Primary Election Notes

The Democrats organize for all the Democratic candidates. Get to know them. 

Interesting fact: On account of State/Federal campaign finance laws “volunteers” paid out of a federal candidate’s campaign coffers aren’t allowed to push local candidates. (That would be a transfer of money, i.e. the “volunteer’s” wages, to the state candidate.) BUT, unpaid volunteers like us are free to talk all we want (First Amendment, you know ;-). The federal candidate’s campaign just can’t advocate or provide literature for state candidates, but as long as we’re unpaid volunteers we can talk by just “putting on our citizen hat” at the doorstep. We’re citizens free to say what we like and our efforts are not considered a contribution in a monetary sense. Phew!

Primary Election Facts to spread around:

1) In every county in Washington State (thank you, Karen Hardy, “Horse Sense-No Bull” Legislative District 7 Senate candidate for pushing Ferry County to join in} the postage for mailing in ballots is pre-paid.

2) You are not required to vote for a candidate in every race to have the votes you do cast counted

3) The sooner you mail in your ballot the sooner the campaigns will know not to pester you. The fact that you voted already is made available within 24-48 hours.

4) Don’t wait until the last day! In rural counties especially you might not get a postmark until the next day and if that happens you won’t be counted!

The Importance of Smiling

Dear Group,

We live in what is nominally a representative democracy. Ideally, we elect people who will best represent our values and convictions. Having met and talked with most of the Democratic candidates in eastern Washington I am convinced every one of them better represents my values than the current crop of Republicans they are challenging. I’ve studied issues to come to this conclusion…but is that the basis upon which I always make my decision for whom to vote, to decide it is time for a change?

Elections are not won on issues alone. For most of us there is not time in a life to study every issue. Elections are won on hope and buzz. Elections are won on engagement. Most of all, elections are won by personal contact. 

Allow me a personal anecdote: Last Sunday Emily and I were remarking on the forest of political yard signs on Spokane’s South Hill. We saw a sign for Dennis Cronin for Judge. I smiled. Then I blinked, shook my head, and asked myself, “Why did I smile?” I don’t know Mr. Cronin. He’s not even on the upcoming August 7 Washington State Primary ballot. (I learned later he is contending for Spokane Superior Court Judge Postion 10 in the November election.) A quick search on the internet reveals nothing splashy. So why did I smile when I saw his sign???

Then I remembered. On Bloomsday I stood with a host of other volunteers near the Courthouse waving a Lisa Brown for Congress sign (something I could not have imagined doing for ANY political candidate two years ago). A block up the race course there was a gaggle of folks waving another candidate’s signs. A smiley woman from the gaggle drifted down toward us and gave us a thumbs up. She was carrying a Cronin sign. I don’t think we exchanged more than a couple of words. I could not identify her in a lineup if my life depended on it, but the smile and the association with Mr. Cronin’s sign stuck somewhere in the depths of my aging memory. I realized that is why I smiled at sign last Sunday—and it is part of the reason I will pay attention and may cast a vote for him in November.

Moral(s)? Even those of us who pride ourselves in researching the issues can be profoundly influenced at times by a face-to-face encounter with a real human being. A friend who equipped her car with a rooftop-mounted Lisa Brown for Congress sign remarked, “I’m a pretty courteous driver anyway, but with this sign I drive with the utmost courtesy and a smile for everyone.”

Sometimes when I go off on a harangue about how McMorris Rodgers doesn’t understand the difference between a hospital’s charge for a service and what it costs the hospital to provide that service, I notice a glaze forming over my listener’s eyes. I mentally back off a step and realize the very fact we’re having a conversation at all is probably more important than the details. 

Canvassing, talking with everyone you know and a lot of people you don’t yet know about the candidates, the elections, and what is important to both of you is the most effective means of winning elections and actually getting to the issues. Even the little things like wearing a Lisa Brown T-shirt to the grocery or to a concert in the park (call Eileen–see the boxed text above) and smiling at everyone whose eye you catch has a ripple effect. Tack on some extra buttons and offer one to anyone who engages you. 

