Last night I took a trip to Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner's "victory party" at the Mustard Seed in Bellevue. Despite preliminary margins showing Burner trailing incumbent Republican Sen. Dave Reichert by 3 percent, spirits at Camp Burner were high. When the candidate took the stage, her supporters roared – while Reichert's slim lead seemed to bother them about as much as gold medals bother Michael Phelps. Rematch 2008 is on.
Burner was all smiles. Even after I mentioned that Washington State Republican Party chairman Luke Esser told KOMO-1000 radio "it was a good night for Republicans," Burner responded: "You know, I think tonight shows it's going to be devastating for [Republicans] in November," because Reichert – as an incumbent – failed to reach a 50 percent majority.
That's some significant spin, considering Burner didn't even capture 45 percent of the vote. (Wouldn't it be interesting to ask what incumbent Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire – who received less than 50 percent in the polls – would have to say about that?) Still, both the Burner and Reichert campaigns tried to downplay last night's implications. From the AP:
Sandeep Kaushik, the spokesman for Burner's campaign, said she is focusing on November, and wouldn't be surprised if Reichert polled better on Tuesday.
"We thought going in that Congressman Reichert has all the power on his side," Kaushik said on Monday.
Reichert's campaign similarly downplayed the results, which won't be complete for several days as mail-in ballots trickle in.
"Speculation is all over the map," said Amanda Halligan, a spokeswoman for Reichert's campaign. "What the results will be and what the results will mean."
For my money, I'm sticking with Seattle Times reporter David Postman's prediction that "tonight's results won't predict much at all."