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September 19, 2006

Hong Tran looks to the next race

Posted by David Postman at 8:31 PM

I'm at Hong Tran's Broadview home where a couple dozen people have gathered to watch returns with the candidate and her family. Tran obviously knows that even the earliest returns will show her long-shot campaign against Sen. Maria Cantwell will be a symbolic effort.

But in an interview, she expressed no regrets about her nearly five month campaign in the Democratic primary. And she thinks her anti-war platform has made a difference:

"I think it would have been a much easier path for Cantwell if I hadn't run. Even her efforts to sound more anti-war wouldn't have happened."

Tran says she doesn't think Cantwell has changed her position at all and she doubts that many anti-war Democrats were truly swayed by what the senator has said in recent months about the war.

"The only people it reaches are the people who were going to vote for her anyway and now they can just feel better about it."

She has little to say about Mark Wilson, the first anti-war candidate to get in the Democratic primary who went to work for the Cantwell campaign as a high-priced outreach director. She said he "cashed in."

This is the first election party Tran has ever attended. Her career has been solely with non-profits, mostly as an attorney providing legal services to the poor. She seemed quite focused tonight on the dominating role money plays in politics.

She said that a lot of people tried to compare her, mostly unfavorably, to Ned Lamont, who unseated Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Connecticut. "Ned Lamont is like a trillionaire," she said. "It's only because he has money and he's running against Lieberman, who everyone hates, that makes people like him. His history is not being a progressive."

Tran says much of that critique is true of Darcy Burner, the Democrat running against Rep. Dave Reichert, and the darling of the Democrats this year.

"People have really been enamored of her. But she has no public service background. She's another millionaire running. ... Unfortunately a lot of voters think when someone has money it makes them legitimate." (I don't know that she is a millionaire.)

Tran said she expects she will run for office again. She quit her job to campaign full time and she doesn't know what she'll do next, but she's confident public service will play a role.

She and her campaign manager, Jesse Blaisdell, are thinking about writing an article about "how undemocratic the Democratic Party really is." And she's thinking about joining the lawsuit against the state's primary system.

She said a lot of Democrats, including party and elected officials, have said they want her to talk about future campaigns. She had earlier considered running against Congressman Jim McDermott. And she still talks like a potential opponent.

"He's like this icon. People think that Jim McDermott epitomizes a good liberal and his voting record would not be any different than mine. But to be in a position like that, in such a safe district, you could do so much more."

She said McDermott has based his career on being "antagonistic with Republicans and be critical of people" and should instead use his tenure to do more for the district.

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