April 17, 2006


Cantwell-McGavick Senate race a contrast of moderates (Alex Fryer, 4/17/06, Seattle Times)

Despite their stark differences, the matchup between Cantwell and McGavick presents a contrast of moderates.

Cantwell alienated some in her party for supporting the Iraq war, and she was one of only 19 Democrats who opposed an attempt to block Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court in January.

McGavick notes with pride that his opposition to a federal abortion ban received a chilly reception from the Washington Federation of Republican Women. And last week, he issued a news release contending the Congress and White House — both controlled by Republicans — were partly to blame for high gas prices. [...]

Cantwell, 47, is single and a die-hard baseball fan, keeping track of Mariner games on a white board in her Senate office.

A former state legislator and House member, Cantwell poured $10 million of her own money into defeating Republican Slade Gorton by 2,229 votes in 2000 — a squeaker that instantly made her re-election a matter of speculation.

While she's not known as a firebrand in the Senate, Cantwell issues a steady stream of news releases expressing outrage over issues ranging from lax border security to gaps in the Medicare drug program, each promising that Cantwell's opponents have a fight on their hands. Even her allies urged her to concentrate on fewer issues. Cantwell's greatest successes recently involve energy policy, most prominently, her support of the Snohomish County Public Utility District in its legal troubles with Enron, and her victory keeping oil companies out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

The League of Conservation Voters was so impressed with Cantwell's environmental record, it endorsed her more than a year before the election.

That's what Peter House wants the party faithful to remember on Election Day. But the chairman of the 36th District Democrats in Ballard says many on the left are baffled by Cantwell's support of the Iraq war.

"The group that is most upset about the war is disproportionately the people who get off their butts in campaigns," House said, adding that there's a perception that Cantwell has been "fairly tight-lipped" about her war views.

Unlike other pro-war Democrats such as Reps. Norm Dicks of Bremerton and Adam Smith of Tacoma, Cantwell so far has refused to characterize her 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq invasion as a mistake.

Instead, she focuses on the future of the occupation rather than how she would have voted in hindsight.

"2006 needs to be a year of transition, and I'm fighting to get the Iraqi people on their feet and get our troops home," she said.

"Did you think we needed to get rid of Saddam Hussein? Yes, and on the resolution I haven't changed my mind. I'm going to talk to them [anti-war Democrats] about what I think we need in 2006, and they can make the judgment on that."

This is the kind of race where the ideologues of both parties would prefer their own nominee lose to prove a point.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 17, 2006 9:11 AM
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