December 03, 2006
GOP Legislative Candidates Are Toast in the Burbs Until Rhetoric on Two Campaign Issues Improves

Matt Rosenberg provided some worthy discussion on the future of the Washington State Republican party in a recent post. Let me hone in on a couple of his points. In particular, there are two policy issues in need of clearer attention from GOP candidates hoping to reclaim a swath of lost legislative seats in the suburbs: education and transportation.

Two topics Matt touched on are still generally winners for Republicans, fiscal conservatism and crime. The problem is those issues don't leap to the top of voters minds on a regular basis. Democrats will pay at the ballot box if they go on a tax-and-spend spree in Olympia (see 1994), though glaring occurrences are not regular. Meanwhile, when crime is a top issue with voters the GOP usually comes out on top. But incidents of violent crime have fallen the last decade , while the population as soared (side note: vehicle theft could sure use some attention based on that link, and as been in the news at times the last couple years). Thus, these two winning issues for Republicans have not been consistently at the top of voters' agendas in recent years.

In contrast, education and transportation have recieved frequent attention from the voting masses. Education is almost perennially a top tier issue, particularly given its portion of the state budget. At the same time, transportation has become a mind-numbingly persistent challenge since neither the Puget Sound region nor the state has been able to act with prolonged decisiveness for over a decade. Accordingly, future Republican legislative candidates in the suburbs better be prepared to talk about those two issues with clarity of thought and appeal to voters.

Easier said than done it seems.

Republicans, like Democrats, remain divided internally on the WASL, testing, and accountability. As such, one doesn't often hear a consistent theme from either party on the issue, other than the fact Democrats seem much more willing to talk about education in general. That needs to change.

The real challenge, however, is what to talk about with education. The concept of vouchers (or "opportunity scholarships") and charter schools has a lot of intellectual appeal to many conservatives, and rightly so. Yet, vouchers are rarely implemented outside of truly failing urban school districts, and charters seem a lost cause given the state populace's repeated rejection of the notion. That last defeat was by an ugly 42% - 58% margin, with the pro-charter vote failing to get more than 44% in any county. As such, it makes little sense for any candidate to make such options a prominent part of their campaign agenda.

So, what to do on education? Talk about accountability, talk about improving math and science education, and talk about rewards-based pay for teachers.

Accountability works, just look at the soul-searching occurring in Olympia and in school districts across the state now that the reality of the class of 2008 struggling mightily with math is out in the public for everyone to see. Yes, some people still complain about the WASL; then campaign on improving the one tool we have for accountability, not getting rid of it. Some people also complain about accountability requirements from the state. But given the state's investment in education, supposedly to benefit our children, one would hope there would be accountability for how that money is spent, and what kind of results are achieved for students.

Improving math and science education is also a compelling message, and a key component of the Washington Learns report (also supported in the Minority Report as well). WASL results have clarified locally what has been known nationally for some time, our K-12 education system is not educating kids in math and science in the way needed for them to be consistently competitive in the modern world, let alone to enter to college without having to take remedial classes. Candidates should talk about the reforms needed to ensure a high school diploma is relevant.

Lastly on education, the issue of rewards-based pay is a conservative idea that has common appeal. Of course, the teachers union doesn't like it much, but they like very little beyond general funding increases for schools and across-the-board hikes in teacher pay. In contrast, just about any school administrator will complain about the challenges of finding qualified teachers for math, science, and special education, especially in rural schools and challenging urban districts. How about we try giving bonuses to teachers who take such high-demand jobs? Moreover, steps toward performance-based pay that rewards effective teachers for achievement gains during the school year, rather than just another year of tenure, has some appeal as well. Yet, one rarely hears Republican legislative candidates talk about such things.

Transportation is a trickier issue. An active element of the Republican base comes down on the side of no new taxes for transportation, period. The problem is there is an undeniable fiscal need for additional funds to cover long overdue transportation projects. The most recent reiteration of that fact came in a report covered here at Sound Politics, which included this passage:

The shortfall in the state highway system in the region is a central issue for the state and this Commission. While there are needs in the state highway system projected at $37.3 billion, the state is only expected to provide $8.2 billion of financial support based on current resources.

