Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« I'll See Your Curse, and Raise... | Someone Left This Note Out in ... »

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bitch Hunt

posted by on March 22 at 16:30 PM

Seattle Weekly’s managing editor, Mike Seely, worked as a campaign staffer for Maria Cantwell during the 2000 election. From that experience, he came away with some simply jaw-dropping analysis (stuff you’d never expect from a 30-something frat boy): Cantwell’s a bitch.

Seely wrote a column about Cantwell’s infamous personality (it’s actually conventional wisdom that, gasp, the Senator is difficult to work for), and he recently handed off his she’s-a-bitch analysis to a new Seattle Weekly reporter, Aimee Curl, to do a big story on it. (You go, sister. Get that bitchy Senator.)

How do you get that story? How do you prove Cantwell’s a bitch? Well, the only factual way to get at it would probably be tracking staff turnover. And that’s what the Weekly tried to do, reporting, for example, that Cantwell has had five legislative directors in six years.

What the Weekly didn’t do, however, is compare Cantwell’s staff turnover to others’ in Washington’s delegation?

We used a research site called to track top staff turnover at the offices of our two Senators (Cantwell and Patty Murray) and three longtime Western Washington Reps. Jay Inlsee, Jim McDermott, and Brian Baird.

Well, it turns out, the real bitch of the Washington bunch is Rep. Baird (D-3, Southwestern WA), whose rate of turnover is 44% above the average. According to Gallery Watch, Baird has lost at least 12 staffers since he started: three legislative directors; two schedulers; four press secretaries; and three chiefs of staff. (We did not include any turnover from Baird’s current term because that would have given us a bigger time frame than Cantwell’s—he’s been in office two years longer.)

According to Gallery Watch, Cantwell has lost nine staffers herself since she started—which puts her, along with Baird, above the average 7.6-staffer turnover rate for our sample going back to the 106th Congress.

One has to wonder, though—with Baird coming in 44% above the average turnover rate and Cantwell coming in at 18% over the turnover rate—why is Cantwell the subject of SW’s bitch hunt?

It couldn’t have anything to do with her being a woman could it?

RSS icon Comments


Someone reads the Weekly?

That's the real story...

Posted by Original Andrew | March 22, 2007 4:30 PM

Does she get the job done?
Does she break the law?
Does she do anything unethical?

Don't bother me with the "she's a bitch" crap.

Posted by monkey | March 22, 2007 4:36 PM

Cantwell is also much higher profile than Baird (he's a Vancouver Congressman, she's a Senator for the entire state).

Posted by Willis | March 22, 2007 4:40 PM

It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that Seely had a personal experience working for Cantwell, could it?

Posted by David Wright | March 22, 2007 4:44 PM

All politicians (and bosses for that matter) are hard to work for at some level. However, why is it that Senator Cantwell gets the bad rap AND staffers have been willing to talk about it?

Regardless, it sounds like a good training ground to me. If you say you've worked for Cantwell, I'm sure later another potential boss would snap you up knowing you've worked for a really demanding boss. Smart move, Gregoire.

Posted by strange | March 22, 2007 4:49 PM

mike seely is adorable. leave him alone, or i'll knock your silly hat off.

Posted by adrian! | March 22, 2007 4:55 PM

@1 - true.

Plus, the commute from WA to DC is a killer.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 22, 2007 5:12 PM

Perhaps someone should look into the rate of staff turnover at the Seattle Weekly compared with other publications.

Posted by Jim Demetre | March 22, 2007 5:12 PM

This is just leftover from the 2006 race, when the anti-war fringe couldn't get her to believe exactly like they did, much less behave like Patty Murray or Jay Inslee. The story became how prickly she is. Boo hoo. Especially since she smacked McGavick more than Patty smacked Netherbutt in 04. Check it.

Posted by calvin | March 22, 2007 5:16 PM

I've worked for Cantwell in Congress and the private sector. Mike Seely's vendetta against Cantwell stems from his extremely brief tenure on her 2000 campaign, and from his naivete about what type of person it takes to reach and hold high political office. If he wants a smiley, huggy boss in politics, Jean Godden's just down the street. Maria has brass balls and is not afraid to go toe-to-toe with, among others, the Repulican chair of the Senate Appropriations committee. She is ten times the man Mike Seely is.

Posted by Anon | March 22, 2007 5:31 PM

I meant "Republican" above, of course.

Posted by Anon | March 22, 2007 5:36 PM

Postman covered this territory earlier today. And he thought the article showed the "softer side" of Maria.

I ain't sure who's right. I don't read the Weekly, especially after last week's middle-schooly cover story.

Posted by horat!osanzser!f | March 22, 2007 5:54 PM

Unfortunately, policy successes aren't all there is to being a successful politician. As the GOP has shown, charm and media messaging are both key to winning elections and staying in power. The rap on Cantwell is that she's lacking in both departments.

