Press Talk: Is the table set for Pridemore?

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor



Craig Pridemore, former state senator and county commissioner, is in the running to replace Steve Stuart.

The end game is Pridemore. He has the best chance in November. But can the Democrats get there? Here’s the scenario that gets them there:

First, what I’m talking about is the process to fill the soon-to-be vacant county commissioner’s seat. It will be vacant because Democratic Commissioner Steve Stuart said he’s had it with Republican Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke. So Stuart landed a job as city manager in Ridgefield. Exit stage right for Big Stu.

Because of the sudden departure, a process kicks in to fill the seat. You’d think they’d immediately hold an election, but fuhgeddaboudit. That’s not the way it works.

The remaining commissioners get to choose who they want in the seat. But because Stuart was a Democrat, that party gets to put forward three names that Madore and Mielke have to choose from.

Regardless of who is chosen, come November the seat will come up for election. And whoever is appointed has an advantage in the race. That’s because the news coverage that elected officials get is free “advertising” to them.

It’s been estimated it could be worth between $50,000 and $100,000.

That’s one of the reasons you hear folks say they’re reluctant to run in November if they don’t get the appointment.

Now, the M&M boys (Madore and Mielke) know the advantage their appointment brings. They’d have to have rocks for brains if they didn’t. So they are more likely to appoint someone who would have trouble in the November election.

So where does that leave the local Democratic Party?

There now are four names in play: Ed Barnes, Temple Lentz, Kelly Love Parker and Craig Pridemore.

Barnes — an old-timer, a good guy and union player — was late to the game. He would have stood little chance to move forward except that Lentz — likely the brightest of the four — has said publicly that, if appointed, she will not run in November. Good for her for being honest, but it has damaged her chances for the Democrats to advance her.

Still, the Democrats’ picking Barnes over her is nonsensical. If the M&M boys pick Barnes, he really has little chance of winning a general election. So that leaves the other three.

Pridemore is considered a moderate Democrat. He’s actually been in the very seat Stuart is leaving. After five years on the board of commissioners, he stepped away to become a state senator.

Pridemore then stepped away from his Senate seat to unsuccessfully run for state auditor. He now is the chief financial officer for the state Department of Licensing.

Lentz is a hard-left liberal, very, very smart, and has been a thorn in the M&M boys’ side with her liberal blog. But — as noted — she says if appointed she won’t run in November.

Well what about Love Parker, the president of the Vancouver chamber?

When I asked Love Parker whether she’d run for the seat if selected, she said this:

“I am willing to run and I am willing to stand down should there be a strong candidate who wants to run.”

The important part of that quote is this: “I am willing to stand down.”

And Love Parker does have great respect for Pridemore. When she said she wanted to be considered, she said Pridemore was the most qualified.

So that sets the table for Pridemore as long as Barnes’ name does not go forward.

Still, nothing is certain in politics.

In the end, Pridemore, who still owns his home here but is making good money in Olympia, may opt out of the game if he doesn’t get the appointment.

Now, let’s see if the Democrats are smart enough to understand this. Let’s see how it plays out.

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