Friday, November 09, 2012

McKenna Conceded, So Let's Start Looking at 2016

I'm still rather shocked that Rob McKenna lost.

He'd won statewide races before; Inslee hadn't.  Inslee's campaign was a bit of a shambles early on, until he won the August primary and never looked back.  McKenna had been priming for this run since arguably his days on the King County Council, had the state GOP as confident as they've ever been, and still--it didn't happen.

We've known arguably for 5 years that Rob McKenna would be the GOP candidate in 2012.  Rossi had to get another swing at the pinata after coming so close in 2004, but McKenna was clearly next in line.  Who's next in line after Rob McKenna?

Let's set aside, first, the most recent GOP candidates for US Senator.  Dino Rossi (2010) has already had two tries, and Michael Baumgartner (2012) may not poll above 40%.  Conceivably Clint Didier, who lost to Rossi in the 2010 primary (and this year for Lands Commissioner) could try to step up to a run for Governor, but he's also a two-time loser.

What about the GOP Congressional delegation?  Certainly not Doc Hastings.  Dave Reichert is an interesting possibility, given his King County connections, and the state just elected a Representative to be their Governor, but the rumors about his health could dog him, and running for statewide office is a different proposition than winning the 8th CD.  Cathy McMorris-Rogers could eventually be Speaker of the House, would have to give up her House seat to run for Governor, and has a sinecure in her CD that is nearly unmatched, so I don't think she'd try.

Jamie Herrera-Beutler would be interesting.  She's an attractive candidate and a good public speaker, but has been dogged by stories that she doesn't have town hall meetings because she can't handle them, and as Craig Pridemore sadly discovered coming out of Southwest Washington to win a statewide office isn't an easy thing to do.

What about other recent Republican losers for statewide office?  We've already talked about Didier.  James Watkins wasn't able to take out Troy Kelley after smearing him like mad.  Reagan Dunn just tripped over his stepping stone when he lost the Attorney General contest to Bob Ferguson, and on this line you can't get from point A to point C if you're not able to touch point B first.  John Adams and Sharon Haunek aren't viable.

From the legislative ranks, then?  When you look at the Senate Republican Caucus there really isn't anyone who jumps out.  Steve Litzow had a good win on Tuesday in a competitive district, and in the next four years there is a shot he could raise his profile enough to stand out, but he's also a pro-choice Republican which is something that just begs for a challenge from the right.  Mark Schoesler is a solid conservative who has chaired JLARC and knows the budget as well as anyone, but I can't imagine him doing well at all on the west side.

It's much the same story in the House Republican Caucus.  I could see Matt Shea trying it, but Clint Didier's losses pretty much show you the ceiling that the Tea Party/Liberty candidates have in this state.  He's also pretty damaged after his most recent campaign, and while those scandals may not have been enough to cost him the 4th LD they would be absolutely fatal in a statewide election.  Richard DeBolt is an interesting notion.  I'd love to see Joel Kretz run, since he's in my LD, but I don't know why the hell he'd leave God's country up in Ferry County to spend all his time in Olympia.

Stupid ideas?  Rodney Tom switches parties (again!).  Kirby Wilbur.  Nansen Malin.  Mac Strong.  Jason Mercier.

It'll be an interesting four years.

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