"Cold." "Socially awkward." "Aloof." These are the words you hear about Cantwell from former staffers, people who've sat down to interview for jobs with her, and even from her friends. [thestranger]

Posted by c.w. | March 22, 2007 6:04 PM

To answer your question:

Yes, it could have everything to do with her being a woman, especially if Seely has a problem with women in authority. Some men are still like that. Of course, there are also plenty of women that feign ignorance of how to hook up a stereo or chop wood, so I guess even is even.

The Weekly sucks 90% of the time, but when they are dead on they can be impressive. Like the Stranger being 90% dead on, but when they miss, they reveal gross ineptitude. No offense.

Posted by Miss Stereo | March 22, 2007 6:10 PM

CW @ 13,

Right you are.

Because I was doing a 4000 word feature on Cantwell as she was up for reelection last year. The story dealt with McGavick's political attacks on her, the war, the habeus corpus vote, Cantwell's politics etc...

In that large profile, of course I addressed Cantwell's rep as lacking in the personality dept. ... and eventually I concluded that the Senator is just a wonk.

Point is: There was news peg for my story... which covered tons of other ground.

The reason for the SW story?

Swing and a miss, sister.

Posted by Josh Feit | March 22, 2007 6:12 PM

Indeed, what is the story here? That she's a bitch? Well, okay, duly noted: Maria Cantwell is a bitch in a Congress full of assholes.

Or did we inadvertently send her back to the Congress populated by sweet-tempered Hello Kitty characters? I bet that's what we did. I bet that's why Seattle Weekly is so upset.

Posted by dantc | March 22, 2007 7:10 PM

Josh on journalism ethics again?

Still doing the Walter Cronkite thing?

Posted by Pot, black | March 22, 2007 7:11 PM


Good name for a local mag or a newspaper. Let me know if anyone actually creates something worthy of the name, eh?

Posted by palamedes | March 22, 2007 7:47 PM

This is crazy. The reason is simply that she's a woman, and a smart, wonky woman at that. If she were a man, she'd be described as strong, articulate, on point. But because she's a woman, she's expected to be soft, tender, meely-mouthed. Judge her by any other standard, and you get an effective Senator.

P.S. Staff turnover on the hill is as regular as a change of underpants: low paying jobs, miles from home (for most), and a work schedule that cannot possibly be maintained.

Posted by Bullshit | March 22, 2007 8:36 PM

Not only did she hold her own against the pack of corrupt misogynists who ruled the Senate for her entire time there, she kicked the rump of Enron out of swindling our state. I've worked for "tougher" bosses who accomplished far less.

Posted by Paddy Mac | March 22, 2007 8:43 PM

Can the Seattle Weekly get any more irrelevant?

And regarding the anti-war folks, instead of slamming them, Cantwell met with them. And her political ads were straight foreward and to the point about her history and values. And she kicked McGavicks soft fuzzy ass. At a time like this I want to know my representatives are working hard in the congress, not rubbing me off with sweet words in my ear while they stab me in the back.

Going over this again sounds pretty trollish.

Posted by mirror | March 22, 2007 11:11 PM

The real reason for the SW story?

Stranger staffers, we get it, you don't want us to read the Weekly, you attack them week after week. Then you guys slag them again in the comments. It's really juvenile and tedious. The slog would be so much better without these rants.

Posted by Old & crabby | March 23, 2007 1:20 AM

The entire Senate is made up of egotistical assholes of one variety or another. I would want a senator who could hold her/his own there. (Patty M. is just better at hiding it that Maria C.)
I have no problem with the Stranger reminding us how crappy the Seattle Weekly is these days.
The owners of SW, New Times Media, are turning every alternative paper in the country into the exact same aggressively stupid fratboy-libertarian crap. Looked at the Village Voice lately? That great expose in the SW the other week "Some indie rockers are frat boys". It mostly revealed that the writer(and editor)are fratboys, still hangout with fratboys(not really indie boys now, but in the alcohol busines), and they all are obnoxiously defensive about being fratboys. Watch out, there are 2 or 3 indie boys that were fratboys, duh. Get over yourselves! More about Cosby sweaters please!
Seattle is very lucky to have the Stranger. Keep slamming those asshole fratboys!

Posted by annamaria | March 23, 2007 8:28 AM

the peg for the SW story seems to be that she just hired the governor's daughter as LD. and it also seems to conclude that the "bitch" label is unjustified.

Posted by cw | March 23, 2007 9:06 AM

#22, thank you! You guys don't need to do this. What I want to know is how do you have the time to research all of your stuff, write for slog, and RERESEARCH all the Weekly's articles, too? That Savage must be a slave driver.

But your last line, cuz she's a woman? Gimme a break, you inflammatory ass.

Posted by tssst | March 23, 2007 11:00 AM

Cuz she's a woman? It's a legit question.

Posted by frederick r | March 23, 2007 11:18 AM

Oh good, another post bashing the Weekly. And you know, they dangled a participle on page 57. Be sure to mention that, too.


Posted by BobH | March 23, 2007 11:50 AM

I love the Stranger crybaby stories about the Weekly; they're transparent, made up, and attract the predicable Stranger faithful like flies to a load of baloney. I alway wondered: If Josh married Erica, would their kid look like Knute Berger?

Posted by BadBrad | March 23, 2007 2:48 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).