Thursday, October 26, 2006

Handicapping The Legislative Races

The results of the upcoming races in the 23rd, 26th and 35th Legislative Districts seem pretty easy to predict.

In the 23rd, I expect that Sherry Appleton will easily win re-election. Appleton works hard for her district and has brought home quite a bit of money from Olympia for things like the Marine Science Center. However, for all the money the Suquamish Tribe generates with its casino and resort, it seems that Appleton should not be looking to have the taxpayers fund anything for them. Her venomous opposition to NASCAR has also strained relations between her and her biggest supporter — organized labor. But I expect they will kiss and make up before it is all over.

I also expect Christine Rolfes will win over incumbent Bev Woods by a small margin. Environmentalists are pouring serious money into that race in an attempt to unseat the veteran legislator. The question you have to ask is what is it they expect as a return on their investment? Woods didn’t do herself any favors by pissing off Congressman Norm Dicks and Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman over the proposed tunnel in downtown Bremerton either. That was a boneheaded move — especially since the tunnel is not even in her district. I hope Woods survives. She has done a pretty good job overall — in spite of her vote gutting I-601, and the 23rd will be better off in the long run if she does.

In the 26th, Democrat Derek Kilmer should take the Senate seat of retired veteran Republican Sen. Bob Oke. Kilmer is one of the few Democrats who actually “gets it” about economic development, and the relationship between over taxation and regulation of business, and job creation. He will do a good job for the 26th. His opponent, Jim Hines, is also a stellar candidate who unfortunately agreed to step up and move perennial candidate Lois McMahon out of the way. The Republicans knew McMahon was unelectable, but her stubbornness refused to allow her to step aside. Frankly, Hines actually would have been better off running for the House seat against Democrat Larry Seaquist — a seat I believe he could win.

Speaking of Seaquist… He will win over religious right wing Republican Ron Boehme. This is a race that I personally have some heartburn over. Boehme just makes me want to go wash my hands after being around him. That said, Seaquist on the other hand, at least in my view, is a pompous ass, who does not value any opinions but his own. I know all about his experience and qualifications for the office, and on the surface that should make him a good choice. But in personally attempting to talk to him several times, it is obvious he is not open to new information at any level on any subject he has previously formed an opinion on. Frankly, I do not believe that is a good quality for a legislator. Also after witnessing him at several candidate forums — including one where I was a questioner — I have not seen him actually answer a question. Like Josh Brown, he’s mastered the ability to stay on message and avoid controversy, all the while spouting the Democratic Party line. I would like to see Hines take on Seaquist two years from now. I believe he would be a better "fit" for the 26th.

The race between Pat Lantz and Beckie Krantz is too close to call in my view. I think Lantz is vulnerable, especially considering how close Matt Rice came to upsetting her two years ago without really working too hard at it. Krantz on the other hand is working hard, but does not have a lot of community involvement to speak for her candidacy, and her campaign seemingly lacks direction and focus. I do believe that Krantz, who is quite personable, can upset Lantz if she can get in front of enough voters. The question is, will she be able to? Many people — including a significant number of Democrats I have talked with — feel Lantz should have retired instead of seeking another term.

In the 35th, Tim Shelton will cruise to re-election. There is a lesson for the Democrats here, but unfortunately, they are just not interested in learning it.

Kathy Haigh will also win over newcomer Marco Brown. Haigh has done an average job and Brown offers nothing special to warrant making a change.

I believe that newcomer Randy Neatherlin, a Republican, will upset veteran Democrat Bill “Ike” Eickmeyer. Eickmeyer deserves high marks for his efforts to clean up Hood Canal, but no one I have talked with can name three other things he has done during his nine years in office. Neatherlin is folksy and a little rough around the edges, but spearheading the Theler issue last year, as well as his other community activities speaks well for his level of engagement — something Eickmeyer is lacking.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Observations On The Upcoming Commissioner's Race

This election cycle has brought us two very distinct and different candidates: Ultra-liberal Democrat Josh Brown and conservative Republican Jack Hamilton.

Patty Lent gave Democrats a panic attack because her defeat of Tim Botkin was a clear indication the liberal policies of the environmental mafia ruling the courthouse were wearing thin with voters, and no one knew for certain what to expect. Had she governed as the moderate Republican most voters thought they elected in 2002, Lent would have probably cruised her way to a second term. However, I do not believe she ever grasped the impact her deciding Critical Areas Ordinance vote would have on her immediate political future.

