Election 2012

Every election season, political signs sprout like dandelions from lawns across America. They also pop up at more than a few businesses. For some, expressing political preferences is a calculated move to attract customers. But it can just as easily turn clients away.

Jeff Reiter, who owns the Blue Plate Lunch Counter & Soda Fountain in Portland, Ore., proudly displays a 2008 Obama campaign sign inside his restaurant and says he has "never tried to hide" his support for the president.

It seemed normal enough when President Obama chatted with a coffee shop patron about beer in Iowa Tuesday. The president has shown he's a fan of beer — and it's the most politically expedient, "everyman" beverage a candidate can drink. But then the president told a man at Knoxville, Iowa's Coffee Connection cafe that he travels with his own home-brew — and gave him a bottle to prove it.

janmikeuy photo / Flickr

Seattle is renowned for its public libraries – and for people who love them.

Twelve years ago, the city's voters approved the “Libraries for All” levy and pumped nearly $200-million dollars into the system, to upgrade branches and build a new central library downtown. At the time, it was the largest bond measure ever passed for a library levy, anywhere in the country.

Now, Seattle is going back to voters with Proposition 1 on the August ballot. And it might be the first time some library-lovers are saying ‘not so fast.’

Paula Wissel / KPLU

King County Proposition 1 would replace what’s called the Youth Services Center at 12th Avenue and East Alder Street with a brand new facility.  The current buildings sit on 9 acres of a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood near Seattle University. The proposal includes selling off 3 corners of the property to developers.

As candidates go, Washington Supreme Court Justice Steve Gonzalez seems to have everything going for him. But his supporters worry his name may hurt him.

As early as next week, Washington residents will be able to register to vote on Facebook.

The idea started coming to life last fall: Create a web application for voter registration. Secretary of State Sam Reed worked with Facebook and Microsoft Corporation on the app.

Washington tries to get immigrant data for voter rolls

Jul 18, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s Secretary of State has joined with Colorado and several other states to request access to a federal database that checks immigration status. That information could be used to remove illegal immigrants from the voter rolls. But it probably won’t happen before the 2012 election.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A campaign staffer for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna has apologized for two tweets she sent months ago making fun of Asians and the elderly.

Initiative deadline arrives in Washington, Oregon

Jul 5, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – “Groundhog Day.” That’s what Washington initiative promoter Tim Eyman says it going to feel like Friday. This will be the third time Eyman has submitted signatures for a ballot measure to require a supermajority vote of the legislature to raise taxes. Friday is the deadline in Washington and Oregon for initiative sponsors seeking to qualify for the November ballot.

Pierce County voters will decide this fall whether to raise the sales tax so that Pierce Transit can restore some of the bus service that was cut last year.

Rep. Ron Paul, who is still technically in the hunt for the Republican presidential nomination, seems to have finally accepted his fate.

In an email sent to supporters late last night, the Texas congressman said by the time the Republican National Convention comes around, he won't have sufficient delegates to secure the nomination.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, just the third governor in U.S. history to face a recall effort, is now the first to successfully defeat such an attempt. The Associated Press projected that Walker would defeat Milwaukee's Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett in what was a rematch of the 2010 gubernatorial election.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A union-backed political group has reserved some $2 million in ad time before the November election.

A lawyer and a citizen have each filed ethics complaints against Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna.

Kyle Olive and Kimberly Christensen said Thursday they submitted concerns this week to the King County ombudsman, arguing that McKenna violated various parts of the county ethics law during his time on the King County Council.

The Associated Press

President Barack witnessed support for his decision to support gay marriage first hand from his motorcade through Seattle Thursday.

He passed a woman holding an infant and a sign that said: "Thank you! Mr. President for standing up for my mommys!"

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Republican leaders in Washington are bracing for a combative state convention as supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul look to seize more delegates.

Paul devotees have fared well in caucus states, recently taking control of state conventions in Maine and Nevada.

The Legislature's adjournment is good news for Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna's gubernatorial campaign coffers.

