If 2010 does turn out to be a year when a lot of incumbents get tossed out, it's also likely to be a year when a number of problematic - poorly vetted, little-understood - candidates get elected, or come close. Today's case study is in Washington's District 25 (eastern Pierce County), where incumbent Democrat Dawn Morrell is being challenged by Republican Hans Zeiger.
In the primary election, with six candidates on the ballot, Morrell got 40.3% of the vote and Zeiger scored an upset among the Republicans with 35.9%; another Republican, Steve Vermillion, was thought to be Morrell's likely opponent, and the Tacoma News Tribune described him "as qualified a political newcomer as we’ve seen this year." Zeiger was only lightly reviewed. But by the standard math of Washington primaries, this looks like a highly competitive contest.
Zeiger's website is generic and says nothing most any challenger might not say, and makes little reference to Morrell. He remarks there, "That is why I am running for State Representative in the 25th District: for jobs, tax relief, and educational excellence."
Start Googling Zeiger, though, as David Goldstein of Horse's Ass has, and another picture emerges.
Notably on the very conservative WorldNetDaily site, where Zeiger is a regular contributor. (Zieger is also on WND's speaker's bureau, and their description of him there makes clear that he is highly plugged into the more ideologically-driven parts of movement conservatism.) This, for example (September 2005), writing about "the Girl Scouts USA national convention will be held in Atlanta. It will be a gathering of radical feminists, lesbians, and cookie peddlers ..."
Not that he's ignored the Boy Scouts. He is described as a spokesman for the Scouting Legal Defense Fund, and has written a book (which WND sells) called Get Off My Honor; the net's description of it notes, "Hans shows how those who wish to destroy the scouts are attacking it for what it represents at its core – Christian values." Doesn't seem to be much mention of those sexual abuse cases that are what have gotten a lot of people's attention.
Ideological as political attack? Another example, from Intellectual Conservative: "We speak much of terror networks in our time, and here is one of the vilest, for it has made greater progress in the tearing down of American institutions and ideals than Iraq or Al Quaeda have. NEA and GLSEN are not the only groups in the network; the ACLU and NARAL and Planned Parenthood and Americans United for Separation of Church and State and others come to mind. They mean to wage war on the most sacred and most enduring things of our civilization: our faith, our heritage, our character, our self-government, and our family structure."
It's not a reach to call this an appeal to hatred. Another sad case, in other words, of trying to set Americans against each other as if organizing a dog fight.
There is much, much more - it goes on from there. Jobs? Tax relief (other than the routine calls for tax cuts)? Educational excellence? Among these mass of high-profile, exceedingly ideological writings, there's previous little to indicate those subjects gave him a moment's pause. Until, maybe, filing for the House.
Now the question is: How much will the voters know about Zeiger before they cast their votes in Washington's 25th?
UPDATE AND RESPONSE Just received an e-mail response from Zeiger, and it is well worth quoting in full and reading in context with the post above:
Just came across your post tonight re: my campaign. I had a chance to look a bit through the site and it's a well-constructed, thoughtful digest. It looks like you and I share an interest in Northwest history. You can see my own blog with a lot on local history in the Puyallup area at http://generouspeople.blogspot.com/.
I wanted you to know that the articles mentioned on Horse's Ass blog and a prior Democrat press release were written in 2003 and 2004, when I was 18 and 19. Since then I have graduated from college, graduated from grad school, and moved into the worlds of work and relationships. I am still growing and learning, but I can tell you that I have come to see the world as a far more complex and beautiful place than I once assumed it to be. I have also come to realize that I don't have a monopoly on truth, nor do I know all the answers to the world's tough questions. I quit writing for WorldNetDaily and other sites when I was still in college.
I hope that's reassuring to you. I hope that I can be truly fair-minded if afforded the opportunity to serve in our legislature. You're welcome to quote any of this in your blog if you'd like. All the best,