« Senator Ted Stevens to Run Again in 2008 | Main | Reacting to the Suggestion of Impeachment »

November 18, 2006

Women, War and Darcy

There was a brouhaha a couple of days ago over on Postman's blog due to an email exchange between Postman's fill-in, Jim Brunner, and Darcy Burner.  Brunner made a big deal of Darcy's talking about the difficulty that female Democratic candidate faced in this race in trying to ride the blue wave.  He titled his post, "A Glass Ceiling for Darcy?" and laughed about the absurdity of that idea in this state where women are so prominent in politics.

A bunch of Republican-types piled on in the comment section, no doubt glad to have somewhere they could crow in a week where they were otherwise badly cut off at the knees.

Anyway, as I've thought about this, I think Darcy is correct.  Darcy is at bottom a wonk and she did her homework before bringing this possibility up.  She looked at the 20 Democratic challengers who had raised $1 million by the end of June.  Of those, 13 won and 7 lost.  Of the 13 who won, Ed Perlmutter (CO-6), Joe Courtney (CT-2), Chris Murphy (CT-5), Ron Klein (FLA-22), Brad Ellsworth (IND-8), Baron Hill (IND-9), Heath Schuler (NC-11), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-20), Charlie Wilson (OH-6), Joe Sestak (PA-7), Nick Lampson (TX-22), Peter Welch (VT-at large) and Steve Kagen (WI-8), all but one were men.  Of the 7 who lost, Burner (WA-8), Diane Farrell (CT-4), Tammy Duckworth (IL-6), Patricia Madrid (NM-1), John Cranley (OH-1), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15), Lois Murphy (PA-06), all but one were women.   

So, the statistics are with her.  Now, let's look at why this might be. 

We are in a time of war and this election was arguably about the war and getting America out of the war.  I have been saying to friends who asked that I don't think that this is a good time for Hillary Clinton to run for President because I don't think that Americans will vote for a woman for President in a time of war.  Just bad timing for Hillary because otherwise I think she'd be a fine President and likely our best shot to get a woman as President in a decade.  I may be wrong but I don't think so.  (In fact, it's why I think the Democratic candidate is likely to wind up being the dark horse, James Webb, the biggest, baddest fighter the Democrats could possibly put up and luckily a smart and articulate economic populist in the bargain.)

I don't think this war-angst and need for leaders who exude male strength applies to elections or candidates at the state level.  The voters know that states are about education and transportation and jobs and services.  Women are more than fine there.

It's at the federal level that voters want people who will get us out of Iraq with some shred of dignity and some consideration for what we leave behind.

Jim Brunner also held up Cantwell's win over McGavick.  Well, as I think about it, I think that McGavick lost for much the same kind of reason that the women candidates did.  He comes across as an affable, slightly tipsy uncle who shaves the truth for a good story.   At another time, McGavick's image, along with his political legacy, might have carried the day for him.  But, that's not what we want or need now. 

Cantwell, on the other hand, played it masterfully.  She talked about fighting for the people of Washington - against the large energy companies, against Ted Stevens (practically one and the same), against anyone who would do Puget Sound wrong.  She never talked about fighting the war in Iraq, since that was clearly a personal quagmire for her, but we all now see her as a fighter, just what we want in a time of war.  Especially given the alternative. 

In Darcy's race, she was up against an icon of a fighter, the sheriff.  Reichert played that to the hilt.  In fact, he never talked about any subject without bringing the discussion around to his time on the beat or his time as sheriff.  Never.  Darcy was a much more nuanced candidate with well thought out ideas, who came very close but couldn't manage to get enough voters to look past that sheriff image.  It's a shame but I think it's correct.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 18, 2006 at 10:22 AM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink


Jim Brunner's a terrible fill-in for Postman. Where Postman brings up good questions in order to get a thoughtful discussion going, Brunner is simply provocative (bordering on incendiary). His post on Darcy's loss, as you said, totally missed the mark. He seems to forget that Cantwell was running as an incumbant, and incumbancy has built-in advantages. Just ask Sheriff Dave.

Posted by: shoephone | Nov 18, 2006 1:18:27 PM

I've heard Borgen has announced plans to run against Dave in 2008. That could be a high-profile battle, the sheriff vs. the humanitarian.

