That question has crept into my mind lately as the race for the Republican nomination for Washington’s Third Congressional District heats up. We all know she is a young attractive female, recently married and was appointed to the seat vacated by Richard Curtis in late 2007 in the state legislature and that she easily won re-election to the 18th Legislative District against Democrat VaNessa Duplessie in 2008.
But, who is she that she should command such devotion, hopes and prayers from Republicans in such a short time in the house as she does? With many in the state legislature with much more experience, what makes her “the great hope” for Republicans?
She was born and raised in Clark County and shortly after graduating school and attending the University of Washington, left to seek her fortune, so to speak, ending up in Washington D.C. where she was a Political Affairs intern in the Bush White House and a legislative assistant to U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rogers of Spokane for a number of years before suddenly reappearing on the scene in late 2007 to wrest the nomination for the 18th Legislative District seat away from 11 other hopefuls who had remained residents in the district during that time.
A November 18, 2007 Columbian article quotes Jaime as saying, “There is nothing I would rather do than represent my home district [18th] in the Legislature” after also informing readers she “moved back to her family home in Ridgefield to campaign for the 18th District vacancy” that had recently been vacated.
Citing a “true love of politics,” she lists some 2000 hours of “community service at ground zero” in New York after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack before returning and attending “Bellevue Community College then transferring to the University of Washington in the spring of 2003,” gaining sponsorship for an “internship with the Bush administration” in the fall of 2004, arriving at the tail end of the presidential campaign.
After graduating at the end of the fall 2004 quarter, she obtained a job with Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers as a legislative aide where she remained until her return to Clark County in late 2007 specifically to gain the seat vacated by Curtis.
The Alumni profile informs us that after some 3 years as a legislative aide and years absent from Clark County, “Herrera was the first-choice pick at both stages of this process,” to replace Rep. Richard Curtis after his resignation.
I find it quite remarkable that after her absence from the district and only 3 years as a legislative aide, that she, relatively unknown within 18th district politics, became the “first-choice pick” over 11 other candidates who had remained within the district, were well known and involved in the politics of the 18th Legislative District and each individually listing more experience than Ms. Herrera.
And now, 2 years into serving in her “nothing I would rather do than represent my home district in the Legislature,” she is prepared to leap back to Washington D.C. as Representative of the 3rd Congressional District.
In her UW Alumni profile linked above, Jaime Herrera states, “My route was a little non-traditional,” in attaining her state legislative seat. I am left to ponder if it really was all that “non-traditional” after all or if she was chosen to be groomed by the party machine to use the 18th district as a spring board to bigger and better things and what with the 3rd Congressional District race becoming an open seat race, the time was felt ripe for the party to advance her up the ladder.
Several articles about this race list Herrera as the “NRCC Favored” or “Republican favorite,” which given their track record in the last few national elections, might not be such a glowing endorsement, especially since she is trying to label herself as “independent.”
Columnist and blogger Liz Mair, in what I consider to be one of the more objective introductory pieces on the candidates notes, “Most political observers, and certainly those at the national level, started hearing Herrera’s name associated with the phrase ‘third district’ immediately after Baird announced that he would not seek another term in Congress…” also noting Herrera’s claim that she had been thinking of entering the race long before that.
The Seattle PI’s Joel Connelly mirrors that with, “It took less than two hours after Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., announced that he’s retiring from Congress for Republican state Rep. Jaime Herrera to tell GOP officials that she is running to succeed him,” and also telling us that “she sounds very much like a Republican.”
The National Journal’s Erin McPike supplies us with an example of Jaime Herrera speaking like an independent when she says, “There are a lot of things that I think Republicans drop the ball on, and I’m hopeful, as things come closer to a balance this year, that we’ll put our money where our mouth is when it comes to health care or energy policy,” and adding “the book of talking points she’s been given by D.C. GOPers is not something she’s planning on using much.”
In all of this I am still left wondering, just who is Jaime Herrera that she should command an almost Ron Paulian devotion from supporters and the party? In speaking with one Clark County GOP official, who maintains they have yet to decide who they will support in this race, I received an angry and red in the face response when I mentioned shortcomings I perceive with her.
Just last evening, after expressing my displeasure with Herrera’s vote to unionize childcare centers and her lack of sending a promised email explanation of that vote to me, a former Clark County blogger lashed out with “if your tone has been the same as some of the other more rabid Herrera haters that have sprung up all over Clark County, I would not be surprised if she never gets back to you about anything,” adding how the “SEIU business is blown completely out of all reasonable proportion” along with allegations that I “did not support conservatives in past and actually trashed conservative candidates.”
This is the same anger I saw amongst Ron Paul supporters in the 2008 presidential campaign directed at those who opposed and did not support Paul.
For the record, I do not hate Jaime and enjoyed a cordial conversation with her. I have nothing personal against her, but am totally in the dark just what it is about her that gives her such hold on and devotion from supporters given her relatively soft résumé.
I am left wondering even more so after seeing a comment she recently made in the National Journal link above where she said to reporters, “My husband and I rent. We both drive used cars. We’re not your typical Republican conservative.”
Perhaps one of her supporters can enlighten me on just what a “typical Republican conservative” is. Surely we are not all the “rich fat-cat Republicans” the Democratic Party accuses us of.