That project backlog composing that shortfall falls predominantly on the Puget Sound era and dates back years. In addition, that's just the state highway system we're talking about. It doesn't include the mass transit options that are demanded by urban populations, and increasingly by many suburban centers as well.

Many a Sound Politics reader objects to new taxes, especially on transportation, in part thanks to controversial projects like light rail, the monorail, and the tunnel v. viaduct debate. Those objections, however, do little to address the transportation solutions citizens of the Puget Sound area are increasingly demanding, and gives legislative candidates little footing on which to stand on the campaign trail. Just ask Luke Esser how consistently voting "no" on transportation improvements treated him on the campaign trail, at the same time his opponent was attacking him on the issue, and in a district that voted against I-912.

The key is Democrats generally stand for something on transportation, including recent road-heavy, gas tax increases. What's the Republican plan for transportation?


[twiddling thumbs]

[taking a drink of coffee]

[still waiting]

Exactly. The closest thing the GOP has had to point to in recent years is Kemper Freemen's highway package. Nice idea, but a total non-starter in either a Democratic state legislature, or in the Puget Sound area, where even many significant suburban areas want a healthy side helping of transit options to go with their main dish of roads.

The one theme Republicans can consistently run on for transportation is accountability. Though lost in the shuffle of complaining in recent years, a number of GOP-influenced accountability measures have actually been implemented at WSDOT, including performance audits, trackable performance measures and benchmarks, plus substantive quarterly reports. [For those interested, this page provides a useful breakdown of major road projects by route, and this page sorts recent and upcoming projects by county] Improvements can always be made, but that's a substantial change from when Republican complaints about accountability at WSDOT first reached critical mass in the late 1990's.

On transportation, the real problem for conservatives is that the backlog of road projects is so immense, even before one starts calculating the cost of transit options a majority of Puget Sound area voters tend to want, that tax and/or toll increases are a given necessity to address the issue. For too long Republicans have stood solely for no tax increases, and thus in all reality no solution. That doesn't sell anymore in suburban legislative districts.

Republican legislative candidates have to be known for what they support, not for what they are against. And the longer the Republican base pounds on candidates who do recognize that fiscal need, the longer that base won't have any Republican elected officials to implement even some of the ideas they might have hope of passing in this state.

In fairness, non-radical reforms to public education and supporting even some transporation spending have little if any appeal to a notable portion of the Republican base. At the same time, Republicans have got to be realistic about what voters in suburban legislative districts actually care about. A quick review of recent elections cycles, and loss after loss in contested races, shows that whatever Republican candidates have been saying isn't resonating.

A further caveat in all this is that it means that by taking a realist approach on education and transportation, one is accepting a number of not entirely desirable outcomes: lack of non-traditional options in public education, higher transportation taxes (and tolls), and more mass transit than many conservatives would like to see. Well, welcome to living in a blue state.

Republicans can complain about it some more, or they can start down the path of making themselves relevant in the suburbs. If they don't, they'll be relegating themselves to a shrinking minority, with the legislative influence to match, for years to come.


UPDATE: As I suspected, some commenters are already leaping out of the gate saying no, we should focus on other issues in suburban districts, or that's just trying to "out Democrats the Democrats." Wrong on both counts.

Republicans have been talking about other issues, and have the wimpy electoral success to show for it, long before even 2006. This year's election only finalized a steady trend of Democratic pickups. Now, Republicans have lost nearly the entirety of the suburban crescent around Seattle. I'm saying Republicans should take about education and transporation in a way that makes sense, that is consistent with Republican beliefs, but which is also within the realm of reason as has been decided by the voters.

I encourage commenters to bring something to the table. If some people disagree with me, as I well suspect, the debate is much more interesting if such dissenters actually propose an alternative since past formulas for success have worked so miserably for the GOP. New ideas are needed, let's hear them.

UPDATE II: This post picked up some attention from David Postman and Horse's Ass (whose analysis I disagree with quite a bit but which I don't have time to give proper attention to, at least for now). But let me spend a little time on Mark Gardner's take at Whacky Nation.

Gardner says it's not talking about issues suburbanites care about like education and transportation that matters, it's not taking conservative positions on social issues. Referring to the remaining GOP legislators in the suburban crescent, Fred Jarrett and Skip Priest, he says, "[i]t wasn't education and transportation that got them re-elected. It was their libertarian positions on the social issues." Not quite.

