How do you get attention if you are running against a 12-term incumbent who usually takes at least three-quarters of the votes?
Well, if you’re Andrew Hughes, a Democratic challenger to longtime Congressman Jim McDermott, you bike, boat and swim across the district. You spend the night in Westlake Park with the homeless, then don a Seattle SuperSonics sweatshirt and rally for the return of big-league basketball.
Hughes, 30, may still be an underdog in his race against McDermott for Seattle’s 7th District seat, but he is the undisputed leader in campaign stunt-pulling. On Monday, he dunked himself in a tank of water for 90 minutes — with scuba gear —
on Alki Beach in the South Park neighborhood, then surfaced to discuss the pain of homeowners who are also underwater — in their mortgage payments. Get it?
“Mount McDermott’s a big mountain to climb,” said Hughes, a tax attorney when he’s not running for office. The stunts are a way to draw attention to important issues, he said. They also demonstrate how he would legislate if elected, he said — at community events that may seem “beneath” federal office-holders.
“It does involve new energy,” he said. “It involves being a member of the community and doing community events. … He’s been around for a long time and I think that’s part of the problem as well.”