Posted by: sweeneyblog | July 20, 2012

Tea Party Forum – The Legislative District Candidates

Hello Loyal Readers,

This is part two of my Tea Party forum write-up. If you are looking for the post about the federal candidates, you can find that here. If you are looking for ways to help keep the Political Junkie online and running strong, you can throw us a few bucks here. Finally, because ethics are an issue I take very seriously, I should do a bit of disclosure. As a political consultant, I did some unpaid message training with both Natalie McClendon and Matt Krogh. If you would like to hire me to do message training with your non-profit or organization, you can email me here.

All four of the candidates in the 42nd legislative race attended this forum. Democrat, former teacher and current business owner Natalie McClendon faced off against Republican state representative and gold enthusiast Jason Overstreet. Similarly, drinking water watchdog and Democrat Matt Krogh went toe-to-toe with Republican state representative Vincent Buys, famous for the “Buys Bounce”. The races from the 40th were only attended by Republican business owner John Swapp and Green Party member Howard Pellett, who are both challenging Jeff Morris Edit: Pellett is running against Morris, Swapp is running against Sen. Ranker, who was absent. Now that you know the players, let’s dive in!

Once everyone had settled, they launched right into questions from the crowd. First up, everyone’s favorite conspiracy theory, Agenda 21. Swapp politely noted, “We don’t need the UN, we can do things just fine on our own.” Howard Pellett came to the UN’s defense, “The United Nations is how people settle their differences amicably.” McClendon turned the conversation toward sovereignty, “The United States is a sovereign nation and the UN is a group we have chosen to participate in. I will not follow Agenda 21, or any other type of agenda. That’s not what my campaign is about.”

Noted community activist and County Planning commission target, Wendy Harris asked a very solid question on how we solve the problem of pollution in the Puget Sound. Overstreet pounced on the question. “If you look at the efforts of the Democrat party, the Puget Sound Partnership, you see that they are wasting money. It is a joke.”

He offered that the best way to protect the Puget Sound is by protecting private property rights. Again, that answer left me a little confused. Since the Puget Sound is not private property, how would you protect it by protecting private property rights? McClendon expounded on the need for meaningful and enforceable regulations to protect our water supply. Pellett brought up global climate change, which drew chuckles from the audience. Literally, they laughed at the mention of climate change, which was a bit unnerving to me, but Pellett plowed on ahead, talking about an oyster farm that was forced to shut down and relocate to Hawaii because of the acidification of the Puget Sound.

Since it had been a whopping fifteen minutes since anyone had mentioned taxes or spending, the next question was how each candidate would balance the budget. McClendon pointed out that the state budget is required to be balanced, per our state constitution, and finished with, “we will continue to balance the budget with the revenues we have.” Overstreet disagreed, saying there is no constitutional requirement to have a balanced budget, and that our state budget had grown by two billion dollars in the last year and we should put some money into reserve. Two quick fact checks, McClendon is quite right that the state budget must be balanced each year. Washington state cannot run a deficit. While Overstreet is correct that the budget has grown by two billion in the last cycle, that is keeping pace with population. The dollars per person for Washington state is the same today as it was in 1982.

Former county executive candidate David Stalheim asked the next question. “Medicaid is paid for with our tax dollars and since 43% of what we pay into Medicaid goes to providing rural communities services, even though they only make up 1% of that population, shouldn’t we be more efficient with how our tax dollars are spent?” Krogh got to answer that question first, and quickly pivoted to the budget. “We do have a problem with our budget and we can’t afford to keep subsidizing those services. That is why we need to make sure that every single tax break we are giving away is tied to a Washington job.”

Buys approached the question from a broader angle. “What is the government’s responsibility? Beyond education, our main responsibility is public safety. If we focus our resources on things only the public sector can do we will have money to provide the services we need. Otherwise we end up with a system that costs everybody and serves nobody.” Overstreet, instead, chose to ridicule the questioner. “Are you joking? Tell me you are joking?” He went on,  “This is how the Democrat party turns truth on its head. Government programs are supposed to determine how we grow as a community? That’s ridiculous.” You can watch him ridicule the question in the video embedded below.

The next question was on whether to keep the 2/3rds majority requirement for tax increases. Buys professed his support, while Krogh noted it was undemocratic to allow the tyranny of the minority to overpower the majority. Watch the exchange below.

Once again returning to the subject of property rights, there was a question about the Growth Management Act, and whether or not we should repeal it. Pellett said that yes the costs of growth have been passed on to people and businesses but the Act serves a vital purpose. Swapp said it was “deeply concerning” and that we should “definitely review it.” Krogh took a different tack. “The Growth Management Act is essential to keeping taxpayers protected from the costs of growth. How we treat growth should be focused on protecting the value of our homes so that this place stays a place we want to be. When we grow, who is going to pay for that? The taxpayers or the developers?”

