Croc of Shit

Marcus Charles, Owner of the Crocodile, Tells Capitol Hill Voters to Pick Rob McKenna

Croc of Shit

Toby Crittenden

ON CAPITOL HILL A poster telling liberals to vote for Republican Rob McKenna.

When posters went up on Capitol Hill last week urging voters to choose Republican Rob McKenna in the governor's race, it didn't take long for the signs to raise eyebrows—and it took even less time to figure out who was behind the campaign. On the posters themselves, credit went to the Progressive Conservative Coalition PAC, and publicly available campaign finance reports show that group is being organized by Marcus Charles, owner of the Crocodile, Local 360, and the bar Juju.

With about $3,500 in donations, most of them from the conservative-leaning Washington Restaurant Association, Charles's PAC is hitting the liberal neighborhood with posters that seem designed to confuse as much as cajole. They appeal in all capital letters to the "INDEPENDENT VOTER" and show Democrat Barack Obama's name shaded by Republican red, Republican Rob McKenna's name shaded by Democrat blue, and "Approve R-74" (the gay-marriage-legalizing way to vote on that measure) shaded in swing- voter purple. His PAC also paid for ads with an identical design in The Stranger.

By associating McKenna with a popular Democrat and gay marriage, the entire effort appears intended to make the Republican seem innocuous to progressives (even though McKenna opposes gay marriage and Obama's health care reform act). "It sounds as if his real motivation might be to trick civil rights voters," says Josh Friedes, spokesman for Equal Rights Washington.

What does Charles, whose venues take in a fair amount of money from the liberal voters of this city, say about his campaign?

In a series of e-mails to The Stranger, Charles argued that "ideological purity is not possible no matter what party you are associated with" and that such purity "could destroy the Republic." He feels McKenna would be a better administrator of state government and would do better than Jay Inslee on education reform. He added, "I hope you don't miss the fact that I also support Obama and R-74."

Charles also emphasized his support for marijuana legalization and universal health care—neither of which McKenna supports—and therein lies another example of the ideological problem. What Charles calls rejecting "ideological purity" ends up seeming, on closer examination, like an exercise in politically reckless inconsistency.

President Obama has, in the past, spoken favorably of universal health care—which Charles wants—but since it's not politically achievable in the near term, Obama went for the possible with his landmark health-care-reform bill. McKenna, by contrast, tried to take that health-care-reform bill apart with a lawsuit that went all the way to the US Supreme Court (and failed).

Gay marriage—which Charles supports—is on the ballot this fall in large part because our Democratic governor, Chris Gregoire, came out swinging for equal marriage rights this year and used her political muscle to help push an historic same-sex-marriage bill through the state legislature. McKenna opposes same-sex marriage, and if R-74 isn't approved at the polls this fall—which is a distinct possibility—a Governor McKenna would never do as much to keep up the fight for equality as a pro-gay-marriage Governor Inslee.

Charles counters: "In our state, with our initiative process, no matter who is governor, this issue is going to be decided at the ballot box by a majority of the state electorate. I don't see a legislative solution to gay marriage." He adds that he's been "heavily supportive" of R-74 and that it gets just as much of his time as Obama and McKenna. However, records maintained by the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission and the Federal Election Commission show no contributions from Charles to either R-74 or Obama. Charles's holding company, on the other hand, has donated $500 to McKenna.

Even Charles's business partner, Dave Meinert, who owns a minority stake in the Crocodile, says he can't defend his friend's positions. "I disagree with Marcus," Meinert says. "I can't carry the water for him because I don't agree with him." (Meinert also pointed out that he's personally raised more than $20,000 for Inslee, which "definitely cancels out what Marcus has raised for McKenna.")

Jody Hall, who has placed a number of Inslee placards in the windows of her Capitol Hill Cupcake Royale store, called Charles's poster campaign "disappointing" and "tricky." Like Meinert, she said she has dropped her membership in the Washington Restaurant Association—the group that is Charles's biggest donor—because of its conservative leanings and endorsements.

Behind the scenes, and in comments on Slog, The Stranger's blog, people have wondered if some particular restaurant-industry gripe is motivating Charles's campaign. He says that's not it. It's just that he's met both McKenna and Inslee, and "at the end of the day I decided that Rob has the better skill set to be governor and has the best chance to work [with] both parties to get real reform for Washington State."

