Wow. Single issue voter much? It'd be one thing if the guy himself voted against marriage equality, but b/c he WORKED for a guy that voted against it, you are going to use your entire interview (except for the final question) hammering him on that one issue?
yeah seriously, he answered the question the first time and then you asked him again five more times. why not ask him his opinions on the current budgetary battles?
I don't see how this guy had any particular duty to resign more than the entire White House staff has a duty to resign because Pres. Obama is "still evolving" on gay marriage.
It's funny to think this interview was probably posted with the intention of making Evan look bad when it's really Eli who comes off as the tone deaf one.
Good lord. 21 questions - except the first twenty are all the same.
Shorter version of this interview: Clifthorne is a standard-issue Seattle liberal. Like all legislators, he'd have two or three focus issues, and marriage equality is not one of them.
@1-5 ok .... personally I think its rather scary when politics become a question of professionalism or simply "a job". All government in any democratic society hinges on how vocal people are about their beliefs. Its not ment to be a well oiled machinery in which someone simply "do their job" - it is the collective pull of different opinions which makes up the fundaments of democracy and if that is turned into technocratic ideal of a singular exact truth or the professional politician we are in deep shit. (I think we already are so maybe "deeper shit")

I'm not saying that this young man is some horrible monster but he does show that he thinks that even though someone is trying to destroy something he believes in, then he will still stay and help out because its his job. I don't get to vote in the US so its not up to me I guess but I wouldn't think that its an irrelevant question to *any* voter.

Do you think that aslong as its "your job" your exempt from having to make a moral stand? Do you think this question is so irrelevant that he did right in not bothering about it? Do you think an opinion is something so private it should not be a part of your professional life?

Whatever the answer to that, the basic question is relevant because it helps voters get a feel for a candidate.

(stupid side note: "candidate" from "candidatii" which means "extra-white-man" so called for their habit of bleaching their togas in urine so that they would stick out of a crowd and look extra-clean. Also it shows that even in ancient Rome politicians smelled like piss)
You know, beginning four responses out of twenty-four with "You know" may not seem like a lot, but it's really bugging me.
Eli, I'm disappointed in your aggressive tone. Advocacy journalism is great, but not when you come off sounding like a dick.
i'd let him have some
That was just a poorly done interview. Eli, maybe you could pick up on this thing called 'professionalism' instead of trying, and failing, at steamrolling.

This idea that you are promoting, that because he didn't completely agree with Shin he should take his ball and go home, is very similar to the the tea party mentality of 'my way or the high way-refuse to compromise'.

@1 - 5 & 11: The purpose of this interview, from my point of view, was to hit Evan with all of the questions he's likely to get in the 36th about his work for Shin.

You may feel exhausted (or worse) by it. I was just trying to exhaust the supply of questions on the issue, and see how Evan handled them.
That's what I want when I run for office - to be scolded in Eli's nasally, effeminate voice while trying to get me to admit to his version of a 'hate crime'. If it's so important for you to have a ring on your finger while you're blowing a guy, Eli, then by all means, put a ring on your finger. Next issue?
Actually, I think it's good that Eli pressed him so hard on the point - Clifthorne stayed consistent, but not in that "I just memorized some talking points" kind of way. He was - dare I say? - professional about it. Plus sometimes it is good for people who are casually liberal on gay rights to be pressed on the point. Maybe it will spur him to think about gay rights as rights and not as a political preference in the future. The interview would (if I voted in that district) not hurt or help my opinion of him either way, which is good for Clifthorne considering he was part of the wrong side of history just recently.
Looked like a good set of persistent questions from Eli to me. The guy may be bound by expectations of confidentiality, but he deserves the opportunity to not seem like he's avoiding the issue with vague answers.
A candidate has to have the ability to pivot away from something that they feel they have covered. Evan kept on answering the question without trying to bring up issues that he wants/should be talking about.
Anyone remember when Slog was portraying Gov. Gregoire as a spineless DINO for not signing the medical marijuana dispensary bill? Now she's a dyed in the wool hero Dem, right? To use another example, Sen Bob Casey from PA is pro-life. That wouldn't have stopped me from working my ass off for him against Rick Santorum. Nor does it make his staff necessarily any less Democrats or less pro-choice than anyone else. If you want a candidate who shares all your views, run yourself (which this guy is doing). In short: take yes for an answer and move on to another subject.
He passed the the "how to behave for the Stranger" test very well. It doesn't prove much beyond baseline intelligence, but it's something.
I dunno, maybe all the questions were so pointed because he's an unremarkable candidate and the only notable thing that sticks out is his working for an anti-gay Senator?

