Chuck DeVore may look like your run of the mill Assemblyman from California, but I assure you, he has the heart of a dragon-slayer. Chuck has chosen to take on the daunting task of defeating Barbara Boxer in 2010 and giving conservative Californians a voice in the U.S. Senate. (In case you have a few spare bucks lying around, Chuck is taking donations now online.) But however appealing I find a manly-man taking on a Herculean chore like defeating Boxer, Chuck isn't really my focus today. Sorry, Chuck.
If you're at all interested in politics, you probably know that Washington's own Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray (take a look at this fascinating chart; you'll see that Murry is only slightly to the right of Boxer), is also up for re-election in 2010 and I'm left wondering, where's our dragon-slayer? It's not as though Washington's conservatives have been over-represented in the US Senate - in the last half century, only one Republican, Slade Gorton, has been elected to the Senate from the State of Washington. Another, former governor Dan Evans, served out Henry "Scoop" Jackson's term after Jackson's death.
I'm sure Patty Murray is a nice enough person, if a little naive (remember her comments about Osama bin Laden and the daycare centers?). My main issue with Patty? She's never met a tax she didn't like. The National Taxpayers Union gives her a score of F; 6% to be precise. According to NTU, a "zero score would indicate that the Member of Congress approved every spending proposal and opposed every pro-taxpayer reform." Even with this abysmal tax and spend record, Ms. Murray won re-election in 2004 with a 55 to 43% margin of victory over George Nethercutt.
As I see it, Republican candidates in statewide races face two obstacles. The first is Seattle. Just over half of the population of Washington is concentrated in the Puget Sound region with Seattle at its center. Seattle proper is solidly blue and over the years, its radical liberalism has spread into the surrounding citys and counties. If you're not familiar with just how liberal Seattle is, consider the nude cyclists of the Fremont District's Solstice Parade and the fact that the Seattle City Council has abandoned a proposal that would have prohibited people from appearing nude in city parks. To succeed, Republican candidates have to stay close in the Puget Sound region and win overwhelmingly in the rest of the state. I believe it's likely that most of these voters have beliefs in line with Ms. Murray's on social and environmental issues while having no knowledge of her voting record on taxation and spending issues.
The second obstacle to a successful Senate bid is a dearth of opportunity to build a solid resume and name recognition. State politics is so solidly dominated by Democrats that it's difficult for conservative Republicans to advance to positions of leadership. Right now, Washington Republicans hold only three seats in the US House of Representatives and only two statewide offices in Olympia (Secretary of State and Attorney General). Compounding this problem is the fact that two of our Representatives are from the dry side of the mountains: Doc Hastings and Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Why is this a problem? The Seattle area media ignores them; our urban liberal elitists have little use for Eastern Washington.
Which is why we need a Chuck DeVore. To mount a serious challenge to an entrenched incumbent like Patty Murray, a Republican challenger will need to be well-organized, well-financed and well-known. By starting now, that challenger could build grassroots support and momentum to carry into the campaign cycle. I don't know who that challenger will be, I just know - we need a hero.
Cross posted at It's Only Words.