Sausage Links, Obama effect edition

So much for coattails. It's looking increasingly unlikely that Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire will benefit from the purported "Obama effect" in her re-election bid against Republican Dino Rossi.
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So much for coattails. It's looking increasingly unlikely that Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire will benefit from the purported "Obama effect" in her re-election bid against Republican Dino Rossi.

So much for coattails. As I've said before, it's looking increasingly unlikely that Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire will benefit from the purported "Obama effect" in her re-election bid against Republican Dino Rossi. While Obama has a commanding lead in the latest polls, it appears Gregoire isn't being boosted from the Democrat-running-in-a-Democratic year phenomena. She and Rossi are still deadlocked, though Rossi may be slightly ahead. Why?

Most Republicans these days aren't firing cries of "yes we can" toward Bush-weary voters. But Rossi seems to have turned Obama's famous change mantra into an argument against Gregoire, one that appears to be working. University of Washington professor and Seattle Times blogger David Domke has come to a similar conclusion about the 8th District congressional race between Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert and Democratic challenger Darcy Burner. He notices that Reichert, like Rossi, isn't falling in the polls even as Obama gains. He explains:

1. Rossi and Reichert have successfully — so far at least — avoided the George W. Bush torpedo. Bush's presidential approval ratings are at historic lows, in Richard Nixon territory. Any Republican who is seen as closely tied to Bush or to the poor Republican Party brand is suffering. Rossi has gone so far as to run as the "GOP candidate," forsaking the Republican moniker in a terrible-for-Republicans election cycle. Reichert, for his part, has kept adequate distance from Bush and vice-president Dick Cheney. Advantage Rossi and Reichert.

2. Gregoire and Burner have not delivered compelling economic messages, a crucial detriment in an electoral environment marked by the worst economic downturn since the 1970s. Gregoire is a smart, can-do governor, but she has been unable to make the case that Rossi is too economically risky for the state. In fact, Rossi has had the better of this argument by pinning the current state budget deficit on Gregoire, even though Rossi bears at least some responsibility when in the state Senate.

Burner became a rising star in Democratic Party circles on the strength of her opposition to the Iraq War. In 2006, this issue was front and center for voters across the country, and Democrats rode it into control of the Congress. Burner didn't join them, but she came within 8,000 votes of Reichert. This year the issue has receded in the face of economic crisis, and Burner has struggled to pivot to the economy. It's not an impossible move: Obama has done it ably on the national level. But Burner has not been able to do it yet.

3. Gregoire and Burner have failed to build dynamic emotional connections with voters. Reichert is the sheriff who relentlessly pursued the Green River killer. Rossi is the almost-was-governor candidate, who lost (or had the election stolen) only after three counts of the ballots. Like 'em or not, Rossi and Reichert have powerful stories.

Read the whole thing.

Good, but not good enough: Over the weekend, the editorial board at The Seattle Times endorsed Reichert, saying Burner has "improved considerably" but "not enough to replace" Reichert. The editorial board at the News Tribune, meanwhile, endorsed Gregoire on Saturday, a switch from their 2004 recommendation of Rossi. Their reasoning: "Although we'ꀙve had disagreements with her, we'ꀙve been impressed by her overall performance as governor. ... So despite Rossi'ꀙs appeal, we think Gregoire has earned a second term." ...

Good grief: On Friday, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer recommended that voters reject Initiative 985, the Tim Eyman-sponsored "traffic congestion relief" measure. Eyman responded with a guest editorial in today's paper, saying, "If Olympia is hell-bent to charge us twice with tolls, taxpayers need to be protected." Still, state arts enthusiasts couldn't have been happy to read a report that says I-985 will relieve the Washington of $500,000 worth of public art funding. ...

Goodbye: King County, facing a $93 million budget deficit, is laying off up to 255 workers today, on top of 155 jobs cut last week. ...

First for everything: State Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, and Democratic challenger John Ladenburg participated in what reportedly was "a spirited but civil" debate Monday, with each candidate laying out "differing visions for the job without personal attacks and with some collegiality." Now if only the governor's race were as friendly. ...

Not the first time: Joe Turner at the News Tribune reports the state's tax collections have dropped again, now $48.3 million lower than expected. It's bad news for the Washington's projected budget deficit. ...

First time in a while: Secretary of State Sam Reed says he expects an 83 percent voter turnout on Nov. 4, the highest turnout percentage since World War II. ...

And finally, there's been an interesting development in the campaign for Initiative 1000, the assisted suicide measure. Rich Roesler at the Spokesman-Review notices that while people have been predicting for months that the Catholic Church would pump millions into opposition groups' coffers, it still hasn't happened. And it's mid-October. Currently, the measure's proponents have outraised opponents nearly four to one. ...


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