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Posts published in June 2008

WA 8: Even odds

We have needed some convincing on the Round 2 challenge, in Washington's 8th House district, of Democrat Darcy Burner to Republican incumbent Dave Reichert. Re-run races usually look better on paper than they often are in practice; what's gained in better planning and experience is usually lost in freshness and voter appeal.

But exceptions happen, and this year we've gradually changed our minds about Burner's rematch. Her fundraising and organization has been extraordinary. And what had looked like a year that might at best match the strong Democratic year of 2006 now begins to look as if it may sweep past it.

So we've come to the same point the Cook Report, one of the best-respective DC analysts, says today it has. The Report has just moved a pile of House races from "lean Republican" (Republican slightly favored) to "toss up" - even odds. (Of all the 27 "toss up" contests nationwide, 21 involve currently Republican seats.) One of those is Washington 8 (eastern King and northeastern Pierce). At this point, it looks like the only truly even-odds major race in the Northwest.

The Poobahs strike back

You know the Idaho Republicans - Ada County division, at least - are in serious conflict, when the party leadership is getting the dreaded E-word attached:

"Party elites want another term for the current chairman, Kirk Sullivan, and want to undo the party rule which closes primary elections to all but registered Republicans."

That comes from a post from Bryan Fischer of the Idaho Values Alliance, which is looking ever-more like a faction with the Idaho Republican Party than anything else. He posted what he said was "an advance list of the pre-approved Ada County delegates to the state convention;" Ada County gets 59 delegates.

Here's the keynote of Fischer's commentary: "In many ways, the Idaho GOP is right now engaged in a battle for its soul, over whether it will be a party of genuine conservatism or become, as it has in many ways at the national level, a big government party with little genuine allegiance to social or fiscal conservative principles. What is noteworthy about the pre-approved list is how many lobbyists are on it and how few ordinary grassroots Republicans are. It appears as if the party poobahs are systematically squeezing precinct committeemen in particular out of the delegate process, in an apparent attempt to stack the deck in favor of the Republican establishment."

He is right that the list does include a bunch of downtown Boise types, from lobbyists to state and congressional staffers; it is largely an insider group. Which doesn't necessarily conflict (actually meshes with) the explanation from county party leadership (this from Kevin Reichert's Idaho Statesman blog, from which we twisted the title of this post):

"Marcel Bujarski, Ada GOP chairman, says there was nothing cloak-and-dagger about the list. The slate was compiled on a first-come, first-served basis, as potential delegates let the county party know they were interested in attending the state convention in Sandpoint. 'Bryan Fischer doesn't know what he's talking about,' Bujarski told our Dan Popkey. 'It's no big secret.'"

Either way, what's more significant here is the depth of emotion involved. The Wednesday night party gathering is likely to be quite a spitfire event.

Around the west

Some general political Monday reading: An overview of Idaho's locus in western politics, especially in Democratic presidential politics, as it's evolving this year, in the Boise Weekly.

The focus is on the Obama-Clinton contest, which may go through a shutdown this week. But points made here about western attitudes and preferences are likely to outlive it.

WA: Simpson case dropped

Geoff Simpson

Geoff Simpson

Just as a quick followup - there's been some resolution evidently in the case of state Representative Geoff Simpson, D-Covington, who had been accused of charges related to allegation of domestic violence. The city of Covington has filed to dismiss the charges, saying that "based on all of the information obtained in the present matter, the city no longer believe it has a sufficient evidence to go forward with the charges herein." (Our earlier post on this.)

David Postman's Seattle Times blog has more details. Some political fallout had occurred previously - including Simpson's giving up a House chairmanship - and Simpson evidently is looking to reverse that, though saying that "I am certain the Republican machine is gearing up with negative attacks . . ."

First impression is that, politically, Simpson has dodged a bullet. This doesn't feel smoothly over, though; our guess is that we'll be hearing more about this in the campaigns ahead.