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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Darcy Burner vs. Rodney Tom: The Past as Prologue?

posted by on July 18 at 15:25 PM

There’s a lot of chatter today about the Democratic primary that’s shaping up in the eastside’s 8th Congressional District.

Democrat Darcy Burner, who narrowly lost to Republican Congressman Dave Reichert in 2006, will try again for Reichert’s seat in 2008. But first she has to get through the Democratic primary, which Democratic state senator Rodney Tom (formerly known as Republican state representative Rodney Tom) has announced he is entering.

Tom is arguing that he’s more in line with the politically-mixed 8th District than Burner, and more viable against Reichert given his longer political resume.

The Burner campaign is eager to knock this notion down, and they’ve slipped me some rather interesting numbers from the 2006 elections as part of that effort.

Political junkies will recall that in 2006, Tom was making his run for state senate as a newly-minted Democrat while Burner was making her run for Congress as a newbie Democratic darling.

As it happens, Tom’s legislative district, the 48th, lies partly within the Congressional district that Burner was trying to win, the 8th. So it’s possible to do a “head to head” comparison of votes won by Burner and Tom in the part of the 48th legislative district where both Burner and Tom were on the ballot in 2006. No surprise, the Burner campaign has done that comparison.

According to their spreadsheet, Burner beat Tom in his own district in 2006 by about 250 votes. I haven’t had time to double-check the Burner campaign’s numbers yet, but if their numbers hold up, it’s going to become a bit harder for Tom to argue that he has more appeal on the eastside than Burner.

The rejoinder from the Burner camp will become: Eastside voters have already answered the question of who has more appeal. They’ve shown that in Tom’s own district, Burner is more popular than Tom.

As Burner spokesman Sandeep Kaushik puts it: “In terms of her values and her priorities and her positions on the issues of the day, Darcy Burner is more in line with the people of her district.”

UPDATE: A Democratic operative with no dog in this race just called to point out what he sees as a big flaw in the Burner campaign’s spin on these “head to head” numbers: The entire 250-vote difference could very well have nothing to do with Burner being more popular than Tom on the eastside, and everything to do with the fact that down-ballot races normally draw fewer votes. Tom was much further down the ballot than Burner in 2006, and so it’s more than likely that in that election, 250 Democratic voters just didn’t have the attention span (or the familiarity with state politics) to get around to casting a vote in Tom’s legislative race.

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Not a Tom guy but what he said was that he would have more appeal in the 8th NOT on the eastside or in the 48th. Go look at the map of the 8th and you will see that it is not just the eastside but a bunch of rural KC and Pierce County. And that's basically where DB lost. DB doesn't seem to have anything but money and maybe the prospect of being the first MSFT rep. Everyone should read her site. Hopefully more candidates will enter the fray.

Was that tipster Sandeep a former colleague?

Posted by whatever | July 18, 2007 5:33 PM

Down ballot races get fewer votes?
UPDATE: No shit, Eli. For Christ's sake.

Posted by hank | July 18, 2007 6:44 PM

Whatever @ 1 has it right. Burner's problem wasn't in districts like the 48th, it was in places like the 31st (the mentioned rural south King/north Pierce area), where Reichert beat her by margins that made the difference overall. That's why I thought Chris Hurst (31st Rep) would have been a much better candidate.

Burner's lack of public experience could, if things in Iraq remain the same, be an even greater hindrance than in '06. Why? Burner ran on a 'vote for change' platform, but given the public's dissatisfaction with the Democrats in Congress at the moment (their approval numbers are lower than Bush's), the voters may not see how putting in Burner will change anything. Without that, it could come down to the experience question.

Posted by J. Whorfin | July 18, 2007 6:54 PM

The Democrat who can beat Reichert will be the one that can make inroads in rural, conservative east Pierce King County. It is indicative of how the political landscape has changed when the affluent citizens of Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, and Mercer Island are voting Democratic while the more hardscrabble communities east of Tacoma think the Republican party is looking out for them. But we've all read "What's the Matter with Kansas."

Rep. Zack Hudgins (D-11th) would be the perfect candidate for the 8th, but alas, he lives in the 9th.

Posted by Jim Demetre | July 18, 2007 9:25 PM

Move Hudgins :D

JW's point about Burner makes a lot of sense. She ran an anti-Bush, I'm pro military and I work hard campaign. Last campaign is had few if any specifics. We will be on our way out of Iraq and the big concern will a president that will keep us out.

The national Dems will be most interested in keeping their current seats not getting new ones. Of course, they would like more seats but the money will lean to the presidency and existing seat holders.

Posted by whatever | July 19, 2007 11:21 AM

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