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Washington politicians who wanted to join Obama administration should have endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2008

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on March 5, 2013 at 9:17 am |
March 6, 2013 8:47 am

Or so it seems.

Leading up to Washington’s presidential primary in 2008, Hillary Clinton was making a hard push for endorsements from the state’s leading politicians. That was considered the safe move as Barack Obama, though leading, was still the underdog for the Democratic nomination.

Winning these big-name endorsements had more than nominal effect. Most were also super delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

Former Gov. Chris Gregoire with candidate Barack Obama in February, 2008 (TNT Photo/Lui Kit Wang
Former Gov. Chris Gregoire with candidate Barack Obama in February, 2008 (TNT Photo/Lui Kit Wang

At the time it was considered pretty brave to stand up with Obama instead of Clinton. But that’s what Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire did at a Feb. 8 rally in a packed Key Arena. Also on the stage were Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and U.S. Rep. Adam Smith.

The day before at Clinton’s own rally, three major politicians were on stage with her – former Gov. Gary Locke, King County Executive Ron Sims and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee.

As everyone knows, Obama won not only the Democratic nomination but the presidency as well. So, to the victor go the spoils, right? Those politicians who bet wrong are less likely to win favor from the new president, at least that’s how it usually works.

But that’s not how it has worked. Clinton endorsers Sims and Locke won key appointments – Sims as deputy secretary of House and Urban Development, Locke as secretary of Commerce and then as ambassador to China.

Then-candidate Hillary Clinton embraces Ron Sims during rally in February, 2008. Gary Locke and Jay Inslee look on (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Then-candidate Hillary Clinton embraces Ron Sims during rally in February, 2008. Gary Locke and Jay Inslee look on (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

And the Obama supporters? Smith was rumored to be in line for a senior Defense Department post which either was never offered or he rejected to remain in Congress. Nickels? Nothing. (UPDATE: Nickels did serve a one-year term in 2010 as the alternate representative, public delegate, to the United Nations) And while Gregoire claimed she wanted to serve out her two terms as governor, that ended in January. While being rumored for three different posts – Interior, Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency – those went to others.

Some wondered whether Gregoire fell victim to a strange quota system. Afterall, after REI head Sally Jewell was named Interior Secretary, the slot for women from Western states had been filled. Silly as that sounds, the lack of a Gregoire spot after all the rumor and hype cries out for an explanation, even a bad one.

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