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Julie Anderson got a raw deal in the race for WA Secretary of State, thanks to ugly partisanship | State

November 12—OPINION AND COMMENTARY—Editorials and other opinion content offer viewpoints on issues important to our community and are independent of the work of our newsroom reporters.

Julie Anderson was right.

The point she was making – about the toxicity of current partisan politics, the need for truth and decency, and the danger of seeking victory and power above all else – is exactly what she came across. , head first.

It’s ironic, I guess, in a fatalistic sense of the word.

On election day Tuesday, Anderson officially concluded his campaign for secretary of state. Win or lose, just like every other candidate on the ballot, but Anderson’s candidacy was different, by design. It was non-partisan, meaning she attempted to avoid conventional bipartisan political dynamics and appeal to the betterment of voters. It was non-partisan, as it is how Anderson strongly believes election monitoring work should be approached.

Anderson — who has been in charge of Pierce County elections since 2010, serving as local auditor — didn’t win, but you probably already know that. For the first time since 1960, voters in Washington elected a Democrat to the statewide office. Steve Hobbs, a moderate who was appointed secretary of state by Governor Jay Inslee last November, now begins the rest of Kim Wyman’s term, with the blessing of the electorate.

And you know what? It is very good. Since his appointment, Hobbs, a colonel in the Washington National Guard who spent three decades in the military, has handled the job diligently. It’s focused on cybersecurity and countering misinformation, and it’s clearly capable.

But here’s the thing: while there’s little cause for concern about the office of Secretary of State under Hobbs, there should be great concern about how we got here and how far we’ve come. state Democrats. The state party’s campaign against Anderson — who qualified for the August general election alongside Hobbs, beating out a group of Republican hopefuls — epitomizes almost everything that is wrong with our current politics.

Using blatant mischaracterizations and calculated deception, Anderson has repeatedly been portrayed as a secret MAGA fraternizer, and as such a threat to our democracy. Party chair Tina Podlodowski – herself a former candidate for secretary of state – has frequently led the attacks.

Then, when a late-party Republican entered the fray as a write-in candidate — real-life election denier Brad Klippert — the state Dems did everything they could to make sure his no-knock candidacy was eating away at Anderson’s votes. During the final throes of the campaign, Podlodowski and Inslee even released an almost comedic video, solemnly (and repeatedly) warning the people of Washington that Klippert, as “the only Republican in the race”, must be defeated. The not-so-subtle strategy vaguely resembled the questionable tactics we’ve seen Democrats employ across the country this year, backing extreme, dangerous, far-right candidates as an easier path to victory.

Elections are complicated. It would be overly simplistic to suggest that Anderson lost solely because state Democrats smeared and undermined her. The reality is that she ran a campaign that was nearly impossible from the start, because it relied on disrupting the entrenched two-party system and claiming superiority over her ardent supporters, including the Democrats, who happen to be the same people she is most ideologically aligned with. Ultimately, Anderson was always going to need to attract a significant number of liberals to win, and his approach made that difficult whether his justifications were valid or not.

Most of the time, however, the votes show that Klippert’s unsuccessful written candidacy sealed Anderson’s fate. The stage was set as soon as he threw his hat in the ring, as even a few percentage points next to his name would reduce Anderson’s chances. Surely realizing this could help Hobbs win, the state’s Republican party endorsed Klippert anyway, despite his record of questioning the validity of our elections. Many Republicans then voluntarily voted for him, some probably out of party principle, and others because they saw Anderson as — you guessed it — a secret Marxist Democrat. There is no higher ground here.

However, one thing is indisputable:

None of this excuses the groundless attacks Anderson suffered or the character assassinations she faced.

Anderson had a bad deal. There is simply no way around it.

Embellishment and hyperbole

Nowhere have state Democrats’ attacks on Anderson seemed more ridiculous than in Pierce County.

