Our friend Sara Carter over the weekend alerted us to another off-the-radar campaign that we think conservatives should pay attention to and support – the Washington senate race that pits conservative Republican Tiffany Smiley against incumbent Far-Left Progressive Democrat Patty Murray.
If you don’t live in Washington state you probably think of it as irredeemably lost to the Far Left, but outside the Seattle Metro area the Evergreen State is home to a very solid base of conservative and liberty-minded voters.
And after the lawlessness of the summer of 2020, and the establishment of the ANTIFA-run “autonomous zone” known as CHAZ, even in Seattle voters have become fed-up with the Far Left’s coddling of criminals and crazies.
So, Democrats were thrown into panic when the newest Trafalgar Group poll of the race shows Smiley within two points of the incumbent Democrat, Patty Murray – that’s inside the margin of error of the poll by-the-way.
One tell that Democrats are in panic mode is that New York Senator Charles Schumer, the Senate’s Democrat Majority Leader, transferred $500,000 of his own campaign cash to Murray’s campaign.
But the other more persuasive tell is that Seattle’s progressive corporate overlords have jumped-in to try to hobble Tiffany Smiley’s campaign.
As Sara Carter and the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel explained:
Money from Schumer isn’t the only liberal panic dough. “Starbucks, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Seahawks—are actively attempting to sabotage the Smiley campaign, albeit in a distinctly underhanded fashion”
In “Game Day” the Republican is in a kitchen preparing to watch a football game, hitting Ms. Murray and Democrats for the spiraling cost of food. In “Cup of Coffee,” she stands in front of a derelict building. Barely visible at the top, and seen backward, is the store’s faded Starbucks sign. Ms. Smiley hits Ms. Murray for rising crime, while the ad flashes two Seattle Times headlines, one of which reads: “Starbucks to Close 5 Seattle Stores Over Safety Concerns.”
“Game Day” hit the airwaves Sept 1. Five days later, according to documents I obtained, the Smiley campaign received a terse email from the Seahawks claiming a trademark violation. The ad briefly shows Ms. Smiley’s husband, Scotty—a retired U.S. Army Ranger who was blinded by shrapnel in Iraq—expressing alarm that “even beer” prices are rising. You only see his shoulders above a tall couch—and if you get a magnifying glass you might make out a letter or two from the word “Seahawks.” The letter insisted the Smiley campaign “immediately cease” its “unauthorized commercial use.” Nothing like your local sports franchise dumping cease-and-desist orders on wounded veterans.
“Cup of Coffee” went live on Sept. 20. The next day, the Seattle Times sent an email to the “Jane Smiley” campaign—apparently without running it past its fact-checking desk—accusing it of “unauthorized use of The Seattle Times logo and two headlines” in violation of the paper’s “copyright and trademark.” It demanded the campaign remove any references to the paper not only in its own ad, but in an NBC News article about the ad’s launch.
Two days later, Starbucks sent a certified letter saying the campaign was appropriating its intellectual property, and complaining it might “create an unfounded association in the minds of consumers between Starbucks and your campaign.” It insisted the campaign either pull the ad or alter it to strip both the (barely visible, backward) sign and the Seattle Times headline referencing Starbucks.
One such letter may be the product of an overzealous lawyer, but three in a row looks like more than a coincidence. One might even wonder if some Murray staffer was putting bugs in Seattle business leaders’ ears. And while corporate political-action committees routinely play politics by making donations, it’s something else for individual companies to go to bat for a candidate via behind-the-scenes threats based on tenuous legal claims. These letters were bound to cost the Smiley campaign money and headaches and might have pushed it off the airwaves.
The campaign didn’t roll over. It made a painless accommodation to the “Game Day” ad, blurring the jersey colors to obscure anything distinct. In a legal letter sent Thursday to Starbucks, the campaign rebutted the company’s infringement claims, running through political speech protections and noting that no reasonable person would ever think a factual ad about shuttered Starbucks stores amounted to a coffee-chain endorsement. It suggested Starbucks focus on its own problems, like its recent union woes.
The Seattle Times also received a letter refuting its claims, but it got something in addition. The Smiley campaign on Thursday filed a Federal Election Commission complaint, charging the paper with providing the Murray campaign a prohibited in-kind contribution. It turns out that Ms. Murray has also used a Seattle Times headline in her ads. Her “First 2016 Ad” sports the newspaper’s logo under the headline: “Patty Murray’s and Paul Ryan’s Teamwork Is a Model for Congress.” It seems the Times has a different legal standard for candidates it endorses.
As the FEC complaint notes, the Smiley campaign would have to spend an estimated $5,000 to remove and update the ad - “costs that Patty Murray does not have to accrue.” It cites FEC regulations that provide “if a corporation makes its resources available for free, it must do so for all candidates.”
From our point of view Tiffany Smiley’s response to Starbucks and the Seattle Times is as important – if not more important – than the substance of the ads. It shows she is a fighter who will not bow to the pressure of the “woke” corporate Left, which, through their control of cultural institutions, is a greater threat to constitutional liberty than the rapidly decaying Democratic Party.
We endorse Tiffany Smiley in her campaign to defeat Far-Left incumbent Democrat Patty Murray and urge conservatives across the country to donate to and support her campaign. Go here to donate to Tiffany Smiley’s campaign. Click the links to watch “Game Day” and “Cup of Coffee.”
Control of Congress
Washington Senate Race
Sen. Patty Murray
Republican Tiffany Smiley