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May 29, 2006

Interview with Richard Wright, Running in 4th

Jim at McCranium out of the Tri-Cities has a wonderful interview with Richard Wright, the Democrat who is taking on "Doc" Hastings in the 4th Congressional District.  I was struck first with Jim's attitude about the chances of a Democrat winning in this Central Washington district.  This is something we all need to hear:

To some, Washington’s 4th Congressional District is dead red. So much so that discussions about the upcoming congressional race here are laced with dismay among some democrats. Some are even willing to back seemingly moderate republicans in what seems to me a way to wish the district to a more centrist political environment. Voters who have repeatedly voted republican have consistantly consoled themselves that when things appear good for them there is no need to change. Any political anomoly would pass and life would go on. By all rights, this year wouldn’t be any different if the national political and economic environment were not different than that of a few short years ago. By striking contrast, gas prices, a war with no realistic strategy from the majority party, and an air of corruption surrounding the other Washington that despite the quelling, floats like the spring debris down the mighty Columbia River.

<snip>

In my district, I have heard it all.  The bench isn’t deep enough. There are no standouts.  Hoplessly red.  No national Dem support… etc… Any democrat is going to have a hard time in this district for sure. But relying on the usual buzz isn’t going to get you up on who is stepping up to the plate.  And the usual buzz is just another page out of the Karl Rove playbook.  It’s almost as if we forgot the “Mom in Tennis Shoes” candidate that came out of nowhere and has served this state respectively ever since.  Good candidates don’t grown on trees for sure.  But really good ones have roots in the district they want to represent.

Then Jim begins the discussion with Wright.  Here are a couple of key things Wright said that made me really like the guy. 

I’m excited about putting everything I have into this race.  Our campaign team is working hard and we’ve just ramped up our fundraising schedule.  The main thing is getting the resources together to make sure our message touches as many people as possible.

<snip>

What’s clear is that there are no “safe” seats in Congress this year.  Republican leaders thought Hastings’ district was secure when they handed him the ethics chair job, but things have changed. That was before DeLay announced his resignation and before Congress had a popular approval rating in the low twenties.

Then Jim brings in ace interviewer Noemie Maxwell from Washblog to ask questions from a non-4th District perspective.  I liked Noemie's assessment of Wright and what he wants to do and I like Richard's responses:

Noemie:  While I’m not familiar with 4th CD issues.  After reviewing your website, I am pleased with your three choices of foundational issues — upholding the Constitution, healthcare, and fiscal responsibility.  These three things all speak to me about the underlying issue of stability for the US.  I wonder if you see the same theme here.   And, if so, what are the other areas you think most need to be addressed to get us back to a better state of national security and stability.  In particular, I’m wondering if you see environmental and voter integrity issues as also related to stability?

Wright: Instead of bowing to the interests of the oil companies and pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol, our President should have taken a strong lead to address the problems caused by greenhouse gases.  This is the biggest threat to our future.

And then Noemie has a question that I'd like to see all of us thinking about in every national race.  And Richard's answers are great:

Noemie:  If Democrats get control of the House, will we be able to re-establish balance without either caving in to the Republicans or creating excess/unnecessary ill will?

Wright: I like this question very much because I think Democrats need to start thinking about it right now.  When we have control of Congress we will need to work effectively with Republicans and in doing so we will begin to help restore faith in our government.  We must try to eliminate extreme partisanship.

Republicans have been heavy-handed in their leadership.  We can’t solve difficult problems or move forward as a nation with arm-twisting and petty bickering dragging us down.  It will be helpful to get some new faces in Congress and clean out the power-brokers motivated only by special interests.  My opponent, Mr. Hastings held the vote on the Medicare Drug Bill open an unprecedented three hours allowing the President to influence that legislation.  It will be hard for some to just forget the kind of partisan manipulation that’s gone on.

The Democratic Party has always been the party of the people:  the little guy, the teacher, the small businessman, a union worker, nurses and farmers.  And when the Democrats take over the “People’s House,” there will be major changes, of course.  Democrats will invest again in people, not corporations.  We will invest in healthcare for all Americans.  We will invest in education, in good jobs.

This guy does not have the physical presence and star power of either Darcy Burner or Peter Goldmark. (Sorry, he just doesn't.  I've seen him in person.) But he is a great guy and would serve his constiuents far, far better as a representative than the guy the poor 4th District folks have now.  Besides Al Gore didn't have star power back in 2000 and almost the entire nation wishes they had voted for him now.  (And somewhere in the last 6 years, Al has found his groove.) But Wright is articulate and knowledgeable:

Noemie:  Lastly, how can you help people from outside the 4th understand the importance of the issues there for all of us?

Wright: I think everyone can understand the connection between Mr. Hastings and the culture of corruption in Congress.  That fact alone makes our race out here in the 4th District one of national importance.  Everyone has a stake in this race.  Along the same lines, everyone in this country has a stake in electing leaders who think for themselves and don’t simply follow the party line or engage in petty partisanship.  I believe that most Americans are ready for a return to honest leadership and open government.

Makes me think we might just take all three of these Districts currently held by Democrats.  The entire interview is great.

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 29, 2006 at 08:56 PM in Interviews | Permalink

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