Don Barlow changes his mind; Gregoire wrecks her party's chance at House seat
Spokesman Review columnist/satirist Jim Camden reported recently that Spokane Public Schools Pres. Don Barlow, a Democrat running in Spokane's GOP-leaning 6th district, will no longer be challenging Rep. John Ahern and will instead challenge freshman Rep. John Serben. Serben narrowly defeated Barlow for his first term in 2004 by almost 4%. While Camden claims Barlow's 2004 performance was lacking despite the district's lean, I disagree. If this is truly to be a Democratic year, Barlow is much better off taking another swing at Serben than the more firmly-established Ahern, despite that Ahern is more conservative and controversial.
While I ultimately expect both Republicans to be reelected, this is still a good move by Barlow and the Spokane County Democrats. The 6th tends to be even-handed in open seat contests and give Republicans narrow victories (Ahern nearly lost his first race to ex-Spokane Mayor Jack Geraghty), but Democrats seem to fall behind in the reelection campaigns. They will also face this trend in the Brad Benson-Chris Marr contest, where I also expect Benson to win reelection. However, having an outside shot is still better than no shot.
I also just read at Carl Ballard that Chris Gregoire appointed Sen. Joyce Mulliken [R-Ephrata] to the Eastern Washington Growth Management Board instead of Alex Deccio. As I stated in a previous post, appointing Deccio to the seat could have potentially paid dividends for Yakima City Councilman Ron Bonlender and the Democratic Party by leaving an open seat in the House rather than forcing him to challenge either of the 14th's incumbent Republicans. Appointing Mulliken does replace a woman with a woman (big deal), but given that Mulliken's record is among the most conservative of any Senate Republicans and her district is nominally off-limits for Democrats, Gregoire lost an opportunity to pad her House majority.
Since Mulliken had been running for a second term, voters will decide who will replace her in the Senate this November, or more likely this September. Prominent GOPers rumoured to be mulling a run are Rep. Janéa Holmquist and former Rep. Gary Chandler [both R-Moses Lake]. Chandler left the House for a job with the Association of Washington Business in 2001, which Holmquist was in-turn appointed to. If any good is to come of this elections-wise, there might be an entertaining Republican primary for the vacated seat.