McKenna now can start fundraising again and try to close the gap between him and Democratic candidate Jay Inslee in the race for the governor's office.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Chris Gregoire is calling a special election to fill former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee's seat for just one month.

Meanwhile, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna is calling on lawmakers to pass several reform bills as part of their negotiated budget deal, and he strongly criticized House Speaker Frank Chopp, saying he is blocking a vote on those bills.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna has challenged his Democratic opponent Jay Inslee to 15 debates in the coming months. Inslee's campaign says they had already confirmed three so far.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – We’re hearing a lot these days about Super PACS and who’s funding them. At the state level, Washington gets high marks for requiring full disclosure of who’s bankrolling political campaigns. Even so, a new public radio study highlights weaknesses in Washington – especially when it comes to transparency.

It’s not always so easy to follow the money.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee's decision to resign from Congress to focus full time on his gubernatorial race has triggered questions that have state elections officials scrambling to determine if they need to hold a special election on the same day as the regular November election to fill the final month of his term.

Blur of same-sex marriage referendums confusing

Mar 11, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Over the next few months , someone may approach you with a petition. Opponents of same-sex marriage are trying to force a referendum vote on Washington’s new marriage equality law. There’s also a separate initiative to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Meanwhile, gay rights supporters are also collecting signatures for their own non-binding pledge. Confused?

The Associated Press

Rep. Jay Inslee is resigning from Congress to focus full time on running for governor of Washington state this fall.

The Democrat announced his decision Saturday at a news conference in Seattle. Inslee is in his eighth term representing a Seattle-area district in the House.

Less than two weeks ago, Inslee told KPLU that he would remain in Congress while running for the governor's seat.

Inslee said then: “Listen, that did not stop me from putting out my job creation agenda. … Yes, I've got some responsibilities in Washington D.C., but we are pursuing a very vigorous effort to [get] people back to work.”

Attorney General Rob McKenna is temporarily able to raise money again for his gubernatorial bid.

The Republican's campaign is asking people to donate money between Friday and midnight Sunday. The narrow window is between when the state Legislature adjourned and when lawmakers reconvene for a special session to deal with budget issues they failed to resolve the last time around.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that each Mormon in good standing should tithe 10 percent of his or her income.

"That's written in stone, and preached from the pulpit," says Gordon Dahl, an economist at the University of California, San Diego, who is Mormon.

But while the church is very precise about that figure — 10 percent of income — it does not tell its members what income means.

"Which is really interesting to us economists, because we want to know how people define income," says Dahl.

The Associated Press

Now that U.S. Representative Norm Dicks has announced he’s retiring, western Washington will have three open seats for Congress in this fall’s election. That’s unusual, and it could mean a lot of national attention for those elections.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pulled ahead of his rivals in Washington State's presidential straw poll on Saturday, with more than one-third of the votes. Romney finished well ahead of Ron Paul, who himself squeaked past Rick Santorum by just over 500 votes. Newt Gingrich had to settle for about one vote in 10.

Why we fight: The psychology of political differences

Mar 1, 2012

Americans, it seems, have never been more polarized about religion and politics. With minds made up and combat-ready, we have a hard time bridging the chasms that divide us.

In The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, explains why. A moral perspective, he argues, is a feature of our evolutionary design. Morality has made it possible for human beings — unlike any other creatures — to forge large, cohesive, cooperative groups. Morality also blinds as it binds, producing conflicts between groups, tribes and countries.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Republican presidential contenders Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are returning to Washington state to hold rallies in the days leading up to Saturday's caucuses.

Like baseballs in a batting cage, the controversies that divide us just keep on coming. Fast and unpredictable.

Last month it was the flap over the Susan G. Komen foundation and its move to cut financial support of Planned Parenthood. The resulting imbroglio dredged up deeply held convictions among Americans about women's health issues and "cause marketing" that, in this case, has resulted in profits for companies promoting breast cancer awareness and research through pink and omnipresent product tie-ins.

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