Speculation is already running rampant about who will be running for county commissioner in 2008.
The main question: Will Jan Angel and Chris Endresen both run for another term? If not, who is already positioning themselves for a run, and who will they face?
Let's look at Angel...
She's done a good job for her SK constituency — in spite of being continually handicapped not only by a Democratic majority that attempts to thwart her every move, but by her own party and the ultra-conservative property rights advocates running it, who are seemingly determined to drive Kitsap Republicanism into extinction. Ironically, when she lived in Colorado and Alaska, Angel was a strong Democrat. It's the left wing environmental extremists with zero respect for private property that run the local party she can't abide by.
Angel is extremely well liked in SK, but the Democrats will try and hang her in the rest of the county with her unwavering support of NASCAR. That won't work because there are enough racing fans countywide to pull her through. Organized labor will also help her — something they haven't done before — because of her support for NASCAR. And remember, she beat her opponent in 2004 — former commissioner and green queen Charlotte Garrido — by twice as many votes as Endresen beat conservative KAPO activist Scott Henden in liberal North Kitsap.
If Endresen runs again — and it’s her seat to lose, but she's way too smart for that — I suspect Angel will call it a day. She’s approaching 60, her husband is somewhat older than she is and semi-retired, they own a condo in Scottsdale, Arizona and are secure enough financially to retire in style today.
There's no love — or respect — lost between between Angel and Endresen, and between her and Josh Brown, Angel is usually the odd one out. So from her perspective, who needs four more years of the BS she's put up with for the last 7?
But if Endresen doesn't run again, and/or Brown's legal troubles force him out, and NASCAR is still alive, I suspect Angel will give it one more go to try and see it through. But if she doesn't, who will the Republicans run? Good question, because they have absolutely NO ONE on deck for this.
Perhaps the most qualified — albeit remote — possibility they have right now is Steve Stagner, who filed for Auditor in 2006 but dropped out when forced to choose between running, and his job. Stagner — if he’s even interested — is smart, personable, immediately likable and has a solid financial background. He's best known for his work with the Public Facilities District, youth sports, and getting the Kitsap Bluejackets Baseball Club off the ground.
KAPO may also try and field a candidate, but if they do, whoever it is will get clobbered just as Jack Hamilton did. But either way, the Republicans have failed to groom a successor to Angel, and the commission will more than likely revert back to all Democrats before we see any more Republicans.
On the Democratic side, Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel is rumored to be interested enough to possibly not run for re-election as mayor so she can devote the next year and half to campaigning. The problem with Abel is, she can't make a decision (remember Charlotte Garrido?), is a micro-manager, and has made such a HUGE mess in Port Orchard it's going to take someone with a strong personality and exceptional business and political connections to fix it. Any smart primary opponent will exploit her dismal record.
Also rumored to be looking at Angel's seat — if Angel doesn't run — is Monte Mahan. He's the son of Bremerton Port Commissioner Bill Mahan who was county commissioner for 20 years until he was ousted in the 80s. Monte Mahan worked for DCD as a planner, quit in disgust and now works at Pierce County DCD. He was also appointed by Angel to a term on the Kitsap County Planning Commission. He's smart, practical, leans green enough to satisfy the enviros in the party, and has his dad’s political savvy — and connections — to fall back on. The bottom line is, he's WAY more qualified than Abel.
Other possible names? You tell me.
Next installment, we'll take a look at Endresen and her race.