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Friday, May 16, 2008

Shenanigans in the 46th

posted by on May 16 at 14:26 PM

UPDATED to reflect new information and interviews.

Members of North Seattle’s 46th District went home after last night’s nominating convention thinking they had chosen a nominee for state legislature from their district. (Unlike the intransigent members of the 36th District, the 46th agreed to abide by a Democratic Party-sanctioned scheme to anoint a single “official” candidate in the wake of a court decision upholding Washington’s top-two primary.) That nominee, chosen by a group of 100-plus precinct committee officers in the district (who, thanks to an arcane system that allots votes based on total Democratic Party presence in each precinct, each got more than one vote), was longtime anti-Hanford activist Gerry Pollet.

That outcome, which had Pollet’s opponent, longtime Party activist Scott White, losing by a scant three points, would have been astonishing enough in itself. White, the former head of the 46th District, was widely favored to win the nomination. The endorsements listed on his web site include 76 PCOs from the district—an impressive showing among the rank-and-file party activists—as well as numerous elected officials, including most of the Seattle City Council.

Nonetheless, the final vote count showed Pollet ahead, with 329 (weighted) votes to White’s 326—prompting Pollet to declare victory in an e-mail to supporters this morning.

And that’s where things get interesting. Because at the same time as Pollet was declaring victory, so was White—asserting on his web site that although “the initial tally suggested that Scott’s opponent, Gerry Pollet, had won the nomination… after three re-counts it was confirmed that Scott had in fact won the official Democratic nomination of the 46th legislative district! More information to come as it becomes available. Congratulations Scott!”

Based on conversations with folks on both sides, it appears that, after the tallying committee made up of representatives from both camps went home, Dean Fournier, a White supporter, recounted the ballots on his own — in Pollet’s words, “suddenly found another ballot in the middle of the night”—and wrote an email to 46th District chair Javier Valdez telling him that White had won. In his email, Fournier wrote:

Javier, this is most embarrassing. Because the State Party has sometimes asked us to keep our ballots for examination if requested, I brought them home to await any later instructions. Having them, I wanted to tally the nbr of individual PCOs (unweighted) who’d voted for each; it was Scott 56 and Gerry 59, but that doesn’t and didn’t really matter. I also wanted, more importantly, to make sure that no 6’s had been counted as 9’s or vice versa; none had. But in the course of doing so, I had to sort the ballots by weighted nbr, and FOUND ONE EXTRA “8” ballot for Scott. That means that Scott got 334 to Gerry’s 329, so SCOTT really won. OUCH!!

Neither Valdez nor Fournier have returned calls for comment; consultant Christian Sinderman, who is supporting White, says his “understanding is that the individual who counted the ballots was selected as a neutral party and is known for his integrity. The fact that he found a similar result to the initial count is no surprise.”

There are a few problems with this regardless of whether Fournier’s count was correct, of course. One is that, assuming this account is correct, the official nominating process was over. As Pollet puts it, “You can’t just find a vote in the middle of the night at somebody’s house and say that counts.” Pollet says his campaign agreed not to count a ballot that was printed on the wrong color paper; if that ballot was counted, he says, he would still have more overall votes than White’s adjusted, higher total.

On the other hand, White says Fournier didn’t just “find” a ballot—he counted the ballots three times, and came up with the same total each time. “To suggest that one of the most respected and honest people in our district would [fabricate] ballots in his house is very disappointing and smacks of sore-loser sentiment on Gerry’s part,” White says. He blames the confusion, in part, on the fact that many ballots were not signed, something he protested at last night’s meeting—making it difficult, incidentally, to reconstruct exactly what happened in last night’s ballot tallies.

Where does this leave the 46th District? That’s anybody’s guess. Both White and Pollet continue to claim victory. (In an email this afternoon, 46th District chair Javier Valdez said no recount had taken place and that it “no decision has been made” on what steps the party would take moving forward. “All I can ask it that we be keep cool heads and be respectful while this needs to be sorted out,” Valdez wrote.) White wants a recount of all the ballots in Fournier’s possession. Pollet supporters, meanwhile, accuse White of being the real sore loser. Bob Ferguson—a King County Council member who ran against then-incumbent Cynthia Ferguson Carolyn Edmonds*, whom White supported while White was the county council’s chief of staff—says bluntly, “you’ve got to be gracious when you win and gracious when you lose, and right now, he’s lost.”

*White supported Sullivan when Ferguson ran against her in 2003, when White was chairman of the 46th District Dems. He went on to support Edmonds when Ferguson challenged her after the county council was redistricted and reduced to nine members in 2005.

