Turnout was light at Democrats’ state convention, but the party’s candidate for governor, Jay Inslee, rode a noisy introduction from a marching band to good effect.
Inslee was formally nominated by a voice vote late Saturday afternoon in Seattle. Earlier, he pledged to keep Washington a forward-thinking and forward-acting state.
He drew his strongest applause when he said he would protect the state from the “virus from Wisconsin” – a reference to Republican actions against collective-bargaining rights for employees there.
Inslee, a former congressman, faces a tough election fight against Republican Rob McKenna in a state where President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell are favorites to win re-election.
One-third of the party’s eligible delegates attended Saturday’s activities, which came after Newark Mayor Cory Booker kicked off the three-day convention Friday evening with a rousing talk about keeping the party inclusive.
Among the day’s highlights: The 867 delegates formally nominated Kathleen Drew of Olympia for secretary of state and state Sen. Craig Pridemore of Vancouver for state auditor. They booed state Sen. Jim Kastama of Puyallup twice as he made his pitch for secretary of state – once as he explained his crossing over to vote with Republicans on a budget this year, which he said made a bipartisan budget solution possible.
Delegates formally nominated candidates for most of the state’s 10 congressional seats, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, and other Democrats running for statewide office.
They also hammered out a 42-page party platform that calls for a single-payer health care system, limits on corporate power, public financing of judicial campaigns and a long list of other liberal positions. A controversy arose late in the day over whether to include a reference to “re-recognizing the Duwamish tribe,” but it was rejected.
The convention also voted to adopt a resolution opposing permits for coal-export terminals at regional ports. Labor activists had clashed with environmentalists on that measure previously.
Aware of a tough election ahead in a tough economy, the day’s keynote speaker, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, warned it will be the “most expensive, most volatile and unpredictable” in his lifetime. He said Democrats “are the 99 percent” and represent the middle class, and he suggested presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had “not just drunk the Kool-Aid” of party extremists but also spiked it.
The convention work continues today to pick the remainder of Washington’s 121 delegates for the national convention, scheduled for early September in North Carolina. Of those, 69 already have been chosen – including seven representing the 10th district that runs from Shelton and Olympia to University Place and Puyallup.
Among them is Sharon Winesberry, a Pierce County delegate going to the national convention in support of Obama for the second time. Winesberry said she is confident Democrats will win this time around in the presidential, U.S. Senate and even the governor’s races.
“I like what I hear from Jay,” she said. “I believe he has a 99.99 percent change of being the next governor.’’
Winesberry said she thinks Obama deserves credit for his work to stimulate the economy after the global financial collapse in 2008, for helping to revive the U.S. auto industry and for the major health-care reform act.
“These are all good things. We need to give credit where credit is due,’’ Wineberry said.