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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

May 23, 2012 at 7:33 AM

What can we learn from the nine candidates for Washington governor?

McKenna Inslee Candidates Third-Party

(Graphic by Almeera Anwar / UW Election Eye)

With nine candidates running for Washington State governor, and the primary still months away, why is all the attention  focused on McKenna and Inslee? 

SEATTLE — In a free and fair election, should all candidates be given equal consideration? This question recently came up in the Washington State governor’s race. Nine candidates filed for the position, but only two have been invited to the Association of Washington Business debate, to be held in Spokane in June.

“The debate hosts set their own rules and they invite people based on the criteria they establish,” said Sterling Clifford, Jay Inslee’s communications director, “While Jay is open to a broader conversation, but also there is good reason to acknowledge the realities of the election and political climate. Rob McKenna or Jay Inslee will be the next governor of Washington. That is just a cold hard fact.”

Some might say that since these candidates are relatively unknown and not the primary contenders for governor, in the way that Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna are, they should not get equal attention.

However many of us political junkies had no problem watching the eight GOP Presidential nominees vie for that position for months. We watched them spar in debates or promote their platforms in the mainstream media for months. We even saw all eight of them debate each other on stage in Iowa. But did we really see all these candidates as equal contenders for the position? Let’s not forget about Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan and numerous Pokemon references. He was treated as a serious candidate, but did he really ever have a chance?

I would argue that these lesser known candidates bring issues to the attention of the general public that are often unrepresented or not addressed in the main political dialogue. Even Cain had a method to his madness when he addressed a rally with Stephen Colbert in South Carolina with a focus on motivating Americans to vote.

Candidate James White of Everett hopes to bring attention to his pet of family court reform.

“For me personally, I want to address a real issue like the corporation in family court,” said White, “Where people are pretty much being tried in civil court and losing their second amendment rights. It’s a question no one has dealt with publically yet.”

Another candidate, Christian Joubert, ran his 2008 campaign for governor on the concept of restoring holistic health and health education to Washington. While Rob Hill of Shoreline said that he would run on the single issue of increasing the tobacco tax since he lost his father, a smoker, to cancer.

Most of these candidates will not be discussed in the mainstream media. Nor will the issues they address. The most press they’ll get might be in the voters’ guide that is mailed around to every registered voter before the primary.

Some people blame the two-party system in the United States for voter apathy and fatigue. Just last week, Time magazine profiled Americans elect — a group trying to get a third party candidate for president on the ballot in all 50 states. But so far, the campaign has been met with a lack of enthusiasm.

Even if voting citizens wanted to do research on all the candidates running for a position, and find out about the ones who haven’t gotten much attention, many don’t know where to start. People have literally asked each other on “How to Research Political Candidates.”

Of the candidates that have filed for Washington state governor, four prefer the Republican Party, two prefer the Democratic Party, two prefer the Independent party and one stated no party preference.

The Public Disclosure Commission website that shows that many of these candidates have raised no money so far, so we can probably assume that they will not be the primary contenders for the position of Washington state governor.

But that doesn’t mean we should ignore them. After all, by throwing their hat in the ring and filing for candidacy, they’ve taken a big first step to political participation that most of us never will.

Comments | More in State | Topics: Governor, governor's race, Jay Inslee


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