What are two of the biggest issues Fred Jarrett talks about? Education and transportation. What issue is Priest known for? Education (he was on the Washington Learns committee). They win because they're competent and they talk about issues people care about, not just because neither is a staunch social conservative.

It does help that Democrats have less ammunition to brand them with the stereotypical "intolerat Republican" label, but keep in mind Dino Rossi, a clear social conservative, won many swing legislative districts in 2004. He won them because he was talking about issues of high import to the governorship such as real leadership, government reform, and the economy. One can hold positions viewed as "socially conservative" and still have an agenda that resonates across the political spectrum.

Gardner's point has some grains of truth in that moderation of (or a libertarian approach to) social issues is often prudent in the suburbs. Yet, he's wrong in saying GOP candidates can't win elections just because they're viewed as social conservatives. Candidates still have to talk about the issues people care about in a compelling way to win, no matter what those candidates think about "gay rights" and other such topics.

Posted by Eric Earling at December 03, 2006 09:45 PM | Email This
1. It would appear that education 'reform' is a hot button issue of late - you should read the blog comments at Robert Mak's site on the WASL today.

I would say of the hundred or more responses, maybe two whole people sort of, kind of, maybe dont agree that Bergeson and Gregoire ought to be taken down over the past 12+ years of Liberal failure on behalf of our kids.

Posted by: Lauri on December 3, 2006 10:01 PM
2. Education: scrap the WASL and go back to the Iowa Standard Battery. Works for all the other states. Washington's snotties just had to try to be unique, and screwed the pooch into the bargain.

Transport: Face it: there is never going to be a wider, better I-5 or I-405. Not as long as we have to deal with the enviro-weenies around here. And there simply is no place to widen the interstates to. Too much urbanized growth. You'd have to condemn scads of property under eminent domain, and that won't happen unless a Democrat-controlled state house does it. And there's no way in hell that a Democrat-controlled state house will take over someone's property to widen a freeway. To build a monorail or light rail... well, that's another story. But never a freeway. Forget it.

Nope... in both education and transportaiton, this state is hopelessly screwed. Find another platform. How about, say, abolishing state benefits to illegal aliens? Or perhaps enforcing the "three strikes" laws for a change, so ten-time losers like the guy who killed a Seattle cop last month never get the chance to get out a fourth time?

Posted by: ERNurse on December 3, 2006 11:07 PM
3. The problem here is that first, we cannot win by out-democrating the democrats, and second, what would be the point if we did?

This crosses the line of getting power merely to have power. One group needs to be democrats. The other needs to be Republican. Getting Republicans elected who will vote like democrats is a meaningless, worthless exercise. Because, in the end, we have to ask: why bother?

If the outcome for the future equates to "not entirely desirable" then what is our goal to be? To merely attempt to stave it off somewhat to some lesser degree? To reduce the tax increases a tiny bit? To settle for the inevitable rape... just make it a little les comfortable for the rapist?

Thank you, no. Luke Esser lost, but at least he stood for something. That the voters were fooled into picking a scumbag like Tom doesn't mean that Esser should have BEEN like Tom or taken Tom's positions.

The expediency of situational ethics should have no place here. To get elected, or to support those who will get elected merely for the privilege, as opposed to seeking election out of core principles, for either side, sours me on the very idea of partisan politics. If our party affiliation is to mean nothing, then we would be better served if we got rid of party affiliation altogether. At least then, the idea of being a Republican wouldn't become as meaningless as some, it would seem, prefer to make it.

Posted by: Hinton (Former Seattleite) on December 4, 2006 12:17 AM
4. After watching the upcoming display of "oversight" from the newly installed Democratic Majority in Congress, local Dem's will never vote for Republicans. They will be too scared that the citizens will actually have someone that might question how 20 uninterupted years of THEIR rule has put Washingtons Schools and Transportation in the mess they are in.

Posted by: Huh? on December 4, 2006 06:34 AM
5. ERNurse - you're incorrect on education. Every state now uses a standards based test based on grade level achievement. The standarized Iowa test you're talking about is a norm-referenced test that shows how kids are doing in comparison to one another, not whether they've actually reached the grade level standards expected of them.

