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Monday, June 23, 2008

Meet the Candidates

posted by on June 23 at 17:34 PM

No, not those candidates. Not those candidates, either. The candidates I’m talking about are John Burbank and Reuven Carlyle, running for the Washington state legislature from Northwest Seattle’s 36th District, which includes Ballard, Magnolia, parts of Phinney and Greenwood, and Interbay. Here’s what it looks like:


Every election season, the city’s district Democratic organizations put candidates through an endorsement process that can only be described as hellish. Interviews are followed by debates in hot church basements and candidate questionnaires that can run to more than a dozen pages. And even after all that, thanks to the Party’s byzantine rules and procedural bylaws, they frequently fail to endorse any candidate at all, and just as often issue a dual endorsement.

Although the results are often a letdown, the questionnaires themselves frequently yield interesting details. (How else would we know, for example, that now-City Council member Tim Burgess supported elements of the PATRIOT Act? Or that Richard McIver challenger Robert Rosencrantz had only “qualified” support for women’s right to choose?) Although the questions tend to be invasive, pointless, and repetitive (Are you a Democrat? Do you support the Democratic Party platform? Have you ever been a member of another party?) the answers can be revealing.

For example:

Asked whether he supported the King County Democrats’ party platform, Carlyle gave a “qualified” response,” adding pointedly, “I do not support creation of a Department of Peace and Nonviolence as the work articulated [in the party platform] is, in fact, the current moral and public obligation of both the Department of State and Department of Defense.”

Asked a similar question about whether he could support his opponent if he didn’t win, Burbank took the opposite approach, accusing Carlyle of being insufficiently Democratic. “My Democratic opponent is opposed to the impeachment of George Bush,” he wrote. “I favor this impeachment, even as his term comes to an end. … It will … cross up [Bush’s] apparent plans for the invasion of Iran.”

Carlyle used the question “Are you a member of another political party?” to overshare—at great, great, great length—about his impoverished upbringing, starting with his toddler years “living outside the care of my single mom who struggled at that time with mental illness.” Snark aside, his story is touching (“I began my first real business with regular customers, mowing lawns, at nine to help my mother keep our family together financially”) and sometimes glamorous (he left home permanently at 15 to become a page for Warren Magnuson?) if a bit overlong.

Burbank wasn’t buying Carlyle’s rags-to-riches story, painting him as a rich, privileged businessman who made “different” life decisions than did Burbank. “He has chosen to work in the private sector to create private and personal wealth while I have chosen to work in the public sector working for the public good and for Democratic ideals,” Burbank wrote.

Carlyle also touched on the fact that even with Democratic majorities in the state house and senate, Democrats in this state continue to vote against their constituents’ interests (failing to protect Maury Island from strip-mining; failing to cap payday loan interest rates; failing to pass a homebuyers’ bill of rights; failing to pass meaningful tax reform). Carlyle, suddenly sounding very Barack Obama, called this “govern[ing] with fear of losing instead of conviction for change.”

Asked whether the government should pay for abortions for poor women, Burbank said yes (as did Carlyle) but went one (perhaps poorly worded) step further: “In fact, I support public funding for abortions for all women.” (Hmm, let’s start with birth control first, shall we?)

Burbank’s campaign theme is reducing inequality, but his solutions tend, by his own admission, toward piecemeal taxes and penalties. For example, in his questionnaire, Burbank said he supports (re-)enacting a special cigarette tax to pay for basic health-care coverage for low-income people, a new hourly payroll tax to fund paid family leave, and the “latte tax” for early childhood education, which he wrote, sponsored, and funded.

Carlyle had some harsh words to say about that tax, which failed 68 to 32 percent. “I support progressive taxes and progressive benefits and strongly resist incremental programs and taxes that do nothing but lose credibility for larger tax reform,” Carlyle wrote.

Responding to criticism of luxury taxes, Burbank wrote: “In the absence of an income tax, piecemeal luxury taxes can hep fund some crucial public services.” And he blames “conservative opponents of any taxes” for the resounding loss of his latte tax in liberal Seattle.

RSS icon Comments


wow am I glad I don't live in the 36th anymore...

Posted by Dave Coffman | June 23, 2008 5:47 PM

And he blames “conservative opponents of any taxes” for the resounding loss of his latte tax in liberal Seattle.

How about opponents of taxes that make no sense, douchebag? If you're going to impose taxes, do it in a way that is fair, equitable, and logical. Taxing coffee drinks doesn't seem like any of that.

This is the type of guy that gives real liberals a bad name.

Posted by demo kid | June 23, 2008 5:47 PM

Yeah, I could forgive the condescending, judgmental, and off-target latte tax if he would admit why regular liberals like me hated it. But blaming conservatives is a sign he doesn't get it.