He didn't seem worried that his political campaigning would hurt his business, even though some people have made noises about a boycott. ("Well, I guess I've seen my last show at the Crocodile," said one Slog commenter.) And Meinert, his business partner, claims "there's no way in our society to be completely, philosophically consistent." recommended


Comments (27) RSS

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The McKenna campaign is just simply baffling. I really don't understand the TV spot with a bunch of octogenarians sitting in a diner whining about Inslee imposing taxes on small business that result in killing jobs.

This demographic is far more concerned about Social Security and Medicare (and so are many of its family caregivers).

Besides any small business owners in that age cohort would have long since sold off their businesses when the economy was still on fire and are retired.

If McKenna really approved that commercial it's the best argument I've seen yet for voting AGAINST him. What a doofus.
Posted by Purrl on October 3, 2012 at 9:22 AM · Report this
Baconcat 2
This is McKenna's race to lose and he's doing so in grand style. His biggest deficiencies are in two arenas: likability and social issues. In this case, Marcus Charles is just furthering the contagion that is pulling Rob down.

If McKenna was smart -- doubtful at this point -- he'd drop his opposition to marriage equality and become the fanciful unicorn of a candidate that Charles thinks he is. Unfortunately -- or fortunately, in this case -- Rob is hanging social conservatism and grouchy anti-Republicanism around his neck like so many lead weights.

Now that we're less than two weeks away from ballots dropping it looks like McKenna just doesn't care to win. He only cares about that ideological purity that Marcus is lashing out at.
Posted by Baconcat on October 3, 2012 at 10:20 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 3
For the record, I have no affiliation with the Crocodile.
Posted by MacCrocodile on October 3, 2012 at 10:23 AM · Report this
You are not required by law to vote a straight Democratic ticket.

Inslee is a dolt. Cast a guilt-free vote for McKenna.
Posted by Cletus on October 3, 2012 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Baconcat 5
@4 voting for an anti-equality candidate almost completely opposed to the interests of 18-35 year olds that aren't sitting behind a textbook? Sounds legit.
Posted by Baconcat on October 3, 2012 at 2:27 PM · Report this
I posted a photo about McKenna being against legalization of MJ and got a typical McKenna supporter going BATSHIT INSANE on me (on his facebook page), to the point that she was claiming I was stalking her, sexually harassing her, attempting to start a race war (we're both Native American, but she, despite not even knowing me, claims I am not), and committing treason! She then started in trying DESPERATELY to find out who I 'really was' (oh, yeah, that's not STALKERISH at all!), and then removed her posts when I pointed out how desperately she needed mental help. THESE are the kind of people supporting McKenna (who, by the way, does not support the Violence Against Women Act, either, and does not support tribes being able to enforce laws to non-tribal people who commit infractions on rez land)
Posted by TipiCreeper on October 3, 2012 at 10:43 PM · Report this
@4: Cletus, YOU are a dolt for supporting Rob DOOFUS McKenna!
Please go back to your cave and stay there until AFTER the election.
Posted by auntie grizelda on October 3, 2012 at 10:50 PM · Report this
Someone has a nuanced view? Not if Eli Slanders and his herd of sycophants have anything to say about.
Posted by Stranger'sWorstNightmare on October 4, 2012 at 7:30 AM · Report this
McKenna was also on the losing side of the federal court battle against Obamacare.
Posted by drinkup on October 4, 2012 at 9:45 AM · Report this
I agree with Eli when he attacks Romney Junior, a k a Robbie the McKennaBot, but strongly take exception to his other BS slinging.

When Eli states: "President Obama has, in the past, spoken favorably of universal health care.." --- yup, and Obama has also claimed when he ran for the first presidential election, he would address tax breaks for corporations which moved their facilities, and jobs, offshore as well as the oil depletion allowance (which dates back to 1913, BTW) for tax-avoiding oil companies --- neither one which he took action on, and both of which he is once again repeating on his reelection campaign!

Oh wait! Obama actually did take some action in that area, he closed the ultra-secret office which had been tracking jobs offshoring in the private sector --- something which 20 years' of FOIA requests had been responded to as not having existed!!!!

Eli is being most specious when he says: "..but since it's not politically achievable in the near term (referring to universal health care).." --- which is total bullcrap, and we've been hearing the same bullcrap for the last 10, 20 and 30 years or more; Obama refused to even address the issue, instead allowing the health insurance industry to write that legislation.

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Prudential Insurance was offshoring insurance processing and administrative jobs to Ireland, they did a feasibility study.