As to you recommendation to campaign on something else, that's my whole point. Democrats have been campaigning on education and transporation and consistently beating Republicans in surburban districts in the last several election cycles. Republicans have spent a lot of time focusing on crime issues, especially sex offenders...and they've betting getting drilled at the ballot box. Why keep using the same formula for defeat?

Posted by: Eric Earling on December 4, 2006 06:48 AM
6. Eric is right on these issues. He and I disagree on the popularity of transit and other mass transportation projects, but the issue is there.

Rs in the 90s refused to pass a needed gas increase requested by WDOT for several years when they were in power. They felt that prevailing wage, overhead, etc. could control the costs and take those monies and transfer them to the needed road projects. I also support that, but....

If we, as a State, are stuck with overreaching environmental laws, unholy influence of unions, etc., we have to bite the bullet and pass tax increases. We have to continue the battle on the overreaching enviro laws and unholy influence of the unions, but we have to accept that it ain't going to happen in our lifetimes. Therefore, we need lane capacity and need to spend for it.

I will continue to vote against rail, though.

Posted by: swatter on December 4, 2006 07:14 AM
7. I think I'd agree with Eric on this.

The irony of a plea to Republicans to focus on education and transportation is rich. Typcially, Repubicans have been champions of infrastructure and self-reliance. What are the issues of education and transportation but infrastructure and self-reliance?

Let the democrats be the champions of handouts and bureaucracies.

Let the democrats explain why a major north-south freeway at the foothills is a bad idea because of environmental or cost concerns.

Let the democrats explain why multiplying the education service industry and empowering every household to get customized education for their children is a bad idea because one size needs to fit all.

There are big policy changes that could be championed that don’t have stock answers like “the voters said no about that once” or “our current system isn’t set up to work that way.”

Of course there are status-quo protection policies which make reforms impossible, but there needs to be a REASON to set long-vetted status quo policies aside. Look at how the “new deal” decimated a century of standardized thinking about government.

Success would give us a “twofer”—a bold policy or two based on a more accurate world view AND an excuse to blow away status quo policies that get in the way of the policies the public has come to want.

What is needed:
- Leaders who can passionately articulate a vision of what could be without getting mired in the technical details. Staying on offense on behalf of the bold but believable ideal rather than falling into timid defense.
- Adherents who recognize that a grand step toward a policy based upon our world-view is better than the status quo even if they don’t agree with 100% of the details. The R fan-base is not known for seeing the value of an 80% solution.
- Both willing to stay engaged rather than getting bored or sidetracked. How many years have the advocates for homosexual civil rights advocates pled their cause before it became law? Over a decade.

And education and transportation should be Republican issues. Self sufficiency and infrastructure will make all the rest moot.

Democrats, by their own measures, have failed in both transportation and education.

Posted by: knowsabit on December 4, 2006 08:55 AM
8. Rs in the 90s refused to pass a needed gas increase requested by WDOT for several years when they were in power.

Not exactly. The GOP felt the current 23-cent gas tax at the time was more than high enough, and imo, did the smart thing and directed the MVET money to a similar list of road projects. The passage of I-695 - which eliminated the MVET and the funding source - was the problem. Yes. Most Rs supported 695.

Instead of catering to the whiny cities and counties which had been wasting MVET money for years and thus providing backfill to the lost 695 dollars, the Rs should've placed the priority on transportation. However, none of that would've made any difference now. Do you honestly think the GOP would still be in power in Olympia if the gas tax was 38 cents a gallon and we were still paying $800 a year on a car tab? No, and no.

The problem is lack of leadership in the GOP - not because the Rs don't support throwing more money at education and transportation.

Posted by: jimg on December 4, 2006 09:06 AM
9. Well, in my sight and in hindsight, they should have increased the gas tax back then. I know; it bothered me then and still bothers me that a lot of the money gets wasted. But, if you can't beat the enviros and unions, you need to cut the best deal out there. In exchange for support, you could get better accountability (and I don't mean the current "accountability" where the engineers "jack up" the estimates so they can come in "on budget".

I never mentioned the license tabs. I voted for getting rid of this tax.