Although, under the top-two system, both candidates will move forward as Democrats no matter what happens, having the official sanction of the party could be a big advantage. It’s unlikely that the district will formally endorse either candidate over the other (a separate and more inclusive process from the nominating convention), because any nomination requires a two-thirds vote from district membership, although a dual nomination seems like a distinct possibility.

Contacted after the vote, Pollet said he wasn’t surprised the vote was so close “We knew it would be extremely close despite the fact that Scott boasted that he had it all locked up and I would be dropping out of the race. If he had listened to the people who are elected committee officers, he wouldn’t have been boasting like that.” White denies that, adding: “I believe that it’s possible to get elected and to still take the high road and I think it is unfortunate that Gerry did not choose to do so.”

With the Democratic Party choosing congressional district delegates tomorrow, it’s unlikely that the 46th will make any decision on how to move forward before early next week.

RSS icon Comments


Pollet had the bad timing to ask for my precinct's votes right after his wife had just done a thoroughly poor job of organizing our caucus site. I'm not voting for anyone from that marital community.

Posted by giantladysquirrels | May 16, 2008 2:34 PM

Goddamn stupid assholes. Fine way to pick a candidate. And in my district, the 36th? They're going to spend $600,000 to elect a Democrat in a 100% Democratic district, which is beyond stupid. That money should be sent to someplace it might make a difference, like Iowa or Florida or Ohio.

It's embarrassing being a Democrat sometimes. I think I'll do what I usually do and write in Mrs. Fnarf's name (which, shockingly, isn't (Mrs. Fnarf").

Posted by Fnarf | May 16, 2008 2:58 PM

Nobody reads this shit. Do one of those "after the jump" things.

Posted by Yr wasten mah tym | May 16, 2008 3:12 PM

Did Valdez really write

All I can ask it [sic] that we be [sic] keep cool heads and be respectful while this needs to be [sort of sic] sorted out
in an official e-mail?

Posted by lostboy | May 16, 2008 3:48 PM

I don't actually think that socialism can work, but it is amusing to think that it could, and that the reason it keeps failing is only that it attracts mainly incompetent loosers who couldn't actually get something done their lives depended on it.

When I see Democratic shenanigans like these, I almost think that might be the case.

Posted by David Wright | May 16, 2008 3:59 PM

So this guy TOOK ALL THE BALLOTS HOME, and decided to count them some more, and found another one that put his candidate in the lead? Do these morons have ANY IDEA what "appearance of impropriety" means? Does it FUCKING MATTER if he's the most upstanding guy in the world? No, it doesn't. What grotesque incompetence. These clowns sound like they couldn't find their ass with both hands. Surely, there's a PROCESS WRITTEN DOWN, where the votes get COUNTED IN FRONT OF EVERYONE AND WRITTEN DOWN ALL OFFICIAL LIKE? What the fuck? What the fucking fuck?

Posted by Fnarf | May 16, 2008 4:44 PM

None of those shenanigans will happen when the 43rd meets on Tuesday to have our PCOs elect our nominees.

But I can't say it won't happen in the 7th CD Convention this Saturday, cause I'm only doing Credentials with Carrie and someone else is setting the Rules.

Kind of doubt it, since Jim McDermott endorsed Obama this week ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 16, 2008 5:36 PM

OK...let me see if I have this right: The votes were tallied at the convention by a committee of people from both campaigns. The committee members all got the same count: Pollet won- White lost. The nominating convention ended. Afterwards, some guy gathered up the ballots and brought them home with him and later says he counted them and got a different result. Obviously the vote tallied by a neutral committee of people at the nominating convention is the only relevant number. Those are the rules. The election was over. Some random guy can't claim later that he "found" a ballot. How stupid!The loser White is being downright sleazy. Reminds me of George W. Bush. Says something about the kind of legislator he would be....

Posted by what??? | May 16, 2008 6:48 PM

This whole new nominating system stinks. I say this as a PCO. The Dem Party should not be doing this. It needs to work within the top two primary in a way that is less subject to these kinds of manipulations.

Posted by Trevor | May 16, 2008 7:49 PM

So let me get this straight... the ballots were supposed to be signed by the PCOs so they could be tracked and verified, Pollet's campaign manager was in charge of creating the ballots, both Pollet's wife and his campaign manager vocally opposed using the signed ballots that would provide transparancy and security to track the ballots, White protested the irregular ballot procedure, White then won the initial tally, after Pollet's wife asked for certain ballots to be re-examined a new ballot suddenly appeared for Pollet, no 2nd count to validate the results occured at the meeting. Sounds more like Pollet's insiders were stacking the deck against White.