Posted by elenchos | June 23, 2008 6:04 PM

If you think the Latte Tax was goofy, you should ask Burbank about his income tax ideas.

Posted by six shooter | June 23, 2008 6:12 PM

Groovin' Reuvyn!

Posted by fan | June 23, 2008 6:55 PM

Dude, the guy is running for state legislature, and he's calling for the impeachment of George Bush. That alone would lead me to believe that the guy is a tool.

Posted by demo kid | June 23, 2008 6:56 PM
And even after all that, thanks to the Party’s byzantine rules and procedural bylaws,

Every Democratic Party Legislative District organization has its own set of endorsement rules.

Those rules are for active Democrats who put in the time and effort to practice politics. We think putting in that time and effort is worthwhile. They're only byzantine to dilettantes who have the attention span of fruit flies, and hipsters who are just too cool for all of that.

The 36th has its own procedures, its own questionnaires, and its own vetting process. Democrats in the 36th consider that worthwhile. Most of the rest of the King county LDs use the King County Democrats' questionnaire.

Posted by ivan | June 23, 2008 7:03 PM

The insiders who wrote the rules consider them worthwhile. Active Democrats deserve cookies and a T-shirt, nothing more. Especially if one realizes how much better a process we'd have if they didn't try so hard.

Posted by elenchos | June 23, 2008 7:07 PM

The Democratic Party is open to all, Elenchos, even to smug know-it-all fucks. Come on and try your hand at creating a better process -- or you can just post on Slog and whine about the people who do the work.

Posted by ivan | June 23, 2008 7:12 PM

@7: Just because something is local doesn't make it democratic.

In the 43rd district, the endorsement process has been so streamlined that much of the work is done by an endorsement committee behind closed doors. They share few of the materials they review with the membership, give a cursory report on candidates generally lacking substance, leave almost no time for speeches or debate among members, do not let people speak on behalf of issuing "no endorsement", and push through blanket endorsements of all unchallenged candidates at once without even debating whether these individuals deserve endorsement. That's Democratic, but it's not very democratic.

Posted by Trevor | June 23, 2008 7:22 PM

ivan, you're hilarious. You and Will in Seattle are my poster children for typical Seattle Democratic activists. Goes a long way to explain how things got this way.

Posted by elenchos | June 23, 2008 7:23 PM

A better process would include talking about political issues that affect the state. How, pray tell, do:

Res. 096 - Diplomacy with Iran
Res. 104 - Banning Cluster Bombs
Res. 125 - Lifting the Cuba Embargo
Res. 255 - Anti-Torture Resolution
Res. 358 - Abolishing Nuclear Weapons
Res. 343 - Resolution on Population Control
Res. 098 - Resolution on Establishing a Department of Peace

have ANY damn thing to do with state issues? Heck, letting the crackpots roam free gives the state Republicans entirely too much fodder at this point. (Abortion for population control? Might as well write the attack ads for the GOP and save time.)

Although I'm proud to be a liberal, I'll never be a Democrat!

Posted by demo kid | June 23, 2008 7:25 PM

Trevor @ 10:

You'd probably prefer how we do it in the 34th. There are no "endorsement committees." All endorsements go right to the membership.

Every candidate up for endorsement gets exactly the same time as any other candidate for discussion, which is finite and enforced to the second.

Motions for sole endorsements are not allowed. Motions for "no endorsement" certainly are.

Candidates get one and only one endorsement vote for meeting. No two-thirds vote, no endorsement, try again next month.

Our message to the candidates is: If you want our endorsement, work for it. Don't just waltz into our meeting with a questionnaire.

Elenchos @ 11:

Thanks for demonstrating, as always, that you have nothing to offer to this discussion.

Posted by ivan | June 23, 2008 7:50 PM

Had been told by a friend that I should support Rueven's campaign. Wasn't sure until I read your article. My friend was right, the check is in the mail. Thanks for the info Erica.

Posted by A little pro-Rueven, a LOT anti-Burbank | June 23, 2008 7:55 PM

I agree, the latte tax would have severely cut into CEOs outrageous profits.

Best that we send it to Iraq as they wanted.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 23, 2008 8:00 PM

oh, and @10, in the 36th the exec board has a lot more power in endorsements than the 43rd does, where all the KCDCC questionnaires are available on the King County Democrats website ....

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 23, 2008 8:04 PM

JB is the man with the plan!
Reuven will be a losin'!

Posted by Ladies Love Big Burbank | June 23, 2008 8:05 PM

Thanks, Erica. I was a bit i n the dark as to who to vote for but i had no idea Burbank was the Latte Tax asshole!! Go Reuven!!!

