What’s Past is Prologue, Part II
“May you be condemned to live in interesting times” is, according to urban myth, an old Chinese epithet that is both haunting and thoughtful. Unfortunately 2006 is looking to be an interesting time.
The year starts with lots of moving parts. In general; we have four elections in 2006: a US Senate race, US House races, the legislative races and county partisan races. So, what’s shakin’ with the races so far?
1. The US Senate race to remove Can’tdowell is actually looking pretty good. At first it looked like we’d have four pretty credible candidates who would fight right down to the primary wire. This, of course, guaranteed that no money would come into our senate race and Maria would win in a walk (even without Dean Logan’s professional
vote counters.) (You remember Maria, don’t you? She’s the I-will-never-take-PAC-money-but-I-am-in-$2.5-million-debt-so-I-have-to-take-PAC-money lady. But it's not her fault. She is a victim of McCain-Feingold. But, I digress.)
We have actually have a bit of good news. One of the early contenders, state Senator Linda Evans Parlette (R-Wenatchee) chose not to run. Not to put a too fine a point on it, but it is really hard to get an Easterner elected in a Washington-wide race.
Then Diane Tebelius, our new party Chair and a pretty darn sharp US Attorney-type bowed out. (I don’t think we have seen the last of her. She has a very strong resume and I see her as our primary bench for a statewide or judicial run.)
Susan Hutchison, the former KIRO-7 anchor, was still considering running for the Senate until last week or so. But she since has indicated to the press that she is no longer actively seeking the nomination. She spoke well at the State Central Committee meeting this weekend and underscored her credentials as a moderate speaking, but conservative Republican. And, my goodness, someone has done a really good job teaching her how to talk, walk, dress and speak. She is prime time (pun intended) for a King County or Seattle City run, then on to statewide or
That brings us to the front runner – Mike McGavick. The life and times of Mike will be the subject of much media interest, but it’s all good – if not great.
Besides his political work as Slade’s campaign manager and subsequently Slade’s Chief of Staff for four years, Mike took on a failing Washington company – SAFECO – and turned it around, big time! But be prepared to look at the stuff you don’t easily see, though. Along with SAFECO comes boards, commissions and non-profit foundations that let Mike see a side of the Washington community that is full of possibility. When you hear him talk, what you hear is unusual, non-government approaches to the usual problems. What you hear is a thoughtful Republican
who is Catholic, conservative and cogent. (Think about why I said Catholic, then read on.)
In any case, Mike will be a great top of the ticket in Washington. His name ID , especially in Seattle, will eat into Maria’s numbers; and even if it is just a little, that is enough. Remember she only “won” by 2,200 votes in a Dean Logan like election contest – with new ballots discovered, accidentally, every day. The conventional wisdom is that if a Republican can get 42% of King County and a normal showing elsewhere, he or she wins.
At any rate, the State Central Committee overwhelmingly endorsed Mike yesterday, which should trigger a national flow of campaign contributions to match Maria’s (and her friend Hillary’s) money raising efforts.
Mike’s well-organized, so far well-executed and soon to be well-financed campaign should produce some long coattails for our west side Congressional and legislative races – as well as producing an new US Senator. (Mike: 52-48)
2. Of the three Congressional seats up this year in Pierce County only two are contested. Obviously the incumbent in the 8th, Dave Reichert, a Republican and personal hero of mine and yours, is running hard. But the conventional wisdom is that a legislator, state or national, is most vulnerable during the first defense of his or her seat. So the Democrats are coming after Dave Reichert with a vengeance. And even now, we are subject to the anti-Dave telephone, radio, blog and TV crap from moveon.org, and its costing them a ton of money.
The bad news for the Democrats is they have no credible candidate. There is no one out there with the stature and name ID to take Dave. It will not be Dave Ross nor will it likely be Ron Sims. Who then? Twice failed Laura Ruderman? Or the perennial Heidi Behrens-Benedict? No, Dave is probably not going to have the challenging race many Democrats would hope for. But it is not going to be easy despite the fact that Congressional Republicans will make sure Dave has plenty of money. Dave and we in the 8th Congressional District have to work at it, and
that means he will campaign in Pierce County just like he has been doing. Pierce County gave him 73% of his winning margin in 2004, and he has not forgotten it. (Of course, we won’t let him forget.) (Dave: 60-40)
The other contested Congressional race is in the 9th District against Adam Smith. Running against Adam is our own Steve Cofchin. Steve is an eminently likeable, smart, tireless Republican who is running for the first time. Unfortunately, the latter factor makes the race very difficult unless we get out and help him (and we get the Congressional Republican Caucus to spend some of their money on Steve.) The other problem is that listening to Adam as he campaigns you would absolutely swear that he is a Republican and a fairly conservative one at that. I freely admit, that, in fact, the only liberal thing about Adam is his voting record.
