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Predictions for a jittery 2013

The age of anxiety continues in local politics and our economy. Here are some guesses on how elections and key institutions will play out in the new year.
A crystal ball, at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C.

A crystal ball, at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C. Scott Kublin/Flickr

Looking to 2013, Seattle’s animal spirits are pretty high. Amazon is booming, basketball may be headed back (to lift the civic soul), and the Seattle-area economy and lifestyle remain a magnet for talent.

Maybe. I see however a jittery year: defense cuts, a fiscal cliff that remains in play for most of the year, political impasses on big issues in both D.C. and Olympia. My forecast for the year is mostly cloudy. In the categories below I offer multiple predictions, in declining order of plausibility.

Olympia and Gov. Jay Inslee. Most likely 2013 will be a year like the early part of Inslee’s campaign: confusion, staffing weaknesses, a Congressman-like penchant for catchy issues of the day that don’t cost real dollars, such as green economy, grandstanding for transit as opposed to roads, innovation schools to fend off real K-12 reform. A steep-learning-curve governor would leave the major strategy to Speaker Frank Chopp. That translates into spending on the social safety net, health care, and K-12, and putting off funding for transportation and higher ed.

A second scenario is a centrist  comeback. The politics of centrist solutions may have done poorly in the 2012 election, but the Rodney Tom-led coalition in the Senate, if it holds together, could change the dynamics. Should the economy flatten, that would empower a business agenda (transportation, lower costs of doing business in the state, education reform), and centrist Democratic challengers to Inslee in 2016 could start to emerge.

The third (and least likely) scenario is one where Inslee decides to become a reformer, not the conventional, constituency-serving Democrat of his past history. This would involve Inslee forming a strange-bedfellows alliance with Sen. Tom, in a pro-growth, low-taxes, improved-business-climate strategy that lines up against Speaker Frank Chopp and the Ed-Murray-led Senate Democrats. Unlikely, but Inslee likes to defy expectations.

Seattle mayor’s race. The most likely outcome is a repeat of 2009, when the battered incumbent mayor is squeezed out by two non-city-hall candidates with a base of supporters and good campaign presence — Peter Steinbrueck (social services and neighborhoods) and Ed Murray (gays and unions). I'd expect Steinbrueck, with his broader, citywide base, to win the general.

Second most likely is that Councilmember Tim Burgess consolidates his support among City Hall insiders, business, and moderates, brooming up dollars and name supporters early enough to emerge as the front runner. His harder challenge, as a moderate, is to win the general election against a Great Liberal Hope. His main pitch: time to have somebody who can run City Hall professionally and prudently.

Third possibility is that McGinn does well in a crowded primary, picks up momentum, and positions himself as an incumbent who has learned the job, rewarded his constituencies, and has a now-pleasing mixture of maverick courage (as with the Sonics arena) and genial openness. He could be the "just-right" candidate, defining Murray as too volatile, Burgess as too conservative, and Steinbrueck as too old Seattle. However, McGinn's key constituencies of young people and minorities may have lost their ardor, since his 2009 race drew on the energies of the great Obama movement of 2008.

City and County.  The City Council races won’t be very exciting, overshadowed by the mayor’s contest and with stronger challengers biding their time in hopes of by-district election in 2015. All incumbents (Sally Bagshaw, Mike O’Brien, Nick Licata, and Richard Conlin) are re-elected, as is City Attorney Pete Holmes. Two hot issues, police reform and the Sonics proposal, are  put on hold during a year of Department of Justice oversight and the environmental impact statement on the SoDo Arena. Same with the Waterfront Park, holding its breath that the Big Bore works for the tunnel, and waiting for a mayor who really wants to design a great park (McGinn is tepid about the proposal, suspecting it's an elitist project). The city budget, riding the real estate excise tax bubble and the Amazon economy, maintains its lots-for-everybody philosophy.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Jan 1, 8:10 a.m. Inappropriate

What kind of "wars" does this refer to:

The big county issue will be trying to get more funding for Metro, reigniting the Metro-Sound Transit wars in Olympia. ?

