So I was puttering around the house earlier this week (mid-winter break!), vaguely listening to MSNBC, when I heard someone say that according to Politico, Patty Murray's Senate seat is one of the ones that might be in play this fall, leading to a potential Dem loss of the Senate.

WTF?? Patty Murray? Who's running against her and why is she considered vulnerable??

So I did a little research.

Seems there are a few wackos fairly obscure right-wing contenders who have filed for the Republican primary. So far they are all polling double digits behind Murray. And so therefore, as noted by Steve Singiser on the FP, even though Dino Rossi has said he's not interested in running, Rasmussen felt compelled to add Rossi's name to his recent poll, and -- lo and behold! -- it worked! At last we had a Republican who could be competitive against Murray -- a couple points ahead, in fact (48-46). Only problem is, when asked by Politico as late as yesterday, Dino is still saying he's not interested. More thoughts on that down below, but first, here's a quick rundown of those who have signed on so far.

State Sen. Don Benton: First is state Sen. Don Benton, who just filed this week.

Fresh from speaking to an anti-tax Tea Party rally in Olympia, state Sen. Don Benton announced Monday he has officially filed his candidacy for the U.S. Senate with the Federal Election Commission.

Benton considers himself a strong candidate because of his years of legislative experience in state government, because of the hundreds of 'Baggers who encouraged him at the rally, and because he's hired the same political consultant who handled Scott Brown's campaign.

Dr. Sean Salazar: The "dr." part of his name refers to the fact that he's a chiropractor. I guess it's good that he's proud of his career, but I'm not sure I'd bother with the "Dr." if I were in his shoes.

Anyhoo, here's a sample from his website.  This, in its entirety, is the detailed version of his "SOLUTION" to the problems in our economy (the version you get if you click on the "More Info" link after viewing his first blurb on the economy):

As your U.S. Senator, I will propose or support any bills that would reduce regressive federal taxes and eliminate unwarranted regulations that would give the federal government additional opportunities to nationalize finance, health, commerce, education, food products or any competitive businesses.

In addition, I will propose or otherwise support achievable cuts in personal income and business taxes of up to or >50% over a six year period. In order to stay true to conservative principles, I shall also call for spending cuts and downsizing the federal government.

Without question, the banking crisis of 2008/2009 will continue for another year or two, especially if prolonged by complicated random government bailouts and unrestrained federal spending. By 2011 I shall have proposed and submitted the first round of tax cuts and specific reductions in the federal budget to bring relief to the American citizens.

The proposed federal cuts will be transparent and publically [sic] disclosed early next year.

To further highlight how intimidating this opponent is, a June 2009 article in Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate notes that Salazar

previously ran for Congress in 2001 in California's 53rd district, raising a paltry $6556 in his failed attempt.

Clint Didier: The issues listed on his website are:

    Government Accountability  
       Limiting Federal Power
       Real Health Care Reform [basically, let all insurance companies operate across state lines]
       Freeze Congressional Salaries

    Military & National Security
       Second Amendment
       Energy Independence [aka "Allowing American companies to claim our own natural wealth"]  

    Economic Prosperity  
       Fiscal Accountability
       Eliminate Tax Increases [you know, all those tax increases enacted by the Kenyan Usurper]
       Environmental Balance

Good to know he has such a thorough grasp of all the challenges facing our nation today.

Rod Rieger: It's hard to read his website because of the profusion of typefaces and font sizes (which pretty much screams Teabagger), but that's OK because I figured out everything I need to know from the slogan that features prominently at the top of the page:

                                  My Money, My Choice                            

Craig Williams:  This one may be my favorite. His gimmick is just so amusing -- "THE VOTEWILLIAMS2010 5-STAR SENATORIAL PLEDGE":

I, Craig Williams, pledge that I Will DO the following in Washington D.C. when I am elected to the U.S. Senate;

1.I Will vote and work for Balanced Budgets
2.I Will vote and work to Reduce Federal Spending
3.I Will vote and work to Pay the National Debt
4.I Will vote and work to Reform Taxes and Reform Congress
5.I Will vote and work to Support the Constitution and State's Rights

Art Coday: Once again, it doesn't take a long perusal of the website to figure out where on the political spectrum this guy is located:

Latest News

Senatorial hopeful Art Coday: Patty Murray tied to "very extreme" policies of Obama, Reid, Pelosi

And now, on to Dino. A couple of thoughts.

First, on the negative side, it's possible that the only reason Rossi is polling competitive and the others aren't is because they don't have name recognition and he does. (For anyone not acquainted with WA politics: Dino Rossi was the Republican opponent of Dem Gov. Christine Gregoire in the past two gubernatorial races.) I.e., it may be that by the time of the election, any Republican will be competitve or even winning, just because of the insane dynamics of this election season.

Second, and I'm not sure which side this falls on: However desperately Dino may have worked to portray himself as a moderate in his two gubernatorial runs, he may be more willing to admit just how conservative he is this time around, since wingnuttery seems to be all the rage these days.

Third, and I think this is at least a tiny bit positive: I knew the Rossi family slightly -- not Dino personally, but his wife & kids. And the whole family seemed pretty devastated by his first defeat. I was surprised his wife agreed to go along with a second run. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he sticks to his guns and says, no more. On the other hand, if he's ever going to run for anything again, this would probably be the year, since all the state Republican bigwigs are reportedly inundating him with pleas.

And the worst news of all: The filing deadline in WA isn't until June 11, so he's got lots of time to check out the lay of the land, and only file if it continues to look as though the Republican mojo is holding.

Patty Murray isn't the most exciting Dem in the Senate, but she's no Blanche Lincoln either. And it's possible she could be a beneficiary of the Citizens United decision: she's been called the Senator from Boeing, and there's no doubt she does fight for Boeing, and with 3 terms under her belt (and as chair of the Transportation Committee), she has some clout. With all the controversy over Boeing and Airbus contracting in recent years, Boeing may really want her to stay in.

I think I've found where my political activism will be taking concrete form this year. I was going to try to get involved in the 8th District race and see if maybe we can finally get Dave Reichert out of there. But I think the priority for me is to try to keep both of Washington's Senate seats blue (besides, Reichert's seat has been held by a Republican for 25 years; I don't know that this is the year I think that will change.)

I can't say I'm passionate about re-electing Murray, but I am passionate about keeping Dino Rossi from taking over her seat, and I'm even more passionate about trying to prevent the Republicans from gaining a majority in the Senate. Here is her website if you want to join me.

Originally posted to NWTerriD on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 07:28 PM PST.

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