Why Did Didier, Newhouse Win the Primary? We Offer Some Observations.
The 4th Congressional District race was w-i-d-e open, and as we head towards November, there's still a lot to come into play.
Clint Dider and Dan Newhouse distanced themselves from a wide field of candidates and will be on the ballot in November, both from the GOP. Why did they succeed where the rest of the candidates didn't? We offer a few of our own observations. Some might be a bit strong, but after watching, reporting on and studying the race the last eight months, there's a lot that's happened.
1) A distinct message that resonated with voters. In the 4th. District, conservative values are paramount. Both Newhouse and Didier both grew up in the district and could identify with voter frustration over government. Their plans and proposals about how to deal with bloated government, Obamacare and gun issues weren't that different from the other candidates. But theirs was slimmed down a bit, more streamlined, and that message was hammered home to voters again and again. They kept it simple, basic, but strong.
2) Public exposure and familiarity. Both Didier and Newhouse have previous public and political arena experience that exposed them to voters more than the other candidates. Most people outside of the agricultural industry might not have remembered Newhouse's terms as Secretary of Agriculture in our state, a job he did very successfully.
But you probably did remember seeing him in hundreds of ads on TV last fall, lobbying against the controversial food labeling GMO proposal...which was ultimately defeated.
Besides being a Super Bowl winner and considered one of the most "stand up" guys in professional sports in his time, Didier was been active for over ten years in conservative political causes. Whether running for Senator or Lands Commissioner, Didier built a base of credibility with potential voters by sticking to his principles and not backing down from challenges. Last year, he was the leader of the opposition to the controversial Bladder Pod issue that would have taken hundreds of acres away from Franklin County farmers over an allegedly endangered flower. Didier spearheaded the opposition that got the attention and action of Doc Hastings, ending with Fish and Wildlife and other government agencies backing down. That story was front-page news for a number of weeks.
Didier and Newhouse were able to get themselves in front of voters and the public a lot more than the other candidates. They also had the most name recognition outside of their home arenas.
George Cicotte had strong Tri-Cities and Benton County support. But outside of the Tri-City area, he garnered very few votes. The same went for other candidates Tony Sandoval, Richard Wright, Josh Ramirez and Gavin Seim in their respective cities.
3) They weren't considered too extreme. In some areas of our state (Seattle), just being a conservative or libertarian is viewed as "too extreme." But both Didier and Newhouse were able to express strong, conservative views in an intelligent, thoughtful manner that didn't portray them as being too over-the-top. One of the GOP candidates, Gavin Seim, had a strong, Constitutional platform. But his passion for citizens rights vs. "big" government did lead to some non-violent but verbal confrontations with law enforcement. Those run-ins did get him some headlines, but it might have shied away more moderate voters.
As we head to November, it will be very interesting to see what happens between Didier and Newhouse. Many consider Didier's campaign to be a "grass-roots" effort, while Newhouse is the more "established" candidate who was able to raise the most financial support. Either way, it will be a historic election as two candidates from the same party will be opposing each other on the ballot for Doc's vacated Congressional seat.