McGinn and Constantine already have said they want the state legislature to give them new motor vehicle fuel taxes and car tab taxes to impose by the city and county this session:

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2012/12/seattle-king-county-and-suburbs-raise-gas-tax-8-cents-raise-car-tab-taxes/

They (or their successors) plan on going back to Olympia to seek the same kinds of taxes for Sound Transit in the 2014 session.

They want new taxes for Metro AND Sound Transit. That's not a "war", it's a dance.

crossrip

Posted Tue, Jan 1, 11:01 a.m. Inappropriate

Here are my Predictions for 2013

http://manywordsforrain.blogspot.com/2012/12/predictions-2013.html?m=0

Mr Baker

Posted Tue, Jan 1, 2:32 p.m. Inappropriate

" enhancing tourism with such things as the new Arena, " I suppose it is, by now, established wisdom that visiting sports teams and entourage do enhance "tourism" in Seattle. Who could argue? lots of high income people traveling around the country stopping in our city periodically. Our high income people travel to other cities and spend money in opponents cities, kind of a Tourism 101; we exchange dollars, buy some fuel and hotel rooms. Tickets, drinks and gas get consumed. Why does this not encourage me? Mr. Brewster does not, of course imply that this is great, fine productive economic activity, just that it is, in a loose definition, economic activity,,, even of the hole-digging, hole-filling variety that probably will generate some tax revenue. Meh.

kieth

Posted Tue, Jan 1, 4:35 p.m. Inappropriate

Brewster's problem is that his guy Peter Steinbrueck would prefer the arena go to the east side where people from other lands would travel to and spend their money.

Spending that money in Seattle vs Bellevue is something Peter will get to explain over the next several months. I'm sure the folks that run businesses the depend on tourism and "night life" activity will be interested in his explanation, he will need one.

Steinbrueck's argument for an Eastside facility during a meeting with King County Council on Tuesday was supplemented by census data. "Sixty percent of the fans are from the Eastside. Most of the growth in [King] County is on the Eastside, far less in Seattle. Most of the traffic will be east-west coming to this new facility. Does it really make sense that it's located in Seattle?" he asked.
http://mynorthwest.com/11/695645/Some-still-eager-for-NBA-arena-on-the-Eastside

He opposes people traveling from the east side into Seattle to spend their money. Kind of a strange thing to advocate for if you want to be the mayor of Seattle.
It's public testimony from Peter that he prefers development in Bellevue.

Mr Baker

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 5:19 p.m. Inappropriate

I'm all for a new mayor with a regional vision, not one that stops at the Seattle City Limits. There's nothing wrong with putting facilities like a basketball arena in that part of the region where most of the fans come from.

Posted Tue, Jan 1, 5:30 p.m. Inappropriate

Other predictions of note:

http://kunstler.com/blog/2012/12/forecast-2013-contraction-contagion-and-contradiction.html

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/11/book-review-the-one-world-schoolhouse/?page=all

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12394824-the-aftershock-investor

More kick the can, or is the seminal year closing in on us?

afreeman

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 11:10 a.m. Inappropriate

David- I have no idea what Jay will, or won't do. But one thing you can count on: NO Democrat will challenge a sitting Governor. No Republican 'moderate' can or will beat him. Dixie is the only exception since 1950. Give up your dream of a 'third' force in Washington politics, at least in the Governors race. It's a 'pipe' dream: as in, what have you been smoking?

Ross Kane
Warm Beach

Ross

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 2:39 p.m. Inappropriate

Any thoughts on who will be appointed to fill Bob Ferguson's seat on the King County Council? He or she will of course have to run again this summer, and, if successful in the primary, this fall.

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 4:26 p.m. Inappropriate

Good question. The D's had Aaron Reardon on the bench as future gubernatorial-candidate material, but that tawdry business with the weightlifter tarnished his brand. They might be looking to put someone on the KCC they think can be groomed for statewide office (AG or governor).

crossrip

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