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Crosscut writers’ guide to 2012 election reading

Exercising the franchise in Magnuson Park. Credit: King County Elections

See something we missed? Think we're being biased? We strive for balance, but we hope this will be a living guide to reading about the 2012 election and we encourage you, our readers, to contribute articles and recommendations of your own. Please comment below with 1. The headline of the article, 2. A link to the article, 3. The reason you're recommending it. We'll take care of the rest. As always, personal attacks, profanity and racial/ethnic slurs will be deleted.

State Measures:

Initiative Measure No. 1185

What the state voters' guide says: Concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government. This measure would restate existing statutory requirements that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majorities or receive voter approval, and that new or increased fees require majority legislative approval.

"It's Tim Eyman vs. the founding fathers" (Danny Westneat, Seattle Times)
Knute Berger: "A fascinating 'originalist' look at what the state's founders meant when they talked about what a 'majority' was, in the context of whether the two-thirds rule is constitutional."
"I-1185: Buying Minority Rule in Washington" (Eric de Place, Sightline)
Knute Berger: "Who's paying to get I-1185 passed? Here's an early look at where the money's coming from."
"Support Initiative 1185, the two-thirds-vote-for-taxes rule" (Seattle Times)
Knute Berger: "The Seattle Times' endorsement of I-1185."
"Vote no on Eyman's I-1185" (Everett Herald)
Knute Berger: "The Everett Herald editorial reported to have enraged Tim Eyman, who blamed the newspaper's change of heart on Scoop Jackson's son."

Initiative Measure No. 1240

What the state voters' guide says: Concerns creation of a public charter school system. This measure would authorize up to forty publicly-funded charter schools open to all students, operated through approved, nonreligious, nonprofit organizations, with government oversight; and modify certain laws applicable to them as public schools.

"Oregon's example: Charter schools ‘part of fabric' of education system," (Debbie Cafazzo, The News Tribune)

Alison Krupnick: "Some of the most balanced and nuanced reporting on charter schools has come from the Tacoma News Tribune.  Are charter schools an important tool that should be added to our state's educational toolbox or a distraction from the need for widespread improvements to the system?"

Initiative 1240: Charting a new course in Washington?” (Debbie Cafazzo, The News Tribune)

Joe Copeland: "An excellent, balanced exploration of varying perspectives on the proposal for charter schools in the state by The News Tribune’s education reporter. There’s good insight into the thinking of Tacoma leaders on both sides of the issue."

Charter schools,” (Education Week)

Joe Copeland: The national education publication has a quick but fairly comprehensive background article on the national research and debate about charter schools, which is occasionally updated (most recently in 2011, however). It outlines the main areas of contention about charters’ performance and value.

Referendum Measure No. 74

​What the state voters' guide says: This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.

"Gay marriage issue brings businesses off the sidelines," (Puget Sound Business Journal)

Berit Anderson: "The most balanced look I've seen at business involvement in the issue: Microsoft, Amazon, Nordstrom and Starbucks vote yes; most businesses who donate to the anti-campaign are afraid to speak out against gay marriage, for fear of public backlash, including one Capitol Hill property management company that donated $20,000 in July.'"

"Op-ed: Vote against Referendum 74, which redefines marriage," (Joseph Backholm, Seattle Times)

Berit Anderson: "Marriage isn't about civil rights, Backholm argues, but about binding a child to its mother and father."  

"What Is Wrong with You People?" (Christopher Frizzelle, The Stranger)

Berit Anderson: "Fascinating look at two straight chicks in law school, who hit the gay bars trying to register voters, and find a whole wallop of gays who aren't registered to vote/ don't support gay marriage/ don't know what Referendum 74 is."

"More community leaders supporting Referendum 74," (Seattle Times)

Berit Anderson: "The Times editorial board helpfully convenes a list of state papers that have endorsed the measure (there are seven so far), including eastern Washington's Spokesman-Review (Spokane) and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. Oh, and that one Catholic guy, Kent Hickey, who runs Seattle Prep." 

Initiative Measure No. 502

​What the state voters' guide says: Concerns marijuana. This measure would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over twenty-one; remove state-law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues.

"Pot Activists vs. Pot Activists," (Dominic Holden, The Stranger)

John Stang: I-502 has split the pro-marijuana community. Holden explains why. 

"Lively debate over I-502, the marijuana measure, draws big crowd at the UW," (Jonathon Martin, Seattle Times)

John Stang: The Times covers a public debate, which focused on the bill's no-tolerance DUI provision.  

"Medical Marijuana: 'Medibles' industry thrives, lacks safety regulations," (Jonathon Martin, Seattle Times)

John Stang: Brownies …mmmmmm. The Seattle Times digs into the lack of regulations surrounding edible marijuana products. 

"Little organized opposition to marijuana-legalization initiative," (Jonathon Martin, Seattle Times)

Berit Anderson: In the marijuana legalization race, there is little organized opposition against a campaign that spent $700,000 on a recent TV ad buy. 

