Jul 29, 2022
On today's Hacks & Wonks week-in-review, Crystal is joined by Associate Editor of The Stranger, Rich Smith. They start this week discussing the heatwave currently affecting western Washington, and how despite the real risks to some of our most vulnerable neighbors, the city moved forward with a sweep of a homeless encampment. Rich points out that there’s not actually adequate housing for all of those hurt by the sweep, and discusses how legal action might be the necessary catalyst to get the city to change its behavior when it comes to handling our homelessnes crisis. In specific races, Crystal and Rich discuss the Congressional race in Washington’s 8th Congressional District, where three Republicans are vying for the chance to take Kim Schrier’s seat. They next follow-up on the horrifying pattern of Black electeds, candidates, and campaign staff being harassed, threatened, and attacked, and the lack of resources and support from the HDCC to protect candidates of color. Next, they look at the 47th legislative district’s Senate and House races, both of which have very competitive D-on-D races happening during the primary. Rich explains the Stranger’s Editorial Control Board’s struggle to pick who to endorse in the 34th’s State Rep. position 1 race. Crystal and Rich talk about the disproportionate amount of money going to D-on-D races in districts that are safely Democrat, and what needs to be done to make sure campaign finance needs are less of a barrier for candidates. After that, they go over close-looking races between Democrats and Republicans across the state. Finally, they remind you to VOTE! Ballots are due August 2nd. Make your voice heard!
As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
WA Voting Resources
Ballot and replacement ballot information: https://voter.votewa.gov/WhereToVote.aspx
Ballot Box and voting center locations: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/research/drop-box-and-voting-center-locations.aspx
If you’re an eligible voter with previous felony convictions, you CAN vote as long as you’re no longer confined. For more information, see here: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/voters/felons-and-voting-rights.aspx
“Seattle removes homeless encampment in Sodo during heat wave” by Greg Kim from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/homeless/seattle-removes-homeless-encampment-in-sodo-during-heat-wave/
“A new push to combat harassment of Black candidates and staff” by Melissa Santos from Axios: https://www.axios.com/local/seattle/2022/07/25/black-candidates-washington-harassment
“Republicans vie for swing-district shot at defeating WA Rep. Kim Schrier” by Jim Brunner from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/republicans-vie-for-swing-district-shot-at-defeating-democrat-rep-kim-schrier/
“Northeast Seattle House race features 5 Democratic candidates and big money” by David Gutman from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/northeast-seattle-house-race-features-5-democratic-candidates-and-big-money/
“Seattle voters have a slew of choices in Legislative races” by Joseph O’Sullivan from Crosscut: https://crosscut.com/politics/2022/07/seattle-voters-have-slew-choices-legislative-races
[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks and Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington State through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show, as well as our recent forums, are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes. Today, we're continuing our Friday almost-live shows where we review the news of the week. Welcome back to the program today's co-host: Associate Editor of The Stranger and - never forget - noted poet, Rich Smith.
[00:00:55] Rich Smith: Hi.
[00:00:55] Crystal Fincher: Hey, so it's been a hot week. We're in the middle of another heat event, climate change is unrelenting, and we're feeling the effects of it. It's been a challenge.
[00:01:09] Rich Smith: Yeah, I'm against it. I don't think it should be happening. Seattle really is dying, as is the rest of the globe, is my understanding.
[00:01:19] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. We just saw Europe go through this right before we did. And I'm sure we're all going to be going through it with increasing frequency, which makes one thing that happened this week, just particularly - not just unfortunate, but really infuriating to a lot of people - and plainly harmful. It's that the City of Seattle decided to move forward with sweeps of encampments for the unhoused in the middle of this heat wave. What went on here?
[00:01:50] Rich Smith: Yeah, they - Bruce Harrell has made a point to deal with visible homelessness by employing a tactic that has not worked, which is sweeping people around the City, and in the middle of a heat wave, he swept a city, or a spot a little bit south of downtown. I wasn't - I'm not quite sure on the address. I think there was about 30 people there. And first thing in the morning - sun was heating up, these people had to put all their belongings on their back, and move across town, or find a cooling shelter or - in the heat. And it was just cruel and unfortunately, not unusual. And I can't even blog in this heat, let alone move all of my earthly possessions across town, just because somebody doesn't want to see me there. So that's what happened.
