A liberal political group just made it a whole lot easier for a right-wing teabag nut to snatch away a congressional seat from under our eyes in liberal Seattle. The seat has been held by a liberal Democrat since 1999, but with redistricting it is considered a swing district now.
An attack mailing provides ammunition for the Republicans in the general election this November. Hey guys, did you forget that Congress is up for grabs? Democrats will never take back Congress if liberals attack each other this way.
Five Democrats are vying for the seat against a far-right Republican and an independent. The winner will replace Jay Inslee, who resigned in March to focus on a tough race for Washington governor.
–Suzan DelBene, a former Microsoft executive, has the endorsement of outgoing Gov. Christine Gregoire; DelBene previously ran for Congress unsuccessfully in a different district before redistricting.
–Darcy Burner, who leads the Democrats in the polls, also lost a previous race for Congress before redistricting. She headed a progressive organization.
–Laura Ruderman served in the Washington state legislature and lost a race for state attorney general.
–Steve Hobbs, a state legislator, touts his experience as being able to work well with Republicans. This won him the endorsement of the Seattle Times, which also endorsed Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna this year and George W. Bush in the past.
An immigrant businessman with no political experience is given little chance of prevailing.
Whoever wins the Aug. 7 primary will face Republican John Koster, who lost a previous election for Congress before redistricting. Koster, a religious right robot, has predictable positions on family planning, marriage equality, health care, energy, gun rights, and taxation. He aligns perfectly with people in Utah or Mississippi, not lefty Seattle.
A mailing from the shadowy Progress for Washington told voters “Nearly every business Suzan DelBene ran eventually failed.” The mailer made DelBene look as if she ran Bain Capital with Mitt Romney. If DelBene wins the nomination, you can bet Koster and his deep-pocket backers will use this attack mailing to their benefit.
Local news reports describe Progress for Washington as being headed by Jeremy Pemble, a contributor to Ruderman’s campaign. Ruderman told me, “I don’t know anything about this. I have been very clear in the press that whichever Democrat comes out of the primary can’t be bloodied and broken.”
Now it’s up to Washington state Democratic Chair Dwight Pelz to do some serious ass kicking. He and top elected Democrats in Washington need to get tough with Pemble and anyone else with lame-brained notions that will hurt Democrats this fall. President Obama is sure to take the state’s 12 electoral votes, but some state-wide races and congressional seats could flip to the Republicans. Guys like Pemble should not be helping the other side.
It’s already a tough race, and this attack makes it even tougher. The newly redrawn First Congressional District has been described as the most evenly drawn district in the state and possibly, even in the nation. After Washington was awarded a new 10th seat in the House of Representatives starting this election, a bi-partisan commission sliced and diced the existing nine districts to form the new one.
The First District now comprises suburbs to the north, east and west of Seattle and has been represented by Democrats and moderate Republicans for decades. Redistricting, however, drastically changed the geographical configuration starting in this year’s election. The First still includes some suburbs of liberal Seattle, but also reaches all the way to the Canadian border to include Bellingham and rural, conservative inland areas.
Polls show Koster with the support of 46 percent of voters in the district going into the primary, far more than any of the Democrats. If Koster looks to be within reach after the primary, outside groups funded by the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove will surely pour money into the district to swing the fall election.
A filing with the Federal Election Commission said that Progress for Washington spent $21,328 on the DelBene attack mailing. They sure fooled me. When I first saw it, I thought it was funded by a right-wing Political Action Committee, because they are the clear beneficiaries.
John Wright is the author of “The Obama Haters: Behind the Right-Wing Campaign of Lies, Innuendo & Racism” and co-author of “Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift to a New Energy Future.”