Does Washington state count for much in the presidential campaigns? It's taken itself out of the primary contests, though the state is a good grazing pasture for contributions. But come November election might it be a contest and therefore worth campaigning in? Even for a Republican? Liz Mair, a conservative columnist writing for the Post-Intelligencer, cites October and November SurveyUSA polls that indicate that John McCain could run a good race in the Evergreen state against Hillary Clinton, beating her by one point in October but sliding to 43-52 in November. Rudy Giuliani matches up 43-50 against Clinton, with Hillary in the lead. The weak candidate is Mitt Romney, trailing Clinton by 37-57 in the November survey. Washington hasn't gone for a Republican presidential candidate since Reagan in 1984, and has probably gotten more blue in the Bush Era. But even if the state becomes a medium long-shot for the Republicans, they will campaign here, stir up the troops, and try to distract the Democratic candidate into spending valuable time and money in an otherwise surefire state. Putting the state in play also has big implications for the other races in 2008. Stirring up the base will help Dino Rossi in his campaign against Gov. Gregoire. By contrast, if the Republicans nominate someone like Romney or Huckabee, who would have little appeal in Washington, the base will stay home and zip up its wallet. But if Rossi needs excitement at the top, it's different farther down the ticket, in the likely race of Attorney General Rob McKenna against Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. The dynamics work the other way. An exciting presidential race and gubernatorial race would suck up money and media attention, making it harder for the challenger, Democrat Ladenburg, to compete. Ladenburg told me this week that he's waiting for a statewide Democratic poll in January before making his decision to run or go back to private practice as a lawyer. He ran before for the office, losing to Gregoire in the primary. This time, he doesn't want to get into the race unless there's a good chance of winning and ample funding. "I don't want to get into a gunfight armed only with a knife," he says. If Ladenburg bows out, there are no strong Democrats waiting in the wings.