seattle's protest drew joined over 900 protests across the country. Inslee, U.S. representative Pramila Jayapal, and King County executive Dow Constantine participated.

10. Following the Community Police Commission's disapproval of the contract with a police union, 24 community groups asked Seattle council members to reject it, Crosscut reported. Despite the opposition, the council approved the contract with an 8-1 vote Tuesday afternoon. 

Activists said the contract weakens key reforms that had been agreed on in the police accountability legislation passed last year, and were frustrated that the CPC wasn't consulted about the final contract before it had been announced. A federal judge in charge of overseeing the city's settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice will ultimately review the contract. 

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