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.

21 June 2007

Two more Democratic challengers for Reichert -- sort of

According to Postman's two Democratic state legislators are considering facing Dave Reichert next year: Senator Rodney Tom and Rep. Christopher Hurst. Although Darcy Burner is once again running, and probably once again losing as she surely did not fix her experience issue in the five months she hasn't been running, both these legislators provide Democrats capable centrists with experience.

Tom, as we all should know by now, won last year's marquee legislative contest against then-Senator Luke Esser, who has since taken over the GOP's busted party machinery. A former liberal Republican from Bellevue, Tom would offer name recognition in the most populous and important region of the 8th Congressional district. Also, being that Tom's seat isn't up until 2010, he could seek the Democratic nomination without having to give up his seat in the Senate.

Hurst, in contrast, represents a solid GOP-leaner in the House and it also sits in the heart of Reichert's geographical base. In 2006, Burner virtually tied Reichert in King County, but he easily defeated her in the rural Pierce County portion of the district. This could make him a very attractive potential candidate for Democrats, as well as his integrity, as evidenced by that he retired from the House for several terms while his daughter was in high school. He returned as she finished and defeated a tough incumbent and is now serving his third term. One potential problem for a Hurst candidacy is his sketchy record on social issues, especially on the question of gay rights. The state's premier gay rights advocacy group, Equal Rights Washington, endorsed Hurst's GOP opponent last year as a result of her moderate record on these issues and the lack of commitment to them by Hurst. Democrats in a socially moderate-liberal swing district like the 8th may be loath to nominate a candidate who is at the very least a social moderate like Reichert.

One legislator who was previously rumoured to be considering a run has apparently ruled it out due to a remission of cancer. Rep. Ross Hunter, who I'm convinced would have defeated Reichert had he run in 2006, seems to have once again had his political career stalled by illness. Best wishes for a full recovery, Ross.

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At 8:09 AM, Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer said...

I think you ignore two major points:

- Darcy Burner's name recognition in the 8th far exceeds Rodney Tom's now. People know who she is. Few people outside the 48th know who Tom is.

- Burner is better on the issues Democrats champion than Hurst and Tom. Their "experience" is not an issue in a Democratic primary. Tom might receive decent support in a primary, but Burner would be a the considerable favorite.

At 4:01 PM, Blogger TMW said...

She would indeed be the favourite, and that's quite unfortunate for the Democratic Party. I was speaking in the post relative to a general election matchup with Dave Reichert, and I very much think Tom or Hurst would be more successful than Burner was or would be in a rematch. If Reichert were not so easily able to hit her on the experience issue, the district may have voted Democratic for that race while they were giving Maria Cantwell big wins at the top of the ticket and Democrats were sweeping suburban legislative districts. If Tom or Hurst do enter the race, I hope Democrats in the 8th will recognize that for all her fundraising success Darcy Burner failed to flip the 8th despite that it went solidly Democratic everywhere else on the ballot. Both of the aforementioned legislative Democrats would give the party a fresh face and a fresh opportunity.

At 4:22 PM, Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer said...

Cantwell was running against a poor candidate who shot himself in the foot time and again. The other races were not really contested. Esser was too extreme for the district.

Reichert benefits from a mythology that's hard to overcome. Ross Hunter may have done well in 2006, but that's pure speculation. The "experience" issue is not as big an issue as the Republicans made it out to be, and having already run once, it becomes less of an issue for Burner. We have seen how little Reichert's past experience has benefited him and his district as he has been an ineffective and uninfluential legislator.

If Tom does run Burner will probably beat him and gain from the effort, so I see little negative in it. Burner might see otherwise, as every candidate would like fewer distractions or impediments in raising money.

At 4:40 PM, Blogger TMW said...

Regardless of whether Mike McGavick was a poor candidate or not Cantwell was still dominating the top of the ticket yet Burner did not receive any coattails. There were also many legislative races in swing districts that Democrats won besides the 48th Senate race, both in the 8th CD and neighbouring areas. Burner's loss was most definitely the exception to the rule in that area in 2006.

Reichert does have a decent personal vote, obviously nowhere near Jennifer Dunn range but widespread nonetheless, yet the district is still Democratic-marginal and the party failed to win it in a landslide year. Given the nature of rematches I think the Democratic Party would be much better off looking for a new candidate for 2008 if they're serious about taking the seat. After all, 2004 saw some very tight results for Republicans in swing districts (Chris Shays and Jim Gerlach come to mind) yet in a 2006 rematch those districts made the same choice while less marginal districts swung Democratic with new faces on the ballot.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer said...

The coattails argument doesn't hold water with me. Cantwell's race was not equivalent to Burner's. If anything, one should compare Burner to McGavick and Burner did far better than he did. Washingtonians vote for candidates, not so much straight party line, as you know.

The closer we get to 2008, the more it looks like 2008 will be even worse for Republicans. Iraq isn't going away as the top issue thanks to Bush. I agree that Reichert helped himself by winning a second term, and that makes him tougher to beat, yet he has done little to distinguish himself to earn a third term, assuming he even runs for the same position.

I've heard people call Burner a weak candidate, but the fact of the matter is she would likely beat the other candidates that have been mentioned in a primary, and many would agree with me on that. So while conventional wisdom would try to paint her as a weak candidate, the reality is people close to the race consider her a strong candidate.

Again, if a primary win will help persuade people of her strength, then I'm all for people like Rodney Tom taking a shot. He simply doesn't have enough of the progressive credentials to win a Democratic primary, and I think Hurst wouldn't garner the Eastside votes he'd need to win either.

At 6:39 PM, Blogger TMW said...

I doubt 2008 could be any worse for Republicans than 2006 was, and Democrats would be quite lucky to get even another 2006-like cycle consecutively. Since taking control of Congress they've tacked a moderate stance on Iraq and have begun to alienate people who voted them in to end the war. Congress is never truly popular, but they need to throw some red meat to the base in the near future or their support level will continue to be about as bad as the GOP's was previously.

As for Burner, I don't think she's a weak candidate at all in a Democratic primary. She has broad support amongst the party rank and file, surely more at least at the start than any other potential Democratic candidates. However, I do think she's weaker than Hurst and Tom would likely be against Reichert in a general election matchup. She'd be a pretty attractive Democratic candidate should Reichert choose to run statewide in 2008, but against him I'm skeptical of her ability to win.

At 9:20 PM, Anonymous liam foley said...

Burner's problem is the problem of the Democratic Party. Her campaign piece had she and the other "women" elected officials. Her first endorsement listed was NOW and the other women's organizations followed (Well, Duh!) She pushed womens issues almost exclusively and as I recall employment wasn't mentioned.

When are the Democrats going to learn that they are not going to win without saying -"We are for ALL the people" not just some. Blue collar workers know the Republicans are screwing them but they don't believe the Democrats give one damn about them!

"All the people regardless of who you are" will get the Democrats back in as a majority party.

At 10:31 PM, Blogger Tahoma Activist said...

Speaking as someone who's tried to reach Darcy to share the opinion of Pierce County Labor (who she needs to win East Pierce County) and received no followthrough return, I can only say, I'll take a gay rights-weak candidate who can speak the language of economic populism over a socially liberal but CLUELESS candidate any day of the week.

If we want to win in tough districts we have to speak to people's pocketbooks, and some rich girl isn't doing that for me.


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