I had heard that Darcy Burner – best known for being a Democrat who couldn’t beat a Republican in Washington state during the two worst election cycles for Republicans in living memory – spoke yesterday at Netroots Nation in Providence, RI (I happen to be in town myself for the much cooler Breitbart Awards conference that the Franklin Center/the Heritage Foundation is putting on). Feeling all very nostalgic about Ms. Burner and everything, I decided to see if she had been up to anything. Turns out? Yup! Darcy’s doing what she does best: making life easier for Republicans.
It goes like this. WA-01 is a recently redrawn district (more on this later) that is going to be strenuously fought over this election cycle. It was held by Democrat Jay Inslee, but he resigned the seat in order to run for Governor. As everyone reading this probably knows by now, House seats may not be assigned; if there is an empty seat then there must be an election. So there will be two elections in November: one for the month remaining in the current, and one for the next, full term. This happens all the time, and people should treat the news that this sort of thing causes headaches for the national parties with all the respect that such news deserves: yup, you guessed it, none at all.
But it does cause headaches, and the Washington Democratic party thought that they had a reasonable way out of the quagmire: they would get everybody running in the general election to agree not to run in the special election, and have a placeholder run in the special. This is important because Washington state has a jungle primary system AND has to run the special election using the old district lines (warning: dKos link*). Also consider that WA-01 went from being solidly Democratic to a D+3 district: that means that candidates for the general election would effectively have to appeal to voters who would not be voting for them.
So… as elections shenanigans go, this one is not particularly outrageous; it’s possibly not outrageous at all**. It, in fact, was fairly clever. Alas, the maneuver also required that the Democratic slate for the WA-01 primary consist of people who could be relied upon to not urinate in their own well, so it all collapsed when Darcy Burner decided to go ahead and file for both elections. Needless to say, then so did everybody else (including Republican John Koster, who will almost certainly be the Republican nominee in the likely case that he’s in the top two). And nobody’s happy… except probably Koster; confusion among one’s enemies is always nice to see.
Moral of the story? Well, there’s two. One: jungle primaries are almost as a bad idea as are multi-party fusion tickets. We have a two-party system in this system, and that system GETS CRANKY when forced to accept assaults on it, no matter how well-meant. Two: Darcy Burner is a (metaphorical) bomb-throwing idiot with poor aim who makes my life easier.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*I know, I know. But David Nir is pretty good with the mechanics of election districts. Too good for dKos, but it’s about as high as the guy can realistically aspire.
**Translation: “We should try this trick ourselves.” Mind you, I am a partisan Republican hack.