OLYMPIA -- Washington Republicans wasted no time in drawing political lines from Massachusetts to the Evergreen State, hoping Scott Brown's U.S. Senate victory is a harbinger for this fall.
State GOP Chairman Luke Esser said he couldn't speculate on possible gains yet because so many candidates "have not been locked down yet." But he believes Brown's victory might convince Republicans who have so far been reluctant to enter a race to jump in.
He promised a strong challenge to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a three-term Democrat up for re-election this year. The race has thus far drawn a field of relatively unknown Republican challengers, but Esser said it shouldn't be written off as unwinnable. A few months ago, similar things had been said about the prospects of a Republican "winning Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts," he added.
But, he added "We're still looking for that Scott Brown candidate."
In several recent statewide elections, the state GOP has coalesced behind a favored candidate early, including Dino Rossi in the 2004 and 2008 governor's race and Mike McGavick in the 2006 Senate race. That's "the old paradigm," Esser said; this year the party will let the rank and file pick a candidate through the primaries.
"In the current atmosphere, it's important to let the grassroots know it's not going to be a top-down, heirarchical decision," he said.