"Op-ed: Don't legalize marijuana. It's addictive," (Robert Dupont and Andrea Barthwell, Seattle Times)

Berit Anderson: "Two former federal drug administrators argue for the addictive nature of marijuana: 'many baby boomers got marijuana wrong, and they’ve passed their denial of marijuana’s dangers on to their children.'"

Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution No. 8221​

What the state voters' guide says: This amendment would, starting July 1, 2014, phase-down the debt limit percentage in three steps from nine to eight percent and modify the calculation date, calculation period, and the term general state revenues.

Vote yes on SJR 8221” (The Herald of Everett

Joe Copeland: "The paper gives good background on the constitutional amendment that would gradually reduce the amount of state debt. The paper notes that the broad bipartisan support for the measure in the Legislature and cites the ability to reduce the burden on taxpayers and state services from debt repayments."

Reject 8221,” (Publicola)

Joe Copeland: "The progressive daily political web site, now a part of SeattleMet, writes that a higher debt limit has the effect of freeing up more money for social services."

Senate Joint Resolution No. 8223

​What the state voters' guide says: This amendment would create an exception to constitutional restrictions on investing public funds by allowing these universities to invest specified public funds as authorized by the legislature, including in private companies or stock.

Approve SJR 8223, lift limits on UW, WSU investments,” (Seattle Times)

Joe Copeland: "The measure would allow more flexibility for the University of Washington and Washington State University in investing some of their research grant, patient revenues, and fees. The paper praises the schools’ record of investments with endowments and private funds and stresses that the handling of tuition funds would not be affected. A guest editorial in The Kitsap Sun gave the opponents’ view." 


Jay Inslee (Prefers Democratic Party)
Rob McKenna (Prefers Republican Party)

"How Inslee, McKenna differ on job creation" (John Stang, Crosscut)
Knute Berger: "A great look at the economic differences of the two candidates."
"Rob McKenna for governor" (Seattle Times)
Knute Berger: "Here's the Times' first endorsement of McKenna. They think he'll 'right-size' government and keep us from becoming the new California."
"Rob McKenna finds a path to Obama voters" (Knute Berger, Crosscut)
Knute Berger: "Polls indicate there will be lost of Obama-McKenna voters in Washington, and here are some thoughts about why."
"Rob McKenna: Gangnam Style" (You Tube)
Knute Berger: The McKenna video that went viral and embarrassed his kids. If he wins, I expect "Baby Got Back" for the inaugural ball.
"Why did McKenna fall behind in governor's race?" (Bob Roegner, Federal Way Mirror)
Knute Berger: "A political veteran plots the summer Inslee surge. It was the primary, stupid!"

Lt. Governor
Brad Owen (Prefers Democratic Party)
Bill Finkbeiner (Prefers Republican Party)

"Do any kids want to grow up to be lieutenant governor?" (Peter Callagahan, Tacoma News Tribune)

Knute Berger: "It's an office we don't need, and nobody aspires to, but once in, you never want to leave."

"Lobbyists, staff aided Lt. Gov. Owen's nonprofit" (Seattle Times)
Knute Berger: "Owen has some ethics baggage. It shows a public official can get in trouble in any office, however innocuous it might seem."
"State watchdog says Owen violated campaign laws" (Seattle Times)
Knute Berger: "Yes, more mischief, more hand-slapping."
"Our choice for lieutenant governor: Brad Owen" (Tacoma News Tribune)
Knute Berger: "Despite ethics glitches, the TNT still likes Owen. He's capable and a high-energy anti-drug rock musician."
"Democratic Rep. Backs Republican for Lt. governor" (Seattle P-I blog)
Knute Berger: "Not all Dems are on the Owen bandwagon. Seattle state Rep. Reuven Carlyle breaks ranks."
"Finkbeiner will bring fresh ideas" (Daily Olympian)
Knute Berger: "The challenger, who served in the legislature as both a GOP and a Dem, wants to shake up the office."
"Elect Bill Finkbeiner" (Everett Herald)
Knute Berger: "The Herald backs Finkbeiner, and doesn't like Owen's dis of former Lt. Gov and good-guy bipartisan, Joel Pritchard."

Secretary of State
Kim Wyman (Prefers Republican Party)
Kathleen Drew (Prefers Democratic Party)

"Washington state Secretary of state candidates, Wyman, Drew, spar over experience, ideas," (Chris Grygiel, AP) 

Berit Anderson: "Wyman and Drew face off over a few key differences: Wyman, a Republican, wants to modernize the voting process, whereas Drew, a Democrat, wants to focus on registering more Washington youth to vote, both through pre-registration and day-of voter registration."

"Wyman is better of two capable candidates for secretary of state," (Yakima Herald-Republic) 

Berit Anderson: "The Herald-Republic's endorsement of Wyman: 'We favor Wyman’s administrative experience with elections, her record of fairness, a sense that she is the more nonpartisan candiate and her priorities for the office. Drew, on the other hand, has been endorsed by a slew of Dems, including Gov. Gregoire.