Posted by: swatter on December 4, 2006 10:34 AM
10. On transportation, may I that Republicans should also approach this issue from the perspective of growth managment. The main problem that many of us see is increasing stress upon the existing infrastructure caused by new home construction.

The state ends up in a quagmire, reacting to the inadequate infrastructure. I know that this will be an unpopular idea because it places more power in state government, but if the state is going to have to pay for upgraded highway infrastructure, maybe the state should be at the permitting table for new home development? Otherwise, I say let the county's cover start paying for their own highways. I

mpact fees are often very popular with voters since they are seen as a way of trying to offset future infrastructure costs requirements.

Paying after the fact with taxes which seems to be the only current method is probably the least attractive solution and gives the impression that we are not planning any kind of transportation future.

Posted by: TG on December 4, 2006 10:43 AM
11. So, NOTSO, you want the State to be more involved in Growth Mismanagement? Don't you think they have done enough damage? Hiring kids out of the Evergreen College and doing the Urban Planning for cities and counties that have a much better feel for the community is a good thing? I think not.

Posted by: swatter on December 4, 2006 11:01 AM
12. I think this is right, although it pains me to agree that what the GOP in this state needs to be is the "accountability party". That's what Rockefeller Republicanism was all about, and that's no way to grow a party. (I would point out, though, that the GOP in New York State has basically controlled the legislature and had a lot of success in the governor's mansion since the heady days of Nelson Reockefeller. To be sure, the party is essentially statist there, but they at least have a signficant say in public policy.)

But there is one way to make accountability more than good government me-tooism: give it teeth. With all of the spending this state already forks out on education and transportation (and Medicaid and public health and on and on), Lord knows that there's not just run-of-the-mill waste going on out there, but, no doubt, criminal fraud, abuse, and public corruption. And if the GOP asserts itself as the party of accountability AND of law-and-order, we might be on to something.

An aggressive package of whistleblower protections, civil false claims actions, greater criminal penalties for abusing state funds and--most important--a centralized enforcement unit to oversee and manage the program would be a good start. I'd suggest putting that responsibility in the state AG's office because, frankly, this is the kind of stuff that Rob McKenna excells at.

Imagine school administrators quaking when they get a call from the state auditor or AG's office looking to see why the ample taxpayer dollars the schools are getting aren't being used to educate the kids? It doesn't happen now, and I don't see why not.

Posted by: DJ on December 4, 2006 11:40 AM
13. The rout started in 2002 with Jim Horn. The Republicans could have exercised leadership in the area of transportation but Jim Horn blocked everything that came to his committee. He also sponsored two studies for a freeway going through Snoqualmie valley.
This is the kind of solution the Republicans have for transportation. A freeway that will force thousands of East County Republicans to give up their land to build a freeway that nobody wants.
It is interesting how so many Republicans continually cry about eminent domain but have no problem when it is used against there fellow Republicans!

Posted by: M&M on December 4, 2006 12:17 PM
14. What's wrong with an Eastside freeway?

And Mr. M&M, thanks for posting. The issue with the people I have talked to regarding emminent domain is two-fold:

1. The State and local governments steal land and declare it unbuildable without compensation under the guise of "enviromentalism";
2. The other beef is when government steals land with minimal compensation and use it to finance private development deals- I.E. the Souter property, for one. And then when the Monorail goes under, the Board doesn't offer the land they stole back to the original owner at the owner's selling price.

And pretty broad brush there M&M. Everyone living in the Snoqualmie Valley and owns property is a Republican? Do you Dems cede this land for Rs?

That has nothing to do with road building.

Posted by: swatter on December 4, 2006 12:42 PM
15. "Steal from the taxpayers, go to jail." That should be the GOP's catchphrase.

The only way to wean the interest groups off the public dole in this state is to remind them of the cost of doing buisness.

Posted by: DJ on December 4, 2006 12:42 PM
16. I think if the initiative were repackaged so the liberal Ds couldn't create confusion like they did, it would pass.

Posted by: swatter on December 4, 2006 02:24 PM
17. I wonder if a freeway could be made with SERIOUSLY limited access, like offramps only every ten miles or so?

Perhaps then a "foothills freeway" would not be quite as threatening to those who want to live close enough to contribute to congestion, but not close enough to merit a freeway for their own sake.

