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What’s in a name? Maybe everything in Reichert-DelBene contest

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Oct. 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
October 21, 2010 2:43 pm

Earlier this week, we (along with many, many others) reported about an exchange at a candidates’ forum in Newcastle last weekend during which an audience member stumped Republican incumbent Congressman Dave Reichert with a question about the Glass-Steagall Act.

Reichert, trying to win his fourth term to Congress for Washington’s 8th District, replied he was “not familiar” with Glass-Steagall — drawing laughter (and seemingly some gasps) from the audience.

(Parts of the nearly eight-decades old banking reform law, which originally required commercial banks to separate activities from Wall Street investment firms, were repealed in 1999. In the aftermath of the nation’s recent economic meltdown, some lawmakers and candidates — including Reichert’s challenger, Democrat Suzan DelBene — have, in part, blamed the erosion of Glass-Steagall for the crisis.)

Is that Del Bean?

Seattle public radio station KUOW recently caught up with the woman — Judy Schwarz — who posed the question to Reichert.

In a news report that aired on the station Tuesday, Schwarz said she’ll probably vote for DelBene, a former Microsoft executive turned first-time candidate.

Only trouble is, when Schwarz revealed on air whom she’ll likely cast her ballot for, her answer tapped into what may be DelBene’s Achilles Heel: Name recognition.

Asked by KUOW’s Amy Radil who she was going to vote for, Schwarz responded:

I’m probably going to vote for Delbane, Del bean? I can’t pronounce her name. Delbene. Because I think we need someone with business acumen in Congress. Going forward I think it’s important.

Arguably one of the area’s most recognizable political figures, Reichert — the silver-haired former King County sheriff portrayed in at least one made-for TV mini-series — still holds a large advantage in the Congressional race, according to a recent analysis by ace political statistician Nate Silver.

"Reichert" on film
Is that Dave Reichert?

While other recent polls have suggested DelBene has closed the gap on Reichert considerably, cross tabs of a recent poll conducted by Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling indicate voters are still unfamiliar with DelBene.

At least 31 percent of the 1,036 likely voters polled for that Oct. 9-10 survey responded “not sure” when asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of DelBene, compared to just 10 percent for Reichert.

(The upside for the DelBene camp? Once people actually do figure out if they like her or not, she’ll need just nine of the 31 percent of “not sures” to tilt her way to surpass Reichert’s 48 percent “favorable” numbers, the PPP survey suggests.)

Meanwhile, Reichert’s campaign has tried to “help” people become more familiar with DelBene, launching the attack site, www.WhoIsSuzan.com.

And just today, the state’ Republican Party launched its own website to help define DelBene: www.HelpingSuzanVote.com illustrates DelBene’s spotty record of voting in recent elections.

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