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Monday, October 6, 2008

Down-Ballot Update

posted by on October 6 at 16:09 PM

Accusations are flying in the race for 36th District state representative, with each of the two Democrats in the race accusing the other of fighting dirty. First up: Reuven Carlyle, whose supporters are accusing a supporter of his opponent, John Burbank, of inaccurately portraying Carlyle as a Republican and of illegitimately using a list of 2008 Democratic Party caucus attendees to stack the deck in Burbank’s favor during the 36th District nomination process. (Many of the accusations and counteraccusations can be found on the 36th District Democrats’ blog.)

That supporter, Paul Bigman, distributed an email earlier this year that included color-coded information about Burbank and Carlyle. Statements about Burbank, such as “John’s personal history is one of leadership and activism in the peace movement and the environmental movement,” were in blue—the color of the Democratic Party. Statements about Carlyle, such as “26% of Carlyle’s contributions are from corporations and corporate executives [including] Bruce McCaw, one of the largest Republican fund-raisers in the State,” were in red—the color of the Republican Party.

The email prompted one of Carlyle’s supporters to write a post on the 36th District Democrats’ blog defending Carlyle, who is a Democrat; it also elicited a direct response from Carlyle himself, who called the implication “that I’m somehow a closet Republican … silly, obnoxious and an insult.” Carlyle then listed several progressive groups that have endorsed him, including the Sierra Club, Washington Conservation Voters, and seven Seattle City Council Members.

Carlyle’s supporters are also alleging that Burbank and his supportters illegitimately used a list of voters who attended the 2008 Democratic caucus to rally supporters and recruit new precinct committee officers (PCOs) and district members to his cause. Carlyle says both he and Burbank received copies of the list, with the explicit instruction that they not use it for campaign purposes. “Soon after that,” Carlyle says, “one of the members of John’s kitchen cabinet began putting out full-blast email attacks on me.” Carlyle says “a lot of members of the district are pretty outraged by the use and abuse” of the caucus list by Burbank’s campaign. Although Burbank acknowledges calling up existing district members and recruiting new PCOs, he says “it didn’t have anything to do with” the list of caucus members given to both candidates by the district. District vice chair Janis Traven didn’t answer a call seeking clarification of the rules.

Carlyle isn’t the only candidate leveling accusations in the 36th. On Monday, Burbank said his opponent had failed to abide by a “clean campaign pledge” adopted by both candidates, which states that each candidate will “[reject] the use of negative or misleading attacks against a fellow Democrat,” not” mislead voters regarding my own record on the issues, [and not] engage in, nor permit defamatory negative attacks upon the character of my opponent(s),” among other things. Burbank says he was doorbelling in Magnolia over the weekend when a constituent gave him a piece of mail she had received from Carlyle’s campaign, calling Burbank “a 30-year Olympia lobbyist and party campaign aide” with “old style, antagonistic politics”; it also refers to his support for the “infamous ‘Latte Tax,’” of which Burbank was the primary architect, as “silly.”

“It’s an odd thing, because Reuven initiated [the clean campaign pledge] on Thursday and then on Saturday he is in violation of it,” Burbank says. “He’s labeling me a 30-year Olympia lobbysis and party campaign aide when, first, that’s impossible because I moved to Seattle in 1983.” Second, Burbank says, he’s an “advocate for middle-class and low-income families,” not a lobbyist. “He’s falsifying facts,” Burbank says. “If this is acceptable behavior under the pledge then it is fair to ask if the pledge has any meaning at all.” In response, Carlyle calls Burbank’s objection “silly,” adding, “he was hoping that signing the clean campaign pledge was somehow going to prevent a discussion of the latte tax, and that’s just not going to happen.”

Carlyle and Burbank will debate each other on Tuesday, October 14, at the Sunset Hill Community Club, 3003 NW 66th Street in Ballard.

And in completely unrelated legislative news, supporters of 46th District legislative candidate Gerry Pollet are demanding that his opponent, fellow Democrat Scott White, return $800 contributed by th a PAC controlled by the Building Industry Association of Washington. White has raised just over $110,000 to Pollet’s $57,000.

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I attended the 36th caucus as an Obama alternate, and Burbank called me, acknowledging that fact. He even said "you went to your precinct meeting". He was urging me to go to another one, at which the endorsement would be made. I'd rather poke a seam ripper in my eyes than go to a precinct meeting again, so I declined. I admit I was a little surprised that he knew that, but I didn't think it was untoward. I do find his distinction between "lobbyist" and "activist" to be a little specious.

Posted by Fnarf | October 6, 2008 4:15 PM

I too have received those emails from John Burbank's cheerleader (even after asking to be removed from their list). Funny too, that the email address is one that I used ONLY at the Dem. caucus meeting earlier this year. Wonder how Burbank's campaign got it?

That Burbank endorsement from the stacked deck 36th Dems meeting a couple of weeks ago, as well as the primary "endorsement" on behalf of the state party from Burbank's pal Dwight Pelz (even though the district opted not to endorse just one Dem candidate in the primary) and other tactics like this that have since swung my vote to Reuven Carlyle.

Posted by Jakey | October 6, 2008 4:32 PM

There isn't really much to question about either Burbank or Carlyle's Democratic credentials. They both have them. The big difference is that Carlyle has more energy, more smarts and a far greater potential to actually go to Olympia and get something done. Burbank's idiotic latte tax proposal was anti-small business and a poison pill for future tax reform efforts.

Posted by J.R. | October 6, 2008 4:40 PM

As Erica notes, I've sent out several emails on the 36th District legislative race. Although Carlyle and his supporters have raised the somewhat weird complaint about which colors I used to highlight information, they haven't disputed the facts in the emails.

