Sunday, March 18, 2007

Wu Reconsidering Run at Smith? Help Us, Lord

I read this blurb in The O's politics blog on Thursday or perhaps Friday morning, but like a trained seal I read the Hooley will not run for Senate headline and followed along with the story reading all about Hooley saying no. I'm not even sure if I made it to the end, past the point where DeFazio also got the chance to reiterate his disavowal and to where, shame to say, both the reporter and this reader missed the actual news part of the story, which Ridenbaugh Press and then Jonathan Singer at MyDD pointed out: David Wu's person equivocated on his behalf:
Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., is "happy where he is," spokeswoman Jillian Schoene said. But she added that "if that opportunity were to present itself, he would definitely consider it."
Aside from being obvious signal talk, it's a bizarre phrasing. "If that opportunity were to present itself?" Is there some part of the Constitutional test Wu doesn't meet? If you meet the tests there, the opportunity and 4 bucks will buy a Dutch Brothers. Is he waiting for a multitude of coronets blowing his name?

No, I think Wu's tone has changed a bit since the scuttlebut became that Chuck Schumer would drop at least $5mil onto the party-blessed Democratic nominee. He knows as well as I do that opportunity means funding--can he get support? Will he be made the anointed one? Whoever runs will be joining a relatively high profile national race; it's likely to be in the top 4 targets by the Democrats. It will take some money, not for name recognition so much but to expose Smith and get out there on him. I can't really blame Wu for wanting the support, but he sounds like he'd only do it for the money, which is not what I want from a Senator, at all.

I actually think his running would be relatively good strategy on the surface. Anyone who thinks a Democrat couldn't win the open 1st District seat in 2008 if Wu were to run, is predicting an event with similar prospects for success as expecting Donna Nelson to show up for work Monday in a jheri curl, stoned out of her head and listening to NWA on an old beater boombox. It's a fairly split district, but unless something radically changes the non-affiliateds will continue to join the Democrats in larger numbers, tipping the scales. Washington County will continue to trend slightly bluer, perhaps in 2008 going to a Democratic edge in registrations for the first time in a while.

Further, he's the youngest member of the Oregon Democratic delegation; he therefore has the least seniority and is on no influential committees, so he wouldn't be giving up much. You could argue that's a reason for him not to win, that his career lacks the notability and gravitas of other Members, and you might have a point.

Having said that, I think he'd be a disaster. In speaking he just comes off a little weird to me, and that was before the whole "Klingons" episode, which I actually understood and thought was a reasonable thing to say. I'm not sure how well he connects with rural voters. And then there's that whole 'assaulting girlfriend in college' thing. If he could be sure the end of it had been in the last election, when his response was quick and concilliatory and the attempt to use it against him fizzled, he might be able to get past it. But without being explicit for lack of evidence, let's just say the risk of further allegations--true or not--are distinctly possible. Unfortunately, that's something to consider.

Singer is right that Wu's position on the war from the beginning, like every Democratic member of our federal delegation, is a big plus in any election next year. Smith may get traction with his electoral deathbed conversion, and he may not--but anyone whose position was clear from the start will have the advantage, and Wu would have it. Is that enough? That would certainly depend on what the war looked like next summer. So even that's a hedged bet to consider. On balance, I think I'd prefer Wu continue to represent the 1st District. Without preempting or speaking for Carla, I think our top two candidates are still Novick and Westlund, order undetermined.