April 25, 2005
What Has Senator Maria Cantwell Accomplished?

Washington state's junior senator is up for re-election next year and is said to be in trouble politically.   That's why Joni Balter of the Seattle Times wrote this campaign ad for Cantwell.  Balter (and most likely others in the Seattle media) hope to save the junior Democratic senator, just as they helped save the senior Democratic senator, the intellectually challenged Patty Murray.

But, as I read through Balter's ad, I noticed something a little odd: If we believe Balter, Cantwell has worked hard, but hasn't accomplished much as a senator.  Balter does not mention a single significant piece of legislation sponsored by Cantwell that has passed, nor does she mention anything else that Cantwell has accomplished.  If Cantwell were a baseball player and we were trying to be nice, we might say that she "swings hard at most of the pitches".  If she were a basketball player, we might say that she "shoots often", and, like Balter, ignore the fact that she hasn't gotten many hits or made many shots, as a senator.

I found the lack of accomplishments in Balter's ad surprising, so I looked at both Cantwell's official Senate site and her campaign site for a list of her accomplishments, as a senator.  I found no significant accomplishments at either site.  The 2004 edition of the Almanac of American Politics was more informative; the Almanac mentions a number of minor accomplishments, but nothing impressive.

Should we expect more from a first term senator, especially one who was in the minority for most of her term?  I think so.  And I think if we read Balter's ad carefully, we can see why Cantwell has not accomplished much.  Although not intellectually challenged like Patty Murray, Cantwell does not understand our problems.  Take, for example, her positions on energy.  She believes, or at least says at her campaign site, that "we must become independent from middle east oil".  To achieve this independence, she has worked hard to restrict the development of our own energy resources.  Some people, though not Balter or Cantwell, might see a small contradiction there.  (Is it even possible to become independent of oil from the Middle East?  It is possible, in my opinion, but would be horrendously expensive.  And nothing that Cantwell has proposed would make a significant dent in our dependence on oil from the Middle East.)  A few people might even see dishonesty.  Cantwell may know what it would cost to "become independent from middle east oil", but is not willing to explain the unpleasant facts to the voters.  I am inclined to think that she does not know, but it is certainly possible that she knows and is concealing her knowledge.

(Her campaign site does give some of her "accomplishments" in previous jobs.  She gained a small fortune from her time at RealNetworks, but I have never seen a description of what she did to earn that fortune and have long wondered whether the lefty who runs the company, Rob Glaser, gave her the job as a political contribution.  As a state legislator she "shepherded" the state's Growth Management Act through the Washington legislature, and seems not to regret the high housing prices (and, probably, sprawl) that have resulted from the Act.  I am always amused, by the way, when I see surprise that housing prices rise after the passage of such measures.   Nearly all of them reduce the supply of land for housing.  You don't need to know a lot about economics to guess what will happen to prices when supply is reduced.  Interestingly, Cantwell does not list among her earlier accomplishments the 1993 "Motor Voter" act, which did so much to increase vote fraud.)

Overall, I think we should be grateful to Ms. Balter for this campaign ad.  Perhaps unintentionally, Balter has helped reveal the mediocre record of the Washington's junior senator.  Cantwell didn't treat the Senate as an opportunity for a much needed six year vacation, like John Edwards, but she has accomplished almost as little as her colleague from North Carolina.

Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.

(Both Ms. Balter and Senator Cantwell omit two of the more interesting parts of Cantwell's résumé.  In 1982, she worked to elect Jerry Springer — yes, that Jerry Springer — governor of Ohio.  After that, she worked in California Senator Alan Cranston's presidential campaign.  Cranston was about as far to the left on foreign policy as American senators get.  He was also one of the Keating Five and was censured by the Senate for his part in that scandal.  One wonders just what Cantwell learned from Springer and Cranston.

Ms. Balter also omits any discussion of Cantwell's violation of campaign finance laws in the 2000 election and the use, by her and allies such as the extremist Sierra Club, of demagogic ads on the environment.  The ads accused incumbent Senator Gorton of wanting to poison the water because he supported a gold mine in Okanogan county.

Finally, one of the more interesting questions about the 2000 race is whether Cantwell won it legitimately.  Here's a speculative, back-of-the-envelope analysis that I did several years ago on that question.   If I were to do the analysis again, I would raise my estimate of the probability that Cantwell won through illegal votes because of all the problems revealed during the last year in the the King County elections office.