[00:02:53] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and it is - a lot of people understand that this really makes no sense to do - it's harmful, it's against public health guidance. We're still in a pandemic - even though people want to be done with it, it's not done with us. We have more challenges in that direction coming our way, which we might touch on a little bit later. But even with this, there were a lot of community members who reached out to the mayor's office when they heard about this and heard that it was upcoming. This is on the heels of last summer - the heat dome event being the most deadly weather event that Washington has ever experienced. We know how lethal extreme heat is. And so for people who don't have any kind of shelter to be put through this at this particular time, and as a lot of activists talked about and actually Councilmember Tammy Morales called out before, since and after - there's not enough shelter space, there's not enough housing space to get all of these people in shelter. To which Bruce Harrell and his administration replied - well, there's space at cooling centers and we can get them vouchers to go there. But those aren't 24/7 - that's a very, very temporary solution. So you know that you're throwing people out, certainly at night, and tomorrow when there's extreme heat again - 90+ degree temperatures - where do they go then?
And they have even less to work with in order to do that. It's just - as you said in the very beginning - it's ineffective, this doesn't get people in housing. Some people talk about homelessness being primarily a problem of addiction or of mental health resources - that's not the case for everybody, but the one thing that everyone who is - does not have a home - has in common is not having a home. Housing is the one thing that will, that we can't do without to solve homelessness. We have to start there. And so to act as if this is doing anything different, when over and over again, we see when they sweep a location, the people who were there just move to different locations in the City. We don't get people housed, we're doing nothing but making this problem worse while wasting so much money in the process of doing so. It's just infuriating and I really hope it stops. There's not really a reason to believe so, based on the track record in this area of this administration, but it's wrong and there's really no two ways about that.
[00:05:25] Rich Smith: Yeah, and just to hop on that Tammy Morales point and the reporting that The Times did on the ground, there's this - the administration thinks that they're offering everybody shelter, they say that they're offering everybody shelter. And then reporters go there and ask around and people say - nobody offered me anything. A couple people said - I'm gonna take this tent down the road, I'm not gonna get to that shelter. And so I just think that the City needs to start getting sued for this stuff. I just - if a referral system is clearly adequately not functional, and we're not supposed to - under Martin v. Boise - sweep people unless we have adequate shelter to put them in. And if we haven't created a system that gets people into adequate shelter that meets their needs, then how is it legal? is my question. And I don't think that this is gonna stop until there starts to be legal consequences for the City.
[00:06:29] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and like you said, there is precedent - that's a fairly recent decision, that we seem to be acting - in Seattle and in other cities - in direct defiance of, so I hope along with you that it is challenged in court. It's a big problem that continues. We're doing nothing to solve this issue that everyone recognizes is a crisis, and it's time we start doing things that actually work to make the problem better instead of wasting money on things that just perpetuate the issues that we're having.
So this week, we're - Friday, July 29th - we are just days before this August 2nd primary on Tuesday, which means if you have your ballots, you better fill them out and get them in. Have any questions - feel free to reach out to us here at officialhacksandwonks.com, us on Twitter. You can go to MyVote.wa.gov if you are having issues with your ballot - I know there're places like Ferndale in the state that're experiencing extreme post office delays and some people still haven't received their ballots up there. But any issues that you're having can probably be addressed by starting out at MyVote.wa.gov, but do not pass up this opportunity to make your voice heard. There is so much at stake. As frustrated as sometimes we can be with how things are happening federally, whether it's the Supreme Court or seeming inaction in Congress - although we may have gotten some encouraging week this past week, encouraging news this past week - it is really important to act locally.
Especially with things being in disarray at the federal level, the state and local level is where we protect the rights that we count on. It's where we shape what our communities look like. And the fact that they can look as different as Forks and Sequim and Seattle and Bellevue and all the rest just is a testament to how much power communities have to shape what they look like. So get engaged, be involved and - just starting out, we've seen just a slew of activity. We'll start the conversation around the Congressional districts, the Congressional races. What is happening in the 8th Congressional District where Kim Schrier is the current incumbent?
