Since I asked our readers to throw out some names of possible candidates for South Kitsap County Commissioner, one new name surfaced yesterday afternoon during a chance encounter with a former candidate in the Central Kitsap race.
A phone call to Virgil Hamilton confirmed he is considering the possibility of running in 2008 — but only if Jan Angel doesn't.
Hamilton, a Democrat, is head of the Olympic Peninsula Building Trades Council, and the Bremerton business manager for Local 46 of the I.B.E.W. (the electrician's union). He's also on the board of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, as well as an active member of the Checkered Flag Club, the business group supporting the proposed NASCAR project.
Hamilton's chances might actually be pretty good. As a member of organized labor, he'll have party support — probably over the objections of rabid anti-NASCAR environmentalists like Beth Wilson, Tom Donnelly and Gene Bullock. But in the end, if he wins the primary, they'll have no choice but to close ranks behind him. Business will also support him because he's proven himself to be a reasonable, pragmatic kind of Democrat who understands the simple fact that if the county isn't business-friendly, his members have to travel out of the area to work.
Hamilton has also been instrumental in trying to inject organized labor's point of view into the machinery of the environmentally-dominated 26th and 23rd District party organizations. He's encouraged his members to join them, attend the meetings and make their voices heard — especially about NASCAR. In fact it was downright amusing watching Beth Wilson completely lose it at a 26th District meeting when Hamilton stated that labor would not support any candidates who opposed NASCAR. She screamed at him, actually screeching, "Who do you think you are coming in here and telling us who you'll support and who you won't?"
Hamilton, who is pretty unflappable, just smiled and basically said that he didn't intend to create any controversy within the party, but that his members — who are Democrats — support NASCAR, and it's his job to make their position known to the party. Wilson just fumed, but Hamilton very politely made his point.
He said he won't run if Angel does because she has worked with him on NASCAR and that he likes and respects her and the job she's done for South Kitsap. If she does run, depending on who the Democratic candidate is and their position on NASCAR, Hamilton could be the guy heading up organized labor's support for her — much to the dismay of the party. But if she doesn't, he could put a very interesting wrinkle in the election — not to mention completely changing the dynamic of the county commission if elected.