In the 6th Congressional District there is no one who has yet to seriously consider running against Norm Dicks. Lane Judson (Crystal Brame’s dad) did think about it for a while, but he is now being very successful in getting the Crystal Clear laws enacted in Congress and throughout the states, so he may not have the time.
I have heard of no one else in Pierce County (or any of the other counties) who is even looking.
3. The are four partisan County races this year: Auditor and Councilmembers in Districts 1, 5 and 7.
The Auditor race could be interesting, but we have no candidate – and it may now be a bit too late for a serious challenger. The current Auditor, Pat McCarthy, has been pretty cordial to us and we have seen nothing that would indicate she is otherwise a straight arrow vote counter (unlike King County.) Yes, I had a real problem with her decision to allow a candidate to handle primary ballots, but we watched him closely (thanks to Eddie Hamilton and our Observer Corps) and she did honor her commitment not to allow that same candidate to handle the ballots in
the general election. I am pretty sure of her standing in the Democrat Party, she is/was a Democrat PCO, but as an Auditor she is closer to Technocrat than Democrat which is probably why we can’t find a good candidate to run against her. On the other hand, I fully expect to see someone like Dale Washam (who has filed and run as a D, an I and an R in the past) or Will Baker (F=felon) file for Auditor at the last minute – as Republicans. But in neither case do I see either of them getting the requisite 25% of the vote at our Republican Convention (April 15, Steilacoom HS) in order that they may use our Republican name. And because of this, I can easily see us being the center of a law suit that asks a judge to declare them Republican even if we do not. That’ll frost my butt!
In Council District 1 (Sumner, Edgewood, Bonney Lake, Orting – basically eastern Pierce county) the incumbent, Shawn Bunney is running for a second term and enjoys wide popularity in a very Republican district. The fact that as a brand new Councilmember he was elected Chairman of the Council, and still is, is a tribute to his administrative and political skills. I don’t expect to even see much of a Democrat challenge – but it could happen. And if it does, better for us. I see Shawn winning as County Executive in 2008 and a hotly contested
2006 council race that he wins handily will set that up. (Shawn: 63-37)
At the other end of the county in Council District 7, Terry Lee should also have a less challenging race than he did the first time. Terry – much like his friend Shawn - is very popular in a Republican district. His long experience in county land use issues, especially on the Planning Commission and on the Peninsula Advisory
Commission, will continue to keep him in good stead with his voters. (Terry: 58-42)
The third council race, District 5 (south Tacoma, Spanaway, Parkland) pits long time county elected official Barbara Gelman against…? Again, we can’t find anyone to run. Perhaps it is because the district is soooo Democrat. Or perhaps it’s because Barbara is somewhat centrist and pro-business. Or perhaps it’s because she is
so set against the loony left wing of her own county party. Whatever the reason, we have no one who will run against her. The only one I could think of to run is Grace Bennett. She and Barbara are matched. Both are leaders, able to speak well and are distinctly heard. They have long resumes in leadership positions in Pierce County. And Grace has infinitely more business experience that Barbara. Infinitely. But I am just not sure that Grace’s hip surgery will allow her to campaign anytime soon and I think Grace lives a few blocks south of the borderline for the 5th District.
4. The Legislative races are at the heart of this year’s recruiting efforts and fund raising activities.
In the Senate there are three races in Pierce County and, strangely, they match up with the county council races in location and party – the 31st (eastern Pierce County – Bonney Lake, Sumner, Buckley, Edgewood); the 29th (south Tacoma, pieces of Lakewood, Parkland, part of Spanaway); and the 26th (Kitsap and Key Peninsulas.)
In the 31st we have long time Senator Pam Roach against Yvonne Kinoshita-Ward, who ran a real mud-slinger last time against Pam – fruitlessly. I suspect the same match up will occur this time, except it will be more expensive (Yvonne may spend up to $400-500,000), she’ll sling more mud, but in the final analysis be more
fruitless than last time. Some say that former Democrat Representative Chris Hurst will run against Pam. I don’t see it. He can’t afford the 3% advantage that a woman has in that district, he can’t afford to run against such an adept campaigner, and he certainly can’t afford to run against someone so anti-crime even though he is a police officer. In fact, there may be no one in this state with a better anti-crime record than Pam and the only one her equal is also our Senator, Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood).
The bottom line is that Pam has been doing things very right. She is in constant contact with her district and is the most instinctively accurate political leader
in the state. She can hear about an issue for the first time and can accurately judge whether it is important in her district and then act on that issue in the space of minutes. She is uncanny. The Democrats in the district have no equal. Besides which, Pam will work her buns off. (Pam: 56-44)
In the 29th we can find no one to run against Senator Rosa Franklin – even if she weren’t running again. The district is sooo Democrat and she is sooo likeable. On the other hand, I would love to see someone like Christine Cronk in the race. Here is a former district leader with tons of charisma, a large dollop of common
sense and likeability to boot. But it would be Christine’s first race, so perhaps against one of the Democrat House members would be a better start.