PS to Ms. Balter, whose writing sometimes amuses me: You can't "cleave toward" mainstream issues.   Cleave has two quite distinct meanings, to split with a sharp instrument, and to cling.  You wouldn't use "toward" after either split or cling, so you shouldn't use it with cleave.  There is a simple fix for Balter's sentence; since she is already using the stream metaphor, she could write something like "paddle toward the middle of the stream".)

Posted by Jim Miller at April 25, 2005 08:24 AM | Email This
Comments
1. Then again, NOT accomplishing anything may be her finest point. I say thank goodness she hasn't for it would be bad for the country.

Posted by: Ron on April 25, 2005 08:34 AM
2. Good call Jim. Cantwell & company's urban growth laws are responsible for inflated housing costs AND sprawl. If it weren't for urban growth laws, Yelm would still be a little farming community instead of an affordable home oasis within a once rural village growth boundary.

Posted by: kingdome360 on April 25, 2005 08:40 AM
3. She's been too busy raising money to repay the loans on her campaign. A feature of her campagin was her "using her own money," to run. She did her fund raising after the campaign.

Posted by: JCM on April 25, 2005 08:40 AM
4. I have a simple seven letter work for Maria's accomplishements: Nothing.

Hey Nelson, I realize a seven letter word may be pushing your limited vocabulary of hyperbole and satire.

Pudster

Posted by: Puddybud on April 25, 2005 08:42 AM
5. Work should be word. I have to proofread before typing!!!

I have a simple seven letter word for Maria's accomplishements: Nothing.

Posted by: Puddybud on April 25, 2005 08:44 AM
6. As the balter noted, and was reiterated by one of my esteemed colleagues of the unofficial SoundPolitics.com anti-troll squad, Can't~Do~Well's most significant contribution occurred in her feathering of her own nest:

"Cantwell spent her early years in the Senate finding her place and paying down campaign debt that soared as her RealNetworks stock, the source of much of her money, plummeted."

This is where the Can't~Do~Well story is. Maria claimed that she was so certain of her campaign, and that she was so opposed to "special interests", that she would finance her own campaign.

How noble.

What a crock.

She loaned herself leveraged funds and commingled them with campaign contributions. She
"bought" an expensive election (although I suspect that she had vote-enhancement help), that broke her financially by the time she made it to DC.

Maria is nobody's fool, and she rapidly learned how to belly up to the bar.

Here's hoping that the repubs find someone to take her down!

Posted by: alphabet soup on April 25, 2005 08:45 AM
7. Well, what about the fact that Cantwell has been raising awareness about Crystal Meth? I believe that we just passed a state law limiting the amount of cold medicine that one can buy at one time. Anyway, I just hope you republicans run Neathercut as her opponent, so that it will be an easy win!

Posted by: Dale on April 25, 2005 08:48 AM
8. Off Topic, but....
Over the weekend I received an email from revotewa soliciting some financial help to aid in the continuation of their campaign to promote another election, to wit:
"ReVoteWA would like to donate $50,000* toward legal fees in Sen. Rossi's election contest case. This is only a fraction of overall costs, but ReVoteWa petitioners could add much-needed fuel to the legal engine powering this case in court."

I'll be happy to forward the email to SS or any of the other regular contributors if they want to start a separate thread.

My check is already out in the mailbox.

MikeF

Posted by: MikeF on April 25, 2005 08:53 AM
9. Dale,

Yeah, now when you go to get cold medicine you WILL have to show a picture ID but when illegal alians, felons and dead people go to steal an election, they won't.

And Christmas came early for the mob run unions that are the Democrat mainstay. Public works projects will now be required to allocate 15% of the work to apprentice union workers. Nothing loke paying off the mob.

Posted by: VCRW on April 25, 2005 08:56 AM
10. I actually want to compliment all you right wing nutcases here for finally getting some logical thinking together.

It is absolutely correct for you to begin your campaign to attempt to unseat an elected official (Senator Cantwell) coming up for re-election that you don't like. That is, indeed, the American way and appropriate political activity.

Of course I support Cantwell enthusiastically, as will the large majority of Washington voters, but the American political system requires serious contests for re-election and your opposition is both logical and appropriate.

And since your new efforts to oppose Cantwell means you have now given up completely on your silly efforts to attempt to change the outcome of the LAST election, it's good to see that you all have finally moved on and stopped acting like sore losers.

Posted by: Nelson on April 25, 2005 09:14 AM
11. Frequently, I mis-read words and when I run across Balter, I read "Blather" instead. No harm done.

Posted by: Dave on April 25, 2005 09:16 AM
12. Jim, an overall good piece highlighting Cantwell's lack of accomplishments. Ahh, but you forgot to talk about her voting record!!! I'd like to see an analysis of how and for what she's voted/not voted.

