GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick keeps saying he wants to run a "different" campaign. That is: a campaign that doesn't stoop to the childish, misleading level of partisan attack politics that typically clutters civic debate. I want to believe the guy, but then he sends out childish, misleading, partisan press releases that clutter civic debate.

Here's a bit of the release he fired off on Monday, August 7, about the GOP "trifecta" tax bill that was defeated in the Senate late last week. (The bill was dubbed "the trifecta" because it included exempting more people from the estate tax, a boost to the minimum wage, and a bevy of corporate tax breaks.)

The footnotes in the press release are mine:

"SEATTLE—Mike McGavick hoped [Sen. Cantwell] would fully explain to Washingtonians her recent vote against lowering their taxes.1 Among the many things contained in the tax package Sen. Cantwell helped block was renewal of state sales tax deductibility. Sales tax deductibility has saved Washingtonians an average of $550 annually.2 As a reason for voting "no," Cantwell and Senate Democrats claimed a provision in the bill would lower wage[s] below the state's minimum for tipped workers in Washington.3 The reality about Sen. Cantwell's vote: The U.S. Department of Labor says the bill will protect Washington's minimum wage of $7.63 an hour.4"

The reality about McGavick's press release:

1. Cantwell's vote against lowering taxes? She voted against upping the estate-tax exemption for the richest of the rich (just about .2 percent of Americans)—extending the exemption for people with estates valued at up to $10 million. Far fewer than 200 Washington families would have benefited.

2. The reason Washingtonians have been able to save an average of $550 is because Cantwell struck a bipartisan deal to extend the sales-tax deductibility provision in 2003. She didn't take the bait this time because this time it was tied to the aforementioned estate-tax repeal—and to a tip-deduction wage provision. Cantwell is the lead sponsor this year, along with Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, of a bill that would make the sales-tax deduction permanent (the trifecta version did not make the deduction permanent). Meanwhile, as Cantwell said when she voted against the GOP ploy to pass the estate-tax repeal, all these issues should be voted on in their own right.

3. Cantwell is right about the GOP call for a tip-credit-deduction provision. The rule would have allowed management to slash workers' wages by counting tips against their salaries. This would bring service workers' wages down to around $2.15/hour. The tip deduction would have hit about 120,000 Washington State workers who depend on tips—a $950 million wage hit. The Washington Dept. of Labor said the federal law would have trumped our state law prohibiting tip deductions.

4. It's true, Washington's minimum wage would have stayed at $7.63 per hour, as opposed to dipping down to the new proposed federal level of $7.25. But Cantwell's concern was about the tip deduction, not about the lower proposed federal minimum.

What really bugs me about this whole thing is that the GOP trifecta was purely an election-year stunt to neutralize a winning Democratic issue—the minimum wage. First thing Monday morning, McGavick, who claims to be above the juvenile partisan fray, sends out a misleading hack-job press release on Cantwell, trying to blame her. McGavick is just following GOP orders.

Listen to the GOP leadership quoted last week in the D.C. paper the Hill: "Even if they do not win enactment of the 'trifecta' bill, [Republicans] said they would be able to blame Democrats... 'There's like 12 30-second ads sitting around in this bill,' a Republican aide said."

*Or perhaps a misleading press release.