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View Diary: WA Gov -- s/p recount, Vance stirs (122 comments)

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  •  Yes, I'm in Grays Harbor (none)
    Good questions!

    How'd we do it?  In Grays Harbor, it's simply built on history.  But as the "old guard" yellow-dog Dems of the past die out, the Republicans are taking hold.  A scary development is that the Grays Harbor Republicans have an active and motivated Young Republican Club.  The local Dems have NO Young Democrat Club.  Yikes!  We just can't get young people interested enough in Dem positions.    

    Issues the Republicans are using to make in-roads here are:

    • environmental restrictions
    • gun ownership
    • restrictions on hunting and fishing
    • wedge social issues like gay marriage and abortion

    These issues are complex.  Believe me, it's not as simple as the stereotypical portrayel of loggers as guys who love to "kill" trees.  Believe me, that is NOT the case.  In essence, there are many here who share the perception that Seattle-area environmentalists have destroyed their own area yet want to impose excessively harsh restrictions on our areas in order to mitigate their own destruction.  

    It would take me a book to explain what I'm talking about.  Let me give you just one example.

    Our local beach communities only have one industry allowed due to environmental protections.  That industry is tourism.  As you may be aware, most tourism jobs are low-paid and many are only full-time during the summer months and during clam-digging.  A big attraction to our area beaches is the ability to drive on them.  Even in the winter, there are hundreds of cars on the beach.  In the summer, it easily reaches into the thousands.

    Last year, the State Dem Party was considering endorsing a ban on all beach driving in Washington state.  This would devestate the economies of these beach communities.  If a tourist can't even get out to the beach, why would they come here?  There are virtually no parking lots near the beach to park at.  Some of us local Dems had to quickly rally to educate the State Dem Committee on how devestating this decision would be and lobby them to not support this issue.  

    Then Rep. Al O'Brien, Dem (I think from Mercer Island?), introduced a bill to eliminate beach driving.  Again, a contingent of Dems from Grays Harbor rallied against this.  Our strong Coastal Caucus also fought this issue.  It failed in commitee.

    But the point is this:  At no point in time was one single Democrat in Grays Harbor or Pacific counties contacted to find what we thought about this issue.  No one asked us if it would negaticvely effect our already devestated economies.  No one asked us if there were certain areas that a ban on beach-driving might be appropriate vs. other areas where it would not.  No one asked us if there were ways to mitigate the issue to make it more palatable and to have less devestating impacts.  

    This is the perfect example of how urban Dems tend to get an idea and act on it without consulting those who it would effect.  We are left out of the process.  It is as if we are considered nothing but a bunch of uneducated red-necks who don't have a clue.

    <<One important question -- is there sufficient political will in Gray Harbor County to allow political discourse on such issues as the state's tax structure?  Is there support for developing fairer revenue streams?>>

    I believe so.  Ron Sims actually had stronger support from the core Dems in this area than Gregoire did, mostly due to his courage in bringing up the income-tax issue.

    I'm not thrilled with Berendt.  The only opponent of his who I have heard from yet is Greg ??? (a Latino name like Gonzales or Rodrigues).  I really like what he had to say.  And he sure had a "fire in the belly" that I don't see from Berendt.  At the 24th legislative district re-org on January 8th, all the candidates will be speaking.  I will need to reserve my judgement on this until I hear all of them.

    I do agree with you that our State Dem website is atrocious.  We need a good blog!!!

    •  one of the real (none)
      downsides to Sid Snyder's retirement, eh?

      I'm in the 19th (in Cowlitz).  Well, rather, I'm not, because I'm in Germany, but that's where I vote.

      The issues in Cowlitz are a little different than out on the coast, but there are a lot of similarities, and as it kind of represents the intersection of rural WA with the I-5 corridor, it ends up being pretty emblematic of how D's are doing statewide.  Thus, you have Gregoire in a virtual tie in a county that Murray carried handily (Gregoire also runs behind Kerry, but if I remember correctly, Gore's margin was rather better).

      The imperative issue for any candidate to handle in this area is the massive unemployment caused by the downfall of the resource extraction economy.  Voters here do tend to get caught up in anti-environmentalism (I very much disagree that environmental regulation is to blame, but I can understand their reasoning), but there's another thread D's need to hammer to defuse this potential R issue: anti-corporatism.