She does have a pretty good hold on the Seattle Money Train. More than perhaps anything else, this is a place where we can work to stop the stampede of contributions.

Posted by: Patrick E. Bell on April 25, 2005 09:28 AM
13. MikeF... why would you send your hard earned money to revotewa instead of direct to the state GOP? Revotewa skims off 10% for "administrative costs." As soon as I got that email I donated direct to the WA GOP.

Posted by: Tucker on April 25, 2005 09:37 AM
14. Nelson; we (Rossi) won last election 2x. Now its about fixing the last minute theft by you guys.

Posted by: Righton on April 25, 2005 09:52 AM
15. Tucker,

I have heard as a rule-of-thumb, any organization that if 90% or more goes to the purpose of the donation it is doing well. In this case, given the small amount being raised, that it is at the top of that range is probably not unreasonable. I have not researched the organization at all so I have no direct knowledge, but the rule-of-thumb is my first criteria for considering anyone.

The WA GOP will be working for the same cause, so all in all it works well!

Posted by: Fred on April 25, 2005 09:59 AM
16. VCRW said: Yeah, now when you go to get cold medicine you WILL have to show a picture ID but when illegal alians, felons and dead people go to steal an election, they won't.


Now I agree with you that when people go to vote they should show their ID. I can't think of any excuse for a citizen to NOT have his ID on him/her at anytime that they leave the house. It is of my belief that most people drive to vote, so they should have their ID on them anyway!!!
But I hope that you are not saying that you disagree with the notion that you should present your ID when purchasing the main ingredient for the most harmful drug known to mankind: METH.

Posted by: Dale on April 25, 2005 10:01 AM
17. Tucker,

Well, I've often seen more forward progress from revotewa than I have from WAGOP. I sorta like supporting grassroots efforts instead of entrenched bureaucracies.

Posted by: MikeF on April 25, 2005 10:02 AM
18. E-mail I sent to Joni Balter April 24:

You forgot one important point. In her previous run for the house, she ran on a platform of campaign finance reform, but 2 weeks after her election decided that she had discovered more important priorities; IE getting more women & minorities appointed to committees (her own quote). This would tend to indicate a major disconnect between what she says & what she does.
In some circles this would be called "lying".

she also pledged to not take money from PAC's, but turned around & did just that to retire her campaign debt. Since this debt was money she loaned to her campaign (secured by her options), this is the closest thing to a direct bribe of a member of congress I can recall in my lifetime. This you dismiss as "paying down her debt".

Come on. Time was journalists like you at least made a PRETENSE at objectivity.

Posted by: Bob on April 25, 2005 10:08 AM
19. Maria is busier than you may think. She and ms tenny shoes pushed for an appropriation of funds to be tacked on to the budget recently passed by the senate. The appropriation would fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund,for purchasing of private lands by government, and will go into effect if drilling for oil in ANWAR is approved.
Guess the cost of drilling for oil just went up.
Oh thank God we have the government to save our planet!

Posted by: cindy on April 25, 2005 10:20 AM
20. San Mateo County, Calif. is getting a good taste of what legislation like the Growth Management Act can do for a community.

(See http://www.townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/printts20050419.shtml.)

With Dems like Cantwell, Sims and Gregoire driving the ship, how long will it be before we see median housing prices at $896,000?

Posted by: Kent on April 25, 2005 10:48 AM
21. Dale,

I think what we're saying is that if all Washington residents have to show for Cantwell's six years in office is photo identification at the drug store - she is a failed U.S. Senator.

Posted by: Larry on April 25, 2005 10:48 AM
22. Here is something Cant-do-well has done consistenly. As a member of the judicial committee, she has held judicial nominees hostage in committee instead of forwarding them to the full senate floor for a vote.

She has also helped implement a new filibuster strategy against judicial candidates that are imminently more qualified than Cant-do-well is, again preventing a full senate vote on judicial nominees. This week, she is expected to fight for the continued abuse of the filibuster so that the minority of Senators can keep the majority from fulfilling their responsibility to the American people to vote up or down on judicial candidates.

Posted by: Margaret on April 25, 2005 10:51 AM
23. Re: donating to revotewa... I don't have a problem with it and to each his own, but it just seemed easier for me to send the money directly since money donated to the WAGOP is being directly used for the Rossi challenge... at least that's what Vance's emails strongly imply as they beg for money :-) It's the end result that counts though, so please help out if you can... it costs a lot to fight "city hall" :-)

Posted by: Tucker on April 25, 2005 11:08 AM
24. Thank you for pointing out Cantwell's inconsistency on energy issues. It does not get pointed out enough! She CANNOT claim she wants less dependence on foreign oil while telling us we may NOT access domestic sources. We're not taking that faulty garbage anymore.

