Friday, June 18, 2010

Slouching Towards Olympia

The season is upon us. The early invites to town halls, kick-off lunches, and pizza parties have arrived. The phone calls at inopportune times. The first push polls (so pushy they call back when hung up on). In the wake of Memorial Day, election season has begun.

And I, for one, just can't get into the spirit.

Part of it probably campaign fatigue left over from 2008. A large number of blogs I've followed haven't updated since Obama's election. Part of it is the difficulty of actually watching people govern in troubled times. But I think a big chunk of it is simply that I was in Pennsylvania right before its primary last month.

And the land was awash in political campaign ads. Every opponent was either a member of Pelosi's soviet legions or the most cold-hearted Republican in all of Bedford Falls. Arlen Specter covered the airwaves with accusations that his opponent underpaid his campaign staff while family members got paychecks (That's the best you could throw at him? He doesn't pay retail for his help?). "Just another politician" sniffed the ads, which supported re-electing the newly democratic Specter for his 75th term (Specter lost, in case you didn't know).

And so I had a vision of the future that yawns before Washington State - the broken wellhead of political bile that will issue into our state. Yet there are handfuls (handfuls, I say!) of readers who tune in for the politics, so here we go again.

The GOOD news is that, despite our wonky primary system in which you can't be a Democrat but instead can only "prefer Democratic Party", there was minimal high-jinx in the registering to run. Republicans are confident to run as Republicans, shedding even the fig-leaf of the GOP brand or qualifier like "Real Republican Party". And I think that's a good thing.

There are two big races in my part of Washington State - Senate and the 8th District House. Senate has incumbent Dem Patty Murray against both traditional GOP choice Dino Rossi and more conservative GOP favorite Clint Didier (there are others, but they have already been discounted by the media). Rossi entered the race the week after the Seattle Times obligingly printed a hatchet job accusing anti-government farmer Didier of (gasp) taking government subsidies. Normally the two big teams line up and choose their guy and that's the end of it, but Didier on the Further Right (he has since snagged an endorsement from Sarah Palin) may make this interesting.

In the House, we flip the situation - the incumbent is Republican David Reichert, former King County Sheriff with a tendency to reveal his political motivation a tad too often. Against him is another progressive technocrat, Suzan DelBene, of which I know little but will end up finding out more. This is supposed to be an anti-incumbent year, but it never seems to be that way for incumbents from the OTHER party.

In Olympia, Geoff Simpson, Pat Sullivan, and Claudia Kaufmann are all up for re-election in the State House races (all three come up at once). More on them and their competition later, but the push poll mentioned at the top of the article was sounding out various strategies against Pat Sullivan and seeing what would "message" best.

And finally we have our initiative process, intended to further democratize the system but in reality being yet another arm for money to enter the political process. This year we have the possibility of two different measures to privatize liquor sales, a measure to decriminalize pot, a tax-the-wealthy measure put forward by Bill Gates' dad, and the regular "Pull out the engine so we can complain that the car won't start" anti-government measure from Tim Eyeman.

Fun all around. So now I'm heading to the store to buy election-season decorations and send out my "Sorry to hear you have to vote" cards.

More later,