December 1, 2004


Christine Gregoire, Loser: The verdict is already in. (Knute Berger, 12/01/04, Seattle Weekly)

Ok, it ain't over until the fat lady counts the last provisional ballot. But when it comes to moral victories, Christine Gregoire is already a loser.

The simple fact is, this race never, ever should have been this close. There is no excuse for an outcome in which voters went into the booth and voted for John Kerry, Patty Murray, and Dino Rossi. There is no excuse for spending critical campaign time on a rural road in the Yakima Valley when your urban, Democratic, Puget Sound base—counties like Snohomish and Pierce—aren't secured. There's no excuse for running without a simple, coherent message. There's no excuse for poorly produced TV ads in which a raccoon-eyed candidate convinces viewers that she stands for absolutely nothing. Even Patty Murray's "Harry and David" campaign—in which there was no photo of the Mom in Tennis Shoes in which she was not shown fondling a basket of Red Delicious apples—seemed substantive by comparison. Out-substanced by Patty and Dino? Lordy. Gregoire lost to Rossi by 42 votes (as of this writing); she'd have lost to J.P. Patches in an epic landslide.

Oh, the humanity. Gregoire lost the battle of Armageddon by being outmaneuvered by state Republican Party Chair Chris Vance, who cynically and openly adopted the tactic of appearing to run GOP "moderates" for top offices. He recognized that running divisive conservatives like KVI-AM talk-show host John Carlson and right-wing cranks like Ellen Craswell was a nonstarter. He took advantage of the fact that the bar was set so low for the GOP that he could adopt the Karl Rove approach of running very conservative candidates who seem moderate by dint of personality and who were coached to frame the debate to avoid discussing "divisive" issues. [...]

One almost certain legacy is that her campaign's incompetence has jeopardized other Democrats by validating the GOP strategy: U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell is in serious trouble in 2006 if she draws a Republican opponent who can match her money and her centrism and has a campaign message that connects with voters. The wonkish Cantwell, like Gregoire, is vulnerable as a smart insider who loves policy details but has little ability to paint the big picture for the folks back home. It's one reason she lost her House seat to another faux GOP moderate, Rick White, in 1994. And there might be sexism at work, too: The GOP has discovered that tough ladies are vulnerable to soft soccer dads.

Can't help that Senator Cantwell lost millions when the Internet Bubble burst and violated campaign laws to win her seat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 1, 2004 4:06 PM

Ya gotta love those last two paragraphs quoted. To paraphrase, "How dare the GOP put up serious candidates against the empty facade and left-wing cranks the Dems have to offer..How dare they use our tactics against us!"

As for "tough ladies", why did the Dems put up a divisive left-wing talk show host to run to replace Jennifer Dunn, but never against her?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at December 1, 2004 4:43 PM

Matching Cantwell's centrism and brains . . . is Dr. Niles Crane available to run?

Posted by: AC at December 1, 2004 5:02 PM

For non-NW readers: J.P. Patches is a old-time Seattle favorite clown prince. I think he might have beat Patty Murray and JFK2 too.

Nice Headline, OJ.

Posted by: TimF at December 1, 2004 7:56 PM

Senator Cantwell lost millions...

Ye-ouch !!
I didn't realize that it had been that bad.
If I had gone from +$ 40 million to -$ 4 million, I'd be spending a lot of my time crying.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at December 2, 2004 5:35 AM