On the outskirts of Seattle, Sarah Palin was losing Tuesday night. Republican John Koster, a Tea Party favorite, was trailing Democrat Suzan DelBene in a race for a U.S. House seat from Washington state and by 10:30 p.m. Pacific time the Seattle Times had called the race for DelBene. Koster was among the few candidates to which SarahPAC -- the political slush fund controlled by the former Alaska governor -- gave money this election cycle. Palin handed Koster $5,000, the same amount she gave Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney.
In a newly drawn suburban and rural district abutting the Canadian border north of Seattle, Koster, a former dairy farmer and longtime Snohomish County councilman, started the campaign in a tight race with DelBene, a multimillionaire who once was a vice-president at Microsoft. Early on, Koster tried to put some distance between himself and the Tea Party, saying he had always been a small-government advocate. "They joined me,'' Koster said.
DelBene tried to label Koster an "extremist,'' but he successfully fought back and was leading in the polls in September. Then he joined two other Republican U.S. Senate candidates in voicing support for a ban on abortion -- even in the case of rape. After a fundraiser in Everett, Koster was caught on a recording saying, "But on the rape thing, it's like, how does putting more violence onto a woman's body and taking the life of an innocent child that's a consequence of this crime, how does that make it better?"
He with that statement joined Richard Mourdock, the Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat in Indiana, and Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for a Missouri Senate seat, in suggesting that a child conceived by rape was God's will -- apparently ignoring any counsel God might provide to the victim of the rape as to what choice she should make on abortion.
Akin started it all by suggesting that in a "legitimate rape" God would spark a miscarriage. Palin counseled that he should he quit the Missouri race after that. She was supporting a different candidate in the Republican primary there.
Palin had backed both Mourdock and Koster, and remained mum on their later rape comments. "I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,'' Mourdoch said during a debate.
Then came Koster's comments.
None of it seemed to sit well with voters. They rejected both Mourdock and Akin early on Tuesday and appeared on the way to doing likewise with Koster.
Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com