This one must have hurt, really. I mean: a guy spends over three and a half decades in Congress. He’s carefully establish himself as a convenient… receptacle… for almost-respectable defense lobbyist payoffs. And he’s just gotten the brass ring: next in line to his party’s top slot at Appropriations. And in the last Congress? That spot was the Holy Grail for people who wanted to wet their beaks while serving their country. This was, in other words, as close to being Norm Dicks’ moment as is allowable for people who are… like Norm Dicks.
Then it all went bad. Because Norm Dicks soon discovered – like the rest of the Democratic party – that the reason why David Obey (the Appropriations chair in 2010) decided to retire was because Obey realized that he wasn’t going to be the Appropriations chair in 2011. And thus it came to pass. In the meantime, Norm Dicks got publicly mocked by libertarians. The House duly flipped parties. Dicks himself had his worst showing (admittedly, 58%) since 1994 and the second/third worst showing in his electoral history.
And then those miserable so-and-sos in the new House leadership banned earmarks.
Can you really blame Norm Dicks for deciding to call it a day? At a time when most men and women can look back on their lives and see their accomplishments Rep. Dicks doesn’t quite dare; if he did he might involuntarily have to confront the fact that the Congressman ended up with no higher purpose than to be a convenient cash-to-vote conversion machine. And now he can’t even do that in the way that he was accustomed to, and Norm Dicks is old, and tired, and doesn’t want to learn the new ways of civic quasi-corruption.
So he’s cutting and running. WA-06 was D+5 under the old map, and didn’t particularly change much under the new one (Washington is a rare blue state that actually gained a district because of the last Census); this district is still favorable to the Democrats, but it’s now legitimately in play. And by all accounts it’s a blue-collar district that is going to want a Democratic candidate that is pretty much like Dicks in terms of defense policy; whether the Democratic party can find them one – or one that can fake it well enough – is a matter of some interest…