[00:08:46] Rich Smith: This is - yeah - the front of the national red wave in Washington, to the extent that it crashes down here or gets held, it'll be in the 8th, which is east King County District now. It got changed around a little bit with redistricting - picking up some pieces of Snohomish County, but also some rural areas that it didn't have before. And Schrier faces a challenge from three Republicans minimum - there's a bunch of other people who aren't viable, but the major ones are Reagan Dunn, a King County Councilmember who's also a Republican and whose mom represented the district - I think in the 90s and early '00s - so a little bit of a legacy candidate there for Dunn. He has, as a brief aside, been also awarded by me just now the trophy of using his personal or his professional press release apparatus through the County Council in the most abusive way I've ever seen. This man sends out a press release about some kind of Republican red meat he's doing on the council, literally every eight hours, and it has been for the last year. If this is what he thinks doing his job on council means, then he hasn't been doing it since before this year. But anyway, Reagan Dunn is one of them.
And Matt Larkin, a failed Attorney General candidate, who's going for the red meat Trump vote more openly than the other two are at least is is also running. He's got a bunch of his own money in - I wanna say north of $500,000, but maybe it's just $300,000. And and then we've got Jesse Jensen who ran last time. He's a veteran and a tech manager and he almost - he lost to Schrier in 2020 by four points. And so the Republicans are bickering amongst themselves with Jensen spending some, or a PAC on behalf of Jensen spending some money bringing up Dunn's - his struggles with alcoholism, and his divorce, and a bunch of drama related to that. And Dunn pushing back against that and calling it cheap blows. And Matt Larkin just trying to pick up any pieces that fall from that spat and capitalize on it. Schrier will, I suspect, will get through and it'll just be - which of these icky guys is gonna challenge her.
[00:11:31] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, it's really interesting to see. And the theme of our congressional primaries and many of these races is - yeah, Republicans are fighting amongst each other in some really interesting, sometimes entertaining, but also vicious ways among each other. And so in this race it's been interesting to see, I think particularly just as people who live in King County and who have seen Reagan Dunn operate for a while - for a while he used to kind of court and relish his - the impression of him being a more moderate Republican, or Republican who can be elected in King County and touted that for a while. But now the base is different than it used to be when it comes to Republicans - they are not in the mood for a - someone who's moderate enough to be elected in King County and his votes, his rhetoric, the way he operates has completely reflected that. Including voting against women's reproductive rights, against abortion rights and access - really is, as you just talked about, trying to appeal to the Trump-loving red meat base and prove that he is conservative enough to do that. And just speaking a lot differently than he did before.
But I think this is just reflective of - there are no - really, there is no such thing as a Republican moderate. Because everyone who has called themselves a moderate on issues of any kind of importance - at most - is silent. They won't oppose their party on things that they know are blatantly wrong, whether it's the lie of the 2020 election and the conspiracies surrounding that or vaccine issues - all this kind of stuff. Or you've seen them go the direction of Dunn and we recently saw, in a vote against same-sex marriage in Congress with Jaime Herrera Beutler, that they're voting against those things. And it's absolutely in opposition to a majority of Washington residents by every public poll that has been done. And so it's just interesting to see how that dynamic has played out throughout that. Again, it should be Schrier and we'll see who her opponent is gonna be, but that's gonna be a race to continue to pay attention to throughout the general election.
So there's - you talk about a lot dealing with the 9th CD - there's a lot of legislative districts in the 9th CD - some of them very big battleground districts. And before we get into talking just a little bit about the legislative candidates, I did want to talk about an issue that The Stranger covered, that Axios covered this past week - and it has been the escalating incidences of harassment and violence against Black candidates, some of which are in the most competitive races in the state that we've been seeing lately. There have been lots of incidences that have been reported on that we know of throughout the state of Black candidates having their signs and property defaced - that's happened to a number of them, having their staffs harassed, followed, threatened from people in the community - and we saw that happen last week, one week before last now.
And then that same week a candidate in the 30th Legislative District, which is Federal Way, Algona area, was shot twice with a BB gun. And when you're getting shot by BB gun, you don't actually know necessarily that it's a BB gun - and so you just know that you're getting shot at. Very scary situation and with those, certainly, I know that candidate Pastor Carey Anderson feels like that seems like a down payment on more violence, that seems like a type of harassment and targeting that's like - we are coming after you, we're harassing you. It's just very, very scary. And so throughout this process - and again, we saw these instances in 2020, we're now in 2022 seeing them - these campaigns have had to make considerations adjust their field plans and their canvassing plans in ways that soak up more resources, soak up more money and time, and it's just worrisome to be doing this. And realistically, this has been - continues to be a systemic problem.
