Last week, we looked at local politics for the coming year. But state and national politics will get most of the attention.
And Jim Ferrell? Read on.
All statewide offices are up for election along with all members of the state House of Representatives and half of the state Senate.
Gov. Christine Gregoire, Secretary of State Sam Reed and Auditor Brian Sonntag are retiring.
Also. incumbent Attorney General Rob McKenna is running for governor, creating a vacancy for his office.
Democrat Jay Inslee will leave his seat in Congress to challenge Republican McKenna for governor in what is likely to be a two-person race, although Port Commissioner Bill Bryant could still get in. Moderates and Democrats usually win statewide offices, although due to his ties to King County and two statewide races, McKenna appears to be the early frontrunner. Inslee will have to draw out McKenna as a conservative, particularly in voter-rich King County, to even up the race.
Democratic candidates for Secretary of State include State Rep. Zach Hudgins, State Sen. Jim Kastama and former State Sen. Kathleen Drew. Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman will run on the Republican side.
Democratic King County Council member Bob Ferguson will run for Attorney General along with fellow council member Reagan Dunn, a Republican.
Federal Way State Rep. Mark Miloscia is running for State Auditor along with Sen. Craig Pridmore from Vancouver. State Sen. Glenn Anderson and former legislator Bill Finkbiner, both Republicans, will challenge incumbent Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, a Democrat.
Inslee’s departure from Congress has attracted several candidates in District 1, including Republican John Koster and Democrat Darcy Burner, both of whom have run before.
And with redistricting, there are new seats in play. The two most interesting might be the new 10th District, which includes Tacoma and Olympia and no incumbent. Pierce County Council member Dick Muri, who lost to Adam Smith last time, is planning to run. He will likely be joined by Democrat Denny Heck, who lost in the 3rd District last year.
The other district to watch is a reconfigured 9th District, where Democrat Adam Smith is the incumbent. The district, which includes Federal Way, will move farther north and east and will pick up his former home base in the SeaTac area along with south Seattle, Mercer Island and Bellevue. It will be the first district that contains a majority of minority voters. Seattle City Council member and fellow Democrat Bruce Harrell is considering the race. Harrell’s name has previously come up in speculations about the Seattle mayor’s job. Three other names have surfaced as possible Republican candidates against Smith, with the most intriguing being Federal Way City Council member Jim Ferrell. Ferrell will have to make a decision very soon if he wants to give Smith a competitive race.
On the legislative front, Federal Way City Council member Linda Kochmar, a Republican, has already announced her candidacy for Miloscia’s seat and will have a kick-off fundraiser in late February. Fellow Republican and school board president Tony Moore has already filed the paperwork and places his chances of being in the race at 75 percent. Look for a formal announcement by the first of March.
Freshman State Rep. Katrina Asay is expected to run again. Possible Democratic candidates for Asay or Miloscia’s positions include Thom MacFarlane, Rick Hoffman and Roger Flygare.
The race for president will pit incumbent Democrat Barack Obama against whichever Republican survives what has become an entertaining, but brutal, “last man standing” primary process. Most likely it will be Mitt Romney. But, with 75 percent of his party favoring someone else, Romney has had to change many of the moderate positions that make him potentially electable into conservative positions that may slide moderates more toward Obama. Whether it is Romney or someone else, their choice of a running mate will be crucial to keeping and attracting voters. Vice-presidential names being mentioned to attract constituent groups are Marco Rubio from Florida, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and possibly former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
The key for down-ballot candidates here will be the potential “coattail effect.”
Lastly, remember the chess board I frequently reference?
Watch efforts to place “hot button” issues like same-sex marriage, expansion of gambling, marijuana, taxes and others on the ballot. They are designed with not only public policy debate in mind, but also to bring out liberal young voters. However, strategic thinking Republicans also want them on the ballot for the same reasons. They will bring out conservative voters.
With the significance of the challenges facing the state and the country, be wary of simple superficial answers. Think through what candidates say and “why” they say it.
And if all this democracy in action doesn’t excite you, then remember, it’s only a month until the pitchers and catchers report for spring training.