Updates on Washington 4th and Oregon’s Measure 90

Shortly after this month’s Washington primary, the Oregonian’s Jeff Mapes looked at Washington’s Fourth District and some implications for Oregon’s Measure 90, this year’s yet-another-top-two-primary initiative.

Thanks to Washington’s top-two primary system, the fourth congressional district will see two Republicans compete in the general election (Clint Didier and Dan Newhouse).  A frequent argument for top-two primary systems is the presumed moderating effect of including independent voters in the primary.  This result could also encourage candidates in elections like WA-04 to cross over and compete for the other party’s supporters.

Will these candidates try to win Democratic support, along with the district’s 36% Latino population?  Maybe, but there are reasons for skepticism.

  • Neither candidate will want to lose large numbers of their combined 57% primary support, not to mention supporters of other Republican candidates.  Republican bona fides are important in the upcoming election, in the House, and future elections.
  • Didier can run as a celebrity without moderating his positions (he has two more Super Bowl rings than most candidates) or he hope for some kind of crossover appeal from the tea party agenda.

As the Measure 90 campaign is already facing challenges, supporters and opponents can use this race for some indication about how a top-two system changes general election strategy.  Given that most voters struggle to locate the ideological positioning of congressional candidates, supporters have something to prove.  On the other hand…in WA-04, to paraphrase Barry Goldwater, there are a lot of unattended ducks on the Democratic pond.