The race to replace US Rep. Jay Inslee in Washington's 1st Congressional District is about to become a bit more crowded, and in my opinion, a whole lot clearer, when Darcy Burner goes on KUOW's Weekday this morning to officially announce her candidacy.
She's got her campaign website up and running, an ActBlue page ready to take contributions, and as you can see from the video above, a campaign message that's perfectly tuned to the times. "We need to send people to Congress who will fight for the 99 Percent," Burner says in a campaign kickoff video that strikes a decidedly populist tone. "I'm ready for this fight," Burner continues. And from what I know of her, I bet she is.
Which I guess makes this a good time for some full disclosure. I've strongly supported Burner in the past, and I consider her two close loses to Republican incumbent Rep. Dave Reichert the greatest disappointments of my blogging career. Burner is one of a handful of candidates to whom I've contributed money, and the only one for whom I've aggressively fundraised. I not only think she'd make an excellent Congressperson, I consider Darcy a friend. So I strongly encourage everyone here to read me in that context.
All that said, and contrary to the cynicism with which I expect some other political reporters to approach her candidacy, I honestly believe that Burner has a great chance of winning both the primary and the general election. Burner is a tireless campaigner and fundraiser who I expect to quickly outraise the field, and she appears to be hitting the perfect message for Democratic primary voters. She's also released some early polling that shows her starting with a huge advantage over other Democrats.
According to a poll of 400 likely voters (margin of error +/- 4.9%) conducted by Lake Research Partners between October 22-24, Burner leads all other Democrats combined by a 47-40 margin, with the next closest Democrat coming in at 12 percent. 50 percent of Democrats polled have a favorable impression of Burner, compared to only 11 percent unfavorable, while 82 percent of Democratic voters who have any impression of Burner have a favorable one. Burner also starts with 55 percent name recognition, compared to 14 percent for Laura Ruderman.
But what really excites me about Burner is the conviction that she'd make a kick-ass congressperson, who will not just represent the interests of her district and her state, but will quickly climb up the Democratic leadership ladder while using her office to help other progressive candidates win election nationwide. And unlike most freshman, there won't be much of a learning curve: Burner spent the past few years in the other Washington as the executive director of ProgressiveCongress.org, an organization founded by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and leaders in the progressive community to serve as an intersection between the two. Burner is well known in the halls of Congress, and she knows its procedures well. If elected, she'll hit the ground running.
Of course, a year out, that's still a big "if," especially since we don't even know what the new boundaries of WA-01 will look like (though redistricting is an issue that faces all the declared candidates). But assuming she's in the district, I'd have to say that Burner has instantly become the Democratic frontrunner.