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Trail Mix - 07.19.12 

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The Demise of the Flip-Flop?

Time was that if your candidate didn’t stay perfectly consistent through all the decades of a political career, he or she would be instantly nailed with the flip-flop label. George H.W. Bush’s “Read my lips: no new taxes” was perhaps the first flip-flop of the modern political era. John Kerry, who was famously for funding the Iraq War before he was against it, used to have a GOP intern following him around in a giant flip-flop costume. Hilarious! And effective.

What the heck happened? Candidate Obama pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, but President Obama has kind of forgotten about all that. Mitt Romney invented Obamacare and the individual mandate, now he wants to repeal it. Nobody seems to be sticking the flip-flop on either of them successfully.

Here in our own gubernatorial race, Republican Rob McKenna was for repealing Obamacare, then not for it after the Supreme Court verdict, then kind of for it again and finally has said he is for implementing it after all. Jay Inslee has jumped all over this classic flip-floppery… and nobody seems to care.

Maybe we’re inoculated to the concept after having it shoved down our throats for so many years. Maybe we’re cool with candidates actually showing some intellectual honesty and changing their minds. Whatever the reason, the all-American flip-flop may be headed to the Smithsonian to be preserved for future generations to ponder.

The 5th Recedes

Every 10 years, the Census rearranges the nation’s 435 congressmen and women. In the 2010 Census, the average congressional district was set at about 711,000 citizens; Washington state grew so much that it was awarded a 10th District, around Olympia.

Our 5th District has shrunk geographically, with some notable changes to the places Cathy McMorris Rodgers speaks for back in D.C. The circa 2000 5th District covered 12 Eastern Washington counties — Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Adams, Whitman, Asotin, Garfield, Columbia, Walla Walla and, of course, Spokane. The new district no longer contains Okanogan and Adams counties, and a third of Walla Walla County has moved into the 4th District, too.

So what’s the political impact? For Democrats, losing Okanogan County seems like a victory, as it was pretty much a no man’s land for their cause. But the GOP may benefit from losing the suburban parts of Walla Walla (college/wine town) and the Tri Cities (rich in government jobs).

Winning the 5th District still runs through Spokane County, where two-thirds of the district’s population lives. And despite strong showings from Barack Obama and Patty Murray in Spokane, it hasn’t been an easy nut for the Democrats to crack. It’s still widely considered a “safe” district for Republicans.

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