And so as I shared before, a number of people have - the parties should have an impact in fixing this. And specifically, I don't know if you're - I know you are - but people that are listening - the campaign apparatus when it comes to a state party - there's a state party. They do the Coordinated Campaign, which is the volunteer arm for a lot of the candidates in the state, they do a lot of supportive canvassing, phone calls, especially for - from the top of the ticket in the state on down. So Patty Murray being at the top of the ticket this year to candidates, especially in battleground areas. But the entities that are most responsible for dealing with campaigns are the House Democratic Caucus and the Washington Senate Democratic Caucus - that the House caucus and the Senate caucus are actually very frequently in contact with campaigns. They exist solely to support the political campaigns of their members. And so they provide information, guidance, infrastructure for the most competitive races against the opposing party. They're actively involved in these races and they basically act like co-consultants and adjunct staff for these.
So there is a very close relationship and those are the two entities - House caucus for House candidates, Senate caucus for the Senate candidates - who are already doing that work in general. And so it has not escaped a lot of people's notice that this has been, as I was quoted saying, a glaring omission in what they've talked about. And it's not the first time the party has heard about this or confronted it. There have been conversations about this before. They've not resulted in action up until now. And so that article was particularly troubling to me. And this situation is particularly troubling to me because although everybody was asleep before then, we've seen the State Party basically say - yeah, we do have a responsibility to handle this and to try and work on a solution. We've seen the Senate caucus say - yeah, we do and we're working on a solution. And we have not seen that from House caucus leadership. And it was - we don't see this often for anything in any issue, but you had three candidates, two of them members in some of the most competitive races in the state saying - Hey, this happened. April Berg - this happened to me earlier this year and I asked the House caucus for help, I didn't get any - and now we're sitting here asking again and we're waiting. And Jamila Taylor, the head of the Legislative Black Caucus, saying essentially the same thing - we're waiting for help, we're asking, we're waiting.
And then Pastor Carey Anderson, candidate in the 30th, saying we asked and we haven't - and these candidates are feeling like they're left alone and being left high and dry. And their campaigns are wondering - is it safe to be out there - and to not even have the caucus back them up like that is really something. And if Black lives do matter in this state, then we gotta do a better job of showing it, starting with these candidates. And this is - attacks on these candidates are really foundational - saying, we don't think you deserve a voice in this society, in our democracy, we're gonna try and intimidate and harass you out of it. And really, no one's really doing that much to stop it, so let's keep going. And not having support going through that is a really challenging thing. Will Casey for The Stranger also did an article on it this week. So I guess as you're looking at it, what does it look like from your vantage point?
[00:20:11] Rich Smith: Yeah - well, in their defense the HCCC - or whatever, I don't know what they call it - just found out about structural racism this year, so they're hopping on it. They're also just figuring out racism as well. We might give 'em a chance to catch up. No, I was - the Rep Berg, whose canvasser was one of the people who got yelled at by a white guy who slammed his bike to the ground and did the "get off my lawn" racism up in Mill Creek, I wanna say, I can't remember where it was. But anyway, she and Rep Taylor pointed out that this - if you want to expand the number of people into your party, you want to have a big umbrella, if you want to diversify your party, which has been white for a very long time - then you're gonna want to provide some protection for people. You're gonna at least want to get a phone tree - set up some kind of protocol so that the party knows when this stuff happens and can act accordingly. The fact that we didn't have one means that we didn't prioritize it. And the fact that they didn't prioritize it means that there's not enough people in high places who are thinking about this stuff. And the fact that this has to come from the candidates who are not, who are running to be part of the party, is inexcusable because we've known that this has been happening for a long time. So yeah. It hurts recruitment for that party and it's inexcusable that they haven't done anything - they haven't done anything about it until now.
[00:22:05] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and even then until now - we're waiting, we're waiting.
[00:22:09] Rich Smith: Yeah.
[00:22:09] Crystal Fincher: We're waiting to see -
[00:22:10] Rich Smith: Did the Senate put out some recommendations, but the House hasn't?
[00:22:13] Crystal Fincher: Yeah.
[00:22:14] Rich Smith: Okay, I see.
[00:22:16] Crystal Fincher: And as well as the State Party - they've worked in conjunction. So it'll - we're waiting to see - I hope that we see more action, but it has certainly been disconcerting, worrisome. Frankly, infuriating -
[00:22:31] Rich Smith: Pramila's getting yelled at.