And of course the state should compensate property owners...that's part of the price of new infrastructure.

Posted by: anon on December 4, 2006 02:35 PM
18. swatter,
No not every property owner in East King County is Republican just like not everyone in Seattle is a Democrat but most are. So we are still placing the burden of fixing our transportation problems on a majority of Republicans. That doesn't make sense to me.

What's right with a Eastside freeway?
Nobody wants except a few libertarian bloggers and it will be enormously expensive.
More expensive than the underground Viaduct in Seattle.

Roads, roads, and only roads.
This kind of thinking is the reason Republicans will never win in the suburbs. People elect their representatives to solve problems not because of their dogmatic ideological beliefs. However, a politician can still apply their principles to
come up with a thoughtful and reasonable solution to a problem.

do actually this would happen politically? I am sorry I don't trust policitians that much.

Posted by: M&M on December 4, 2006 03:58 PM
19. I'll way in on this lost cause. I don't think it's the issues as much as the liberal mindset that has taken over this region. I don't believe that blind faith of liberal voters is going to deminish until they have completely destroyed this region, then they'll pick up their toys and ruin some other great area.

If there was a chance for Republicans, it would have to be so driven and passionate as to look a bit crazy. Pound the podium about complete school overhaul, police policy, criminal punishment, bums and panhandling, transportation MORE AUTO LANES and an East Valley Freeway.

Like DJ in post 15 - campaigns need to use the same catchy slogans as "Click it or Ticket" "Drive Hammered, get Nailed", etc. They sound cheesy, but they work.

Posted by: Jeffro on December 4, 2006 04:18 PM
20. It's not transportation and education.
It's the social issues.

Posted by: Mark on December 4, 2006 04:48 PM
21. [Text of comment deleted since an exact copy can also be found at Don Ward's post on King County GOP politics just below this thread at the Sound Politics main site. The comment is more relevant in that thread than here. - Eric]

Posted by: Richard Pope on December 4, 2006 05:30 PM
22. "The shortfall in the state highway system in the region is a central issue for the state and this Commission. While there are needs in the state highway system projected at $37.3 billion, the state is only expected to provide $8.2 billion of financial support based on current resources."

Welcome to reality. While you folks were predicting a 15% win for I-912 last year, I and others were highlighting this huge backlog and highway system need, and that Republicans were turning into the crowd that wanted something for nothing.

Voters want the legislature to stop quibbling and offer up solutions, and they recognize it is going to cost money. The right plans will win approval - the lack of a plan and you go down in flames.

Posted by: Daniel K on December 4, 2006 07:53 PM
23. I'd agree in principle that Eric is at least barking up the right trees. I would disagree with Mark completely. Gay Rights, Abortion, and those issues really don't drive the middle ground voters at the state house level, they are merely issues that can increase turnout of fringe (if 20% at each end of the spectrum can be considered fringe) areas of the party line voters. Where our Christian right (of which I am a card carrying member) has gone wrong it's in our zeal to promote and push non-public education. There really is no reason why we can't gain the upper ground on public education issues if we want to try.

A majority of the general public would agree with many of the more conservative principles dealing with education but the Republicans haven't capitalized on that and instead we've made their perception of the party even worse. Which party better supports public education? Run that survey in your 'burbs and you'll see why the Republicans are losing.

Posted by: Doug on December 4, 2006 08:43 PM
24. Doug, I'm not saying Eric doesn't have really good insight here. I agree with him. For the past 15 years I have been telling my Republican friends from rural Washington that I-405 and I-5 are high in the thoughts of all middle-of-the-road suburban voters. And it doesn't help that most rural Republicans are automatically against any gas tax increase. "No new taxes" didn't mean not adjusting for inflation and gas mileage efficiencies. The matrix needs to be tax-per-mile-traveled-adjusted-for-inflation. If we kept the gas tax equal to that over the years we would have been true to our principal of not increasing taxes. Instead we let it fall behind and independent voters are getting fed up. Eric is right in identifying voter frustration with the Republican position on transportation.
I'm just pointing to a bigger issue that for some reason Mainstream Republicans have let you Christian Conservatives off the hook for the past six years. In the spirit of "can't we all get along" we haven't called BS on the your insistence of forcing your theological belief on society.
Until you stop insisting that government be the vehicle to end abortions and sodomy you will continue to turn off enough voters to guarantee us from ever holding a majority in the legislature.
Didn't you ever learn the lessons of Ellen Craswell and Linda Smith?
The only two surviving Republican leglislators in King County, Skip Priest and Fred Jarret, both voted for the civil rights bill (gay rights) and are pro choice.
They survived on those issues and not transportation and education.

