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Posts published in “Day: April 12, 2008”

WA Gov: Price tags

Is the Washington governor's race a big deal? Of course. Is it competitive? The polling generally indicates as much, and - this is a reasonable indicator - both Democratic incumbent Chris Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi are raising piles of money, what could amount to somewhere around $20 million between them by the time it's over.

But we've not felt for a long time that this is an evenly-balanced playing field. Some comments from Goldy at Horse's Ass outline some (and there are others too) of the pertinent reasons why.

The big difference, in my opinion, will be the lessons learned from 2004, a race in which an overconfident Gregoire allowed Rossi to get away with running as an amiable tabla rasa, on to which voters could project a fanciful image of the Rossi they’d like him to be.

First rule of political campaigning: . . . define your opponent. And you can be damn sure that a substantial chunk of Gregoire’s (and her surrogates’) war chest will be spent doing exactly that. Rossi is simply too conservative for WA state, on both social and economic issues, and this time around he’s not going to get away with refusing to talk about issues that don’t poll well for his campaign. There are also character issues regarding Rossi — his dubious business ethics and his documented reputation as a downright mean spirited campaigner — and in 2008, voters are going to be informed of that too.

Since Rossi’s near miss in 2004, David Irons, George Nethercutt and Mike!™ McGavick have all tried to duplicate the Rossi model — a low-key, likable, issue-less run toward the middle — and all with disastrous results. That strategy simply won’t play here anymore… at least not if your Democratic opponent is awake.

Without here passing judgement on the validity of each of the arguments against Rossi, we don't have a lot of doubt that they'll be made. And the point about Irons, Nethercutt and McGavick ought to be food for mulling.

The suit is on

Over the course of a lot of years, we've talked to a lot of Republican Idaho elected officials who in no way wanted a closed primary (of the sort Oregon has, where you have to declare party affiliation to vote in a party's primary). The fat is now burning. From an e-mailed state GOP release on Friday:

The Idaho Republican Party filed suit late Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho against the Idaho Secretary of State, in an effort to close the party’s primary elections process, so only registered Republicans would be allowed to vote in Republican primaries.

“The party presently has expressed its choice to implement closed primary elections, and we have taken concrete action to carry out these wishes,” said Sidney Smith, Executive Director of the Idaho Republican Party. “We hope this suit will move quickly through the process and lead to an effective structure that respects the rights of our party members.”

This session, the legislature did not implement an appropriate closed primary system such as the “call for ballot” process. The Idaho Republican Party urged the legislature to approve closed primary legislation this year, in order to avoid litigation, but several proposals were unsuccessful.

Therefore, according to the resolution approved by the party Central Committee in January of this year, the party was required to file suit within 10 days of adjournment of the legislature, thereby making this suit unavoidable.

Won't affect this year's primary, the calendar being too late for a serious change now. But it could - who knows? - have some effect on this year's politics . . .