[00:22:32] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and beyond yelled at - life threatened by dude outside of her house with a gun - telling her to go back where she came from and threatening to kill her. It's - and we saw an organizer this past week with a continued campaign of harassment from someone who already has a restraining order against them for this. It's just a worrisome time and it's gonna take everybody engaging, especially white people, to get this to stop. Relying on the victims of harassment and the victims of assault and the victims of stalking to be able to engage and solve their whole problem, when a lot of their energy is spent just trying to keep themselves safe, is not realistic and not what we can count on in order for it to change.
But also, in other news - so south King County has got a lot of races. There haven't been many that have been covered. The Stranger has covered them and even engaged in a recent endorsement in one of the most competitive legislative districts in the state, which is the 47th Legislative District. And so there is one incumbent in the House seat running - Debra Entenman in that seat. And then there is a competitive Senate race and a competitive House race, both of which have open seats. And interestingly, both are D vs R races, where we're in a pretty competitive D primary, not so competitive R primaries. Well-funded Republican opponents - both of those Republican opponents are also Black, against a number of Black candidates running. So you have Shukri Olow and Chris Stearns running for one seat. You have Satwinder Kaur, who's a Kent City Councilmember currently, running against a former State Senator, Claudia Kaufman, in the other seat - running against another current Kent City Councilmember, Bill Boyce, who's a Republican. And then Carmen Goers for that other seat, who's also a Republican. So how did you - just going through that race - you made endorsements and recommendations. In that, what did you come out with?
[00:24:52] Rich Smith: Yeah. In those races - yeah, first of all, the 47th is huge. It's a bellwether district. Everyone's gonna be looking at it and analyzing it on election night to figure out what it means for the general election and whether or not the Democrats are gonna be able to hold their majority in the State House and - or break even in the Senate, with Mullet as the swing - lord help us. But yeah, in the race - starting from the Senate race - that's the one that is Kaur and Kauffman vs probably Boyce - or yeah, Bill Boyce -
[00:25:33] Crystal Fincher: Bill Boyce - yeah.
[00:25:33] Rich Smith: Kent City Councilman. Yeah, we came down on Kauffman there, mostly because Kaur had lied to us, basically, in the course of the endorsement process. She said that - we asked about whether or not she wanted to put cops in schools and Kent, they recently - Kent School District and City Council approved recently - put cops back in the school so that they could handcuff mostly kids of color when they get out of line, and or when they say they get out of line.
[00:26:13] Crystal Fincher: And a long history of that happening in the district.
[00:26:15] Rich Smith: Yes, and Kaur's initial response to that was - that wasn't my, our jurisdiction, that was a decision that the school made, the school district made, yada, yada. Kauffman stepped in and said - excuse me, you voted on that. And then we were like, what? And then she's like - yeah, the City Council approved the budget that put the cops back into the schools in Kent and also, you all deliberated about it. There's a meeting - you talked about this. It was not only within your jurisdiction, but you joined a unanimous vote to put cops back in the schools. And then she's like okay - yeah, that happened. I was like - well, why did you say it didn't happen? Or why did you suggest that it was out of your jurisdiction? And so you didn't have anything to say about it? So that kind of - that didn't - that wasn't cool. We didn't like that. And we also didn't like that the vote to put the cops back in schools because, and when we questioned her on that, she said she had mixed feelings about it personally, but she voted for it because this was something the community asked for. But scratch the surface a little bit, and the community also asked for the school not to put the cops back in the schools. And so it was - she was representing people in the community, some people in the community, and dismissing - or not really dismissing - but pretending as if other people in the community didn't exist. She wanted to represent the interest of those people and not those people, so that was - otherwise they were pretty, pretty close on the issues, but her handling of that situation initially and the substance of it, I think, was what pushed us toward Kaur. We recognize that it's a moderate district, or a purple district, in a lot of ways and maybe that comes back to to haunt Kauffman, but Kaufman also just had a really forthright, blunt, straightforward way of talking. She held her ground, said what she said. And we were like - that's, there we go. There was just less triangulation, it felt like, happening. And so those were the things that pushed us there.
