EVERYONE ENDED UP talking about not talking about Monica, leaving nothing to talk about but issues. (That'll teach us.) But there were Campaign '98 moments to remember, thanks partly to Democratic campaigners trying to stay at arm's length from our hands-on president. As recalled by Joel Connelly in the Seattle P-I, state Demo chair Paul Berendt seemed to express his party's uneasy hopes aptly when, announcing Vice President Al Gore's last-minute swing through Western Washington, he blurted: "We have one hurdle left in this election, and that is to turn out infrequent Democratic voters. Nothing will do that like a visit from President Gore."
Some other 1998 lowlights:
US Rep. Jennifer Dunn, apparently forgetting that former President Reagan is debilitated by Alzheimer's, tried to toss her support to fellow Rep. Jack Metcalf by observing, "I feel very protective of Jack. He is sort of our Ronald Reagan."
Jim (not Tom) Foley, state Supreme Court candidate, ran on his sense of humor and name familiarity, seemingly admitted to a felony for once accepting an illegal amount of elk meat, and said he first became a public defender in Raymond in part because "I wanted to practice law in an architecturally significant courthouse."
Don Benton, 3rd District congressional candidate, when asked why he was repeatedly absent and missed as many as 400 votes while a member of the state Legislature, explained that he was with his wife while she was having their baby. Asked later to explain the rather long birthing period, Benton said he meant he missed three votes due to his wife's labor; he wasn't sure about the other 397.
Unabashable Republican US Senate candidate Linda Smith, who once called GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich "fat boy," this time called Republican US Sen. Mitch McConnell "one belligerent person who likes the laundering of political money." She also said that Clinton was "a jerk" who treats "women like pieces of meat" and warned that if the "old guys" in the House don't stop calling her "girlie," "I'm going to sock them in the nose."
Mike Lewis, GOP state House candidate for the 36th District, promised to save money and in return give "a 20 percent tax cut across the state to help ward off the coming Asian flu."
Jim Stokes, Demo US Senate candidate, ran "because I have the filing fee."
Muhammad Shabazz Farrakhan, a.k.a. Ernest Scott Walker, Republican state House candidate for the 37th District who has a string of felony convictions for drugs, theft, and forgery, was allowed by a judge to remain on the ballot even though he had not met all conditions of his parole, including payment of $24,000 in restitution. Meanwhile, Gordon Pross, an Ellensburg farmer who had recently been jailed for assault, ran and lost to US 4th District Rep. George Nethercutt, while Spokane attorney Brad Plum, seeking a local judgeship, was kicked off the ballot because of his theft conviction—having illegally collected welfare after graduating from law school.
In Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, former officeholder Lee Ray was confused by the public with Ray Lee, who was running for county assessor. Both pointed out that Lee Ray is a female Democrat, Ray Lee is a male Republican, they look nothing alike, and neither of them is former Washington Gov. Dixy Lee Ray, who is dead. But they do sometimes get each other's dry cleaning.