Fact Check: Tacoma City Club Candidate Event

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jason Roe (202) 374-2424

Fact Check: Tacoma City Club Candidate Event

(Seattle, Wash.) – Over the last two days, there has been considerable discussion as to what transpired at the last joint appearance between Bill Bryant and Gov. Jay Inslee.  In conversations between the Bryant campaign and the City Club, the Bryant campaign was explicitly told that Bill was to remain on the stage, and that was confirmed in person by event organizer Ronnie Bush directly to Mr. Bryant and campaign manager Justin Matheson minutes prior to the event.  Additionally, the stage was set with three chairs, clearly with the expectation that three people would be on the dais.

Inexplicably, the City Club now maintains that this was not the case, however, the Bryant has two emails from Ms. Bush confirming the format that Mr. Bryant honored on Wednesday evening.  Copies of the emails can be provided upon request.

Excerpts from Bush emails:

Oct. 27, 10:04am “Bill is our guest from start to finish.  Gov Inslee will join him at the table with David Zeeck”

Oct. 27, 10:29am “If Mr.Bryant is more comfortable returning to his table, right next to the presentation area, he is welcome to do so.  That is what the Inslee campaign preferred. I insisted that Mr. Bryant stay at the table as the panelist.”

There are no subsequent emails contradicting these excerpts.

In another odd twist, TVW, the state-controlled public affairs network, now maintains that their footage of the event has technical difficulties and will not be aired.

When the Bryant campaign was initially contacted about this event, it was with the understanding that it was a debate and there are several emails using the term debate, as well as, forum, the distinction being interaction between the candidates.  It then evolved to a salon-type program that would feature the two candidates interviewed by the moderator and sharing the stage, followed by Q&A to both candidates.  Apparently the Governor’s schedule did not allow for him to attend the entire event so he did not share the stage with Mr. Bryant during Bryant’s session.

When the Governor arrived, the moderator announced that he refused to share the stage with Mr. Bryant, saying, “The Governor, who is now here doesn’t want to occupy the table with Bill.  Bill got the table to himself so I propose we sit here until he figures out whether he (Governor) wants to be part of the forum.”

At that point, the Governor’s wife rose and said, “I think there is a misunderstanding,” to which the moderator responded, “I hope so, thank you,” as Mrs. Inslee went back stage to retrieve her husband who then took the stage.

Photo of dais with three chairs and three microphones:

Matthew Donnellan