Obama’s Seattle HQ

The real reason Barack Obama opened a campaign office in Seattle—and Mitt Romney didn’t.

By Brandon Bye June 20, 2012 Published in the July 2012 issue of Seattle Met

Image: Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock, photo-illustration by Chris Skiles

The opening party for President Obama’s 2012 Washington state headquarters on Rainier Avenue had the usual trappings of a political event: red, white, and blue banners, and yard signs galore—for Jay Inslee, the democratic candidate for governor. Inslee’s signs outnumbered Obama’s five to one.

Inside, men and women held their suit coats under one arm and poked at their phones. College-age clipboard jockeys roamed, mustering the courage to enlist Inslee supporters to canvass and volunteer. On the stage popped Democratic chair Dwight Pelz, endorsing Inslee. And up popped representative Jim McDermott, endorsing Inslee. Then Inslee, endorsing Inslee.

The emphasis on Inslee rather than Obama is no surprise, of course. Matt Barreto, director of the Washington Poll and associate political science professor at the University of Washington, calls it a deliberate national election campaign strategy to keep Democrats winning. And Dems in the Evergreen State need a strategy to beat the poll-leading attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna.

“If Obama doesn’t run here, Inslee is in trouble,” says Barreto.

And what’s the scene over at Mitt Romney’s 2012 Washington state headquarters? No such place exists. Nor will you see Mitt happen during commercial breaks. As cable news commentators—and the staff graphic artists who create their on-screen maps—point out ad nauseam, Washington is a blue state. Not since 1984 has a Republican taken the presidential ticket here.

Barreto: “Romney won’t run ads here.”

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