Freshman state Senator Michael Baumgartner from Spokane announced today that he will run for U.S. Senate–the position currently held by Sen. Maria Cantwell.
At long last, Republicans have found their David to take on the Goliath in Sen. Cantwell. I don’t really know much about Sen. Baumgartner, so a little media research was in order.
The Seattle Weekly provides this insightful glimpse:
The 35-year-old Baumgartner is telegenic and Harvard educated, undoubtedly helpful qualities in going up against a woman not only known for her wonky intelligence but her good looks. (See HuffPo’s affirmation of her as Capitol Hill’s “sexiest senator.”)
Ummm…I’m gonna just try and forgetting that I ever read that.
Need. Better. Sources.
Let’s see, um, maybe the Houston Chronicle has something more salient (really via the AP, of course):
The 35-year-old Baumgartner is in his first term after winning the most expensive state senate campaign in Washington history last year.
Baumgartner graduated from Washington State and holds a master’s degree from Harvard. He served as a State Department diplomat in Iraq and as a civilian contractor in counter narcotics in Afghanistan. He says the nation needs to restore a dynamic economy at home and end a haphazard foreign policy overseas.
Okay…now we’re getting somewhere. And, while I would usually recommend completion of at least 1/2 a term as a state Senator before jumping into the big leagues, the guy sounds almost, kind of, like he may be reasonable (you know…if you ignore the scarlet R on his breast).
And, via Publicola we learn that
Specifically, Baumgartner told PubliCola he doesn’t think the US should leave the UN or withdraw from the WTO; he doesn’t want to abolish the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; he doesn’t want to shut down the Department of Education; and he doesn’t support ending no-fault divorce in Washington State.
Okay…well that all just makes him sound rather moderate. Doesn’t it?
There is only one problem (my emphasis):
In this morning’s Fizz, we reported that during his 2010 election for state senate Baumgartner signed the Spokane County GOP party pledge, which includes some off-the-charts conservative tenets: Privatize Social Security; abolish the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; eliminate the Department of Education; withdraw from the UN; return to the gold standard; ending no-fault divorce.
What the fuck?!? Baumgartner explains
…that while he signed the pledge, “I made it clear that I had some reservations,” and that “there was an understanding that I didn’t support everything on the pledge. The Republican Party of Spokane is a big vibrant party and this is the place for people to express their ideas.”
Call me “old school,” but I think when you sign a pledge, it means you are making one or more specific promises. And if you didn’t agree with those promises, you simply don’t sign the pledge.
He adds: I signed a pledge supporting Republican principles of freedom and liberty and upholding the constitution. (The Spokesman-Review questioned Baumgartner about signing the pledge back during the 2010 campaign.)
Oh come on! That’s fucking lame. There are no serious candidates, Republican or Democratic, that wouldn’t sign a general pledge in favor of “principles of freedom and liberty and upholding the constitution.”
Here is what the Spokesman-Review pledge article points out:
But some of the platform’s 120 policy statements make more-surprising calls, for, among other things: An end to no-fault divorce. A return to the gold standard. Tax incentives for the shoe and textile industry. U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.
And some Republicans worry the platform – which they’re asked to pledge to support when they seek party endorsement – diverges from their values and opens the door to attacks from Democrats.
GOP officials responded that candidates, including Baumgartner, who pledged to support the platform weren’t necessarily saying they backed its nearly 120 policy statements.
“We know that no candidate is going to agree 100 percent with what’s in the platform,” county GOP Chairwoman Cindy Zapotocky said. “We require the candidates to read it and consider it.”
Zaptoocky’s statement make the “pledge” seem like little more than a “I’ve read this document” statement, and not a real pledge, per se. And, yet:
As candidates have requested official party endorsements, they’ve been asked to sign a pledge that includes a box where they check if they “promise” to “support the Constitution of the United States of America, the Washington State Constitution and the Spokane County Republican Party Platform.”
Zapotocky said so far, the party has endorsed only candidates who have checked the box […].
Wait…it’s back to sounding like a freakin’ pledge again! I mean, there is zero risk for any candidate to “promise” to “support the Constitution of the United States of America, the Washington State Constitution….” The “promise” to “support” “the Spokane County Republican Party Platform” sure sounds like the meat of a pledge that is made in return for the possibility of a party endorsement.
Apparently it’s all Republican-engineered bullshit to fool their voters.
What this says about Baumgartner is that he was willing to sign any crazy-ass shit to make sure he gets elected. He was more concerned about getting elected than he was about integrity of signing a “pledge” that wasn’t really a pledge.
I have to think that visible lack of integrity in the “pledge” episode is going to inflict more damage than that caused by the collection of crazy-ass things he “promised” to support.