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.



At 4:31 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

With 1.3 million people in the dark, Gregoire sat in the Governor's mansion doing nothing. Add to that her non-decision on the Viaduct issue, and her political future is starting to look cloudy.

Good run-down on several of these other state races. I think the retirement potential for Sam Reed is higher then you rated. A lot of Rs are still sore over the 2004 election--and he may retire rather then get the axe.

Brian Sonntag would make an excellent candidate for the Pierce County Executive race--but he could face a fierce challenger in Sean Bunney. Sonntag is well-liked in GOP circles in Pierce County, but pitted against Bunney, loyalties might shift.

I don't see any of the challengers you outlined for Rob McKenna as being strong, or even potentially strong. My best estimate is that McKenna holds on for another term, and then mounts a lightning bolt campaign for higher office--which he'll win.

At 7:12 AM, Blogger TMW said...

Regarding Gregoire, I think her situation is going to go through a world of changes before the election season gets underway. Those recent issues you raised could be the start of a downward swing for her, but it will really depend on how she handles her supermajorities.

Regarding Reed, I probably would have rated the possibility of retirement higher had he not recently sent me a fundraising letter which pretty much sounded definitive about a third term. Considering that his heir-apparent (Kim Wyman) might not be quite ready for statewide yet, the GOP ought to hope Reed runs again, even if they're a bit sore he wasn't more favourable to them in the recount debacle. I predict there will be some Republicans who cross over on that race, but there have always been a small group who have opposed Reed since he's a tad liberal for them. I think he'll pick-up even more Democratic crossovers than usual, at least enough to offset his in-party losses.

Regarding Sonntag, I too think he'd make a strong candidate for the Ladenburg job. Bunney would also be good, though I figure if he's looking for a job post-Council he'd be pretty strong for the Hurst House seat as well.

Regarding McKenna, it depends if he can hold on to all those Independents and liberal-leaners that picked him over the ever-nutty Deb Senn. If they jump ship to Ladenburg because he isn't terribly controversial, it'll be close. However, it'd take a lot to make me change my prediction that McKenna will be reelected. He'd be a natural choice to take on Murray in 2010, since there would be little risk being a mid-term election and she's a little gaffe-prone.

At 8:19 PM, Anonymous peter said...

Reed will not retire.
McKenna will win handily, especially if he runs against anyone. Especially since he has done what any good AG is supposed to do (protect consumers in our state).
Rossi (if he runs)/Gregoire matchup will be fascinating, and I am especting an amazing campaign by both.
McGavick running for insurance commissioner is interesting. for some reason I don't think he would settle for such a "low" post.
Brad Owens should win, as R's won't be able to attract Ericksen to run, and I imagine Finkbinner is done with politics.
If Sontag ran for PC exec. I could see Wyman running (although if she draws a credible R candidate she would be lucky to escape a primary).

Those are my thoughts.

At 7:08 AM, Blogger TMW said...

I doubt McGavick would run for Insurance Commissioner, but if he did, it would be a fine matchup and a potential GOP pickup opportunity. If the Auditor spot opens up, I think Wyman will (or at least should) get the first crack at the nomination if she wants it. The GOP is pretty lacking in a bench for the Auditor and Treasurer positions, so they should be happy to have a candidate like her (you know, since they haven't held either position in decades).

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous peter said...

my guess is Susan Sinclair (ugh) would run for auditor, as she is Island county's, and has run for congress in 2004.

At 11:47 AM, Blogger TMW said...

Ick. Her poor performance against Larsen (back when he was at least sorta vulnerable) ought not be a launching pad for statewide office.

At 1:41 PM, Anonymous peter said...

Another thing to think about would be if Esser didn't win chair of the GOP, I have heard he wouldn't mind taking a shot at Lt. Governor.

At 8:50 PM, Blogger TMW said...

I hadn't thought of that. Given his experience, he'd be able to make a race against Owen at least competitive.

At 2:54 PM, Blogger Chad Lupkes said...

You forgot the Lands Commissioner position. Do you have any insights into that position?

At 3:46 PM, Blogger TMW said...

No, it's up there right after the Attorney General listing. I think Sutherland will be tough to beat, after he beat such a strong challenge from Mike Cooper in 2004, but the Democrats ought to lure one of their greener legislators into challenging him, perhaps even a senator who won't be up in 2008 so it'll be risk-free.

At 8:35 PM, Anonymous No More WASL for My Kids!! said...

Terry Bergeson needs to be removed from the OSPI this year!! Her "reform education" is a TOTAL FAILURE and the WASL is an unbelievable waste of our student's educational years (teachers are more focused on teaching kids to pass a test rather than giving them a REAL EDUCATION) and is a TOTAl WASTE of taxpayer dollars ($72 per student per test!!!). Plus, the WASL was created by TB's Theosophist pal, Robert Carkhuff, based on his New 3 R's of "Relating, Representing and Reasoning," rather than the Original 3 R's of "Reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic." All of the TRUE FACTS ABOUT WA ED REFORM can be found at,, and We need to remove Terrible Terry from the OSPI RIGHT NOW!!!


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