Monday, June 13, 2005

Local Politics

This just in - Christine Gregoire is still governor.

And you'd think that after all the lectures after the 2000 and 2004 presidentials, the Republicans would lead by example and show how they are willing to move on, to coin a phrase. Instead, some of the rank and file have been beseiging the righty blogs, and, more interestingly, the local newspaper letter columns, not just with calls to organize, but rather with threats and promises that they will cheat like hell come the next election. Because my failure to find your fraud only justifies my future fraud.

I guess that means that if Michael Jackson is found Not Guilty of molestation, then the GOP Mayor of Spokane can put the moves on young men in a chat rooms. Hang on, Wait a minute . . .

But that's not what I want to talk about. Instead, let's talk about the State GOP nominating convention, which was this past weekend. Here's the story so far. It used to be that Washington State had a blanket primary, which meant that anyone could vote in either party's primary. The parties hated this, since it encouraged "mischief" - members of one party crossing the line to support the weaker candidate of the other party. So the 9th Circuit tossed it out. So what we have instead is a "top two" primary, which the says the top two candidates, regardless of party, go on to the general election. The parties hate this EVEN MORE, and are back in court to get rid of it. In the meantime the Reps (and later this month, the Dems - don't think they're getting a pass on this) are holding nominating conventions to put only ONE Republican (or Democrat) on the ballot. Everyone else is supposed to stay away.

So a nominating convention of less than 1d6x100 people per district is deciding who your candidate is. Oh, yeah, that's SUCH an improvement over those messy primaries.

For most of the newly-shrunk King County Council, there's no problem - there's one candidate from the establishment anyway. However, in the rebuilt 9th, there are two - Steve Hammond, and Reagan Dunn. Hammond, if you remember from early in this journal, was the "least crazy" of the candidates put forth to replace the late Kent Pullens (the other two were the ever-mobile Pat Roach and Phil Fortunato of the Great Big Signs). Reagan Dunn is the son of Congressperson Jennifer Dunn, and had the support of Mom and other party heavyweights. The loser would bow out, the winner would run as a Republican.

However, something odd happened that is not so odd. Favorite Dunn lost to Hammond. That shouldn't be too much of a surprise. While Hammond is a former minister and the more conservative of the two, a small convention is exactly the place where the more conservative party faithful come out in droves (that goes for the Progressive wing of the Dems as well). Hammond went to the mattresses, did the ground campaign and upset Dunn by a narrow margin.

So Dunn, golden child and rising star of the establishment, is bowing out as promised, right? Remember which party we are talking about? No, citing that Hammond has broken the 11th Commandment ("Thou shalt not speak ill of fellow Republicans"), Young Dunn is going to soldier on and run anyway. The party has threatened to go to court to prevent him from using the (R) after his name on the ballot. Great way to build solidarity.

And here's the kicker - there were more votes counted than there were delegates. I know, the Irony Gods are working overtime in Washington State. Instead of demanding an immediate revote, of course, the party swept it under the rug, noting that Hammond's victory margin was larger than the number of additional votes.

So this shows some of the weaknesses of nominating conventions as opposed to general primaries - even when you try to guarentee a result, the voting population will do what it pleases. There was an additional matchup, in the newly-jiggered 7th District, between incumbant Pete von Reichbauer and . . . old friend Phil Fortunato. Von Reichbauer discovered he had opposition only two days before the convention, and while he dusted Fortunato, 75-26, it underscored the dangers of complacency.

Open primaries were a smarter idea. And in a few weeks, the Dems get to reinforce this lesson.

More later,

Editing note: Went back in to correct a screaming typo - I originally said the Mayor of Seattle when I mean to say the Mayor of Spokane. The GOP Mayor of Spokane is the one promising government jobs to young men he picks up in chat rooms. The Democrat Mayor of Seattle, on the other hand, has been in Chicago talking with other Mayors about adopting the Kyoto Accords, which have been rejected by our national government (and accepting a "Most Liveable City" award).