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February 25, 2013 at 7:00 AM

In defense of the Washington Senate’s rogue Democrats

My column in Monday’s Seattle Times newspaper expresses disappointment in the Washington State Democrats’ recent tactics against rogue state Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon.

Democrats take pride in making room for everyone — unless you’re a fiscally conservative state senator named Rodney Tom or Tim Sheldon.

“Call out Tom and Sheldon for the traitors that they are. Join us and co-sign our letter telling Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon that they are no longer part of the Democratic Party,” read a recent fundraising note from (Washington Democratic Party Chairman Dwight) Pelz to party members.

It’s 2013. Democrats are largely in control. Why is the head of a winning organization acting like an insecure 13-year-old passing around a slam book?

I keep thinking back to a conversation I had a couple weeks ago with state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle. Democrats might benefit from some words of wisdom from a leader who has a history of getting things done in the Legislature.

“We should be pushing each other on policy differences,” Murray told me in his Olympia office. “I don’t want to win because of somebody’s personality or personal political decisions.”

The would-be majority leader has plenty of doubts about the efficacy of the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC), but I like that he’s pushing for a battle over ideas rather than emails designed to create fury and raise money.

Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz’s inflammatory words probably have no effect on the inner workings of the Senate, but sending out mass emails calling fellow Democrats power-hungry “traitors” certainly affects public opinion of the Senate process. MMC leaders changed the upper chamber’s traditional rules by outmaneuvering the Democratic caucus. Their power grab is legitimate. Casting a dark shadow on this reality only makes it more difficult for lawmakers to overcome an increasingly toxic partisan environment.

Comments | Topics: democratic party, democrats, legislature


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