RECOUNT REDUX….A few words following up on yesterday’s post about the recount taking place (provided Dems raise the required $$ necessary–received an email solicitation from the DNC about it this morning) in the Washington state gubernatorial race.

First, State Rep. Laura Ruderman–the Democratic challenger in Washington’s Secretary of State race–writes to dispute the charge that she defeated efforts by her opponent to institute electoral reform:

Mr. Reed didn’t even introduce legislation for a paper trail until it became clear in mid-December that I was a strong challenger. This bill was not the result of a long-held view that such a paper trail was necessary. In testimony about his bill he admitted that he was reversing his previous position that such a paper trail was not necessary. The bill that he introduced was weak and did not have enough support to pass out of the Technology, Telecommunications, and Energy Committee. With my colleagues, I rewrote the bill so that it provided actual protection and not just lip service. We passed it out of the Committee (of which I am Vice-Chair) twice.

Where the bill died was in the Rules Committee. It died for a variety of reasons, as good bills often do in Rules. I was a champion of this issue during the 2004 Legislative Session.

So noted. Also, as several commentators observed, I was perhaps a little overzealous in describing Christine Gregoire as an “extremely popular” AG. I still say that the race was hers to lose, but it’s true that she did not perform well on the stump and failed to energize Democrats as hoped.

Maybe there’s nothing going on here, maybe this is just the vagaries of politics, and there are no better explanations than good or bad candidates. I still find it remarkable that a state like Washington would have back-to-back contested elections for major offices.

But maybe it raises a bigger question: With so much gnashing of teeth at the national level about the dearth of political talent, and now at the state and local levels as well, is it time to ask what exactly we’re looking for from a candidate? I’m not disputing the fact that some recent candidates have had significant flaws. But I’m awfully tired of people telling me they’re undecided because they don’t like anyone. Seriously, people, the political rockstars–FDR, Clinton, Reagan (take your partisan pick)–come along only once in a generation, if that. Are we asking too much? And if not, give me your picks for political role models in our midst.

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Amy Sullivan is a Chicago-based journalist who has written about religion, politics, and culture as a senior editor for Time, National Journal, and Yahoo. She was an editor at the Washington Monthly from 2004 to 2006.