Predict A Pen goes missing, a Republican wins a poll and a budget arrives

It’s Day 68. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112

2023 Washington Legislature, Day 68 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com | @dospueblos

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OLYMPIA, March 17, 2023 — Happy Friday. The sun is out. Probably explains why folks around here are a tad cheerier.

We begin with a mystery. An unconventional and unflappable adviser that House Speaker Laurie Jinkins often consults for insight is missing.

I am talking about her Predict A Pen. You might remember it from an edition of this newsletter last year. For tough yes-or-no questions, Jinkins picks it up, gives it a shake and an answer appears. Think Magic 8 Ball.

The speaker told reporters this week she doesn’t know exactly when it disappeared. It wasn’t misplaced. Borrowed without permission, more likely. She wants it returned and won’t question whoever brings it back.

I wonder, tongue firmly in cheek, if it might be an inside job. Certainly some members of her caucus are concerned with the answer Jinkins might get if she asks the pen, “Will the House pass the Senate’s vehicle pursuit bill?”

Money matters

Senate Democrats will release their proposed two-year capital budget Monday morning sans bells, whistles and a press conference.

Click on fiscal.wa.gov at 10:30 a.m. to read the details.

Of the three budgets the Legislature will pass this session — operating, transportation and capital — this is the feel-good one. Chunks of money get poured into buckets for large-scale undertakings like housing, health care facilities, and college buildings. Nonprofits also get earmarks too. With 147 lawmakers from 49 legislative districts, a lot of moolah will be spread around.

One thing to look for is any sign of interest in pursuing Gov. Jay Inslee’s bond proposal, or incorporating the ideas into the actual spending plan.

And the winner is … a Republican?

Results of the first poll for the 2024 gubernatorial election are in and Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, a Republican, is the winner.

The poll conducted last week by the Northwest Progressive Institute was premised on Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee not seeking a record fourth term — a good bet but not something I rule out, as he seems to be enjoying the gig right now.

Voters were asked to choose from among Democrats known to want the job — Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and King County Executive Dow Constantine — and a Republican with a resume of valid political experience, Dammeier.

Dammeier got the greatest support, 35 percent, followed by Ferguson with 21 percent. Franz and Constantine each got 7 percent, while 30 percent were not sure.

Temper your excitement, Grand Old Party members. Washington voters last elected a Republican governor in 1980, and by all measures, the electorate isn’t getting any less blue.

“Our intent with this question was to have fun exploring some of the potential dynamics of a landscape in which Governor Inslee doesn’t seek reelection,” Andrew Villeneuve, Northwest Progressive Institute executive director, wrote online.

I had fun reading it. I’ll wait for Inslee’s decision before I start considering next year’s contest.

In the meantime, the sun is out. Enjoy it and the weekend.

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