The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

10 March 2005

WA: Dems Worried About Cantwell?

(Source Tip: Orbusmax)

Are Democrats worried about Senator Maria Cantwell's (D-Wash) chances in next year's election?

At the least, they're using her name in fundraising pitches, signed by Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York), as an example of a Democrat being targeted by the RNC for defeat in 2006.

Is this true? I hope so, but I'm not sure.

Senator Cantwell has low approval ratings for an Democrat incumbent in a state that went for Kerry last year. A recent Rasmussen poll, discussed here, showed the junior senator from Washington state behind in a potential matchup against Republican Dino Rossi.

What's the problem with Cantwell? Actually, there are many.

The former one-term congresswoman, barely won the 2000 US Senate race against longtime incumbent Slade Gorton (R-Wash), in a manner similar to the disputed 2004 Washington gubernatorial election.

Since then, she's been relatively low key, unlike the senior senator, Patty Murray (D-Wash). Cantwell is a rare example of a Democrat unloved by Seattle's liberal elitist media structure. She managed this unusual feat via an unpleasant attitude toward local journalists that ticked them off during her two-year stint as US representative for a North Seattle district.

After losing in 1996 to moderate Republican Rick White, Cantwell was quickly forgotten in politics. If it hadn't been for her perfect timing, jumping in early at RealNetworks, her comeback would have been impossible. Cantwell used her RealNetworks stock-option proceeds to fund the campaign. After her 2000 victory, questions were raised about Cantwell's finances.

Now, she has the fundraising advantage of incumbency, but has completely neglected to win friends in the state, just about anywhere. She hasn't been high profile on many issues and Murray seems unable to prop up Cantwell's in-state standing.

Cantwell has always reminded me of Sen. Hillary Clinton for some reason but she lacks the latter's ruthless political skills. Cantwell's wins have been the result of a combination of luck and money.

Why am I not sure whether Cantwell is really being targeted by the GOP? Because party officials inside the beltway rarely believe they can win any race in Washington state. They've written off the West Coast for the most part. It's possible that Dino Rossi's stolen victory has angered party leaders enough that they will focus on this highly winnable race.

And rumors of GOP targets in Washington state occur in every election cycle. Rarely does the party actually spend significant amounts of money in the state. They certainly crapped out on Rep. George Nethercutt's attempt to knock out Sen. Murray last year.

One name being mentioned to run against Cantwell: Rick White, the one person who has beaten her previously, in 1996 to take her congressional seat. White himself was then knocked out two years later by Democrat Jay Inslee and he left to work in Silicon Valley.

If Rossi's election challenge proves fruitless, he may also be a challenger to Cantwell. In the Rasmussen poll, he beat her by several points in a theoretical matchup. Rossi could generate a lot of support by voters disgusted by the way he was treated by Gov. Gregoire's den of thieves.


  • Sometime Brian, you're welcome to check out my subsidary blog: and my thoughts on this kind of rambling...

    By Anonymous Josef, at 13 March, 2005 18:55  

  • Josef:

    Always enjoy your contributions. Have to admit I'm confused about your views. You like Cantwell and Rossi? Is that right?

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 13 March, 2005 19:55  

  • Brian;

    Yes, you do. Both of them are fiscally responsible. Gov
    'r-ELECT Rossi - obvious.

    U.S. Senator Cantwell - she's been fighting Enron, demanded the Rossi maxim of "accountability before money" in her meth bill, also tried to govern for all of Washington State. Plus, she delivered the federal part of the 7E7 deal... and supported the Iraqi liberation... and the War on Terror.

    Finally, I really like this blog of yours.

    By Blogger Josef, at 14 March, 2005 11:27  

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