Posted by: sweeneyblog | August 6, 2014

Rep. Suzan DelBene wins her reelection campaign

Okay, the headline is not completely accurate – she does indeed have to campaign for the general but right now, it looks like it is all over for the Republicans in the 1st Congressional District.

Rep. Suzan DelBene

Rep. Suzan DelBene

At the beginning of this year, DelBene appeared to be one of the most vulnerable candidates in the nation. Her district, statistically, is one of the most competitive and she was running for reelection for the first time.

The state Republicans had recruited a business-minded Latino, Pedro Celis, and generated some real positive media about his campaign. He had raised just under half a million dollars (the traditional threshold for being competitive in a Congressional race) and was on his way.

Driving through the county, you could see the red “Vote for Pedro” signs dotting the intersections and he had paid multiple visits to Whatcom trying to drum up votes. In short, Celis worked hard for this election.

Then the primary happened and he got beat by someone with $1,000 in the bank. Robert Sutherland, no relation to the famous college professor, edged out Celis in the primary, pulling in 700 more votes than Celis. Obviously today’s ballot count could reverse that but the damage is already done.

Sutherland, a former biochemist whose website is filled with typos and links to videos of random people singing covers of his favorite songs, managed to beat the anointed Republican candidate. That is hard to explain away.

The next vote count could put Celis back in the running but it looks like DelBene can relax a bit, her hard work tackling bipartisan issues like reining in the NSA and immigration reform is paying off and her opponents just can’t seem to get their act together.

Posted by: sweeneyblog | August 5, 2014

2014 Primary Election Night Live-Blog

Hello Loyal Readers,

It is live-bloggin’ time!!! I am here, firmly ensconced at Chuckanut Brewery, one beer in and surrounded by enthusiastic Democrats. You can contribute to the beer fund by clicking here. Satpal Sidhu and Joy Monjure have both arrived.

Mike Estes and Nuella

Mike Estes and Luella

Suzanne Blais, noted Public Access television advocate, showed up with Monjure. “A noted political reporter that I trust said that Monjure is going to get 46%, therefore it must happen.”

Roxanne Murphy, city councilwoman arrived after attending the National Night Out event at the Maritime Heritage Park sporting a neat “Protect B-Ham!” badge. “National Night Out was such a big deal in Tacoma because so many communities needed it but here it is way more fun.”

Andrew Taylor,  Seth Fleetwood’s campaign manager, is cautiously optimistic. “We are hoping for forty-five percent, but there are 25,000 voters that vote in the general who are not voting today – and they vote Democratic.”



Monjure, Sidhu and Stephanie Kountouros

Monjure, Sidhu and Stephanie Kountouros

Bryna: Riley is now socializing with the crowd, getting the hopes and fears for the night. People are still trickling in, as are the beers. Richard May arrived, wearing his Seahawks ticket conversation piece.

Mike Estes, chair of the Whatcom Democrats, theorizes that the late-trending ballots will trend Democratic.

Fleetwood when asked for the gazillionth time how he thinks tonight will go. “I don’t have a bloody clue! I hope it goes well.”

Seth Fleetwood and Hue Beattie

Seth Fleetwood and Hue Beattie

Chiara D’Angelo Patrico, is a democratic volunteer who was making calls in the office today. I asked her why she volunteers with the Fleetwood campaign. “What is my heart reason? I’m very excited about Seth’s role in shifting the stalemate that is currently our state senate to allow our youth’s voice to be heard about environmental issues.”

Richard May just announced, “Hey, everyone’s favorite electoral good luck charm is here, Dan Pike, and he is sitting next to Natalie McClendon.” The wince was palpable but both former candidates chuckled.

Richard May, tickets and beer

Richard May, tickets and beer


There is some discussion of Nyima, the dog running for County Prosecutor, and my recent burst of publicity around that race. “Four years of solid political reporting and I make the news for the dog story?” I said. Pike, not missing a beat, said, “Four years of solid political reporting? When was that? I can’t remember.”

Early results are in. Fleetwood and Monjure clocking in at 43%. Satpal and Van Werven in the general.

Bob Burr wins his primary and advances to the general with McClure. “Bob bob bob, Bob Burr won!”

What does the 43% mean for Fleetwood? Lots of speculation in the house. “The late arriving votes will trend our way,” is a popular comment, followed closely by, “It is still competitive!”

The room is packed. For me, the most surprising outcome is Joy Monjure receiving more votes than Seth Fleetwood. “I’m excited and encouraged, and am looking forward to getting more time on the ground, helping people know who I am.”

Distinguished Herald reporter Ralph Schwartz has arrived to interview candidates. He said that he just spoke to Luanne Van Werven who was celebrating her electoral success with vigor.