Posted by: Michele on April 25, 2005 11:22 AM
25. Larry said: "I think what we're saying is that if all Washington residents have to show for Cantwell's six years in office is photo identification at the drug store - she is a failed U.S. Senator"


Well Larry, maybe you don't fully understand the huge Meth problem in our State, and the many different ways it effects all of our live. Washington State has, I believe now it is the 3rd worst Meth problem in the country. For years Washington was a Heroin State, but at the turn of the millennium we became a Meth state. What implications does this have? Many. First off is identity theft. Most identity theft is perpetrated by meth addicts. One eastside sheriff, in an interview with King5News said that in the past year every suspect they apprehended in connection with identity theft was a meth addict. Identity theft costs banks and credit card companies money, and those costs are transferred to us, the customers. Also I know that Conservatives are all about property rights. Well ask any landlord who has rented to meth cooks what the cost of cleaning the bio-hazardous waste left behind. Some homes can never be lived in again. This bill is more then simply having people show their ID at the drugstore, this will do more for preventing the manufacture of methamphetamines then any law enforcement could hope to do. It is a very major step in curbing meth! Also I would like to point out that there is probably a lot of legislation that she wanted to pass that would have not sat well with you guys. It is clear to me, at least, that the things she has done are moderate, bi-partisan legislation that everyone could respect!

Posted by: Dale on April 25, 2005 11:24 AM
26. Cantwell will do what dimwit Patty did in the last election; that is to rely on out-of-state special interests for over half of her campaign contributions. Emiliy's List, an abortion industry PAC, threw money at Dimbulb Patty and will do the same for Cantwell. Check opensecrets.org for details. While you're there, check out the leading contributors, by zip code, to Dimbulb's '04 campaign. You'll see California, NY and DC more than Washington State.

You may also remember Hillary embracing Cantwell after the 2000 election. Cantwell hosted several fundraisers at the Clinton DC mansion in an attempt to recoup campaign debts. Don't think for a moment Hillary won't come a callin' when she needs a vote.

Posted by: Saltherring on April 25, 2005 11:29 AM
27. Maria Cantwell is owned by Hillary Clinton, because of the campaign debt thing.

Jim McDermott is on the side of blocking the House Ethics Committee from meeting, because there is a good chance they will boot his rear end out of congress.

Ron Sims continues to obfuscate about the King County election, and his role in it.

Patty Murray is repeatedly voted the dumbest member of the Senate.

What do these all have in common? They are overwhelming endorsed by Seattle Democrats. What a track record.

Posted by: Janet S on April 25, 2005 11:57 AM
28. Hmmm...Cantwell lends her campaign money. She also, as I recall, borrows money from a bank for which she signs a personal guarantee. She starts fund-raising to pay off those debts.

Each dollar that is raised replaces a dollar she is responsible for (or it's her money.)

Is this a form of legalized bribery?

Posted by: South County on April 25, 2005 12:15 PM
29. Dale, your analysis that the majority of identity theft connected to meth cooks proves just the opposite of this law benefiting the public. The meth cooks will just spend more time making false photo ID's from stolen identities and entering our names into the log. This doesn't stop anything, it even more involves the inocent in the process because now the inocent's names are in a log book. Real improvement is to even more aggressively locate, arrest, prosecute and permanently incarcerate the meth cooks. If we have to build open fenced pens to hold this scum in for life then so be it. That is not cruel and unusual punishment. What these meth cooks are doing to our population is cruel and unusual.

Posted by: MikeFedUp on April 25, 2005 12:20 PM
30. Nothing new here -- the Democrap machine has been so entrenched and prevasive here for most of the last century -- I remember when I was a kid and an election around 1960 or 62 when Magnoooson was up for re-election -- hadn't hardly ever heard a word about hime for 5-1/2 yrs and then overnight - like mushrooms -- the billboards popped up all over the state - could not drive for more than a few miles without seeing a full sized billboard announcing "MAGNUSON'S LAW DOES THIS --- " -- "MAGNUSON'S LAW DOES THAT -- " you would think he was a one man senate -- and everything that was anything ya owed to him -- about the only thing they didn't claim was toilet paper

Balter's is just the first shot ---

Posted by: Bill on April 25, 2005 12:32 PM
31. MikeFedUp- Hey I give you an A for effort, but let me clarify things for you. The identity theft almost primarily associated with meth use is not making fake ID's, its stealing mail. What they do is steal mail by the bag full, go through every piece, and get SSN, Credit Card numbers, checks and then sell it to various Organized Crime syndicates in the sound area. They are paid cash and then buy drugs.

