Delegating Denver #53 of 56: Washington

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Total Number of Delegates: 97 Pledged: 78 Unpledged:19

How to Recognize a Washington Delegate: A smiling Washingtonian is more an indication of a nearby photographer than an invitation to friendship. Washingtonians will be extremely polite and helpful, but don't expect to exchange personal information. As the saying goes, they are as "warm as a Washington winter." Their aloofness has been identified as a pathological disorder called the Washington State Superiority Complex. Studies show that residents of the Evergreen State have very high opinions of themselves, and that they maintain their hipper-than-the-rest-of-America attitude by engaging in a statewide pecking order of "coolness." Seattle Democrats with standard-issue haircuts, black-rimmed glasses, thrift-store clothes and MySpace pages are the "Starbuck Socialists" at the top of the heap. Just below them are the homegrown alterna-conformist hipsters from the ’70s who now live in Kirkland and on Bainbridge Island. The pretentious wannabes who live in Port Angeles, Bellingham and Vancouver are still considered cool enough to feel superior to residents of Spokane, Renton and Yakima — and on down the list to Walla Walla and, lastly, Tacoma. Psychologists believe that the superiority complex is also a way for Washingtonians to hide or project their feelings of inferiority onto one another (and eventually onto the rest of the United States), possibly for the same reasons that they themselves feel inferior —i.e., six-month-long rainy, gray winters, being stuck between Oregon and Canada, and an inability to keep a professional sports team happy. This means that while in Denver, Washingtonians will be the delegates with unreasonably high expectations for the Obama presidency, combined with unbelievably low opinions of America's ability to meet them. Because of this, they will most likely be the delegates to get totally wasted on the final night of the convention and trash their hotel rooms.

Famous Washingtonians: Suquamish leaders Chief Seattle and Chief Kitsap; first black settler and state founder George Washington Bush; Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen; upscale shoe salesmen Everett and Elmer Nordstrom; artists Robert Motherwell, Dale Chihuly, Chuck Close and Edward Kienholz: cartoonists Hank Ketcham, Gary Larson and Megan Kelso; literary firebrand Mary McCarthy; World Trade Center architect Minoru Yamasaki; internment camp autobiographer Monica Sone; edgy authors Chuck Palahniuk, Matthew Stadler and Dan Savage; TV personalities Bob Barker, Dyan Cannon, Russell Johnson, Adam West, Craig T. Nelson, Rainn Wilson and Jean Smart; TV travel geek Rick Steves; danseurs Merce Cunningham and Robert Joffrey; musicians Bing Crosby, Jimi Hendrix, Oleta Adams, Kurt Cobain, Sir Mix-a-lot and Rachel Trachtenburg; bands Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Pigeonhed, Harvey Danger and Death Cab for Cutie; speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno; skier Steve Mahre.

Famous Washington Democrats: 57th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tom Foley; 21st governor Gary Locke, 22nd governor Christine Gregoire; former United States senator Henry M. Jackson; current United States senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell; United States representative Jim McDermott; state senators Eric Oemig and Rosa Franklin; state representative Steve Hobbs.

Famous Washingtonians With Denver Connections: Newsman Bill Hosokawa; songbird Judy Collins; former Denver Broncos John Elway and Karl Mecklenburg; Colorado Rapids mid-fielder Ciaran O'Brien; U.S. House District 6 (sacrificial) Democratic candidate Josh Hanfling.

State Nickname: The Evergreen State, the Chinook State, Ecotopia (official); The Evergray State, the Mildewed Hellhole, Drunktopia (unofficial)

Population: 6,395,798 Racial Distribution: 78% white, 4% black, 2% Native American, 7% Asian, 9% Hispanic Per Capita Personal Income: $33,332 Unemployment: 8%


Most Washingtonian Denver Neighborhood: Cheesman Park

Most Washingtonian Bar: The Church 1160 Lincoln Street Since Washington has the highest percentage of residents who identify as non-religious, they should be the most willing delegates to get rowdy with Denver's club kids in this former house of prayer that’s been converted into a house of pumping dance music.

Most Washingtonian Restaurant: Domo 1365 Osage Street The Washington state motto is "Al-ki," a Chinook tribal expression that means "eventually." Al-ki best describes the time it takes for food to get to the table while the staff re-educates diners in proper traditional Japanese country food and dining customs.

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Best Day Trip: Bonanza The World Gold Council excitedly cites a 50% increase in the members of the Boeing Employees Prospector Club as proof that Washington is experiencing a new gold rush. Actually, it is probably a better indicator of the slump in the manufacturing economy and the desperation of workers in the airline industry. Washington has never been a big gold producer, but Seattle's glory days started as a mining boom town during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. The gold came from a discovery on Bonanza Creek, a tributary of the Yukon River up in Canada. Seattle became America's most important departure point for "stampeders," and grew with their need for hotels, equipment and food. Considering that history, Washingtonians in search of all that glitters will most likely strike it rich in central Colorado. From the delegate hotel, ask the concierge for directions to southbound U.S. Highway 285. The 136-mile drive follows the route of the historic Leadville stage line and leads through rolling foothills and rugged ranges that roughly parallel the Continental Divide. The road then crosses the broad, treeless expanses of South Park and the San Luis Valley. Both regions are devoted to agriculture and cattle ranching and are surrounded by high peaks covered in pine-laden forests that never reach the valley floors. At Villa Grove, follow the signs and turn left onto the road (LL-56 RR) and drive another 26 miles up to Bonanza. The largely abandoned mining town continues to live large as the state's least-populous municipality. Back in its heyday, the town was home to 500 citizens and boasted a post office, several saloons, hotels, a daily paper, a schoolhouse, a community theater, "fancy ladies," and even a baseball team. Non-religious Washingtonians will be especially happy to note that the town has never had a single church. The Business District burned to the ground in 1937 and was never rebuilt. The eighty named mines in the thirty-mile mining district were never really played out; they just closed their doors between the World Wars and have never been reopened. The entire area lies dormant, waiting to be discovered by Washingtonians in search of their second Bonanza.

—Kenny Be

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