Let’s talk “inside” politics for a moment. The Democratic and Republican parties play to win. Nationally, if we look at the number of governorships and state legislatures in Republican hands, it is clear that the Republican party is better at winning elections. Big money is part of the reason. It is now making its way into our area. Republican party advocates are lodging a wave of complaints against Democratic candidates over mostly minor discrepancies with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) and the Washington State Office of the Attorney General. The same or similar advocates file the same complaints with cities, including Tukwila, which has an ethics review board. These efforts have the effect of creating doubt in the minds of voters.
At the same time, Republican party advocates are suing Democratic party districts over similar issues. The timing is perfect. These activities burden candidates and districts with paperwork, the time consumed in responding, legal fees and retainers right when it matters the most – campaign season. The merits of the complaints and legal cases are mostly questionable, or picayune. But it does not matter. The strategy is to tie up an opponent’s resources. This process works well in low-voter turnout cities like Tukwila.
I hear anecdotally that the state attorney general and the public disclosure commission are finding it difficult to keep up with the volume of complaints of this type. Taxpayers pay the bill, so hopefully, the state will find a way to place limits on abuse of the system.
Concurrently, money and support are being made available to local Republican candidates. Largely, this is the impact of the super rich creating umbrella foundations that finance the efforts of various partisan organizations around the country. These organizations seek out new candidates and support them with money and political infrastructure. Under current law, all of this is legal and it works.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans should embrace harassment tactics. The candidates and parties need to get out there and make their case. Both sides have good points.
If you don’t do politics, politics will do you. Government creates laws that govern us. It is up to us to be skeptical but not cynical. We should ask ourselves, “What is being said, who is saying it, and why should I believe them?” Many of us vote by party preference. While our City Council positions are nonpartisan, it is reasonable to ask a candidate what party they prefer. If the candidate will not tell you, take a look at the endorsements. It is easy to figure out.
Whatever the case, now you know.
Tukwila Reporter columnist Chuck Parrish can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.