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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Sunday Spin: Labor Day marks start of current and future election seasons

Labor Day weekend is the point in the calendar when average folks start paying attention to this year’s elections. It’s also the point when political junkies start getting serious about next year’s elections.

There was a time when all elections, even the big Kahuna of them all, the presidential race, stayed relatively quiet until the fall before the voting started. That’s gone by the wayside, as anyone following this summer’s daily Trump-athon, will attest. But for down ticket races, Labor Day plus one is about the earliest you can get anyone other than the big money sources to pay attention to you.

This week, Republican Chris Vance may announce he’ll run against Democrat Patty Murray, who next year will seek her fifth term in the U.S. Senate. The GOP, which in 1992 was openly dismissive of the young legislator’s prospects of moving from Olympia to Washington, D.C., has discovered nearly a quarter century later that folks aren’t standing in line to take her on.

In the past she has dispatched Republican opponents who looked strong, at least on paper. For Reps. Rod Chandler, Linda Smith and George Nethercutt and former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, the loss wasn’t quite “a one-way ticket to Palookaville”, but it wasn’t a resume builder, either.

Vance, on paper, seems an interesting match. A former state Republican chairman, he was also a state legislator and a King County councilman. These days he’s a lobbyist and a “usual suspect” rounded up for political commentary and insight on a fairly regular basis.

Democrats aren’t even waiting for him to announce, sending out quotes from the last decade where Vance was supporting certain policies of George W. Bush – as if, the state Republican chairman, would wax poetic about what a great guy Democratic nominee John Kerry.

In their quiver, however, are arrows that may be more damaging: Examples of times when Vance opined for various reporters that Murray was a skilled lawmaker who worked behind the scenes to get important things like a budget deal done.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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