Brad Toft: State Senate race is too close to call, despite Mark Mullet’s lead

November 8, 2012

NEW — 12:10 p.m. Nov. 8, 2012

The contest for the 5th Legislative District state Senate seat is too close to call, Snoqualmie Republican Brad Toft said Thursday, despite a 3,307-vote lead for Issaquah Democrat Mark Mullet.

The race attracted attention in recent weeks for the insults the candidates lobbed at one another and, for a time, observers said the match-up could determine state Senate control. However, Republicans did not gain enough seats on Election Day to crack the Democrats’ majority in the chamber.

Mullet held about 54 percent — or 23,216 votes — to Toft’s 46 percent — or 19,909 votes — among more than 43,000 ballots counted in the race so far.

King County Elections is scheduled to release additional results at 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

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Maria Cantwell discusses jobs at Issaquah campaign stop

November 2, 2012

NEW — 12:30 p.m. Nov. 2, 2012

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell focused on the economy and education during a campaign stop at Issaquah’s Gilman Village early Friday, and urged voters to return ballots by the Tuesday deadline.

Maria Cantwell

Cantwell’s 26-city “Jobs for Washington” bus tour across the state stopped at the Issaquah Coffee Co. In remarks to a group of sign-toting supporters and local dignitaries, she emphasized efforts to aid small businesses since the economy collapsed in 2008.

“In my opinion, a lot of money went to Wall Street and the five big banks, and Main Street got the short end of the stick,” she said. “Well, we worked hard to try to correct that by passing a new bill to help support community banks who would lend to small business. In fact, that program helped banks from Issaquah to Bellingham increase their lending to small businesses by as much as 24 percent.”

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Tiger Mountain is test for commissioner of public lands candidates

October 30, 2012

Tiger Mountain is a destination for hikers, mountain bikers and loggers, and the official responsible for acting as a referee to balance the competing interests is the state commissioner of public lands.

Clint Didier

Peter Goldmark

Republican Clint Didier is challenging the incumbent, Democrat Peter Goldmark, to serve as the top natural resources official in Washington.

The commissioner of public lands leads the state Department of Natural Resources, and oversees about 3 million acres of forests, agricultural land and other properties, as well as about 2.6 million acres of shorelines, tidelands, lakes and rivers.

The position carries outsized influence in the Issaquah area. The agency is often a factor in local policymaking, due to the connections among the Department of Natural Resources, Issaquah City Hall and outdoor recreation groups.

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Lawmakers earn award for family legislation, performance as employers

September 4, 2012

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert and other Evergreen State lawmakers earned recognition as family-friendly bosses on Capitol Hill.

Overall, 30 lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans alike — received the 2012 Best of Congress Award from Corporate Voices for Working Families and Working Mother Media. The award recognizes lawmakers’ legislative accomplishments and performance as employers.

“I recognize the constant struggle of so many people to make family life a priority while working to excel in a beloved career,” Reichert said in a statement.

Reichert represents Issaquah and the 8th Congressional District. The former King County sheriff and Auburn Republican is running for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Murray, a Democrat and longtime advocate for issues related to working families, has represented Washington in the U.S. Senate since 1993.

Washington Democrat Adam Smith and Washington Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers also received the award. Smith represents Newcastle and the 9th Congressional District. McMorris Rodgers represents the 5th Congressional District in Eastern Washington.

Patty Murray, Dave Reichert receive ‘Best of Congress’ honor from family groups

July 25, 2012

NEW — 11:30 a.m. July 25, 2012

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert and other Evergreen State lawmakers each earned a 2012 Best of Congress Award on Wednesday from national organizations advocating for working families.

Overall, 30 lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans alike — received the honor from Corporate Voices for Working Families and Working Mother Media. The award recognizes honorees for leadership in improving the quality of life for working families, plus support for congressional staffers.

“I’m honored to be chosen to receive the 2012 Best of Congress award,” Reichert said in a statement. “Throughout my life and career, I’ve seen firsthand the difficulty of balancing work and family life. I recognize the constant struggle of so many people to make family life a priority while working to excel in a beloved career. In my legislative work and the organizations I’ve been fortunate to be a part of, I have always been committed to improving the lives of working families.”

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Washington elected officials earn honor for conservation efforts

July 24, 2012

Evergreen State elected officials earned a national honor for efforts to conserve Washington wilderness.