Posted by Huh? | May 16, 2008 7:52 PM

gripping story. Post event re-count not by the Committee is an interesting statistical event, but not really all that valid.

What is amazing is that 650+ people voted at a Thursday night district meeting.

Posted by Lawrence Molloy | May 16, 2008 9:24 PM

@ 11 -- It isn't 650 people voted, it's weighted ballots, like the # of delegates assigned to a precinct at the precinct caucuses. If only people from big precincts showed up, the "person" actual vote might have been something like 48-45.

Seems to me that if the meeting ended and Gerry Pollet was elected, that's it as far as the "nominee" goes.

These "nominating" conventions are silly. I've got an idea: what if the actual public votes!

Posted by 46 democrat | May 16, 2008 9:37 PM

How about this: Pollett and White are disqualified. A neutral third party not running for anything makes up new ballots, FUCKING SIMPLE ONES LIKE ANY MORON CAN DO -- like I have myself made for organizations before -- and they have a do-over?

Or how about this: don't have a candidate in the 46th. Write-in free-for-all. Everyone associated with the current party organization in the 46th is told "we'll be happy to have you vote in November, until then goodbye".

Posted by Fnarf | May 17, 2008 12:18 AM

Will - I should hope you don't have "shenanigans" at the 43rd, especially since you don't have any vacant or contested seats to deal with there. The intrigue involved in the nomination of Chopp, Murray and Peterson must be scintillating. Don't fuck it up. Don't forget to breathe.

Posted by Lionel Hutz | May 17, 2008 5:01 AM

Scott never had a chance with Betty Means running the ballot process.

Posted by 46th watcher | May 17, 2008 9:39 AM

Nope, can't blame me for this one. I wasn't on the Tally (ballot-counting) Committee. Three of the 5 people who were, including the Chair, were White supporters.

Posted by Betty Means | May 17, 2008 10:13 AM

Before the "nominating convention" was held, in which Pollet won based on the publicly counted ballots, Pollet actually had opposed holding the "nominating convention"!

Here's why:

The so-called "nominating convention" was dictated to the 46th district Democrats organization by the state central executive committee.

(BTW the 46th district Democrats group includes about 166 precinct committee officers (PCOs) plus some 700 other members, all from the 46th legislative district which includes N and NE Seattle such as Haller Lake, View Ridge, Magnuson Park area, Lake City, Laurelhurst and part of the U District).

The state level Democratic party officials and state chair told the 46th district dems to hold this "nominating convention" and there was only ten days notice.

This "nominating convention" was called to be held even before anyone had officially filed to run for state representative!

Many 46th District Democrats members and PCO's opposed this "nominating convention" because under the rules laid down by the state central committee:

--no district member could even vote.

So, about 700 members had no vote in this process.

--Only PCOS could vote but PCOs did not have equal votes. Instead, some had 6x the voting power of others.

--if the district dems. org. refused to hold the "nominating convention" -- if it asserted the right to choose its own nominating process, involving all members or the thousands of caucus attendees or delegates for example -- the state party officials and chair would rule that to be illegal and the state party chair will alone pick the official democratic party nominee for state representative in the 46th district.

At the 46th district dems meeting many of us who opposed this restrictive, top down "nominating convention" -- including Pollet -- supported a resolution opposing this whole process as top down and undemocratic. This resolution failed to pass on a close vote.

Then, the "nominating convention" was held at which the offical public vote count with observers orpesent was that Pollet had won. The result was about 329-323 (these are weighted voting units, not persons voting, remember, no members could vote and the 120 or 140 PCOs present cast ballots with 2-12 "voting units" on them each).

IOW Pollet not only won the "nomianting convention" at the official, public vote, but also had taken the principled stand opposing the "nominating convention" as a top down, undemocratic process in the first place.

Posted by Cleve | May 17, 2008 10:30 AM

“you’ve got to be gracious when you win and gracious when you lose, and right now, he’s lost.”

Now, that's an interesting quote from commissioner Bob Ferguson (D - Ego). Ferguson has the unique quality of being vindictive in victory. Most people are just vindictive when they lose.

If you want to get a feel for the kind of Democrat Ferguson represents, read Sound Politics Psycho Stefan Sharkansky's take on the PI story, as well as all the other praise he heaps upon Ferguson.

Look, the voting public could care less about these inside baseball District party fights. Gerry Pollett is an old school, single-issue Democrat who appeals to the crusty old-timers who still dominate party politics. (you know, the folks who turned out for Hillary in West Virginia)

Pollett is obviously bored with his one-trick pony routine fighting Hanford, and wants somebody to pay attention to him in North Seattle.

