Politics The 36th Heats Up
posted by July 11 at 13:30 PMon
The 36th District Democrats issued no endorsement in the legislative race between Reuven Carlyle and John Burbank last night. After a vote for a dual endorsement went down in flames, a vote to give Burbank the sole endorsement fell just short of the required two-thirds majority. Earlier this year, state Democratic Party chair Dwight Pelz awarded Burbank the party’s official nomination, after the district itself declined to pick a nominee. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club and Washington Conservation voters both awarded their sole nominations to Carlyle.
The Stranger Election Control Board (SECB) will be endorsing in the 36th and all the other races later this month. We met with Carlyle and Burbank a few days ago. The interview was pretty tense, but well in hand, for a good hour—until I asked Burbank about a rumor I’d heard that he was telling people in the district that Carlyle only put his four kids in public schools because he’s running for office. That set them both off like a shot. Burbank denied ever saying anything of the sort. Carlyle, agitated, cut him off: “Stop lying! I’ve heard this from four people. I’m asking you to have the courage and integrity to stop lying about this!” To prove his point, Carlyle then pulled out a signed statement from a voter who said Burbank had come to his door and said just that. “I’ve got the signatures from the voters saying that you’re going around and lying!” Carlyle boomed.
Burbank pointed out that Carlyle’s claim that, if elected, he’ll be the only state rep with kids in Seattle public schools isn’t entirely accurate—Gerry Pollet, running in the 46th, is making the same claim. Then Burbank attempted a gotcha, calling Carlyle out for putting one of his kids in private school during kindergarten and first grade. (That would be two years out of what will be 52 years total, assuming Carlyle’s kids all go to kindergarten and graduate on time, for those following along). Carlyle responded: “I’m not saying Gerry’s not running. I’m saying you’re lying about my kids!”
Clearly, class is a huge point of tension between these two candidates. Earlier in the interview, Carlyle accused Burbank of “running on class warfare” by portraying Carlyle as a richie-rich yuppie with a fancy motorcycle and a big house on Queen Anne Hill. While all that is certainly true, Carlyle is also a former foster child who grew up with a single, working-class mom. More to the point, does any of this stuff matter? Personally, I think there are more important issues—like tax reform, the Democrats’ failure to flex their supermajority in the House, and the influence of the BIAW on the legislature—than whether our citizen legislators are well-off or merely middle-class.
UPDATE: This post has been edited to reflect the fact that Carlyle was not the beneficiary of an inheritance. That assertion was based on inaccurate information from another source; Carlyle wrote me over the weekend to correct the error.