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Friday, July 11, 2008

The 36th Heats Up

posted by on July 11 at 13:30 PM

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.

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Carlyle has a fancy motorcycle? Cool. What kind of bike?

Posted by elenchos | July 11, 2008 1:42 PM

Thanks ECB for covering this. There's a big difference between the two candidates. Burbank is a hippy-dippy liberal who lacks substance (latte tax, anyone?). Carlyle is also liberal, but has the kind of smarts that would move hime to the head of the class in Olympia pretty quickly.

As for Burbank, conducting a "class warfare" campaign in the 36th isn't going to get you very far.

Posted by Joe M | July 11, 2008 2:16 PM

Burbank's kicking ass in the endorsements game, though. Everybody in Olympia is for him. And he's winning the yard sign war by a mile.

Posted by Fnarf | July 11, 2008 2:31 PM

A total freaking genius I know was able to ID all of the items printed in the Reuven Carlyle photo in the Stranger:

BMW F650CS motorcycle MSRP: $8690
BMW Rallye Pro Jacket and Pants: $739
ZTechnik aftermarket windscreen: $110

So the bike is well under the average purchase price of a new motorcycle in the US. While BMW does make some fantastically expensive bikes, the F650 CS is hardly one of them. The average Harley-Davidson costs $15,000 for comparison. The riding suit might sound expensive but that is an entirely ordinary price for good riding gear, and it indicates a man who places a premium on safety and practicality. The aftermarket windscreen is absolutely a steal at only $110.

Conclusion: a prudent, value-conscious rider who isn't trying (very hard) to impress anyone. Kind of a nerd, in fact.

Posted by elenchos | July 11, 2008 2:36 PM

Yeah, but what are their positions on fixies and wheeelchairs on express bus routes?

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 11, 2008 2:41 PM

You're right Fnarf, it's puzzling. Even on QA, Burbank signs are sprouting like dandelions. I wonder if Burbank's liked in Olympia because he'd be easier to control by the Chopp establishment? Just ill-informed conjecture on my part...

Posted by Joe M | July 11, 2008 2:53 PM

Carlyle would be the better choice. He is on a learning curve but he has the intellect to handle that. Burbank doesn't seem to learm well or much. Burbank's biggest and best "idea" was the Latte Tax which made Seattle a national laughing stock.

Posted by Zander | July 11, 2008 3:17 PM

Cut to the chase: Who would we rather have a beer with?

Posted by umvue | July 11, 2008 3:27 PM

@ 3 Everyone in Olympia is for Burbank? Don't think so.

Unless there were stunt doubles at the 36th, 2 out of 3 of the legislators voted AGAINST Burbank's sole endorsement. Our Senator was a speaker against his sole endorsement.

Posted by Sheila E | July 11, 2008 3:43 PM

I saw a Carlyle sign when I went to deepest darkest Ballard by bus this past Wednesday - don't remember seeing any for Burbank.

Maybe he forgot the Market, 24th, and 65th streets ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 11, 2008 4:42 PM

Yeah, you're right, Reuven's got some heavyweights too -- Murray, Prentice, Jacobsen, most of the City Council. Burbank's got Dickerson, Hasegawa, Brown, Weinstein, Sims, Phillips, Gossett, and Licata. And, ooh, Sandeep Kaushik.

Posted by Fnarf | July 11, 2008 4:42 PM

After having seen both candidates I'd vote for Carlyle. Unforunately I live in another district. Anyway, vote for Carlyle is a total no-brainer once you hear that Burbank was behind the latte tax. That thing was wrong in so many ways. Totally dunder-headed.

Posted by 43rd | July 11, 2008 5:43 PM

I just moved to the 36th and I kept seeing all those yard signs so I'm glad to have some information to base my vote on now. The landlord of the house I'm renting has a Burbank sign up on the lawn (as does just about everyone else on my street) but I think Carlyle sounds more like my kind of rep.

Posted by Justin | July 11, 2008 6:02 PM

I beg to differ. John Burbank has been in the trenches for years working for labor and the things that matter to the middle class. He, and his Economic Opportunity Institute were behind the successful paid family leave bill, the indexed minimum wage bill -- one of the first if not the first in the country, and expansion of the basic health care program. His kids went K-12 in Seattle Public schools, unlike Carlyle who transferred his kids into public schools only when it was politically expedient. John is an involved and dedicated member of his community, not a rich hobby politician like his opponent.

