Press Talk: How odd can you get?

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Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor emeritus. His column of personal opinion appears the first Saturday of every month. Reach him at lounews1@gmail.com.

Liz Pike is an odd duck.

OK, hold on. Before you go all Conor McGregor on me, I consider myself an odd duck, as well. But Pike — who is our state representative from the 18th Legislative District — is an odd duck in a Trumpish kind of way.

You know, insecure, because even though she’s been a state representative since 2012, there are a bunch of brainiacs up in Olympia, and she doesn’t quite fit. Trump feels the same way about D.C. Also like Trump, her allies in the capital are shrinking. Filled with hope and the energy of a newbie five years ago, now she has few people to turn to during the legislative session.

So Pike says she’ll run for the county chair position in about a year. But does she think she has a realistic chance? Does anybody think she has a chance?

I texted Pike a few days ago asking her if we could talk about all this. She didn’t recognize my number and asked me for my name. I told her. I didn’t hear from her again.

That’s too bad. I really did want to chat. I’m a chatty kind of guy!

Frankly, it wasn’t all that long ago when we had a pretty good relationship. We’d go out to coffee. I’d call, and she even invited me over to her place for a gathering. But then she got all cozy with David Madore. I called her out several times on this and, well, I was out.

You know Madore, right? The former county councilor who might actually be more Trumpish … than Trump. No kidding!

Madore tried to turn Clark County into his own personal kingdom. But things didn’t go his way. Madore lost his bid for county chair in the primary. That’s when things got really odd with him and Pike. (See, there’s the “odd” word again.) Madore recruited Pike to run for the chair position as a write-in candidate in the general election because he couldn’t stomach the idea of Marc Boldt winning the seat. More odd stuff: Even though Madore lost the chair election, he remained on the county council because he didn’t lose his regular seat.

Odder yet, Pike agreed to run as a write-in. And, the oddest of all the oddities, even though she said she’d run, Pike said she would not campaign.

Oddragious!

Why is all of this relevant? Well, as noted, Pike has already run for the county chair seat. (BTW, she was crushed in that election.) Plus — even though Madore has been extremely quiet publicly — I’m pretty sure he’s lurking out there. And if Madore and Pike can get the band back together again, get ready for another roller-coaster ride!

• • •

OK, so Pike wouldn’t talk to me, but I did want to get a feel for how she did up in Olympia. So I spoke to a Democrat and a Republican in Olympia. Both are respected. I trust them. And I told them I wouldn’t use their names.

“She had a lot of potential early on, and then it went to hell in a handbasket,” the Republican said.

“She was resourceful without being brilliant,” the Democrat said.

I asked both of then — on a scale of one to 10 — how effective Pike was in Olympia.

“I’d give her a three,” the Democrat said. “Had trouble building relationships.”

The Republican was tougher on her. “Less than one.”

Both of them said that as the legislative sessions came and went, the number of Pike’s close allies in Olympia from our area kept shrinking. Both said the number was probably down to about two.

Both also said they didn’t feel Pike has any give in her. And she has a bit of a mean streak.

“She never changes her mind. Always goes back to what she believes. And she always believed a smile and a hug would resolve any obnoxious behavior,” the Democrat said.

The Republican? “She talks about civility, but she shreds people.”

Many political observers don’t feel she has much of a chance in the county chair race.

But this is a conservative-leaning county and — no question — Pike is a conservative. But she’ll be running against another conservative in Boldt, even though he will run under the no-party banner.

Me? I think she has a small shot. The present council has not taken control of the county’s rising payroll costs and benefits. That could be an effective campaign issue.

And even though Boldt is a good guy and was the right choice to settle the county down after Madore was eventually booted from his regular county seat, his opponents will question his intellectual insight to dynamically move the county forward.

But Pike’s problem is, her intellectual insight will also be questioned.

Well, we are still a year away. Plenty of time for — you guessed it — more odd stuff.