The congressional race in the 8th District doesn't get much attention. With incumbent Republican Dave Reichert viewed as safe from the challenge of relatively unheard of Democrat Karen Porterfield, thanks to what's considered to be a GOP-friendly redraw for the district and a huge advantage in fundraising, the result of the election is often considered a foregone conclusion: Reichert is setup to dominate.
*See Also: James Windle's Wood
While Porterfield balks at such categorizations, citing past election results and polling she's commissioned that show the 8th to be far more independent and free thinking than most give it credit for, she's relatively alone in her optimism. Most have counted Porterfield out, and moved on to thinking about sexier races.
Sadly, at least to those inclined to follow such things, one of the most intriguing aspect of the race in the 8th disappeared after the primaries - James Windle. Windle, as you'll recall, was the independent candidate who made a name for himself jogging around with a massive log on his back, attempting to bring attention to his campaign and his calls to end bullshit political gridlock by showing his bizarre workout regimen to the masses.
It was a fairly ingenious shtick - at least for getting recognized - but it met limited success. Windle mustered just over 5,000 votes in the August primary - or 4.03 percent. Since ending his campaign, the Independent has spent time with family near his Snoqualmie Pass home and plotted ways to further spread his message - including penning op-eds urging Democrats and Republicans to quit the bickering and get down to work.
With a knowledge of the 8th that's greater than most people's, and an extensive history working in D.C., Windle can comment on the action - or lack thereof - in 8th with authority. And, from his "Windependent" perspective, the plot is playing out fairly predictably, given the means of the respective candidates - neither of which he's officially endorsed or donated to since exiting the race.
Windle agrees with the masses who say the 8th leans Republican, noting that Democrats only received 34 percent of the total vote in the August primary. But that's not to say he thinks the race is completely devoid of intrigue.
"The only factor of uncertainty is the 8th District Independent. Independents tend not to vote in primaries. A Democratic poll earlier this year found over one-third of the re-drawn 8th identified as Independent," says Windle. "It is difficult to imagine a major swing this general election to spell victory for a Democrat this cycle, but watching this is what makes politics so exciting."
While Windle isn't the only person to note that Independents may play a large role in deciding the 8th's Election Day fate, he's also not the only person to admit that Reichert's sizeable 15-1 fundraising advantage will likely be impossible for Porterfield to overcome.
"I am one who likes to think David can beat Goliath," says Windle, "but it does not happen very often."
Windle says campaign finance reform - specifically a constitutional amendment - is needed to balance uneven playing fields like the one Porterfield and Reichert are doing battle on. He also believes that grassroots efforts and extensive social media campaigns like Porterfield's, while nice in theory, can't completely overcome a hole like the one created by Reichert's 15-1 fundraising advantage.
"Social media and grassroots campaigning are sort of fool's gold in 2012," offers Windle, going on to say that what may have worked for Obama in 2008 probably won't be as effective when employed by a candidate without sufficient means to engage in parallel traditional campaigning. "I am skeptical that social media and grassroots can serve as a stand-alone campaign strategy for national office to consistently defeat well-funded candidates with professional campaigns."
In other words, advantage Reichert, no matter how frequently Porterfield tweets.