If tomorrow's primary in Washington's 6th congressional district goes according to script, lone Democratic Candidate Derek Kilmer will win enough of the vote to clinch his seat in the House without having to wait for November. But in today's political climate, the script is about as dependable as Kristen Stewart's fidelity, and if the vampires had votes, they'd be casting them in the 6th District.
If this race goes until November, it will be a study in how ideological polarities and carefully crafted hysteria are shaping the political landscape and our culture at large. Here's why:
- Norm Dicks has represented the district (admirably by most accounts) since 1976, and his retirement leaves a vacuum. Every candidate in the primary is new to national politics.
- The Democrats need to retain the District 6 seat. The Republicans want it badly, especially in traditionally blue Western Washington.
- The district's population is diverse and politically polarized (remember the Spotted Owl?) and voting turnout tends to be poor, especially to the west. The outcome may depend on whose surrogates are more effective at getting out the vote.
The smart money says Kilmer will win in the primary against a scattered field of conservative opponents, and if he does the race will become a footnote to Election 2012. But if he doesn't, this down-home district will play host to seasoned political operators, putting the politics of hype on vivid display.