Camden: Gun initiative campaigns loaded with dollars, rhetoric

By Jim Camden September 10, 2014 6 a.m.

Law enforcement agencies may not be getting much love in most of the country after images of heavily armed cops filled news coverage of protests in Ferguson, Mo. But here in Washington, the dueling gun initiatives are competing for the claim of "cops love my initiative better."

Camden: State pot advertising rules next step in brave new world

By Jim Camden September 3, 2014 6 a.m.

Every time I forget how far Washington's venture into the world of legalized recreational marijuana takes us from the days when illegal pot was the stuff of counterculture song and legend, the state manages to remind me.

Camden: Gun-control measure gets backing from Seattle area

By Jim Camden August 27, 2014 6 a.m.

The vast majority of money supporting the initiative to expand background checks on guns comes from just 10 ZIP codes in the Seattle area, much of it from people with ties to the tech industry.

Camden: Sighs of relief for pension ruling, progress in grain talks

By Jim Camden August 20, 2014 6 a.m.

If anyone heard some unusual sounds during the past week, chances are they were picking up collective sighs of relief, with some collective grumbling mixed in, for various events.

Camden: Primary numbers don't always add up in general election

By Jim Camden August 13, 2014 6 a.m.

The week after the primary seems like a good time for a lesson in primary numbers, which is offered by the poli sci department, not the math department.

Camden: Dems try to cash in on impeachment, lawsuit fears

By Jim Camden August 6, 2014 6 a.m.

If some congressional Republicans hadn't come up with the twin ideas of impeaching and suing President Barack Obama, Democrats might have invented it as a way to wring money out of suckers on their email lists.

Camden: Making voting easier small part of improving turnout

By Jim Camden July 30, 2014 6 a.m.

With Washington's primary a mere one week away, the big question — after who'll survive and go to the general election, of course — is how many voters will bother to cast ballots.

Camden: Candidates wage war of words over income-tax claim

By Jim Camden July 9, 2014 6 a.m.

In these dog days of summer, things that would not get a second look the rest of the year are tested for news viability under much lower July vacation standards in an effort to fill the paper.

Camden: Some squabbles continue long after campaigns end

By Jim Camden April 30, 2014 6 a.m.

For a political reporter, state initiatives have become gifts that just keep on giving.

Camden: Washington election performance earns high marks

By Jim Camden April 16, 2014 6 a.m.

When a good-government group last week rated the states’ election procedures, Washington received respectable but not stellar marks, while neighboring Idaho was close to the bottom.

Camden: Checking the political climate for Washington in 2014

By Jim Camden January 8, 2014 6 a.m.

As it has in some past years, Spin Control looks into the crystal ball to predict the year ahead.

Camden: Time for reindeer games? Test your Christmas knowledge

By Jim Camden December 25, 2013 6 a.m.

It's time once again for the 12 Trivias of Christmas, our annual quiz that keeps politics from intruding on the holiday season. So here we go with the quiz. Put your hand over the answers at the bottom. If you peek, you probably have been peeking under the wrappings of your presents, too. Shame.

Camden: Republicans pack 'planning kit' for August recess

By Jim Camden July 31, 2013 6:01 a.m.

Republican members of the U.S. House seem to be leaving little to chance as their members prepare to spend the August recess among their voters. A "planning kit" explains how to maximize exposure and minimize contrary opinions on issues like health care reform. In the kit's introductory letter to her fellow Republicans, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers says they should tell the folks back home the GOP is fighting for them against Washington and the bureaucracy. "There is no better message than one that puts the American people before an out-of-control government," she wrote.

Camden: Obama opponents can learn a lot from Apple Cup

By Jim Camden June 2, 2013 6:02 a.m.

After viewing last year's Apple Cup as a Cougar fan in the midst of a room full of Huskies, it strikes me that would-be secessionists could learn a lot from the annual intrastate rivalry. That's saying quite a bit about the position on the outer ring of craziness of those petitioning the White House to leave the Union, considering the passion that accompanies the game.

Camden: GOP rhetoric fails to keep tax loophole from closing

By Jim Camden May 1, 2013 6:01 a.m.

There is an axiom in legislating, that when you have the votes to pass something, you shut up and cast them. When you don't have the votes, you talk. A corollary to that in this year's legislative session seems to be that when you don't have the votes, you offer up comments as quotable as possible. When you have the votes, you don't need to be pithy or clever; you speak as little as possible and cast them.

Camden: LaHood fails to bridge gap between CRC backers, foes

By Jim Camden April 24, 2013 6:01 a.m.

OLYMPIA — When a federal Cabinet secretary stopped by the Capitol earlier this month, trying to prod the Legislature into action on a big multistate project, he got a warm welcome from Gov. Jay Inslee. Not so much from Senate Republicans. So what would one expect for a member of a Democratic president's administration, you might be thinking. Considering it was Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman, some folks were expecting something a bit more politic.

