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.

27 December 2006

Looking ahead to 2008

Being that it's my day off and I have nothing better to do right now than drink cheap wine I forgot I had purchased and loop Elton John's "Levon" on my Winamp, I began to nerdily daydream about potential matchups and outcomes for our 2008 statewide elections, and with that I decided to try to get them down in text so I don't forget. As always, and perhaps moreso than with a general post, I would appreciate any feedback, ideas, rumours, or whatever on these races. After all, I tend to get more excited about the statewide races every four years or so than with anything else.

Incumbent: Chris Gregoire [D]
Retirement Potential: Unlikely
Potentially-Strong Opponents: Dino Rossi, Rob McKenna
Officially Filed with PDC: Gregoire, Javier Lopez [R], Rossi

Yeah, we all know it's probably going to pretty much be a rehash of 2004, and we all have our dis/likes about Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi. Since we're going to be talking extensively about this for a long time, I don't feel the need to discuss this one at length. However, I still like Rossi's chances in a hotly-contested rematch.

Lieutenant Governor
Incumbent: Brad Owen [D]
Retirement Potential: Unlikely
Potentially-Strong Opponents: Doug Ericksen, Bill Finkbeiner
Officially Filed with PDC: Owen

Ever since his initial win in 1996 over Ann Anderson, Owen has had easy reelections despite having a contentious relationship with liberal Democratic voters. I figure the likelihood of drawing a quality challenger like Ericksen or Finkbeiner are slim, though if for some reason Owen doesn't run for a fourth term either of those candidates would give the GOP a fighting chance at picking up the position. I suppose that would depend on how serious Finkbeiner is about staying in private life, but a suburban moderate like him is the perfect potential GOP statewide candidate.

Secretary of State
Incumbent: Sam Reed [R]
Retirement Potential: Unlikely
Potentially-Strong Opponents: Jim Kastama, Bob Terwilliger
Officially Filed with PDC: Reed

After Reed beat back a strong challenge from then-Rep. Laura Ruderman in 2004, I suspect the electoral quality of his 2008 opponent will decrease and the likelihood of another Reed victory will increase. Reed has a superb ideology for a statewide Republican candidate, and the bulk of the electorate is in lockstep behind him on election reforms. I doubt Kastama would run against him in light of his interest in the Pierce County Executive position if he decides against pursuing another term in the Senate, plus that he has been an ally of Reed's on election bills in the Legislature. Terwilliger, however, is term-limited as Snohomish County Auditor in 2007 and the timing would be right for another statewide run.

Incumbent: Mike Murphy [D]
Retirement Potential: Moderate
Potentially-Strong Opponents: Thoughts?
Officially Filed with PDC: None

Considering the GOP's total lack of a bench for this office, I cannot forsee a competitive race whether Murphy runs for a fourth term or not. He is one of only two incumbents not to have already filed for reelection, I'm not sure if that's a sign of his intentions or not, but if he does run again then he's pretty safe.

Incumbent: Brian Sonntag [D]
Retirement Potential: Moderate
Potentially-Strong Opponents: Greg Kimsey, Kim Wyman
Officially Filed with PDC: Sonntag

I'm sort of getting a vibe from Sonntag that he might not be running for another term, considering this would be his fifth go-around and that he has openly mulled going home to run for Pierce County Executive in 2008. Like Murphy, he's a safe bet if he runs again, but in the event of an open seat I'd like to see Wyman give it a shot. At the very least, she could follow in the footsteps of her mentor, Sam Reed, and lose a bid for auditor, though I think she would be a formidable candidate in this scenario.

Attorney General
Incumbent: Rob McKenna [R]
Retirement Potential: Unlikely
Potentially-Strong Opponents: Jenny Durkan, John Ladenburg, Mark Sidran, Adam Smith
Officially Filed with PDC: McKenna

While I've seen little thus far to hint that McKenna might lose reelection, he does face the potential of a Ladenburg candidacy, which would make for a much tougher campaign than when he trounced the polarizing Deborah Senn in 2004. While Ladenburg will probably get the first crack at the Democratic nomination, he isn't the only credible potential foe out there. I had seen a rumour in a previous post discussion that US Rep. Adam Smith is considering running here, though I figure that's a whole lot less likely now that the Democrats are in control of Congress. Sidran is similarly unlikely to run, given that he has the support of many of the same groups as McKenna and that he has his spot heading the Utilities and Transportation Commission. Durkan is the wildcard here. A woman of choice Democratic lineage, she's been courted for various offices in the past, but has always turned her party down. Following her performance in the public eye successfully keeping Gregoire in office, this might finally be when she gets her political feet wet.