Posted by: Mark on December 4, 2006 10:47 PM
25. M&M, our geography in the region makes it difficult for more north-south highways.

The Freeman-McKenna proposal was quoting numbers like the highway reducing congestion by 25%, while the same dollars for transit would only reduce congestion by 5%. The numbers add up. I haven't heard anyone dispute them.

Why wouldn't Rs like them? Your opinion that the third highway would damage Rs more than Ds needs more clarification.

Posted by: swatter on December 5, 2006 07:19 AM
26. The big problem that folks east of the mountains have with increasing gas taxes for more transportation projects, and even for road maintenance, is that they see the taxes going up and the vast majority of the money being spent on projects on the I-5 corridor.

So, if you want to spend money on projects in the King-Pierce-Snohomish region, I'd say that's probably where the tax money, or at least most (75-90%) of it, should come from.

Maybe increase the gax tax in those counties. Or sales tax-that's how Alameda County (CA) funded extensions of BART.

Posted by: Heartless Libertarian on December 5, 2006 09:07 AM
27. New ideas? These are hardly new, but they have, seemingly escaped your attention: I have never been about power for power's sake; I am not willing to water down my principles to achieve an equally less palatable outcome: a Seattle-centric, damn the rest of the state view not unlike the political version of metrosexuality advocated by Matt... and now, Eric.

If sticking to principles makes me a "loser," then I'll live with that. I have never been about situational ethics or principles, and if keeping those while working towards conservative positions, positions found so frequently laughable by my obviously much more educated and urbane brethren such as yourself and Matt; if those keep me away from the center of political power, well, that is clearly best for all concerned.

I would have thought, however, that the disastrous results of the Vance Plan would have taught you at least something.

Apparently… Not.

In the end, assuming what amounts to democrat positions provides no incentive for democrats to vote for the GOP… nor, for that matter, independents. After all, why vote for the faux variety when you can get the real thing?

The GOP that I seek is not of the weaselly, Sam Reed - Don Carlson – Lincoln Chaffee types.

The GOP that I seek actually stands for something. It actually does what it says it’s going to do. It actually demonstrates something approaching competency in candidate selection, candidate preparation and candidate support, not to mention an actually functioning GOTV ground game, something clearly missing on November 7. It actually views smaller, more efficient government as something besides a bumper sticker slogan. It despises pork and corruption at any and every level. It never sells out. It actually, and this will stun you, has a plan, a plan talked about repeatedly, a plan that makes sense, a plan where each and every voter in this state knows EXACTLY what they're going to get if they elect us.

Can anyone here tell me what the plan was? Can anyone here tell me what electing the GOP to control the legislature in this state would have accomplished in this state?

Well, I can't either. And I suggest that if someone like me can't tell you, then the vast majority of voters in this state couldn't tell you either... and that is a recipe for disaster far beyond the issues that Matt has brought to our attention here.

Focus on sexy issues like those discussed by Matt all you like. Neglect these other, much less questionable and, IMHO, much more important requirements for political success and I don’t give a damn what issues you believe will bring success… because hell will freeze over before you find it.

Posted by: Hinton (Former Seattleite) on December 6, 2006 05:19 PM
28. Hinton -

I have this crazy idea that if one seeks to win some of the suburban legislative seats that are real pick-up opportunities for the GOP then one might want to start talking about the issues the voters in those districts care about. I don't think anyone is saying abandon other issues, I know I'm not. But it stands to reason that in a representative democracy, it helps to actually campaign on issues occupying the minds of the citizens one seeks to represent. Candidate preparation, party infrastructure, and consistent messaging don't mean anything if what is being said doesn't resonate with voters.

Posted by: Eric Earling on December 6, 2006 07:17 PM
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