(snip)In a letter to supporters Saturday and in a Sunday press conference with Cantwell, Wilson said, "I have had a deep and personal one-on-one conversation with Senator Cantwell. I came away convinced we are on the same path when it comes to solving the crisis in Iraq and the potential crisis with Iran." This raises several obvious questions. What is that "shared path"? Since Cantwell claims her position has been consistent, did Wilson share her path during the 16 months he blistered her over Iraq on the campaign trail? If not, when did Wilson change his mind, and why? Or did Wilson just need a job?
Wilson also claimed Saturday that part of his campaign's purpose was "keeping those Democrats opposed to the war engaged in the process." What process? Supporting a futile campaign the candidate himself wasn't committed to, as opposed to, say, organizing against the war? Or lobbying? Or any of a half dozen other more productive tasks? It's a bewildering statement.
Wilson's withdrawal leaves only one antiwar challenger to Cantwell in the September Democratic primary, former federal low-income-housing attorney Hong Tran. Tran, who says her office is being "bombarded" with calls from former Wilson supporters, says Wilson called her a week before his announcement, told her of his decision, and urged her to withdraw as well. Tran minces no words: "He's lying now[about his stance on the war] or he was lying all the way along. His supporters should be angry." And, after Wilson's previous campaigns as a Libertarian and a Green, she says she's not surprised by his jump to the Cantwell camp. "People shouldn't be surprised if tomorrow he registers as a Republican and goes for [Mike] McGavick's campaign."
Neil Modie in the Seattle P-I:
Sen. Maria Cantwell's only remaining Democratic primary election opponent wonders if the senator is trying to eliminate her rivals by putting all of them on her campaign payroll.
Hong Tran, who is opposing the senator largely as an anti-war critic, said she was urged to join the senator's campaign Monday by Dal LaMagna, who until last week was a vocal Cantwell critic and potential election opponent but now is a Cantwell campaign co-chairman.
LaMagna's invitation came a day after Cantwell silenced another primary opponent and harsh critic, Mark Wilson, by announcing she was putting him on her re-election staff at a salary that neither her campaign nor Wilson would divulge.
LaMagna "said something to the effect that 'We want you to come on board, too,' " Tran said, recounting their telephone conversation. In the context of their discussion and Cantwell's hiring of Wilson, Tran said she interpreted it, too, as a campaign job offer.
LaMagna, reached by telephone in Maine, refused to discuss what he said to Tran. But Michael Meehan, Cantwell's chief campaign strategist, said: "We would love for Hong Tran to join our campaign. She has not been offered a position on our campaign," but merely was asked to support the Cantwell candidacy.
Tran, a lawyer, said LaMagna offered to have her meet with Cantwell, but that she told him if the purpose would be to persuade her to join the Cantwell campaign, "You can just save your time because I'm not withdrawing from the race."
Tran, 40, a legal services lawyer, said she quit a job she loved -- as advocacy coordinator for a non-profit organization that provides free civil legal services for the poor -- to seek the Democratic nomination for the Senate.
She said LaMagna previously told her he was thinking of running in the Democratic primary himself but said "what a marvelous candidate he thought I was and how he wanted to do everything he could to support me." She said he was going to run against Cantwell until he met with the senator and came away with an unpaid role as her campaign co-chairman.
Unlike Wilson, Tran has Democratic Party credentials. She was host of a fundraising party for 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, went to Florida to register voters for Kerry and gave money to Democratic candidates. Wilson ran for the Senate on the Green Party in 2004 and for Congress on the Libertarian Party in 2002.
Meehan, the Cantwell campaign aide, said Wilson agreed to be hired by the campaign Saturday, two days after he told the Seattle P-I that he definitely would run against her.