So not only has The Columbian endorsed Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire in her re-election bid, but in Vancouver’s 17th Legislative District, traditionally a swing-to-leans-Republican district, all three Democrats have drawn the endorsement of the newspaper as well.
None of the endorsements are especially surprising, but perhaps the one that will draw the most notice elsewhere is the ringing endorsement of political novice David Carrier over long-time Republican state senator Don Benton.
David Carrier for state senator — You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who provides a greater contrast to blustery incumbent Don Benton than Democrat David Carrier, a soft-spoken political newcomer, avid outdoorsman and holder of a doctoral degree in economics from Notre Dame. Carrier is working tirelessly in the campaign. It paid off in the primary when he won 45.6 percent of the votes, a surprising showing against Benton, a 14-year legislator with three terms as state senator.
Voters, though, must have been familiar with those 14 years. He once missed 17 consecutive meetings as a member of the Higher Education Committee. Benton’s bellicose collisions with colleagues raised eyebrows as far back as 2000 when Republican leaders demanded his resignation as state chair. Through the years, he’s become an inveterate “Dr. No,” opposing sensible ideas that draw popular support, such as all-mail voting and abolishing the supermajority for school levies. He is even opposed to the proposal for replacing the decrepit and dangerous Interstate 5 Bridge.
Ouch. It’s kind of too bad the Washington State Labor Council has endorsed Don Benton for state senate in this, of all years. It’s not as if a bridge project would provide prevailing wage jobs or anything.
In the race to replace Rep. Jim Dunn, R-Vancouver, who was defeated in the primary by Joseph James, it’s also no contest, according to The Columbian. Democrat Tim Probst may never have held office, but the newspaper notes his far superior experience.
Few rookies are better prepared for elected office than Tim Probst. He currently works as leader of a statewide work force training group and has solid experience as state policy analyst, legislative liaison and assistant to Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar in the 1990s. Bolstered by 48.2 percent of the primary votes, Probst has the momentum and the expertise to help 17th district voters forget about Dunn.
And last but not least, incumbent Deb Wallace justifiably garners the endorsement over culture warrior Micheline Doan.
You have to be realistic, of course, about newspaper endorsements. They don’t count at the ballot box, and Republicans never, ever give up, but it’s a sign of the times that Republicans have fielded such poor candidates in a swing suburban district, while Democrats have come up with much better candidates. If the landslide really does happen, it’s going to be very tough sledding for Republicans everywhere.