Dunn’s “Let’s keep it under the radar” strategy

By all accounts Reagan Dunn is a very pleasant guy. Apparently, he hasn’t been jaded by the trappings of a man whose wardrobe requires a closet the size of a modest haberdasher’s shop.

I’ve also heard—from sources beyond Goldy—that Reagan Dunn is lazy.

So I wasn’t completely surprised to learn that Dunn’s ideal strategy to get elected Attorney General is to hope Democrats don’t notice there’s an election. He is hoping for a quiet election in which Democrats don’t feel threatened.

(It kind of reminds me of Luke Esser’s “Democrats are lazy” voter suppression strategy. Except that Esser was writing humor for a college newspaper.)

Dunn “big idea” is to give Cantwell a free ride to reelection, so that he doesn’t have to worry about parties dumping money into her race, causing voters to notice his:

Dunn’s remembering what happened in last year’s hard fought contest between U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Republican Dino Rossi. A late multi-million dollar push for voters funded by Democrats secured Murray’s victory while boosting vote totals of Democratic candidates farther down the ballot.

“That really hurt Republicans,” Dunn said. “So on (this Senate) race my belief is we don’t put anybody up. Make it a nominal challenge. Keep the national Democratic fundraising apparatus out of the state and don’t give them another reason to bring (President) Barack Obama here to further drive up turnout.”

Shorter Dunn: “I can, maybe, win if we keep the election low profile enough.” Goddamn, is that lazy!

It’s also sloppy thinking. It’s intellectual laziness to presume similar voter motivation for the 2010 and the 2012 elections. Twenty-ten was an off-year election with a senatorial race at the top of the ballot. The 2012 ballot will have a presidential election as well as a high-profile gubernatorial race in addition to the senatorial race. In other words, it’s going to be an election with a big turnout—with or without a strong challenger for Cantwell.

And pinning Rossi’s loss on out-of-state money seems simplistic (and lazy). In 2010 Murray did have a big advantage in out-of-state donors, as you would expect for an 18 year (at the time) Senate incumbent. But Rossi “took in” more money via independent groups:

Between them, Murray and Rossi raised more than $22 million. Murray, a three-term incumbent, brought in $15.3 million and Rossi – who got a late fund raising start – amassed $7.3 million, according to OpenSecrets.org. Outside groups, recognizing the Washington Senate seat was key to which party controlled upper chamber, also spent big. Total spending by independent groups topped $19 million, third-most in the country, according to campaign-finance watchdogs. Almost 60 percent of that money went to help Rossi.

A less lazy analysis would recognize that the big difference was between the candidates: a popular, proactive incumbent who had risen to the 4th most powerful position in the Senate compared to an angry real estate salesman who entered the race late and reluctantly, and never really had his heart into it. Oh…and there was that “D” next to Murray’s name. That helped, too.

Even his own party Chairman, Kirby Wilbur, doesn’t buy Dunn’s analysis:

Given the anti-incumbent fervor, an aggressive challenge of Cantwell by an energetic candidate could produce a Scott Brown-like upset. Even a loss delivers the benefit of making Cantwell spend her political dough on getting re-elected and not other campaigns like Democratic candidate for governor, Jay Inslee.

Enrollees in this school theorize turnout will be huge in 2012 regardless because of the presidential election. Plus battles for congressional seats — including a new one — mean Democrats and Republicans and an array of independent groups will be slugging it out whether the Senate race is in play or not.

Except for the “Scott Brown-like upset,” which is utter fantasy, Wilbur’s analysis is spot on.

So, if you ask me, prospects are looking good for Dunn’s opponent, Democrat Bob Ferguson. Again, the race will be determined by the candidates.

Reagan Dunn can’t just click his heals three times to give Cantwell a free pass in exchange for an easy race. The 2012 election is going to be huge no matter what happens in the Cantwell race. Whoever wins the AG race is going to do so by working his ass off doing retail politics, non-stop fundraising, and, dare I say it, baby kissing. We’re talking hard work.

Call me a skeptic, but I don’t see a work-shy Reagan Dunn “getting into” any of these tasks.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “Reagan Dunn is lazy.”

    Doesn’t that pretty much describe all of the hereditary rich?

  2. 2

    Michael spews:

    Given the anti-incumbent fervor, an aggressive challenge of Cantwell by an energetic candidate could produce a Scott Brown-like upset.

    What crap. Anyone that goes up against Cantwell will be going up against one of the smartest people in the US Senate and someone that alway campaigns hard no matter what and never, never, never, pulls her punches (just ask Ted Stevens). That’s not who Scott Brown was up against.

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “And pinning Rossi’s loss on out-of-state money seems simplistic (and lazy).”

    In order to make that rationalization work, wouldn’t Dunn have to blame all three of Rossi’s losses on out-of-state money?

  4. 5

    Michael spews:


    Doesn’t that pretty much describe all of the hereditary rich?

    Historically no, currently yes.

