The Moderate Washingtonian

Outlook on politics and elections in the state of Washington from an overall centrist viewpoint. My views tend to be libertarian in nature, but at the same time are largely nonpartisan.

12 April 2006

Yet more 43rd district commentary

I've been thinking quite a bit about the open 43rd district House seat today and yesterday, in attempt to predict which candidates are most likely to come out on top this September. Now, as confident as I am in my prediction prowess, a race of six moderate-to-big name Seattle liberals is going to be very difficult to choose a victor with any decent amount of confidence. While I ultimately expect Ed Murray's quest to switch houses will be successful (if not, the district deserves four more years of Thibaudeau seat-warming), the race to succeed him in the House is a crapshoot. Every one of these candidates could feasibly win, and ranking candidates after the first two is very difficult.

Here is how I currently think candidates will place and why:
1. Jamie Pedersen: As a recent Stranger article stated, Pedersen's historical advocacy of gay rights coupled with his own sexuality will position him as Ed Murray's logical successor in the minds of many Democrats in the 43rd district. It is not as if the five other heterosexual candidates are at all anti-gay rights, but as SEAMEC says, there is a difference in being pro-gay rights and being a true advocate (I detest the word "activist"). Pedersen's participation with Lambda Legal and other gay advocacy groups will only serve to help him in the primary. It also helps that he has the most cash on hand of all candidates, with close to $60,000. The one facet I fear could hamper Pedersen is that he strikes me as too much of a nice guy. In a primary dogfight like this, it could be a drawback.

2. Dick Kelley: Kelley's position as chairman of the 43rd Democrats is a big asset to his campaign and he has already earned the endorsement of many Democratic politicians, including former Govs. Lowry, Gardner, and Rosellini. However, as Bob Ferguson has proven, it is not the party leaders one keeps in his pocket which matters, but the rank-and-file party members one connects with. Kelley is short on fundraising with only $17,000 on hand, and while his name recognition will help, he needs to step up in the cash race to win.

3. Jim Street: As a former Seattle city councilman, Street should enjoy a decent amount of name recognition among voters. However, this is 2006 and not 1996. Street's return to politics since his last reelection campaign of 1991 has garnered him decent fundraising numbers ($37,000 on hand), but aside from this, I have yet to see any buzz about his candidacy nor even a campaign website. Like Kelley, Street has the means to win, but he needs to get out and pound Capitol Hill flesh or he could finish middle-of-the-pack or worse.

4. Lynne Dodson: Dodson, one of the earlier filers for this seat, has thus far had a fairly average campaign. She strikes me as a friendly, intelligent woman who has dark horse potential. She earned the sole endorsement of the King County Labor Council and former labour leader/current state Rep. Bob Hasegawa, and in a crowded primary the support of organized labour should prove a vital asset. Her cash on hand figures place her in the middle of the pack with about $22,000. I have yet to hear much news from the media on Dodson, but it appears her outsider campaign could turn into a solid, grassroots effort.

5. Bill Sherman: While I think Sherman has the experience and background to compete (he is endorsed by Clinton-era Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt), I think he lacks the grassroots support at the moment to win. The only big-name endorser on the local level is Seattle City Councilwoman Jan Drago, and while his fundraising numbers are average ($26,000 on hand), I do not see the necessary campaign apparatus to put Sherman over the top. Like the other lower-half members of this list, he has plenty of potential, but is not yet viable.

6. Stephanie Pure: Of all candidates, Pure is hardest to judge. Her late entry to the race has put her far behind in fundraising, with $10,000 on hand at the end of her first full month. I have yet to find any big-name supporters of her campaign, though I'm sure her boss, Seattle City Councilman Peter Steinbrueck, will back her. She has grassroots support amongst the young, but the inherent problem in that demographic is a lack of money and a lack of committment to the election process. Pure could surprise in the end, though at the moment her late start makes her the least likely to pull it out.


At 8:15 AM, Blogger H said...

I'm glad you're paying attention to the race in the 43rd, but I've got to say that I think you've grossly underestimated Bill Sherman. His endorsements are coming in quickly and strongly from the environmental community and there are plenty of environmentally concerned voters who think those endorsements matter more than any others. Bill also has the endorsement of the former Chair of the 43rd, Javier Valdez, whom I think counts as a major supporter. Finally, I'd also say that anyone who talks to Bill first-hand knows that he is full of passion and smarts. He's going to win this race because he works harder than anyone else.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger TMW said...


Do not consider a lower place as that I have counted out Mr. Sherman, because I honestly think any of the current six could feasibly come out on top. However, judging from an unbiased standpoint (I have yet to decide my preference), at this stage of the race it appears that Mr. Pedersen and Mr. Kelley are on the strongest footing.

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Willis said...

Dick Kelley is only taking $100 per voter for the Primary election. Last time I checked, campaign finance reform wasn't a top tier issue in the 43rd, and while I think it is a noble jesture, I also think that it is foolish and ill thought out. Ultimately, I think that this has rendered Dick's candidacy as a non-starter.

I wish Dick the best, but his $100 limit will be his undoing.

At 11:09 PM, Blogger TMW said...

I had not heard that, Willis. Money talks in a crowded primary, though for his sake perhaps that move will help shore up some support amongst average joe voters in addition to his success amongst partisan officeholders.

At 11:22 PM, Blogger TMW said...

Just got around to reading his interview on the Slog today, Kelley seems like one sharp cat.


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