Land Commissioner
Incumbent: Doug Sutherland [R]
Retirement Potential: Moderate
Potentially-Strong Opponents: Erik Poulsen, Craig Pridemore
Officially Filed with PDC: Sutherland

Given Sutherland's ever-advancing age, it might not be a poor bet to think he won't run for a third term in 2008. If he does run again, I expect him to draw another strong challenge from a Democratic legislator and probably win narrowly once again. Sutherland is the type of moderate Republican that typically succeeds here, yet his office holds a far lower profile than Reed's or McKenna's, and coupled with the aforementioned age issues he doesn't quite hold as big an advantage in spite of a good ideology. If reelection were no issue, I think Senator Pridemore would be a fine candidate for the Democratic Party's liberal green-friendly wing, given his ties to ecological groups and his telegenic qualities. However, if Sutherland does indeed run again, there are certainly other sufficiently-green Democratic legislators to choose from, some of which who won't have to leave their seat to run (Erik Poulsen, perhaps?).

Insurance Commissioner
Incumbent: Mike Kreidler [D]
Retirement Potential: Unlikely
Potentially-Strong Opponents: Mike McGavick
Officially Filed with PDC: Kreidler

Kreidler won rather easily for reelection in 2004 against the qualified-yet-unknown John Adams, and is starting to look like that typical safe multi-term Democratic officeholder-type. With the exception of a McGavick candidacy, which I had seen speculated on another weblog recently, I doubt Kreidler has much to worry about. Given McGavick's performance this year, however, Kreidler might not have much to worry about regardless, though McGavick would probably do much better in a lower-profile race against a lower-profile opponent.

Superintendent of Public Instruction
Incumbent: Terry Bergeson [NP]
Retirement Potential: Moderate
Potentially-Strong Opponents: Thoughts?
Officially Filed with PDC: Judith Billings, Donald Hansler

Since Bergeson hasn't filed yet and has already served three terms I figure there's at least a chance of retirement, yet after dispatching a credible challenge from Billings last time around as the WASL's unpopularity soared, I don't forsee Bergeson losing if she does run again.
Billings has filed again, and while she is credible as a former two-term SPI, I doubt she has much chance after her landslide loss last time around. Hansler, if the name strikes you as familiar, was an also-ran in the 2004 Democratic gubernatorial primary featuring Gregoire and Ron Sims. Whomever makes the runoff with Bergeson this time around will more than likely be a challenge from her left once again, and her successful voter bloc will feature the bulk of Republican voters and the moderate wing of her own party.


25 December 2006

Something to be thankful for this season

I hadn't intended to post anything today, but an article in today's News Tribune has reminded me something I'm politically thankful for on this Christmas morning: Derek Kilmer. I had forgotten how pleasing his victory this year was, and that we would no longer have Senator Bob Oke in state government.

This article is a typical media suck-up-fest to Oke and his "crusade" against tobacco companies being able to give free samples of their product, on the off-chance it might wind up in the hands of some kid (because, you know, that whole law requiring somebody to be 18 to purchase and possess tobacco is pretty vague, so we need more laws to make sure). It praises him for continuing to lobby for this unneeded legislation in the face of his recurring cancer treatments and the federal courts striking down the law passed last biennium after years of filibustering by Rep. Bill Grant [D-Walla Walla]. Now, being the marginally-decent person I am, I hope Oke survives his cancer. However, I do not respect his recent performance in office, and am ever-thankful his legislative career is finished. Sadly, he will probably spend the bulk of his retirement lecturing his deviant daughter on what a terrible person she is for being a lesbian. Remember, that's "tough love."

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20 December 2006

The race to replace Ladenburg

I'm a bit late in posting about it, but about a week ago Pierce County Councilman Calvin Goings [D-Puyallup] became the first big name to throw his hat in the ring for 2008's county executive race, where incumbent Democrat John Ladenburg is term-limited. Goings is also term-limited on the Council, and had previously served in the Senate.

Other notables whose names have been tossed around include:
-Shawn Bunney [R]: County councilman since 2003.
-Jim Kastama [D]: Senator since 2001, previously served as state representative.
-Mike Lonergan [R]: At-large member of the Tacoma City Council.
-Pat McCarthy [D]: County auditor since 2003.
-Brian Sonntag [D]: State auditor since 1993.

