Senator Patty Murray’s 2010 Republican Opponent?
Posted by Warren Peterson on December 5, 2009
Almost three decades ago, when Washington State was Red, Republicans held both Senate seats with Slade Gorton who upset Warren Magnuson in 1980 and Dan Evans who was appointed in 1983 due to the death of Henry Jackson. Gorton lost reelection to Congressman Brock Adams in 1986 but made a come back in 1988 when Evans declined to seek reelection and Gorton won the Jackson/Evans seat. Since Gorton’s narrow loss to former Congresswoman Maria Cantwell in 2000, the GOP has been shut out despite running well qualified candidates – Congressman George Nethercutt against Murray in 2004 and Safeco CEO Mike McGavick against Cantwell in 2006.
Seattle Times columnist Joni Balter recites the recent history of Republican efforts to regain at least one of the State’s U.S. Senate seats. She rightly notes that Republicans have been crushed in the last two Senate elections and don’t appear to be developing a viable 2010 challenger to three term Democrat Senator Patty Murray. She dismisses three well known names: Susan Hutchison (just lost the race for King County Executive), Congressman Dave Reichert (why risk losing his Congressional seat to a Democrat) and Attorney General Rob McKenna (wants to run for Governor). In all, Balter paints a gloomy picture of Republican prospects against Murray.
So far, five candidates that seem to be Republican have web sites indicating interest in running for Murray’s seat: a chiropractor, a former pro football player, a long haul truck driver, a motivational speaker and an energy trader. None would appear to have the political base or fund raising capability to become viable candidates. One source said Cantwell spent $14 million to beat McGavick (at $10.8 million) in the 2006 race. Through the first three months of 2009, Senator Murray reportedly had over $3.2 million cash in the bank for 2010. To mount a credible challenge, it would cost what, ten, fifteen million dollars or more?
Still, Murray could be beaten. How? First, nationalize the campaign. Focus on the Democrat’s profligate spending, opposition to Obamacare, Democrat proposed tax increases, failure of the administration policies on employment, the economy, the climate and international relations. Tie Murray to all these issues. Make bringing home the pork, at which she excels, a negative because it is bankrupting the country. As a sycophant of Obama/Reid/Pelosi, point out that she shares the blame for the unsettled and fearful state of the nation. Appeal to those who support term limits; eighteen years as a senator is enough. Put her on the defensive.
Second, find a candidate with proven electability, a political base, ability to raise money and willing to go for the jugular. Three come to mind, at least for the first three requirements – County Council members Kathy Lambert and Reagan Dunn and Sheriff Sue Rahr. All of them were reelected last November. Even if they lost, a run for the Senate would give them statewide exposure for the 2012 elections.
An extremely steep uphill battle, no question, but politics is a fickle business, just ask Hillary Clinton. Voter disillusionment with the “change” they got in 2008 may offer the GOP an opportunity in 2010.
Cross posted on Sound Politics