Thursday, October 26, 2006

Handicapping The Legislative Races

The results of the upcoming races in the 23rd, 26th and 35th Legislative Districts seem pretty easy to predict.

In the 23rd, I expect that Sherry Appleton will easily win re-election. Appleton works hard for her district and has brought home quite a bit of money from Olympia for things like the Marine Science Center. However, for all the money the Suquamish Tribe generates with its casino and resort, it seems that Appleton should not be looking to have the taxpayers fund anything for them. Her venomous opposition to NASCAR has also strained relations between her and her biggest supporter — organized labor. But I expect they will kiss and make up before it is all over.

I also expect Christine Rolfes will win over incumbent Bev Woods by a small margin. Environmentalists are pouring serious money into that race in an attempt to unseat the veteran legislator. The question you have to ask is what is it they expect as a return on their investment? Woods didn’t do herself any favors by pissing off Congressman Norm Dicks and Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman over the proposed tunnel in downtown Bremerton either. That was a boneheaded move — especially since the tunnel is not even in her district. I hope Woods survives. She has done a pretty good job overall — in spite of her vote gutting I-601, and the 23rd will be better off in the long run if she does.

In the 26th, Democrat Derek Kilmer should take the Senate seat of retired veteran Republican Sen. Bob Oke. Kilmer is one of the few Democrats who actually “gets it” about economic development, and the relationship between over taxation and regulation of business, and job creation. He will do a good job for the 26th. His opponent, Jim Hines, is also a stellar candidate who unfortunately agreed to step up and move perennial candidate Lois McMahon out of the way. The Republicans knew McMahon was unelectable, but her stubbornness refused to allow her to step aside. Frankly, Hines actually would have been better off running for the House seat against Democrat Larry Seaquist — a seat I believe he could win.

Speaking of Seaquist… He will win over religious right wing Republican Ron Boehme. This is a race that I personally have some heartburn over. Boehme just makes me want to go wash my hands after being around him. That said, Seaquist on the other hand, at least in my view, is a pompous ass, who does not value any opinions but his own. I know all about his experience and qualifications for the office, and on the surface that should make him a good choice. But in personally attempting to talk to him several times, it is obvious he is not open to new information at any level on any subject he has previously formed an opinion on. Frankly, I do not believe that is a good quality for a legislator. Also after witnessing him at several candidate forums — including one where I was a questioner — I have not seen him actually answer a question. Like Josh Brown, he’s mastered the ability to stay on message and avoid controversy, all the while spouting the Democratic Party line. I would like to see Hines take on Seaquist two years from now. I believe he would be a better "fit" for the 26th.

The race between Pat Lantz and Beckie Krantz is too close to call in my view. I think Lantz is vulnerable, especially considering how close Matt Rice came to upsetting her two years ago without really working too hard at it. Krantz on the other hand is working hard, but does not have a lot of community involvement to speak for her candidacy, and her campaign seemingly lacks direction and focus. I do believe that Krantz, who is quite personable, can upset Lantz if she can get in front of enough voters. The question is, will she be able to? Many people — including a significant number of Democrats I have talked with — feel Lantz should have retired instead of seeking another term.

In the 35th, Tim Shelton will cruise to re-election. There is a lesson for the Democrats here, but unfortunately, they are just not interested in learning it.

Kathy Haigh will also win over newcomer Marco Brown. Haigh has done an average job and Brown offers nothing special to warrant making a change.

I believe that newcomer Randy Neatherlin, a Republican, will upset veteran Democrat Bill “Ike” Eickmeyer. Eickmeyer deserves high marks for his efforts to clean up Hood Canal, but no one I have talked with can name three other things he has done during his nine years in office. Neatherlin is folksy and a little rough around the edges, but spearheading the Theler issue last year, as well as his other community activities speaks well for his level of engagement — something Eickmeyer is lacking.


  1. Some thoughts from a young 26th district voter.

    I disagree with regards to Larry Seaquist. I know anecdotes don't count for much in a debate, but in my experiences with him, he's seemed very open to comment and suggestion, and seemed interested in hearing different viewpoints on local issues. He's a much better choice for the 26th than Boehme, who comes across as a little slimy when speaking. His writings that used to be available online were enough on their own to give my vote to Seaquist, but he's since removed them, a wise move if he's trying to win voters.

    Derek Kilmer is the right choice for the senate race, as I think he's done a very good job representing the whole district, both D's and R's, and I think he'll continue to do so as Senator.

    On the subject of Jim Hines, should he consider running for this seat in two years, I would hope that he rethinks a few of his stances on education, especially funding special programs. I'm a little biased about education, I attended grades 3-12 here in the 26th, and I'd hate to see funding cut on any level, so take that for what its worth. Taking money from Philip-Morris isn't going to help Hine's case either, after the work Bob Oke did to stop free tobacco sample distribution in this state. It sends the wrong signal to people who pay attention to the PDC... either he pays no attention to who contributes, or he willingly took money from big tobacco. Either way, its unsettling, and enough to cost him my vote, at least.

    I don't think that the race between Lantz & Krantz (by the way, no more rhyming candidates, please) is as close as you think. Beckie has done a pretty poor job getting in front of the voters, and the mail piece I received wasn't pro-Beckie, just anti-Lantz. She really should have done a better job communicating her views and goals to the people, instead of being the "I'm not Pat Lantz" candidate, sort of like the national Democratic party line, "We're not Bush", but thats a tangent of its own. Anyway, a candidate needs to work to make sure their "mission statement" gets to the voters, because they won't win any undecided swing votes any other way.

