Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Suzan DelBene's path to victory: Three factors that make a 2010 upset in WA-08 possible

Full Disclosure: I am a supporter and volunteer for Suzan DelBene's campaign.

Two years ago, after Darcy Burner lost for the second time, Eastside Democrats and progressives were heartbroken. The Democratic Party had fielded a nationally recognized candidate with strong netroots support, who seemed headed for victory after a strong first attempt in 2006. Unfortunately, Darcy couldn't manage to seal the deal with voters, and Reichert narrowly escaped defeat again.

The conventional wisdom in the wake of 2008 was that Reichert's seat was secure. But that didn't stop Suzan DelBene, a political newcomer with a deep business background, from stepping forward to run. Undaunted by others' indifference, she began quietly building a campaign organization and laying the groundwork for a challenge to Reichert. Now, with less than seventy two hours to go, she's one of the few Democratic challengers in the country who stands a decent chance of pulling off an upset in a tough cycle.

Here are three factors that make an upset in WA-08 possible this Tuesday.

First, Suzan is invested in her own success. It's been said that money is the mother's milk of politics, and unfortunately, it's true.

It takes a lot of money to win a congressional race. Expenses include ads, literature, field staff, campaign offices, parade fees, and the like.

Reports for the most recent quarter showed DelBene with more cash raised than Reichert. DelBene was one of only six Democratic challengers who raised more money than their Republican opponents. Although she has done well in fundraising, she's also not hesitated to tap her own wealth. She recently injected another $1,350,000 into her campaign treasury.

Furthermore, DelBene was recently added to Daily Kos' Orange to Blue list on ActBlue, raising over $27,000 in small donations in the past week.

In addition, Congressman Reichert has lost the institutional support from the National Republican Congressional Committee which buoyed him through the 2006 and 2008 elections.

Second, DelBene has benefited from Reichert's awful record as a congressman. In the last few months, Reichert has opposed equal pay for women, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Act, and the The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Reichert also infamously told Republican precinct committee officers he only breaks with his party on the issue of environmental protection to keep the likes of the Sierra Club and Washington Conversation Voters "out of the game".

Conservatives like Ernest Huber can't stand him because he isn't uncompromising like some of the insurgent Tea Party candidates (though his voting record makes him look like one). Republicans who identify as partial progressives may be attracted to DelBene because of her business background and her pragmatic mindset.

Both Ernest Huber and Tim Dillon got over 5% of the vote in the primary election.

Third, when interest in voting is high, Democrats tend to do better; this has been documented. (Republicans, conversely, have the advantage in low-turnout elections). Secretary of State Sam Reed is predicting sixty six percent turnout this year, with our U.S. Senate race and many ballot measures driving turnout.

High interest could help Democrats overcome the so-called "enthusiasm gap" and provide crucial support for Democrats DelBene, who started early and laid the groundwork necessary to take advantage of a late groundswell in the home stretch. It's not just Suzan who could use a boost. Many Democratic legislators found themselves behind Republican challengers in the August 17th election, and are considered by the establish to be in danger of losing their seats.

If Suzan is to win, it's gonna take a full-fledged get-out-the vote effort. Democratic activists who want to help capture the 8th are being urged to sign up for canvassing and phonebanking shifts.

There isn't much time left, so readers who don't want to go back to the exact same agenda of the Bush error should contemplate getting involved.


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