The results of their study suggested that, although Prudential was offshoring a small part of their client base (insurable workers' jobs), there was still enough insurable potential left, as long as a sizable number of corporations didn't also offshore a large number of jobs.

Well.....with the fourth official "jobless recovery" underway, that point has long since been reach, and whomever was elected president back in 2008 had the same Wall Street mandate:

to do a backdoor bailout of the health insurance industry, a subsidiary of the banksters.

A done deal, but please let us not describe such reality as BS as Eli does.....
Posted by sgt_doom on October 4, 2012 at 10:24 AM · Report this
BombasticMO 11
Inslee is far from progressive, but McKenna is a big step backward.

His views on choice, gay marriage and the minimum wage (voting to stop it's increase and then turning around and petitioning for a raise on his 6 figure salary) are horrid.

I'd prefer a far more progressive governor. But I don't want to live in McKenna's Washington, a world where Plan B can be denied to women based on the whim of a pharmacist.

Posted by BombasticMO on October 4, 2012 at 10:26 AM · Report this
Ready for the "caps"? THE STRANGER DOES THE CROCODILE'S TICKETING. What the fuck is wrong with you?
Posted by Beat Masterson on October 4, 2012 at 1:24 PM · Report this
Occupy Seattle 13
Yep. Giant steaming pile of horseshit. Why on earth would ANYONE voting for Obama vote for My-Kock-enna? McKenna is backed by the same Koch Bro billionaires trying to smear and cheat their way to a victory for Mittens. The assholes voting for McKenna are the same radicals in Washington who hate women, gays, minorities, young people, and poor people. If McKenna had balls, he'd actually tell us who he's endorsing for president, and why. Until then, this should be seen for the desperate lie that it is. Rob McKenna, I see through your stupid ass lies!
Posted by Occupy Seattle on October 4, 2012 at 5:10 PM · Report this
Thanks I had missed the endorsement.
Posted by MJT on October 4, 2012 at 5:11 PM · Report this
Eli - I'm disappointed how you mischaracterized the 20 minute or so interview you did with me about Marcus.

Next time I'll try to remind yourself you aren't trying to actually understand my point of view when asking questions, but rather trying to get a quote you can then print a bit out of context to match the point your trying to make, regardless of the point I'm trying to make.

My interview with you was all about explaining how I think Marcus came to his conclusion about McKenna, and how I think that's ok. Yes, I disagree with him. And I can disagree with someone's view on support of a politician, and yet still think they are a decent person.

Marcus is a smart man. He's also a good father, fair businessman, good husband, and great friend. Further, you attack a business he only owns a part of, with several other partners who I bet disagree with him about McKenna (me included). Not to mention the staff at the Crocodile who are awesome, and who you also attack by attacking the business.

Marcus is Marcus. He's not the Crocodile. His PAC isn't associated with the Croc. The Croc has been home to many progressive political fundraisers for the likes of Dow Constantine, Pete Holmes, and Steve Gonzalez. Attack Marcus's support of McKenna all you want, he put himself out there, he is a public figure. The Croc has nothing to do with it.

And, if you're going to start attacking all music events who have someone in their ownership who at some time or another supported a Republican...well, you're going to have a long list, including almost every major music venue and festival in this area, let alone the rest of the US.

Also, it's pretty laughable you call out Marcus support of McKenna "an exercise in politically reckless inconsistency" because in part McKenna doesn't support pot legalization. Don't you support Inslee who agrees with McKenna on this issue? And didn't you support Obama, and for that matter Gregoire, when they both actively opposed same sex marriage? Pot I'd like to introduce you to the kettle. Jeesh.

Posted by Meinert on October 4, 2012 at 6:56 PM · Report this
This article is the real croc. Oh my god, someone in Seattle supports one Republican candidate! (A Republican who is pro-choice, not a homophobe and actually values education -- unlike Big-Bird-hating two-faced Mitt Romney)
Posted by Aion on October 4, 2012 at 9:22 PM · Report this
Listening to bar and restaurant owners about who to vote for is hilarious. Do your research and make up your own minds. I doubt Meinert will speak out against his long-time business partner. These guys own bars. Focus on serving drinks, stay out of politics. Nothing is worse than listening to facile combinations that pass as political discourse.
Posted by Bored by bar owners on October 5, 2012 at 1:50 AM · Report this
Puty 18
I like this story. But. The sentence "He didn't seem worried that his political campaigning would hurt his business, even though some people have made noises about a boycott," comes across, to me, as a little passive aggressive because it's sort of abrupt. There's nothing else in the story that suggests an organized boycott is imminent. The only thing imminent is surly muttering.

