State Democrats ramped up their public relations campaign against Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon on Thursday, asking party members to sign a letter informing the state senators that they are “no longer part of the Democratic Party.”
Tom, of Medina, and Sheldon, of Potlatch, joined with 23 Republicans last month to form a coalition that now controls the 49-member Senate. Under the coalition, Tom is Senate majority leader and Sheldon is the president pro tempore.
In a Thursday afternoon email to those on the state party’s listserv, Chairman Dwight Pelz called the senators’ move an “astonishing power grab.”
“Senators Tom and Sheldon have betrayed the Democratic Party. They were elected as Democrats. Senator Tom even accepted $25,000 from the Party in 2010,” said Pelz, before urging readers to “call out Tom and Sheldon for the traitors that they are.”
Last week, party leaders passed a resolution formally censuring Tom and Sheldon and pledging not to donate money, send volunteers or allow them access to the party’s voter database in the future.
Other local party groups have done the same.
Tom and Sheldon responded to the state Democrats’ email blast with a blog post entitled, “We’re proud Democrats who represent our districts, not a party.”
“As far as our loyalty is concerned, we are loyal to the principles we have always held and to the constituents who have sent us to Olympia,” they wrote. “We are not switching sides. We always have, and always will, be on the side of the people we represent, and side with them over any political party.”