Government by Will

bak.jpg Guv-to-be?

The Times yesterday told its readers about the slate of 2008 gubernatorial candidates that "More than likely, you've never heard of," and it's clear the Times hadn't heard of them as well - especially perennial also-ran Will Baker.

Baker, of Tacoma, and the other lesser-known candidates for governor, "barring a miracle, have no chance of surviving the Aug. 19 primary and appearing on the November ballot," the Times wrote. "Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire and her Republican challenger, Dino Rossi, are almost certain to be the two candidates still standing after the primary."

The story put Baker at the bottom of the losers list, but what the Times didn't seem to realize is that the self-described International Man of Diplomacy, running for state auditor in 2004, drew just 34,000 fewer votes than Rossi drew in the 2004 gubernatorial primary, and got 44,000 more votes than Rob McKenna did in his ultimately winning bid for attorney general.

Baker's 410,718 votes as the GOP's auditor candidate was all the more stunning since, not only was his effort a memorable showing against incumbent strongman Brian Sonntag, Baker's own party had snubbed him - wouldn't give him money, campaign for him, or even mention him on the GOP website.

That may have had something to do with Baker being arrested 19 times in 12 years, usually for talking. He dominates the microphone at Tacoma City Council meetings to the point that authorities have to be called - though they don't necessarily want to listen to him either: county jailers usually leave his cell door open, hoping he'll just go home.

Baker, whose apparent strategy after a half-dozen tries is to lose by ever-greater vote totals, this time out is running as the Reform Party candidate and is seeking his highest office yet. His future is clearly mapped out: House, Senate, President. Even the Times would have to admit, those would be impressive losses.

And who knows. Maybe voters are tired of both Gregoire and Rossi and their petty and distorted politicking. Having to pick between Gov. Could and Gov. Would, Gov. Will sounds tempting.

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