Humanists, liberals, scientists, educators, mainstream Christians, Muslims, Jews, and ivory town intellectuals have been quiet long enough. We’ve sat in our armchairs with our books, read the polls, and shaken our heads in despair. It is time to buzz. It’s time for us to throw off that old dictum that one should not talk politics in “polite company.” Damn it. We ARE polite company and it is well past time to talk!

Keep to the high ground,


Volunteers? Grassroots? Let’s pin that down

Mobile phone screenshot of a job posting on the “Indeed” job search app, captured the evening of July 11th, 2018.

Dear Group,

Looking back at my electronic calendar (a more reliable resource than my memory) I see I have been canvassing, knocking on doors, talking with prospective voters since March of this year. I have volunteered as an unpaid local individual for FUSE, for the Democrats, and for Lisa Brown and her campaign. I know many others similarly offering their efforts and time as local folks knocking on doors, listening to our neighbors and conversing about how we feel and what is important to us. We do so because we’re fed up with the people who say they represent us. We do so because we’re worried and frightened about what we see happening in our country. Two years ago, many of us, myself included, could not have imagined we would be knocking on doors, but here we are. Many of us, including myself, previously self-idenfied as independents, or “fiscal conservatives and social liberals.” Every one of us has other things we’d like to be doing, but we’re knocking on doors because we are personally motivated. It does not get more “grassroots” than this.

Last Thursday one of my readers posted the screen shot I’ve reproduced above. It popped up for her in the “recommended jobs” section in a job search app she uses on her mobile phone. The app is “Indeed.” The job was posted by the Lincoln Strategy Group. Lincoln Strategy Group has an international presence. The Lincoln Strategy Group’s welcome page announces: “We Are Influence.” Take a tour of their site. It will make you cringe. They boast “11 million doors knocked on.” The word “grassroots” is broadly sprinkled. 

Tracking down the job posting finally yielded this “Indeed” webpage. Laughably, the job post is by “Lincoln Personnel – Spokane, WA.” At the bottom of the page they acknowledge Lincoln Personnel LLC is part of Lincoln Strategy Group LLC. The contact phone number, 480-799-7699. That is an Arizona area code. 

Republicans representing Spokane are paying people in a firm in Arizona to answer the phone and screen applicants from anywhere to come to Spokane and pose as “grassroots” for $15/hour to G.O.T.V. (get of the vote) ahead of the August 7 Primary deadline. These hires may be fresh-faced youths, but they are not “grassroots,” they are mercenaries, folks paid to sway votes and public opinion. 

Most of my readers won’t meet one of these hired guns (assuming the Republicans can attract any in the current job market). These paid canvassers will use a mobile phone app that sends them mostly to doors of folks thought to be sympathetic Republicans. What you can do, however, is to suggest to anyone who will listen that the first question to ask a canvasser is, “Are you paid to knock on doors?” The response might be an interesting story…

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. The  “Indeed” webpage offers other details. Folks hired as mercenary canvassers get “$15/hr w/ gas stipend.” In exchange for the $15/hour the employee is required to provide their own “reliable transportation” (no mileage allowance, just the “gas stipend”) and their own smartphone on which they are willing to download a GPS enabled app. I suppose these extra requirements (and the fact this employment offers no benefit package) are sufficient in the Republican universe to justify the princely wage of $15/hr.

P.P.S. A friend notes there is a call out among sympathetic folks to provide housing for this paid cadre of out of area canvassers while they are here posing as our local grassroots. Any money they manage to save will likely not be spent in eastern Washington, nor will the Lincoln Personnel’s hiring fee be spent here. 

P.P.P.S. Remember Fox News and various Republicans around the time of Trump’s inauguration accusing protesters of being paid for by George Soros, of being bused in by paid organizers for the purpose of making trouble? How does that lie stack up against using an influence peddling business to hire mercenaries? 


Ferry County Electoral Hijinks

Dear Group,

Republican hijinks in Ferry County, right here in Washington State’s U.S. Congressional District 5.

