As we wrote in this week's Stranger, it's not that heartbreaking to see Democratic Representative Brian Baird (of Vancouver, WA) go.

It is, however, hard to figure out which Democrat should now run for his seat. Hard, but urgent:

Representative Brian Baird wasn't anyone's idea of a reliable lefty. As a Democrat representing Washington's 3rd District—which covers the areas around Vancouver, down near the border with Oregon—he backed the Bush surge in Iraq and voted against health-insurance reform. But he was a five-term Democrat in a district that Bush won in both 2000 and 2004.

Now that Baird is leaving Congress to "pursue other options," his seat is up for grabs, and Republicans are saying, quite plausibly, that they can flip it into their hands.

So which Democrat is stepping up to stop them from doing that? About a half-dozen are in the mix...

Dwight Pelz, chair of the Washington State Democrats, won't take sides yet. "We have several strong democratic candidates running right now," he said. "We want to see who can get out there and get the most support before we let a good Democrat know we would like them to pull out of the race."

He should figure it out as quickly as possible. Time's a-wasting and Democrats need—way before the summer primary—to rally behind a single candidate if they want to hold on to this seat.

Among the Democrats circling the seat: lefty peace activist Cheryl Crist, a perennial contender; Deboarah Wallace, who represents the Vancouver area in the state house; Craig Pridemore, who represents Vancouver in the state senate; Maria Rodriguez Salazar, a Hispanic activist; and Denny Heck, a behind-the-scenes Olympia power broker who helped start TVW, the state’s public affairs network, made some smart investments, and is now said to be putting $100,000 into a campaign fund.

Let's see if Slog can do what we're demanding Pelz do: narrow the field.

Which Democrat should run in the 3rd District?