I’ve been told that state Rep. Ross Hunter was disappointed by the reception he and newly minted Democrat Rodney Tom got at last week’s 48th LD Democrats meeting. It wasn’t hostile or anything, they just weren’t welcomed with candy and flowers.
I’m not sure what Hunter expected. Flipping a Republican is big news and all, and Tom will certainly give state Sen. Luke Esser a run for his money — if he wins the primary — but the 48th had already recruited a strong challenger to Esser in Debi Golden.
Or more precisely, the Senate Dems had already recruited a strong candidate in Golden, and so if she and her supporters seemed a bit taken aback by Tom’s challenge, well, that’s to be expected. Commitments were made to Golden, and while I can’t really blame the Senate Dems for switching horses if they truly believe Tom is the stronger candidate, the manner in which they did it was rather ham-fisted.
According to Golden, both the Senate and House Dems recruited her for their respective races as early as July, and by October she had agreed to take on Esser with the assurance that she would have the backing of the SDCC unless Hunter himself decided to enter the race. Tom has told people that he knew he was going to switch parties as early as November, but Golden only started hearing rumors a couple days before he officially announced his candidacy. About an hour after the news broke, Sen. Karen Keiser stopped by to officially give Golden the bad news and ask her to exit the race.
As we now know, Golden refused to drop out, and last week the 48th LD Dems passed a motion affirming her right to stay in the race. This should be a good primary fight between two candidates who are strong in different ways, and I certainly wouldn’t count Golden out. In 2004, after a late start and with little money, Golden came within a couple points of beating Tom. Personally, I just think she’s a better fit for the district, and, well… quite frankly, female candidates tend to have an advantage out here.
I expect the primary to be a good, fair fight, and whoever wins should emerge stronger for it. I’ve heard the Dems have warned Golden not to “go negative” against Tom, but I’m not really sure what that means. Certainly his voting record should be fair game, as long as it is honestly represented.
One final comment on this whole affair. Like Hunter, I certainly encourage other Republicans — several of whom have seen the GOP leave them far behind — to seriously consider switching parties before the 2006 election. But before they do, I think the WSDCC might want to reconsider Section VI, Paragraph C of their nominating rules, which states that to be eligible for the party’s nomination:
The voter must not have been registered as a member of any political party other than the Democratic Party for at least one (1) year immediately preceding filing for office
If they’re going to ask Golden to take one for the team, the least the Dems can do is make certain that they are playing by the rules.