Just when you thought the primary battles had been settled and were behind you, politicians get creative and look for new ways to make a win out of a loss.
There was some joking that Washington is such a blue state that Democrats were running against each other for lieutenant governor and in some of the legislative races.
But the jokes stopped when former Bothell Mayor Joshua Freed turned the intramural battle for lieutenant governor into a real race by announcing he will run as a write-in for the position. Is Freed crazy? Maybe, but maybe not. Freed is a Republican with some personal money who looked at election results and did some math.
The lieutenant governor race between fellow Democrats — Congressman Denny Heck and State Sen. Marko Liias — was predictably the most interesting race of the state primary season. It even upstaged the race for governor with well known candidates, with the two Democrats leading the field, but with Republicans Ann Davison Sattler, Dick Muri and Marty McClendon having respectable showings.
In contrast, the race for governor as expected turned into a route for incumbent Jay Inslee, who swamped the large field. Freed had run for governor, but lagged behind Loren Culp, the small town police chief with the Trump-size rallies and checkbook.
Freed then questioned what would happen if an alternative to the two heavyweight Democrats were in the race for lieutenant governor?
Freed’s conclusion was that he had nothing to lose. He has enough money to communicate that he is a Republican alternative and can communicate how to write his name in because it wouldn’t be on the ballot. Significant publicity is needed, but for Republicans, it could be worth it.
Freed’s strategy will be to sell the point that it is worth taking the time to write his name in for lieutenant governor because he would have the ability to put a check on the Democrats, as the lieutenant governor is president of the Senate when the Legislature is in session, chairs the powerful Senate Rules Committee, and is acting governor when the governor is out of state.
Is it doable? In the primary, Heck led at 25% with Liias second at 18.53% while splitting the Democratic vote for a total of 43.53% and 1,038,080 actual votes. Five Republicans in the lieutenant governor race totaled 1,023,579 for a combined total of 42.93%. Statistically it is possible for Freed take the Republican vote and possibly pull the upset. There will be more voters in the general election, and the key for Freed is publicity. Freed spent almost $700,000 of his own money running for governor. So he has the financial ability.
If Joe Biden is elected president and tabs Inslee for a cabinet post, the maneuver will look brilliant. In that case, the lieutenant governor becomes governor. However, my guess is if that happened, Inslee would turn down the offer. The other strategy in play is that Freed could take votes away from Heck and help elect Liias, who is more progressive than Heck on issues, but not as well known or as formidable a fundraiser as Heck. That could make Liias vulnerable in four years. Heck raised $836,956 while Liias only raised $441,791.
Democrats need to unite behind one candidate, or there could be a surprise.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.