September 10, 2004

WA - 8th Congressional District Race

Here, finally, less than a week before the primary, I've finished the last interview in the series. It didn't take that long to actually get the last interview, with candidate Dave Ross, but it did take me more time than I will now admit to get around to writing it up.

Here's the full lineup for your reading pleasure, with a teaser paragraph from each thrown in for good measure.


Alex Alben

Alben says that during elections, most of the discussion is about popular topics like healthcare, war, and Social Security. Then when you get to Congress, the actual job ends up being about issues like taxation, intellectual property law, and media policy. With a career spanning the software industry and more types of media than most members of Congress, as well as a long history of experience in government policy, Alben is confident that he can handle the everyday work.

Heidi Behrens-Benedict

“Taxes,” Behrens-Benedict says, “are the price of civilization.” They provide funding for services people want, such as roads, hospitals, schools, libraries, and the protection of public lands. She says the current administration and key Republicans appear to be “starving the federal government as it relates to human services.” Even though government is bigger than ever, and overall spending has increased, she says funding for these services falls short of the need for them.

Dave Ross

Ross, a Catholic, says he understands the concern religious people have about abortion. He says they think “God will punish America with fire because of the large number of abortions. And what I ask them is, ‘are you sure that outlawing it will reduce the number of abortions? Because if it doesn’t, God will still punish us with fire. …If you cover up the problem, he’ll still see it.’ …They think passing a law will avoid God’s wrath.”


Luke Esser

While Esser feels there may be a lot of issues that the public should consider more often, he said, “People are busy. And that’s one thing I think we all need to keep in mind if we lament the fact that pople don’t spend enough time thinking about particular political issues.”

Conrad Lee

Lee is glad to be in a country where people have the opportunity to be free and to experiment. He said that “democracy can only succeed when everybody is involved and participating,” saying that because it isn’t a natural state, it has to be fought for. He considers democratic government and political freedom to be a form of protection for economic and religious freedom. He said that not enough people vote, and it’s important to encourage them to do so. “People need to feel that their vote can make a difference,” he said.

Dave Reichert

When asked why he’s running for congress, King County Sheriff Dave Reichert will say he’s interested in having a “broader impact beyond public safety.” This is his 33rd year in the Sheriff’s office, and to him, “it seems like a natural progression.” He says he likes to turn the question back around, asking audiences why they’d give up their time to hear him speak.

Diane Tebelius

“There are enough people who think they know better than the administration,” said Tebelius. She suggested that it was inappropriate to second-guess the president when it came to decisions like breaking off negotiations with North Korea when he took office in 2001.

So far, Democrat Alex Alben and Republican Diane Tebelius seem to have gotten the most local media endorsements. Of the Democrats, Alben has the near unanimous endorsement of elected Democrats holding major offices, and we'll find out pretty soon if the voters agree. Of the Republicans, Tebelius is the one that does the most spot on impression of a Rove talking points brief with feet. (It may surprise you to learn that I did actually like a couple of her opponents. Lee and Reichert both seemed worthy of a 'loyal opposition' label; speaking their own minds without obvious malice or obfuscation.)

I won't make a prediction of my own on who's going to win, and considering that I live in the 1st CD, I don't even get to vote on it. So my opinion doesn't carry a lot of pull. But Alben just seems like a guy with the word 'legislator' written all over him, and he seems like a good fit in a district where you can hardly throw a spitball without hitting someone who works in the software industry. If I was in the 8th, he'd be my choice, even though I liked both of his opponents and have no deep objection to them.

Update: Edited for clarity, teasers added.

Posted by natasha at September 10, 2004 03:28 AM | WA Politics | TrackBack(2) | Technorati links |

On Tuesday, September 14th, the Progressive voters in the 8th CD will
have the last real opportunity to vote their values. In what is being termed
"The most important election in a generation.", nowhere is the choice for
Progressives more clear. In Heidi Behrens-Benedict, there is a candidate who
will proudly associate herself with the Congressional Progressive Caucus
(recognized by Dennis Kucinich as THE Progressive in the 8th CD while her primary
opponents represent either more representation for Corporate America or
worse(?), Bush-lite tendencies. On the issues of most concern to
Progressives, Heidi speaks to our values. She believes that those who are
elected to the US House are there to represent the people.
While there has been some discussion about differences in the definition
of Progressive, I believe it is widely accepted that Progressives support
full funding for Public Education and stand in opposition to Charter
Schools. I am hard pressed to find many Progressives who support federal
funding for so called "Faith Based Initiatives", and I have not met more
than 2 self professed Progressives who were not opposed to the Iraq
Resolution and the ensuing invasion. All of these positions have been
embraced by newborn Democrat, Dave Ross as well as stated support for
parental notification restrictions for abortion. I was raised as an FDR
Democrat; someone widely acclaimed as "so Progressive he was a Socialist".
FDR brought this country back from depression and widespread unemployment by
investing in the people and communities. He came from corporate wealth but
understood that it was the people and the communities who provided sustained
and real economic security. Today we are finding more and more Democrats who
are in the "trickle down" camp including Alex Alben who believes that
economic growth and the path to social justice lie in more "focused" tax
credits to corporations.
Heidi Behrens-Benedict has been challenging the republican right-wing for
the past 3 election cycles. She has proudly worn the mantle of "The 8th CD's
Liberal". Over those six years, Dave and Alex have been living in the 8th
CD. While they say today that they support the Democrats and are opposed to
the republican agenda, where were they while Heidi was challenging the
republicans with her voice and her money? Dave says he was voting for
former state Rep. Ida Ballasiotes, a Republican from Mercer Island and as
late as May, 2004 "said he doesn't call himself a Democrat, and that his
positions cross party lines".(Seattle Times-May 5, 2004) While there is no way to
determine who they voted for in 1998, 2000, or 2002, I have not found any
reference to financial contributions from either Alex or Dave to Heidi in
any of her under-funded and unsupported attempts to unseat entrenched
republican and Bush family friend, Jennifer Dunn.
Between now and Tuesday, there is still time for Progressives in and
around the 8th CD to influence this critical choice for the US House. For
those in the district, the choice is obvious; vote to support THE true
Progressive in this race. For those outside the district there is still time
to work the phones and knock on doors in the district. To let this race slip
away will result in another vote for Charter Schools and Vouchers, federal
funding for Faith Based Initiatives and, perhaps, weakening of existing
protections on the issue of Choice. There is still time to act. Will you?

Posted by: Chad Shue at September 11, 2004 10:21 PM

I live in the 8th, and support Alben. Heidi sounds great, but she should be running for office in Wallingford, Queen Anne or Ballard -- not Bellevue and Kirkland. Dave Ross sounds like a moron, and the way he let himself be used by Behrents indicates to me that a bag of hammers would have more smarts than he does.

And Behrents, Jeezus, I don't have enough words to express how I hate that asshole.

Posted by: PhilK at September 11, 2004 11:08 PM