Washington: Candidates for governor

Washington voters face a choice between Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna in a tight race for governor this November.

Inslee earned a law degree from Willamette University. Living in Yakima, Inslee was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives in 1988 and served until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992. However, after one term, Inslee was defeated in 1994 by the same Republican he beat in the previous election. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1996, but was re-elected to the House of Representatives after moving to Bainbridge Island, a Democrat stronghold in the Puget Sound. Inslee served in the House until stepping down this year to run for governor, leaving Washington’s 1st district without representation in Congress.

While in Congress, Inslee consistently voted  liberal and established a record as a party-line Democrat, according to GovTrack. He had no major committee assignments or legislative achievements, serving on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Inslee has been an outspoken advocate of government promotion of green energy projects. According to Lisa Hymas of Grist, “If Inslee is elected, he could be the greenest governor in the nation.”

Republican Rob McKenna earned his law degree from the University of Chicago. His political career began when he was elected to the King County Council in 1995. After serving three terms on the Council, McKenna was elected Washington State Attorney General in 2004 and was re-elected in 2008. As Attorney General, McKenna “directs more than 500 attorneys and 700 professional staff providing legal services to state agencies, the Governor and Legislature,” according to the Attorney General’s website. During his time as Attorney General, McKenna argued and won three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, served as the President of the National Association of Attorneys General and streamlined his office’s staff and budget.

McKenna is known for pushing for “transparency in government, prevention of domestic violence, prevention of consumer fraud, stemming gangs, fighting methamphetamines and identity theft,” according to the Wenatchee World. He has a reputation as a moderate and a pragmatist, according to the Walla Walla Union Bulletin. If elected, McKenna would be the state’s first Republican governor in 28 years.

Both candidates pledge to make education a priority. However, while McKenna supports efforts to bring charter schools to Washington, Inslee does not. While both candidates also agree on the need to reform health care, Inslee supports Obamacare, while McKenna is opposed. On social issues, both candidates are pro-choice, and while Inslee supports Referendum 74, which would redefine marriage to include same-sex unions, McKenna is opposed.

McKenna has been endorsed by all 10 Washington newspapers that have made endorsements. He has also received endorsements from 61 mayors across the state and the National Federation of Independent Business, while Inslee has the support of six mayors and the Washington Education Association.

Max Nelsen Staff Writer

Contact Max Nelsen at mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu

Referendum 74: Legalization of same-sex marriage

Referendum 74 or R74 is a referendum to approve or reject the February 2012 bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Washington. The intent of the original bill, Senate Bill 6239, is to end discrimination in marriage based on gender and sexual orientation and to ensure that all persons in Washington enjoy the freedom to marry on equal terms, according to the Washington State Legislature website.

SB 6239 was passed in the Washington State Senate on Feb.1, 2012 with a 28-21 vote. Governor Gregoire signed the bill into law on Feb. 13, 2012, and the law would have taken effect June 7, according to equalrightswashington.org.

However, those against the bill argue that the question should be put to a public vote. More than 250,000 signatures were acquired and turned in to the Washington Secretary of State on June 6, according to preservemarriagewashington.com That was enough signatures to qualify for a referendum, which is submitting to popular vote a measure proposed by the legislative.

SB 6239 does not require churches or religious organizations to perform marriages between gay or lesbian couples, nor does it inflict penalties upon them if they don’t. However, opponents argue that businesses and individuals could face penalties if they do not want to do business with gay couples for marriage ceremonies, according to seattletimes.com.

Supporters of marriage equality claim that allowing same-sex marriage does not change the meaning of marriage. They say that what defines marriage is love and commitment, according to equalrightswashington.org.

“This isn’t changing the definition of marriage. It’s expanding it,” sophomore and Gay Straight Alliance President Audrey Gudeman said.

Opponents of same-sex marriage claim that allowing same-sex marriage redefines marriage as a genderless institution, according to preservemarriagewashington.org.

“Marriage is a sacred union,” sophomore Paige Berdan said. “God created it to be between a man and a woman.”

Supporters argue that state and federal marriage laws provide economic and legal protection for couples and their families, such as visitation rights in hospitals and the ability to transfer property, according to equalrightswashington.org.

However, opponents argue that the domestic partnership law passed in 2007 grants couples about two dozen rights, including hospital visitation and inheritance rights. The law was revised in 2009 with the addition of the “everything but marriage” and was upheld by voters, according to seattletimes.com.

“This isn’t about legal benefits. If you love someone you want to be able to be with them in a recognized way,” Gudeman said. On Nov. 6, voters have the opportunity to either reject R74 and maintain marriage as a union between a man and a woman, or approve R74 to legalize same-sex marriage.