Enter Brown, a political neophyte with absolutely nothing to recommend him except a massive ego and a “D” behind his name. I believe it is a clear demonstration of just how much is at stake, and exactly how desperate the Democrats are to hold on to the courthouse for them to have rolled out the big gun — Congressman Norm Dicks — to help elect an inexperienced, unemployed, and unqualified 25-year old to one of the most powerful positions in the county.


Because it means losing control of all the decision-making and patronage machinery at the courthouse for at least two years, and longer if Jan Angel wins re-election in 2008. The fact all the department heads and many employees they now control will change is not lost on the Democrats. They also fear Hamilton’s stubborn conservatism — especially on land use and property rights issues — although I suspect the realities of the job will force him to temper much of that. Hamilton is principled, but also pragmatic.

However, electing Brown assures that Chris Endresen consolidates her authority, essentially getting two votes on every single issue. Quite simply, she will become the single, most powerful person in this county.

I have personally moderated three candidate forums and participated in two other closed-door interviews with both candidates. Hamilton is decisive and clear in his answers, even when they disagree with the group he hopes to impress. But you know where he stands. In contrast, I have never heard Josh Brown actually answer a question. His non-answers are tailored to appease whichever group he is talking to at the moment. For example, he flatly opposes NASCAR with environmentalists but claims to be open-minded about its economic development prospects in front of business groups. Which is it Josh?

I personally witnessed him tell one group the Critical Areas Ordinance does not go far enough, and NASCAR has no business in Kitsap County, but when confronted with those statements in front of a pro-business group, he flatly denied making them — a bald faced lie.

Josh Brown has been coached, and packaged for "sale" to the voters extremely well, mastering the ability to stay on message and avoid anything controversial. However, there is almost no substance behind the facade.

Jack Hamilton is experienced and well-qualified, but loosens the bowels of Democrats because he refuses to be intimidated by Endresen, understands the power of the office at least as well as she does (and certainly more than Patty Lent ever did), and is not afraid to make a command decision. With he and Angel in the majority, things will happen quicker and much more decisively. I expect the long-standing problems at DCD will finally be rectified because measurable results will be demanded, and “process” will become unacceptable as an excuse or delaying tactic.

If Brown is elected, I expect Jan Angel will retire rather than face another term being treated as disrespectfully as she was with Endresen and Botkin at the helm. Meanwhile, thanks to their ongoing dysfunctionality, the Republicans have absolutely no credible candidates in the wings. Inept Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel - a liberal Democrat - is rumored to be salivating at the prospect of challenging Angel. But if Hamilton is elected, I believe Angel will run again and win as decisively as she did last time.

Make no mistake — Josh Brown will not be a friend to business. He will kiss the liberal and environmentalist asses that engineered and financed his “sale” to the voters, and be little more than Endresen’s lap dog. Look for them to implement higher property taxes if given the opportunity by the courts and the legislature, raise impact fees, and promote even more restrictive land use rules.

Hamilton, along with Angel, will certainly be business-friendly and should run the county more efficiently and business-like than it is now. Both have the financial background and experience to streamline operations and deal with the budget challenges facing the county. Hopefully, they will also have the common sense not to allow unrestricted, irresponsible development and to not unwisely challenge the state over environmental issues they will most likely lose. Remember, under Russ Hague, county lawyers are batting something like 0 for 25 against the state.

But what really bothers me most is how we got into the predicament of having to choose between these two polar opposites — a know-nothing, unqualified, unemployed 25-year old and a highly qualified, arch-conservative with a reputation as a hard-headed, take no prisoners, property rights advocate. There is no centrist candidate to represent all of us here in the political middle. That is what really sucks...

Can’t we do better? Don’t we deserve better? I believe so. But I also believe both the Democrats and Republicans alike have failed us — again.

Back In The Saddle...

Please accept my humble "Thank You" to all of you who called and wrote after learning I was temporarily taking some forced R & R. I am fully recovered after that slight bit of unpleasentness and back to work.

Thank you for your patience and understanding...

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I have received a number of inquiries as to why there have not been any updates here for awhile.

The answer is simple... I recently spent five days as a guest at the Harrison Medical Resort in picturesque East Bremerton. Without going into a lot of detail at this time, I have been at home recovering after nearly dying as a result of what can only be termed a very unexpected and "bizarre" chain of events.

Even as a professional wordsmith, I do not know how to express the gratitude both myself and my family feel towards the the Firefighter/EMTs of South Kitsap Fire-Rescue. Quite simply, I owe my life to their quick response and great training. How do you say "Thank You" adequately to the people who gave you back your life?

Thanx for your patience and understanding. More soon...