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Brace yourself: 1st District fight only just starting

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By Jerry Cornfield
Herald Columnist
Summer arrived Wednesday accompanied by a welcome guest, the sun.
As a self-diagnosed sufferer of Winters-Are-Too-Damn-Long Disorder, the yellow orb's presence allowed me to skip my daily regimen of light therapy, which entails sitting in front of a halogen lamp for hours, fingers crossed, hoping my head won't erupt in flames. Each time it doesn't, I feel better.
Instead of staring into the light Wednesday, I checked the pulse of one of the year's featured campaigns and found it rapidly escalating.
I'm talking about the oh-so-crowded Aug. 7 primary in the 1st Congressional District where the winner will succeed Democrat Jay Inslee.
An initial batch of political literature landed in mailboxes in Snohomish County this week.
Suzan DelBene sent the mailer to introduce herself to voters she's betting will choose a Democrat in the primary. Voters should brace for piles more. And as this electoral scuffle intensifies, they can expect sparring to spill over into the airwaves and across the Internet.
DelBene is one of seven people in the race and only the top two vote-getters move on to a fall run-off. The lone Republican -- John Koster -- is all but certain to advance while the lone independent, Larry Ishmael, probably won't.
That leaves a quintet of Democrats -- DelBene, Darcy Burner, Laura Ruderman, Steve Hobbs and Darshan Rauniyar -- wrestling for the coveted other spot.
At this point, in the scant number of polls conducted in the contest, Koster is leading with Burner, the flagbearer of the Democratic Party's left flank, a comfortable second.
One explanation for Burner's showing is her name is more recognized than the other D's by virtue of her two runs for Congress.
Also, Burner's in-your-face don't-back-down attitude often propels her into the media spotlight and that pays dividends, too. She's garnered attention for everything from a tweet calling President Barack Obama a Republican to suggesting in a speech last week that women who've had abortions should come out of the closet to help lead the fight against conservatives pushing to outlaw abortions.
To make up ground on Burner, the other four Democratic candidates need to get more voters to know their name and their politics. That takes money, maybe a lot of it, in a district whose voters live in cities and towns from the Canadian border south to Kirkland in King County.
DelBene got the jump on her opponents with the mailer because she's got the financial wherewithal to act now rather than wait until ballots come out in a couple of weeks.
Having self-financed a 2010 run for Congress, DelBene can tap the same deep reservoir of personal resources for this race.
She's already locked up air time in which to run television commercials during the Olympics, which start at the end of July. That is a pricey means of reaching voters and could become fodder for attack by an opponent.
It's going to be a long summer. Here's hoping the yellow orb sticks around a while.
Political reporter Jerry Cornfield's blog, The Petri Dish, is at Contact him at 360-352-8623 or

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