Richard Pope, the perennial candidate and perennial loser, figures he has a shot, so to speak, at getting elected in November. His King County Council opponent, incumbent Jane Hague (or, as she's known in court, Miss Springman), is, as has been well-chronicled, battling the recent revelation of a June DUI arrest.
Hague's allegedly woozy drive homeward after a charity wine feed that night was a trip of political ironies: She was first spotted unable to negotiate the eastbound double lanes of the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge—whose lane expansion is one of her priorities—and she was tailed by a county deputy whose departmental budget she helped fashion as part of the council's Budget Leadership Team. (At least she didn't cause a mishap, considering she has in the past proposed recovering emergency response costs from any drunk driver involved in an accident.)
In this case, she did no damage, except perhaps to her re-election campaign, elevating Pope's chances as she blew between .13 and .14 on a breath-alcohol analyzer—though she may now have legally maneuvered around that in court (see "Thar She Blows" in last week's issue). All of which leaves Pope in the catbird seat, or so he thinks.
"I got 45 percent of the vote last year," says Pope, who ran for a judgeship in the county's district court system—where Hague is now being tried—crusading against drunk drivers. "That's not a bad showing," he adds proudly.
A party quick-change artist, the sometimes-Republican Pope filed as a Democrat at the last minute this year, declaring simply that Hague shouldn't run unopposed. The folks most upset by this maneuver were his fellow (for now, anyway) Dems, who put up a write-in candidate, Brad Larssen, to head Pope off in the primary. A one-man bandwagon with expenses of $1,281, Pope drew 8,588 primary votes, while Larssen got most of 3,607 write-in ballots. Hague, unopposed on the GOP side, got 10,962 (there were also 66 GOP write-in votes for various people or, as is often the case with write-ins, cartoon characters). If primary vote totals mean anything, that's 12,195 on the Democratic side and 11,028 on the GOP side.
"They had lots of money, 100 volunteers, and two months to campaign," says Pope, an Eastside attorney who had lost 10 assorted campaigns in a row, "and I beat them."
"I'm still trying to figure out why certain people in the Democratic Party hate me so much," he adds. "I got all these votes, and I haven't even started to campaign yet!"