The Mystery Man With 400,000 Votes

A mystery, that is, to The Seattle Times.

This past Sunday, The Seattle Times told its readers about the slate of 2008 gubernatorial candidates that "more than likely, you've never heard of," including perennial also-ran Will Baker. In its account, the Times wrote that Baker, of Tacoma, and the other lesser-known candidates, "barring a miracle, have no chance of surviving the Aug. 19 primary and appearing on the November ballot. Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire and her Republican challenger, Dino Rossi, are almost certain to be the two candidates still standing after the primary." But in his unsuccessful run for state auditor in 2004, Baker, a self-described International Man of Diplomacy, got 44,000 more primary votes than Rob McKenna did in his winning bid for attorney general that year. Baker's 410,718 votes as the GOP's candidate were all the more stunning since the state's Republican Party effectively disowned him—wouldn't give him money, campaign for him, or even mention him on the party Web site. That may have had something to do with Baker's 19 arrests in 12 years, usually for talking. He dominates the microphone at Tacoma City Council meetings to the point that authorities have to be called, though they don't necessarily want to listen to him either: County jailers usually leave his cell door open, hoping he'll just go home. This time out, Baker, seeking his highest office yet, is running as the Reform Party candidate for governor. And who knows? Maybe voters are tired of both Gregoire and Rossi and their distorted politicking. After all, in having to pick between Gov. Could and Gov. Would, Gov. Will sounds pretty tempting.

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