Posted by: sweeneyblog | July 13, 2012

Friday Odds and Ends: Delbene, Jeopardy and WWU

Hello Loyal Readers,

Welcome to our new feature, Friday Odds and Ends; things too small to make a blog post, but too interesting to leave out.

Gary Jensen with Suzan Delbene

Circular Firing Squad Begin! The 1st congressional race has taken a turn for the ugly in the last couple of weeks. It started when former Dept. of Revenue head Suzan Delbene launched a positive television ad (to my knowledge, the first of this race) introducing herself to voters, while simultaneously dumping a ton of money into online advertising. How do I know this? Every time I watch a Youtube video, her ads are popping up on it. Around this time, an anti-Delbene mailer started arriving in people’s mailboxes. The piece is funded by a SuperPAC with ties to one of Delbene’s opponents, State Rep. Laura Ruderman. It is an interesting strategy considering that neither Delbene nor Ruderman lead in the polls right now. The frontrunner is progressive pugilist Darcy Burner, who leads her challengers in the polls and comes the closest to competing with Republican John Koster. Ruderman’s campaign contests that they had nothing to do with the SuperPAC’s activities.

Washington Conservation Voter’s is holding their 3rd annual Candidate Jeopardy on Saturday, July 21st. While I have been critical of some of their campaign tactics in the past, they can be effective at mobilizing large groups of voters around environmental issues and this year will be no different. If you have never been to their Candidate Jeopardy, I highly recommend it. By far, one of the most entertaining political events around.

Speaking of entertaining, the Whatcom County Tea Party forum is next Weds at 6:30pm at Whatcom Community College. The last couple of years, the Tea Party forums have been well-attended and surprisingly well-run. The moderator is fair and keeps things humming along. The only subversive quirk is they set up the candidates so that the conservative candidates always talk AFTER the people they are running against, so the conservative candidates can respond and attack the more liberal ones without them being able to respond for unusually a good twenty minutes till the conversation comes around to them again, and by then, it is on to a different subject. I will be covering the forum and hopefully, recording some video.

WWU by night

WWU was in the news recently when Gov. Gregoire decided to make it a state-wide punching bag. Here is the series of events: Bruce Shepard, president of WWU, spent several weeks negotiating with the faculty union at Western and approved a modest set of raises, the first in five years. This was as a result of WWU faculty having some of the lowest wages compared to similar universities (we are in the bottom 33rd percent for faculty pay) and our professors are getting pouched by other institutions. After the news of the raise was announced, Gregoire blasted WWU in a public letter to the university. Shepard responded rather politely, laying out the reasons why they gave them the raise (stay competitive and all that), but the Seattle Times still hit WWU with a negative editorial. In my opinion, the best one-liner response came from student government VP Patrick Stickney, when he was quoted in the Seattle P-I, “I think that outrage directed at Western would be more appropriate if the state was actually paying for our education.” Yep, that’s got to sting.

Full disclosure: I work for the WWU Foundation, helping to raise funds for the University.



  1. I am surprised that you were surprised that the Tea Party forums were well done. Your use of the word surprisingly to modify well-done reveals your own bias

    I frankly never noticed any subtle seating differences. It did not happen at the forum in which I was a panelist. I was sandwiched between Akers and Didier and an independent followed Clint. While Larry Kalb was before Koster, Larsen and Diana were after.

    • After 2009-2010, being exposed to the Tea Party by the media as a group of Glenn Beck-obsessed conspiracy theorists, it always bears repeating that the local folks are not the same people who appeared at national rallies. I’ve attended their events and while yes, there are a few birthers tucked in there, most of them just want limited government.

      I used the surprisingly because I keep running into Democrats who want to avoid this event, suspecting it to be a partisan trap. I wanted to reassure them that no, this is a good event.

      When you have more than two candidates for a race, they have to break their pattern, but almost all their forums, the Conservatives went after the Liberals. But we will see what happens next week . . .

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