The Spokesman-Review hasn’t yet endorsed a candidate for Washington’s 5th Congressional District, but despite the paper’s conservative pedigree, I’m guessing that Democratic challenger Peter Goldmark is being given fair consideration. Unlike their colleagues at the
Seattle Death-Tax-Repeal Times, the folks at the S-R actually know the district, and thus they know that Goldmark really is a perfect fit. And serving a region in the midst of a quiet but crippling farm crisis that threatens to wipe out a way of life, the S-R surely understands that Goldmark’s populist, pro-farm agenda is absolutely critical to many 5th CD families.
Still, I’m guessing if the editorial had been written a month ago, Goldmark probably wouldn’t have gotten a second thought. Whether you view it as a pro or a con, incumbent Cathy McMorris certainly appears to be on the GOP leadership track, and it never hurts a district to have its representative closely tied to House leaders. In that context, even with reservations, one could have viewed a McMorris endorsement as pragmatic.
But that was a month ago. Since then the Democratic wave has built into a political tsunami that threatens to sweep all the way into the Inland Northwest. Democrats are almost certain to take control of the House, and a McMorris victory won’t do much for her district if her leadership track runs down the minority side of the aisle. Meanwhile, Goldmark is on the cusp of joining a freshman class that promises to be the most influential since 1994. If Eastern Washington voters want to play a role in creating a revitalized Democratic Party that speaks their language and understands their concerns… electing Goldmark is the way to do it.
And it looks like the S-R understands this. In the closing paragraph of their endorsement of Democrat Larry Grant in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, the S-R made a point of concluding that Grant would “be in a good position to help Idaho if the Democrats regain the House.” With a Democratic majority virtually assured, the same logic can and should be applied to Goldmark and WA-05.
And make no mistake: Goldmark can win. The Washington Post reports this morning that WA-05 has become a key target in the DCCC’s decision to broaden the playing field.
The DCCC went up with ads in Washington’s 5th district today that accuse freshman Rep. Cathy McMorris [R] of having “gone Washington…the other Washington.” The commercial says McMorris voted to “raid” the Social Security trust fund. “Votes to jeopardize Social Security aren’t our values in this Washington,” says the ad’s narrator.
At first glance, the 5th district, which takes in the vast eastern part of the state, is not a typical Democratic target. President Bush won it 57 percent to 41 percent in 2004, and the district has grown increasingly Republican since George Nethercutt [R] ousted then House Speaker Tom Foley [D] from it in 1994. But McMorris is a freshman, and Democrats believe rancher Peter Goldmark [D] could make a real run at her.
The DCCC’s decision is backed up by what’s happening on the ground. A recent Goldmark campaign internal poll showed the race within the margin of error, and neither the DCCC nor the NRCC would be dumping money into the district if their own internal polls didn’t agree. Meanwhile, McMorris has suddenly gone negative, a sure sign that she and her handlers are fearfully looking over their shoulders.
A survey of local TV stations conducted by Frank Sennett over at Hard 7 has found ad buys totaling at least $288,930 for the DCCC and $232,745 for the NRCC — a significant investment for a relatively inexpensive market that was recently assumed to be safe Republican. And even McMorris’s apparent $631K to $399K cash-on-hand advantage isn’t really as advantageous as it looks; once you average in McMorris’s $268K in debt, Goldmark actually comes out on top.
Goldmark, who didn’t jump into the race until April, will likely raise over $1 million by election day, almost all of it from individuals. This spectacular fundraising success not only makes his campaign viable, it is irrefutable evidence of the broad, grassroots support that has fueled his surging candidacy. By endorsing Goldmark the S-R would recognize both the groundswell of support the charismatic Goldmark has generated, and the growing public disillusion with the Republican majority and their failed policies at home and abroad.
In a year when the House Republicans have been wracked by scandal after scandal, one might argue that it is hard by comparison to point to any one thing that McMorris has done to warrant her removal from office. But she has been complicit by default, and a vote for McMorris is a vote for the corrupt Republican leadership she has voted with 97 percent of the time… a leadership she is on track to join.
To me, the choice for 5th CD voters seems clear. It is a choice between a career politician who eagerly tied her prospects to that of a corrupt leadership, and a maverick Democrat who can bring an important new voice and perspective to the emerging Democratic majority. I’m not sure which way the S-R editorial board will go on this race, but current events and their recent track record gives me hope that they’ll give Peter Goldmark a fair shake.