Opinion

EDITORIAL: Barlean's gone, but not the race

State Rep. Kelly Barlean surprisingly dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination to run for U.S. Congress in the Second Congressional District. But that decision could make the race even more interesting.

Barlean blamed lack of money for his plight. But he didn’t mention that there’s no one to blame but himself. He started running long before his two announced opponents, Norma Smith and Herb Meyer, did, and he lagged far behind Smith in fund-raising. Meyer has about as much money as Barlean, but the latter’s decision to quit the race should give him added momentum.

Having three solid candidates was quite a crowd for a party trying to wrest the Congressional seat from first-term incumbent Rick Larsen, a Democrat from Snohomish County. Now, citizens can key in on Smith and Meyer and the vote won’t be split three-ways. Barlean supposedly was more moderate than the other two and part of his strategy was to hope that the more conservative votes would be split between Smith and Meyer, leaving him the majority in the middle. Now, that scenario is as old as another failed Seahawks game plan.

The race will now be simplified for Smith and Meyer. They can refine their positions to appeal to a broader range of voters, and compare their positions with only one opponent. Both are good candidates. Smith has a six-year history as an effective aide to former Congressman Jack Metcalf, and Meyer has an intriguing background in Ronald Reagan’s CIA and as an independent businessman. Expect terrorism, the economy and health care to be the major issues, not necessarily in that order.

The winner will have the formidable task of facing Larsen in the general election. The incumbent already has the huge financial war chest that comes with incumbency these days, and he has a solid, quite moderate record after two years in Congress.

But these are unusual times. Nobody is assured of re-election. Expect the winner of the Republican primary Sept. 17 to give Larsen a run for his money Nov. 5.

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