There is this to say about Vancouver Republican state Senator Don Benton's prospective run - which he said today he's planning - against Senator Patty Murray: He would be the lead Republican in the field, and as matters stand would be well positioned to win the primary over six other prospects.
There's that. But you have to suspect Murray's not losing a lot of sleep tonight; at least not yet.
The move is in line in some respects: He has been raising his profile lately, especially with his testimony and argument against amending Initiative 960, aligning himself with Tim Eyman's backers and the Tea Party people. So he could be starting with a base.
Benton has lots of political experience. He was a state Republican chair in 2000; he departed after eight months, a period the Seattle Times called "short and troubled." He has been a legislator for a while now - elected to a term in the House in 1994 (a good year for Republicans), and to the Senate in 1996 (51%), 2000 (53.1%), 2004 (56%) and last year (51.1%). You can more or less tell from the numbers that Benton hasn't been a towering vote-getter, and his run of wins isn't unbroken: He was the Republican that Democrat Brian Baird beat in 1998 (55%-45%) to win the 3rd U.S. House seat he's held since.
He's had periodic bad headlines over the years. Some of the most interesting came in 2005 when he tried to launch todayinpolitics.com (no, you won't find it active), a web political report evidently related to Washington state politics. The Tacoma News Tribune reported his pitch (apparently aimed in part at Statehouse people including lobbyists) said to connection with the $565 annual fee, "What will it cost you NOT to subscribe? That could be a princely sum indeed! . . . If you want to continue to be the best informed and highest paid, frankly y’all better pony up quickly, to ‘put your money where your livelihood is.’ Otherwise, I’ll have to say: I told ya so, and you’ll be back to wondering why you were the last to know everything.” (Got harsher at the Seattle Weekly.) Then there was the hot exchange with state ethics officials in 2001 over campaign contributions (his campaign committees were fined by the Public Disclosure Commission). And there was the occasion in 2002 when he made the ethical but impolitic argument in favor of the state Senate keeping, during a budget crunch, a private chef and dining room. Don't imagine this is the last you'll hear of those items if the race actually heats up.
The items in the preceding paragraph, by the way, were noted in a scathing post at Sound Politics, a Republican-oriented blog. (The comments on the post continued in the scathing direction.)
Murray's campaign people may even be looking forward to this.