This has the potential to hold a hotly-contested general election. Pierce, the state's largest swing county, has elected a Republican Council under Ladenburg the last few years and was the opposite under the previous executive, current GOP Land Commissioner Doug Sutherland. This position is gold for any politician with statewide aspirations (a bit backwards in Sonntag's case), and Goings has the youth and looks to use this as a launchpad. I have also been quite interested to see the next step Ladenburg himself takes. I think he'd be the Democrats' dream candidate for attorney general in 2008, and while I don't think they would do it, I think he'd also have a much easier time against Dino Rossi if the party would dump Gregoire simply by taking a big chunk of Dino's 2004 support off the table due to his local popularity. The press has treated him as something of a Democratic heir-aparent, so it would surely help him to keep his name around until he can take the gubernatorial plunge.

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GOP wants to contest Seattle

When I first saw this article's headline in my P-I automail this morning, I was hoping this to be a sign that the King County GOP was being smart about running candidates tailor-made for their districts, something I've oft pointed out as a requirement to the GOP having any hopes of rebuilding their party in the suburbs. Now, I'd certainly like to see them try to contest seats in Seattle at all levels of government, but upon reading statements by King County GOP Chair Michael Young in the article it sounds like more of the same strategy -- running the same old social conservatives in liberal districts with the misguided hope of the electorate behaving differently than in every other recent election. If they would nominate liberal Republicans in Seattle, someone similar ideologically to Fred Jarrett or even a Rob Rosencrantzish libertarian-leaning Democrat, it might not be completely out of the question to compete there. If they would open their ballot line to moderately-liberal candidates like the GOP does in New York City, then something could happen for the better.

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16 December 2006

Leadership deficiency in Seattle

I don't know about any of you, but I'm getting pretty tired of gutless politicians unwilling to do their jobs and make tough decisions. Today's P-I covers how deficient in leadership Chris Gregoire is, in that her "tough decision" was to pass the buck back to Seattle voters on what to do about replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. What's worse is that just as Councilman Steinbrueck's surface street was gaining steam, she puts the kibosh on it in favour of forcing Seattle voters to choose between Nickels' pie-in-the-sky, overly expensive tunnel and rebuilding the hideous thing. Too bad everybody hates both the options, Chris. What a chickenshit decision.

Update: Despite that I often disagree with him, it seems Ron Sims is completely on the ball. It's unfortunate that Nickels and Gregoire never punted to him.

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12 December 2006

Made the switch

I finally got around to switching to Blogger Beta, so if there are any problems with posting or anything related to it then let me know and I'll look into it.


10 December 2006

If only I were not so poor (and attached)

How much would you pay for lunch and boozing with our favourite cute young Republican groper? For those who had not previously heard, former House candidate Hugh Foskett is participating in The Stranger's annual charity drive and at the moment you can win some good times with this hot conservative for just $52. And, if you're a bit more serious and giving, an Olympia lunch with the state's five gay legislators is currently going for $157.50. Still, I think I can speak for the majority of gay politicos in that if I were single and not so poor I would go with this:

No contest.

09 December 2006

Tom tackles sex education

Sen.-elect Rodney Tom is prepared to act fast to deliver sex education in schools that is, you know, actually sex education, or so says the Slog. He promises one of his first acts will be to re-introduce a bill he originally sponsored as a Republican member of the House, which would mandate that "medically-accurate sex education" be taught in public schools. I, for one, am pleased to see the senator starting his Democratic career off on the right foot. One of the more-obnoxious parts of the recent right-wing crusade on social freedoms is this belief in abstinence-only education, which essentially sets teenagers up for a mess of troubles when they don't know a thing about STDs or proper contraception. Abstinence certainly has a place in sex education, but preaching its benefits with the assumption everybody is going to heed is foolhardy, and I'm happy to see Tom ready to tackle this again next session.

07 December 2006

Just when we thought we were rid of Luke Esser

Seems he's out to gather support to replace Diane Tebelius as the state party chair. Personally, I don't think he's the type of leader the GOP needs right now, nor is Tebelius. The GOP needs a reformer to shake things up or they have little chance of coming back into the political fray in the near future.

06 December 2006

Other House committees

Chris at Strange Bedfellows has a list of the committee chairs for the upcoming House session. In addition to yesterday's news of Judy Clibborn winning the much-coveted Transportation spot, here are some other notable tidbits (click the link for the full list):

Appropriations: Helen Sommers
Capital Budget: Bill Fromhold
Education: Dave Quall
Finance: Ross Hunter
Judiciary: Pat Lantz
Rules: Frank Chopp

In other news, NPI has the scoop that Antioch Bible Church's douchey pastor Ken Hutcherson is launching a long-shot initiative to repeal last spring's gay anti-discrimination law. If he's still not over that common sense legislation, he's going to go off his rocker when Ed Murray introduces a marriage bill come January. Not that it will pass (it probably won't), but considering all these new Democrats in office and a handful of moderate Republicans still in the House, I see no reason why the legislature should not be able to succeed in passing a legal union package with relative ease.