Unless someone can point to notable things Clifthorne has done?
Jesus, Eli, lay off. You come across as as a douche with a chip on your shoulder. And your response in the comments is lame. You're preparing him for the questions he might receive? x20? he's a young person running for office! Give him advice, not a pointless grilling.
As someone watching this process from the outside, I found this interview interesting, although I'd have preferred a longer interview that talked about other issues as well. The question of what to do if our jobs require us to act against our conscience is an interesting one. What if he had left his job? What if he had stayed in his job but donated money or time to the cause? Why does he talk about the vulnerable without recognizing GLBT families as among the vulnerable?

I think every candidate should have to answer this directly for every stance they've ever tacitly supported that defies liberal values.
I don't think that degree of confidentiality should exist between a senator and their legislative assistant. Not if they want us to believe that they're being transparent.
He couldn't even persuade his democrat boss that he had a 2 year working relationship with to support equality, he will probably not be a very effictive representitive.
I go to Publicola for decent political coverage of local candidates and issues. The Stranger is great for anal sex tips and that's about it anymore.
He showed some serious resilience to horrible repitition. Way to go, dude!

personally I think its rather scary when politics become a question of professionalism or simply "a job".

I'm not sure that this is where the guy was going with this. There's a difference between simple careerism, which seems to be what you're criticizing, and sticking with a political job because you believe, on balance, the elected official you're working with is doing more good for his constituency than bad.

I also think it's unreasonable to expect staffers to be prepared to fall on their swords over every item in the liberal agenda. It sounds to me like Sen. Shin and Clifthorne did discuss the issue freely. Clifthorne made it clear where he stood. The Senator considered what he was presented with and then made a decision. Even if we don't like how that decision goes, that's basically how things go in the real world. You present your best case to the decision makers and then abide by their decision. If it were otherwise, very little would ever get accomplished.
I'm not sure we learned that much about this guy from this interview. I do believe this statement shows some maturity:

"Without dignity and respect and professionalism nothing would ever get done."

If you get elected to office, you are going to work with a lot of people who you disagree with and/or dislike. But the work still has to get done. It is good news that this candidate recognizes that.

I wish the interview was more well-rounded so we could have learned more about his other stances.
"Setting that issue aside, thank you, we're out of time."
Eli, I am generally one of your supporters and followers. But I gotta say that before I even got half way through this I was feeling like you'd flogged that dead horse more than enough. By the end I was cringing. Really. Enough already. I got the point about a third of the way through, and i'm kinda slow in the morning.
To add an actual point to my comment, Eli, it isn't your job to train the candidates for interviews. It's your job to conduct the interviews. Your point was made early, and you left a lot of issues on the table, and gave your readers more text than actual information.