By now, the filings with the State Public Disclosure Commission show that over 40% of Carlyle's contributions have come from corporations, business and professional associations, and self-identified business executives. These include several of the largest banks and banking associations, most of the major telecommunications companies, several major pharmaceutical coroporations, most of the trade associations representing real estate and development interests, and the trade associations in the hospitality industry.

If the information had been inaccurate or irrelevant, I doubt that there would have been much complaint. It's worth noting that the endorsement meeting at the 36th District resulted in a 74% vote for Burbank. And Burbank has also been endorsed by the County and State Democratic Party organizations - as well as by the Washington State Labor Council, Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor Council, National Organization of Women and Women's Political Caucus.

The reality is that Carlyle is, as he describes himself, a "pro-business Democrat." His contributions reflect that. Pointing out that his financial base is heavily from business interests is hardly foul play. But just as Carlyle's supporters resent being outvoted by an almost three-to-one majority at the District meeting (and almost two-to-one at an earlier meeting), they resent discussion of where Carlyle's funds come from. I'd hope that they would instead proudly acknowledge Carlyle as the business candidate in the race (no one ever suggested that he's a Republican), and make an effort to organize more support for their candidate within the Democratic Party.

Paul Bigman

Posted by Paul Bigman | October 6, 2008 4:49 PM

JFC I can't even parse all that.

Posted by alan | October 6, 2008 5:21 PM

This race is making me want to just write in Mickey Mouse for the 36th.

Posted by Greg | October 6, 2008 5:27 PM

Mr. Bigman @4:

I too received your spam, which pissed me off as a caucus-goer with no professed affinity toward either candidate. Not only was it an inappropriate use of the list you were provided, there was no mechanism to unsubscribe. Not cool.

And regarding your talking points above, stop knocking Carlyle for being "pro-business". From where do you think most of us Democrats earn our paychecks, Mars?

Posted by Joe M | October 6, 2008 5:27 PM

Yeah Bigman, don't explain why you spammed us with your ridiculous color-coded emails. Just use your comment as another chance to fling more shit.

Posted by blargh | October 6, 2008 6:29 PM

I am a little disappointed in the 36th Ds giving Burbank a sole endorsement after Carlyle WON the Primary. As with Obama the guy who wins in primary should get the party's support. But I suppose the 36th Ds know better than the voters. I have to wonder about an organization claiming to represent while being so out of touch.

Posted by Zander | October 6, 2008 7:03 PM

Do not live in the 36th - but - have been to a couple of forums where both candidates spoke at length.

Burbank seem very qualified and grounded. Carlyle sounds like a moon bat who has been part of a new age clan too long.

Sorry, if I were a voter, Burbank would get my vote and a check. He would be a real power in Olympia in shot order.

(by the say, political leadership and running businesses are not the same)

Posted by Andrew | October 6, 2008 9:06 PM

Did anyone notice that in the two comparisons, the attacks on the Burbank campaign come directly from the Carlyle campaign. Whereas, the attacks on the Carlyle campaign are only from Burbank supporters. The is no direct link to the Burbank campaign attacking Carlyle, but there is with the Carlyle campaign. How can this article be so biased as to not point out this contridiction? These are two very different examples! Carlyle is blatantly attacking Burbank, and no one blinks an eye.... its a shame the stranger has come to this...

Posted by QA | October 6, 2008 9:09 PM

My household received a 'push poll' phone call (from Colorado) last weekend mentioning both Reuven Carlyle and John Burbank. The call basically implied that Reuven was backed by Wall Street money. Right away I knew it was a Burbank campaign sham. Such tactics will not win.

The Carlyle supporters need to take over the Thundering Cheaters of the 36th.

Posted by Latte Lovers for Reuven Carlyle | October 6, 2008 9:19 PM

I worked a bit with both candidates years ago through a non-profit. Reuven was a guy who was always super nice but seeemed hard to pin down and did not follow through. John was a little cantankerous (sp?) but did what he said he would. I live in tne 36th and tho I'm not a party regular, John recruited me to come to the endorsement meeting and I did. It was fascinating to hear Reuven whine about how the rules got changed on him and he won the primary so he should be headed to Olympia. John just out organized him in securing the sole endorsement. Frankly, I don't have a clue what the endorsement is really worth, but the political organizing skills John demonstrated were strong. Reuven's whining at the endorsement meeting was pitiful.

Bitch all you want about the Latte tax, it might have been a stupid idea. But the guy had balls to try it, he took his licks in the press and did not let it get to him. He has a good record as an advocate for the middle class. Reuven made a lot of money in business.

Posted by ubutunes | October 6, 2008 9:42 PM

I find people who flash their money all the time a bore - take heed Carlyle

My partner left Microsoft with many many millions.

No one would ever know he is so understated.

Burbank has a list of political credits a mile long by the way.

Posted by Mark | October 6, 2008 9:58 PM

I used to live in the 36th, and know both of these fine candidates.

It's not the first time a close race has riven the district between two fine Democrats.

And it won't be the last.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 6, 2008 10:54 PM

Pardon me if I'm a little confused, but if you file with the PDC as a LOBBYIST, doesn't that mean that you're a lobbyist? Or is there a special category for people who are the right kind of lobbyists for the right kind of reasons? Is there an "advocate for the middle class" exemption that silly me doesn't understand?

John Burbank is a lobbyist, according to the PDC. What is he trying to hide, if it's all good stuff?

Posted by reader | October 6, 2008 11:23 PM

@11: The contact information for caucus delegates was given to Burbank with instructions not to use it for campaign purposes. Burbank used that info to round up support at the endorsement meeting (see @1) and Paul Bigman used it to attack Carlyle in emails. Do you really think Bigman got the info from somewhere other than Burbank?

Posted by blargh | October 7, 2008 8:51 AM

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