Both U.S. senators, Democrats Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and the Issaquah representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Dave Reichert, received recognition as America’s Great Outdoors Congressional Champions from The Wilderness Society, a national conservation group.

The organization also recognized other Washington representatives, Democrats Norm Dicks and Rick Larsen, for conservation efforts.

Murray earned recognition for championing the 106,000-acre Wild Sky Wilderness in the Cascades. Murray and Reichert coauthored the Alpine Lakes Wilderness additions bill to add 22,000 acres and more than 30 miles of rivers in the Middle Fork of Snoqualmie River and the Pratt River valleys.

Cantwell worked to preserve the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail and introduced legislation to preserve public access and protect lands in the San Juan Islands.

The recognition came in late June during Great Outdoors America Week.

“Washington state is fortunate to have incredibly strong advocates for protecting and reconnecting Americans to the great outdoors,” said Peter Dykstra, Pacific Northwest regional director at The Wilderness Society.

Local leaders react after Supreme Court health care ruling

July 10, 2012

King County Executive Dow Constantine and other elected officials split along party lines June 28 after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on the federal health care overhaul.

In a complex decision, justices on the high court ruled 5-4 to uphold the individual mandate — a requirement for all Americans to enroll in a health insurance plan or pay a penalty.

The ruling also limited the plan in the Affordable Care Act — dubbed Obamacare by some — to expand Medicaid for the poor.

Constantine, a Democrat, highlighted the potential impact for uninsured King County.

“And for the nearly quarter of a million people in King County who do not have health insurance this is truly a welcome life-and-death decision,” he said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, a Republican and the Issaquah representative in Congress, said legislators must work to refine the health care law.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna, the highest-ranking Republican official in the state, joined the effort to repeal the health care overhaul and defended the challenge during a June 1 stop at Issaquah High School.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and other Washington state Democrats lauded the ruling.

Former Sen. Cheryl Pflug criticizes appointment of Dino Rossi as successor, endorses Mark Mullet

July 10, 2012

UPDATED — 4:40 p.m. July 10, 2012

Cheryl Pflug, former state senator for Issaquah and other Eastside communities, lambasted the appointment of Dino Rossi to fill the seat Pflug vacated late last month.

Cheryl Pflug

The sharp statement from Pflug, a Maple Valley Republican, came a day after the King County Council appointed Rossi, a Sammamish Republican, to the seat as a caretaker until after the November election.

Pflug also endorsed Mark Mullet, a Democrat and Issaquah City Council member, in the race for the Senate race. Mullet is running against Brad Toft, a Snoqualmie businessman, for the post. (Rossi is not a candidate for the seat in the upcoming election.)

“I’m a Republican. I believe Rob McKenna will be a great governor because he’s honest, and he’s a brilliant unifier. That’s why I’m also endorsing Mark Mullet,” Pflug said in a statement issued just after 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. “His business background, financial expertise, and common sense make him the right person to represent all the residents of the 5th District, not just special interests and party bosses.”

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Washington elected officials earn honor for conservation efforts

July 10, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. July 10, 2012

Evergreen State elected officials earned a national honor for efforts to conserve Washington wilderness.

Both U.S. senators, Democrats Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and the Issaquah representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Dave Reichert, received recognition as America’s Great Outdoors Congressional Champions from The Wilderness Society, a national conservation group.

“Washington state is fortunate to have incredibly strong advocates for protecting and reconnecting Americans to the great outdoors,” said Peter Dykstra, Pacific Northwest regional director at The Wilderness Society. “Washingtonians depend on our great wild places for clean air and water, sustainable jobs and recreation opportunities. We salute all those working to ensure that current and future generations are able to enjoy America’s public lands and all they have to offer.”

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Dino Rossi is poised to serve as 5th Legislative District senator — again

July 9, 2012

NEW — 10:05 a.m. July 9, 2012

Dino Rossi is all but certain to head back to Olympia to represent Issaquah and other Eastside communities in the state Senate.

Dino Rossi

Rossi — a GOP candidate for governor in 2004 and 2008, and for U.S. Senate in 2010 — succeeded former state Sen. Cheryl Pflug. The businessman and Sammamish resident last represented the 5th Legislative District in the state Senate from 1996 until resigning in 2003 to run for governor.

King County Council members recommended Rossi for the caretaker position Monday, a little more than a week after Pflug resigned to serve on a state board.

The council is expected to decide on the appointment Monday afternoon. The last action is a formality.

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