For starters, neither geography nor history is on Baumgartner's side. He is from Spokane, in eastern Washington. It's been decades since a candidate from the eastern part of the state has won a statewide federal election.
To have a good chance in a statewide race in Washington, a Republican needs to get about 40 percent of the vote in the state's most populous county, King County. That's no small feat, even for Republicans with a profiles considerably more moderate than Baumgartner. Dino Rossi
, a former state senator from a suburban Seattle district who had twice lost close races as his party's nominee for governor, ran a credible Senate campaign during the Republican wave year in 2010, and he was only able to garner about 35 percent of the vote.
"I don't think King County is going to vote for someone they think is a rube or a hick from eastern Washington," Baumgartner said. "I do think folks will vote for someone who has real concerns and solutions."
"In eastern Washington, I'll probably talk more about being a 'Coug' and going to WSU and in western Washington, I'll probably talk more about being a teaching fellow at Harvard," he added with a chuckle.
Baumgartner cites House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan
, R-Wis., and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels
as figures he admires -- two Republicans who are to the right of Attorney General Rob McKenna
, who is considered the best chance Republicans have had in decades to win the governor's mansion. McKenna has cultivated a considerably more moderate profile as a statewide candidate. Democrats have also seized on a county platform Baumgartner once signed
that includes some far right positions. Baumgartner says he embraced the general principles of the platform, but with caveats.
On paper, Baumgartner is an intriguing candidate. He has zeroed in on foreign policy and the debt as the two focal points of his campaign (he says the troop surge in Afghanistan was a mistake and that it was unlikely he would have voted in favor of the compromise to raise the debt ceiling that was struck in Congress last year).
Baumgartner said he wasn't sure of the exact figure, but that his campaign had raised approximately $125,000 since he became a candidate in early October. He predicted that to win the race, he'd need $5 million, or, preferably, $10 million. Cantwell had already stockpiled over $3 million at the end of the third quarter, and she has yet to announce her fourth quarter haul.