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Sunday Spin: A choice at age 1

TACOMA -- It could be argued that persons who bring small children to state conventions should be reported to Child Protective Services. But one might also admire a politician who shows up with his own baby to kiss, or to have as a reason for a celebration.

So Spin Control will not drop a dime on Michael Baumgartner, the current state senator from Spokane who would like to be the next U.S. senator from Washington. As is required for someone aspiring to such high office, Baumgartner and his campaign staff had a table in the hall outside the state convention and worked the crowd. Also in attendance were Baumgartner’s wife, Eleanor, and their son Conrad, who had the good or bad fortune to turn 1 on Friday.

Not to let an opportunity go to waste, Baumgartner enlisted former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton to help with a Gorton family ritual. On a child’s first birthday, he or she was presented with three items, a coin, a book or a bottle. The one the child picked up supposedly foreshadowed his or her future.

A coin meant they would be good at business; a book meant a scholar, and a bottle meant they’d be "sociable." Gorton said he picked the book.

With many Eastern Washington’s convention goers watching, the three choices were placed before Conrad, who quickly chose the coin. Perhaps he’ll grow up to provide the financial support for a politician father, the elder Baumgartner said.

To be fair, it should be noted that young Conrad may have been swayed by something that happened a few minutes earlier, when he grabbed a foil-wrapped chocolate coin, and munched it long enough to break through to the chocolate. The actual quarter he chose seemed a bit of a disappointment before it was quickly removed from his grasp.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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