So US Representative Jim McDermott has graciously bowed out of next year's race to unseat US Senator Slade Gorton. Guess this means that Martha Choe, Sue Donaldson, Frank Chopp, Phil Talmadge, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and Norm and Constance Rice can go on with their lives.
Watching the Democratic elite lick their collective lips at the thought of a 7th District open seat (and the prospect of winning a crowded primary with a measly 20 percent of the total vote) has been the most enjoyable aspect of Slippery Slade's march to yet another term.
Where the Demos got the idea that McDermott could be the powerhouse challenger to finally upset the venerable incumbent is anybody's guess. Sunny Jim hasn't run statewide in many moons (and has never won) and has long languished in the Sleepy 7th, a Congressional district created after Republicans gave up on ever fielding a successful candidate within Seattle city limits. The only time that the average state voter has read McDermott's name over the last decade, he was either 1) talking about Canada's health care system, or 2) stealing people's cell phone calls. Some powerhouse.
What's more, despite a perfectly good candidate in state insurance commissioner Deborah Senn (two big wins in two statewide elections) some D's are now bleating about resurrecting the long-dormant political career of former US Rep. Maria Cantwell. Well, Cantwell is now a computer millionaire, so she could engage in a Ross Perot-like orgy of self-funding. But, beyond that, where's the attraction? Cantwell barely won the 1st Congressional District seat in 1992, then lost it in 1994. In between, all she did was gather up special interest money and use it to run dumb negative campaign ads. Take away her computer megabucks and you've got Jay Inslee's 1996 gubernatorial campaign.
Maybe the D's should just agree to run nobody in exchange for a cut of Slade's cash-laden treasury. Or they should consider the words of the Democratic insider who, after outlining Senn's drawbacks, noted offhandedly, "Well, the voters like her."
Breaking the initiative
The clever maneuvering of the Seattle City Council to first approve Initiative 45, a protest measure cleverly disguised as an alternative funding plan for library improvements, and later dismantle it may have run into a bump in the road. Antitax stalwart Fred Bucke points out that Seattle's City Charter could still force a vote this year on I-45. Bucke notes that the charter (article IV, section 1-D, for you folks who like to look things up) gives the council just 45 days to think about their response to a successful citizens' initiative. Instead the council let it languish for nine months and then quietly adopted it a couple weeks ago. An inspection of the charter seems to support Bucke's contention—now who's going to take this case to court?
Old question, new answer
Boilerplate questions are an inevitable annoyance for any candidate, but sometimes there's a least a decent joke there. Like council hopeful Charlie Chong, who took a jab at political rival Mark Sidran when asked where the city could trim costs. "With great delight," replied Chong, "I'd cut the city attorney's budget."
Money matters, doesn't it?
Council position 7 candidate Heidi Wills is showing her talents as a money-magnet. The born politician has reported $60,512 in campaign donations as of mid-August, ten grand more than the combined totals of her opponents Charlie Chong ($24,370) and Thomas Whittemore ($22,803).
Beyond the Wills cash machine, these have been pretty anemic times as far as raising the green in the former Emerald City. Television journalist Jim Compton, armed with $7,325 (mostly out of his own pocket), seems poised to ride his hard-earned name recognition into the finals in the position 9 race. Among his opponents, former state Rep. Dawn Mason ($38,075) and publisher Alec Fisken ($43,281) have reasonable totals, but Fisken has more cash salted away for a preprimary run. The fourth candidate in the race, neighborhood activist Andrew Scully, has raised just $6,252.
In the position 1 race, Cheryl Chow went oh-for-July without a single donation reported. Obviously, the former two-term incumbent is counting on a free pass in the primary, but opponents Dan Norton ($4,974 in July, $17,467 overall) and Judy Nicastro (an impressive $11,091 monthly total, $22,803 overall) aren't exactly taking it easy. Chow is still the top fundraiser in her race at $29,910, but given Nicastro's increasing momentum, it seems past time for the ex-council member to get back on the phone.
Backers of City Council incumbent Margaret Pageler are crying foul over continuing media reports that their candidate has a teeming campaign war chest. Although Pageler's campaign has technically gathered 50 grand in this election cycle, the numbers are deceiving as the candidate (to her credit) has donated almost $14,000 to herself in order to pay for her constituent newsletter, Pageler Pages. Fair enough. Moreover, when you compare Pageler's cash intake since April 1 against that of her closest challenger, Curt Firestone, the incumbent's fundraising edge tumbles to just $32,203 to Firestone's $25,702. Thanks for the correction, folks, but didn't Pageler's campaign look more impressive when we had the numbers wrong?