    Just my two cents about this years races.

  2. Andrew11:16 AM

    Altough Beckie Krantz is not a terrible candidate, there is NO WAY she is going to unseat the 10 year incumbent Pat Lantz.

    Whatever your personal feelings are about Lantz, it is undeniable that she is going to win this race without a doubt. People know Lantz, she has out fundraised her opponent by over 100,000 dollars, and Krantz has need event sent a pierce of introductory mail to the voters.

  3. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Larry, you’ve got a very peculiar perspective on the races in the 26LD – particularly on the House races.

    Comparing a perceived vulnerability in Pat Lantz compared to two years ago is simply out-of-touch with reality.

    Two years ago, candidate Matt Rice had a very well-funded campaign – albeit a single-issue one, focused almost exclusively on so-called “tort reform.” He was well-spoken if single minded, and gave Pat a genuine run-for-the-maoney by effectively misleading voters on a complex issue.

    This year, however, Republican Beckie Krantz has virtually no funding (have you looked at her PDC filings?) and not much more in the way of grass-roots support – as you yourself have pointed out. Sending Krantz after Pat Lantz following a successful term in which the med-mal issue was put to sleep and Pat made major accomplishments on justice and education issues was simply unrealistic on the part of 26LD Republicans in general, and Krantz in particular.

    Furthermore, I’ve seen Beckie Krantz speak in public on nearly a dozen occasions – in both Republican sponsored “community forums” and in public debates sponsored by various civic groups – and I can personally attest that Beckie Krantz has a lack of knowledge on the issues and a poor speaking style that does her no favors by “getting in front of voters.”

    As for your assessment of Larry Seaquist, I couldn’t disagree more.

    Several years ago Larry Seaquist initiated an ongoing project called Refreshing Democracy that focuses on inclusion of diverse viewpoints and participation in role-playing discussions. For years, he has demonstrated not only a willingness but an eagerness to listen to alternate viewpoints and opinions. Past expert-panel members have included Pierce County Councilman Terry Lee (r), and the next panel has invited Trent England (r), who could have been the Republican nominee against Larry if he had run a better campaign against Ron Boehme.

    Finally, I find it particularly ironic that the criticisms you hold out for Larry Seaquist could very well be leveled at Ron Boehme – someone who clearly does not value any opinions except those based on faith, and who is obviously not open to new information at any level on any subject that cannot be morally supported by his own religious beliefs.

    Steve Breaux
    Gig Harbor

  4. As far as Lantz vs, Krantz... You're absolutely right, she's a poor public speaker who isn't up on the issues. Her campaign seriously lacks focus and direction and she's been a poor fundraiser. But I've seen polling that backs up my point of view. I have no ax to grind with Lantz, and we seem to have put our past differences behind us. I do think it's Pat's race to lose, but no matter who wins, I just think it will close.

    I expect most partisan Democrats to disagree with my perspective on Seaquist, but I stand firmly by it.

    As I said, when you consider his resume, he seems like the ideal candidate on the surface. He's someone I honestly WANTED to support - especially considering the alternative. However, my perspective is based on my own personal experiences with him. In trying to talk to Seaquist on several different occasions, I found that he simply dismisses hard questions he doesn't want to answer, with meaningless platitudes, answers the question with a question of his own - or he attacks the questioner.

    In a recent forum, all the candidates were asked about NASCAR. Seaquist stated that he would rather see the public funding for it used for education. That would be fine - if there was any public funding in the proposal to begin with that could be diverted to education. If he's elected and will be voting on the proposal, I expect him to at least know what's in it. I had previously asked him if he had read the Berk Report. He didn't even know what it was, said he never heard of it, but that it didn't matter anyway. Excuse me? That doesn't sound very open-mined to me.

    In a recent Rotary forum, he talked about education quite a bit. But an example of his arrogance came when I asked him about education funding and the WEA case the AG is taking to the US Supreme Court. His answer was, "That's malarkey. I reject the premise of the question." And he simply refused to answer. He told me privately after the forum that I had a lot of nerve even ASKING that question. That's bullshit. As someone who is running for election and holds himself out as a champion of education, he should be open to answer ANY question a voter asks about it. When I said that to him, he stated that he just didn't see it that way.

    I'm sorry, but that kind of attitude and arrogance are unacceptable to me. I expect answers to my questions from candidates - and from elected officials. I don't have to agree with the answers, but I do expect an answer - not to be dismissed or challenged simply because I refuse to accept a lame non-answer.

    Don't get me wrong - I DO NOT support Boehme. I think he's dangerous for all the reasons you stated - and more. Like I stated, any time I'm around him, I feel like I need to go wash my hands afterwards. But it doesn't change how I feel about Seaquist either.

    Perhaps you should think about challenging Seaquist with some hard questions of your own, and see what kind of response you get. I think if you question him in depth, and hold his feet to the fire for detailed answers instead of political platitudes and parroting the party line, you may find your experience similar to mine.

  5. I was at the Rotary forum Lary is talking about. I was shocked at Larry Seaquist's arrogance and refusal to answer questions. In fact, I don't think he actually answered ANY of the questions he was asked.

    I was very disappointed in him, and very disheartened. I had heard a lot of good things and was going to vote for him. Now, I'm not sure. I may just not vote at all in the race because Ron Boehme is so offensive to me.