Ron Bemis, the challenger to Rep. Jim McDermott
Ron Bemis, the Republican candidate in Washington’s 7th District—Seattle, mainly—is feeling ignored. And with reason. He has won little attention from the media around here. Why? Because editors have judged the race not to be news. That would be because he is running against Jim McDermott, Seattle's “congressman for life.”
Why congressman for life? Look at the election returns:
Jim McDermott, Democrat, 72.3%
Larry Penberthy, Republican, 24.1%
Robbie Scherr, Socialist Workers, 3.6%
Jim McDermott, Democrat, 78.4%
Glenn Hampson, Republican, 19.1%
Paul Glumaz, Independent, 2.5%
Jim McDermott, Democrat, 75.1%
Keith Harris, Republican, 24.9%
Jim McDermott, Democrat, 81%
Frank Kleschen, Republican, 19%
Jim McDermott, Democrat, 88.2%
Stan Lippman, Libertarian, 9.4%
Jeff Powers, Socialist Workers, 2.4%
Jim McDermott, Democrat, 72.8%
Joe Szwaja, Green, 19.6%
Joel Grus, Libertarian, 7.6%
Jim McDermott, Democrat, 74.1%
Carol Cassady, Republican, 21.9%
Stan Lippman, Libertarian, 4%
Jim McDermott, Democrat, 80.7%
Carol Cassady, Republican, 19.3%
Jim McDermott, Democrat, 79.4%
Steve Beren, Republican, 15.7%
Linnea Noreen, Independent, 4.9%
Jim McDermott, Democrat, 83.6%
Steve Beren, Republican, 16.3%
Jim McDermott, Democrat, 83%
Bob Jeffers-Schroder, Independent, 17%
In 24 years, McDermott’s worst showing in a general election was 72 percent. But he has a redrawn district this year, with a few more Republicans in it, and still people run against him.
This year, McDermott, 75, attracted six opponents, only one of which labeled himself, “prefers Republican Party.” That was Ron Bemis. He beat a much better funded and organized Democratic challenger, probably on the strength of the Republican label, making it into the top two with 15 percent of the primary election vote against 71 percent for McDermott.
Bemis is 61. He grew up in Long Beach, Calif., moving to Seattle in 1976 to be with his wife, a teacher, and has since made a career as a trial attorney in civil cases. The Bemises have two grown sons and live in Laurelhurst. He is a newbie to politics; when he decided to run, the Republican precinct committee officers had never heard of him. He says he has raised about $30,000, which is not a lot for an attempt to defeat a sitting congressman. Much of it has gone into radio ads and his blue signs, which seem to be more numerous than McDermott’s. Bemis has a campaign staff entirely of unpaid volunteers. He has campaigned at public forums, where he has challenged McDermott to debate, an invitation that McDermott declined.
Bemis sounds strongly Republican when he talks about cutting spending and getting control of the national debt, and dinging McDermott for being graded “F” in 2011 by the conservative National Taxpayers Union. (NTU also gave that grade in 2011 to senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and to representatives Norm Dicks, Rick Larsen and Adam Smith, all Democrats).
Bemis sounds libertarian when he says the government should stay “out of our social lives, our private lives, our homes.” Gay marriage and marijuana, he says, are (or should be) state issues, he says, and as a congressman he would defend the decisions of Washington voters.
Bemis says he would vote to fix Social Security and Medicare through practical adjustments. With Social Security, for example, he would make small changes to both the benefit side and the tax side in a compromise between the two parties. Bemis has not signed the Grover Norquist pledge never to vote for more taxes. “I’ll be a bridge builder and reject extreme partisanship,” he says.
On foreign policy, Bemis says, “the U.S. is overextended militarily” with too many bases around the world. He sounds here like Rep. Ron Paul, and he says he is “closer to Paul” than to some other Republicans, but that he doesn’t accept all of Paul’s positions either. “I’m independent,” he says. “I’m running as a person, not a party.”
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
Postman On Politics