Unless you're planning to follow Sandeep's career path, in which case carry on.
Jesus Christ Eli, I can't imagine any state legislator even _existing_ whose views on all issues, or even all serious issues, exactly line up with my own. SOMEBODY who's interested in public policy is going to end up working as Shin's aide, and it might as well be somebody who gives a rat's ass about issues that you and I care about. Shin is wrong on this issue, and it's an important issue, but it's absurd to just grind your axe for the entire interview. And what if he had resigned? He'd have a bold but ultimately meaningless moral achievement to crow about, but would lack valuable legislative experience in lots of other areas. Learning to work with (and even for) people with whom you have serious disagreements is part of the legislative process, (part of any group decision-making, really,) and part of life. Are there theoretical cases where the "professionalism" principle goes too far? Sure, and I have no doubt that commenters here can come up with numerous hypothetical examples. But if you want experience in a system that has few comparable openings of this kind, sometimes you don't always get your pick of internships. Don't excoriate the kid too much for sticking with the "acceptably good, with notable exceptions," rather resigning.
@28, 29, 30, etc: It's March.

The election is eight months away.
33 on the hell did you not ask him to give you the names oh his gay friends and family members so you could verify they exist and that they actually actively urged him to continue to work with shin? Isn't that what dan has been bitching about non stop?
@33 Dan brings that up every time an anti-gay conservative claims to have fictional gay friends. I don't think it's hard to believe that a young liberal person from Seattle might have gay friends and don't need to know their names.
I find the obsession with Eli's questions somewhat disturbing. Ideally, all candidates would be grilled repeatedly on each issue like this. Eli conducted the interview professionally, and the candidate answered the questions in a manner consistent with the portrait he is trying to paint of himself. The questions are valid, and the responses are intellectually consistent. You youngsters might not be aware of this, but there was a time when politicians actually had to answer questions like this on the TeeVee. Oh, the humanity...
@32: So because there is plenty of time until August (which isn't eight months away, just a heads up), you waste your first interview with one of the candidates by asking the same question, over and over again?

Is this your new interview strategy - one topic per person per interview until no one returns your calls at all?
@35 exactly. Politicians are entitled to no softballs or free passes. Grill each of them to this level on everything from civil rights to taxes to Eyman's 2/3s scheme to I-90 rail to social justice to everything else. Pull them apart like an onion. If they want our investment, they can us theirs.
@33 You want him to name names, Senator McCarthy?
Change "gay marriage" to "civil rights for African Americans" in every question. Is it still OK that he worked for Paull Shin?
@39 I'm sure there were a lot of decent people who worked as staff members of segregationist politicians in the 1950s & 60s. Having employees/friends/family around with tolerant ideas is an important part of hopefully having some of these people change their minds. It isn't Clifthorne's fault that didn't happen in this case. He supports equality. Working for someone that doesn't isn't something that qualifies him for a public shaming.
@24 - I stopped going to Publicola for anything when they endorsed Carr for reelection as City Attorney.
Eli, you're supposed to be nice, stay content with a few sound bites, and quickly move on to easier questions! That's what reporting is all about.
@40 - A Legislative Assistant is not just a staff member. An LA is part of a policy making team. If basic civil rights weren't that big of a deal to Mr. Clifthorne two years ago, when he knowingly chose to work as a policy maker for a bigot, then that is relevant information to a run to be an elected policy maker from a progressive district.
@39, The problem isn't that Eli asked the question. It is a perfectly legitimate question to ask. Even a followup question or two is fine. The problem is that he asked the same goddamned question 20 fucking times. That is the very definition of beating a dead horse. That goes way past journalism and deep into the land of obsession.
My favorite part was when Eli asked why he didn't leave, he offered a very polite response. I'm pretty sure the real answer was: dude, i was 26, heavily in debt from school, lucky to even have a job in a field I'm passionate it about. Plus, had I quit on Shin, my options with the state dems would have been ruined. Sorry, the economy sucks and this is a two party country.
@43 Still having a hard time caring as long as he wasn't working on bigoted policies. And yeah basically what 45 said.
@45 - Good to know that gay discrimination isn't that big of a deal to you.

In the end, it's all moot. I doubt that he will be a top-tier candidate in this race. Frame, Phillips and Tarleton will have the financial resources needed to compete, and Frame and Fathi get to go after the liberal foot soldiers.

