The communists in Seattle—as other parts of the state think of us—would likely have an easy time picking their candidate if they could vote in the 4th Congressional District. It would be the Democrat without the gun.
Most of the rest of the crowd hoping to replace retiring 10-term U.S. Rep Doc Hastings of Pasco consists of Republicans vowing to junk Obamacare, impeach the president, repeal Roe v. Wade, restore gun rights, fight gay marriage, abide by their Godly beliefs, and oppose Seattlethink.
This is the campaign in which one Republican, former Washington Redskins tight end Clint Didier, gave away two handguns and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with a 30-round magazine to supporters at a July 4 sweepstakes. It got him so much positive press, he’s confidently thinking of holding a second raffle after the three-time Super Bowler wins the August 5 primary, he says.
Even one of the two Democrats in the 12-candidate race, Estakio Beltran, a onetime aide to Sen. Maria Cantwell, is resorting to weapons as a campaign tactic. In an online video, Beltran is shown aiming at a stuffed elephant—the GOP symbol—with a shotgun and saying “They call me a long shot. They say I can’t win in this district. But what happens to an elephant when it stands around, doing nothing, for too long?” Boom!
He withdrew the vid last week after former Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the gunshot survivor from Arizona who promotes responsible gun ownership, issued a statement calling the ad “irresponsible and offensive.”
The district’s Obama-loathing primary—mail ballots go out this week—is a reminder of our state’s great political divide: Red where the sun rises, Blue where it sets. And the 4th District constitutes its Far Red reaches, from central to southeast Washington—Adams, Benton, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Okanogan, Walla Walla, and Yakima counties.
It’s where a recent poll showed almost 70 percent of respondents opposed Obamacare. Sarah (“The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored”) Palin is big there—the parents of the world’s most famous failed candidate and gubernatorial quitter are from the Tri-Cities. She endorsed Didier in an earlier run for the U.S. Senate, and he was more recently endorsed by Tea Party leader Amy Kremer. His polling shows he’s leading the race, although the Eltopia farmer is getting strong challenges from two conservative Republicans, Kennewick attorney George Cicotte and Moses Lake state Sen. Janéa Holmquist.
But if anyone represents the us-versus-them, Blue-Red divide, it’s Didier.
“Don’t allow Seattle and west-side power brokers to dictate who we elect here in our district,” he tells prospective voters. “We need to follow our founders’ plan for limited government. I’ve pledged in writing to never vote for new or increases in existing taxes, nor to support any budget that grows the federal government even one dollar—regardless of party”—unlike that Seattle pinko Jim McDermott.
Didier doesn’t much like the press—he was the only candidate who refused to show for an interview at the Yakima Herald-Republic—so he is getting his message out at public forums and through social media. Most recently he tweeted an endorsement from ex-Rep. Ron Paul, as well as his own views on a hot-button Supreme Court case: “Obama considers executive action after #HobbyLobby ruling. Another illegal act to buy votes when women can buy pills for just $10.”
That kind of talk can get you elected in a congressional district where, since its formation in 1915, six of nine Congress members have been Republican. The last Democrat to hold the seat was now-Gov. Jay Inslee, beaten after one term by Hastings 20 years ago, forcing Inslee to move back to Seattle where he was born and run, successfully, in the 1st District.
Still, it’s a crowded field, and other than raffling off guns and shooting elephants, what do you have to say to get elected in the far-out 4th? Dan Newhouse, a Republican state legislator and former state agriculture commissioner, has all the Right credentials: pro-lifer, pro-gunner, Obama critic, and NRA member. He also leads Didier in initial fundraising, $162,000 to $133,000. But his greatest press coverage was generated by Didier’s accusation that Newhouse had used state resources in his campaign (which Newhouse denied, saying Didier was “flinging mud everywhere”).
Republican Glen Stockwell, an ex-Ritzville city councilman, may siphon off Tea Party votes from Didier, promising not only to impeach Obama but imprison him. But Didier is positioned as the chief redneck in Red country, opposed to all things liberal.
“I’m a farmer as were many of #FoundingFathers,” he recently tweeted. He didn’t mention that he took socialist welfare—a reported $273,000 in subsidy crop insurance—for 15 years. But he did give that up four years ago—after he started running for public office. “I do not want to be on the hook and beholding to government,” he says. He just wants to get elected to it.
Rick Anderson writes about sex, crime, money, and politics, which tend to be the same thing.