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Originally published Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Ballard Attorney Marcia McCraw calls for change in lieutenant governor's office

In an election year filled with calls for change, Marcia McCraw took note of the current lieutenant governor's 32 years in state government and decided his office was a good place to make some.

Seattle Times staff reporter

In an election year filled with calls for change, Marcia McCraw took note of the current lieutenant governor's 32 years in state government and decided his office was a good place to make some.

"He's been in way too long," said McCraw, a Ballard attorney.

McCraw, 54, has been through the wringer in recent years — the loss of her home to foreclosure in February 2006, a DUI four months later and an "acrimonious divorce" from her second husband, whose bankruptcy wiped her out financially. She talks about her grim finances with a "make lemonade" sensibility.

"It's good for you," she said brightly. "You rise to the occasion. I went from an 8,000-square-foot house to a 900-square-foot cottage. I got rid of all kinds of stuff. I don't need stuff."

McCraw was raised in New York, and she practiced law while raising two children, now 27 and 25. She settled in Seattle in 1993 after hop-scotching from New York to California to Hawaii and finally to Washington. She passed the bar exam in all four states, and she keeps an active license in two.

The moves, which coincided with her husbands' job changes, gave her experience in areas such as resort development, unemployment law and the day-to-day legal needs of a Canadian hospitality company that had been run by her now ex-husband, Lawrence Horwitz, she said.

In March, McCraw reported earning more than $75,000 as a recruiter for a legal headhunting firm. She now works with King County Councilwoman Jane Hague on converting former railroad rights-of-way to trails. The financial-disclosure form she filed with the state show debts from the divorce of between $18,000 and $45,000, owed to fellow lawyers.

McCraw describes herself as a highly organized person, a candidate who is pro-choice and who supports gay marriage.

In Seattle, McCraw was elected or appointed to leadership positions at USO Puget Sound Area, Pacific Science Center, American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Junior League of Seattle, for which she served as president from 1999 to 2000.

President Bush appointed her to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Council in 2005, and she was named Republican Woman of the Year in 2006 by the Republican Women of Seattle.

Divorce from Horwitz in 2005 stripped her of most of her assets, she said. Horwitz did not return phone messages.

The couple began separating their property before 2003, and Horwitz filed personal bankruptcy in 2005 following a series of failed hotel and motel acquisitions and the financial collapse of his employer, court records show. The couple's $1.9 million home in northwest Seattle was auctioned off to pay more than 341 of his creditors.

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In June 2006, shortly after her divorce was final, McCraw was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. The citation showed that McCraw's blood-alcohol level was .20 percent, more than twice the legal limit. She said police were called after she "nicked" a car in downtown Seattle. The police incident report could not be obtained before publishing this story.

"It's the one blot on my record," she said. She pleaded guilty, completed an education class and for six months was required to have a breath-alcohol device in her car. She said she continues to drink but is aware of her limited tolerance since the divorce.

For her campaign, McCraw has raised about $27,000, more than half of it from eight people, including her boyfriend, entrepreneur A. Joel Eisenberg, 74. Several other donors are friends, family or business associates of Eisenberg, who gained notoriety in the 1980s as the father of "dial-a-porn," the 976 and 900 phone-call industry that included sex chat lines.

"He doesn't do anything like that now," McCraw said. "It's certainly not something I'd be involved with."

Eisenberg also loaned McCraw and Horwitz $650,000 against their home before their divorce.

McCraw referred to Eisenberg as her "partner," but later she clarified that she dates other people and has no intention of marrying again.

If elected, McCraw said, she would bring her knowledge of Asian cultures and language to support foreign trade that will help the state's seaports stay competitive as global warming opens up routes farther north. She would focus her attention on promoting renewable energy sources and becoming a sort of ombudsman for the people, she said.

"That's what people care about," she said.

Susan Kelleher: 206-464-2508, or skelleher@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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