A new name has surfaced among potential Republican challengers to Sen. Maria Cantwell in 2012. According to sources in Republican circles, Seattle-based political consultant and former White House deputy press secretary Scott Stanzel is being speculated as one potential dark horse candidate to run against the incumbent Democrat.
At a time when Democrats nationwide are pinned down in the crossfire of tax-and-spend policies and economic bad news, Stanzel’s credentials on fiscal issues could earn him clout with Washington voters. As a prominent voice in the “No on 1098” campaign, he helped to persuade 64% of voters to reject the creation of a state income tax, overcoming early polling that had the statewide initiative passing by as much as 30 points. He is frequently described as having an affable and magnetic persona, in addition to being media-friendly, elements that would match-up well against Cantwell’s tendency for withdrawing from public scrutiny.
If interested, Stanzel could have the early run of the Republican field in the race.
Washington State Party Chair Kirby Wilbur killed erroneous buzz begun this week about his own intentions, telling me in no uncertain terms that he was not interested in doing anything but supporting any candidates who chose to run.
The most frequently mentioned name—former television newcaster and King County Executive candidate Susan Hutchison—all but took her name out of the race when speaking to Jim Brunner of The Seattle Times.
As of yesterday, an aide to 8th Congressional District Rep. Dave Reichert (R) was still referring back to earlier comments about whether he has considered a run against Cantwell, statements that amount to a qualified maybe. Even if Reichert jumps in, his bumpy relationship with grassroots conservatives over controversial votes would invite a primary challenge with an uncertain outcome.
And though rumors of a mystery candidate have bubbled for weeks, one whose appeal could expand the GOP base, until Candidate X steps forward, opportunity still exists.