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Evan Smith |
Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012, 2:37 p.m.

Opponents look at why McAuliffe won in 1st District

Guy Palumbo, who lost to incumbent Democratic 1st Legislative District Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe and Republican challenger Dawn McCravey in the August primary, says that McAuliffe won the general election because of respect she has built up over 20 years in the Legislature and 15 years before that on the Northshore School Board.

"Sen. McAuliffe is very well liked in the 1st district," he said a few days ago. "She has accomplished a lot for her constituents over the course of her 35-plus years of public service."

Palumbo also praised McCravey for "running for the right reasons."

"It's important that we all applaud the effort put forth by Dawn McCravey," he said, "Her passion for education is evident. As expected, this race got pretty ugly on both sides of the aisle. Running a race for state senate is really hard work and we should thank Dawn for caring enough to run."

Much of the ugliness came from the more than $1 million spent on the campaign from Democratic and Republican committees, who viewed the contest as a key to control of the Senate. But also from education groups who either favored or opposed McAuliffe, who was the head of the Senate committee overseeing education.

In addition, opponents of McCravey sent out material about her family's failures in the oil business and about the money behind the Stand for Children organization, which got much of its money from people backing the statewide initiative to establish charter schools.

Palumbo, who originally had announced an independent candidacy, filed as a Democrat and finished third in the August primary with 14 percent of the vote to 44 percent for McAuliffe and 42 percent for McCravey.

McCravey said last week that it was too early to draw conclusions but she said that election night had been a big night for Democrats, something that helped Democratic candidates at all levels.

She said she was pleased that her campaign had stayed focused on education and jobs, but she was disappointed with the negative campaigning.

"My opponent's campaign -- along with her allies -- spent their time in the final days ignoring the issues and making outrageous claims about me on things like oil drilling and the positions held by folks who had endorsed me. Not very substantive but I think it may have had an impact on some level.

"I do think my campaign managed to bring a great deal of attention to how our kids are being shortchanged under the current leadership. My campaign was focused on factual information about disappointing directions the state has pursued over the past 20 years."

McCravey also said she was pleased to see the initiative the allows charter schools in Washington to pass and hopes that continues a discussion of much-needed reforms of all kinds here in Washington.

"I think voters approved charters because it was a reasonable measure and because we have managed to shed some light on the deficiencies in our current system and how it's hurting children," McCravey said. "The supporters of the status quo on education have held sway for some time but I think voices like mine and Rob McKenna's -- along with Stand for Children and the League of Education Voters -- managed to move the needle a bit on the issue -- which is a very good thing. Unfortunately, voters putting the same leadership into place doesn't really give much hope for children. But it's not over. There's still much to do to fully fund and improve our schools,"

Evan Smith can be reached at
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