Camden: Gubernatorial debate puts Vancouver in spotlight

By Jim Camden August 5, 2012 6 a.m.

A sign that Washington's campaign season remains in the doldrums despite the fact that ballots are in voters' hands arrived on July 27 with the announcement that two gubernatorial debates had been scheduled. One will be in Vancouver on Aug. 29 and another in Yakima on Oct. 2. This is great news, not solely because putting Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna on the same stage is instructive for voters and good theater for political junkies. These are also two places that often have little chance to get up close and personal with gubernatorial candidates, let alone host a debate.

Camden: 8 simple rules for candidates for public office

By Jim Camden May 20, 2012 6 a.m.

Last week marked the official start of campaign season. Would-be officeholders filed the paperwork and plunked down the fees for the political position of their choice, or perhaps their dreams.

Camden: McKenna taught lesson he should have already learned

By Jim Camden May 2, 2012 6 a.m.

Candidates should act as though cameras are everywhere, because most likely they are. That’s the lesson of a 30-second exchange between Rob McKenna, the state attorney general who is running for governor, and a young woman on a Seattle sidewalk that went from pointed conversation to YouTube video overnight and resuscitated an issue Republicans were probably glad to have killed during the legislative session.

Camden: Politicizing the legislative session just politics as usual

By Jim Camden April 25, 2012 6 a.m.

A week after the Legislature’s overtime session wrapped up, Democrats accused GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna of delaying the final compromise by politicizing the process. Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, joined members of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee’s staff to accuse McKenna of using the budget stalemate “for political purposes” to push reform proposals.

Camden: Lawmakers should rid vocabularies of tired phrases

By Jim Camden April 18, 2012 6 a.m.

OLYMPIA -- Now that the Legislature has wandered, bleary-eyed, out of town, would it be too much to hope they took some of their overworked phrases with them and didn’t bring them back?

Camden: McMorris Rodgers joins fight over ‘War on Women’

By Jim Camden March 28, 2012 6 a.m.

Whether there’s a War on Women being waged by politicians around the country is open to debate. There is definitely a War Over the War On Women, and Washington state has a top commander on both sides of the battle lines.

Camden: Transparency eludes legislators from both parties

By Jim Camden March 7, 2012 6 a.m.

During this legislative session in Olympia, transparency seems to be like one of those windows one sees on television cop shows, where officers watch through one-way glass as a detective grills the suspect. It’s transparent from the dark little room where other cops watch but reflectively opaque to the suspect.

Camden: McMorris Rodgers for VP? Chatter has already begun

By Jim Camden February 8, 2012 6 a.m.

A political website in the other Washington suggests a certain congresswoman from this Washington could get the No. 2 spot on the GOP presidential ticket this fall. The Daily Caller quotes Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway as saying U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane would fill the bill as a vice presidential selection that “needs to be a surprise, but not a shocker.”

Camden: State’s assignment: Pay for programs

By Jim Camden December 28, 2011 6 a.m.

In trying to come up with a pithy description for the Legislature’s recent special session, I couldn’t shake the memory of a particularly annoying greeting adults seemed to enjoy during my teenage years: Working hard, or hardly working? Ask the handful of legislators involved in budget negotiations, they’d say the former. Ask many others in or around the Capitol, the judgment would likely be the latter. By outward appearances, the workload for this emergency session was disappointingly light. Even protesters from Occupy Olympia, who had to be escorted out of budget hearings and forcibly removed from the Capitol rotunda at the start of the first week, gave up any pretense of interest by the second.

Camden: Booze issue ads have law on their side

By Jim Camden October 5, 2011 6 a.m.

The campaigns for and against the get-the-state-out-of-the-booze-biz initiative seem in a competition for “first responders” willing to endorse their stance. It started with the ad by Protect Our Communities, the official name of the No on I-1183 committee, which enlisted a county sheriff, a city police chief and a pair of firefighters to denounce the proposal. They look earnestly into the camera, sometimes with lights of emergency vehicles flashing in the background, to suggest the proposal is just a few short steps from turning Washington into a perpetual kegger for teens. Wait a minute, you might say when first seeing the ad. Isn’t the use of government equipment banned from campaigns for or against a candidate or ballot measure? Yes. But look closely and you’ll see that the vehicles aren’t identifiable as a particular department’s squad car or agency’s ambulance. They’re generic rentals, not actual emergency vehicles.

Camden: Medical marijuana rules confuse

By Jim Camden September 18, 2011 6 a.m.

Whether she realized it or not last spring when wielding her “partial veto” pen, Gov. Chris Gregoire has prompted a hodgepodge of pot laws around the state and a fair amount of confusion among the cities. In Seattle, where possession of a small amount of marijuana is less likely to bring public condemnation than drinking mediocre coffee, medical marijuana dispensaries are being told to register as businesses, pay their taxes, meet building codes, and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. But be advised: No-smoking laws apply to smoking medical marijuana, too.