Democrat Denny Heck and Republican Dick Muri emerged as the 10th Congressional District finalists in last month’s primary election. But one month later, it appears neither is going to win support of the four others who ran and lost.
What it means is open to interpretation but it may signal that each candidate – Heck, a Thurston County liberal, and Muri, a Pierce County conservative – has some shoring up to do with his respective party base.
The four candidates gave different reasons for not supporting the winners. In the case of Democratic candidate Jennifer Ferguson, she is intending to run again in 2014 for the seat, arguing she is a more moderate alternative to whichever candidate wins in November.
I spoke to Ferguson, a marriage counselor and family therapist who lives in University Place, in a telephone interview on Tuesday and her position is complicated (which I’ll explain further down in the post). But she said she can’t ethically endorse Heck at the same she is pledging to run for the position again.
Ferguson is not alone in withholding support from the victors. Independent Steve Hannon of Yelm said he is not endorsing Heck or Muri after running as a low-budget candidate opposed to the role of cash in the political system. Hannon, who teaches school in Tumwater, did say in an email that another candidacy might be in his future – perhaps for county commissioner.
Progressive Independent Sue Gunn of Olympia, who has talked of building a longer-term organization for political change, said today she also won’t endorse anyone. She and instead plans to work on the Thurston initiative to turn the local electricity utility public. Her statement:
I won’t be endorsing Mr. Heck or Mr. Muri. Heck is emblematic of the problem with the Democratic party. He’s yet another rich white male who will follow the party line and take his position in holding down the two-party polarity. The election process has become a farce perpetrated on the American people by the excessively wealthy and their corporate representatives to make you think there is a dramatic difference between the two parties and one of the parties (your choice) will take us all to hell. Mr. Muri’s party has really become a cartoon of regressive ideas and fear-mongering that feeds off of self-interest. But really the game is locked up by money and we’re not going to be able to step out of it until we elect people who understand our interconnected nature, believe in progressive policies and will fight for the best for all of us and the natural systems that support us. Neither of … these men fit the bill.
The other loser in the primary was Republican Stan Flemming, and he declined to comment at all – either on the night of the election or afterward. But his campaign manager said the physician and retired Army Reserves brigadier general would not be endorsing at all and put out a noncommittal statement after the campaign.
Flemming and Muri – who are both Pierce County Council members – feuded during the campaign, each accusing the other of missteps or untruths. Here is Flemming’s statement, which gives no hint about his future plans:
As I have said continuously throughout this campaign, we as Americans deserve to have good leadership. That position has not changed. As we near the November General Election, I truly believe this will be the most important election of your/our lifetime. I urge you to weigh carefully the issues, candidates, and consequences of your decisions.
We remain blessed to have been surrounded by so many wonderful citizens and friends of our great state, those we have known for a long time and the new ones that we met along the way. The campaign is filled with many good memories and many new friends.
Muri’s campaign consultant, Alex Hays, said: “It’s what we expected … It was a hotly contested race in the primary and it often is what happens.” He added that voters do not usually care about this kind of endorsement.
April Sanders, also of Muri’s campaign, noted that individuals who previously endorsed Flemming – including Secretary of State Sam Reed – have endorsed Muri.
Heck’s campaign spokesman Phil Gardner said they had no comment on the other candidates’ decisions not to endorse the Democrat.
Ferguson provided one of the primary election’s bigger surprises. She clearly took Democratic votes away from Heck in the primary, capturing nearly 11 percent of the total votes cast. Her share was well behind Heck’s 39.7 percent, Muri’s 28.15 percent and Flemming’s 15.5 percent, but her take was exactly what Heck needed for a clear majority.
Ferguson was able to grab those votes while spending, she says, just over $6,000. While Ferguson campaigned more quietly and on a more conservative social agenda than Heck, Heck used his superior resources to blanket the district with four mailers that attacked the Republican-controlled U.S. House and the Tea Party.
Heck favors full legal recognition of same-sex marriages and abortion rights for women. Ferguson, who is religious, said she believes a same-sex marriage law would redefine marriage by redefining the Bible, which she says is a “slippery slope” she won’t step on.
<p>Ferguson provided one of the primary election’s bigger surprises. She clearly took Democratic votes away from Heck in the primary, capturing nearly 11 percent of the total votes cast. Her share was well behind Heck’s 39.7 percent, Muri’s 28.15 percent and Flemming’s 15.5 percent, but her take was exactly what Heck needed for a clear majority.</p>
<p>Ferguson was able to grab those votes while spending, she says, just over $6,000. While Ferguson campaigned more quietly and on a more conservative social agenda than Heck, Heck used his superior resources to blanket the district with four mailers that attacked the Republican-controlled U.S. House and the Tea Party.</p>
<p>The two Democrats clearly are at opposite ends on social issues. Heck favors full legal recognition of same-sex marriages and abortion rights for women. UPDATE: Ferguson, who describes herself as Christian rather than religious, opposes passage of a law legalizing same-sex marriage. She says she favors giving the same rights to both same-sex and heterosexual couples but opposes a redefinition of marriage, which she says is at odds with the Bible [my original post condensed her comments in a way that inadvertently distorted the meaning of her statement]. </p>
<p>At the same time, Ferguson said she personally opposes abortion but believes that others – she mentioned victims of molestations or rapes whom she has counseled in her job – need to have the right to make that decision on their own.</p>
<p>That said, Ferguson said she and Heck were pretty close to the same position in supporting equal pay for women doing the same jobs as men.</p>
<p>Asked what she is telling supporters to do this fall, Ferguson acknowledged she is in a bit of a quandary, believing Heck is going to stick with his party’s line and that Congress needs people to work across the aisle.</p>
“If I had the money and I could advertise, I would run as a write-in. The reason I would run as a write-in, is … if we get President Obama back in office … we need more [House] Democrats in office so we can break the standoff thing that is going on and get Congress working for the people again,” Ferguson said.
On the other hand, she said: “The fear I have if I run as a write-in is that would take votes away from Denny Heck that could definitely put a Republican in office.”
</p>Update to original 5:16 p.m. post on Sept. 5: Clarifies a garbling of Ferguson’s statement about gay marriage.