It was here that Anderson was elected to the nonpartisan Tacoma City Council in 2003, and it was here that she was first elected Pierce County Auditor six years later.

When it comes to Anderson’s personal beliefs and convictions, Pierce County has long known the score. She caucused for future President Barack Obama in 2008, as former News Tribune reporter Melissa Santos recently reported for Axios, and has donated at least $2,900 to Democratic candidates over the past 15 years. , compared to just $100 to Republican campaigns. In her quest for the post of secretary of state, she won the support of Democratic senators T’wina Nobles and Yasmin Trudeau, as well as the mayor of Tacoma, Victoria Woodards, among other elected Liberals.

Anderson has also always been a champion of equity at the forefront of local anti-discrimination struggles. In a recent op-ed, Tacoma School Board member Lisa Keating described Anderson as “a staunch ally.” Keating’s daughter, Stella, is a local activist who last year became the youngest transgender teenager to testify before the US Senate.

“Julie Anderson stood with us as the rights of transgender people in our state were under attack,” Keating wrote. “Few leaders were prepared to tackle the widespread lies and misinformation, especially in the beginning.”

From the start of her tenure as auditor, however, Anderson was keen to exile all traces of partisanship from her work — so much so that her peculiarity has become local legend. She focused on voter registration, expanding access, especially for historically disenfranchised populations, and holding free, fair and transparent elections. She was one of the most respected election administrators in the state, earning praise and personal endorsements from Democrats and Republicans alike.

Compare all of this to how Podlodowski and the state’s Democratic party have chosen to portray Anderson in press releases and sound bites.

“Anderson has actively courted Republican support, accepting the endorsement of mainstream Republicans in Washington, as well as far-right King County Councilman Reagan Dunn, who is raising funds on his behalf,” a statement shouted. October 21 press. “She accepted $2,000 from the Republican-aligned cascading PAC, which backs far-right MAGA candidates including Matt Larkin and Tiffany Smiley.”

“Anderson recently spoke at Republican events, including one with House Minority Leader JT Wilcox’s annual Salmon Bake,” the press release continued, before adding the punch: “whose donations are routed directly to anti-abortion, election-denying Republican candidates.”

So what’s wrong with a bit of embellishment and vicious campaign hyperbole? Nothing, I guess, unless the state Democrats care about the credibility of Pierce County. But the biggest shame is what voters missed out on in the process. There were plenty of real and substantial issues to deal with and plenty of ways for Hobbs to differentiate himself in the minds of voters, from Anderson’s belief that the Secretary of State should be a nonpartisan office to his support for the vote. local by ranking. This race will be remembered for none of that.

Instead, what will be remembered from the race between Hobbs and Anderson are the name-calling and, at least here in Pierce County, the obvious misrepresentations. This raises an important question, while also revealing the real risk of the Democrats’ game plan:

Will voters believe the party next time, when there really will be dangerous candidates denying the elections on the ballots?

If there’s one thing Podlodowski and the state party she leads have understood all of this, it’s that there are legitimate threats to our democracy. It’s not hard to find them either, whether it’s Joe Kent in Washington’s 3rd congressional district or failed 2020 gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp. The truth is, Anderson doesn’t look like any of those candidates, but by repeatedly suggesting otherwise, state Democrats not only cried wolf, they insulted our intelligence while sowing the seeds of a future skepticism.

If winning is all that matters – and many claim it is – then all will be forgotten. That’s often how it happens. As Podlodoswki correctly asserted, his job is to get Democrats elected, and getting the job of Secretary of State for the first time in 60 years is no small feat.

But if there is something bigger out there, any hope that our civic dialogue can be more than a greased race to the bottom, the deceptive tactics his party has relied on during this campaign will inspire introspection and judgment.

Anderson’s campaign focused on eliminating the ugliness and partisan nonsense of the election.

Unfortunately, ugly partisan nonsense is precisely what she found.

This story was originally published on November 12, 2022 at 5:00 a.m.


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