Clifthorne is an LA to a bigot who is now trying to cover that up by saying it wasn't on his radar, and has fans who are trying to make a point that it shouldn't matter, he was just a staff person. You're either Fitzgibbon (active in policy) or your not. You can't have it both ways.
31 & 45
@42, yes, that's exactly what people are saying. While I don't have much respect for you as a writer, I still doubt you're as obtuse as you claim to be with that comment.

While gay marriage is no doubt a big issue, the entire reason our Legislature is in a special session is due to the budget (and a couple of truly shitty DINOs). Our state has some pressing fiscal issues to address & the candidate was given one question in which to partially address his beliefs and policies regarding anything but gay marriage. A good reporter knows when he's gotten as much information as is possible out of a single issue, and then smartly tries to find out what else the candidate stands for or against. Eli fucked up here by acting as if this race will be about a candidate's beliefs on a single issue as only seen through the lens of his employer. I'm guessing the voters of the 36th would have preferred to know about more about him than one question repeated ad nauseum.
@ Eli & 7,
Are you suggesting that you should only ever work for someone that agrees with 100% of the same issues that you do? You'd never have a job, especially in politics. I understand marriage equality is important and I'm helping fight for it to the extent I can here in MN (donate to to help) but if I was trying to move into a career in politics I would be trying to get experience under my belt that got me there. 2 years working with someone who I agree with on 90% of the issues but disagree with on 10% of the issues seems pretty damn good to me as a stepping stone to get the only person in the world who agrees with me on 100% of the issues (me) into a potential 20-40 year career of actually writing laws.

That said, if the politician were out there calling for violence against gays or sponsoring laws to jail gays for being gay or something like that then that 10% could be more of an issue. If the only problem is that he votes differently than I do on that 1 single issue then that's not an issue.

BTW, thanks for doing an entire interview about 1 issue. I wouldn't have learned shit about this guy if he hadn't been so good about pointing out his positions on other issues despite your fixation.
@43 - A legislative assistant does NOT make policy. The elected person is the one responsible to the people in his/her district. I have great staff and will ask what they think because I'm interested in same. However, polling them as to how I should vote is not even a remote possibility.

I wouldn't vote for someone who would let an assistant set policy, and I would fire an assistant who tried to interfere with my best judgment. It's my name attached to the vote, my job on the line, and my decision to own and defend.

It's Sen. Shin's vote to defend. Good for Evan for honoring his commitment to the end of session. He couldn't have changed Sen. Shin's vote, but he could have left Sen. Shin's constituents with no one to answer the phone on the host of other issues.

BTW, usually it makes a difference where my constituents are on an issue, which certainly varies by district. In this one case, I voted based on my belief that marriage equality is a civil rights issue in which protecting individual rights must, if necessary, trump majority rule. Sen. Shin decided differently, which was his right and can't be blamed on Evan.
45 has it right
@47, Are you suggesting that you can only work for an employer you agree with 100% on every issue? Where exactly do you expect to find a politician that agrees with you 100% on all of the issues? If that's your standard you'd never have a job in politics or anywhere else.

@42, Actually, you're supposed to inform your readers. This interview only informs the readers on 1 issue and it barely even does that. If you want to be a 1 issue voter that's fine but as a "journalist" you should at least acknowledge that there are other issues out there. Maybe ask the same question 5-10 times if you really want to beat that horse but 20 times? That's just stupid and uninformative. It's not like he was dodging the question and Eli had to keep asking him to get the answer. He answered the fucking question over and over again.
@51 - Sen. Pflug - thank you for pointing out my error there. I meant to be consistent with my use of policy team member throughout because, as you make clear, the decision does rest with the elected official. However, the good folks that I have had the pleasure of knowing who work as LA's do a fair share of research and assisting their electeds, and reporting the facts and information back. And in that respect, the issue here is quite relevant.

