Boarding a plane in the nation's capital Wednesday morning, he passed two Democratic veterans of Congress on the way to his seat — Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Jay Inslee.
They flew first class, he rode coach, and all three were coming home to campaign.
Koster, a Republican, had just spent three days shaking hands of those whose advice and access to money he needs to unseat fellow Arlington homeboy, Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen.
He told those folks there is a road to victory against the five-term incumbent and his campaign is traveling on it with increased momentum and better traction since he won the August primary.
It's the right climate, he said. Frustration nationally with Democratic doings as the majority party in Congress is moving voters his way.
He's got the issues on his side, so far. People are focused on the economy and health care and not social issues which proved damaging, if not Koster's undoing, when he and Larsen tangled for the seat in 2000.
It definitely helps this is not a presidential year. Younger voters, especially those Democrat-leaning students at Western Washington University, won't be casting ballots in anywhere near the same numbers as they did two years and 10 years ago.
Fundraising locally is going well, too. Last month, Koster hauled in around $300,000, most of it from residents of the sprawling 2nd Congressional District, aides said. Thursday night, supporters packed a closed-door event at the Everett Country Club headlined by Attorney General Rob McKenna.
As good as Koster may be feeling about his prospects this November, some in his party are feeling even better — almost like it's over.
The current of their confidence is so strong they've begun musing about who might fill Koster's seat on the Snohomish County Council.
From the ranks of Republicans in elected office, the first names mentioned are Arlington City Councilman Steve Baker and Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring. Each has served their city since 2002 and was unopposed for re-election to their respective city council in 2009. Nehring has since been appointed mayor when Dennis Kendall retired from the job.
Rep. Kirk Pearson of Monroe, a popular state lawmaker, is on the list of potentials and may not be the only state lawmaker interested if the job opened up.
Also batted around are names of a couple of characters well known in GOP circles. One is Ed Moats, a former senior county staffer and Koster confidante who works for the Snohomish County Farm Bureau.
The other is Jim Donner, Snohomish County's 2005 Republican of the Year whose political friendships with a majority of the council's Democrats have brought him a bit of heat from friends in his party.
If a selection is needed, it will not be for a caretaker. Koster won re-election last year, which means any successor will get to serve until 2013.
Koster isn't involved in those conversations. His attention is on Larsen and winning the seat in Congress.
Then flying cross-country — in first class — would become a weekly routine.
Political reporter Jerry Cornfield's blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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