Candidates for the 42nd

Not done with taxes, the next question was why we have the most regressive tax system in the nation. Swapp immediately declared that he was against an income tax. “I don’t think there is a state in the union that has a perfectly balanced system. I would look at spending, we are not suffering from a lack of tax dollars.” McClendon pointed out, correctly, that the lowest income citizens pay the most tax, percentage-wise. She then railed against the B&O tax as a worthless tax that hurts our businesses. Overstreet clip three.

Returning to property rights, an attendee asked if it is possible to fight sprawl and protect the environment without forfeiting our constitutional rights. Krogh responded, “The right wingers will tell you we need to give up every private property right to stop sprawl, and the constitution gives us the power to do that. It’s not a good idea, but it is a constitutional reality. We need to make sure that we protect people’s property rights and protect the value of our community as a whole.” Buys and Overstreet both made their answers about compensation, saying that any devaluing of property by government zoning should include just compensation for lost dollars. McClendon pointed out the fallacy, “When the government upzones your property and you make a bundle of money, you don’t have to pay back the state. Why should it work in reverse?”

Finally, we came to closing comments. Swapp touted his business experience as credibility that he knows how to create jobs. Pellett attacked his Democratic opponent, Jeff Morris, as “becoming entrenched in ways that go beyond most other politicians. We need to get serious about climate change.” The audience again snickered at the mention of climate change.

Krogh, in my opinion, had the most intriguing closing statement. He noted all the things that weren’t talked about. “We didn’t talk about education . . . we didn’t talk about health care, which is a right.” At this, the crowd boo-ed Krogh. This was the only time any candidate had been openly boo-ed, but because Krogh pointed out that health care was part of that life, liberty and pursuit of happiness equation, he got boo-ed. I’ve included the video here because I was so shocked at the time. Krogh was relatively unruffled and continued making the point that, “We didn’t talk about protecting Puget Sound. We have a legacy of pollution that we need to address.” You can watch Overstreet, Buys, and Krogh closing statements below.

The Political Junkie’s Analysis of Legislative Candidates

Obviously, I am not an impartial observer, but I was very disappointed in Overstreet’s aggressive and dismissive behavior towards his opponent and some of the questions being asked. As my representative in Olympia, I would hope he would be a little more respectful of questions he disagreed with. None of the Democratic candidates ridiculed the questioners, even when asked about some pretty out there stuff. Swapp was his usual quiet but determined self, calmly answering the questions without too much dodging. McClendon continues to develop a stage presence, and Krogh was top-notch. If you haven’t had a chance to see Matt Krogh in action, I recommend it. He is a skilled debater, and thoroughly versed in the issues.

Riley’s takeaway thought

The only people who really disappeared in this debate where Buys and Pellett.  Buys simply because he wasn’t as belligerent as Overstreet, and consequently disappeared in his rhetorical shadow, and Pellett for his soft-spoken and timid demeanor.

Mainly, I was just disappointed in the audience. Between laughing at every mention of climate change and then boo-ing the right of people to live a healthy life, the crowd left me with a sour taste in my mouth. As one of the attendees wryly noted afterward, “I was surprised by the diversity of issues–the forum seemed to be about both taxes AND property rights.” That is what made Krogh’s comment at the end so poignant for me. No one talked about how to best fund education. No one talked about marriage equality or funding for police and firefighters. No one talked about clean drinking water or charter schools or legalization of marijuana or swollen defense contracts or labor negotiations or how to help farmers survive. This forum, while smoothly run, only looked at a narrow slice of the issues our legislators will tackle. I realize that is not the fault of the organizers, but rather the crowd for not asking about those issues, but still, it left me disappointed.

This weekend, I will be rolling out my set of primary endorsements, and hopefully some information on the Sheriff’s office, once my public records requests come back. If you want to support the good work we do here at the Political Junkie, you can always throw us a couple bucks, and we keep all donations anonymous. Thank you!



  1. […] with pictures, quotes and video. Yes, I even managed to snag some video clips of the forum, which you will see in my next post. However, because of the sheer volume of material, I am splitting this blog post in two. This post […]

  2. ” Buys professed his support while Krogh noted that it was undemocratic to allow the tyranny of the minority to overpower the majority. Watch the exchange below.”

    A similar initiative has qualified for the ballot again, after having been passed multiple times. How many times will it take? A recitation of the “…tyranny of the minority” is ridiculous, not to mention removed from reality.

    • don’t you understand fractions?

  3. Nicely done, Riley. You watch Fox so we don’t have to.

  4. Swapp ran against Jeff Morris in 2010. This go-round, he is taking on Kevin Ranker for the State senate

    • Thank you for that catch. I totally missed that. Corrected above!

  5. […] you happen to live in the 40th district, bravo! Proudly vote for Kris Lytton, Jeff Morris and Kevin Ranker. They all deserve your vote for the hard work they have done in the last two […]

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