Surprisingly, few Seattle papers have jumped into the endorsement ring on this race: No ST endorsement, no Herald endorsement and no Tacoma News Tribune endorsement. The Stranger, however, endorses Drew.'"

State Treasurer
Jim McIntire (Prefers Democratic Party)
Sharon Hanek (Prefers Republican Party)


Jim McIntire deserves another four years,” (Yakima Herald-Republic)

Joe Copeland: "The Yakima paper’s endorsement (which mirrors most daily papers’ stand on the race)  supports McIntire, the Democratic state Treasurer, for strong performance in hard economic times and his knowledge of state finances and government."

Election endorsements,” (Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal)

Joe Copeland: "In a round-up of election races, the paper endorsed Republican challenger Sharon Hanek, citing her background as a certified public accountant and saying McIntire had brought “little to the table” when first elected four years ago."

Bonney Lake mom on ballot after write-in campaign,” (Brad Shannon, The News Tribune)

Joe Copeland: "The state Treasurer’s race almost had only candidate listed on the ballot – incumbent McIntire – but a Hanek, a Pierce County Republican, mounted an improbably successful write-in campaign. Shannon interviewed her about how she did it. Other than editorial page endorsements, there’s been remarkably little coverage of the race, even for one in which the political assumption is that McIntire will win easily."

State Auditor

James Watkins (Prefers Republican Party)
Troy Kelley (Prefers Democratic Party)

"Washington state auditor's race turns hostile," (Associated Press)

Berit Anderson: "Mud-slinging all around: Kelley accuses Watkins of lacking experience, Watkins comes right back at him with a heaping glob of 'What about those past lawsuits of yours for tax evasion and theft?'" 

"Wash. state auditor candidate wired millions to Belize" (Austin Jenkins, KPLU)

Knute Berger: "The auditor has to be able to follow the money, I suppose, but this story about Kelley's background is an eyebrow-raiser."

Attorney General
Bob Ferguson (Prefers Democratic Party)
Reagan Dunn (Prefers Republican Party)

"Attorney general's race: Republican Dunn carves his own path," (Bob Young, Seattle Times)

"Attorney general's race: Democrat Ferguson is striving and driving," (Bob Young, Seattle Times)

Berit Anderson: "A strong pair of profiles of Washington's two AG candidates, both King County council members together. Dunn is painted as a hardworking, amiable politician, who's been helped along by his recently deceased mother's strong political reputation; Reagan a chess whiz turned hard-driving, thorough, nose-to-the-grindstone politician, who gets what he wants."

"Truth Needle: Ferguson's claims about Dunn are mostly right," (Bob Young, Seattle Times) 

Berit Anderson: "A Ferguson ad claimed Dunn overspent his county budget and splurged on fancy rugs and vacations using taxpayer money. The Times found that while Dunn did indeed buy a fancy rug and use taxpayer money to fund a trade trip to Australia with other elected officials, he consistently came in well under budget on all years except one. However, he did have a bit of a truancy problem in King County Council, missing 491 votes to Ferguson's 245." 

Commissioner of Public Lands
Peter J. Goldmark (Prefers Democratic Party)
Clint Didier (Prefers Republican Party)

So you're not really sure what a lands commissioner does? Heck, we had to look it up ourselves. It turns out he or she is in charge of the Washington Department of Natural Rsources, which manages state trust lands, used for timber, farming, grazing, and other commercial purposes. These lands are used to raise money for schools, colleges and some city services. 

"GOP's Didier jumps in to challenge Lands Commissioner Goldmark," (AP)

John Stang: "Here's the Associated Press on Didier jumping into the lands commissioner race."

"Clint Didier, Tea Party Candidate, Goes After Lands Commissioner with U.N. Paranoia," (Nina Shapiro, Seattle Weekly)

John Stang: "Here's the Seattle Weekly on Didier's claim that Goldmark is a not-so-secret agent for the United Nations."

"No punches held in race for Public Lands Commissioner," (King 5 News)

John Stang: "Goldmark and Didier talk smack about each other."

"Retain Lands Commissioner Goldmark," (Yakima Herald-Republic)

John Stang: "After interviewing both candidates, the Yakima Herald-Republic's editorial board picks Goldmark."

Superintendent of Public Instruction
Randy I. Dorn

Insurance Commissioner
Mike Kreidler (Prefers Democratic Party)
John R. Adams (Prefers Republican Party)

Video: "Inside Olympia", (TVW)

John Stang: "KPLU's Austin Jenkins has Adams and Kreidler going mano a mano on TVW." 

"Candidates for state insurance commissioner find common ground," (Molly Rosbach, Yakima Herald-Republic) 

John Stang: "Here Kreidler and Adams duel for the Yakima Herald-Republic."

"Return Mike Kreidler for Insurance Commissioner," (Tri-City Herald)

John Stang: "The Tri-City Herald editorial board says, 'We like Mike.'"

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