Sunday, September 16, 2012

Washington U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

Washington U.S. Senate

September 16, 2012
51 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2008 Presidential Result: Blue State (West)

Outlook: Likely Democrat

The winner of a close victory over an incumbent that was not decided for days after Election Day 2000, and the survivor of a once targeted 2006 reelection battle, Democrat Maria Cantwell is now the heavy favorite this year, as she attempts to win a third term in the U.S. Senate.

Cantwell is a former Congresswoman, who lost her seat in the shellacking Washington Democrats took in 1994. That worked out to her advantage though as she made millions of dollars after that as part of the '90s dotcom boom. She used that money to help finance her political return, when she won her Senate seat in 2000. While her stock portfolio is not what it once was, she is pretty entrenched in Washington D.C., where she does not make a lot of national headlines (despite some issues related to her personal life and finances) but is a typically reliable vote for her party's leadership.

Evergreen State Republicans were not too anxious to try to challenge Cantwell this year, as the strongest possible Republicans in the state either ran for the open Governorship or for reelection to the U.S. House. The choice of the GOP party establishment was Michael Baumgartner, a young State Senator with an interesting background. A former teacher, Baumgartner is well traveled internationally and worked for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, helping set up the new Iraqi government. He was also a civilian contractor in Afghanistan before returning home and winning a seat in the State Senate in 2010. Despite his international bona fides, Baumgartner differs with many Republicans in regards to some aspects of foreign policy.

From the beginning, Baumgartner was not considered to be a major threat to knock off Cantwell, despite her history of having been targeted before and perhaps not being an overwhelmingly popular politician back at home. During the state's August blanket primary, Cantwell received 55 percent of the vote, while Baumgartner was the leading Republican with almost 31 percent of the vote. This was an indication that while it may not be a complete landslide, it would be highly improbably to expect an upset in this race.

Baumgartner could perhaps have a political future ahead of himself beyond this race, but for now, he seems to be focused at the task at hand. Recently, there was an incident of the GOP nominee emailing a liberal blogger, telling him to do something that is kind of impossible, but something that has since been picked up by Clint Eastwood's empty chair. When this email became revealed publicly, Baumgartner did not apologize.

Baumgartner campaign link:

2012 U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 17 D, 13 R
Predicted U.S. Senate Balance of Power thus far: 47 D, 50 R