If the Democratic party is going to get dragged into the 21st Century, it will happen on the watch of progressives such as White. Rossicrats like Bob Ferguson, and Crustycrats like Gerry Pollett know how to appeal to self-serving politics and contituencies - but they are truly devoid of the larger vision needed to transform the party.

I have a lot of respect for the FDR wing of the Democratic Party machine. I just think it's time to let a new generation take the party forward.

Posted by jamesk | May 17, 2008 12:39 PM

Hey, even the TriCities are paying attention.

Story includes Pollett's press release, where he whines about White's superior fundraising abilities (how Hillary-esque). I just checked Pollett's PDC reports and I can see why Pollett is feigning the "good government" routine regarding campaign contributions. He's not raising much the city or the state, anyways. All Pollett's campaign dough seems to be coming from other states. Which indicates a real shallow level of support in the district.

At least he has the antique party machine working on his behalf.

The TriCities Herald report also mentions the fact Bob Ferguson actually nominated Pollett at the convention. I wonder how Ferguson started his speech? Maybe it went like this: "Scott White refused to fall in line when I was running for office - despite the fact I won, he must be punished in an Old Testament kind of way."

Vindictive intra-party politics. Just the kind of thing the public wants out of their elected officials. One can imagine that if Pollett wins this seat, he can spend the next five years finding new ways to punish White for going up against the Dinosaur Democrats and Ferguson's Rossicrats.

Posted by jamesk | May 17, 2008 1:09 PM

@18 and 19,

Party insider sour grapes, much?

Posted by Tired of Corporate Democrats (tm) | May 17, 2008 1:54 PM

Nah. No dog in this race. I can't vote for either. I just don't care much for Democrats who base their careers on politicking, as opposed to progressive values.

I'm totally against corporations, too. That's why I live in a stick hut, grow my own food, don't own stocks, wear a leaf on my walk to work at the hemp factory, and refuse to use computers and internet connections controlled by 'the man.'

Posted by jamesk | May 17, 2008 3:06 PM

Gee. The 36th District looks like they took both the principled AND sensible approach by steering clear of a "nominating convention" fiasco.

Posted by common sense | May 17, 2008 3:16 PM

Sez common sense:

Gee. The 36th District looks like they took both the principled AND sensible approach by steering clear of a "nominating convention" fiasco.
Yes and no. They ignored the ridiculousness forced upon the parties by the stupidity of the Cajun primary (and the absence of party registration, but we'll skip that one for now), but they did end up with a "nominee" who was imposed on them by Dwight Pelz using executive fiat.

How do you get a nominee via an even less inclusive method than the Nominating Convention? Simple -- have one person make the choice.

Posted by N in Seattle | May 17, 2008 3:44 PM

Now will you please report on why Josh Feit was fired?

The abrupt departure calls for a story.

C'mon, Dan!

Posted by one story down, now the other, please | May 17, 2008 6:50 PM

@ 19 -- "Hey, even the TriCities are paying attention."

Damn right they are paying attention because they are the only community that has really had to deal with Pollet--and they can't stand him. White should have a fundraiser in the Tri Cities.

I read the article in the TriCities Hearald and Pollet's press release. Pollet claims to have been in the race for only a month, but I learned of his candidacy at the Washington State Dems Party meeting in January. Good try Gerry, but you have been planning to take your Hanford agenda to Olympia for years. Your bombastic claims only reveal your fear of White as a candidate because he is well qualified, a hard worker and well liked by those who have worked with him.

Posted by Huh? | May 17, 2008 7:55 PM

It was a really, really, really close vote for who got the Nomination for Congress from the 7th CD ... I think it was almost unanimous, with one guy saying no.

Hmmm. Maybe it wasn't that contentious.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 18, 2008 12:43 AM


Um, Pollett went there to deal with nuclear proliferation and waste issues. That's not exactly a gig that's gonna make anyone popular in the Tri-Cities (you have seen a Richland High School "Bombers" logo, yes?), or one that would indicate he isn't a true-blue progressive activist. Would you go after someone from the Audubon Society because people in Aberdeen didn't like their work on spotted owl preservation?

With regard to the current Primary dilemma, it's sorta ironic that the Democratic and Republican party establishment brought this on themselves when they sued to eliminate Washington State's formerly open primaries (that said, I do sort of agree with the free speech logic that won that case, but still, it's sure biting them now).

And isn't there supposed to be a rule against off-site ballot counts?

Posted by Mr. X | May 18, 2008 3:20 AM

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