A regular reader of mine last night sent in a PDF of the July 28, 2010 edition of the Chinook Observer, a local paper read in Washington's third district. On page B6 appears a list of candidates who will feature on ballots used in the area for the August 17 primary. And guess what? According to the Chinook Observer, Denny Heck (the leading contender for a spot on the November ballot, and a Democrat) is actually a Republican!
What's the story here, I wondered? Well, in speaking with a source in Washington who was alerted to the error yesterday and did some investigating into the cause of it, I am told that the Chinook Observer is not at fault. In fact, my source says, the Pacific County Auditor, Pat Gardner (like Heck, a Democrat) is.
This looks like a bit of a FAIL, I daresay-- though one, it also bears noting, that the Auditor's office seems to be assuring folks has not occurred on actual ballots, where Heck's designation as a Democrat is correctly reflected.
One does wonder, however, whether Cheryl Crist might wind up taking a slightly higher percentage of the vote among Democratic Chinook Observer readers than does Heck-- or indeed among a broader swath of Pacific County residents, if Gardner put this misinformation out more broadly. One also hopes that no low-information would-be Republican voters rely on this particular edition of the Chinook Observer and tick Denny Heck's name on the ballot without checking what the ballot does, in fact, say.
With this being a top-two primary, depending on the breakdown in support between the two leading actual Republican candidates, David Castillo and Jaime Herrera, there is a hypothetical prospect that if enough would-be Republican voters did think Heck was an "R," this kind of thing could help swing primary results-- though I suspect the chances of that are infintessimally small. While Castillo has been collecting endorsements at a steady pace, Herrera went on the air earlier this month. Provided she stays on the air, and increases her ad time, that almost certainly puts her in a stronger position to rack up support ahead of the primary, putting distance between herself and Castillo (and the other candidates on the primary ballot, bar Heck, are basically no-namers).
Nonetheless, you can bet that Republicans in the third district will not be terribly impressed with Gardner's flub and will be keeping an eye out for any impact it may have had. And Cheryl Crist, if she has a clue, might just seek to exploit this by pointing to any "Republican-lite" positions she thinks Heck holds and pointing to this as a bit of inadvertent truth-telling.
(Note: Below the fold is a clean screenshot of page B6 of the Chinook Observer, should anyone prefer to view a version without read circling and lettering on it). [intro]