So, once we come down to state and local elections, I start to run into less information to base decisions on. Part of this is from not watching more tv: one night last week when I watched some local news for a change the commercials were flooded with political ads. And there are a few phone calls, a few flyers, and the occasional radio message.
Still, less information still means enough to make decisions. So here's my thinking for the state level.
SENATOR: Cantwell vs. Baumgartner. Heard a little of a radio debate between these two, and happy to report that both were treating the questions and issues seriously. Cantwell was a great disappointment her first term, too timid to take a principled stand on any of the great issues of the day, but she really came into her own with her second term. Now she's seeking a third, and if she carries on as she is now, she'll be a credit to the state. Which is not to say that Baumgartner might not wind up being a good choice for another office down the road; think he's the best the state Republican party has to offer this election season and that we'll be hearing of him again, and in a good way. The one real red flag re. Baumgartner is his citing Michael Medved's endorsement: I've heard enough of Medved's talk radio show to know that anybody Medved wants elected is someone I definitely shdn't be voting for.
CONGRESSMAN: Adam Smith has done a really good job, being especially strong on environmental (green) issues. His opponent, Postma, wants to cut taxes, pay off the national debt (two contradictory goals), "save" Social Security and Medicare, stop inflation (was not aware inflation was currently much of a problem), make the US run entirely on domestic oil & gas, bring the price of gasoline down to $2.00 a gallon (how, he doesn't say), have full employment, etc. Smith is too defense-spending friendly for my taste, but otherwise his record is good, and I prefer a Congressman living in the real world to one who, like Postma, wants to try to legislate fantasies.
NOTE: Luckily, Reichert's not in my district, so his probable re-election isn't anything I can affect one way or the other.
GOVERNOR: Inslee vs. McKenna. Unfortunately Gregoire, who did a really good job, isn't running for re-election, or she'd get my vote for a third term. Personally McKenna's fairly appealing; he's been working the nerd look really well, with a sort of gosh-wow Bill Gates geekiness. It doesn't surprise me at all to learn he serves on the Boy Scouts area council. Both men have good write-ups, but there are some iffy bits in McKenna's that hint at overly careful phrasing, while Inslee in his supplemental advertising has been pushing support for Green Energy -- a definite plus (Washington state having no oil gas coal but being ideally positioned for wind energy (all that coastline) and solar (all those bright open spaces east of the Cascades). So it's Congressman Inslee over Attorney General McKenna.
LT. GOVERNOR: Owen vs. Finkbeiner. Here's a dilemma. On the one hand, the incumbent (Owen) has iffy bits in his write-up, where he claims credit for things that seem inherently unlikely to fall within a Lt. Gov's purview. And Grubbstreet did a good job highlighting his underwhelming performance in his job so far. On the other, Dino Rossi (the kind of Republican who gives the state Republican party a bad name) endorses the challenger. Janice points out that Mrs. Finkbeiner is really impressive in her own right, as founder of something called MomsRising (check out MomsRising.org). If she were running, she'd get my vote, but voting for him on her behalf is, to me, like voting for Schwartzenegger because he married a Kennedy; too strong a likelihood of voter's remorse a few years down the line. Plus, of course, coming from Arkansas I take Lt. Governors v. seriously; that was how the disaster that was Hucklebee got in. So it's Owen, w. reservations.*
SECRETARY OF STATE: Wyman vs. Drew. Sam Reed, the most highly respected Republican in the state, is stepping down, unfortunately. Both the women running to replace him seem like they'd do a decent job. Of the two, Wyman seems to have the most experience, but Drew's concerns align more with mine (e.g., pledging scrutiny of the initiatives process, promising to fight voter-suppression efforts), so she gets my vote.
STATE TREASURER: McIntire vs. Hanek. Here one candidate (McIntire, the incumbent) is massively more qualified, and the challenger gives a wink to Tax Deadbeats, so this one's easy: McIntire.
STATE AUDITOR: Watkins vs. Kelley. Again, this one is easy: Watkins boasts about his lack of elective experience and his contempt for those who possess it (calling his opponent "a professional politician" is apparently the nastiest label he can think of). He also gives a strong shout-out to the Tax Deadbeats ("Citizens won't allow the legislature to raise taxes" -- excuse me?). Kelley, on the other hand, has a much less dramatic write-up, which nonetheless quietly boasts about how he cut his own pay as a legislature because of the economic downturn -- something I think our legislators, state and national, shd do as a matter of course but seldom do. Less posturing and more leading by example: Kelley.
ATTORNY GENERAL: Ferguson vs. Reagan Dunn. Yes, 'Reagan Dunn' really is named after the president -- the v. thought of wh. makes me feel old, and wonder anew at the cruel things parents do to their children sometimes. Again here we have a clash of styles, w. Dunn boasting of his TOP SECRET security clearance (how is this relevant?) and promising to make Washington "the best place [in the country] to start a small business and the worst place to commit a crime" -- which is a nice line, but exactly how is the first half of that the Attorney General's job? By contrast, Ferguson comes across as calm, confident, and competent. I'll take competence over bombast any day: Ferguson. In addition, Dunn (who's currently on the King County Council) has a nasty habit of absenteeism -- I get the sense that he considers the job of Councilman beneath him, which isn't a good sign -- we want an attorney general who's actually going to show up. And finally, GRUBBSTREET reports that lots of out-of-state money is coming in to run negative ads against Ferguson. So, Ferguson it is.
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC LANDS: Goldmark vs. Didier. An important job that doesn't get much attention, being considerably down-ballot. Goldmark's write-up is all about conservation and sustainable use and renewable resources; Didier's about getting more out of public lands. Didier, who lacks any elective experience, lists as his qualifications being a farmer and football player -- the one of which is relevant, the other not so much. Goldmark is a rancher and volunteer firefighter with advanced degrees is neurobiology and molecular biology. On the surface, both seem acceptable, but I feel a sense of wolf-in-sheep's-clothing in Didier's write-up -- perhaps unfairly, but there it is. So, Goldmark.
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: Dorn (unopposed). No red flags in his write-up, and his emphasis on fighting for more education funding is a good sign. He's unopposed, so let's hope he delivers the goods.
and, last and least, INSURANCE COMMISSIONER: Kreidler vs. Adams. Here I'm getting way out into a low-information zone, but luckily the voter's pamphlet helps. Kreidler, the incumbent, strikes a reasoned tone to convey a sense that he's got this down; we're in good hands with him. Adams says Kreidler's been doing the job too long (eleven years) and that, if elected, he'd use the office to undo ObamaCare as much as possible. Declaring his intention to do his best to sabotage federal law at a state level is an excellent reason why he shd never be elected to this, or any other, position. So, Kreidler.
Next up: state legislature, sheriff, and judgeships, which will wrap things up for this election year.
*oddly enough, one fairly elaborate flyer we got in the mail urges votes for Obama, Inslee, and Ferguson vs. Romney, McKenna, and Reagan Dunn, but makes no mention of Owen.