With the 2010 election all over but the counting – admittedly the counting still is important in a few races – it seems appropriate to look back over the campaign.
It was an avalanche of nasty ads, debates over debates, commercials and visits from out-of-state big shots played out against a backdrop of voters worried about their next paycheck, house payment or bag of groceries. And that’s looking at things as an optimist. Maybe the best that can be said about it is, it’s over. But before it fades from memory, here are some of the highlights and lowlifes of Campaign 2010.
• Get me Don Draper. In trying to explain why health care reform and other Democratic initiatives weren’t more popular, President Barack Obama suggested during a backyard gathering in Seattle that “We had to move so fast. … We didn’t always think about making sure we were advertising properly what was going on.” Like the crew from “Mad Men” could have quelled the tea party revolt.
• Stretching too far. Patty Murray’s campaign staff was practically gleeful when Republican challenger Dino Rossi mishandled a poorly asked question about trade subsidies in a Tacoma editorial board session and seemed not to know much about sanctions involving a new Air Force tanker. But then they over-spun it for a commercial that made Rossi sound like he’d have tankers built in France, prompting news organizations to castigate her campaign and giving fodder to his campaign for – you guessed it – an attack ad of their own.
• He doth protest too much. Asked how his first debate with Murray went, Rossi seemed unhappy that too many questions were “regional” rather than national in scope. Some were about the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and dams, but others were about the economy, cutting the deficit, the war in Afghanistan and “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Rossi said he’d expected a question about bailouts – perhaps because that was one of his key talking points.
• Silly meme. To counter Rossi’s charge that Murray was an 18-year incumbent, the Murray campaign called him “an 18-year candidate.” Catchy, but not true. Was Murray a candidate when she was in office, too?
• In need of a farm team. Eastern Washington Democrats picked a candidate for Congress who finished fourth in the primary. OK, so Daryl Romeyn, the Democratic winner, is well-known from stints as a weatherman on Spokane television. But handpicked candidate Clyde Cordero finished behind Barbara Lampert, a perennial candidate who’s run for different posts for a dozen years. At least Cordero beat David Fox, who moved from Port Angeles to Spokane after filing for the race at the last minute, then lived out of his car, got assaulted for propositioning a man for sex and got a reputation for skipping out on bills at local eateries.
• Most likely to resurface. Clint Didier came off his Eltopia farm, got tea party backing and Sarah Palin’s endorsement for his run for Senate before finishing third behind Rossi. He may have overplayed his hand by conditioning an endorsement for Rossi on demands over taxes, spending and abortion, but he did well enough to be back in the mix in 2012 if he wants.
• Who wants to be a millionaire? Spokane has the distinction – dubious as it is – of being home to the state’s first million-dollar legislative campaign. The 6th District Senate race often tops spending in years when the seat is on the ballot, but if the candidates, parties and their allies will spend a million dollars fighting over a job that pays $42,000, it’s little wonder the state has budget problems.
• Si nking deep. The 6th District also produced one of the nastiest ads, an independent group that accused Chris Marr of sexual harassment at his old company, something the victim of the harassment said wasn’t true. But what do you expect from a group calling itself Spokane Families for Change, a shadow PAC that consisted of no families and no one from Spokane?
• Coming out of nowhere. At the end of filing week, Spokane County Treasurer Skip Chilberg appeared a lock for re-election. He was the only one who filed for the job. In August, Libertarian- turned-Republican Rob Chase filed as a write-in, got enough votes in the primary to qualify for the Nov. 2 ballot, and appears to have won the job. Before that, Chase had run – the traditional way – for the Legislature and Congress without success.