Bob Burr and Jim Fox examine a hard copy of the results

Bob Burr and Jim Fox examine a hard copy of the results

Joy Monjure takes the stage to speak. “The only reason I’m here is because of all the volunteers . . . I can beat that guy!”

Satpal Sidhu, “We are going to win because we have better ideas! This will allow us to have a discussion about ideas, a one-on-one discussion on issues and that is because of the hard work of our volunteers.”

Beer and Blogging

Beer and Blogging

Burr, “This just goes to show that there are people in this county that care about water. I am so thankful for the Democratic party’s endorsement in this non-partisan race. It is going make the difference. It is unusual for Bob Burr not to be just a message candidate but this is a race where the message really resonates with people in the county. We’re in it to win it.”

Fleetwood is more subdued with his speech. “We went from an organization did not even exist to doing a very impressive job . . . I think there is a very compelling reason that we are going to reach 44, 45 percent. Just do the math, we are TOTALLY in this thing!”

Bre, the coordinated campaign organizer for the Whatcom Democrats gets a repeated shout-outs by all the candidates.

Bryna: As Mrs. Political Junkie, I want to thank all of you for reading and taking an interest in Riley’s amazing blog. Remember, it’s here because of your help! He’s quite the guy, huh? You know, I couldn’t stand politics until he came along. Now, look, I’m writing on his blog while at the Primary party night. Crazy. The things you do for love!

Riley again: Kelli Linville was thrilled at Monjure’s success. “She is such a wonderful candidate and friend and I’m really excited for her campaign to continue to grow.”

Patrick Stickney, Sidhu’s campaign manager, offered up his thoughts on the election. “We made good progress in the last couple of months against a political operative and tea party councilmembers, we’ve come out ahead and this momentum is going to carry us through to November. Satpal’s message of actually getting things done in Olympia and working with people of all walks of life will show voters who is the right choice in the general election.”

Also, 10,000 voters decided not to vote for Dave McEachron for County Prosecutor. You’re welcome.

In honor of Luanne Van Werven squeaking by in the primary, here is her new campaign logo.

van werven rock album

Van Werven Logo

Matt Petryni, anti-coal activist and campaign volunteer, “Doug Ericksen, single-handedly blocked all the oil train safety legislation that was proposed, including his own legislation! That’s why he is going down in November.”

Thank you all for tuning in. I apologize for the typos and formatting, I’ll do some clean-up tomorrow morning but in the meantime, a happy election night to you all.

Posted by: sweeneyblog | August 5, 2014

Primary Election Day, Live-Blog Tonight

Are you ready? It is election day! For those of you interested, I will be joining my Democratic brethren at the Chuckanut Brewery starting at 7pm and liveblogging the election results. For my previous election night liveblogs, check them out here. So you can either join us in person or tune in to this site tonight and get all the details in real time.

Live-blogging is hard work

Live-blogging is hard work

What is at stake: The big question will be how competitive are the races in the 42nd legislative district. The poll from NWCitizen found that Ericksen/Fleetwood is close (within the margin of error). A strong showing by Fleetwood would magnify the statewide attention on this race while a strong showing by Ericksen would encourage statewide donors to focus their efforts elsewhere.

As for the race for the open seat vacated by Leprechaun-economist Jason Overstreet, two candidates are going to get knocked out of the running. Currently Democratic candidate Satpal Sidhu is facing Republicans Luanne Van Werven, Bill Knutzen and Libertarian Nicholas Kunkel. My preference would be that Sidhu and Kunkel make it into the general, but I’m pretty darn sure that isn’t going to happen.

My prediction for tonight, firmly pulled from my Democratic mascot, is this:

Sidhu 44%
Van Werven 39%
Knutzen 17%
Kunkel 2%

Fleetwood 49%
Ericksen 49%

Buys 54%
Monjure 46%

Sadly, we will not get a vote total for Nyima, the dog running for County Prosecutor, since County Auditor Debbie Adelstein has decided not to count those votes. Last year, my facebook page became a digital waterhole for people to wait for the results and grumble about the Auditor’s office going to slow, this year I’m promoting a write-in candidate, if Adelstein has an enemies obnoxious people list, I’ve got to be nearing the top. That said, it will be amusing to see if our County Prosecutor has very few votes total.

Also – the Public Utility District race is competitive and I proudly predict Bob Burr will make it into the general.

Tune in tonight at 7pm for more fun or join me at Chuckanut Brewery for all the excitement.

Posted by: sweeneyblog | August 1, 2014

Friday Odds and Ends: Picnics, Pleas and Lapointe

Hello Loyal Readers,

Once again it is time for our Odds and Ends, all the news that is fit to print but not big enough to justify its own post. Speaking of post, if you check out the front page of the Herald today, you will find my rather ironic endorsement for county prosecutor. Enjoy!