Posted by ziff | July 11, 2008 10:09 PM

Oh, and the reason he has so many yard signs? The guy is constantly out doorbelling and meeting people in the district.

Posted by ziff | July 11, 2008 10:12 PM

Oh, and the reason he has so many yard signs? The guy is constantly out doorbelling and meeting people in the district.

Posted by ziff | July 11, 2008 10:13 PM

John Burbank was also behind the Career and Wage Ladder legislation that got more money and education/training for child care workers. Man, the first posts here--AND the originating "staff blog"--are surprisingly lightweight. Wow.

Always worth getting a little real background info before you decide to pick style over substance.

Posted by sara k | July 11, 2008 10:30 PM

As a longtime follower of politics in the 36th district and a longtime reader of The Stranger, I find myself feeling both scared and disgusted. Scared by how easily a race that should be about policy and making Seattle a better place for everyone has been spun into a discussion of who is cooler, nerdier, or more "hippy-dippy," and disgusted by how quickly a publication that I have enjoyed reading for so many years would reduce itself to simply reporting biased fluff when, as the author states (while trying to save face in the very last paragraph of the article), "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."

I wonder why if the author felt that way, they came out of a very interesting demonstration of grassroots politics (in which Burbank was clearly the choice of the PEOPLE of the 36th district), and devoted two of four paragraphs to a sleazy slogan the Carlyle campaign uses. Now this might have been excusable if Ms. Barnett had accurately analyzed the issue, but she did not; she failed to point out that by constantly saying that he will be the only legislator with children in the Seattle Public School District, Carlyle is implying that he has a higher stake in the quality of education in the public schools than any other legislator. It is an implication that is offensive to Burbank, who put two kids through the district, as well as all the other legislators from the Seattle area who are working their tails off to improve educational quality in the Seattle Public Schools. That is the real issue with that line, not the fact that he put his kids through two years of private school, I couldn't care less about that.

Going into the meeting on Thursday I was somewhat neutral when it came to the two candidates, but having heard both them both speak it was clear that Burbank has a much better grasp of the issues which affect the district and how to deal with them. Additionally, the disparity in support for the two candidates at the meeting was undeniable (62.7% of attendees supported awarding Burbank the sole endorsement). Those two facts are what this article should have focused on, and that is why, out of shear disgust with the misrepresentation of Thursday's events, I find myself taking the time to write what has turned into much too long of post at 12:30 AM.

Get your act together, because this kind of crappy journalism is unacceptable.

Posted by Thethundering36th | July 12, 2008 12:33 AM

Lotsa Burbank staffers online, apparently.

everyone knows that the chair of the 36th has been calling the membership for his old friend for a long time. i doubt that anyone who showed up for the endorsement meeting was undecided.

face it -- they BOTH are dedicated to public education. neither one of them is going to crap on the kids of Washington. BOTH are solid progressive Democrats. there is no question that their votes would be identical, and in line with the district.

railing against Carlyle is the kind of insular "not one of us" crap that makes me sick. It's the same kind of dog whistle stuff that the clinton campaign ran (into the ground) on.

can we all just move along?

Posted by sheila E | July 12, 2008 12:46 AM

Personally, I just feel like this article was slanted and without any substance at all. When Burbank came to my house on a hot day he was sincere and wrote down what mattered to me politically. His work developing the wage ladder for early childhood workers is something that has affected me personally as a former preschool teacher. When you talk to him, you can tell that he is running because he cares.....and I can't believe that Barnett didn't pick that up because she would rather create some "controversy" about a comment made about Carlyle's kids being put in public school. She is doing a typical press trick by distracting us from the real issues, and I thought the Stranger was better than that.

Posted by Ballardite | July 12, 2008 7:51 AM

it will be a long emotional campaign and a good legislator will result. In the 43rd, we had six good candidates.

ziff notes that Burbank has been a leader on other issues than the latte tax: tax reform, health care, and minimmum wage legislation.

Burbank has more yardsigns in Ballard and almost all in yards. Carlyle has more on Queen Anne and in public rights of way. That is explained by their bases and tactical decisions on signs.

Posted by eddiew | July 13, 2008 1:24 PM

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