Are the political parties in Grays Harbor County becoming irrelevant? It isn’t even a question that would have been asked as recently as five years ago. Something is going on.
On the Democratic side there is perhaps the greatest rapidly changing landscape. With the recent election of not one, but two Republican County Commissioners in the last few years, the party has lost control of the traditional blue collar voters by jerking so far left. I am sure that those at the Democrat central committee here in the county would disagree….but that is what happened. Certainly a strong argument could be made that former Democratic PCO Herb Welch was a Democratic all along, never-the-less, he ran with an (R) after his name on the ballot. Defeating an entrenched card carrying left leaning Democratic in Al Carter. No easy task in what was effectively a one party county for the last 70 odd years. The county Republican party just limps along as if going through the motions. Its not their fault, Republicans are not activists, they just want to be left alone by nature.
Along came Wes Cormier. Wes makes no bones about it, he is a fiscal conservative. Considering the shock that Herb Welch had on the reeling Democratic party, it was an all out assault on him. Yet, he easily was elected to office. Frank Gordon? How do you get a read on this guy. He is just as apt to chastise a Democrat from the Commissioner dias as he is a Republican. He still votes for tax increases, but I suspect he doesn’t want to. He just hasn’t found a way to stop himself…..I have hope for him and would be happy to participate in an intervention. Those interested, contact me.
We are now moving into the third change to the county commissioners office with the election this November and will complete the critical alignment change. It didn’t surprise me to see Welch throw in the political towel. I personally doubt he would be able to find a conservative lawn in the county willing to host one of his yard signs. This left the field wide open, and it filled up quickly.
There are several on the ballot coming for the primary this August, but only the top two will move on to the general election. And those two will be Vickie Raines ( non partisan) and Al Smith (D). The few others are mostly single issue candidates who frankly I can’t even name as I write this, I haven’t seen them around and never met a one of them. Al and Vickie? I can’t buy gas or drive down the road without seeing one of them it seems. Both really want to win this thing.
I have a problem. I like both of them, and for different reasons. In my opinion my fellow citizens, we can’t lose on this one.
Now I know those of you in the Smith camp and those of you in the Raines camp will find issue with that statement, we are in the middle of what is going to be a hot county election. But as I have been brutally honest with both of your candidates, I am voting for who I think will do the best job. I am not basing on emotion. That has gotten me and the county in general in nothing but trouble for the last seventy years. The cycle has to stop.
IN THIS CORNER
Vickie Raines is a policy wonk. She has spent the last fifteen plus years learning everything there is to learn about government and public policy management. Most notably her work on the flood control issues. She is tested. It is common to try and get hold of her and she is driving to Olympia or anywhere else in the state for a policy meeting. She knows everyone and how the levers work, probably can fix a broken one. Smart as can be. Her problem is she has been around in county politics for fifteen years via her work with the city of Cosi and that is a long time. You make political enemies. It goes with the political territory. What is noteworthy is that she has survived in county politics for fifteen years. Not easily achieved. No Party Preference, and one can point to her accomplishments.
If you talk to her political detractors they will gladly tell you why she would make a lousy county commissioner. It goes with the political territory. Vickie is fearless and not afraid to ruffle feathers. If anyone thinks she is a go along to get along politician, they haven’t met or studied the cyclone that is Vickie Raines. Expect a well oiled professional political campaign in the coming months. CAMPAIGN PAGE
Al Smith is a completely different kind of candidate and has no name recognition among the average voter. It’s two in the morning and raining. Your car won’t start and you are twenty miles out of town and need jumper cables. Al is the guy I would call. Oh sure, as he rumbles up in his old truck and robe and slippers he will curse and yell at you for not having your own jumper cables. “Do you know what time it is!!!!” kind of statements. Grumble, get you started, and drive home. But he WILL come. That is Al Smith.
Al, like Vickie, has a strong business background and has approached policy issues here in Grays Harbor going back to the Satsop Nuclear towers mess. He is pro business and has become known recently with calling for safety measures to be placed on the coming oil trains. Before it became cool around here to call for it I might add. He is a small D democrat, more akin to your father’s Democratic party. You could just as easily call him a small R Republican. The designations mean nothing anymore. Al, like Vickie, knows everyone around here behind the scenes. He is the perfect “citizen” candidate. His detractors comment that he has no formal political experience. Having spent hours with Smith discussing area issues over the last few years, I can put that concern to rest. While he doesn’t have the formal government experience that Rains possesses, he has that common sense element and is no push over. CAMPAIGN PAGE
Both candidates, in my opinion, are good choices and I don’t think we can go wrong with either. Raines running as a non-partisan candidate and Smith running as a small D Democrat. I believe the only people that will be disappointed will be the formal political party organizations here in the county. They have become irrelevant. Our Commissioners will no longer be “chosen” for us in a back room, but rather we now have the opportunity to choose them for ourselves. We can’t lose.
NOTE ON COMMENTING: - as the political season is just starting, I want to clearly state that comments are allowed on the postings, but please restrict them to policy. Personal attacks against either candidate will not be let through.