Sen. Patty Murray sought to give them both.
Wearing tennis shoes and blue jeans, the three-term incumbent cited the achievements that have been made since Barack Obama became president — and the need to remind voters of them before ballots are cast.
“The issues we work on in this country are not about politics,” she said. “It is about people. It is about you.”
House members who followed her to the podium said there is a clear difference between Democrats and Republicans this year.
U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee described Republicans as obstructionists pushing an agenda that would undo all the accomplishments of the last two years.
“They want to repeal the progress we have made,” he said. “This is a debate in America between optimists and pessimists and we are the optimists.”
Saturday's convention in the Clark County Event Center occurred with Democrats bracing for a potentially devastating year. Polls show gobs of voters are frustrated by the sluggish economy, new health care law and federal spending and may take out their anger on incumbents like Murray.
Rep. Brian Baird of Vancouver recalled the political disaster in 1994, when Republicans picked up 52 seats and grabbed control of the House of Representatives; six of those seats were picked up in Washington.
“We can't let that happen again. The stakes are too high,” he said. “They are all about tearing down government. We should be the party that builds up people.”
While Democrats expressed determination not to cede ground to Republicans in the convention hall, back in their neighborhoods, party activists are encountering apathy in their ranks and the broader electorate.
“Some folks are being complacent,” said Mark Hintz of Snohomish. “It's a midterm election and there is not a single issue driving Democrats to come out to champion.”
Waking and engaging these voters will spell the difference this fall, said Vickie Bligh of Marysville.
“Everybody, and it's the sense we've had all year long, is that it's going to be a fight. It's not a fight against Republicans. It's a fight to get the voters out,” she said.
Delegates didn't spend all Saturday talking politics.
During an extended lunch break, many watched the World Cup match between the United States and Ghana on two big screens set up in the hall.
While delegates provided a boisterous welcome to Murray, they cheered even louder when Landon Donovan scored for the U.S. and broke into chants of “U-S-A.”
Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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