Hey… it looks like annointed GOP senatorial nominee and Safeco CEO Mike McGavick will draw a primary challenger after all. Um… sort of. Fresh on the heals of his surprisingly strong third place finish in the 2004 Republican senatorial primary, Brad Klippert is once again seeking to represent the right wing of his party.
In the 2004 voter pamphlet Klippert wrote:
I, Brad Klippert, am a husband and father. I am a full time law enforcement officer, a veteran and active Major/pilot in the U.S. Army National Guard. I have a Masters Degree in Teaching and I am a licensed minister.
I am a God fearing, Bible believing, Ten Commandment honoring, evangelical Christian candidate. I firmly stand for and fully support traditional family values; the committed marriage between a man and a woman/husband and wife.
I believe that every life is precious and valuable with great potential; including the life of unborn children.
Hard to argue with any of that… that is, if you are a God fearing, Bible believing, Ten Commandment honoring, evangelical Christian. Which raises an interesting dilemma for McGavick, who needs to run to the left of his party to have a hope of capturing enough Democratic and independent voters to beat Cantwell, yet not so far to the left so as to disenchant the right wing of his party.
Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that Klippert can mount a serious primary challenge, but given the opportunity, his candidacy could serve to help Christian conservatives focus attention on everything McGavick is not. You know… one of them. Sure, he’ll try to pander to the religious right, but to win statewide he’s going to have to run one of those undefined, mushy centrist campaigns with a wink and a nod to the right. (Think Rossi.) But if Klippert forces him on a couple key issues, that won’t be so easy.
Where does McGavick stand on choice? On gay marriage? On teaching Intelligent Design? My guess is that the contrast between the ordained minister and the preordained nominee is pretty stark.
The problem for McGavick is that contrary to popular belief, Christian conservative voter turnout can be pretty soft, especially when the Republican candidate gives them little to get excited about. And as much as McGavick needs to draw votes from Dems and independents, he also needs a strong showing from the GOP base.
McGavick’s strategy will be to pretend that Klippert doesn’t exist, so don’t expect to see any candidate debates. But while the state GOPolitburo will surely treat Klippert like a fringe candidate, I hope the editorial boards give him his say and allow him to draw McGavick out on important issues of the day. Voters in both parties deserve to know where McGavick stands; it would be a disservice to allow him to duck controversial issues the way Dino Rossi did in 2004.
It’s not just McGavick who deserves a primary challenger… it’s the voters.