Craswell Did Cost White The Election

It's official. Bruce Craswell appears to have cost U.S. Rep. Rick White, R-Bainbridge Island, the election. With the Nov. 3 general-election results final, Rep.-elect Jay Inslee received 112,726 votes - barely less than 50 percent of the ballots cast.

Just 13,837 people voted for Craswell, who along with his wife, Ellen, quit the Republican Party earlier this year to join the American Heritage Party. But as the conservative, anti-abortion alternative candidate, much of Craswell's 6.1 percent came directly from White's hide and contributed to his defeat. If you add Craswell's and White's votes together, White edges out Inslee by 1,021 votes.

Craswell says he's not happy that Inslee is the new 1st District congressman, but he's also not ashamed he prevented a moderate Republican from being re-elected.

Referring to Ellen's failed gubernatorial bid in 1996, Republican consultant Brett Bader, who advised the White campaign, said: "Ellen Craswell gave us Governor Locke. Bruce gave us Jay Inslee. I wonder what their next contribution will be to the conservative movement?"

Oh Mister Postman: Those of you watching your mailboxes for your $30 motor-vehicle-excise-tax credit may have to wait awhile.

Referendum 49, which authorizes the state Department of Licensing to grant the credit of up to $30, won't take effect until July 2000 tags are purchased. Car owners whose tags expire before then will have to wait until the next year to take the credit.

"We're already getting people coming in who are looking for the credit," says Suzanne Taylor, spokeswoman for the Licensing Department. "First they're surprised when they don't get it, and then they're surprised when they don't get the full $30. If the car's registered to your business you won't get the credit. If the tags are due in February you won't get the credit."

The state starts issuing the credits in July because that's the beginning of the new fiscal year. Credits are given only on passenger vehicles, including motorcycles and light trucks, registered to a private individual. To receive the full credit the excise tax has to be $30 or more.

Just another pretty face: She wasn't their choice for majority leader, but Bellevue Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn, 57, may (or may not) take solace in knowing she's connecting with her male colleagues on another level.

According to U.S. Rep. Rick White, a 45-year-old Republican from Bainbridge Island, in a recent profile of Dunn in The Washington Post, Dunn is: "Very persuasive and very captivating," White said. "She functions particularly well in a male environment which may be just a shade older than I am. I think they find her attractive."

Giving till it hurts: Microsoft waded deep into legislative elections for the first time this year and bet on the wrong party. In the Year of the Democrat, the software giant threw most of its campaign cash behind Republicans, including four incumbents who were ousted.

In the past, Microsoft has played it neutral in state politics, donating evenly to both state parties and not bothering to contribute to individual candidates. This year the company gave far more money to the state Republican Party than the state Democratic Party. Also, 22 of the 31 legislative candidates it wrote checks for were Republicans.

Losing recipients of the company's $200 to $575 contributions included Sen. Gary Strannigan, R-Everett, Rep. Bill Backlund, R-Redmond, and Republican House candidates Jerry Blanton and Dan Roach.

Downright vicious political punditry: Leave it to Democratic political consultant Blair Butterworth to have the final and one of the more memorable takes on Republican Congresswoman Linda Smith's poor showing against Sen. Patty Murray on Nov. 3.

Making the point that Smith's confrontational style of politics seems to have grown stale with voters, Butterworth likened Smith to an aging stripper, saying: "At some point you don't look anymore."

Inside Politics is compiled by Times reporter David Postman. His phone-message number is 206-878-3337. E-mail: