Nobody Wanted It
The deadline to file for office has come and gone, and Spokane’s own Michael Baumgartner appears to be the GOP’s man to run for the U.S. Senate. Although there are five total Republicans in the race, no accomplished business type like Mike McGavick emerged, nor did any veteran, well-connected politico like Dino Rossi.
The lack of a top-flight opponent for Maria Cantwell is even more odd since this year seems to be shaping up to be a very bad time to be an incumbent. People are fed up with Congress; some incumbents are going to get fired.
This Could Get Ugly
One of the biggest problems Baumgartner has is his address. Seattle media and voters have a dismissive view of our side of the Cascades, and that bias may already be forming into a narrative he’ll have a hard time changing. History is tough, too the last governor from Eastern Washington was Clarence Martin (1933-41); the last U.S. Senator from here was C.C. Dill (1923-35). We just don’t have the clout we once did.
Of course anything can happen, and many political careers have been made by being in the right place at the right time, but this one’s a long shot. Still, if Baumgartner keeps the result close, he’ll be crowned a rising star in the statewide GOP not a big group, but at least next time around, people will know who he is. But to continue up the ladder he once told local voters he had no intentions of climbing so soon, he’ll need to get more strategic. As Rossi proved, the party and voters will only tolerate so many losses.
If Michael Baumgartner wants to govern and help Spokane prosper, he’s in a great position already. But if he has ambitions bigger than that, he may need to move to the West Side.
Ted S. McGregor Jr., @InlanderTMX