Wednesday, May 26, 2004

ross attacked by dems and repubs

Seems my earlier belief that all the protest against Dave Ross staying on the air until July is coming from rivals in his own part at least as much as from the state Republican party. This makes sense, by the time the general campaign starts, Dave Ross will be long off the air. But now the primary campaign is in full swing.

One of Ross's opponents is Alex Alben, a very pro-business candidate with strong ties to the "Eastside" community. Alben seems like a good candidate--certainly anyone representing Washington's 8th District will have to be pro-business and high-tech savvy, being home to greater Microsoft-land. (Technically Microsoft's main campus falls in the 1st District--Jay Inslee (D)--forming a little bump on the nose of the 1st as a result of what is doubtless a fascinating political tale.)

Alben is making a major issue of Ross's remaining on the air, even to the extent of purchasing ad time during Ross's morning radio show to complain about Ross being on the air. Takes a bit of hutspa! According to this Seattle P-I article, Ross is refusing to comment on the ads. This seems perfectly consistent with what I know of Ross--he has the highest level of integrity of almost anyone I know. I suspect if asked, Ross would say that things are working exactly the way they should be.

To a certain extent, I think Alben is being a bit disingenuous. His rally cry is: "standing up for fairness in this election, because all candidates need to play by the same rules!" (from his web site). In reality, many political candidates enjoy undue advantage because of their circumstances. No one could realistically claim that incumbents have almost insurmountable advantages by virtue of being able to campaign while in office. Everyone know how much money makes a difference--no candidate has to be well loved by donors if he's got his own deep pockets.

My original take on this situation was that Ross was inviting at least as much hurt on himself as help by staying on the air. Every word out of his mouth is grist for the disinformation mill (as well as providing ample opportunity to commit real gaffes). But I've just been realizing that this is only true of candidates interested in negative campaigning. In fact, by staying on the air, Ross is almost forcing his opponents to go on the attack in order to even the odds.

In addition, in a normal world, Ross would almost certainly spend at least one hour interviewing candidates. How is he going to achieve that? Will we have the surreal experience of hearing one candidate interview another? Not in this reality. So will Alben be left to the almost certainly hostile Dori Monson? (While not really unfair, certainly cruel!)

The Seattle P-I story referenced above, used the term "impropriety" several times, as in the impropriety of Ross's decision to stay on the air. Although this term is technically correct (meaning "not proper"), it tends to have connotations that are irrelevant here, and so it feels like too harsh a term. I think this issue is quite complex; it isn't a simple matter of fairness or unfairness, but rather of finding the right balance of fairness/unfairness to a number of different parties.

I will probably support Ross no matter what he does (I earn my living in his district). But, on reflection, I think it would be best if he got off the air as soon as possible. Boo hoo! My mornings will never be the same!