|Map last updated Nov. 3rd. I re-colored the WA figures to reflect outcomes as of Nov. 12th.|
Sarah Palin really bombed in Washington state. Palin endorsed Clint Didier for Senate and John Koster and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers for House, according to Washington Post‘s Palin endorsement tracker (pictured right). Didier lost in the primaries, Koster lost in the general and McMorris Rodgers was a shoe-in regardless.
There’s no doubt that some of the Republicans newly-elected to the House of Representatives were endorsed by Sarah Palin. But in how many races was her endorsement actually meaningful? I wonder how many times Palin stacked her “success” deck by endorsing sure-winners like Washington’s Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
From what I can tell, the candidates that Palin endorsed in Washington all won or lost independent of her endorsement. Below the fold are some details on the three of them.
What about in your state? Did Palin wave a magic tea bag and influence the outcome, or was she a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing?
Clint Didier (U.S. Senate challenger)
Washington Redskins tight end turned eastern Washington alfalfa farmer and tea party darling, Clint Didier was the first candidate in Washington to be endorsed by Sarah Palin. In a publicity stunt, Palin summoned Didier away from potential supporters at the Washington State Republican conference back across the state to Richland for a meeting. “All geared up for the convention. Then I got the call from Sarah,” he tweeted.
Palin’s endorsement probably didn’t hurt Didier’s tea party credibility, but it couldn’t counterbalance serious credibility flaws in the candidate like this:
Despite his fierce anti-government rhetoric, Didier’s 1000-acre Pasco farm has benefited from direct federal crop subsidies, as well as government-subsidized irrigation water. See my article on that from earlier this week.
Other embarrassments included Didier’s participation one week before the primary in a smear campaign aimed at Dino Rossi, Didier’s major Republican opponent. A proxy war, the smear campaign was conducted by fixtures of Washington’s radical-right, Sen. Val Stevens and Pastor Joe Fuiten. Stevens endorsed Didier, Fuiten endorsed Rossi. Beginning with an open letter from Stevens, the Didier camp alleged that Rossi wasn’t anti-choice enough. The unseemly sight of “pro-life” advocates turning the fetus into a political football earned the Didier campaign criticism from other conservatives.
Didier came in 3rd in the primary with only 12.8% of the vote. Dino Rossi would go on to challenge Senator Patty Murray in the general election.
Didier said he wants Rossi to sign a pledge that he won’t raise taxes, to promise to vote against any plan to increase federal spending, and to personally sponsor the Sanctity of Life Act, a measure that would attempt to ban the U.S. Supreme Court from ruling state abortion restrictions unconstitutional.
Didier quickly became a laughingstock.
[Former state Republican Party Chairman Chris] Vance said Didier, as a political newcomer, didn’t realize how politics should be played. For example, he noted that once Didier made his demands public, Rossi would only seem weak if he agreed to them.
“I would not be so arrogant to give Clint Didier advice on how to block an outside linebacker, but he’s brand new to politics and he doesn’t know how things work,” Vance said.
John Koster (WA-2 House Challenger)
“Arch-conservative” is the term that usually comes to mind when describing John Koster. After the 2010 election, perhaps “law-breaker” and “debate-ducker” will be used as well. Late in October Publicola reported
…Koster has been accepting illegal corporate campaign contributions. The Federal Election Commission wrote Koster an angry letter back in September, demanding he return all the campaign contributions he received from corporations during the July expenditure reporting period. (Corporations are prohibited from giving money directly to federal political campaigns). …
This quarter’s reports have just been filed, and we checked them today to see if he’d returned the money. Nope. In fact, it looks to us as if Koster is still taking contributions from corporations. Silvergate Farms LLC, Quantum Construction Inc, and Boyden Robinett Association all sound like contributors that are sure to raise flags with the FEC.
On the matter of ducking debates, by the time Koster had backed out last minute of an October 21st televised debate, he’d already ducked three previous public fora. The press was particularly mystified over Koster’s October 21 cancellation since the reason given by his campaign was that Koster didn’t “like one of the proposed debate panelists, a reporter who works for a newspaper that endorsed him.”. Poor performance in public debates and interviews was widely recognized to be an Achilles heel for Koster’s big endorser, Sarah Palin. Indeed, The Stranger‘s Eli Sanders postulated that Koster was avoiding televised debates because his campaign realized that he came across as angry and extreme on television. The best bet was to just stay out of the spotlight and try to ride the anti-incumbent wave.
Although the 2010 election result wont be officially certified until November 22nd, as of Nov. 12th Koster was trailing Rep. Rick Larsen 48.9% to 51.1% and has conceded. A few days previously, as Koster’s election-night lead began slipping away, Koster’s campaign manager Larry Stickney “implied Democrats might try to steal the election.”
“Though John Koster remains in a position to win, we are keenly aware that there are those who will do everything they can to keep this seat out of the hands of the new House majority,” Koster’s campaign manager Larry Stickney said in a statement.
Larry Stickney also managed Koster’s 2000 bid for the same seat which he also lost to Rick Larsen.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5, WA)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers is a 3-term Republican incumbent in a heavily Republican district covering half of eastern Washington. Running for re-election against a little-known Democrat, McMorris Rodgers was heavily favored to win re-election before Palin’s endorsement, and did so easily. Palin’s endorsement was entirely superfluous.
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