Midday Scan Monday: Races for governor, Congress in play

Rob McKenna may be doing well, but can he defy the gravity of demographics? Democrats float a short-termer to fill 1st Congressional District seat. Everett loses City Councilmember Drew Nielsen to rafting accident.
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Rob McKenna

Rob McKenna may be doing well, but can he defy the gravity of demographics? Democrats float a short-termer to fill 1st Congressional District seat. Everett loses City Councilmember Drew Nielsen to rafting accident.

In 1970, George H.W. Bush stood on a dais and conceded a hard-fought U.S. Senate race to Lloyd Bentsen. "The problem is there are just too many Democrats in Texas," he said. (It's a hilarious statement, but this was 1970, and Bush was spot on.) For Attorney General Rob McKenna, the Bush maxim that demographics-trumps-all is the burr that irritates the most. You can run a pitch-perfect campaign, but it's still a hurdle for a Republican to win the Washington governorship.  

"The Washington governor's race is effectively tied six months out from Election Day, a new KING 5 News poll shows," King5.com's Russ Walker writes. "Forty percent of Washington voters said they would vote for the Republican candidate, Attorney General Rob McKenna, if the election were held today. That's just two points more than the 38 percent who said they would support former congressman Jay Inslee, the Democrat."

A few outstanding questions include what to make of the huge percentage of undecideds (22 percent), the Obama coattail effect (presupposing there is such a thing), and the vagaries of a large bloc of independents. Given McKenna's numbers in a big D state, he's doing pretty well. 

Everett, the city of smokestacks, is a poorer place after the rafting death of City Councilmember Drew Nielsen. Nielsen, 61, was killed on Saturday while whitewater rafting on the Green River with his wife and friends. A rare, service-before-self lawmaker, Nielsen gave politics a good name (and at a time when Snohomish County has dropped into a malaise regarding trust in government.)  Along with councilmembers Brenda Stonecipher and Paul Roberts, Nielsen has been Horatius at the bridge against anything-goes developers. He was farsighted and thoughtful, something the Herald's Debra Smith captures well.

Snohomish County Council member Brian Sullivan, the consummate history fiend, might be able to add "U.S. Congressman" to his resume (at least for December of 2012.) As the Herald's Jerry Cornfield reports, "Snohomish County Council Chairman Brian Sullivan said Sunday he's agreed to be the Democratic Party's candidate in this year's special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee."

It's a sweet opportunity that may not require a ton of campaigning (disclosure: Sullivan attended this Midday Scan's author's wedding, although he was properly relegated to the "Irish only" table.) A potential stumbling block is Sullivan's assertion that he can hold on to his elected county position while also serving in Congress. Has Brian been studying Huey Long? "The U.S. Constitution bars members of Congress from working a second federal job but is less clear about holding a second political position such as a county council member," Cornfield writes.  

Washington's whooping cough epidemic has made the New York Times. The only problem is that the resource-strapped theme almost makes the state sound like Oregon (just kidding, I mean Mississippi.) As the New York Times' Kirk Johnson writes, "Here in Skagit County, about an hour’s drive north of Seattle — the hardest-hit corner of the state, based on pertussis cases per capita — the local Public Health Department has half the staff it did in 2008. Preventive care programs, intended to keep people healthy, are mostly gone." 

Lastly, Seattle's David Horsey got a lot of traffic on his "Does Mitt Romney still have a high school bully inside?" cartoon and analysis. Romney-as-bully is one sorry image. 

Link Summary


King5.com, "Poll: Washington Governor's race a toss-up"

The Herald, "Everett official who died on river is called expert rafter"

The Herald, "County official to run for month-long Congress post" 

New York Times"Cutbacks hurt a state's response to whooping cough"

Los Angeles Times, "Does Mitt Romney still have a high school bully inside?" 


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson