Brady Piñero Walkinshaw kindasorta went negative Pramila Jayapal over the weekend. Jayapal is holding a press conference at 1 PM today to respond to the ad, above, and its companion website PramilaFacts.com.
As far as negative ads go, this is pretty weak tea, thin gruel, watery cum, etc. (Now this is a negative ad.) At her presser Jayapal will no doubt condemn Walkinshaw for going negative—she'll go negative on him for going negative on her—but responding to the actual facts will be more difficult. Because it's a fact that Jayapal skipped more votes than 95% of her colleagues; it's fact that FiscalNote, a non-partisan goo-goo org whose clients include Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Governor's Association, ranked Jayapal "in the bottom 98% of legislators in the WA Senate" and called her "very ineffective"; and it's fact that Jayapal skipped a vote on the state budget to spend an extra day on the East Coast so she could attend a fundraiser (in fairness: her vote wasn't needed, the budget passed, and until we have publicly-financed elections pols gotta raise money); and it's a fact that Jayapal doesn't live in the 7th District.
The SECB endorsed Jayapal. But the SECB endorsed a "yes" vote on Initiative 732. Half of the SECB posted a dissent on I-732 last week—backers of the climate change initiative responded to their dissent on Slog this morning—and I figured, hey, so long SECB members are publicly dissenting from our legally-binding (on everyone but us) endorsements... I might as well go rogue and announce that I'm voting for Brady Piñero Walkinshaw and I think you should ignore the SECB and vote Walkinshaw too.
I'm voting for Brady because he's been very effective during his time in the legislature. He's responsible for the passage of "Joel's Law," a hugely important mental healthcare reform; he got several crucial criminal justice reforms through the legislature; and his heroic efforts to address our state's opiate crisis were lifesaving. (We said this about Walkinshaw in our endorsement of Jayapal: "[Walkinshaw] is a passionately progressive Democrat who also looks like the future of the party... We have him to thank for Seattle beat cops being able to use naloxone to stop heroin overdoses on Seattle streets. Walkinshaw has literally saved lives.") He's also done solid work on affordable housing, tenants rights, and consumer protections. Which may be why FiscalNote, the goo-goo org that tagged Jayapal as one our least effective legislators, ranked Walkinshaw in the top 20% of WA state legislators.
Okay! So that's why I'm voting for Walkinshaw. Now here are the two reasons I'm voting against Jayapal (besides the whole not-very-effective-at-legislating thing): Jayapal's bullshitting on Seattle's $15 minimum wage and the gutless opportunism she showed by running in the 7th District (where she doesn't live) instead of the 9th District (where she does live).
During the campaign Jayapal has repeatedly claimed credit for the successful effort to raise Seattle's minimum wage to $15. Here she is Horizon House in early October:
If I were gonna divvy up credit for Seattle's $15 minimum wage, I'd award 70% of it Kshama Sawant, who made the fight for $15 the centerpiece of her first campaign, and 40% to Ed Murray, who, as a good Democrat, has always supported efforts to raise the minimum wage but got religion on $15 after Sawant's victory. (I know that adds up to 110% but 1. math is hard and 2. awarding Sawant less than 70% of the credit seemed unfair and I felt Murray deserved more than 30% of the credit.) Jayapal did serve on the task force Murray assembled to study the issue—a task force many on the left feared was meant to slow-walk or kill the effort—but Jayapal was just one of 24 people on Murray's task force. If there's any evidence Jayapal was passionate about raising Seattle's minimum wage before Sawant moved the issue to the top of the city's agenda, I haven't seen it. And there's no evidence that Jayapal played an important role on the task force.
"She had very little to do with [passing $15]," said David Meinert, a member of the mayor's task force. "In fact, I believe she missed several meetings. If anyone's gets credit it should be the mayor's staff, some of the labor reps, and the business representatives who were able to compromise and come together on a workable deal." (Meinert has endorsed Walkinshaw in the race.)
I spoke to someone else involved in the process—someone who couldn't speak for attribution—who said this: "Aside from being a member of the panel, Pramila had almost nothing to do with putting together the $15 minimum wage policy. I'm amazed to see her taking credit for it in her TV ads now."
Howard Wright, who served as co-chair of the Murray's Income Inequality Advisory Committee (the task force's official name), praised Jayapal before clarifying both her role and the scale of her contribution.
“There was a committee of 24, upon which she served,” said Wright, “but a smaller working group created the final draft and presented it to the larger committee. Pramila did not serve on that smaller working group.” When I asked Wright if knew Jayapal was out there claiming credit for Seattle’s $15 minimum wage—sole credit for all the work done by the committee, Murray and his staff, Sawant and her staff, and activists and labor organizers—he said he had.
“I have heard her say that live,” said Wright. “It raised my eyebrows."
Summing up: Jayapal missed numerous meetings, didn't have much to do with crafting the new law, and yet she's out there claiming credit—sole credit—for "actually passing a $15 minimum wage here in Seattle."
So that's the bullshitting. Now for the gutless opportunism...
Brady Walkinshaw had the guts to challenge Jim McDermott, the sitting Democratic incumbent. Not long after Walkinshaw got into the race, McDermott bowed out. Suddenly the 7th was a race for an open seat and a bunch of Dems who didn't have the guts to do what Walkinshaw did, i.e. challenge a sitting incumbent who needed to go, started getting in the race. They had every right to do so, of course, but it was a surprise when Jayapal jumped into the 7th District race since she lives in the 9th District. The 9th is a "minority-majority district," thanks to a redistricting effort Jayapal supported in 2011, created in part to send more minority representatives to Congress. But instead of challenging centrist Dem Adam Smith in the 9th, Jayapal opts to run in the 7th. Now she's allowed to run in the 7th, there's no law against it, but it was a transparent/gutless/opportunistic move. Jayapal opted to do the easy thing (get in on an open race) instead of doing the hard thing (challenge an incumbent).
The SECB wrote this in our lukewarm endorsement of Adam Smith...
We're endorsing an incumbent, lily-white government official to represent the most diverse district in the state. While we're not super stoked about that—#CongressSoWhite—we were even less stoked that Adam Smith's challenger, Jesse Wineberry, couldn't name a single policy Smith has supported that negatively affected South Seattleites.
If Jayapal had challenged Smith—if Jayapal had Walkinshaw's guts—the SECB probably would've endorsed her and Washington's might've sent two people of color to Congress next year. Instead we have one person of color running against another in the 7th. One is gutsy and effective, one is bullshitty and ineffective.
Vote gutsy and effective. Vote Walkinshaw.
This post has been updated.