Bob McDonnell (R)

Bob McDonnell (R)

Speaking of blatant self-promotion, the Whatcom County Democratic Women’s Club is hosting their annual picnic at Fairhaven Park this Sunday at 3 p.m. Admission is $10 and gets you a delicious meal and speeches from Rep. Suzan DelBene, Seth Fleetwood, Joy Monjure, Satpal Sidhu and some musical comedy by Judy Anderson and the owners of this blog. Check it out, should be a great event.

On the topic of comedy, the former governor of Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell is facing a slew of criminal charges for accepting bribes while in the governor’s mansion. His defense? Oh, my wife was soliciting all those bribes because she was having an affair with one of my donors. I’m not sure if that is a legal defense, or a desperate plea for a movie deal, but either way, it has to be one of the more unusual legal defenses mounted for corruption charges.

Mike Lapointe, long-shot candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, got a boost recently when he received the unanimous endorsement of the San Juan Democrats over incumbent Rick Larsen. The central bone of contention? Larsen’s support for the Cherry Point terminal – a position that did not stop him from receiving the Whatcom County Democrats endorsement this year. Lapointe will be in town answering questions at RESources tomorrow at 6 p.m.

Finally, turn in your ballots! Primaries can be an important show of strength for candidates in close races and it could be the deciding factor in the race to replace Rep. Jason Overstreet. So get those ballots dropped off.

Posted by: sweeneyblog | July 31, 2014

Whatcom Republicans Laugh Away Ericksen’s Ethical Woes

In politics, a classic technique is trying to turn a negative into a positive. After two years of bad press for receiving the most free meals with corporate lobbyists, and the surrounding ethical concerns about getting reimbursed for meals he didn’t pay for, the Whatcom Republicans are trying to play off Ericksen’s desires for free meals as a joke.

Whatcom Republicans Email

Whatcom Republicans Email

In an email blast sent out this week, the Whatcom Republicans invited their members to become part of the “I want to buy Senator Ericksen lunch” club. From the email:

Become a part of our growing community of people who want to Buy Lunch for our Senator right here in Whatcom County and Bellingham . . . Its free and easy just enter your name and e-mail to become a charter member of the club.

A couple of problems with this approach. First, as taxpayers, we already buy Ericksen lunch every day since we pay his salary. When he is in session, we pay his per diem on top of that. Normally, when you get a free meal from a lobbyist, you deduct that from your per diem, but Ericksen continues to claim his full per diem, so really we are buying him one lunch and then the special interests are buying him another lunch.

But it raises another question, one of access. Should anyone be bragging about the fact that our legislator has to be bribed with food just so he will listen to you? I would hope that our legislators would be eager to meet with their constituents outside of meal times.

I understand the intent of the Whatcom Republicans, but Ericksen’s ethical issues are no laughing matter.  You can send that message by turning in your ballot by next Tuesday.

Posted by: sweeneyblog | July 25, 2014

Friday Odds and Ends: Hope, Canines and Kevin

Hello Loyal Readers,

Welcome to the full swing of campaign season! My mailbox is chock-full of mailers from Fleetwood and the state Republicans (still using that stolen photo) and the radio and television are airing ads and interviews. Hence, let’s dive right in.

Once again, it looks like the Bellingham Herald has passed on providing any endorsements in the primary – preferring to fill their pages with candidate-drafted content. While I understand the economics of the decision – having a well-informed and engaged editorial staff requires time and money, neither of which the Herald has in abundance – it is disappointing to see. I would rather see the Herald endorse a slate of right-wing Republicans, at least they would be involved in the public discourse, than sit out another cycle.

Speaking of sitting it out, Representative Mike Hope (R) in the 44th Legislative District (Snohomish) is resigning his seat after committing voter fraud. He had already promised to retire at the end of this year, having been offered a juicy job in Ohio, however, when the news came out that he had been voting over there while serving in the legislature here, he resigned in a hurry. While it will have little impact for the state legislature, it is a curious sequence of events.

Nyima, candidate for County Prosecutor

Nyima, candidate for County Prosecutor

Frustrated by our county prosecutor once again running unopposed? Vote for Nyima as a write-in. Young, frisky Nyima has entered the race to challenge the long serving county prosecutor, Dave McEachran. Nyima offers a fresh perspective, and a better understanding of the importance of comprehensive wildlife and habitat policies and programs.

Nyima’s appeal is not limited to the environmental community. He promotes a sustainable business agenda, which is pro-development (for dog parks), with incentives for local merchants that offer free dog snacks and water. He promises free poop bags to all citizens if he is elected. Please vote for Nyima as a write in candidate for county prosecutor. He definitely has my vote. UPDATE: In my rush to get this blurb added, I neglected to credit Wendy Harris for her wording. This endorsement was first posted on the Whatcom Hawk although I heartily share the sentiment. 