Then MikeFedUP said: "Real improvement is to even more aggressively locate, arrest, prosecute and permanently incarcerate the meth cooks" Really? It has not worked yet, what are you going to do wave your magic wand? Whenever we aggressively go after drugs the end result is more violent crime. After 30 years of the DEA drugs are now cheaper and purer then they were in the late 60's! Also, do you have any idea what it would cost to jail all these cooks for life? (and I thought fiscal conservative still meant something)

Posted by: Dale on April 25, 2005 12:34 PM
32. Dale:

"Well Larry, maybe you don't fully understand the huge Meth problem in our State, and the many different ways it effects all of our live."

Maybe you don't understand that this thread is on Maria Cantwell, not Crystal Meth. So you think this is important legislation - so what? Is it legislation that a Senator Rossi or Senator Nethercutt could not have passed? I think, since they would be in the majority party and have greater pull from Washington State in Washington DC, that they could have easily passed this AND MORE.

"It is clear to me, at least, that the things she has done are moderate, bi-partisan legislation that everyone could respect!"

Things? What 'things', Dale? In case you haven't noticed - 'things' is plural, and you've mentioned one. That's a 'thing', not 'things'.

So she passed a law about crystal meth. Again, I say 'So what?' She's been there six years, Dale. If she's done so darn much while in office maybe you could name ONE more piece of legislation that she's passed. So far you can't.

And, again - crystal meth is a HUGE problem - one that any REPUBLICAN senator from this state would be happy to tackle head on! You could easily vote for the Republican that runs against Cantwell and expect more and better legislation from that person.

Posted by: Larry on April 25, 2005 12:41 PM
33. Well, I don't think that Cantwell will be voted out, because of Seattle. I don't think this is fair to eastern Washington, though. After she wins next November maybe it will make conservatives in this state mad enough to split the state down the middle! I can only hope.....

Posted by: Dale on April 25, 2005 12:52 PM
34. the most harmful drug known to mankind: METH.

The most harmful drug known to free enterprise: TAXES.

Posted by: otto on April 25, 2005 12:53 PM
35. Interesting point Otto. My clarification would be that drug abuse tends to primarily injure the drug user, with the secondary injuries being suffered by others in the form of crimes against property and person. With taxes, the primary party injured is the taxpayers. The secondary victims are those who receive unearned benefits that dissuade them from gainful employment…or public employees that don’t work real jobs…or…etc.

Taxes create a third class of “victims”…the politicians who learn to suckle at the trough, rather than do the hard work of real leadership and legislation. “Victims” in only the sense that it’s largely self-inflicted.

For the benefit of trolls, I’ll point out that I’m not saying that all taxes are bad. Nor do I need to specify which ones are improper for the principle to hold true. Sad to have to point this out, but who wants another zillion rounds of hairsplitting by the trolls?

Posted by: scott158 on April 25, 2005 02:22 PM
36. That bank loan Cantwell used to fund her run for the Senate was a sweetheart deal by (I think) US Bank because the stock she used for collateral became almost worthless but the bank let her do it anyway. No one else would have ever been allowed to continue without putting up more stock or other assets as collateral.

Another neat trick she did recently was sign on as a sponsor of the Native Hawaiian Bill that will allow Native (Is there such a thing?) Hawaiians to form a separate government like the Alaskan Natives and Indians are allowed to do. It was no doubt a payback to all the Indian gambling money that she benefitted from in her race.

I still don't think that she actually won her last election over Gorton. It was probably more of the KC election fraud that put her over the top by a narrow margin.

Posted by: Clean House on April 25, 2005 02:29 PM
37. Paddle towards the middle of the stream? My guess is she is already swimming the other way. Does she swim both ways?

Posted by: DeadManVoting (aka Iguana) on April 25, 2005 02:46 PM
38. I want to also point out that the writer of this article needs some basic grammar classes - the plural of cul-de-sac is culs-de-sac NOT cul-de-sacs as she wrote.

Posted by: David on April 25, 2005 04:42 PM
39. David:

I recommend picking up your dictionary before getting overly catty. According to the OED, culs-de-sac and cul-de-sacs are both acceptable.

Posted by: Kent on April 26, 2005 07:10 AM
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