      Let me explain part of the situation in Cowlitz County.  During the power crisis, the BPA offered to pay aluminum smelters to shut down temporarily (it was locked into providing power to them, and wanted the capacity back).  Theoretically, this money was supposed to cover salaries for all of the workers until the plant re-opened.  Well, the owner of the plant here (I can't remember its name at the time, since it's been sold so many times in recent years: it was Reynold's, then Alcoa, then Longview Aluminum, then something else...) decided to lay off all the workers, close the plant permanently, pocket the money, and leave town.  Oh, and he was being audited by his brother's firm.

      Our U.S. Rep (Brian Baird) has done a great job working with his constituents on this issue.  He's met repeatedly with the unemployed workers (mostly but not entirely union), listened at length to their concern, and then explained what he's been doing in D.C. to try to get an investigation going, what he's been doing to try to get help for unemployment/training/etc, and what he's working on to bring new jobs to the area.  I know that constituent relations from Congress are different than on the State level, but Gregoire could still learn a thing or two about retail politics from Baird.

      The thing is, this should have been a bread-and-butter issue for Gregoire.  Go down to the closed-down mill sites, say "As AG, I worked hard to protect the citizens of WA from corporate greed. I accomplished A, B, C...  As Gov, I will continue to fight for workers all over the state, and will make my job-creation plan, blah, blah, blah, my top priority".  As many others in this thread have described, she didn't even come and speak to the people.

      She has a second chance, now.  Four years to get out and get to know the people of Washington.  I used to work in Gov. Kulongoski's office in Oregon, and he said from the moment that he entered office, that getting outside of the Valley, and into every part of the State as often as possible was one of his top priorities.  Gregoire needs to set a goal of visiting every County in the State at least once every 3 months.    Whether she serves a second term has a lot to do with whether she has answers for the problems facing every part of the state, but it also has to do with whether she goes and asks questions like "What do you need your state government to do for you?"  And asks them not just in places like Grays Harbor and Cowlitz, but in places like Adams and Benton, Chelan and Okanogan.  I don't know if Gregoire has the skills to make people in all these places consider her "their" governor, too, and not just King's.  But if not, she'd better learn them soon.

      Sorry for the long, rambling post, but hopefully my experiences as a semi-rural Washingtonian are at least slightly enlightening.

      •  thanks! (none)
        I must admit that my urban/Seattle blinders made me wonder how it was that -- considering that she led Rossi in only 8 counties -- among "her" counties were such non-urban/non-trendy ones as Jefferson, Grays Harbor, Pacific, and Cowlitz.  (San Juan may not be urban, but it is trendy.)  To someone who arrived in WA less than four years ago, that observation puzzled me.

        Your post, and those of funkycamper, have been invaluable in widening my perspective.  Hopefully, I'm not alone.

        You're only young once, but you can be immature forever -- Larry Andersen

        by N in Seattle on Tue Dec 28, 2004 at 08:22:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yay, Brian Baird (none)
        I've really been impressed with him.  Glad to hear he's doing a stand-up job for your area.  

        I have the utmost respect for Sid Snyder.  But I also have a lot of respect for Mark Doumit, his replacement as senator.  I think Mark is doing an excellent job.  Of course, he is still building up the gravitas Sid had but I think he's getting there.  Brian Blake, Mark's replacement as state rep from the 19th, is also a real go-getter.  I've been impressed with the way he's thrown himself head-first into his position.  That both Mark and Brian were unopposed in this last election tells me that many out there agree with me.

        But with Brian Hatfield's resignation, we have a new junior representative from the 19th....and he's from your area...Dean, or is it Dave?, Takko.  He's got a lot of experience at the county level so I hope he's able to hit the ground running and maintain the momentum.  It will be interesting to watch.

        Thanks for the info on Cowlitz County.  I am a bit familiar with the alumininum situation and the unemployment but your post clarified a few things.  I agree that unemployment in these rural areas is a key factor.  And I would agree with you that environmentalism isn't the only reason for it.  And, in fact, most of the environmental restrictions are good things.  Even those who have lost their jobs usually think that.  However, that doesn't help put food on the table.  

        I totally agree with your assessments on Gregoire re these issues.  The one and only time she spoke in Grays Harbor, her only discussion about jobs was concerning the Boeing corporate welfare boondoggle.  Nada, zip about our local unemployment and under-employment issues.  This should have been a no-brainer.

        And, yes, not only Gregoire but more state-level politicos need to get into other areas of the state (both red and blue, both rural and the smaller cities) and find out what issues they're concerned about and how they would see them resolved.  Most of us have some pretty good ideas if only someone bothered to listen to us.

        I really appreciate you sharing your insight.

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