Kendra Stubbs Staff Writer

Contact Kendra Stubbs at kstubbs16@my.whitworth.edu

Spokane County: Local ballot

Whitworth is located in District 1 of Spokane County, where the position of County Commissioner will be up for election as incumbent Republican candidate Todd Mielke is running against John Roskelley of the Democratic Party. According to the County Commissioners’ homepage on the Spokane County website, “The Spokane County Board of Commissioners is responsible for providing legislative and administrative services to Spokane County.”

Mielke is described on his website as a champion for small businesses and traditional values of the Spokane community. Roskelley has past experience as a county commissioner and an intent to find balanced, economical solutions to current county issues, according to his campaign website.

For the office of State Representative, Whitworth falls under District 6. Kevin Parker, the Republican candidate, will go unchallenged.

The second position will be between Dennis Dellwo, with a Democratic Party preference, and Jeff Holy, with a Republican Party preference. Holy is an attorney, a U.S. Army veteran and has been a Spokane resident for 29 years.

“We need to grow our economy by creating an environment that allows small businesses to thrive,” Holy said on his campaign website.

Dellwo, also an attorney and U.S. Army veteran, has served in the State Legislature for 13 years. On his website, the top three issues Dellwo addresses are jobs, education and health care.

In the 2012 Primary, the U.S. Representative of Congressional District 5 will be up for election. Whitworth and the surrounding community lie within the boundaries of District 5, where Republican incumbent, Cathy McMorris Rodgers will face Democrat, Rich Cowan.

McMorris Rodgers has represented the District 5 of Washington State since 2004, following 13 years of work on her family’s orchard. According to the Spokesman Review Election Center, she has since served as Vice Chair of House Republican Conference, member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Co-chair of the Congressional Military Family Caucus.

Cowan is the co-founder and recently retired CEO of a local film production company, North by Northwest. Cowan is a first-time politician advocates for policies on jobs, the economy, military families and veterans and agriculture.

Laryssa Lynch Staff Writer

Contact Laryssa Lynch at laryssalynch15@my.whitworth.edu

Washington: State ballot

Six initiatives and referendums come before Washington voters for approval. Capturing widespread media attention are Referendum 74 concerning same sex marriage and Initative 1240 concerning the creation of charter schools. Initiative 1185, Initiative 502, Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution 8221 and Senate Joint Resolution 8223 are also on the ballot. Initiative 1185 concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government, according to the Secretary of State’s Election website.

The measure would require that the legislature approve tax increases with a two-thirds supermajority, compared to the traditional majority of more than 50 percent. Tax increases could also be passed through statewide voter approval.

Similar measures concerning a supermajority vote have been enacted in Washington state previously; however, the previous statute expired, according to the Secretary of State’s Online Voter’s Guide.

Initiative 502 would legalize production, possession and sale of marijuana for those over 21 years of age.

“Since the legalization movement took hold in the 1970s, at least 11 states — most recently, Rhode Island in 2012 — and several large cities have stripped criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, usually making it an infraction akin to a ticket. Full legalization has been proposed and rejected by voters in Alaska, California and Nevada, and is on the ballot this November in Colorado and Oregon,” according to Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times.

The sale of marijuana would be taxed at 25 percent of the selling rate. No location of sale could be within 1,000 feet of any school, playground, recreation centers, child care center, park, transit center, library or game arcade.

Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution 8221 seeks to redefine the state debt limit.

“This amendment would, starting July 1, 2014, phase-down the debt limit percentage in three steps from nine to eight percent and modify the calculation date, calculation period, and the term general state revenues,” according to Project Vote Smart.

In the Washington state constitution, article VIII, a cap is placed on the percentage of interest and principle paid each year by the state. When any new debt is accrued it must be within the limit. However, in section 1 of article VIII are also exceptions to the debt limit.

“For example, bonds payable from the gas tax and motor vehicle license fees are excluded, as are bonds payable from income received from investing the Permanent Common School Fund,” according to the Online Voter’s Guide.

Senate Joint Resolution 8223 would change regulations concerning investments of the University of Washington and Washington State University.

Being publicly funded universities, there is currently a restriction on where the universities may invest. The amendment would allow them to invest public money into private stocks and bonds with the legislature’s approval.

“This amendment would create an exception to constitutional restrictions on investing public funds by allowing these universities to invest specified public funds as authorized by the legislature, including in private companies or stock,” according to Project Vote Smart.

Caitlyn Starkey Staff Writer

Contact Caitlyn Starkey at cstarkey13@my.whitworth.edu

Campaigns of deception: Does deceit govern the 2012 presidential election?

During the Town Hall debates last week, Governor Mitt Romney slammed President Barack Obama for his delayed response in calling last month’s attacks on a U.S. Consulate in Libya an act of terrorism, attacks which claimed the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stephens and three other Americans. The only problem? Romney’s statement was false.

