An ad hoc group of progressive community activists, including Curt Firestone, John Fox, Matt Fox, and Cindy Domingo, is looking for a candidate to challenge Mayor Greg Nickels in the fall election. After being turned down by Seattle City Council member Nick Licata, about a dozen of the activists met on Jan. 17 with former gubernatorial candidate and former state Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge. The activists then prepared a letter, to be signed by various community leaders and groups, urging Talmadge to run. But the letter is on hold now, and Talmadge says he's almost certainly not running. "It's not a position I'm oriented toward," Talmadge said this week. "I've been a state government guy. This isn't to say that I'm thrilled with Greg, because I'm not. I think the viaduct proposal is utter nonsense. The disproportionate interest in Paul Allen and South Lake Union bothers me, to say the least. But it's not something that jumps out at me as something I want to do." And so the hunt for a viable challenger goes on. GEOV PARRISH
Buck up, Democrats, and punish your political opponents! For years, the conservative Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) has been one of the biggest and roughest political players in state elections. And the BIAW nearly always opposes Democrats and supports Republicans. The ironic thing about these government-hating conservatives is that they have found a huge cash cow in a government program. State law requires that businesses carry industrial insurance for on-the-job injuries and allows businesses that pool their premiums to receive rebates after claims are paid. The BIAW runs the biggest such pool in the state and takes a 20 percent cut from those rebates (see "Political Capital," Nov. 17, 2004). Last year, the BIAW's share was at least $5 million—some of which was then poured into rabid electioneering against Gov. Christine Gregoire, among others. Now the BIAW is working feverishly to assist losing GOP candidate Dino Rossi's effort to have a revote. But Rep. Bill Fromhold, D-Vancouver, is sponsoring legislation to limit industrial insurance pools to 10 percent of member rebates, effectively cutting the BIAW's income in half. Republicans and their editorial-page allies are squealing in shock and horror. The BIAW needs to realize, though, that if you play dirty and lose, your opponents owe you nothing. It's payback time. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.