Posted by Metzleschjong | June 23, 2008 9:22 PM

as a washington state outsider, i can clearly see that the latte tax was a political blunder, compounded by his insistence that "conservative opponents" were the agents of its demise. burbank will probably lose, no?

Posted by ellarosa | June 23, 2008 9:36 PM

Carlyle sounds great. Why can't we get smart Dem candidates like this on the Eastside?

Posted by Big Sven | June 23, 2008 9:47 PM

A new payroll tax for paid family leave? Is he kidding?! Fucking breeders expect the working poor to pay for all of their indulgences (or mistakes). What a joke.

Posted by sandy | June 23, 2008 10:09 PM

Memo to Burbank: It's 2008, not 1968.

Posted by Lionel Hutz | June 23, 2008 10:24 PM

Note that for Burbank "working in the public sector" means ceaseless fundraising, punctuated by the occasional unreadable position paper submitted to, and ignored by, the press.

The latte tax was pure Class War. It had nothing to do with public services, and everything to do with exploiting class resentment against an imaginary "latte class" of Capitalist CEOs. Ignoramuses Will up there proves that this muddled idea has some appeal still, but most people correctly thought it was ridiculous on the face of it.

Carlyle is smart, focused and enthusiastic. Picking a state legislator based on the amount of information we have is something of a crapshoot, but I'm going to be giving Carlyle a shot.

Posted by Fnarf | June 23, 2008 11:35 PM



Posted by Adam | June 24, 2008 12:42 AM

Carlyle came to my door kindly asked if he could plant a yard sign. Now I'm in a yard sign war with the peeps across the street!! GO REUVEN!

Posted by Porkchop Sandwiches! | June 24, 2008 8:16 AM

The 36th already has two legislators who are liberals in that vague, hippy, up-with-people sort of way. I'm happy to vote for them, but we don't need a third. Carlyle is the kind of liberal who will win the knife fights in Olympia, and agitate Chopp et. al. to get off their asses and start acting like Democrats.

And Burbank criticizing Carlyle for daring to earn a good living in the private sector-- that just demonstrates how incompetent he is.

Posted by Joe M | June 24, 2008 9:17 AM

Abortion for all women? Won't that lead to some sort of gender imbalance in 20 years?

Posted by jimbo | June 24, 2008 10:06 AM

Carlyle is a serious local businessman who wants to get into doing some public service. He has worked with and understands new technology, an area the state is sorely lacking in and most career "public servants" like Burbank don't get. Carlyle has real world experience, has executive level management experience, has created businesses (which he was successful at). He's a progressive businessman, thoroughly understands tax policy and how to use it to support small business. He'll help streamline government, or at least try to.

The reality is that the old school Dems have a majority and can't get important thing done. Carlyle is the type of new school dem we need in office. He is running against an old school dem. The dems already made a decision about how they want new blood repping us at a federal level (between Obama and Clinton) and this race is similar. Burbank is the Dem establishment, old school Dem who will do more of the same of what we are getting from the Dems now. Carlyle will at least bring a fresh perspective.

Posted by Meinert | June 24, 2008 2:43 PM

Hi All,

I am a moderate Republican and I am also in this same race. I am pro-choice and for marriage equality. I am also for fiscal responsibility. I would like to see common sense and fairness in Olympia--and we do need balance and people that actually want to work together and accomplish goals!

You can check out my website at:

You could say I came from an impoverished upbringing (my folks were so careful with their money that they could make the eyes of the eagle on the quarter bulge). I am not complaining--they taught me to be honest, work hard, plan for the future and care about people.

I have a degree in Business Administration. I have worked at The Boeing Company for 23 years (Facilities, Long Range Planning, and Human Resources etc.) and now have been a real estate agent for nearly 5 years.

I believe in volunteer work. I have worked on the Seattle Crisis Line; been a Rape Relief Advocate; worked at the Puget Sound Blood Center and currently help out at the Wallingford Senior Center. I have worked for almost a year trying to get Katie's Law ( into Washington State. I have spoken with many State Senators and Representatives and learned how gridlock is not only on our roads and highways! It is quite clear that some lawmakers enjoy standing in the way of progress.

I am not a politician; I am a proud grandmother that wants to work on Education, Transportation, Property Tax Reform and Cleaning up the Environment. I do not want to raise taxes--I want to see our tax money spent more wisely.

I have some good endorsements starting with former Governor Daniel J. Evans and our own Suzie Burke (Fremont Dock Company).

Our State and Local Government has not been listening to what voters want and many times not making decisions that are for the greater good (instead of the privileged few).

Two of my best traits are that I am a great listener and know how to ask the right questions to get to the bottom of the issues. I care about Washington and our future.

Thank you for reading,

Leslie Bloss

Posted by Leslie Bloss | June 24, 2008 8:09 PM

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