Our usually off-the-grid state just became ground zero for the national parties in the election.
We are typically, blissfully, far off the beaten track for national politics. Not this year.
The news that national Democrats have poured more money into our 8th Congressional District since the primary than any other House race in the nation is yet another sign that this is going to be one jacked-up election.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has dropped $1.4 million on the 8th of the Eastside suburbs over to Wenatchee since Aug. 1, McClatchy reports — more than twice as much as the next highest district, one in Florida. Mostly it bought those ubiquitous TV ads calling Republican candidate Dino Rossi a “huckster.”
The campaign has been about one big thing: Tru … no, wait, it’s been surprisingly all about health care.
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The Democrats are hitting Rossi for long ago submitting a state budget that would have cut health coverage for 46,000 kids. It’s half true, but partly not because that was a proposal that didn’t pass. The final budget, which Rossi also negotiated, didn’t include the health-care cuts.
Meanwhile the Republicans are excoriating newcomer candidate Kim Schrier for allegedly turning away poor kids on Medicaid from what they call her Issaquah medical practice. This is bogus because she’s a doctor for Virginia Mason — she doesn’t have her own practice — and hospital management decides insurance matters, not the doctors.
“Kim Schrier profits, while kids suffer,” the ad (from House Speaker Paul Ryan’s PAC) concludes.
These ads are fascinating for a few reasons.
One is that the political sharks seem to have concluded that health care is the biggest issue in the election. This is maybe understandable for the Democrats, who poll better on it. But for the GOP it’s a head-scratcher, as it spent most of last year trying to slash Medicaid and remove health coverage from 20 million Americans (in other words, attempting to do that which they falsely accuse Schrier of doing).
But that move is straight from the old Karl Rove playbook: Attack your opponent’s strength. It could work, as Schrier is relatively unknown, having never run for office before.
Voters more interested in what the candidates themselves say about health care can read Schrier’s 40-point, 2,700-word plan, which includes allowing anyone to buy into Medicare. And Rossi’s 2-point, 170-word plan, which is tax credits for businesses and ending mandates.
I thought this campaign would be more of a Trump fight. Rossi was a Trump delegate at the GOP National Convention, and our state is the third-most anti-Trump state in the nation (we trail only Massachusetts and Vermont, according to the polling firm Morning Consult). So I figured Democrats would put a MAGA hat on Rossi’s head and just pound away. But so far an election of intense national focus is being fought more on local concerns (which is Rossi’s stated strategy, by the way).
Speaking of Trump, I thought the other big local politics news — Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner’s scoop that Paul Allen donated $100,000 to help Republicans keep the U.S. House — was an uncharacteristically tone-deaf mistake by the Seahawks owner.
Allen spreads his money around to politicians in both parties every year, as many superwealthy folks do. So donating to Republicans is no surprise. But the political-action committee he gave to — called “Protect The House” — turns out to be a greasy cog in the Trump grift machine, in which GOP events increasingly are held at Trump properties, to suck up to the chief while funneling profit to the Trump family.
Example: The day before Allen’s $100,000 contribution was booked, Protect the House held a lavish $3.2 million fundraiser at Trump’s International Hotel in D.C. (there’s no indication Allen personally attended). So far this year, Protect the House has paid Trump’s hotels and the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida a total of $69,323, according to the donation tracker site OpenSecrets. Protect the House gets this money from donors.
“Trump has refused to do as his predecessors have done: sever ties to (his) companies or financial interests,” OpenSecrets says. “Trump and his family are in the unique position to profit directly from his public service.”
C’mon Paul, you’re by all accounts a good government guy. You sure you want to be a part of such an obvious racket?
Finally, a note about me: I have been called to jury duty for the rest of this week. Surely they won’t pick an enemy of the people to serve on an actual jury? So with any luck I should be back before the fall elections really start heating up.