Olow and Stearns was also really tough for us - because love Stearns' work on Treatment First Washington and his history with - him foregrounding treatment and wanting to get in - we really, would be great to have a champion in there, someone to join Rep Lauren Davis on her crusade to try to squeeze something out of that body to build a treatment infrastructure in the first place and a recovery infrastructure at the state level. I'm sure Stearns would've done that.
[00:29:07] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, full disclosure - I was also part of that coalition - appreciate his work on that, definitely believed in that.
[00:29:14] Rich Smith: Well, and he had been elected to Auburn City Council. And so he has a constituency he can tap - he's familiar. Olow though - we endorsed her against Upthegrove when she ran for County Council and she aligned with everything that Stearns was saying, or agreed with everything that Stearns was saying, and just has a lot of expertise in youth development and education and that's something where we need as many of those champions in the Legislature as humanly possible. And she had just had a - it looked like at the time when we were making the endorsement - just a better campaign infrastructure and so probably would've done, we thought would've done the best, will do the best against the Republican challenger.
[00:30:11] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, really well-funded Republican challenger. Yeah.
[00:30:15] Rich Smith: So that's what went into our thinking in those races.
[00:30:18] Crystal Fincher: Yeah - no, made sense. Shukri has been doing work for the Best Starts for Kids program, which is very big in the district. Got her doctorate in education after starting out as a girl in public housing in the district. Has just - she really is someone who knows the district really well - grew up there, has certainly given back a lot, and so - know them both, appreciate them both. And just know that in both of those races, it's gonna be really tough for the Democrat vs the Republican. So whichever way that goes through, I hope listeners continue to pay attention and engage in those 'cause it's going to take help from folks who don't live there to make sure that the Democrat does get across the finish line. 'Cause, man - lots of these - Republicans are trying extra hard to put a moderate face on themselves, whether it's the 5th District talking about their bipartisan support and they're moderate and they're socially progressive and fiscally responsible - is how they're trying to present it. Whether it's in Emily Randall's district, or in the 5th district against Lisa Callan in that area. And it's just - we've got a lot at stake on this ballot. And so I really - and it's not inconceivable that Democrats could lose the majority here. With hard work, hopefully not, but it is within the realm of possibility and Republicans are looking to move backwards a lot of policy and are saying some really alarming things on the campaign trail with every - and it's not rhetoric. They're intending to move forward with repealing all of the rights that are in danger at the national level, and really being in alignment with what's happening there. And so things could go the other direction really fast.
[00:32:17] Rich Smith: It's scary. It's also - is it within the 9th Congressional District as well?
[00:32:21] Crystal Fincher: Yep. I think it's split between the 8th and the 9th, actually. I need to double check that post-redistricting, which is another thing - when you talk about just the 47th district, everything about everything in that race is just nonstandard. We don't know how this district, as this is the first time that we're gonna be voting within these new boundaries - so how it actually performs. You've got an interesting composition of people who - some have been on ballots plenty of times there, some haven't, some have but have been unopposed so people don't really pay attention to it. You've got two Black Republicans who are leading and the standard bearers - they're trying to portray themselves as - one of them, Bill Boyce, sent out this mailer of him and Martin Luther King. And there's nothing Republicans love more than throwing out a Martin Luther King quote that he would've thrown back in their face. But anyway, talking about that - which was, I know a lot of Black people in the Kent community looked, gave a side eye to that one really hard. But it'll be really interesting to see.
And then there's a chunk of races in Seattle that are these D vs D races that are not gonna be key to the composition of the caucus and the majority, but that may help define what the agenda is in the Legislature and what's able to pass, especially when we talk about issues like progressive revenue and some very basic things that people are trying to tick off - in the healthcare realm, in the climate action realm, whole transportation package, what that kind of would look like. And so just a variety of races across the City that people will be voting on. Make sure to get that ballot in by Tuesday, either in the drop box or in the mail - you don't have to use a stamp on the envelope.
But I guess as you're looking there, I see a lot of people - there's been a lot of coverage of the 46th, which full disclosure - I am working with Melissa Taylor on. In the 36th, a crowded race. There's an open seat in the 34th which hasn't quite gotten as much attention, I don't think, as the other two races. What do you see in that race?
[00:34:52] Rich Smith: In the 34th? Great sadness and because it was - they're both really good. If you're - you're talking about the Leah Griffin and the Emily Alvarado -
[00:35:03] Crystal Fincher: Yes.
