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Politics wrap: Inslee and AWB, Women pols, Paycheck fairness ... or not
At first, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee was squeamish about participating in the every- four-year governor's debate tradition sponsored by the Association of Washington Business. The group does cleave toward Republican candidates, but Democrats like Gov. Chris Gregoire usually make it their business to attend anyway.
Inslee relented . The event is next Tuesday, June 12, in Spokane.
This week, however, Inslee and AWB exchanged less-than-pleasant correspondence about a campaign donation made by Tesoro to AWB and then, Inslee mistakenly thought, to his debate opponent, Rob McKenna.
An excerpt from Inslee's letter:
"Like candidates in past elections, Jay Inslee is pleased to participate in the gubernatorial debate hosted by the Association of Washington Businesses (AWB). This debate has become an important part of the race for governor of Washington.
"We have appreciated the AWB's effort to ensure a fair debate. It has come to our attention that AWB recently created a political action committee and accepted a $100,000 contribution from Tesoro....
"As you can imagine, accepting $100,000 from a major oil company openly supporting Mr. McKenna leaves the impression that the money is intended for eventual use on behalf of Mr. McKenna and against Jay Inslee. This raises serious concerns for us, and we imagine it will raise concerns for many viewers and voters as well''.
An excerpt, as well, from AWB's letter in response::
"The $100,000 contribution to our PAC referenced in your June 5 letter was, in fact, received by AWB -- and then contributed to the Voters Want More Choices - Save the 2/3's 1185 campaign. None of these funds were allocated toward any candidates. Our PDC filings indicate as much.
"Moreover, we are not in a position to dictate where our members choose to donate their own political funds. We only control those funds given to us, and in this case, they were received and then transmitted to the I-1185 campaign for the purposes of signature gathering.
"We are pleased to know that Mr. Inslee remains committed to our debate next Tuesday, June 12 in Spokane, and look forward to hearing him articulate his ideas about the key issues facing our state. We have taken every effort to ensure the fairness of this event.''
When it comes to electing women to national, state and local office, Washington has long had much to brag about. It is the only state in the country with a female governor and two female U.S. senators. Three other states, Maine, New Hampshire and California, have two female senators, but the governors are all men.
For many years, Washington vied for first place with Maine for the highest percentage of female legislators.
But Pete Callahan of the The News Tribune writes that Washington is no longer a mecca for female politicians, especially with Gov. Chris Gregoire leaving office at the end of the year. Secretary of State candidate Kathleen Drew played the "girl card'' last weekend, reminding folks at the state party convention that she is the only female Democrat running for statewide office this year.
Republican Kim Wyman, of course, current Thurston County auditor, is a female Republican running for that same statewide office.
Callahan's piece tallied the number of women in the Legislature, and guess what: Washington is slipping from its perch at the top to a spot behind five other states in the percentage of female lawmakers.
The Paycheck Fairness Act, which Democrats have been pushing this election year, got stymied in the U.S. Senate this week. The vote on legislation designed to close the pay gap between men and women happened, predictably, along party lines.
The legislation would have made it easier for women to sue over pay deemed unequal.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington gave the following floor speech:
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