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Spin Control: McMorris Rodgers for veep makes rounds

A political website in the other Washington suggests a certain congresswoman from this Washington could get the No. 2 spot on the GOP presidential ticket this fall.

The Daily Caller quotes Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway as saying Cathy McMorris Rodgers would fill the bill as a vice presidential selection that “needs to be a surprise, but not a shocker.”

The site recounts parts of McMorris Rodgers’ bio that could make her a good pick, at least on paper: daughter of fruit farmers, first in her family to attend college, married to a retired naval pilot, only woman to have two kids while in Congress, founder of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus after her first child, Cole, was born with that condition, leadership post in the House Republican Caucus, from a Western state …

One thing the list doesn’t mention is that McMorris Rodgers is very much up on social media, sort of the Twitter maven for the House GOP. Probably a skill that any Republican contender could put to use.

“As a young conservative well known by the press if not the public, McMorris Rodgers is a contradiction: a familiar outsider, a seasoned political pro working just under the radar,” the post says.

McMorris Rodgers endorsed Mitt Romney, and serves as his state chairwoman. If someone else gets the GOP nomination, this might be an even longer long shot.

Even though her office sent out a copy of the post, the Eastern Washington Republican wasn’t taking calls last week for comment on the article. Her spokesman Todd Winer said she considered it “way too early to speculate” if she’d take the spot if it were offered.

“It’s never a bad thing to have people include her in the discussion; it really validates her work and growing influence in national politics,” Winer said in an email. “But she’s 100 percent focused on her current job.”

As part of that job, McMorris Rodgers showed up on CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report” Friday evening after unemployment figures came in at their lowest point in nearly three years. She stuck with key GOP talking points that recovery isn’t because of President Barack Obama but despite his policies, that he shouldn’t have given money to Solyndra, that he should’ve approved the Keystone XL pipeline.

“What if the president would’ve said yes to the Keystone project? How would that have impacted this jobs report?” she asked. (Possible answer: Hardly, if at all. Friday’s report is for a time mostly before Obama made his decision. Even if he said yes rather than no on Jan. 23, construction wouldn’t be up and running full bore overnight.)

She couldn’t duck Kudlow’s question about her interest in the veep spot: “It’s flattering to have my name mentioned,” she said before pivoting back to the attack on Obama’s economic policies.

Being suggested for the No. 2 slot this early rarely pans out. Better to stay below the radar. At this time four years ago, most people didn’t know Sarah Palin was the governor of Alaska. At this point in 1988, most people outside of Indiana had never heard of Dan Quayle.

Palin and Quayle were “shockers,” Conway says; McMorris Rodgers would just be a “surprise.”

It could be an unpleasant surprise, or at least a significant problem, for Washington Republicans. If tradition holds, the veep selection wouldn’t be named until or just before the Republican National Convention, which runs Aug. 27-30. But to hold her House seat, McMorris Rodgers will have to run in the 5th District congressional primary on Aug. 7. She’s the prohibitive favorite to come through the Top 2, but the results won’t be certified for the November ballot until Aug. 24.

Washington state law doesn’t allow a person to be on the ballot in two major races. So she’d have to withdraw from the congressional race after qualifying in the primary, and the Republican Party would have to come up with a replacement.

There would be no shortage of Republicans raising their hands to be considered for the job. The decision would have to be made quickly because county auditors all over the state will be rushing to get ballots printed to be mailed to troops overseas by Sept. 22.

The real beneficiary of prolonged “Cathy for Veep” chatter could be Eastern Washington Democrats, who might be shaken out of their political torpor at the prospect of having a viable candidate in the right place if lightning strikes.

Spin Control, a weekly column by Olympia bureau reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items, reader comments and videos at blogs/spincontrol.