Candy Crowley, the moderator of the Town Hall debate, was quick to correct Romney on the inaccuracy of his statement.

While this instance of deception was called out for what it was, such misinformation is all too common in the modern American political arena.

Take for instance a recent ad that ran in Florida throughout August, in which the Romney campaign attacked Obama for “gutting” work requirements for welfare. It was one of the Romney campaign’s most successful advertisements according to Ashley O’Connor, director of advertising for the Romney campaign. It was also a lie.

“We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said during an ABC roundtable interview, defending the validity of the ad. Even though the accuracy of the ad was in doubt, the Romney campaign continued to run it for several more weeks.

Deception is bipartisan in nature. Priorities USA Action, a Political Action Commitee that supports Obama’s bid for re-election, ran an ad featuring a former steel plant worker whose wife died of stage four cancer when he no longer had health benefits from his job. The steel mill was shut down by Bain Capital. Yet according to FactCheckOrg, a nonpartisan group, the ad fails to mention that the death occurred five years after the closure of the steel mill.

Are political campaigns more deceitful than usual in this campaign, or is this type of campaigning business as usual?

According to Mike Artime, visiting assistant professor of political science at Whitworth University, deception in politics is common.

“I think it is probably a misconception that this is a new strategy,” Artime said. “So misleading and trying to portray your opponent in a negative light is something that’s been going on since the beginning of American politics.”

What makes today unique, Artime said, are the forms of new media.

“Falsehoods spread much further now than ever before,” Artime said, explaining how ambiguity is an effective strategy for deception. “We have made it beneficial for candidates to be as vague as possible, The more specific they are, the more ammunition they give to their opponents to attack them.”

Lies, especially in the arena of political discourse, are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Erica Salkin, assistant professor of communications at Whitworth University and scholar of Constitutional Law, explained why such deception is possible.

“When we look at the first amendment, one of its cores has been, and likely always will be, the protection of political speech,” Salkin said. “It’s part of the reason we created it, so that we could talk about our political lives, so that people could engage in political discussion without fear of retribution from their government.”

So, when an ad for a presidential candidate airs on television, it’s more likely to influence rather than inform. According to the Washington Post, more than $2 billion will be spent in advertising money between the presidential candidates.

How can citizens defend themselves against such misinformation? Independent organizations such as Politifact.org and FactCheck.org work to check the validity of candidate’s claims.

Lucas Thayer Staff Writer

Contact Lucas Thayer at lthayer12@my.whitworth.edu

Special Issue Voter's Guide 2012: Mitt Romney

This election, the choice is clear as to which candidate can most effectively lead our country out of recession and into greater economic prosperity: Mitt Romney. When I think about the most important issue surrounding this debate, the words of James Carville come to mind, “it’s the economy, stupid.” The current state of the economy is abysmal. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate finally dropped to 7.8 percent. This is progress, as the number has remained above 8 percent, but it’s a pathetic number if we consider all the spending Obama has done to make such a minimal improvement. Also, according to the U.S. Debt Clock, our debt has surpassed $16 trillion. To put this in perspective, this is equivalent to every citizen owing $51,441. According to the Wall Street Journal, “CBO shows that over the first three years of the Obama Presidency, 2009-2011, the federal government will borrow an estimated $3.7 trillion. That is more than the entire accumulated national debt for the first 225 years of U.S. history.”

Romney’s five-point Plan for a Stronger Middle Class is exactly what we need to get the economy running again. According to Mittromney.com, he will promote energy independence, improve education and job training programs, increase trade, cut the deficit and help small businesses. Additionally, the slogan for Romney’s tax plan is “fairer, flatter, and simpler.” According to his website, he plans to lower taxes for Americans to add more security back into the job market, which would help him create 12 million jobs for Americans.

We need someone with business experience to turn our economy around, and that is exactly what Romney can provide. Even Bill Clinton described Romney’s business career as “sterling” in an interview on CNN on May 31. Between his experience at Bain Capital and the Salt Lake City Olympics, he knows how to turn a failing business around. He also knows first hand what types of policies stimulate the growth of businesses.

One of Romney’s strengths is his ability to reach across the aisle and work with the other side. As our government becomes increasingly divided, this is more important than ever. In the debate on Oct. 16, Romney said, “I had the great experience…of being elected in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat, and that meant I figured out from day one I had to…work across the aisle to get anything done.” He met weekly with members of both parties during his term. Obama has shown no interest in following suit. For example, Obama drove the health care bill through Congress without a single Republican vote.

In an interview on CNN in 2009, Obama said that if he did not turn the economy around in three years, his presidency would be a “one-term proposition.” We must make sure that happens. It’s time for a change in the White House; we simply cannot afford another four more years of President Obama. The Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ticket is the clear choice in the 2012 election.

Lindsey Hubbart Staff Writer

Contact Lindsey Hubbart at lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu