So, state Sen. Rodney Tom is now officially unofficially in the race for the 8th Congressional District
Republican Democratic nomination, telling the Seattle P-I that he will officially make his official announcement next Tuesday. Whatever.
There are two minds on this within the Burner camp. On the one hand there are those who welcome Tom’s challenge, as a primary fight will focus media attention on Burner, while a decisive victory over a sitting state senator can only add to her credibility and confidence. On the other hand, Tom’s announcement will definitely freeze some of the early money, shaving maybe a couple hundred thousand dollars off Burner’s 2007 totals.
I’m similarly ambivalent, having come to the conclusion that the positive or negative impact of Tom’s campaign depends on how he eventually runs it. If it is a positive campaign, focused on the issues, everybody wins. If it is a negative campaign, adopting Reichert’s dismissively sexist “oh, she’s just a little girl” meme, well, Tom still loses, but he’ll piss off a lot of people in the process. People with long memories. People who hold grudges.
But my overwhelming concern is whether Tom is willing to make the personal sacrifices necessary for the good of his recently adopted party. Last cycle, Randy Gordon, the first Reichert challenger out of the gate, pledged early on that he would drop out of the race if money and support coalesced around another candidate. It did, and he did.
I would like to see Tom take a similar pledge. By April of 2008 it will become abundantly clear whether Tom has a snowball’s chance of running a competitive primary challenge. If he doesn’t, and he stubbornly stays in a race he has no chance of winning, he will needlessly cost Burner a substantial amount of contributions and independent expenditures that will be committed elsewhere long before ballots are counted in our August primary, one of the latest in the nation.
If Tom is a real Democrat, then his primary focus should be on defeating Reichert. Whatever his personal ambitions, Tom should understand that should he contribute to a Reichert victory next November, he will earn the lasting animosity of those whose support he will need in the future.
I’m just sayin’.