We put a fair amount of work – interviews, homework, discussion – into most of our primary endorsements. In a few cases, we don’t have to.
We don’t interview or endorse statewide candidates who don’t have a major party behind them. We like the idea of electing a good maverick as much as anyone, but the odds only stretch so far. The days when George Washington could get elected by ladling out rum from town to town are long gone. If you don’t have a big organization and at least some money behind you, you can’t beat an opponent who does. Like it or not, that’s the way elections work.
Nor do we invest time in felons, cranks, vanity candidates, candidates who’ve invented their own parties, candidates whose statements are riddled with spelling errors, and other sure losers. Their names may appear on the ballot; that doesn’t make them viable candidates.
Here are three primary races in which the strongest Democratic and Republican candidates are self-evident:
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• For the U.S. Senate, it’s incumbent Maria Cantwell and challenger Michael Baumgartner.
Cantwell we all know. Baumgartner is a state senator, former U.S. diplomat and economic development specialist.
They’re opposed by Mike the Mover, perennial pest Will Baker, and several more respectable candidates with minimal or no experience in public office. Enough said.
• For governor, the only real choice is between Attorney General Rob McKenna and former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee.
Their opponents are manifestly not qualified to govern the state or are unable to get elected. One cites his experience as treasurer for his Moose Lodge; another is “proud to have no political experience”; another talks about his “commonsence.”
• Finally there’s the race for lieutenant governor.
The incumbent, Brad Owen, has been lieutenant governor for 16 years and elective state office for 36 years. He is not short on experience. His plausible Republican challenger, Bill Finkbeiner, is a respected former legislator and Senate majority leader.
Glenn Anderson, a veteran state legislator from Fall City, deserves special mention. He’s fit for the office, but he has antagonized his own party by declaring himself an “Independent Republican” instead of a straightforward “Republican.”
Beyond him, there’s a fluoridation crank, a man who hails from “The Party of Commons” and – most colorfully – the “Neopopulist” Dave Sumner IV, self-described as the “founder of The Haunted Church and former U.S. Army cook.”
We’ll stick with the brand-name candidates, thank you, but guys like that can make the voters pamphlet a joy to read.