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Gregoire & Burner at GSBA Candidate Forum - Republicans play hide-and-seek
Gregoire & Burner at GSBA Candidate Forum - Republicans play hide-and-seek
by Mike Andrew - SGN Contributing Writer

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi and Republican Congressman Dave Reichert (8th District) will be no-shows at the upcoming GSBA Candidate Forum. The Forum, the only one specifically targeting Seattle's LGBT community, is scheduled for Wednesday, September 10, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Westin Hotel, 1900 5th Avenue. It is co-sponsored by Equal Rights Washington.

Rossi's opponent, incumbent Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire, and Reichert's opponent, Democrat Darcy Burner, will both attend.

Rossi's media spokesperson Jill Straight failed to return repeated calls from SGN, so no explanation for his absence has been forthcoming. Reichert media spokesperson Amanda Halligan cited a "scheduling conflict" as the reason for Reichert's absence. "Please don't characterize it as not responding," she said. "I've actually been exchanging e-mails with them." Halligan was unable to say where Reichert would be at the time of the Forum.

"The annual GSBA Candidate Forum is the only LGBT Candidate Forum in Seattle," Louise Chernin, Executive Director of the GSBA, stated. "It is nonpartisan and invites all candidates from races selected by its Public Policy Task Force to participate. GSBA reached out to Republican Candidate for Governor, Dino Rossi and Republican Candidate for the 8th Congressional District, Dave Reichert, but after weeks of follow-up calls, both candidates declined the invitation stating they had a scheduling conflict. We think, as candidates for high level offices, who claim, if elected, they will represent all residents in their jurisdiction, they missed an important opportunity to state their positions before the LGBT business community. After all, the GSBA is a business organization whose members have a broad range of concerns and are integral to the economic vitality of this state."

Gregoire led Rossi by almost 28,000 votes in the August 2008 primary, but recent polling shows a tightening race. Gregoire first won election four years ago, edging out Rossi by only 129 votes in the now nationally famed ultra-close and contentious contest.

Gregoire has been endorsed by Equal Rights Washington and has received SEAMEC's highest rating - a 5 - indicating a long record leadership on behalf of the LGBT community. Rossi has a SEAMEC rating of 1.

Reichert, the incumbent in the 8th Congressional District, faces a serious challenge from Democratic candidate Darcy Burner. In the recent primary, Reichert out-polled Burner by only 5,822 votes out of a total of 145,305 cast. In 2004, Burner also challenged Reichert, coming within 4,727 votes of defeating him. Economic and demographic changes in the Eastside district have made it more hospitable territory for Democratic candidates, and Democrat John Kerry carried it by three percentage points in the 2004 presidential election.

Burner has a SEAMEC rating of 3, and Reichert has been rated 2. ERW is not a federal PAC and typically does not endorse in national Congressional races.

The Forum will also feature both candidates for the 36th Legislative District Position 1, John Burbank and Reuven Carlyle, and both candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Terry Bergeson and Randy Dorn.

Because of the new top-two primary rules, both Burbank and Carlyle are Democrats, competing to succeed retiring State Rep. Helen Sommers in a heavily Democratic district that includes Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ballard, and Crown Hill. Burbank is the official nominee of the State Democratic Party, while Carlyle is endorsed by the Young Democrats of Washington. ERW has not endorsed in this race. SEAMEC has rated Burbank a 4 and Carlyle a 3.

Bergeson and Dorn are competing for a non-partisan statewide position in a campaign that has revolved around the controversial WASL test - Bergeson is for it, Dorn against - and widespread discontent among public school employees. Bergeson is the incumbent, running for her fourth term as Superintendent, and is endorsed by the Washington State Labor Council, while Dorn is supported by school employee unions - the Washington Education Association and SEIU Local 1948.

SEAMEC has given Bergeson a 4 rating, but was unable to rate Dorn because he has no public record on LGBT issues. ERW has not endorsed in this race.

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