Press Talk: Who's the big loser? That's right

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian editor

Published:

 

Was this the needed knockout punch to settle an epic battle between two forces of great determination?

For me, at the very least, I'd say Tuesday's election results show a standing eight count is in order. Someone is about to fall.

And it's Clark County Commissioner David Madore.

Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt easily beat Councilor Bill Turlay, but it really was Madore who lost.

Even though Turlay -- a good man in his own right -- lost the mayor's race, he will continue as a councilor.

But it's Madore who will try to pick up the pieces after this one.

So why was Madore the big loser here even though he wasn't running? About a month ago in a Press Talk column, I suggested this mayoral race really was a heavyweight fight between Leavitt and Madore.

"Madore and Leavitt are archenemies. One is Superman. The other is Alexander Joseph "Lex" Luthor. You decide which is which."

Then in a column I wrote about two weeks ago, I said this:

This really is a race between Leavitt and Madore. And it is a race to secure the hearts and minds of folks around here.

If Turlay wins, it will signal that we like what Madore has been doing over at the county administration building, and you can pretty much guarantee the Madore way will grow bolder. If Leavitt wins, it will signal that we're growing tired of where Madore is leading this county.

What has happened to Madore is a classic case of overreaching. When he ran for county commissioner last year, residents were hungry for a change. I liked the guy. And goodness knows government in these parts needed shaking up.

But Madore quickly showed signs of practicing bad politics. Hiring his unqualified buddy Sen. Don Benton into a lush county job was just one thing that turned many supporters against him.

Despite Madore's lessening hold on the county, he realized it was in his best interest to get Leavitt defeated.

So he put an enormous amount of political capital behind Turlay.

It didn't work.

For Turlay to have any shot, he needed to have distanced himself from Madore early on. He would have had a fighting chance. But he never recognized the Kryptonite-like impact Madore had on his chances to win.

I sneaked down to Beaches Tuesday night as the election results were being announced and found a grateful Leavitt with his supporters. I took the opportunity to ask him if he felt he delivered a knockout blow to Madore. He said no.

"I would never count the guy out. He's willing to spend as much of his own money as he wants," Leavitt said.

What's next?

Of course, the fallout hasn't had time to settle in yet, but it's not too early to talk about what's next. And that is Commissioner Steve Stuart -- now the odd man out in the county. He's up for re-election in a year. Stuart finds himself squeezed between Republicans Madore and Commissioner Tom Mielke, and so he has been reduced to the loyal opposition. Now Madore & Mielke (the M&M boys) would like nothing better than to see Stuart gone, gone, gone.

And, for sure, there are days when Stuart feels like he'd also like to be gone, gone, gone. But don't count on him being gone. Here are a couple of predictions:

• Even though Stuart has good days and bad days, he won't let his bad days drive his decision. Plus he understands the importance of voicing a minority opinion even if he can't convince the M&M boys to change their minds. Stuart will run.

• Whomever the Republicans put up against Stuart, he or she will lose. That's because, not unlike what happened in the mayoral race, it won't be Stuart vs. some Republican. It will be Stuart vs. Madore. And Stuart will win that battle.

So before the sweat is even dry, get ready for another fun election campaign. And it will begin as soon as Stuart tells the world he's in, right after the New Year.