[00:35:03] Rich Smith: Yeah - what are you, what am I, how - we were all, we talked about this for 45 minutes, an hour. Okay, so our choices in this are somebody who is - we're in a housing crisis and Emily Alvarado ran Office of Housing, is - clearly knows what she's talking about. That's exactly what she wants to do when she gets to the State Legislature, and exactly how to do it, and exactly the coalition she wants to build - Latina and is - voted for Bernie Sanders - and is also impressive candidate who knows her sh*t. Speaking of, Leah Griffin - tremendous - tremendously overcame personal tragedy and didn't just keep that to herself, but used it in part as a catalyst to make real change to help everybody, contacted everybody in the Legislature and Congress - even Patty Murray - and got some responses and helped push an idea that eventually became legislation that got slipped into the Violence Against Women Act that would increase access to more sexual assault kits. So this is a person who has done tremendous work from her couch in Seattle, as she'll say. And so yeah - the choice there is between somebody who is gonna be a strong - and she's up on the news about criminal justice and is in the intersection there between how do we - what's the best way to get fewer rapes - to stop people from rape. She's a really good person who knows the answer to that question and can push for that kind of change in the 34th.
And yeah, the question facing voters is - do you want somebody who's an expert on housing and is gonna do all the right things on housing and lead there and join a housing coalition in the House, which we desperately need. Or do you want somebody who is going to lead on the intersection of criminal justice and protecting survivors in the House, which we also desperately need, which is also - it's an impossible decision. I don't - we came down, the group came down at the end on Emily because of the housing crisis, but that's how I feel about that. We were all - could have gone either way.
[00:37:46] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, it is - it's rough. And there's a lot of rough choices actually in Seattle - these are two great candidates. It's been tougher than prior years in some, where there were more clear choices in a lot of them. In City races, there's more differentiation between, at least among all the candidates a lot of times. And there just are some really hard choices and people across the board that - even if they don't make it through, you really, really, really hope that they continue to be involved and they step up to lead in different areas and really consider continuing to seek leadership. Because both people in this race, people in a number of races - there are some really, really exciting people who are running. You can only choose one. And so we'll see what continues to go through. And we can only choose one, we're gonna run a general election - ultimately there will be one who prevails, but yeah, it, this - I could definitely see that being a hard choice.
[00:38:54] Rich Smith: If anybody wants to start some GoFundMe to help move some of these candidates around, would love somebody to move up to Shoreline and challenge Salomon, Jesse Salomon, up there - be a Senator. And could - someone could have jumped into the 46th Senate race too - would've been nice. A guy, Matt Gross, did - got a housing focus, that's great. Didn't do it for us even though - just 'cause his ideas were half baked - would've been nice to have a challenge up, a serious challenger to Javier Valdez too. Valdez is a nice guy, but there's a lot of room for improvement up there. Yeah, there was a lot of races where - would've been cool to see stronger challengers, progressive challengers. And then there were a lot of other races, and then the rest of the races were - oh, look, these people are great. Four great people running for one open seat. What are we gonna do here? So yeah, that - it was tough.
[00:39:57] Crystal Fincher: Yeah - and with that, obviously, there's a ton of people who live in Seattle. And so there's going to be more people competing for what wind up being fewer positions. And you see a lot more engagement and attention being paid and candidates for those open seats. And it's - we are still contending with the disparity in resources between those in kind of safe D - Democrats are going to be elected in all of these positions. And seeing a stark difference in spending and donations for other races in the state that could go either way. And it's challenging. Again, I generally don't work with candidates. I'm working with one this year and it's a high - there are three of the top fundraisers in the state. I literally think the top three on the Democratic side non-incumbents in that race - there's a lot of money there. There doesn't need to be that much money in there, but given the composition - just like with Congress, right - especially the representatives basically have to spend all of their time fundraising. And while we desperately need more campaign finance reform, it should not take that. And a system that requires that is a broken system and you're making people make a lot of tough choices. The barrier for people being able to get in these races is challenging, 'cause you have to have enough time to devote to the fundraising and to talking to voters and the other stuff. And it's really hard to do without resources. And even if you don't have the most, you still have to have a substantial amount no matter how you look at it.
