The Great Mentioner has been frustrated by all the folks dropping out of 2012 Washington state races. More hope lies in the Seattle mayor's race, though that's not to 2013.
True, alacrity to endorse is rewarded by fellow pols, but it did seem rather hasty when: Rep. Dave Reichert climbed right aboard the Rob McKenna bandwagon; King County Executive Dow Constantine, rather than flirting with us a little, signed on for Jay Inslee as governor; John McKay, the Bush-defying former U.S. Attorney toying with an intriguing race, as an independent, for attorney general, toppled into the arms of Reagan Dunn; Sen. Lisa Brown of Spokane rushed to the side of Inslee; and Port Commissioner Bill Bryant, a possible independent candidate for governor, dashed into hiding until the fall. At least state auditor Brian Sonntag, in pulling out of the governor's race after showing a little leg, had the mischief-making flair to not endorse fellow Democrat Inslee.
What's the sport in all this? Besides, if all we have is Inslee and McKenna (and Dunn and Bob Ferguson) battling for 18 months and facing each other in two identical contests, who is going to care about the winner at the end? The G.M. would therefore urge the following to at least jump in for a few months to test the waters: Rep. Reuven Carlyle, an independent Democrat bursting with ideas; Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark and Treasurer Jim McIntire; and Sen. Joe Zarelli, the rare Republican who can actually make deals. Others, hoping for a shot at a Congressional seat, pending redistricting, might be disappointed and jump to a state race.
The one interesting open seat is Secretary of State, being vacated by Sam Reed, who is retiring. Reed is the fourth in a series of remarkably brainy and courageous Republicans who have held this seat: Lud Kramer, Bruce Chapman, Ralph Munro, and Reed. It's an ideal job for floating new ideas, freelancing into dangerous waters (saving orcas, looking at race relations, shaking up primary election rules) before normal politicians dare. I think Bill Stafford, Seattle's ambassador-to-everything, ought to take the post, but I'd settle for Cary Bozeman, Puget Sound's mayor-of-everywhere.
The Seattle mayor's race, maybe because the incumbent is such a wounded porcupine, is more like it. True, there is one recent scratch: King County Councilmember Larry Phillips, who tells me in ringing tones (his normal speaking manner) that he has absolutely no interest in running for mayor. Period. But then, here comes Maud Daudon being urged by a group of women admirers, "Mad about Maud," who want her to run. Daudon was deputy mayor under Paul Schell and has since gone on to glory in finance and as the enlightened current chair of the Chamber of Commerce. Sally Clark, the loved-by-all and most-wonkish member of the city council, at least has the decency to not say no to hints she might run. Anne Levinson, another former deputy mayor (under Norm Rice), is said to be testing the water temperature. Former city councilmember Peter Steinbrueck confesses he has some days when he thinks he might consent to run for mayor. An amiable novice, commercial real estate salesman Charlie Staadeker, is bending ears of folks at downtown Seattle clubs with his unlikely quest for the job.
The real game changer is Ron Sims, freshly back from his unhappy post as deputy secretary at HUD and declining to swear off future local races (though not this year). Sims has legions of admirers, but a lot of his political allies really put themselves out to get Sims the federal job (Sims' whole staff at King County Executive was given over to this quest in his last, distracted year). And then he quits after two years! Still, Sims is a larger-than-life figure in local politics, and if he gets his steam engine stoked up again, watch out. He would be the left-most candidate in the mayor's race, which is to say the likely winner. Whether Seattle could survive such a mayoralty is another question, one beyond the expertise of the G.M.