In the 26th District, the Senate race is a tough call. Senator Bob Oke, who won a cliff hanger last time, is facing life threatening health challenges. However, things seem to be in remission, but for how long. The legislative session he is in now is a bit contentious, which may extract a toll. But he sure looked good last
week on the floor. If he chooses not to run again, it looks like former Representative Lois McMahan is in the saddle to run. She is an indefatigable campaigner who has won a House seat twice in the district. But she stays
in constant contact with Republicans on both sides of the county lines on the Kitsap Peninsula which is to her credit. She actually lives in Kitsap, Olalla, but she is always at our events and meetings, and is always ready to lend a hand to help a Pierce County Republican - so we seemed to have adopted her. The problem Lois seems to have is what year she runs. It’s weird. She runs and wins her district during off year (non-presidential) elections. At those times, the Pierce County portion of the district (which comprises only 45% of the voting population) generally votes at a higher percentage than those in Kitsap County. Hence, we generate 2,000 more
votes than Kitsap and we tend to vote Republican. In the Presidential election years, Kitsap votes about the same percentage as Pierce, but that percentage generates about 2,000 more votes from Kitsap than we generate and
they tend to vote Democrat. The good part of the 26th Senate race is that it is always in the non presidential years. The bad news is who the Democrats may field against Lois. It may be Representative Derek Kilmer who has visions of replacing Norm Dicks when he retires. If so, his pro-business stances will make this race nip and tuck.
In the state House races, Pierce County has become ground zero in the struggle to take back the House. Of the top tier races in the state, two or two and a half are in here in the county. But lets start at the top.
In the 2nd District, long time Rep Tom Campbell is not facing much of a challenge. As before, his anti-crime and pro-veteran stances hold him in good stead with most of the voters in this conservative district that includes South Hill, Orting, Eatonville, Graham, Spanaway, and the Mountain. (It includes about 10,000 voters in Thurston County as well.) While he has had run-ins with the Republican Caucus, he is probably one of the most knowledgeable health care legislators we have. He is a Chiropractor after all. (Tom: 56-44)
Jim McCune, a Republican first-termer in the 2nd, should be facing a challenge, but isn’t. The Democrat bench is pretty light in the 2nd. They could put up Cindy Poysnick who is a strong campaigner, but she just lost a squeaker school board election and may want to regain strength. Jim is another indefatigable campaigner. He and his sons doorbelled over 20,000 homes in 2004, and he will likely repeat the effort. While his success rate in getting bills passed is not high, (some say that is a good thing), the ones he did get are awesome. In fact,
he and Tom Campbell worked hard and sometimes alone last year to get a meth precursor bill passed and they got it. Since the 2nd District is a meth center, their successful work to get ephedrines/pseudoephedrines off the shelves and behind the counter was a huge gift to district voters. (Jim: 57-43)
In the 25th, Joyce McDonald is running again. Joyce is in perfect tune with the district and is well liked by all. She is anti-crime, pro-business and pro-police – well, duh, she is married to a cop. Her steady and effective legislation is exactly what the doctor ordered. (Joyce: 57-43). (Which may set her up for a Senate
or County Council run in 2008.)
The other seat in the district is held by Dawn Morrell, a liberal Democrat nurse with some major pro-military leanings. The problem for her is that the military is not a responsibility of the state – except for the National Guard. Wally Nash, a voluble, conservative Brit immigrant is taking Dawn on. He ran in 2004, but lost
in the primary to Michele Smith. His name ID is higher now and he has been getting deeper into issues and community groups. He is a salesman by trade and inclination, so selling himself on the stump is just his cup of tea. Jim Downs, the 25th District leader is helping Wally out and Jim is a great guy to make sure the campaign
details get done and the signs are out. If the House Republican Caucus (often called HROC) gives Wally some resources, he has a fighting chance.
In the 26th District, we are starting to get over-blessed with House candidates. Against venerable and vulnerable Democrat Pat Lantz, we have a bright new star, Beckie Kranz. Beckie is a former District Leader, a lawyer by training (but not practice) and business owner. She is extremely well versed in legislative matters,
because her unique business is monitoring all states' legislative workings and sharing them among other legislative bodies. She is well organized and deeply committed. With the promised resources from HROC she has a great winning opportunity. Remember, Pat won by only 200+ against newcomer Matt Rice last time and when the Kitsap side delivered 2,000 more votes than they will this time. This is probably the top race in the state for picking up a seat. (Beckie: 53-47)
Also in the 26th, Trent England a 27 year old, brand new law school graduate and Heritage Foundation writer and researcher is squaring off against Derek Kilmer (unless Derek is running for the Senate). Trent is one smart guy and his kids cuter than bugs in a rug, but though he is Gig Harbor born and bred, he has not been back home for a few years. Ed Meese, Trent’s Heritage Foundation boss may also campaign for Trent, which could put a real national spin on the race.