You are correct that Mr. Clifthorne wasn't going to change Sen. Shin's vote. Obviously, neither were the voters in his district. As a Democrat, this is something that matters more than for Republicans. Our parties, generally speaking, are on different sides of the issue, and while I would call you not only brave, but right, with your vote, I expect more out of my fellow Democrats.

Especially those who come from blue districts.

Running as a former LA has the potential to be a boon - the ability to say "I've been there, they know me, I've assisted on legislation" has helped many folks get elected on both sides.

At the same time, when running in a liberal district in Seattle, who you work for matters. And in this instance, my politics hat tells me it is going to hurt this individual. Especially in a race that has drawn so many other Democrats who haven't worked for Paull Shin.
Eli, Dominic, snark away. Yeah, it's March. And it's super great that you asked tough questions and followed up on his answers. But sometimes you're going to do a bad interview and you're going to get called on it. This was a bad interview. You got your tough questions, you got substance, and then you just kept plowing over the same field - it did no one any good. Not him, not you, and not your readers. Frankly Eli, if we didn't know that you're capable of better, the type of shit you're getting would be different.
@47 thanks for puting words in my mouth. I didn't voice my opinion on marriage equality, like any thinking, caring person I am quite pro. What I was trying to illustrate is how 'politic-y' he already is. I think you must have been quite fortunate to have never gone against your beliefs out of fear. Most of us had to do shitty things we disagree with at some point in our careers.
That said, it's not am excuse but rather a perspective. But to be honest, I'm not gonna vote for a 28 year old. Call me an ageist jerk but if I can't take him seriously, how's a burly republican going to?
@53 - You're quite right about the research, not to mention tons of constituent work (trying to help folks navigate "the system"). I don't mean to disparage LAs in any way.

Your other point is interesting - I'll have to think about it. Shouldn't we ALL be held accountable to do what is best for the people we serve? I'm not very tolerant of using the party as an excuse, whether it be ducking a hard vote or taking a gratuitous one. Doesn't leadership require more?

I disagreed with Sen. Shin on this issue, but I respect him for not caving - if that makes sense. I believe that some of the religious community got their facts twisted on where one's freedom stops and another's begins - more discernment there would be beneficial. Generally speaking, however, Washington might be much better off if more legislators stood on their convictions.
Eli, I don't think you were preparing him for all of the questions he was likely to get regarding the subject and even if you were, is that really your job? I think this interview does the Stranger a disservice by making it seem amateur and one-dimensional.
As a voter in the 36th, I appreciated this interview. I guess it depends on where LGBT rights stand in your priority list. Evan made it clear that LGBT rights aren't a priority for him - and that means I won't be voting for him. Especially when we've got Noel Frame, who played a huge role in winning the R 71 campaign, or Sahar Fathi, who has been a huge ally for LGBT rights through her bar association work.
Very late to the discussion here, and as a Texan, I find it refreshing that this guy is seen as a the conservative of the bunch.

In his shoes, I would have said something along the lines of "I considered leaving, but thought I could do more good by staying and continuing to advocate for full LGBT equality."

Or something like that.
He's going to make a perfect politician.

Take that any way you want.
Why is everyone bashing Eli? This is what a journalist does: Gets answers. Yes, it was repetitive, but at least now we're completely clear on this guy's views. There's nothing left to ask—for once—on this subject, anyway.

Frankly I'm tired of watching and reading interviews and getting pissed off at some lame journalist for letting the politician off the hook. Eli did his job, and to his credit, Clifthorne comes off great. He answered everything with candor, was measured and consistent and never got pissed. That's a pretty good start for a candidate, in my opinion.

More of this, please.
The way Eli Sanders directed that interview reminded me of Fox news. It left a very sour taste in my mouth. I commend Evan for responding well, but would offer that he could have been more forthright with requesting that the journalist actually listen to his answers and move on to other pertinent questions.

Stranger - think outside your christmas party - hire new blood. There are better writers out there, and Seattle would appreciate it. :)

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