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1st District primary fight begins! Burner supporter hits DelBene as "millionaire New Dem"
Washington's 1st Congressional District was drawn as swing territory, evenly divided between Democratic and Republican leaning voters.
In the race for the district's open congressional seat, conventional wisdom says the district should reward moderates best able to appeal to the political center.
That may be true in the November general election. But first, candidates have to get through the primary -- a more partisan affair with at least six Democrats and three Republicans trying to fight their way to the top.
On the Democratic side, at least, the intra-party infighting has begun.
A blogger at the liberal site Daily Kos, a supporter of Darcy Burner, is hitting rival Democrat Suzan DelBene as "a self financed millionaire New Democrat."
As evidence, the blogger on Wednesday posted a video clip of DelBene saying she'd caucus with the New Democratic Coalition if elected. (That's an organization of moderate, pro-business congressional Democrats.)
The blogger, who lives in New York City, slammed DelBene, saying she might be "the next Joe Lieberman" (which for liberal Democrats is akin to calling someone George W. Bush) and urged support for Burner as "a solid progressive."
The DelBene campaign accused Burner's people of setting up the hit, saying they were taping the candidate forum last night at the King County Democrats, where DelBene made her remarks.
The Burner campaign denied that charge. "We did not send the video around," campaign chairman Dean Nielsen said in an email, adding there were several people recording the event.
Sandeep Kaushik, a political consultant working with the DelBene campaign, scoffed at that explanation, and said the Burner camp was trying to distort DelBene's views to hurt her standing with liberals.
"They're comparing her to Joe Lieberman, which is silly. She opposed the war in Iraq. She wants to end the war in Afghanistan," Kaushik said. "It's intended to portray Suzan as having views she doesn't hold."
The New Democrat Coalition is already well-stocked with representatives from the Washington delegation. Reps. Jay Inslee, Adam Smith and Rick Larsen are all members.
This may foreshadow a major split among Democrats in the 1st District race. Burner, a former Microsoft manager, is a committed progressive activist who has spent years allying herself with the liberal "netroots" wing of the Democratic Party.
After losing to Rep. Dave Reichert for the second time in 2008, she took a job in Washington, D.C., working with the Progressive Caucus - the liberal alternative to the New
Burner's work gives her a national network of devoted fans - but most do not actually live in the 1st District, which runs from Kirkland and Redmond north to the Canadian border.
DelBene, a former Microsoft vice-president, lost a race with Reichert in 2008 despite dropping nearly $2.3 million of her own money on the contest. She was then hired as the Director of the State Department of Revenue, a post she quit earlier this month to run for Congress.
The two will get a chance to face off again Thursday evening - at a forum sponsored by the Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle.
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