And anyway, I think a boycott of the Crocodile for this douchy poster campaign seems extreme. It doesn't seem, to me, to be malicious on the same scale as, say, that homophobic landlord in Cienna's story.

Yelling at the owner for running a boneheaded and voter-confusing campaign supporting an anti-health care Republican jackass, however, is called for.
Posted by Puty on October 5, 2012 at 10:15 AM · Report this
Too bad there's no socialist candidate;I might pass on this one when my ballot arrives.
Posted by 5th Columnist on October 6, 2012 at 7:27 PM · Report this
As for political ideological purity..keep in
mind Supreme Court Justice J. Roberts' surpris-
ing decision , fairly recently..
Posted by "Arf!" Lemming on October 7, 2012 at 4:09 PM · Report this
Um, hello, Stranger, has it occurred to you that maybe Mr. Charles and his group legitimately think we should vote for Obama and gay marriage, but not Inslee because Inslee is a mouth-breathing drone?

Or maybe they think that's it's a bad idea when one political faction controls government for a generation, the idea being that those in power get fat and corrupt when in power too long, the product of groupthink and vested interests, a principle understood by journalists who have actually read about, you know, history and other stuff besides kinky fucking and fringy music?

I have no idea who Mr. Charles is, but I happen to agree with his poster 100%. I already intended to vote exactly this way, well before seeing the poster.

For a independent weekly that holds itself out as a bastion of free thought and tolerance, The Stranger has become - like all things in the dynamic system of human thought - stale and predictable, a knee-jerk dogma fountain...

Oh well. Guess I'll start grabbing 50 copies of The Stranger to start the wood fire in my workshop instead of The Little Nickel.
Posted by Upriver Joe on October 8, 2012 at 12:27 PM · Report this
Oh, didn't notice the article was penned by Eli Sanders, our Pulitzer winner.

This article is the journalistic equivalent of Fat Vegas Elvis.
Posted by Upriver Joe on October 8, 2012 at 12:36 PM · Report this

From Obama's own mouth:
“I promise 100% transparency in my administration.”.
“I promise NO NEW TAXES on a family making less than $250K a year.”.
“I will allow 5 days of public comment before I sign any bills.”.
“I will remove earmarks from PORK projects before I sign any bill.”.
“I will end Income Tax for seniors making less than $50K a year.”.
"I will bring ALL of our troops home within ONE year."
“I’ll put the Health Care negotiations on CSPAN so everyone can see who is at the table!”.
“I’ll have no lobbyists in my administration."
"I'll close Guantanamo."
"I'll resign if I don't cut the deficit in half by the end of four years."
"I'll unite the people of this great country."

From Dreams of My Father : 'I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's race.'
From Dreams of My Father: 'There was something about her that made me wary, a little too sure of herself, maybe and white..
From Dreams of My Father: 'It remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.'
From Dreams of My Father: 'I never emulate white men and brown men whose fates didn't speak to my own. It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa, that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself: the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela.'
And FINALLY, and most scary!
From Audacity of Hope: 'I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.'
Posted by andrewbushSeattlepi#1gayposter on October 8, 2012 at 8:00 PM · Report this
You've been spending too much time with Goldy, Eli. This is hack city.
Posted by Hutch on October 8, 2012 at 8:14 PM · Report this
Lew Siffer 25
Just change the name of this paper to the Democrater and be done with it why don't you.
Posted by Lew Siffer on October 9, 2012 at 7:18 AM · Report this
The Stranger's complete bias and inability to report both sides of a story are obvious. You attack and deride people for their beliefs if they do not coincide with yours. Does that make you feel better than them? It shouldn't.

I believe most of us read your paper for entertainment, not to be informed of real or legitimate news.
Posted by Sponsored by Nobody on October 9, 2012 at 5:18 PM · Report this
The Stranger's bias and inability or unwillingness to provide both sides of a story are well known. You attack and deride people for their beliefs. Does that make you feel better than they are? It shouldn't. I believe most of us read your paper for entertainment, not for legitimate news. Don't rise above your slant.
Posted by Sponsored by Nobody on October 9, 2012 at 5:32 PM · Report this

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