In a predictable move, state Rep. Jaime Herrera, R-18th LD, announced she is running for Congress in WA-03 within hours of incumbent Brian Baird’s announcement that he will not run again.
Herrera took office in the 18th after former Rep. Richard Curtis stepped down in the wake of an unseemly sex scandal.
While it’s a smart move by the GOP, as Herrera comes across as articulate and smart, she’s also untested in a big-name campaign. But her entry does seem to dim the chances of other announced Republicans David Castillo, Jon Russell and David Hedrick. (Those three are, to use some quick shorthand, a former Bush official (Castillo) who seemed to be the establishment nominee until today, a “Faith and Freedom” guy (Russell (who didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, and a man famous only for screaming at Baird at a town maul in August (Hedrick.)))
On the Democratic side, the names being bandied about include state Senator Craig Pridemore of Vancouver, Rep. Deb Wallace of Vancouver, Rep. Brendan Williams of Olympia, and Cowlitz County Commissioner Axel Swanson.
And as for the usual discussion about what kind of district the Third is, well, it’s a swing district pure and simple. It’s kind of weird how people from outside the district perceive it sometimes as either “Olympia area,” which it’s not because Olympia now has only a small slice, or as some kind of uber-red stronghold, which it’s also not, because Clark County has changed dramatically over the last ten to fifteen years with new residents. Lewis County is very Republican, of course, but other than that a solid Democrat can do well in Cowlitz and Pacific.
The largest county by population is Clark, of course, so being from Clark County is perceived as an advantage.
The district went for Obama, but there is a large and boisterous conservative movement and a well-organized Republican Party machine that utilizes talk radio and newspapers to the fullest advantage. There is a giant, gaping media hole in Clark County, which is generally ignored on the political front by the dominant Portland media, which allows plenty of space for the GOP to operate.
The GOP types probably think they have an advantage going in, and maybe they do in a generic sense, but until the candidate field sorts itself out, I’d say anything could happen. As in any election, turnout and enthusiasm will be critical, and maybe a fresh face on the Democratic side can help motivate folks.