Posted by: Gene | Nov 18, 2006 3:11:20 PM

Yes, I was trying to be polite about Brunner but I don't think he should be left unsupervised again.

And, who is Borgen?

Posted by: Lynn | Nov 18, 2006 4:28:57 PM

Questions to the Wise Men from the Blogs. Are we quitting on Darcy Burner because she suggested the possibility of a gender issue? Don't we want to consider all possible alternatives? Did she not almost do the impossible? Will she not win in '08 now that she has name recognition and has two years to demonstrate how much the 8th District kicked away to keep the Macho man with the perfect hairdo covering the shortages beneath.

And who is Borgen? Does lack of name recognition bother you in a male? What is Borgen's background that him/her (I'd bet him!) so well qualified to be the first Democrat to be elected as Rep for 8th.

By the way, can anyone tell me what Jim Brunner did to promote a Democratic Victory in the 8th District this year? Was he ever at Drinking Liberally?

Jack Smith

Posted by: jack smith | Nov 18, 2006 7:46:13 PM


Not that I think you put me in the Wise Men category, but don't think for a minute that I'm quitting on Darcy. I hope she runs again and I'll support her even more. She is awesome. But the more we understand about what happened here and with which voters, the more we will know how to take out Reichert next time.

Posted by: Lynn | Nov 18, 2006 10:46:42 PM

It's rough to think that Darcy lost, in 2006, in a district that John Kerry (John Kerry!!) won in 2004, 51-48.

To me, it shows that in WA-08, it was a local election, not a national one. Darcy ran a strong campaign, but it wasn't strong enough to defeat an affable incumbent with amazing name recognition, and no character-defining millstone we could hang around his neck. Darcy just didn't manage to give enough voters a specific-enough, compelling-enough reason to make a change. That's too bad.

I also like Eli Sanders' recent column in which he pointed out that state Dems failed to run a candidate in the 5th state legislative district (Pierce County), which may have wound up hurting Darcy. Just goes to underscore the importance of having a "49-District" strategy here in Washington, not just a "50-State" strategy.

Posted by: Jon Stahl | Nov 19, 2006 9:11:13 AM

Borgen is the head of The Borgen Project (www.borgenproject.org) a group that lobbies Congress to address poverty. I dug this google search up on him

Posted by: Gene | Nov 19, 2006 5:55:14 PM

Borgen is the real deal and could probably win, but I'm highly skeptical that he would actually run.

Posted by: Bobby | Nov 19, 2006 6:09:12 PM

I use "wise men" as a self defining term. I thought of "wise guys" but I didn't think anyone would want to fit that mold.

I looked at Mr. Borgen's resume and I am impressed. Without any cynicism toward him and his excellent credentials, as a handsome white man, I'm sure he will appeal to certain segments of our voters.

But as a complete unknown against a well known incumbent in a race with considerable national attention, Darcy's performance was incredible! If she decides to run, I suspect she would be the candidate to beat in the primary. Some of you seem to forget that Mr Borgen would have beat Darcy to get a crack at the handsome do-little sheriff. Don't forget, if she is going to continue her commitment to public service, I would expect she would enter the campaign with one or two high profile appointments by the governor and an excellent civic record in the 8th District. Although clearly I will support Darcy, I would welcome a tough primary to gather early interest in the Democratic race and strengthen the 8th District for the 2008 Presidential candidate. I'd say the ball is in Darcy's court and I trust that situation.

OK Lynn, I doubt anyone will claim any ambiguity in this post.

Jack Smith

Posted by: jack Smith | Nov 19, 2006 9:03:51 PM

Clint Borgen for the 8th? You have got to be kidding! He's nothing but a self promoting so&so.; Sheesh, get real.

Posted by: hans_erik | Dec 7, 2006 4:31:07 PM

The Fifth District is Issaquah and Maple Valley. We were not able to find a legislative candidate and it did indeed hurt Darcy. When she runs in '08 she should spend time in North Pierce country where I think she can win more votes. Also, I would like to see her at more festivals and the like. Show that she is our neighbor.

Posted by: Mike Barer | Jan 2, 2007 2:48:41 PM

Post a comment