A second Republican is also nosing around and may declare: Ron Boehme. Ron is a
local pastor whose obvious public speaking skills and ready-made campaign workforce may be a big factor if he enters the race. On the other hand, he is less familiar with the whole range of issues legislators face than is Trent, even though there is a 20 year spread between them. Also if Derek chooses a Senate run, Matt Rice may
rethink his staying out of this year’s races. If Matt enters the race and Derek is out then it's Matt in a 50-30-20 primary run and Matt 55-45 in the general against a now unknown Democrat – Betty Ringlee?
The 27th District races in north and Downtown Tacoma features only one Republican – but what a Republican! The two Democrats there are difficult to dislodge since the district is very Democrat. But Dennis Schroader is loaded with fire, energy and enthusiasm. He is walking the district and the Democrats are not. Feeling a bit
overconfident are we? Dennis is exactly the kind of candidate we dream of, but would rather have in a swing or Republican district. Dennis is in business with his dad and is a veteran. There is a chance to win for Dennis, because the 27th is just like his 30th District neighbor to the north. They are virtually identical. The 30th is 43% Democrat and 28% Republican, yet Republican Skip Priest is elected by 5%. Why? Because Skip spent a few terms as the successful Federal Way mayor. So I see Dennis using the same strategy. It's called the Sutherland strategy. You run for a partisan office a few times, get your name out there, then switch to a non-partisan City Council race, win, then Mayor THEN to a partisan race on the County Council or a County-wide race.
The 28th District is also a ground zero for holding and maybe picking up another seat in the House. Long time Representative Gigi Talcott is retiring and Don Anderson, an Eisenhower-Carlson partner is running to replace her. Haven’t seen any Democrat wanting to file against Don, but it will happen. HROC will make sure he
is well funded, and since he is well versed in the issues, he should do well if he ramps up his campaigning and door to door activities. (Don: 53-47)
Democrat Tami Green is the prime target in the state for a Republican pickup. Tami is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but has been given a lot of high visibility Democrat bills and allowed to vote against some taxes to keep her in sync with the conservative 28th. Bob Lawrence is running for the seat he lost by 200+ in 2004. He
has the campaign skills, the organization and the discipline to win. He has to overcome the perception that he did not campaign well in 2004 (cause he got married and decided to do the honeymoon thing then rather than wait), even though he knocked on some 10,000 doors. If he builds on that, he’ll do just fine. Joining the Republican team and also wanting to challenge Tami Green is defense attorney and local activist Jim Oliver. Jim is another of those irrepressible guys who will be a great candidate and legislator (or something). He still needs to get a wider exposure to the community with activism in the local Kiwanis, Rotary, and such. But then again, a primary run for the House will give him additional exposure. Also seen nosing around is Ken Witkoe, a 1992 candidate for the House. He is a financial/insurance guy who is also a Lakewood reserve cop – a great combination in a
district plagued by Pierce County’s fastest growing cottage industry: Storing other county’s level 3 sex offenders. Ain’t that just peachy keen? In a three way primary race, I see Bob winning 45-35-20. And in the general winning 52-48.
In the 29th district, as in the Senate race and that of the 5th Council District, we just have no bench to choose from. This district is probably the most Democrat in the County, and one of the top two or three in the state. Sigh.
In the 31st we have a strongly Republican district with Pam Roach and Dave Reichert at the top of the ticket. But the two House seats are also held by strong Republican House leaders who campaign well and are well financed.
Jan Shabro now in her second term and is the Republican Caucus Chair, is looking for a third term And she has yet to face a challenger. That may end this term since she has been told that in fact Chris Hurst will run against her, not Pam. While she may hold the seat that Chris held 4-5 years ago, it is not Chris’ best bet to
run against a strong woman – Pam or Jan. In the final analysis, I see Jan drawing a weak unknown or no opponent. It is Jan who is the prime sponsor for Jessica’s Law this term and it has a 92% approval among the electorate and lots of press. (Jan: 60-40 or 100-0)
I actually see Dan Roach drawing Chris Hurst as a challenger this time. The problem for Chris is that Dan is well-liked, well financed and has lots of upside potential in the state. Dan gets lots of help from the family name and from the top of the ticket in the area: Dave Reichert. (Dan: 57-43).
There you got it. Now lets see what kind of guesser I am.