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Midday Scan: Washington's surprising gun-toting frenzy

Who knew? Washingtonians are three times more likely to carry a concealed weapon than Texans. In other news, the Herald looks at which lawmakers are playing hooky the most and Joel Connelly rebuffs endorsements ... through his own endorsement.

Rob McKenna

Rob McKenna Office of Attorney General

In the American West, the gun issue has a chilling effect on political discourse. It's life, liberty, and Smith & Wesson. (Because Midday Scan's timorous author fears the gun-toting masses, he will not quibble with the Second Amendment.) So how do the peaceable denizens of the Pacific Northwest respond to a spate of gun-related deaths? By racing out to the gun store, of course. It's Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia meets High Noon.  

"In March and so far in April, more people have gotten concealed-pistol permits than ever," the Seattle Times' Danny Westneat writes. "It's part of an extraordinary 'arming up' of this state that began a few years ago and only seems to be escalating. Since 2009, the number of people licensed to carry here has jumped more than 50 percent, to about 360,000. Now one in 14 Washington adults is legal to pack concealed heat — nearly triple the rate of the gunslinger state of Texas." Any chance these "armed up" Northwesterners will support trigger locks or mandatory gun-safety training? No. (Gun toters, forgive Midday Scan for even raising the issue. He wants to be your friend. Seriously.)   

Litmus-test politics can be as dull as it is soul deadening. Here's your script, don't stray or express your own opinion. It's a lock-step MO that hampers creative leadership, and it's alive and well in one-party Seattle. The Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly writes, "Endorsements are the big deal for local political junkies right now. What's required — in a one-party city — is passing an ideological litmus test and possessing the iron butt needed to endure hours-long meetings with multiple points-of-order. What should make non-junkies uncomfortable is how disconnected this courtship of activists is to the real life challenge of governing."

Connelly focuses on the competitive 36th legislative-district race to replace retiring Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson. The out-liberaling the next candidate by sucking up to in-favor interest groups makes the contest sound like a 21st Century version of Eric Hoffer's The True Believer.  Connelly spotlights one current exception. "We need a highly regarded candidate(s) who won't play pander bear, but take his/her case directly to the voters.  Sgt. John Urquhart, running for King County Sheriff, did just that Tuesday in saying he will not seek endorsement from the guild that represents sheriffs deputies. If elected, he'll have to negotiate contracts," Connelly writes. 

Is an attendance record an instructive gauge of a lawmaker's political worth? As Woody Allen said, "ninety percent of life is just showing up," so perhaps so. With this in mind, the Herald's Jerry Cornfield digs into a report produced by Washingtonvotes.org that reviews bills and skipped votes by state legislators. As Cornfield notes, playing hooky is a bipartisan affair. 

"Rep. Glenn Anderson, R-Fall City, led both chambers with 95 missed votes followed by Sen. Cheryl Pflug, R-Maple Valley, with 64," Cornfield writes. "Sen. Val Stevens, R-Arlington, missed 56 votes, including the final ones during the last night of the special session. That was the largest number of the 21 lawmakers who represent part of Snohomish or Island counties. Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, missed 50 votes, followed by Rep. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell, with 41 and Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, with 30." There were also some sqeaky clean, didn't-miss-one-vote types from Snohomish and Island counties: "Republican Reps. Barbara Bailey of Oak Harbor, Norma Smith of Clinton, Kirk Pearson of Monroe and Dan Kristiansen of Snohomish, and Democrats Ruth Kagi of Lake Forest Park, John McCoy of Tulalip, Mike Sells of Everett and Hans Dunshee of Snohomish."  

Imagine Rob McKenna as President of Evergreen State. How does a law-and-order Attorney General transition to the helm of a, well, free-spirited campus? We'll know soon enough, as Oregon's young Attorney General John Kroger leaves office early to head that bastion of Bohemia, Reed College. (Fear not, Reedies. Kroger is probably not a narc.)

"Putting a former U.S. Marine and prosecutor of mafia killers in charge of a private Portland liberal arts college may seem like an odd fit," the Oregonian's Bill Graves writes. "But the committee that chose Oregon Attorney General John Kroger as president of Reed College, announced Tuesday, says it makes sense. When Kroger wasn't slugging it out with thugs and thieves, he was studying philosophy at Yale University and teaching at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland." 


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