2018 Senate Primary in Washington State

Pensacola Ballot Box

Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans via Wikimedia Commons.

For voters from Washington State, perhaps the most contested race on the Primary ballot this year is that for US Senate. Indeed, for me, it was the last item that I decided on when preparing to mail in my ballot from Poland (those who mail in absentee have to make their decisions much more earlier than those still in the States, hence the reason for making this analysis that I’m sharing here in my blog this early).

The smart money betting on the race says that the two contenders who might still be running after the Aug. 7 primary will be incumbent Maria Cantwell (Democrat), and former KIRO-TV news anchor Susan Hutchison (Republican). Of the two, Hutchison is clearly the greater danger: she has without apology expressed her support of President Donald Trump both in defense of his character (i.e., her rationalization of the Hollywood Access tape: “He was a Democrat at the time”), and in defense of his agenda (i.e., supporting the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court). Also being a renowned philanthropist (despite her finding common cause with Trump, reportedly an unabashed con artist when it comes to charitable causes), she also has the popularity among statewide conservatives needed to actually generate enough support to win.


Official portrait of Maria Cantwell via Wikimedia Commons.

However, Cantwell, although still somewhat Progressive, has more recently taken suspiciously Pro-Corporate stances with respect to Medicare-For-All, and Bernie Sanders’ bill that would have legalized cross-border drug purchases from Canada (a position that opponents like her tried to defend by saying that cheaper Canadian pharmaceuticals, provided by essentially the same sources as American companies, were somehow more dangerous – it’s well-documented that the real reason for the existing radical price difference is that the Canadians actually negotiate for their medicine, while Americans, by law, accept any price dictated to them). This, to me, takes Cantwell out of the Progressive camp and regretably entrenches her in the Corporatist camp.

However, reviewing the 26 other candidates, there aren’t a lot of other exciting choices that jump out at you. Still, there are two that I would highlight here, noting that one of these did get my vote at the last minute following news from New York City that Joe Crowley has decided to run again against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as an Independent (diluting the Democratic vote in her district and further demonstrating that corporate money in American politics, and the apparent greed it creates, is nothing more than a poison).



Campaign photo of Clint Tannehill via http://www.clinttannehill.com.

Clint R. Tannehill

Looking over his positions on the issues, Tannehill, who grew up in the blue-collar Hillyard neighborhood of Spokane, says all the right things. He’s for Medicare-For-All and for government covering tuition for its public universities. He supports implementing the same level of gun control used in Washington State for the entire country. He advocates for equal rights for women and those traditionally discriminated against in the LGBTQIA+ community. He’s open to new public safety solutions, including a review of problems leading to homelessness (i.e.,  drug addiction and mental illness among those who can’t afford treatment). He expresses support for subsidies to industries dependent on renewable energy. And he supports what appears to be common sense policies that protect the traditional sustenance economies that are important to the state’s Native Americans.

However, despite his record as a successful businessman (CEO of SimplePay, part owner of Americo Marketing in California and Cue Crossfit in Seattle) he doesn’t appear to have a whole lot of name recognition. At least as of July 15, he hasn’t secured any recognizable endorsements (he hasn’t come in as a Justice Democrat – indeed, this new movement hasn’t bothered to endorse anyone in this important race), and he’s generated almost no noticeable buzz online (it’s apparently still too early for The Stranger in Seattle to back anyone for the Primary).



Campaign photo of Gigi Ferguson via votejennifergigiferguson.com.

Jennifer “Gigi” Ferguson

Unlike Tannehill, Gigi has apparently been labeled an “Independent”. This appears to have been, in part, to allow backing by third parties like the Green Party, which has reportedly endorsed her despite James Robert Deal being listed as the only person competing as a Green Party candidate. If I have the history right, she started out her campaign as a candidate for the Democrats.

Although she has about the same amount of name recognition as Tannehill, Gigi is clearly more an activist. Having spent many years in Tacoma, she expressed an interest in public affairs as early as her years as a Girl Scout. As an adult, she has used her expertise as a professional counselor; she was even a Professor at Clover Park Technical College 10 years ago covering the topic of chemical dependency counseling. Her political positions are clearly within the Progressive camp, supporting Medicare-For-All, tuition-free education, equal rights for all, and law enforcement reform. She describes herself as “the People’s Politician”, and is likely to generate more visible support than she already has by the time of the actual Primary.


Likely Republican candidate Susan Hutchison. Photo via http://www.susan4senate.com

Although I may be forced to in the General Election, I can only wish at this moment that I could justify backing Cantwell in the Primary. Although she is far better than her likely Republican challenger, she is still part of the Hillary Clinton wing of the Democrats who unforgivably lost the last election. With Joe Crowley challenging as an Independent Ocasio-Cortez, the person who came out on top in what should have been his elimination from the race, it’s clear that this wing of the party won’t let go of its meal ticket very easily. This would be almost forgivable, almost understandable, if they didn’t have such a poor track record in defeating Republicans. However, the loss to Trump in 2016 sent a clear message for those with eyes to see – the Corporatists aren’t in this to win. They aren’t even seeking party unity. They are only in politics to make money for themselves. And that’s not what we elect/hire them to do.

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