Saturday, July 21, 2007

Local Politics: Groundwork

So the 4th of July has come and gone, the lawn signs are starting to sprout up like our western variety of dandelion, and people are planning for not only 2007 election, but the 2008 one as well (be very afraid). Here's the foundations that have been laid, which may or may not pop up as we move forward into the campaign season.

Starting at the tightest level, sometime over the next year or so, our chunk of unincorporated King County is supposed to swallowed by Kent. "Supposed to be" is the operative word, since due the fact we have a Renton postal address, I haven't seen anything in the way of mail on this (and I have to pursue this more to find out if there are really plans for annexation - more on that as I learn it).

With the last general election, the Dems took a strong majority in the state house, and proceeded to ... um ... run the state pretty well. There are a few things I would have preferred to have seen go through (like laws against predatory lenders), but in general, the roof did not fall in just because one party had the bulk of the power (compare with the national level for the previous six years). Nobody drove off any legislative cliffs. The biggest ruckus I remember was over Nascar wanting to build a track in the area. Our local Rep, Geoff Simpson, was a strong supporter of the idea. I came out of the debate with the feeling that I wouldn't use a Nascar track, wouldn't be heartbroken if one were built down near, say, Puyallup, but would really rather see our state funds spent elsewhere rather than as welfare to wealthy owners. But that's just me.

On the state level, the GOP, narrowly edged out in the controversial gubernatorial election of 2004, is trying to make the case that things have been horrible without stern, rational pro-business conservatives in charge. That task has been made tougher by the fact that the state's economy has rebounded nicely over the past couple years, and Forbes has declared the state to be one of the top five to do business in (with a special gold star for reducing bureaucratic red tape). Plus, the current administration get high marks for transparency and disclosure, another state-level (at least) GOP talking point. So barring a scandal, it looks like an uphill battle for the GOP. At the moment, their tactic seems to be "Sure, things are good, but its not like the Governor has anything to DO with that".

For US Rep in the fighting 8th district the current incumbent also made it in by a thin majority, but he has since pretty much dropped off the face of the earth. Getting a great deal of support from the GOP hierarchy during its halcyon years of the turn of the century, he remains loyal to an increasingly unpopular administration, and hasn't been doing much but standing firm on terror (I did get a mailer to that effect, but this looked like they found a couple boxes of them after the last campaign's carpetbombing). Last time he got by on the strength of the more conservative, rural areas of Pierce County to the south, but there is no guarantee this will carry him again.

Meanwhile, the Dem challenger from the last election has been active making friends and raising funds for another run (Your first political campaign is for love - your second is for vengeance). And our moribund Democratic establishment, which usually writes off the 8th as GOP territory has woken up, realized there may actually be a race out here, and has put forth what they think of as an ideal candidate - a former Republican who jumped the party last year. So it looks like we're going to have a primary, which is a great thing in my opinion, pitching Progressive and Traditional against each other.

But all this is groundwork. What's past is prologue. Things will just start getting interesting as we move forward.

More later,