With only a few days before Aug. 5 primary ballots are due to drop boxes or to your closest post office for a postmark, incumbent Sen. Doug Ericksen, a Republican from Ferndale, took some time to weigh in on campaign mailers sent out by his opponent’s supporters.
Ericksen, the current senator for Washington’s 42nd Legislative District, will face challenger Seth Fleetwood, a Democrat who has served on the Whatcom County and Bellingham city councils.
Both candidates will move on to the Nov. 4 general election regardless of the results in the primary, which allows the top two vote-getters in each race to advance.
Supporters for each candidate have sent out a slew of political fliers to constituents in the 42nd district leading up to the primary.
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Fleetwood responded to negative mailers in this post from Monday.
In a phone call Friday, Aug. 1, Ericksen said he did not send those negative pieces (the Washington State Republican Party did).
“The first point I always try to make with folks is in a campaign I try to focus on what goes out in my control,” Ericksen said. “I can focus on what goes out in my name and under my campaign … every one of those has been a very positive vision.”
“My opponent has put out five or so pieces and every one has been negative,” Ericksen continued.
For readers who don’t live in the 42nd, I’m including (smartphone quality) pictures of some of the fliers that make claims about Ericksen. The mailers pictured were all sent by People for Seth Fleetwood.
Two of the fliers feature pictures of burning oil trains, including an aerial shot of a derailed train that exploded and killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec last year.
The five fliers I’ve included here make claims like:
-- “Doug Ericksen sided with oil and railroad lobbyists who buy his meals and donate to his campaigns instead of our local firefighters. He prevented firefighters from getting the information they need to safely respond to oil train fires and derailments.”
-- “According to a report by KPLU and the Associated Press, Doug spends more time dining with corporate lobbyists than any other legislator.” “What’s worse, he goes to bat for his lobbyist friends. Doug fought against a bill to prepare our first responders in the event of an oil train explosion, like the one that killed 47 people in Quebec last year. He opposed it because the oil companies didn’t want to tell our firefighters what they are shipping across our state.”
-- “Doug Ericksen helped kill a transportation bill that would have put hundreds of local people to work repairing our roads and bridges and stimulating our local economy with millions of dollars.”
-- “Doug Ericksen has been a politician for 16 years, yet he has done nothing to address equal pay for women. Isn’t seven terms in Olympia long enough to show leadership on this issue?”
-- “Doug Ericksen opposes freedom of choice. It’s not surprising that a man who’s proposed no legislation for equal pay for women is also anti-choice. He’s even voted with the insurance companies to restrict women’s health care choices including access to lifesaving mammograms.”
1) So how about that oil legislation?
“I actually introduced the most comprehensive oil by rail legislation in the country,” Ericksen said.
That legislation (SB 6524 and SB 6582), would have required an in-depth study of the safety of transporting crude by rail, an examination of gaps in the state’s programs governing transport of crude on waterways, would have added mandates for the Department of Ecology to ensure completion of geographic response plans, required facilities report on the volume and type of crude oil they handle, established an outreach program to coordinate with other governments in the region, including Canada, and would have set up a grant program to help local emergency responders acquire equipment, according to background on the bills provided by Ericksen’s office earlier this summer.
“What happened on this particular bill is we brought it up for a vote and the senate Democrats used a procedural motion to block a vote on the floor,” Ericksen said. “There were 4 pieces of legislation. Each time we brought them up, they brought up tons of amendments.”
When asked why his committee put forward the senate bill instead of a house bill that made it through the session, Ericksen said they decided to use the senate bill after meeting with house and senate members to reach a compromise.
“Sometimes you move senate bills, sometimes you move house bills,” Ericksen said.
As for claims he blocked the reporting of oil transport:
“The reporting requirements the Dems pushed for was to be done by oil refineries,” Ericksen said. “Refineries can’t know where every train is every hour of the day, that’s not their job.”
Ericksen said he is “completely, 100 percent” in support of requiring the railroads to report that information.
“That was included in the bill that the Democrats blocked,” he said. “That makes information available to first responders.”
2) What about killing a transportation bill?
“Absolutely not. In 2003 I actually led efforts to include a 5 cent gas tax increase to get projects built,” Ericksen said. “We have to reform the system so we can make better use of the dollars. The Dems were pushing for a tax increase without reforms.”
“We need to prevent what happened on the 520 bridge from being repeated,” he continued.
3) Ericksen said claims he hasn’t stood up for equal pay for women don’t have any basis.
“I’m not sure how many bills have been introduced on that topic by anyone,” Ericksen said. “I supported job creation for all folks in Washington … It’s one of those claims Dems like to do that has no factual basis to it.”
As for health care access and abortion:
“Again, this is a typical Democrat attack,” Ericksen said. “I’m completely pro-life. I don’t hide from that at all. I‘m also in favor of family planning and I am completely in favor of access to contraceptives.”
The claim he voted with insurance companies to restrict access to mammograms “was probably an amendment to some type of bill saying ‘this has to cover access to mammograms,’” Ericksen said. “They usually do this so they can play ‘gotcha’ politics. I’m a supporter of health savings accounts and fewer mandates on health care plans.”
4) Finally, we come back to the fact mentioned on almost every mailer: Ericksen topped the list of legislators who received free meals last year, with 62 meals valued at more than $2,000.
“I think that every good lie has some elements of truth built into it,” Ericksen said. “I’m probably one of the most active legislators meeting with constituents in Olympia.”
Those meetings are with small business owners, realtors, vets, and corporations, like Darigold, Boeing and others, Ericksen said.
“That’s the grain of truth — I’m very active and meet with lots of people,” he said.
The reporting system in Olympia doesn’t create a real dollar amount for lobbyist meals, Ericksen continued.
“They’re using a completely fabricated number. I might go to an event, have a soda pop and then leave,” he said. “They put your name down and then divide it out between all of the attendees … somebody might have a bottle of wine and I might have a soda pop. They’re trying to say this is meeting in back rooms with corporate lobbyists. Most of the time, it’s people from the district.
“Sometimes it’s lobbyists from corporations, but events are with constituents 90 percent of the time,” Ericksen said. “Darigold is expanding, we saved Alcoa, lots of things have happened from all the hard work.”
This post was updated Saturday, Aug. 2 to reflect the proper spelling of Darigold.