  5. 8

    Pete spews:

    Scott Brown was running for an open seat against a lackluster Democratic candidate. There’s also the problem that Cantwell has a lot of money, a strong Republican challenger has yet to emerge, and as a result any out-of-state Republican money in 2012 is most likely to go into the presidential and especially gubernatorial races here. I sure hope Dunn’s legal acumen is better than his political strategizing, or he’s not even qualified to be AG.

    Oh. Wait. Of course he’s qualified. Mommy said so.

  6. 9

    Zotz sez: Teahadists are Koch suckers! spews:

    @Carl: I didn’t see the comment @7 and I really, really appreciate that. Please keep up the good work.

  7. 10

    rhp6033 spews:

    Reagan Dunn knows that Dino Rossi simply failed to get enough votes to win against Gregoire, in both elections. But if he admits that, he also has to admit that a Republican has a difficult time winning anywhere in the Puget Sound region. If he did that, he would discourage volunteers and, especially, potential donars who might decide they have better uses for their dollars than to fund a candidate who would probably lose. So he blames it on “out of state money”.

  8. 12


    Two thoughts:

    a) In addition to keeping the Senate race a yawner (easy when your bench is as empty as that of the WA GOP), wouldn’t Reagan also have to magically make the gubernatorial race (just a couple of places above his race on the 2012 ballot) a low-turnout one for Democrats? Somehow, I don’t see that happening.

    b) Bob Ferguson will never let Dunn get away with keeping the AG race out of the limelight. Ferguson is one of the most dogged, fervent, continual campaigners ever seen in this state. Roger’s cousin, the EverReady bunny, envies Ferguson’s energy. That he won’t ring every doorbell in the state is solely a logistical problem; if somehow there were enough hours and days to make it possible, Bob would do just that.

  9. 13

    rhp6033 spews:

    Speaking of the A.G’s office;

    One of the things which seems to be propelling Gregoire to get Seattle to stop debating and build SOMETHING to take the place of the Viaduct is the fear of losing billions of state dollars in the lawsuits from families of those killed and injured when the Viaduct collapses in the next earthquake. It’s not as if the state hasn’t had enough warning of the potential problem. Gregoire’s position doesn’t win her any friends in Seattle on this position, but sometimes an elected leader has to have the courage to do what is best for the State even if her constituants are dragging their feet.

    In this, she is continuing to think like she was in her former job as the state’s Attorney General. Interestingly, McKenna seems to have been rather quiet on the issue. For him, making a partison attack on national health care reform, and running for governor, seem to have preoccupied him. It’s not like he was spending his time defending the position of the Dept. of Natural Resources!

    So, what’s Dunn’s position on the viaduct? Does he support Gregoires’ insistence on keeping to a schedule to tear it down, regardless of the schedule of the alternatives?

  10. 14

    T in Seattle spews:

    Your assessment of Reagen Dunn is full of hyperbole and short on fact. The bottom line is Dunn has remained out of mudslinging politics and done a phenomenal job, most recently, as a King County councilman and previously as a federal prosecutor.

    Your claims of laziness disregard his endless community and government service records and don’t take into account his effectiveness in battling methamphetamine production/distribution, child prostitution, organized crime, and other unsavory elements of our state’s society.

    Let’s be clear here: Bob Ferguson doesn’t have the same depth of legal experience as candidate Dunn. He hasn’t come close to showing that he can function at the local, state, and federal level of our legal system. To make matters worse, Ferguson is the son of a union man, and he will likely bow to union demands instead of doing what’s right for the non-union people of Washington state. We’ve seen this game before — the last two elections have been bought/sold by union dollars electing candidates that will protect overpaid union benefit plans and job status at a time when the rest of Americans are dealing with pay cuts and a soft job market.

    I don’t want Bob Ferguson in any position of power that would further strengthen union members grip on lawmaking. Gregoire failed to keep unions out of her pockets and her policies resulted in the bigger budget deficit in state history. We can’t trust someone like Bob Ferguson to establish priorities to bing us forward and protect our people. Ferguson “talks more than he walks” when it comes to serious lawmaking and enforcement issues; whereas, Reagan has proven his commitments.

  11. 16


    T in Seattle,

    “Your assessment of Reagen Dunn is full of hyperbole and short on fact.”

    In fact, it is not my assessment. It’s the assessment of other folks. But, based on Dunn’s very superficial and weak analysis as presented in the post, I’ve found nothing to contradict the notion.

    “To make matters worse, Ferguson is the son of a union man…”

    What the fuck?!? Offspring are tarnished by their parents being active union supporters?!? Dude…you discredit yourself and your candidate by such ignorant bigotry. Seriously!

    “Gregoire failed to keep unions out of her pockets and her policies resulted in the bigger budget deficit in state history.”

    What the hell are you babbling about??? The state cannot, by law, run a deficit.

    “Ferguson “talks more than he walks” when it comes to serious lawmaking and enforcement issues; whereas, Reagan has proven his commitments.”

    Reagan certainly does walk, as in walking out during difficult budget negotiations:

    Dude…lay off the wingnut talk radio.