Election Night I-26: The Republican Cloaking Measure
posted by August 19 at 18:58 PMon
King County Council Member Larry Gossett—an opponent of Initiative 26, which would make all county elected positions nonpartisan—says he thinks “it will probably pass.”
“People think it supports good government, and voters don’t want people to be partisan,” Gossett says. The measure would make countywide races, including the council and executive, nonpartisan. But I-26 is an elephant in sheep’s clothing. The only chance Republicans have of winning countywide races is if voters don’t know that the schmuck they’re voting for is a Republican.
An alternative measure introduced by the council would allow candidates to state their party preference. The primary election will decide, which, if either version, will go on the general election ballot.
Gossett likens the campaign to statewide Initiative 200, which passed in 1998 using language that promised to remove preference based on race in student admissions, employment, or contract awards. Lots of progressives thought that sounded swell, until they found out they’d passed a law that prohibit benefits for minorities students. Removing the party preference from ballots, Gossett says, “does not necessarily mean you get better candidates or better government.” But “better candidates” and “more choices” is the campaign’s mantra.
“Instead of having a candidate’s party affiliation, which tells you the candidate’s policy positions, voters have to rely instead on slick advertising, pretty pictures, and name familiarity,” says King County Council Member Dow Constantine, a democrat. Passing the measure he says, would mean elected officials would have “positions not shared by the majority of the people in their district.”
How does the campaign respond? Emails and calls went unanswered. “You thought it was a real campaign?” Gossett asks, chuckling. “Three rich guys gave 97 percent of the money to underwrite it. They just think that … they are going to win.”
We’ll see if he’s right, and I-26 gets a pass to the general election. King County Elections says it will post the results here at 8:15 p.m. And we’ll call Gossett to get his reaction.