Before slamming shut the book on 2020 — a year the numerical equivalent of perfect vision but that often made us wish we could close our eyes and keep them shut — Spin Control wants to keep with tradition and award some of the political and government highlights and low points of the year.
The Fruit of the Forbidden Tree Award goes to Gov. Jay Inslee, who decided it would be a neighborly thing to bring boxes of apples from trees behind the Governor’s Mansion to burned-out residents of Malden and Bridgeport after the catastrophic wildfires last summer. Unfortunately, the mansion is in Thurston County, which is an apple maggot quarantine zone for a reason. The agricultural services had to be put on alert, the infested fruit rounded up and properly destroyed, and the governor’s staff required to write, “We will not let the boss endanger the state’s most recognizable crop” 100 times. His name will be carved into the base of the award, which is made from a paving stone lifted from the road to you-know-where.
A Mini-Me Statuette, to Republican gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp, for running a campaign most like a larger political candidate. What’s larger than the governor’s race? The presidency, of course, and Culp’s campaign had some striking similarities to President Donald Trump’s effort, from its populist themes to its multiple campaign rallies with unmasked attendees during the pandemic, as well as a huge gap behind the winner in the state and unsuccessful legal challenges of the results by the loser.
A Jubilation T. Cornpone Citation, named for the character in “Li’l Abner” famous for really bad strategies, to Republican Joshua Freed. An early front-runner in the gubernatorial race, the former mayor of Bothell finished third and thus out of the money in that primary. Undaunted, he announced a write-in campaign for lieutenant governor, which featured two Democrats who finished first and second in the top two primary. This despite the fact that no one has pulled off a write-in win for a statewide office in a general election. That record remains intact. Freed shares the award with donors who ponied up some $130,000 for the doomed campaign. But at least it gave some rock-ribbed Republicans someone to write on the ballot in the lieutenant governor’s race.
The Say What? Award, to Chirayu Patel, the Republican candidate for insurance commissioner whose unusual campaign platform included inviting his opponents to share the duties of the office should he be elected and a statement that he could channel the minds of Thomas Jefferson and Ronald Reagan in redesigning the state’s insurance regulations. Accompanying the award is a “Better Red than Dead” shoutout to the 14 counties that voted for Patel over 20-year veteran Mike Kreidler in the general election.