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.