Vice President Joe Biden is getting to know Tacoma.
The then-senator spoke to 12,000 people at Cheney Stadium on the campaign trail in 2008. He stayed overnight downtown in November before speaking at a Fort Lewis memorial ceremony for seven Stryker brigade soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Today, Biden will address an outdoor crowd at the University of Washington Tacoma at a rally that begins at 10:30 a.m. for Sen. Patty Murray’s re-election campaign, his second appearance in the Puget Sound area on her behalf this year after a February fundraiser in Seattle.
Democrats hope he will fire up their liberal base a week before ballots for the Nov. 2 election are mailed to voters.
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“He’s kind of a sparkplug,” said Ron Dotzauer, who has run statewide campaigns for Democrats. “He’s a great guy to bring in because he’s a real sort of political motivator.”
Lately, he has been brought in just about everywhere. Politico reported that Biden has campaigned for 18 candidates over the past three weeks, visiting 23 cities in 16 states.
Few could be more important to national Democrats than the Washington Senate race, which could be a key piece of a Republican takeover of the Senate or a bulwark against that takeover.
Reflecting the race’s significance, President Barack Obama raised money for Murray in Seattle on the day of the primary. His wife, Michelle, will make an appearance on Murray’s behalf this month, and former President Bill Clinton will be in Everett on Oct. 18.
Shifting polls offer little insight into whether Murray or Republican challenger Dino Rossi will prevail. State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser said the visits show Democrats think Murray is vulnerable.
The Democratic heavyweights could bring their party faithful some of the excitement that already seems present among conservatives.
Murray spokeswoman Julie Edwards said Biden would “help present the clear choice Washington state faces this year: whether we continue to move forward or whether we go back to the failed policies of the past.”
Esser said he’s not worried.
“It will just cement even further the fact that Patty Murray is part of that D.C. establishment,” he said.
Pierce County is a major battleground in the campaign. Rossi won a majority of the county’s votes in 2004, but not in 2008, in his two losing runs for governor. Murray has carried the county each time she has run since 1992.
Biden’s itinerary also reflects the national attention on the race for U.S. House in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, which spans from Olympia to Vancouver. Democrat Denny Heck faces Republican Jaime Herrera for the open seat.
The vice president, who arrived Thursday evening, will make his first stop today at a fundraiser for Heck at the Westin Seattle Hotel, where he’s expected to speak to about 40 donors.
Then his motorcade will whisk him to Tacoma for the get-out-the-vote rally, where other Democrats joining him at the microphone will include Murray, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Gov. Chris Gregoire and U.S. Reps. Adam Smith and Norm Dicks.