::Crossposted at Red State.
Is The Sheriff in Trouble?
Aside from disseminating cleverly worded DCCC press releases and asking liberal Seattleites to open their checkbooks, Congressman Dave Reichert's challenger, Darcy Burner, is mainly banking on anti-Bush sentiment to secure victory for her party at the ballot box. The way local bloggers and media tell it, Reichert is as vulnerable as they come. But if you buy into the Democrats version reality, you will be disappointed come November. To arrive at the true political realities of 2006, one needs look no further than the electorate and their admiration of a popular incumbent Congressman.
While his opponents criticize Reichert as yet another Republican "empty suit", they ignore his thirty plus years in uniform. Reichert's critics ignore a distinguished career of service that saw him rise through the ranks to take the reigns of one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the nation.
In Congress, Reichert has also emerged as a leader. His chairmanship of a Homeland Security sub-committee saw the recent passage of The 21st Century Emergency Communications Act (H.R. 5852) a bill that Reichert himself authored. To be sure, that effort took a fair amount of skill, and is a noteworthy accomplishment especially for a freshman member of Congress. House Majority Leader John Boehner commended Reichert after the House passed his bill for determination and resolve in the legislative process, and for ensuring that first responders receive the training and equipment they need.
What you will not hear in the press is that at times, Reichert was forced to battle those in his own party to present a set of recommendations that truly put good policy above partisan politics. Such bravado comes as no surprise from a former cop, and neither do the early endorsements of a statewide law enforcement (WACOPS) and firefighters union (WSCFF).
In this election year, Reichert is facing up to the plain realities of holding office in a potential swing district. Fortunately he is able to sell himself as an independent thinker when it comes to issues important to Eastsiders: from energy and the environment to social and health issues like stem cells. With the solid backing of GOP leaders, you might ask why Reichert is taking a more centrist approach, especially considering his district has rested solidly in Republican hands since it was created in the early 1980s.
Reichert's challenger wants us to believe that the political compass of the 8th district is now pointing center-left. Taken alone, that is debatable, but when coupled with rhetoric touting Reichert as a "rubber-stamp" for the Bush Administration, it comes off much more like wishful thinking.
Behind the scheme of partisan attacks against Reichert is a political machine that has experience in soiling reputations, and which as of late has received considerable help from both the old and new media. Pundits like Joel Connelly and David Goldstein lament Republicans not taking Reichert's challenger seriously, but when you have an underwhelming candidate, the onus is on the campaign to tell voters why the candidate deserves--or is qualified--to serve the district in Congress.
Darcy Burner doesn't even come close in a side-by-side match up with Reichert. To her credit, she is a Harvard alum and former Microsoft manager. But Burner has painfully little political, let alone public policy or legislative experience, reinforcing the impression that in this race--she is a long shot. Reichert is not only election-tested, he has a long and distinguished career of public service to back up his reputation as a leader.
Burner claims to have been a leader in her community--touting her work with a neighborhood association. Putting that in context, Reichert's two years in Congress alone should be enough to knock out his challenger, and we haven't even explored Reichert's near celebrity status as the lawman that caught the Green River Killer!
Moreover, Reichert's self-narrative is a very compelling "bootstrap" tale of advancing through the ranks, and also a humble story of one man rising to the challenges placed before him. Those who know him well will tell you he is a man with a servant's heart--not some ivy leaguer looking to make a name in politics.
While there is still a lot of ground to cover between now and Election Day, Reichert has yet to fully engage his challenger or flex much political muscle--instead he has been dutifully attending to the public's business in our nation's Capital. Once Reichert turns his attention to the election, and clearly identifies what sets him apart from other Republicans, the glowing embers that represent Burner's electoral chances will quickly be snuffed out.
The author is a political blogger (www.RespectfullyRepublican.com) who resides in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.