So I do think there is a glaring need for some really foundational statewide campaign finance reform - also at the federal level - but Democracy Vouchers, does it solve every single problem related to everything? No. But I think it does make things more accessible, forces people to talk to more residents to get the - even if it's just in search of vouchers - hey, it's putting you in contact with more people that you have to directly deal with, which I think is always a good thing for candidates. But it's a problem, it's a challenge. And so many resources are dedicated to Seattle in the political sphere when there are so many needs for lesser-known races throughout the state. How do you see that?
[00:42:39] Rich Smith: I agree. I don't know if - I don't know about Democracy Vouchers as a solution, but campaign finance reform for statewide races is great. Yeah - Melissa Taylor's raised what - $200,000 or something almost in that race - like the top, some of the top -
[00:42:55] Crystal Fincher: Well, and she's the number two -
[00:42:56] Rich Smith: She's the number two.
[00:42:58] Crystal Fincher: - behind Lelach. And then, Nancy Connolly is also - there's a lot - now, Melissa doesn't accept corporate donations or anything, but still that's a lot of work, it's a lot of time. And not everybody has the ability to do that and that should not be a requirement of running for office.
[00:43:23] Rich Smith: No. Yeah, I agree. And yeah, that's - it's as much as Stephanie Gallardo has raised against - for one House seat. Yeah, than for one US House seat, but yeah - it's crazy, it's a huge high barrier to entry, and we should do something to change it.
[00:43:43] Crystal Fincher: We should. So I guess if you are - lots of resources, will link all of this in the comments of the show. As we do that - for just races across the state that may not be on people's radar, the Congressional races - is there anything that you would throw out there for people to consider that's not getting much attention right now?
[00:44:05] Rich Smith: Yeah. You wanna do something over the weekend? You might try knocking doors for Emily Randall up in Kitsap - in Bremerton, Gig Harbor area - she's facing off against the Legislature's biggest brat, as Will Casey called him in a piece on the 26th Legislative District there. That's another one of those important races - Randall won by 108 votes or something last time she ran. So it's gonna be a close one. It would be great to have a pro-choice Democrat rather than a Trumpian weirdo in the Senate up there.
[00:44:37] Crystal Fincher: Super Trumpian - he is one of the most extreme Republicans in the state, currently a House member running for the Senate seat to challenge her. They tried to put what they felt was one of their best, most resourced people on their side against her and she needs everybody's help. That is absolutely a race for people in Seattle to adopt and do something to help emily win.
[00:45:03] Rich Smith: Yeah. If you wanna - if you're closer to the South End, you might try going down to the 30th LD - helping out Jamila Taylor with her race, figuring out what to do with, or helping Claire Wilson in her race. She'll - maybe save those for the general 'cause they'll probably get through. There's some sh*t going down in the 30th as well - is that also the one where Chris Vance is taking on Phil Fortunato -
[00:45:29] Crystal Fincher: That's the 31st.
[00:45:30] Rich Smith: 31st - that's right. That's just outside -
[00:45:32] Crystal Fincher: So like Enumclaw, just to the east. Yep.
[00:45:35] Rich Smith: Yeah, just outside. Yeah - so that's gonna be funny - I don't know, it'll be interesting. Phil Fortunato is a freak and a climate arsonist and a genuine weirdo. And I don't know if we're placing him with a centrist Republican, I guess, if Chris Vance is - will be much of an improvement, but it will be interesting to see the extent to which Trump base is being activated in these races in Washington, or whether there's some kind of independent, high Republican sh*t movement going on in the suburbs that really wants to moderate the Trumpers. So that'll be one area where I'm looking looking at that and yeah, but those would be two races that I would highly -
[00:46:33] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, no, that absolutely makes sense. Thank you so much for your time today. Thank you everyone for listening - this is Friday, July 29th, 2022. Thanks for listening to Hacks & Wonks - the producer is Lisl Stadler and assistant producer is Shannon Cheng with assistance from Bryce Cannatelli. Our wonderful co-host today is the Associate Editor of The Stranger, Rich Smith. You can find Rich on Twitter at @richsssmith. You can find me on Twitter at @finchfrii. Now you can follow Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, wherever else you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Our revamped website has access to all the shows - all of the transcripts to everything is all included, and the forums that we did in the 36th and 37th are also included there. While you're there, if you like - hop on and can leave us a review on something, please do. It helps us out. You can also just get everything and we'll include all the resources and articles we talked about today in the show notes. So thanks for talking with us today.
Thanks for tuning in - we'll talk to you next time.