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Published: Sunday, April 6, 2008, 12:01 a.m.

County Democrats expect to pack Everett arena at convention

When I first heard the Snohomish County Democratic Party would hold its convention in the Everett Events Center, I asked which conference room.
Boy, did I get an earful.
Seems that so many Democrats are expected April 13, the party rented the Comcast Arena and looks to pack it with party faithful like the Silvertips do with fans during the playoffs.
Given the turnout at the presidential primary caucuses, party chairman Mark Hintz is betting they can.
He told me that for the 2004 convention, Democrats filled the gym at Mariner High School and not everyone could get inside.
With more buzz this cycle, Hintz figured the arena is the only place in the county large enough to hold all the Democrats who might show up.
He's not worried about covering the rental fee, $25,000. He's focused on filling 6,000 seats.
Gov. Chris Gregoire, who will be speaking, will be glad to speak to all of them and secure their votes.
A crowd of that size will represent roughly the number of votes by which she lost in the county to Republican Dino Rossi in 2004.
* * *
Speaking of big events, not many are bigger for the University of Washington's Bothell campus than last Thursday's groundbreaking on a road project.
A pep band, two mascots, politicians and a couple hundred people showed up, and not simply to celebrate the pouring of concrete -- though they've waited for years to do so.
They came because when the work is done and a new offramp opens from Highway 522 to the south side of the campus, the lid will be lifted on an enrollment cap governing the university and adjoining Cascadia Community College.
Today, those two schools can enroll the equivalent of 3,000 full-time students. In the future, the figure will jump to 10,000 FTEs, of which 6,000 will be for the UW.
This begs the question: When it's built, will students come?
That question will take a while to answer, just as it took years for this offramp to get started.
* * *
For so long, it's been easier to get information from Congress on fighting earwigs than finding earmarks.
That's changing as legislators are disclosing exactly what public and private undertakings they are trying to assist with batches of federal dollars.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen issued a lengthy press release Friday listing the 59 earmark requests he's lobbying to secure.
They include aid for a sewer project in Snohomish and patrol car laptops for Island County sheriff's deputies.
He's also trying to get Washington State University $1.8 million to develop new varieties of potatoes and another $300,000 to "improve grape plant stock to achieve virus-free vineyards."
That's an earmark worth toasting.
Reporter Jerry Cornfield's blog on politics, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. He can be heard at 8 a.m. Mondays on the Morning Show on KSER 90.7 FM. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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