Days Grow Shorter For State Campaigners
Seattle Times Olympia Bureau
ABERDEEN - Republican candidate for governor Norm Maleng drove 2 1/2 hours to appear here at a League of Women Voters forum.
He arrived early to shake hands, but there were none. When it came time to take the stage last Thursday, the only other candidate was Democrat Mohammad Said, a little-known Eastern Washington physician campaigning largely on a platform of Middle East trade, tourism and peace. There were about 25 people present - including the Girl Scout troop standing by to collect audience questions, surrogates representing three other candidates and two reporters.
"I am really happy to be here," Maleng said, facing about 425 empty seats in the Grays Harbor College theater.
Welcome to the final days of the 1996 primary campaign.
After 18 months and more than $4.4 million spent, the campaign for governor has come down to a few last events, a few last days to raise money, a few last chances to make a mistake.
There are five days until the primary election.
For most of the candidates, the crowds are thin, the money thinner. The major candidates will spend much of their time raising money on the telephone, appearing in public for a few last "debates" where there will be little debate, and making the rare foray onto the streets to meet actual voters.
Democrat Jay Inslee had a campaign schedule last week that would have been the envy of any 10-year-old boy: Friday, the Chelan and Spokane county fairs; Saturday, do the Puyallup.
But instead, he spent more time on the phone and hopes to make the Spokane fair this weekend.
"It does remove you from the real world more than you would like," said Inslee, a former congressman from the Yakima area. "It's also not as much fun."
A day on the phone Monday, though, produced $11,000 in campaign donations, said Inslee campaign manager Joby Shimomura.
It used to be that could be done with one phone call. But this is the first governor's race run under new campaign-finance rules that restrict contributions to $1,100. No longer can a candidate pick up $26,000 from Boeing, like Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Eikenberry did four years ago.
In the final days, most of the candidates will stay close to home, which in most cases means King County. Republican Jim Waldo was to hold a small town-hall meeting in Kennewick today while other candidates were to attend a forum at an Olympia high school.
The candidate with the most money, Republican Dale Foreman, a two-term legislator from Wenatchee, traveled to his home-side of the mountains this week.
Foreman drove from Walla Walla, to Dayton, to Lewiston, to Pullman, Colfax and Rosalia, where he was interviewed by Sue Ehler, publisher of the Standard-Register.
"He was the only one we've gotten for an interview," said Bonita Lawhead, editor of the paper based in nearby Tekoa, Whitman County.
The trip paid off. Foreman's picture runs along with the story in the issue that's to come out tomorrow, although it lost out for the front page due to news of a herdsmanship award won by local youth at the Palouse Empire Fair.
King County Executive Gary Locke, a Democrat, brags that he has walked in more parades and attended more county fairs than any of his opponents.
`I think that is still a great way of campaigning," Locke said. `"eople want to see you. They want to look you in the eye. They want to size up your handshake."
Maleng said the trip to Aberdeen was worth it because he got a brief interview with a local reporter and maybe the people who came out to watch will appreciate a big-city candidate and spread the word throughout Grays Harbor County.
"I'll go anywhere I can," said Republican gubernatorial candidate Sen. Pam Roach, who arrived late for the Grays Harbor event.
But once she took her seat, Roach spent much of the evening whispering and passing notes with Said. At one point the moderator had to ask them to be quiet.
While Roach has worked hard to attend as many events as possible, including a stop last Sunday at the Chehalis River Hound Club, she has been frustrated with what she has heard.
"It's Cream of Wheat stuff. It's Pablum," Roach said. "I mean, you get one or two or three minutes. What can you say?"
Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.