Spotted on Capitol Hill last week, and paid for by The Progressive Conservative Coalition PAC Sponsored by Marcus Charles.
  • Toby Crittenden
  • Spotted on Capitol Hill last week, and paid for by Marcus Charles's "Progressive Conservative Coalition PAC."

When posters like the above went up on Capitol Hill last week, I tracked down the man behind them. He's Marcus Charles, owner of The Crocodile and other Seattle establishments, and here's what he had to say about why he's trying to get Seattle voters to split their tickets between Democrat Barack Obama, Republican Rob McKenna, and approval of gay-marriage-legalizing R-74.

Eli Sanders: Why are you doing this?

Marcus Charles: I decided to start the PAC a while back when I was watching the coverage in Wisconsin. I saw this image of a woman dressed entirely in blue with her face painted yelling at a man dressed entirely in red (also with his face painted)—he was yelling back at her. They both were holding signs with various divisive partisan slogans on them. They were not listening to each other. They might as well have been two ships passing in the night.

I felt really sad, because this is snapshot of America. And, not knowing either of these people personally I couldn’t help but feel that more than likely they were both so upset for the same reason—“They were not getting their needs met” and the “other side was to blame.”

I suspect that if those two people would have actually spoken to each other, they probably would have learned they had more in common than they actually realized and that their end goals are probably not far off from each other.

So I started a PAC to support people, skills sets, and political realities, as well as Ideas.

ES: But why, exactly, are you supporting Rob McKenna over Jay Inslee for governor? As you probably know, McKenna opposes same-sex marriage (which your poster says you support). McKenna also tried to take apart the landmark healthcare reform law achieved by President Obama (whom your poster also says you support). How do you get around the criticism that your poster is ideologically nonsensical? And what, specifically, is it about Rob McKenna that makes you back him despite his stances on same-sex marriage and health care reform? Also: Are you concerned that your political leanings may conflict with the political leanings of a lot of your customers?

MC: Let me start off by saying that I hope you don’t miss the fact that I also support Obama and R-74. I think ideological purity is not possible no matter what party you are associated with and that ideological purity at all costs is what is hurting our democracy, and is what ultimately could destroy the Republic. All of us need make decisions on issues and candidates based on much more than party affiliation and that is what my effort is all about.

If people automatically dismiss or vilify me even though we probably agree much more than we disagree, that exertion only makes all of us weaker. If it is not possible to respectfully disagree about the outcome of two very different people, vying for the same job, we have all lost the point of what democracy is all about.

Overall, I’d like to say that I don’t believe that I’m ideologically nonsensical. This race is not between two extreme ideologies, one right, one wrong, one conservative, one liberal. This race is between two individuals who have different skill sets, different personal religious beliefs, different views on what makes good law and statute, and how they will go about governing.

Before I get into why I’m supporting Rob McKenna, I’d like to give you broad insights on my political leanings, so that if people want to really get to know me, they actually know what I believe in.

* I’m way more progressive than I am conservative.

* I think education should be fully funded for all Americans through post-high school levels whether that be at university or technical school, because an educated republic is a republic that will continue and prosper. And if you want to go to private school, that is your choice and your finical commitment.

* I believe in single payer universal health care for all Americans through Medicaid or some other national agency, because it will allow us as a nation to better compete with Germany, Japan, Canada, the UK, and other industrialized nations who provide this benefit for their citizens. And, if you want to go to private doctor that is your choice and your finical commitment.

* I believe in choice and also support adoption. I’ve been a part of both.

* I believe you should be able to marry whomever you want because what you do in the bedroom is no one else's business and everyone has the right to choose who should be in their family.

* I believe you should buy products from your neighbor when at all possible and that a way to a better globe is through our local communities.

* I think we should have flat taxes over the poverty level and that everyone should pay their share of the bar tab.

* I think the sales tax is a flawed and regressive taxing mechanisms.

* I think marijuana should be legalized as well as many other drugs for people over 21 years old.

* I think the age of enlistment should be increased to 21 so that young people have made an educated choice to enter the military.

* I think everyone has the right to their opinion and their political opinions don't make them morally “right or wrong” human beings.

* I have financially supported Constantine, McGinn, Holmes, Carlyle, Rasmussen, Burgess, Litzow and Habib just to name a few.

* I can guarantee Obama, McKenna or Inslee don’t agree with me on all of my political leanings.

The governor's race is between Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee. I’ve met both and had an opportunity to listen to their subsequent stump speeches many times. 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 both parties to get real reform for WA state. This is one also of the reasons why I’m supporting Obama. Obama has the best skill set to be president, hands down. The United States of America is a republic, not a large multinational company. We need a leader and a public administrator, not a former CEO, to lead this nation.

Four years ago (and just until a few months ago) Obama and McKenna had the same position on gay marriage, which I disagreed with. That did not stop me from voting for Obama four years ago.

Four years ago, Obama said he was not for private health insurance and would only support single payer (which I supported and still support as a capitalist). He changed his mind (chickened out) and flip flopped to mandated private insurance. I disagree with him on this point, yet it is not stopping me from voting for him this time.

Inslee strongly disagrees with many people who support him on legalized marijuana. I don’t think those people are just going to not support Jay because they have a different view than him on this very important issue.

McKenna and I are both Catholics. I’m more of the cafeteria variety. Our religious beliefs do differ on choice and marriage. However, we both believe that gay marriage will ultimately be decided by the voters. Abortion law in our state was established by a vote of the people, as I believe and hope gay marriage will be when R-74 is approved this November. McKenna is on record saying he will support the will of the people on this issue. This was the first question I asked him when I met with him over a year ago. Over his term as Attorney General, he has supported our state laws on choice and abortion and has not tried to impose his personal religious believes on our State.

For me, in this race, knowing that R-74 was going to be decided at the ballet box and health care was already decided by the Supreme Court, there were two overriding factors. Who has the skill set to best administer the state government? And who could actually work with both sides of the isle in this very divided state on issues like education reform?

If I had to pick one issue that McKenna or Inslee actually has the power to impact as governor that is most important to me, that issue would be education. There are a good number of very progressive education organizations that support McKenna over Inslee, and I think that is more important than any other divisive issues that neither McKenna nor Inslee will actually have any impact on.

Like I said, this election is between Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee and we have to judge and decide between these two candidates. If Dow Constantine would have run for governor, we would not be having this conversation because I would have been behind him with this same effort. And, I’m not alone in this. There is group of progressive Democrats who have come out publicly supporting McKenna. And, an even larger group who are not energized by Inslee candidacy and are looking at other options.

(More in this week's Stranger.)