Inside political catch and keep | Jerry Cornfield

For very different reasons, Donald Trump and Randy Dorn are poised to alter the dynamics of this year's race for governor in Washington. Trump's effect would derive from his position as the Republican Party's presumptive nominee for president and the cascading consequences of his words and actions.

For very different reasons, Donald Trump and Randy Dorn are poised to alter the dynamics of this year’s race for governor in Washington.

Trump’s effect would derive from his position as the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for president and the cascading consequences of his words and actions.

Dorn’s impact would come from entering the race as an independent candidate and coercing Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and leading Republican challenger Bill Bryant into rigorous debate on how to pay for public schools. That’s been Dorn’s focus the last few years as chief of the state’s public school system.

At this moment, Trump is a clear and present factor. Polling shows his ideas, idioms and insults are a turn-off to many self-described independent voters and those are the very voters Bryant needs to lock up to have any chance of pulling off an upset.

Strategists in the state Democratic Party and the Inslee campaign know this. That’s why they’re obsessed with getting Bryant to say if he will vote for Trump in the state’s presidential primary now under way and in the general election as well.

“Now, not only do Washington state Republicans refuse to reject their nominee… my opponent has refused to rule out voting for Donald Trump,” reads a May 4 fundraising letter from Inslee.

The state party has even set up a website to track Bryant’s aversions to answering those questions.

“Voters deserve to know his position,” said Democratic Party spokesman Jamal Raad. “Who you support for president is a powerful indication of where you stand on the major issues facing our state and nation.”

Bryant, who never envisioned Trump would emerge as the front-runner, is steadfast in his refusal to reply to inquiries of his presidential preferences. He contends the presidential race is in its own orbit and the battle for governor won’t be pulled into it.

“You guys in the media want to talk about Trump all the time,” Bryant said. “If (Jay Inslee) wants to run against Trump, that’s fine. At the end of the day he’s running against me and he’s going to have to run on his record.”

Meanwhile, Dorn has hovers on the sideline, sounding like he’s a sure bet to get in the race when candidates file this week.

He started talking this way after deciding not to run again for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Such a campaign, he says, would be the best vehicle to focus the race for governor on funding public schools adequately and in line with the state constitution.

If Dorn runs, he’s likely to siphon more votes away from Bryant than from Inslee, according to a recent Elway Poll. But his entry could also provide Bryant a benefit by forcing the campaign conversation to something other than his views on Trump.

“I guarantee you I will be by far the most interesting candidate,” Dorn boasted in a very Trump-like fashion.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com and on Twitter at @dospueblos

More in Opinion

Maybe it’s time Congress takes back its power

The Constitution gives Congress the most power of the three branches of government.

Poking dead things with sticks

They don’t mince words when they call it a “crawl space,” do they?

America is denying three hard truths

There are three major hard truths that our current government has been denying with great vigor: The Mueller Russia-U.S. Presidential election connection investigation, the war in Afghanistan, and the growing national deficit.

Promote the common good by ensuring individual liberty

Citizens following their passions and dreams improve the lot for all.

The three personas of President Trump

There’s Teleprompter Trump, Raw Meat Trump and Twitter Trump.

Attitudes change on farming non-native salmon

Their warnings fell on deaf ears, but the tables have turned on the fish farming industry in Washington.

Voting yes on levies means investing in our kids’ future

We are White River graduates. Our parents are White River graduates. Our siblings are White River graduates, and our kids will one day be White River graduates.

Voting for the levy with make a major #impact for our schools

I have four children in Enumclaw public schools and they all benefit from programs that are supported by the renewal of the operational levy.

Great schools mean great communities

As former elected School Board Member, State Legislator and King County Judge, we understand the importance of educating all children.

Political soap opera won’t end until midterm elections

Democrats and Republicans in Congress, as well as President Trump, have all taken gambles that will shape the November midterms.

A small act of kindness can make a big impact | SoHaPP

Join SoHaPP’s book group this February to discuss “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. Don’t have the book? Check it out at the Enumclaw Library or visit The Sequel.

Vote ‘yes’ on replacement Education Programs levy

As a high school senior that has spent the entirety of my school life in Enumclaw, I know we have to take it upon ourselves to ensure the efficiency and inclusiveness of our school system.