Round 1 for governor candidates

By HUNTER GEORGE

Associated Press

BLAINE, Wash. – Republican gubernatorial candidate John Carlson, drawing on his skills as a radio talk-show host, accused Gov. Gary Locke on Thursday night of doing absolutely nothing while traffic, development and other problems spiral out of control.

It was a brutal verbal assault that began minutes after the men began their debate, the first of three scheduled before the Nov. 7 election. Carlson at times called the Democratic governor by his first name and repeatedly made statements such as “where have you been?”

At one point, Carlson held up a cell phone and dared Locke to take it, punch a programmed button and call Vice President Al Gore to demand that the federal government drop its anti-trust case against Microsoft.

Locke, who staunchly defended his record of “proven leadership” by outlining numerous successful government programs, marched across the stage and took the phone. “I don’t think you programmed this right. You didn’t expect me to come over here,” the Democrat teased as the audience howled.

The rollicking debate before an audience of about 340 business executives, legislators and lobbyists marked a spirited start to the general election campaign after last week’s state primary. Returns are still coming in, but Locke took about 54 percent of the total vote and has been considered a strong favorite for re-election.

Carlson clearly recognized that he has a lot of ground to cover. It helped that he went on the offensive at a policy summit hosted by the Republican-friendly Association of Washington Business and held near Blaine at the Inn at Semiahmoo resort.

Indeed, Carlson drew applause from many in the audience throughout the 75-minute debate, which was broadcast by TVW, the state government cable channel. A table full of staffers from the governor’s office were the main people cheering for Locke.

For the most part, Locke stiffly stuck to his script and avoided getting drawn into a verbal schoolyard tussle. He cited accomplishments in education, including higher test scores for children and a new program to test new teachers to ensure they have the proper skills. In health care, he touted his new program to use the state’s buying power to help seniors buy prescription drugs.

The governor said he leads by action, not sound bites, and noted he is the only candidate with 20 years of experience as a legislator and executive, someone who has proposed and lived within a $20 billion budget.

When he did direct his attention at Carlson, Locke noted his opponent is using the same pot of tax revenues to promise expensive new bridges near Seattle and Vancouver, essentially spending the same money twice. And he reminded the audience that Carlson once criticized the governor for proposals to reduce class sizes, calling it political pandering with no significant results.

“Well, he now is supporting class-size reduction,” Locke said. He turned to Carlson and added: “I’m glad that you’re on board.”

Still, Locke’s jabs were tame compared to the glib and sarcastic Carlson, who has made a living as a newspaper columnist, television commentator, initiative campaign chairman and think-tank founder, in addition to his work as a radio talk-show host.

Carlson attacked early and often.

He said Locke has failed to keep promises to cut property taxes and reduce traffic congestion, allowed “unelected bureaucrats” at the state Department of Ecology to rewrite shoreline management rules, neglected rural economic development and stood by while the federal government moved to break up Microsoft.

“What is really missing right now in Olympia is leadership from the top,” Carlson said.

That’s pretty much how it went the whole night. Carlson goaded Locke with sarcastic one-liners on virtually every issue.

When Locke defended his decision to await the upcoming recommendations from a panel known as the Blue Ribbon Transportation Committee, Carlson shot back: “Governor, the reason the Blue Ribbon Commission exists is because you would not lead.”

When Locke outlined his work to extend the Puget Sound area’s economic prosperity to rural areas, Carlson snapped: “I think they’re wishing you’d work a little harder on rural economic development.”

When Locke told the business executives in the audience that he proposed and signed legislation rolling back tax increases imposed during the budget crisis of 1993, Carlson reminded them that Locke was the lead budget writer in the House at the time and was himself responsible for the increases.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
1 dead in motorcycle crash on Highway 522 in Maltby

Authorities didn’t have any immediate details about the crash that fully blocked the highway Friday afternoon.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett mom charged with first-degree murder in death of son, 4

On Friday, prosecutors charged Janet Garcia, 27, three weeks after Ariel Garcia went missing from an Everett apartment.

Dr. Mary Templeton (Photo provided by Lake Stevens School District)
Lake Stevens selects new school superintendent

Mary Templeton, who holds the top job in the Washougal School District, will take over from Ken Collins this summer.

A closed road at the Heather Lake Trail parking lot along the Mountain Loop Highway in Snohomish County, Washington on Wednesday, July 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Mountain Loop Highway partially reopens Friday

Closed since December, part of the route to some of the region’s best hikes remains closed due to construction.

Emma Dilemma, a makeup artist and bikini barista for the last year and a half, serves a drink to a customer while dressed as Lily Munster Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022, at XO Espresso on 41st Street in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
After long legal battle, Everett rewrites bikini barista dress code

Employees now have to follow the same lewd conduct laws as everyone else, after a judge ruled the old dress code unconstitutional.

The oldest known meteor shower, Lyrid, will be falling across the skies in mid- to late April 2024. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)
Clouds to dampen Lyrid meteor shower views in Western Washington

Forecasters expect a storm will obstruct peak viewing Sunday. Locals’ best chance at viewing could be on the coast. Or east.

AquaSox's Travis Kuhn and Emerald's Ryan Jensen an hour after the game between the two teams on Sunday continue standing in salute to the National Anthem at Funko Field on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New AquaSox stadium downtown could cost up to $120M

That’s $40 million more than an earlier estimate. Alternatively, remodeling Funko Field could cost nearly $70 million.

Downtown Everett, looking east-southeast. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20191022
5 key takeaways from hearing on Everett property tax increase

Next week, City Council members will narrow down the levy rates they may put to voters on the August ballot.

Everett police officers on the scene of a single-vehicle collision on Evergreen Way and Olivia Park Road Wednesday, July 5, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Photo provided by Everett Police Department)
Everett man gets 3 years for driving high on fentanyl, killing passenger

In July, Hunter Gidney crashed into a traffic pole on Evergreen Way. A passenger, Drew Hallam, died at the scene.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.