Why are old expressions old? Because human experience keeps validating them. A few timeless slogans explain why what happened, happened in the 2008 elections:
Dino Rossi ran a better campaign for governor than his victory-before-the recount race four years ago. Nearly $11 million raised. More than 56,000 donors – the most for any candidate for any office any time in state history. In 2004, he ran seven points ahead of the Bush-Cheney ticket. This year he ran nearly 11 points ahead of the McCain ticket. But this wasn’t a year where a Republican challenger could take down a heavily financed incumbent Democrat. Rossi was running with the George Bush presidency and an angry backlash against the Wall Street meltdown on his back. No Republican could have won this race. Not this year.
Just after a survey showed Darcy Burner pulling ahead of Congressman Dave Reichert, her claims that she “loved economics so much I got a degree in it from Harvard” came back to bite her. Had she said something like, “I studied economics but my degree was in computer science. I apologize for the misstatement,” she likely would have taken a small hit and won the race (it was the best possible time for her to run). But instead, she petulantly attacked her critics for playing “stupid semantic games” and defiantly refused to acknowledge that she may have misled people. When her campaign started losing altitude, she ran a last minute ad complaining about “false personal attacks.” By then, the degree flap took a back seat to how she was dealing with it – “like a spoiled little girl,” a caller to KOMO radio memorably called it. Her attitude – I went to Harvard, so if we disagree, you must be dumb – was a turnoff, even in the best educated district in the state.
A footnote: Barack Obama and Christine Gregoire received a personal phone call and a graceful concession from their opponents before claiming victory. When it was clear that Reichert had won on Friday evening and the press wanted comment, his campaign contacted the Burner campaign to see if Burner wanted to call Reichert before he claimed victory. The Burner campaign told them to stand by. The call didn’t come until Sunday night. Not a classy way to end the race.
Gregoire insisted during the race that Republicans were making too much of a big deal about the state revenue shortfall. The voters seemed to agree, and here is what the governor now faces: A projected deficit in the next budget of between $3.5 and $3.8 billion – more than 10 percent of the state general fund. State law prohibits deficits, so she will have to cut spending, which will be unpopular with the groups that strongly backed her, or raise taxes, which will enrage the general public because she said that “this is not the time to raise taxes.” The Legislature is dominated by Democrats, so she will be discussing/debating/negotiating/arguing with her own party. Should be interesting. Within three short months, Washington may again be a safe place to be a Republican.
John Carlson, a former Republican candidate for governor, co-hosts “The Commentators” on radio station KOMO 1000 weekdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org