Let me just say right up front that I am going to ignore the suggestion of the Stranger Election Control Board* and vote for Jess Spear in the primary this year. I agree with the SECB on everything else, but I made a personal choice a long time ago to never vote for Frank Chopp if there is a more liberal choice available. Also, I think we need to send many more socialists into city and state office, because the Democratic Party in this state is gutless, ineffectual, too interested in politesse, and obsessed with building coalitions. I'm not a socialist but I am a progressive voter, and right now the socialist party more closely resembles my values than Washington's mainstream Democratic Party.

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But I totally understand why someone—or why the SECB—would not be impressed with Jess Spear as candidate. She's running a terrible campaign that reeks of me-too-ism. "Love Kshama Sawant? You'll love me" is not a compelling reason to vote for a candidate. The other day at Drinking Liberally, I was complaining about Jess Spear's campaign signs. The other person wasn't having it. She cried out, "Who cares about her signs?" Uh. Those signs are Spear's most visible presence in Seattle. They're her best outreach program to uninformed or disenfranchised voters. Those signs represent her in front of thousands—probably tens of thousands—of eyeballs every single day. I care about her signs. You should care about her signs. Her signs are her campaign. And they're seriously flawed.

Let's get into it (click the image to the left to enlarge it). First of all, these signs are a clear rip-off of Sawant's signs from last year. I don't object to that—Sawant's signs worked, after all—but in sticking to the design and the format, they completely missed the reason why those signs were successful. Sawant's signs promised, in huge font, $15-an-hour minimum wage. They had the one issue on them. What do Spear's signs promise? The end of corporate domination in Washington State. I mean, I agree that corporations are way too powerful in this state (thanks in some small part to Chopp) but it's way too vague a goal. How is one person going to do that? What, specifically, are your first-term goals?

Then beneath the major campaign promise, there are three distinct promises. I guess these are the ways she's going to end corporate domination: No corporate handouts, rent control, and taxing the rich. I'm in favor of all three of those things! But there's no way I trust any single person to get that agenda done in a single term in Olympia. I want one single achievable goal from a challenging candidate, one issue they believe in so strongly that they're willing to stake their name to it. And I understand that it's hard for one person to get anything done in Olympia. The promise doesn't even have to be as dramatically successful as Sawant's push for a minimum wage hike; I just want to see serious progress toward that goal in four years. If it was just rent control, or just a state income tax, or just the closure of some of the worst loopholes in our corporate tax system, that would be wonderful. If you're going to upset someone as ingrained in incumbency as Chopp, you should be well-versed in all the relevant issues, but you should become an expert in just one. This is a system that worked for Kshama Sawant and it works for Elizabeth Warren, too.

Like I said, I'm proudly voting for Jess Spear this year. But I can entirely understand why someone wouldn't feel compelled to vote for Jess Spear. Nobody loves a me-too candidate. Spear needs to explain why she—not her party—would be a great representative for her constituents. I believe she would be a great representative for her constituents. But based on the SECB endorsement, and based on what I've seen of her campaign, she's not making that case for herself.

* I ordinarily sit in on endorsement meetings and vote with the SECB, but I wasn't able to do so this time around, due to way too many work obligations.