05 December 2006

Clibborn chosen for Transportation

Rep. Judy Clibborn [D-Mercer Island] has won the Democratic sweepstakes to become the next Chair of the House Transportation Committee, the Times reported in today's newspaper. The article notes that this is a victory for tunnel foes, as Clibborn was one of 30 House Democrats who signed a letter recently in opposition to replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel.

04 December 2006

Senate Republican leadership announced

And they stuck with more of the same, as did the House Republicans when they reelected Richard DeBolt yet again. In foreign countries when a party leader loses an election, they rightly get booted from their position. If there's any consolation, there aren't that many more seats their crew can lose. The "new" team:

Leader: Mike Hewitt [R-Walla Walla] - reelected
Whip: Dale Brandland [R-Bellingham] - moved from Caucus Vice Chair
Floor Leader: Mark Schoesler [R-Ritzville] - moved from Whip
Caucus Chair: Linda Evans Parlette [R-Wenatchee] - moved from Deputy Leader
Deputy Leader: Cheryl Pflug [R-Maple Valley] - moved from Deputy Floor Leader
Caucus Vice Chair: Dan Swecker [R-Rochester]
Deputy Whip: Jerome Delvin [R-Richland]
Deputy Floor Leader: Mike Carrell [R-Lakewood]

Snohomish Democrats gone wild

After hearing that Rep. John Lovick [D-Mill Creek] was weighing a run for the open Snohomish County Sheriff position (incumbent Sheriff Rick Bart is the likely Republican nominee to Aaron Reardon in the county executive race), I decided to do some snooping at the PDC to see if any other big names were running for anything next year. Turns out, as a result of term limits, several big-name Democrats are already signed up to run for county positions and another is weighing a run.

Former Rep. Mike Cooper [D-Edmonds], who lost a statewide bid to Republican Land Commissioner Doug Sutherland in 2004, is running for the County Council position currently held by Gary Nelson [R-Lynnwood], who is term-limited. Nelson also served in the legislature before being elected to the Council. The district in question is marginal, and Cooper ought to have a good shot at winning the open seat.

In the 2nd Council district, covering much of the Everett-Mukilteo area, Democratic Rep. Brian Sullivan has filed. The seat is currently held by Kirke Sievers, who is also term-limited. Sen. Jean Berkey [D-Everett] had also been considering running for this open seat, presenting a possible juicy Democratic primary. Incidentally, Berkey was appointed to her Senate seat when then-Sen. Aaron Reardon was elected as county executive.

Also, County Auditor Bob Terwilliger is leaving an open seat that outgoing Sen. Dave Schmidt [R-Mill Creek] appeared to be interested in, and probably will be even more interested now that he's out of a job to Steve Hobbs. The nonpartisan office already has one candidate filed, current Terwilliger elections manager Carolyn Diepenbrock. As for Terwilliger himself, I'm curious to see if he chooses to run for the Democratic Secretary of State nomination. He lost the Democratic line to Don Bonker in the 2000 primary, and while he would probably be defeated by my favourite pol in the general, he'd at least give the Democrats another credible candidate for the office.

02 December 2006

Oh yeah, and--

Senator Evan Bayh [D-IN] has formally launched an exploratory committee for a 2008 presidential campaign, and after former Gov. Mark Warner [D-VA] balked at the opportunity, Bayh will likely be the sole candidate for the fiscally-conservative, centrist wing in the Democratic primaries. Now, I make it a point to avoid all the national news trash that comes out every day, but since Senator Bayh has been my favourite senator for a few years now and on the off-chance he's still in the race when Washington's caucuses come around I fully intend to support him, I figured I should make a note of the announcement. Everyone can now return to their Obama lovefest.

Murray pushes boulevard option

As reported in today's Times, outgoing House Transportation Committee Chair Ed Murray [D-Seattle] urged WSDOT to study a surface boulevard as a third option for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Murray, who as far as I knew had been one of the few legislators supporting Mayor Nickels' tunnel, wants to see if such a plan is feasible in addition to purportedly being a cheaper alternative to the tunnel or rebuilding the Viaduct.

Considering that Nickels and the Council are adamantly opposed to a rebuild and legislative Democrats are adamantly opposed to a tunnel, the surface/transit option might emerge as a suitable compromise. I doubt the governor will go against the vast majority of her Caucus and their solidly pro-rebuild stance, and with the Seattle City Council already having approved a boulevard solution as their preferred alternative to a tunnel, should the state refuse to finance such a project, things certainly seem to be looking up for Peter Steinbrueck.