Political news

The campaign to bring charter schools to Washington has now raised $10.8 million in cash contributions.

Federal Election Law Hotlines Tend To Be Snoozers In NW

Oct 31, 2012

This election day, the U.S. Department of Justice will have federal attorneys in every state, ready to take complaints. It's a long-standing program aimed at combating election fraud and voter rights abuses. But the hotlines tend to be pretty quiet in the Northwest.

The election day program has been around for decades. But attorneys in Oregon and eastern Washington say -– at least in recent memory -– they haven't gotten any complaints. Western Washington received a few calls in 2008 about voter registration issues.

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee has burned through his cash as the campaign enters the final week.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Brad Pitt has agreed to donate $100,000 to help the Human Rights Campaign raise money for its efforts to support same-sex marriage initiatives in several states.

President Obama offered thoughts and prayers Tuesday for all those who have been affected by Sandy. He also offered something more tangible: the full resources of the federal government.

"The most important message I have for them is that America's with you," he said. "We are standing behind you, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get back on your feet."

For Obama, the federal government is a critical vehicle for that kind of help. Republicans put more faith in local government, and even voluntary efforts.

Hurricane Sandy's on-the-ground devastation has yet to be cataloged, and how the violent storm may affect the presidential campaign with just a week to Election Day is equally uncertain.

Will President Obama's response to the disaster help or hurt his re-election prospects? Or will the campaign's new trajectory — canceled appearances, postponed early voting — ultimately benefit Republican Mitt Romney?

Not really thinking much about that, are you?

Atomic Taco

Bus riders in Pierce County face dramatic cuts to service if voters reject a ballot proposition to hike the sales tax. Opponents are fighting hard against the measure, saying it would make Pierce County’s sales tax the highest on the West Coast.

If you ask people in downtown Tacoma how they feel about paying more in sales tax, you hear a common refrain.

"The sales tax is pretty high as it is, and I think it will be hard for people to swallow," said Michele Anderson.

In King County, both men vying to be sheriff say they'll reform a department found to do a poor job of investigating police misconduct complaints.

But neither Steve Strachan nor John Urquhart are what you'd call outside reformers. 

(To hear the entire story, click the Listen button above.)

Voters in both Oregon and Washington are considering measures this November that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. If they pass, the laws would further widen the legal gap with neighboring Idaho, where police worry about spillover.

Idaho State Police Major Kevin Hudgens just learned about the two measures to the west of his state. He says they concern him.

“Common sense tells me that I’m sure we’d see some of our residents going over to Oregon and Washington to purchase marijuana. So, we would likely see an increase in that.”

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Democratic Party says it will donate contributions from controversial spiritual leader JZ Knight to the Anti-Defamation League and the campaign to uphold gay marriage. That announcement late Friday follows the release of new video clips that show Knight making offensive and at times bizarre comments about gay people and people from Mexico.

The latest video clips were released by the conservative Freedom Foundation. In them Knight says gay men were once Catholic women. And attacks people from Mexico.

The race between Democratic U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell and her Republican challenger State Senator Michael Baumgartner is not getting a lot of national attention. Political watchers say Baumgartner is a respected, credible candidate. Despite this, polls are predicting Cantwell will have a very easy path to victory.

This is the time of a long election season when voters can begin to feel weary. You can't watch the World Series without seeing ads so scolding and snarling you may want to shoo away your children. The ads can make voting seem like a nasty chore.

When 93-year-old Frank Tanabe of Honolulu moved into the home of his daughter, Barbara, earlier this year, he had liver cancer and knew he was going to die. But his family said he was determined to hold on long enough to vote.

Less than two weeks to go until Election Day, and some people are still scrambling to register for the Oct. 29 in-person deadline.

Pedro Fp / Flickr

If Initiative 502 passes, walking around with a bag of marijuana (up to an ounce) will be legal just in time for the holidays … so take note, gift-givers (and be aware those of you who might think the law takes effect right away). 

Even though the elaborate state-regulated apparatus for growing, processing and selling marijuana would take more than a year to come online, simple possession would be legal starting December 6.

Seka Ojdrovic-Phillips / KPLU

With ballots and voters’ guides in-hand, it’s time to narrow in on the issues. For those who prefer an interactive way to exchange opinions on the ballot measures, there’s the Living Voters Guide, sponsored by Seattle CityClub and the University of Washington.

Gregoire to candidates: 'Sounds good, doesn't work'

Oct 26, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Outgoing Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has a message for the candidates to replace her: “sounds good, doesn’t work.” That’s Gregoire’s take on several of the budget-balancing ideas she’s hearing from fellow Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna.

In response to reporter questions, Gregoire got to play the role of seasoned eight-year veteran of the governor’s office. Both candidates say they would look to close outdated tax loopholes.

“I said that eight years ago," the governor says. "I’ve learned a lot.”

Thirty years ago, the primatologist Frans de Waal published Chimpanzee Politics, a wonderful bombshell of a book that revealed the depth of chimpanzees' social complexity. Based on long-term observations at Arnhem Zoo in the Netherlands, many of de Waal's descriptions match comfortably with what chimpanzees in the wild have since been observed to do.

Reporters from four public media stations on the West Coast have been working on a project to find out what is — or isn't — motivating young voters to take part in the political process this year.

TAMPA, Fla. – The FBI is joining an investigation into bogus letters sent from Seattle to many Florida voters that raise questions about their eligibility to cast ballots.

Marijuana legalization is back on the ballot this year. California voters defeated a legalization proposal in 2010, but now similar measures have cropped up in three more Western states. This time around, some of the most intense opposition is coming from the earlier pioneers of legalization — the medical marijuana industry.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Republicans have released documents that show Governor Chris Gregoire appointed a state senator to a $92,000 a year job –- despite concerns that the senator wasn’t qualified for the position. This is just the latest development in a political drama touched off by the appointment.

Population growth triggered changes to Washington’s political map. This week, KPLU is looking at two districts with the most dramatic changes - the new 10th Congressional district, which takes in Joint Base Lewis-McChord and our state capitol, and the first Congressional district, a seat Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee used to hold.

If you’ve looked at your ballot, you may have noticed that you're in a new Congressional district.

If so, you're hardly alone. More than a million western Washington residents have been reassigned to new Congressional districts.

That's true for every resident of the new 10th district – which was added to the state because of population growth in the 2010 census.

As both the Democrat and Republican in the race explain, the dominant symbol for this area is Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

In an election year when young people, 18 to 30, are disparaged for their apparent lack of interest (and here), KPLU has begun a video project to find out what would drive a young person to vote in this election.

We’ve started gathering our videos on the Tumblr page “Give Me a Reason” and will continue to add to it this week. We also hope you (young person) will add your video to our project by submitting it on our Tumblr page.


OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Bill and Melinda Gates have donated $500,000 to the campaign to uphold the state's same-sex marriage law.

Transcript of the third debate between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla., moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS. Source: Federal News Service

Editor's Note: NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future.

One-on-one with Washington's candidates for governor

Oct 22, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Ballots are arriving in the mail. And a new poll shows the race for Washington governor is a virtual dead heat. Whoever is elected will inherit a budget shortfall along with a court order to spend more on education.

Foreign policy proved to be a subject that kept the tone mostly substantive tonight in the third and final debate between President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney before the Nov. 6 election.

Here's the third and final presidential debate live via YouTube's politics channel. And ... a poll (vote after the debate)!