Political junkies get a year-long fix in 2008

By Bob Roegner, Inside Politics

If you love government and politics, 2008 is going to be your year!

Not only do you get to decide who is going to head most government organizations, but you’re also going to get to “tinker” with how your local government actually runs.

The headliner is, of course, who will be President of the United States? Hillary Clinton? Barack Obama? Maybe you like John Edwards and his positions on health care. Or how about Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, or another Arkansas governor like Mike Huckabee? The winner will be our new leader on the Iraq war, global warming and the economy. These are big issues.

Running parallel to the executive branch is Congress. Our Congressman, Adam Smith, seems unlikely to draw much opposition. But in the district next door, Dave Reichert and Darcy Burner are at it again — and it promises to be great election theater.

And in Washington state, Gov. Christine Gregoire will have round two with former Senator Dino Rossi. Gregoire has kept government moving along reasonably well, has a huge bankroll, has traveled the state repeatedly and is getting better on the stump. But she also appears vulnerable to the right kind of campaign.

A campaign such as Dan Evans’ “Blueprint for Progress” that sets a visioning tone for our future could contrast with Gregoire’s perceived low-key management and could give her trouble.

Is Rossi that kind of candidate? Many believe he is. Others were disappointed with his announcement speech as it sounded like a repeat of his campaign from four years ago.

The other statewide races will be just as much fun. Attorney General Rob McKenna has his sights set on bigger things in the future, but this year he will need to defend his current position. The most likely opponent appears to be Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. If so, this could be a race to watch.

Other positions on the ballot will be Lt. Governor, Auditor, Secretary of State and State Treasurer. All the House of Representatives and half of the Senate are up for election also. That means Rep. Mark Miloscia (D-District 30) and Rep. Skip Priest (R-District 30) are up. But will they have meaningful opposition?

A subplot to the Legislature will be Rep. Fred Jarrett’s future. Until a few weeks ago, he was a Republican representative from Mercer Island. Now, he’s a Democrat and he is planning to run for his district’s vacant Senate seat. Jarrett has been to Federal Way several times and understands our issues. He is considered one of the Legislature’s brighter bulbs and is one of the few who actually understand how government works and what governing is about. He and our legislative delegation have worked on many projects together, and losing him weakened the Republicans. But how will his district react? Will they be upset or want to keep his talent?

And what do you think of King County government? Could it stand some adjustments? While no candidates in county government are up this year, it is time for the “every decade review” of the county charter. You will be reading about all kinds of suggestions and ideas for improvement. Some are from good government groups and could actually make a difference. Others are from special interest groups and sound good, but if you look a little closer, may not be. Check to see who proposed the idea and keep your sense of humor handy.

Here in Federal Way, we will get to vote on our form of government: Council-manager or mayor-council. Professional administrator or politician? Indirect accountability or direct accountability? This one is already heating up the coffee shop chatter.

The Federal Way School District will have something on the ballot, so don’t forget to read about it. And just so you won’t get bored, Pierce County will have several elections with the race for the executive to be the highlight.

Whoa, what a year we have in store! All this excitement has worn me down. I need a nap.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn, can be reached at bjroegner@comcast.net.

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