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February, 6th 2010

Washington Senate race gets even more packed

– Liz Mair

You know Washington's Senate race?  The one where the Republican field already seems about as packed as the Brady house?

Well, get ready... that Brady house is about to morph into the Waltons.  Bellingham businessman Paul Akers has entered the race against Sen. Patty Murray.  From his statement on his website:

I am not a politician. I've never run for public office before. Instead, I have spent my career serving as a teacher, a contractor, an inventor and now as an entrepreneur and small businessman.

I've decided to run for the U.S. Senate because I have had it. I'm tired of career politicians who go to Washington to spend other people's money too easily and have lost touch with the folks back home. Unfortunately, these career politicians do not know what it takes to create a job, make a payroll, or worry about sitting down with their spouse at the kitchen table to figure out how to make ends meet. [intro]

It's time we have real leaders who will make bold decisions... people who understand what it takes to run a business, make payroll, create jobs and get our country out of this recession by unleashing the genius of the American People.

As a businessman, I'm proud of the business my wife and I have created, starting out in our garage 12 years ago.

FastCap is an industry leader in providing manufactured products to people all over the world. We do it right here in Washington State with some of the finest employees on Earth. After beginning with a product that I invented, our company now works with other inventors to creatively develop and market their ideas around the world. We are successful competing with the likes of China, Korea and Japan, and we're winning.

Even in this economic down turn, our company continues to grow, creating more manufacturing jobs right here in Washington. We have adhered steadfastly to our core values of honoring people's creativity, continuous improvement in the manufacturing process, and the elimination of waste.

This is the kind of attitude we need in Washington, DC today. We need leaders who will make the tough choices, stop the hemorrhaging of red ink, and put this economy back on track. Unfortunately, our current leaders have failed and are putting our nation's future in jeopardy.

When my wife and I set out to buy our first home, I asked my parents to loan me some money so I could buy a house in a decent neighborhood. My father said no and told me that I should only buy that which I could afford. We purchased our first house in a modest inner city neighborhood where I learned the important lesson of living within my means. I'll never forget that valuable lesson. It's a lesson that the politicians have either forgotten, or never learned in the first place.

Our leaders should inspire us to live up to the legacy of our forefathers. I am running for the U.S. Senate because like you, I am distraught about the direction our country is heading. I know taking on the DC insiders will not be easy, but we owe our children and our children's children the same opportunity our generation has had, instead of leaving them under a crushing debt. Countless others have given their lives along the way to insure our freedom and liberty. I feel obligated to do my part to help preserve this nation for future generations. As your Senator, my conservative values will guide me... I'll be beholden to no one, delivering the best results for you and your family.

It's becoming increasingly hard to keep track of the number of Republicans running for US Senate out in the Evergreen State-- already in the field prior to Akers' entry were (among others) frontrunner Chris Widener, Arthur Coday, Clint Didier, and Sean Salazar.  There are rumors that Dino Rossi (two time Republican gubernatorial candidate), Susan Hutchison and Rep. Dave Reichert could also jump in.  

Thus far, Reichert looks like he'll probably stay out-- though you never know.  My guess is that Rossi probably gets in.  There are plenty of local Republicans who want one or the other in the race, though in all honestly, what is more interesting to me is the increasing angst and, frankly, downright anger that I'm sensing from some Washington Republicans over the volume of people either in the race, or thinking of entering it. 

There's a sense that some candidates and prospective candidates could make themselves more useful by running for other offices this year or in future (given that the GOP isn't exactly in a great position overall within Washington) and that a glut of what could be ten or more Republican candidates running for one office will at worst only end up dividing the party and at best set up a bunch of "also-rans" likely to underperform given their existing position within the race, or their late entry to it, for campaigns over the next few cycles.  To be honest, I like being in a position as a Republican where there are lots of our guys ready to step up.  But I do query the ability of candidates or prospective candidates other than (in alphabetical order) Hutchison, Reichert, Rossi or Widener to compete against a very entrenched incumbent who is beatable but will offer one of the toughest races in the country this year nonetheless.

It's worth noting, too, that ahead of tonight's Clark County Lincoln Dinner, the rumor mill is churning about yet another prospective candidate about to jump into this race: State Sen. Don Benton. 

Benton is a former chair of the Washington State Republican Party and the word on the street is that he'll be announcing his candidacy tonight.  If he does, we'll see how that plays.  Frankly, my suspicion is that the Murray camp would relish a fight with someone who may be seen more as a party insider and attack dog than an outsider (Hutchison, Widener) or a high-name-ID political figure with a track record of attracting support from independents, and some Democrats (Reichert, Rossi)-- though in all honesty, the thing that has to have Murray most excited is the fact that there are so many potential contenders who will all fight amongst themselves for the easiest votes to get in a top-two primary: Those of Republicans, and Republican-leaning independents.  The more contenders in the race, the more negative information will be aired early and often about all of them-- which could easily enable Murray to cruise to re-election with absolutely zero scrutiny of her actual record in the Senate.

If I were an active member of the WSRP, right now, I'd be urging a bunch of these guys to think about other offices for which Republicans will need to field a candidate over the next 2-3 cycles, and helping them get the training and preparation and support they'll need to win in those contests.  My guess is that if Republicans can get into a position where the campaign dynamic is simply X candidate versus Murray in the next 2-3 months, they can pull this off-- and my guess is that any of Hutchison, Reichert, Rossi or Widener could make a very good X candidate at the statewide level given the dynamics of 2010.

But if I were out there right now, I'd be a little worried.  Murray is one of those candidates that people always think should be weak, but is surprisingly not.  She will put up a fight, and Republicans need to be unified to take her-- not splintered into ten different factions, big and small.

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