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March 27, 2012 at 5:35 PM

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Darcy Burner's Twitter gripe: Obama is a Republican

Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner hopes to share space on the November ballot with President Obama this fall.

But while spending the last couple years in Washington, D.C., heading up the activist group Progressive Congress, Burner was always not such a big fan of the president.

Now that she's in a six-way primary race with other Democrats, some of her Twitter and Facebook comments have been peddled by rival political operatives for a couple weeks in an effort to make the case Burner's views are too left-wing, or too disloyal to the Democratic Party.

Seattle's Publicola website picked them up today. And the head of the state Democratic Party is criticizing Burner's comment -- another sign of the tension between party leaders over her candidacy.

Last August, Burner was particularly peeved with Obama, vowing she wouldn't give "a dime" to a political committee supporting him, because, she said, "I don't support Republicans."

In another post, Burner said Obama "isn't a bad Democrat -- because he's not a Democrat. He's a Republican. In that context his choices make sense."

burnertweet2.jpg

The notion that anyone would think Obama is a Republican might surprise Republicans, and many Democrats, for that matter.

On Tuesday, state Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz scolded Burner.

"I expect more than that from a Democratic candidate for Congress in Washington," Pelz said.

He argued Obama has been a "staunch advocate for the progressive values shared by Democrats in our state -- from ending the war in Iraq to finally passing health insurance reform, to saving the auto industry, to fighting for the middle class."

Added Pelz: "Darcy needs to make it clear that she is part of the Democratic Team in Washington State."

But Burner's comments are not unlike other gripes about the president among liberal Democrats over the past three years.

Her Twitter complaints about Obama coincided with last year's announced debt-ceiling deal, which included spending cuts that angered many Democrats. U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., famously referred to the bill as a "Satan sandwich."

When I asked her about the tweets a week or two ago, Burner didn't back away from her criticisms, saying Obama had repeatedly adopted moderate-Republican stances on issues from tax cuts for the wealthy to the health-care overhaul, which was patterned on Mitt Romney's own health-care law in Massachusetts.

Moderate Republicans essentially only exist these days in the Democratic Party, Burner argues. "The Democratic Party is in and of itself bipartisan," she said.

Still, Burner said her view of Obama has improved in recent months as the president has struck a more populist (and partisan) economic message. Despite her tweets, she'll have no trouble backing him in November.

"Do I wish President Obama had been more progressive over the last three years? Absolutely," Burner said. "Do I support Barack Obama over any of the Republican candidates? Absolutely, unequivocally without any question."

Whether Democrats want a liberal or a more centrist candidate in the 1st District will be a key point of debate in the run-up to the August primary.

The district doesn't look much like it did before political maps were redrawn this year. It now stretches from Kirkland and Redmond all the way to the Canadian border and is equal parts Republican and Democratic leaning.

Republicans have cleared the way for Snohomish County Councilman John Koster to be their candidate in November.

But Burner is competing with five Democrats: former Microsoft executive Suzan DelBene, state Rep. Roger Goodman, state Sen. Steve Hobbs, tech entrepreneur Darshan Rauniyar and former state Rep. Laura Ruderman.


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