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August 14, 2006

Democrats battle each other in 32nd District

Posted by David Postman at 8:03 AM

State Sen. Darlene Fairley, D-Lake Forest Park, was offered a deal last week that would have guaranteed her a free ride through the September primary. She turned it down.

First-time candidate Chris Eggen, who joined the Democratic primary against Fairley on the final day of candidate filing July 28, told Fairley he'd drop out if the incumbent would agree to four conditions: Include sustainable energy and campaign finance reform in her campaign material, endorse her Democratic seatmate — 32nd District state Rep. Maralyn Chase — and agree not to talk about Chase.

Fairley and Chase don't get along. Their voting records aren't so different. But Fairley backed another candidate when Chase was appointed to the open seat and they've continued to clash personally.

So Fairley's answer? "When hell freezes over."

Eggen said he doesn't understand the Fairley/Chase conflict:

"There is, as near as I can tell, little or no ideological difference between the two individuals. It's a mystery to me why they can't support each other more."

Eggen never really wanted to run against Fairley. He said he filed because he heard rumors that Fairley might not run and he didn't want the state party to be able to appoint a candidate if no one else filed. He says he'll now stay in the race but will not run a campaign against Fairley. Instead he'll talk about energy and campaign finance reform and Fircrest School, a residential center for the developmentally disabled in the district.

He said he won't try again to make peace between Fairley and Chase.

Fairley said that after the Eggen offer, which was relayed by a Democratic campaign staffer, she called Lila Smith, chairwoman of the 32nd District Democrats. Smith repeated the request that Fairley endorse Chase and agree not to bad-mouth her in public or private.

Fairley says Smith "demanded to know why I wouldn't endorse Maralyn. I finally told her why. 'She's mean-spirited, divisive, is not well-thought-of in her caucus and is totally ineffective as a Legislator.' Boy, that ended that."

Chase could not be reached. But Smith talked to her and said Chase didn't want to engage in "what she frankly categorizes as an unprincipled struggle."

Smith said Fairley was not endorsed by the 32nd District Democrats because she refused to back Chase.

"We've asked Darlene to stop it and asked her to stop calling the newspaper and telling them things that are lies, half-truths and innuendos."

Smith says Fairley and other Democrats who didn't back Chase are carrying a grudge.

"I just wish they'd let it go because Maralyn is a smart woman and she's an honest woman ... and she works really hard for people. She has been fighting for justice and peace for decades."

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