Here is the source:

Click that link. It’s worth the time to read it. Karen Hardy, the whistle-blower in this tale is a force to be reckoned with. Her campaign motto is “Horse Sense–No Bull.” She is running for the State Legislative District 7 Senate seat. LD7 is contained entirely within Washington State’s U.S. Congressional District 5, site of the Lisa Brown/McMorris Rodgers race, so this act of voter suppression could affect the outcome for all of eastern Washington.

Ferry County is the northwestern-most of the counties in Congressional District 5, just west of Stevens County, McMorris Rodgers’ political place of origin. Government there has been in Republican hands for a long time. Probably thanks to some earlier gerrymandering, the Colville Reservation is split between Congressional District 5 (in Ferry County) and Congressional District 4’s Okanogan County to the west. There is no ballot dropbox on the Colville Reservation. What follows is, in my mind, a blatant effort at voter suppression very, very thinly veiled in a County Auditor’s claim to be “a good steward of the tax payers money.” If this isn’t recall-level incompetence then it is surely Republican ballot box bullshit.

This year Washington state is paying for return ballot postage for our Aug. 7 Primary Election, which means that voters will no longer have to put their own stamps on their ballots, making it easier for more people to vote. However, the Ferry County auditor has announced that she’s declining state funds to pay for postage, which means that every county in Washington will provide pre-paid ballot return postage *except* Ferry County.

The auditor’s decision particularly hurts Colville Tribal members, since half of the Colville reservation is in Ferry County and there is no ballot deposit box on tribal land.

Voters in Ferry County should have the same access as everyone else. Contact Ferry County Auditor Dianna Galvan and tell her that Ferry County should accept state funds for pre-paid postage like every other county -> 509-775-5225 ext. 2500.

Keep to the high ground…and this is some pretty high ground,


P.S. We used to trust the checks and balances of government to take care of this sort of thing. I’m done with that. Part of Indivisible’s mission as I see it is to activate citizens to pay attention and, by raising their voices to call out this kind of behavior, and nip it in the bud.

Follow up 7/18/18 on the Ferry County ballot postage controversy from yesterday. From one of my readers:

I got through to Ferry County Auditor Dianna Galvin about Ferry County’s initial refusal to put a pre-paid envelope to return our ballots for the primary elections in August.  Ms Galvin was so flooded with phone calls this morning from Ferry County constituents (as a result of the Spokesman Review article) that she and Commissioner Nathan Davis were able to solve the problem. So now, Ferry County voters – all of them, even those on the Res, will be able to mail in their ballots without having to purchase a stamp. They have also put 4 more ballot boxes out in Ferry County (2 on the Res) to make it easier for voters. We called, they listened. That is how DEMOCRACY is supposed to work! Woohoo!

I think the kudos here go to Karen Hardy, the Democratic candidate for the LD7 Senate seat “Horse Sense–No Bull.” Ms. Galvin’s ill-considered action might have significantly affected the Primary vote count. Karen Hardy put out a press release, the Independent picked it up and social media and citizen networks amplified it. The Spokesman review picked it up from there, but it was Karen Hardy who started it.


New Phase. G.O.T.V.! Huh?

Dear Group,

The Trump minority election was a wake-up call. We have shown up at marches and protests, the Women’s March, the March for Science, the protests over family separation. Many of us have taken a new interest in the people who represent (or pretend to represent) us in Washington, D.C., Olympia, and our local city and county offices. We spent a little time to orient ourselves in the political landscape. We understand the folks who claim to represent us in public office need to earn our deference, not assume it. Election alone does not justify an official as possessing special knowledge or even as being especially qualified for the role assumed. They are people more or less like the rest of us, people with backgrounds, education, values, and beliefs that bear on who they are and how they function. We understand physical stature and team labelling are not a substitute for in-depth understanding and ability to listen and to integrate what is heard.

Many of you have signed up as volunteers for one or several causes and political campaigns. Many of you have volunteered with Lisa Brown’s campaign to unseat McMorris Rodgers. Many of you have engaged in post card writing and phone banking. Some of you have swallowed hard, gone canvassing, and learned you can knock on doors. You have learned it is fun, rewarding, and educational to have a conversation with the people who answer those doors. 

