Candidates descend on Salmon Days Festival

October 5, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

Republican Congressman Dave Reichert reacts to friendly faces in the Salmon Days crowd. By Greg Farrar

Most festivalgoers head to Salmon Days for the parade, some music and, maybe, some grilled coho.

The annual occasion occurs a month before Election Day, and the festival is also a popular spot for political candidates to rally support and pass out campaign signs.

Salmon Days has long served as a stumping ground for candidates — and a rite of passage for hopefuls in the running to represent Issaquah in city, regional and state offices.

Eric Whitaker, a Western Washington University political science instructor, said Salmon Days and other community celebrations offer a candidate a chance to attract attention to lesser-known contests.

“Another advantage to it is face-to-face communication with potential voters,” he said. “It’s unmediated at that point, to go there in person to have that communication, have that dialogue with potential voters to try to win people over, persuade them, what have you.”

Candidates said Salmon Days and other parades and community celebrations offer a critical link to the electorate.

Congressional candidates Dave Reichert, the incumbent Republican, and Democrat Suzan DelBene swung through the festival Oct. 2.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dino Rossi appeared at the GOP booth Oct. 3. The former Issaquah state senator is in the midst of a tight race against incumbent Democrat Patty Murray.

Candidates trekked to the Democrat and Republican booths — arranged next to each other in a row book-ended by stalls for Planned Parenthood and Fraternity Snoqualmie Family Nudist Park.

Meg Nelson (left) and Shelby Healy meet 8th Congressional District candidate Suzan DelBene, a Democrat. By Greg Farrar

In addition to the City Council candidates at the 2009 festival, then-King County executive candidate Dow Constantine made a pilgrimage to the event. Gov. Chris Gregoire made a campaign stop at Salmon Days during the 2008 race.

Reichert said Salmon Days attendees seemed eager to discuss the upcoming election.

“Most of what I’m hearing today is about jobs and the economy,” he said.

DelBene said festivalgoers also offered a snapshot of kitchen-table concerns across the 8th Congressional District, a broad stretch of eastern King and Pierce counties.

“Anytime you get a chance to have a direct conversation with someone, it’s the best thing you can do,” she said.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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