Off the Press

August 14, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Election enthusiasm, fresh from New Jersey

Warren Kagarise
Press reporter

Election Day, as a barrage of ads across all media reminds us, is only weeks — days, really — into the future.

Forget the Aug. 7 primary and the gaggle of also-ran candidates for state auditor, state insurance commissioner and other unglamorous-but-important roles. Until Nov. 6, all attention is focused on the race for governor.

Yes, I realize the presidential contest represents a watershed moment, but Washington is not a battleground state and the most locals can expect to see is more in-state fundraising from President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Though the presidential race inched tantalizingly close to Issaquah in recent months — Obama in Seattle, Bellevue, Hunts Point and Medina; and Romney in Bellevue and Medina — neither candidate crossed Lake Sammamish.

So, in the meantime, amid the ubiquitous TV ads featuring Jay Inslee’s bulldozer and Rob McKenna’s family, do not overlook the races farther down the ballot.

The upcoming election includes important races for state attorney general (Washington’s top law enforcement official), secretary of state (Washington’s chief elections administrator) and, closer to Issaquah, contests in the 5th and 41st legislative districts.

In Washington, local, state and national politics intersected at a GOP rally Aug. 9 as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican rock star and, maybe, future presidential contender, jetted to Washington to stump for McKenna.

Christie arrived 89 days before Election Day — and before Romney ruled out the running mate chatter surrounding Christie by selecting Paul Ryan, a telegenic Wisconsin congressman.

The chance to see a future president or vice president — although, admittedly, the latter possibility sounded less exciting — attracted about 200 Republican faithful and a media gaggle to the Christie appearance inside a Westin Bellevue ballroom.

In the hour or so before Christie swept into the ballroom, local Republicans used the event to highlight down-ballot candidates, too, including Issaquah School Board President Chad Magendanz, a state House of Representatives hopeful in the 5th District. (Magendanz’s opponent in November is North Bend Democrat David Spring.)

Then, a national spotlight focused on the race for governor.

“We should have some Bruce Springsteen playing right now,” McKenna said before the Garden State governor reached the lectern.

(Christie is a devout fan of Springsteen, but Springsteen does not share the same affection for the governor.)

The Boss aside, Christie decried the “wet blanket of overtaxation” and admonished the crowd to mobilize on McKenna’s behalf.

Then, in a nod to a reputation for pugnacious political behavior, Christie said, “I haven’t, you know, gone Jersey on anybody tonight.”

“Please do me a favor,” he said to the enthusiastic attendees. “Don’t make me come back here.”

Interest in the November election at all levels is high and, apparently, visible all the way from New Jersey.

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