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WA CHARTERS, Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Dear Friends,

The early election results from yesterday's state legislative elections should be encouraging to those who would like to bring the benefits of charter schools to the children, parents, and educators of Washington state.

As you may know, efforts to pass a charter school bill in the state Legislature have been stymied for years by the chair of the Senate Education Commission: Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (D-Bothell). Although the state House of Representatives has passed a charter school bill four times with majority support from both parties (and stood ready to pass a fifth bill in 2000), no charter school bill has ever reached the floor of the state Senate.

The reason: Senator McAuliffe has repeatedly refused to give any charter school bill a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.

The result: most of the charter school bills passed by the state House have been "dead on arrival" in the state Senate.

Although Senator McAuliffe was not up for re-election this year, her status as Chair of the Senate Education Committee depends on the Democrats maintaining their precarious 1-vote control of the state Senate. If Republicans take control of the state Senate, Republicans get to appoint a new Chair.

If given the opportunity, Republicans will likely appoint Senator Steve Johnson (R-Kent) to chair Senate Education. As most of you know, Senator Johnson is probably the strongest charter school supporter in the state Senate.

So, if Republicans take control of the state Senate, the chair of Senate Education will probably be the senate's strongest charter school supporter, rather than its strongest opponent. What a change that will be!

If we can get a bill through the state Senate, it is very likely that we will be able to get it through the state House as well. In the House, bills have passed four times with majority support from both Republicans and Democrats. The Democratic chair of the House Education Committee (Dave Quall) and the Speaker of the House (Frank Chopp) both supported the bi-partisan charter school bill that was "ready to go" in the 2000 Legislative Session.

Governor Locke has repeatedly stated that he supports charter schools. In 1998 and 2000 that he would sign the bills that were moving through the Legislature at that time. Governor Locke also publicly supported the Charter School Ballot Initiative that was lost narrowly (52%-48%) in the November 2000 General Election. Any bill that makes it through the 2003 Legislature will probably be a slightly modified version of the November 2000 Charter School Ballot Initiative.

As of today, Republicans are leading (slightly) in all of the "close" senate races that will determine control. If the preliminary results hold up, Republicans will control the state Senate 25-24. The result: charter schools should be "in play" again in the 2003 Legislative Session that will begin in early January.

Because so many people vote by absentee ballot in Washington, the election results will be up in the air until next week, at the earliest. A news article from a Seattle TV station is below, if you are interested in all of the details.

One reason to be optimistic is that absentee voters tend to be somewhat more "Republican" than traditional voters. As a result, Republicans usually gain votes as the absentee ballots are counted, sometimes as much as 1 or 2 percentage points.

IF this year's results follow this same pattern, all of the Republicans state senate candidates who are now leading by a handful of votes should see their leads grow over the next week or so. And if that happens, there will be a new "charter-friendly" chair of the state Senate Education committee when it reconvenes in January, and we will have a LOT of work to do!

Stay tuned to future editions of WA CHARTERS for more information.

Best Wishes,

Jim & Fawn Spady, co-directors,
Education Excellence Coalition
4426 - 2nd Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98105-6191
Jim's office phone: 206/634-0589
Jim's cell phone: 206/949-8484
Jim's e-mail address:
Jim & Fawn's home phone: 206/275-2089

KOMO-TV (Seattle Channel 4) UPDATE:

Republicans Take Lead In Race For State Senate

November 6, 2002

By KOMO Staff & News Services

SEATTLE - With thousands of absentee ballots still in the mail, the Washington Legislature appeared headed for divided control Wednesday, although a handful of House and Senate races remained too close to call.

Democrats were leading in enough races to maintain control of the 98-member House.

In the 49-member Senate, Democrats were trailing in five close races crucial to deciding which party would hold the majority. To retain their slender one-vote margin, the party needed to win one of those races.

Incumbent Republican Bob Oke pulled ahead of Democrat Betty Ringlee on the Kitsap Peninsula early Wednesday morning, leading by 179 votes.

"Who controls the Senate is going to be up in the air for a week or 10 days, maybe more," Oke said.

The District 26 race centered on Ringlee's criticism of Oke's support for toll bridges across the Tacoma Narrows.

In District 42, incumbent Democrat Georgia Gardner was trailing Republican Dale Brandland, the longtime Whatcom County sheriff, by 338 votes.

In District 31, which covers part of King and Pierce counties, veteran Republican Pam Roach was leading Democratic challenger Yvonne Ward 52 percent to 48 percent with most of the vote counted except for late absentees. In a bitter campaign, Ward accused Roach of neglecting her Senate duties and Roach called Ward a liar.

In District 44, GOP Rep. Dave Schmidt had 53 percent of the vote in a race with Democrat Phil Doerflein to succeed retiring Sen. Jeanine Long, R-Mill Creek.

In Spokane, Senate Minority Leader Jim West led Democrat Laurie Dolan, 52 percent to 48 percent with only late absentee ballots uncounted in a race that set records for legislative campaign spending and blanketed the city's airwaves with advertising.

In the House, fewer than two dozen races were competitive. Democrats were winning enough of those seats early Wednesday to hold a 52-46 majority in the House if the results stand up.

"It's too early to say for sure," cautioned House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, "but it's looking good right now."

In eastern King County, traditionally a GOP stronghold, Democrat Ross Hunter was leading Republican George Aiton by 832 votes for a House seat vacated by Luke Esser's successful run for the Senate.

Rep. Jim Dunn, R-Vancouver, was trailing Democratic challenger Deb Wallace with much of the vote counted in the 17th District. In a battle of similar names from Pierce County, Democratic challenger Dawn Morrell was leading incumbent Republican Dave Morell.

Democrat Judy Clibborn had a narrow lead over Republican Mike Wensman in the Mercer Island district long held by GOP Rep. Ida Ballasiotes, who retired this year.

In Snohomish County, John McCoy, a Tulalip tribal official, was leading Republican Erv Hoglund for an open seat in District 38. Hoglund attacked McCoy over the tribe's tax advantage late in the campaign, a tactic denounced by Gov. Gary Locke as racist.

The party that wins the majority in each chamber gets the dubious honor of tackling the projected $2 billion hole in the two-year budget for the period beginning July 1. But that didn't discourage both parties - or their backers among corporations, unions, professional groups and other special interests - from campaigning hard and spending big.

Legislative candidates raised more than $14 million, and special interests spent roughly $1 million more on last-second advertisements and direct mail.

Hot proposals such as raising taxes, expanding gambling, limiting medical malpractice awards and reversing voter-approved cost-of-living raises for teachers could hinge on which party controls the House and Senate.

In recent years, control has seesawed between the parties, sometimes on a daily basis.

From 1999 through 2001, the House was split 49-49 until the tie was broken by a special election last year, giving Democrats a 50-48 advantage.

In the Senate, Democrats had a one-vote advantage, and that majority occasionally evaporated when maverick Democrat Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, sided with Republicans, giving the GOP a temporary one-vote majority.

WEB PAGES for Election Results:

Statewide Results --
King County --
Snohomish County --
Pierce County --
Kitsap County --

All other counties -- try, but some links are broken. So, also try:

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