WA-03: Baird Will Retire

In another setback for the bean-counters over at the DCCC, Democrats will have to defend yet another competitive open seat next year. Tim Sahd has the scoop:

Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) announced his retirement tonight, becoming the third Dem in a vulnerable seat to announce his departure in the last few weeks. “The time has now come to pursue other options, other ways of serving. Hence, I am announcing today that I do not intend to seek reelection to Congress in 2010,” Baird wrote in a statement. “This is not an easy decision to be sure, but I believe it is the right decision at the right time.”

The CD, with a Cook PVI of EVEN, is a very fertile open seat for GOPers to attack. Washougal City Councilor Jon Russell (R) and WA House GOP caucus ex-CoS David Castillo (R) were already running and prepared to face Baird. Several new candidates are likely to emerge.

Obama carried this district by a 52-46 margin, but Bush won it twice by two-point spreads in both 2004 and 2000. There’s no word yet on who Democrats plan to recruit here, but I would expect big moves on both sides of the fence in the coming days.

UPDATE: Reid teases a few potential Dem names:

Dem sources, meanwhile, believe state Sen. Craig Pridemore (D) and state Rep. Brendan Williams (D) are potential candidates to replace Baird. Pridemore is from Vancouver, and Williams is from northern Thurston Co.

ANOTHER UPDATE (Crisitunity): On the Dem side, it’ll probably be Pridemore. He wouldn’t have to give up his state Sen. seat to run in 2010. He has the advantage of being from Vancouver, increasingly the district’s population center. He’s an Army vet and pretty well-liked. On the GOP side, I’d bet on state Sen. Don Benton, also from Vancouver, who ran against Baird in 1998 when it was an open seat and got to 45%. Benton also gets a free shot in 2010. Another possibility is state Sen. Joe Zarelli, who also ran against Baird (in 2002) but only got to 38%, which is what generic wingnut is usual good for in that district. One other possibility is state House minority leader Richard DeBolt, from Centralia in the middle of the district. The article also mentions state Rep. Jaime Herrera, who’s a former aide to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and who already seems to be moving to get into the race.

EXTRA UPDATE (David): The New York Times just had a story the other day profiling Vancouver, WA – and how the city often gets confused with its Canadian neighbor in the same region.

GOP UPDATE (David): Republican state Rep. Jaime Herrera has already said she’ll run. The 31-year-old Herrera is a former aide to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and was appointed to fill a vacant state House seat in 2007, which she won outright last year. Politico calls the seat “competitive,” but according the Swing State Project’s in-house analysis of presidential results at the legislative level in Washington, this district has a 2008 PVI of R+6, making it the tenth-most Republican in the state (out of 49). It went for Bush 57-42 and McCain 52-47. There are already a few GOPers already in the race, so it remains to be seen whether Herrera will clear the primary.

Dem Update (David): Hotline says their sources are suggesting a couple of other potential names: Clark Co. Commis. Steve Stuart (D) and Rep. Deb Wallace (D).

One Last Update (Crisitunity): The only electoral opponent Herrera has ever faced was a Democratic unknown in 2008, whom she defeated 60-40 in both the top 2 primary and the general. She’s never faced off against another Republican; as remarked above, she was appointed to her position in 2007 (Washington fills legislative vacancies by appointment rather than by fast special election)… after Republican state Rep. Richard Curtis had to resign after a little gay escort scandal.

RaceTracker Wiki: WA-03

75 thoughts on “WA-03: Baird Will Retire”

  1. Baird succeeded Linda Smith, when she ran against Patty Murray for WA-SEN in ’98.

    Smith won the seat in ’94 over Joelene Unsold, who was sort of like Howard Dean – including her “A” rating from the NRA.

    The RNC had their favorite – but Smith beat that person in the R primary in a write-in campaign. She beat Unsold in the ’94 R tide.

    Anyone who has driven between Seattle and Portland has been through WA-03 (basically Olympia to Vancouver WA) – and has seen the so-called “Uncle Sam Billboard,” sort of an oracle that would fit in the mainstream of today’s teabaggers.

    I’m sorry to see Baird go. Except for Iraq, he was a pretty reliable D.

    Look for a tough fight in this district – despite the D leanings of Olympia and Vancouver, it’s a relatively strong area for the religious right, especially given its location on the West Coast.

    Nevertheless, there is a decent D bench in the area, as suggested by the diary.

  2. By any stretch of the imagination, but that’s three retirements in the past two weeks.  And all of them come in districts rated between even and R+6.  

    Folks, we’re going to have a tough time holding WA-3, KS-3, and TN-8.  And the worst part is that these aren’t overwhelmingly R seats where we’d get a blue dog at best.  These are progressive representatives for the most part that are dropping out.  Not good at all.  We just can’t afford retirements in even districts like this, certainly not at this rapid a pace.

  3. The drumbeat of ‘the dems are going down’ surely has to play into some of these incumbents’ decision processes as they consider whether to retire.  I tend to think that this drumbeat is overblown — no way the House is going to change hands in 2010.  But it could be partially self-fulfilling if it helps nudge Democrats against running for re-election.

  4. Just heard on the local news that Vancouver WA hotels are getting requests for Olympic 2010 reservations from all over the world.

    Vancouver BC is about 300 mi north of Vancouver WA, so that would be a bit of a commute. (Whistler, the main ski mountain for the Olympics, is about 75mi further north.)

  5. Dems had a TOTAL of only 18 open seats in 2006/2008.  That is extremely low.  The retirements had to catch up with us sooner or later.  I’m not reading more into this than there actually is.

  6. Washington has nonpartisan redistricting, and thanks to the Vancouver area’s explosive growth, it’s very likely that by 2012, the district will contract and withdraw from Thurston County. That would be a certainty if Washington gained a tenth seat.

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