Writings and observations

Who can say who will be the Republican presidential nominee next year? The only reliable prediction along that front is that there will be one.

For a couple of months, though – to venture a bit beyond the Northwest – we’ve seen a clearer path to the nomination for Michele Bachmann than for most of the other Republican prospects. In Oregon, at least, there’s some basis for arguing for a Bachmann surge. Chrck out this question and response from a survey of Oregon Republicans June 19-21 by Public Policy Polling:

If Sarah Palin didn’t run, and the choices were just Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney, who would you most like to see as the nominee?
Michele Bachmann 29%
Herman Cain 7%
Newt Gingrich 9%
Jon Huntsman 2%
Ron Paul 10%
Tim Pawlenty 6%
Mitt Romney 28%
Someone else/Not sure 8%

The first action voting is yet months away, and any candidate can blow up him- or herself by then, but the early results are worth watching – and maybe reflective of where the Oregon Republican Party is now.

Here’s some more from the PPP’s analysis:

After a well received debate performance, Michele Bachmann has surged forward. Before the debate, Bachmann garnered 8% nationally; but she has more than doubled this level of support in the three states PPP has polled the primary since the debate. However, if Sarah Palin runs, this isn’t enough to claim the lead in Oregon. Mitt Romney takes the lead with 28%, followed by Bachmann with 18%, Palin with 16%, Ron Paul with 9%, Herman Cain with 8%, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty with 6%, and Jon Huntsman with 0% support.

If Palin does not run, Bachmann is the clear choice of Palin’s supporters while Romney picks up an insignificant share. Bachmann leads with 29% to Romney’s 28%, Paul’s 10%, Gingrich’s 9%, Cain’s 7%, Pawlenty’s 6%, and Huntsman’s 2%. Bachmann’s strength lies in her appeal to very conservative voters who make up 44% of GOP voters in Oregon. If Palin runs, Bachmann wins very conservatives with 24% to Romney’s 22%. This margin is expanded to a 37-26 lead without Palin.

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Sam Reed
Sam Reed

An observation: For decades, the Northwest has been fortunate in its secretaries of state, the people who oversee their states’ elections. It’s a job you can take for granted as long as it’s done well – the big headlines usually emerge when someone has screwed up. And the Northwest secstates have largely managed to avoid those kinds of headlines for a long time.

The odd exception – making headlines in the process of doing things right – is something Washington’s secretary of state, Sam Reed, actually has done on occasion. The big case was Reed’s management and stance in the 2004 Washington gubernatorial contest, an iron challenge for any elections official; Reed emerged having irritated hardcore party loyalists but impressing about everyone else for his ethics and professionalism. In more low-key ways, those qualities were there as well for Washington’s transition to mail voting.

Those thoughts come to mind with Reed’s announcement today that he will not run for a fourth term; he was first elected, after work as the Thurston County auditor, in 2000. (He surely would have had little trouble winning a fourth term if he’d sought it.) He’s set a high bar for whoever his successor may be.

On the political side, there’s a fair guess his successor will be different in at least some ways. Reed has been a centrist Republican, often called a moderate, and threading that ideological needle (centrist + Republican) was tough in 2000 and may be much tougher for a newcomer in 2012.

Take an indicator if you will from the first candidate to announce a run for the job. That would be state Senator Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, who was in (with website and campaign materials prepared) almost immediately after Reed’s announcement. Here is the lead of his announcement statement:

State Senator Jim Kastama (D-Puyallup) thanked Secretary of State Sam Reed for his years of dedicated public service. “Secretary Reed has been a tremendous steward of the State Seal and advocate for the rights of voters in Washington. I deeply respect Sam’s integrity and his commitment to fairness. I wish him and Margie the best.””

We’ll keep a look out for the first Republican candidate(s) and what they say.

UPDATE At least one Republican is now (as of late June 29) in as well: the current Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman. Recall that this is the job Reed held before his statewide election.

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