Friday, September 17, 2004

Electoral Storm - Eye of the Storm

The primary has come and gone in Washington State, and here are a few thoughts:

The Big Story in the primary is that the Big Story failed to materialize. Remember the horrible backlash against the new primary system that was reported here and in the local media? Widespread rejection? Angry voters? Pitchforks and torches? Didn't happen. About a million people, 30% of the registered voters, cast ballots this past Tuesday. Not great, but hardly a rebellion at the polls. Further, the threat that the extremes would capture the nominations proved pretty hollow as well - in general moderates triumphed over more extreme members of the party.

The voters were overwhelmingly Democrat, but then the Democrats had the more interesting races. When the GOP had a race going (like the 8th District, US House), their numbers were almost at Democrat levels.

The new ballots were very clear, though I would put the non-partisan races first in the ballot, then choose party and do the partisan stuff later on the ballot. Simple result - it worked. I still don't like the process, but have to admit it worked.

Governor: Will be Christine ("Call me Chris") Gregoire against Dean ("Who's scary? Not me!") Rossi. Gregroire triumphed against Ron Sims, who made the critical mistake of running a campaign of ideas ("That trick never works"). Gregoire is running a boilerplate Democrat campaign, while Rossi is trying to hide the more odious examples of the 21st Century conservative thought to reach out to a wider audience. Rossi has run very hard against minimal opposition in order to place himself as a friendly candidate, and I think he has been successful. Now pay attention to his message.

Senator: Patty Murray against George Nethercutt. Like Rossi, Murray started her campaign before the primary against nominal opposition, while Nethercutt spent most of his time treating his nomination as a done deal. Now Nethercutt is going to have to run hard against a self-inflicted image of a House Rep betraying his constituants, first bailing on a campaign promise to term limits, and then ditching them to set up shot in Bellevue and pretend he's from Western Washington.

8th District House: This was the one race where both sides had competition, but in the end it will be newly-minted crypto-Democrat Dave Ross against newly-minted crypto-Republican Dave Reichert. Ross is aided by support of his party's powers-that-be, which did not care for the heavily-endorsed Albens or the veteran Behrens-Benedict. Reichert on the other hand has a restive right wing that tends to hold grudges. Reichert is the most moderate of the GOP candidates, such that I have already seen a number of articles on how his views do not fit with the Rep mainstream. This will be the celebrity matchup, which should make for good entertainment (and maybe just) good government as well.

Attorney General: The oddball nature of the Democratic side continues even after the election. The media really expected the erudite Mark Sidhran to win, such that even though he trailed by 8% throughout the evening, no one wanted to call the election in Senn's favor. Senn beat Sidhran in all parts of the state that could not see the Space Needle, and did well enough in metropolitan Seattle to easily edge her opponent. But even then, the media attention was on Sidhran, who is lifely more than aware right now that help that he received from the US Chamber of Commerce was less than helpful.

On the GOP side, Rob McKenna will be Senn's opposition in the primary, and he intends to run hard - Against Christine Gregoire! Yep, the 18 million buck mistake in Gregoire's office will be used against her possible successor (regardless of who won), since both Senn and Sidhran support Gregiore. More wackiness with ensue.

Finally, the State Supreme Court, Position 1 bears mentioning, since Mary Kay Becker will now square off against Jim Johnson in the final. Johnson did mailers for the position, and it apparently paid off, since enough people recognized the name to mark in his name. Lesser known was the fact that the King County Bar Association rated him only "Aquequate" (sort of like getting a "Gentleman's C" ) or that Johnson is an ally of initiative maven Tim Eyeman. Of course, people have seven weeks now to find out.

More later,