Finally, Sen. Kevin Ranker has finished his one-year term as president of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region. The international group, composed of public officials from California to Northern Canada, worked on economic and environmental issues.

“PNWER is the best example there is of what can be accomplished when states, provinces and countries work together to advance the goals of their governments, businesses and their people,” Ranker said. “It was an absolute honor and privilege to serve as president of such an exemplary organization that will only continue to thrive under President Ramsey’s leadership.

“My time with PNWER is far from over. I will do everything I can to continue to maximize the potential of our beautiful corner of the world for the betterment of our district, our state and our country.”

This goes to show how state legislators can serve far beyond local legislation, contributing on an international level if they wish to be involved in bigger issues. You can talk with Ranker about his service with PNWER next Wednesday, the 30th, from 3 – 5 p.m. at Village Books.

That’s all for now, I have another guest post going live Monday and more results from the NWCitizen Poll coming this weekend.


Posted by: sweeneyblog | July 24, 2014

NWCitizen Releases Poll Showing Ericksen Leading Fleetwood

First public poll of the 42nd LD

First public poll of the 42nd LD

In an effort to provide you, the readers, more insight into the political world around us, I have worked with Northwest Citizen to conduct (and pay for) a poll of likely voters.

We worked with Premiere Political to put a phone poll in the field and received 85 responses from likely voters. Although it is a small sample size, we feel confident enough in these results to share them with our readers.

For the purposes of transparancy, we will always include the exact wording of the question so that you can judge the results for yourself. We have asked about a whole range of local political issues and will be sharing those results with you over the next week.  For now, we will begin with the competitive race for State Senate in the 42nd Legislative District.

In our poll of likely voters, Sen. Doug Ericksen leads challenger Seth Fleetwood by almost 6%, however a closer look at favorability shows that Fleetwood may suffer from poor name recognition.

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Doug Ericksen?
43.8% favorable, 28.1% unfavorable, 24.7% unknown

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Seth Fleetwood?
29.6% favorable, 25% unfavorable 40.6% unknown

In the race for state senate, will you be voting for Seth Fleetwood or Doug Ericksen?
31% Fleetwood, 36.8% Ericksen, 28.7% undecided

What does this mean for the 42nd race? In my view, it shows that Fleetwood has plenty of room to grow and this will be very close in November. If 28.7% of people have not decided they like Ericksen after 16 years of being represented by him, they will not suddenly decide to support him in November.

As always, share your thoughts in the comments below. In the coming week, we will be releasing the results covering the Cherry Point terminal and the 2015 Bellingham mayoral race. This will be the first in a series of polls being conducted this year by Northwest Citizen and myself, so if you wish to defray some of the cost, you can make a donation here.

Posted by: sweeneyblog | July 22, 2014

2014 Primary Election Endorsements

Riley Endorses . . .

Riley Endorses . . .

Theoretically, there should be a ballot arriving in your mailbox soon. I have yet to see one appear in my mailbox, but the auditor’s office assures me they are out there. Somewhere.

Anyway, I thought I should share a few recommendations for this election. There are really only two races that have something worthwhile going on in the primary this year; the race to fill Rep. Jason Overstreet’s state representative position and the Public Utility District.

For State Representative, we have four very different candidates running. There is Luanne Van Werven, the former Republican party chair with an extreme record on social issues. We have Bill Knutzen, the affable former County Councilman who recently received the endorsement of the Lummi Nation, surprising many people across the political spectrum. Readers of this blog are familiar with Nicholas Kunkel, running as a Libertarian who has made a colorful splash this year, raising awareness about Libertarian values.

Finally, we have Satpal Sidhu, former Dean of Engineering at Bellingham Technical College, business owner (LyndenBerry, Spice Hut) and a job creator.

Satpal Sidhu

Satpal Sidhu

Obviously, my descriptions tip my hand a bit but for me the choice is abundantly clear. Kunkel would make a fascinating representative and Knutzen would do an alright job but Satpal Sidhu would excel as a state representative.

Sidhu brings a wealth of technical knowledge and policy experience. His efforts on Workforce Development have been exceptional, connecting displaced workers with real wage earning skills. Obviously, he and I share a political perspective but beyond that, his expertise puts him head and shoulders above the competition.

For Public Utility District, vote Bob Burr. The Public Utility District is about to be at the center of a maelstrom of criticism as the pressure over water rights increases and the looming Gateway Pacific project prepares to hoover up every drop of spare water (and some we can’t spare) in this county.

Burr has been a passionate voice for the people. While I don’t always agree with his tactics, he has always labored for the people to protect the commons – those resources that belong to the general public. I trust him completely as our next Public Utility District commissioner.

Obviously, there are a few more races on the ballot but these are the most important this round. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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