Now we are entering that season when the rubber meet the road. Ballots for the Primary election in Washington State will appear in mailboxes late this week. The deadline for turning them in is Tuesday, August 7th. The number of ballots turned in for the Primaries are going to send a powerful message. Are the voters paying new attention to the local scene? Engagement in the political process, paying attention to the candidates on the ballot, orienting oneself in the political landscape, and keeping up the buzz have never been more important. 

The effort moves into a new phase: “G.O.T.V.” Huh? I had to ask… It means “Get Out the Vote.” Not only are those letters confusing alphabet soup, but in Washington State, with our mail-in or drop-off ballots, they don’t even accurately describe the process. 

This Wednesday evening, July 18th, from 6-8PM at Lisa Brown’s field office (1507 E Sprague Ave, Spokane, WA 99202) join us for “Spokane G.O.T.V. canvassing training.” Sign up here: Come on down. Join the effort. Meet nice people. See what you can do to help. 

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. A joke on me: Anyone who has lived in Spokane for decades like I have has a slightly seedy image pop up in response to the words “east Sprague.” It is time for a mind frame reset. The street and traffic have been pleasantly re-arranged and store fronts re-vamped. It’s a welcoming place to visit. In fact, for me, one of the great things about this whole political experience I’ve had is that I have gotten out in my home town and reset a lot of old mental images. The mental image associated with east Sprague is one of them.

CMR and “Hearing Protection”

Dear Group,

On May 29th at Green Bluff McMorris Rodgers assured us, “I’m definitely going to take a look again.” She also said, “…with everything going on I tend to think that this is…that now is not the right time.” She was answering a question about her co-sponsorship of H.R. 367, The Hearing Protection Act, a bill that should be named the “Gun Muffler and Silencer De-Regulation Act of 2017,” (if truth in advertising were required of legislation). H.R. 367’s sole purpose is to repeal the part of the National Firearms Act of 1934 that regulates gun silencers. I quoted the Green Bluff encounter and covered the background in CMR’s Devotion to NRA Messaging.

I marked my calendar. Six weeks have passed. McMorris Rodgers is still a co-sponsor. She signed on as a co-sponsor March 27, 2017. She must think the name of the bill gives her enough cover so folks will assume this is a medical issue, not a gun issue. Has she “looked,” as she promised? We cannot know. If she didn’t, then she simply blew us off. If she did look, she must have calculated her NRA base, people who know exactly what this bill does, is paying more attention than the rest of us will. She hides behind the benign, Orwellian bill name: The Hearing Protection Act.

She is happy to make weapons of war potentially more deadly by deregulating silencers at the same time she is offering “thoughts and prayers,” talking about making schools into armed camps, and suggesting students need to be more proactive in reporting odd behavior among fellow students.

This is the same woman who voted for the H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, another NRA darling bill, which would allow people from less regulated states (like Idaho) to carry a concealed weapon on the streets of Spokane. (See CMR’s “Courageous Conversations”)

She even uttered a few sentences about federally outlawing “bump stocks,” the assault rifle add-ons that increase the rate of fire of a semi-automatic weapon to nearly that of a machine gun. Has anything come of her comments? Not a thing. McMorris Rodgers and the NRA are persistent, they assume we’ve moved on, that we’ve forgotten.

McMorris Rodgers is the same woman whose Spokane County Republican Chairwoman, Stephanie Cate, promised the Spokesman the Republicans would not auction off an “AR-15” at their Lincoln Day fundraiser on June 2nd at which McMorris Rodgers spoke (along with Jason Chaffetz). Then they auction off an AR-15 knockoff assault rifle anyway. McMorris Rodgers didn’t blink…and the local media ignored it. (See CMR and the Clandestine Assault Rifle Auction)

Apparently, the status quo of assault weapon ownership and minimalist regulation in the United States isn’t enough for McMorris Rodgers. She is actively working to make firearms more prevalent, available, and less easy to detect in a crisis situation. 

