Primary Endorsements 2000
Vote for Joe Szwaja (Green)
The Stranger Death Squad would like to add our name to Joe Szwaja's skimpy endorsement list--which, at press time, included only one other institutional endorsement: SEAMEC, a queer advocacy group. While Szwaja did win endorsements from fabulously impressive individuals like Newell Aldrich (a Nick Licata staffer) and failed City Council candidate Curt Firestone, we thought Szwaja needed help. As a third-party candidate, he needs one percent in the general primary to move forward--and closer to five percent to be taken seriously. Why the hell would The Stranger want a Fremont hippie--who sports a god-awful mustache and teaches weightlifting and history at an experimental public high school--to be taken seriously? Two reasons: (1) Szwaja's brand of progressive politics is more up to date than his opponent's (six-term Democrat incumbent Rep. Jim McDermott); (2) we want him in the November election because he'll force an important debate--namely, what are the priorities of the Clinton-era Democratic party?
Szwaja (pronounced "shh-WHY-ah"), who fought sprawl and convention center giveaways in the 1980s as a four-term city council member in Madison, Wisconsin, is squarely focused on checking corporate power. He prioritizes fair trade over free trade. He puts campaign finance reform at the top of his list. Finally, he's boldly suspect of the booming new economy, rattling off reality-check stats; for example, 80 percent of wage-earners have seen salaries stagnate or drop during the last 20 years. While his solutions to this skewed balance of wealth are vague (promote living-wage jobs), we think this brainy high school teacher--who, incidentally, won a UN human rights award in his spare time--deserves a chance to refine his politics under the spotlight of a general election. We also think this 43-year-old weightlifter oughta shave the damn mustache.
Don't Vote for Jim McDermott (D)
The Stranger Death Squad met with Rep. McDermott under a tree in Woodland Park to tell him straight up we were planning to endorse him, thanks to his top-notch voting record on civil rights, social spending, and health care. But then we ran into that weightlifting, mustachioed Joe Szwaja guy. Oh, and we also happened to note that McDermott was starting an exclusive $1,000 membership advisory group, pushed legislation that would spike the cost of AIDS drugs in Africa, supports the WTO, and sold out to his top contributor--New Jersey pharmaceutical giant Schering-Plough. (McDermott fought to help the company extend their profitable Claritin patent.)
Well, McDermott--who looks a lot like our seventh president, Andrew Jackson--took us aside and tried unsuccessfully to set us straight. He defended his pro-WTO votes, for example, saying that "trade, not aid" was the way to uplift underdeveloped countries.
Look, Seattleites could do stupider things than re-electing a progressive like McDermott (re-electing Paul Schell or building a light-rail system that doesn't go to the Eastside comes to mind), but the guy clearly needs a tune-up. To that end, a hardy debate with Szwaja in the general election is welcomed.
By the way, there is a third candidate. Joel Grus is another Microsoft Libertarian who thinks legalizing marijuana, hyper laissez-faire economics, and "Free to Be You and Me" politics paves the way to a better society. Don't vote for him.
Vote for Jay Inslee (D)
North Seattle Democrat Jay Inslee's voting record is as good as it gets from our D.C. delegation. For example, the one-term incumbent gets higher ratings than McDermott from the Children's Defense Fund, the ACLU, teachers' unions, and environmentalists. Indeed, Inslee, a member of the Resources Committee, rated a 100-percent voting record from the League of Conservation Voters. Even more heartwarming, the former Olympia legislator and Seattle attorney got a zero rating from the right-wing League of Private Property Voters, and a whopping seven-percent approval rating from the Business-Industry Political Action Committee.
In addition to the Resources Committee, Inslee is on the Banking and Financial Services Committee. He deserve props for his work there. Despite receiving $24,000 in contributions from the financial industry--including a $1,000 gift from hometown fave and Fortune 500 company Washington Mutual--Inslee voted "No!" on 1999's landmark (and horrid) banking deregulation bill. He continues to be an outspoken critic of the bill's consumer privacy breeches.
Inslee has cast a couple of lame-o votes on gun control and labor organizing. But, a few scattered slip-ups aside, Inslee's ideological barometer is finely tuned. Inslee has two unworthy opponents: Dan McDonald, a Republican state legislator from Bellevue, who's already wreaked enough havoc in Olympia as majority leader; and 27-year-old Bruce Newman, a Libertarian who wants to end national education standards and (surprise) legalize drugs.