Thursday, September 21, 2006

Local Politics - Returns

So, color me surprised.

I fully expected to be in cynical-old-guy cursing-in-his-beer mode about the election to the State Supreme Court of a special-interest-backed lawyer with no bench time but gobs of money. And it turns out I was wrong, spoiling a totally good opportunity to get besotted.

Here's the tale: For Position #8, State Supreme Court, BIAW-backed candidate John Groen (and by backed, we mean about 2 mill in attack ads) lost out to incumbent Gerry Alexander in what could be termed an upset, given the heavy media bombing that was going on, up to and including mailings that Gerry Alexander was going to take your house, sleep with your spouse, and leave the lid off the cottage cheese in the fridge. Alexander fairly pasted Groen 55-45 percent. Though many votes still need to be tallied, particularly in King County (more people=more votes=more votes to count), Groen conceded.

So whahappened? I think a good part of it is that Washington State voters of all political stripes have a strong resistance to negative campaigns, and are willing to push back. In my experience so far in a decade out here, the negative campaigns that have worked have been outnumbered by the ones that have blown up in their faces. But I think a larger part of it is that the conservative wing of the party just stayed home this time. There were no real Republican contests to bring them out, and as a result, the allied non-partisan races suffered accordingly.

In other court news, for Position #9, Tom Chambers took out Jeanette Burrage pretty handily (58-42 by the last count). This means you won't have to think about either Chambers or Alexander until they make a decision that you don't agree with. Their jobs are safe.

However, the presence of three minor candidates for Position #2 split the vote to the point that no one got 50%, so that means that you will hear more about Susan Owens and Steve Johnson. Owens packed in 46 percent of the vote, Johnson 33 percent, and the remainder was split among three candidates that were there pretty much to keep one side or the other from reaching 50%, including ANOTHER Johnson. Johnson states he will be running a clean campaign, which means that the his buddies in the building industry will be revving up ads saying that Susan Owens is going to take your house, sleep with your spouse, and leave the lid off the cottage cheese in the fridge.

Both Cantwell and McGavick got their party nominations for US Senator, with Cantwell getting 90% of the vote, and McGavick getting only 85%, which if the numbers were reversed, would have been played as Cantwell being vulnerable. Instead, the New York Times trumpeted it as a victory for Cantwell's pro-war stance, and asks you to please ignore that in her victory speech, she spoke of the need to change the course in Iraq and bring our troops home. Of course, the New York Times also typoed McGavick's name and referred to him as an insurance salesman (he was CEO of the insurance company that has naming rights to our pro baseball team's field), so that about par for the course for accuracy.

And for US Rep we are seeing Burner versus Reichert, and here we have an idea of the GOP base staying away in droves. The 8th is supposedly a conservative district, with parts of it reaching south into rural Pierce County. But Burner picked up slightly more total votes than Reichert. The GOP will have to be doing some serious GOTV (get out the vote) work this year, a tough prospect giving the company that Mr. Reichert is keeping.

Most locally, Claudia Kauffman beat out Ed Crawford. Hey, I preferred Ed, but I'm more than willing to throw my support Ms. Kauffman, even though she gets the support of a lot of "establishment" Dems.

So the Secretary of State's website has nothing on the King County AFIKs program or the Fairwood Incorporation (what's the story with that, guys?). Nothing on the law enforcement fingerprint database from a Google search. The Fairwood vote, according to the Seattle Times, is extremely tight, and there may have been voting errors (oh, you know we couldn't get out of an election without one). Apparently voters that were eligible to vote on the incorporation were not given ballots with the incorporation issue. Actually, being on the border, my own district was one of those where some voters would be in Fairwood, while others (like me) would not. I noticed that the pollworker had two stacks of ballots in front of her and double-checked before giving me my ballot. So expect more fireworks on this one.

But for the rest of Washington State, take a deep breath, hold it for a moment, then let it out, as we plunge into the heart of the matter - the General Election.

More later,