Like me, Lisa Brown grew up in Mid-western gun culture. It is time to elect a Representative with an open mind, who understands guns are part of our culture, but also won’t lie to us with legislation like “The Hearing Protection Act.” Lisa Brown will offer common sense around this issue…and many other issues. Remember that as you mark your ballot for August 7 and November 6. 

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. McMorris Rodgers has often championed “States’ Rights.” Take not H.R. 367 is written to pre-empt all state regulation around silencers. I guess states rights must be limited when it comes to gun regulation…

Primaries Coming! Civics Info

Dear Group,

Just one month, four weeks, from today we’ll be hearing the early results of the Washington State Primary Elections. The deadline to turn in your ballot is August 7th. Ballots will come out in the mail in the next couple weeks. Watch for them. Alert your friends and neighbors. Do your homework.

Before I dive into the election weeds, here are two take home messages to internalize and talk up:

1) Little known fact: A properly turned in ballot is counted even if the voter casts a vote in just one of the contests. Spread the word. It is good and laudable to become informed about every race, but don’t let that daunting task keep you from casting a ballot in those races with which you are familiar. Don’t let procrastination, denial, or fear of homework rob you of your only voice over how you are governed.

2) This year for the first time in Washington State you can mail in your ballot without searching for a stamp! Gone are the excuses: “I can’t find a stamp. I don’t use mail anymore and I can’t make it to one of the ballot drop offs.” Without a stamp you can just put your filled out ballot in your home mailbox for the mailperson and it will get counted! 

Every vote might count. A vote not cast is a voice wasted. Do not listen to the polls and then not vote because you’re either discouraged or over-confident. Polls can become self-fulfilling prophecy—and prophecy is false comfort. The control of the government of the state of Virginia rested on a coin toss last fall. Never forget that. Elections are very close more often than you might think. There will be come real squeakers this year as Democratic enthusiasm bumps into Republican money.

A Republican/Libertarian election tool is discouragement: “They’re all the same. Nothing will ever change. My vote doesn’t count. Why bother?” Don’t succumb to it. 

So why is primary election participation important?

The rate of ballot turn-in for the midterm election (i.e. the election in the middle of the presidential four year term) is low and getting lower. In Spokane County the percentage of registered voters who actually turned in a ballot were 43 in 2010, and 35 in 3014. The midterm general election turn-in percentages were 71 in 2010 and 56 in 2014. not exactly stellar either. (Take note 2010 was the year of the Fox News, Koch brother stoked Tea Party “wave” election and it still generated a primary ballot turn in rate of only 43%.)

In Washington State low primary ballot turn-in can have dire consequences. We have the same primary system as California. The two top vote getters, regardless of their political party, go on to the general election. (The national news media referred to this as a “jungle” primary in California and seemed only vaguely aware we have the same system in Washington State.) Thirty-five percent voter participation (as in 2014) means a minority of a minority picks the second candidate to be elevated to the general election. If you don’t vote in the primaries you cannot complain if candidates you’re faced with in November both make you gag. 

So here’s the start of your homework: Go to Click the Voter’s Guide. Based on your name and birthday it connects you with those candidates for whom you get to cast a ballot based on your voting address of record. Search for Maria Cantwell’s name among the roughly twenty-primary candidates running for the 6 year term in the U.S. Senate in which she is the incumbent. Yikes! (Hint: it’s seventh from the top.) Note the incumbents are NOT labelled as such. If you want to keep your incumbent you’re going to need to know who they are. Click on the names for a short bio and statement on each of the candidates. 

Being the mobile society we are many of your social contacts (at work, for example) might well be voting on different candidates than those in your home districts. That’s particularly true of State legislative districts and county officials. Many of these areas overlap and slice and dice the map differently. Visit the “References” section below for links to interactive maps that can help you out with some of that. 

I will try in the next week or so to offer my impressions of some of the candidates I’ve met.

Remember today’s take-home: 1) You don’t need a stamp to mail in your ballot and 2) You don’t have to cast a vote in every contest for your other votes to be counted. 

Then start doing your homework! 🙂 Talk to your friends, neighbors, and co-workers about what you find.

Keep to the high ground,