Washington Conservation Voters' mistake

Washington Conservation Voters is looking for volunteers for Tuesday, 2/25/13 (that’s tomorrow), to doorbell and persuade voters on Mercer Island to contact Republican State Senator Steve Litzow and ask him to support WCV’s Clean Energy and Climate campaign. (Contact tiffany@wcvoters.org.)

As pointed out by Robert Sargent, the odd thing is that WCV endorsed Republican Steve’s run for the State Senate last year.  Why did WCV endorse a candidate who needs to be lobbied on this issue?  WCV should have supported his Democratic opponent, Maureen Judge.

This is akin to the similar mistake NARAL made in 2010 when they too endorsed Litzow, only to be slapped in the face by Litzow’s casting the deciding vote against the Reproductive Parity Act.

See A wedge divides progressives and women in Washington State. for more examples of lefty single-issue groups shooting themselves in the foot and betraying Democratic and progressive principles by supporting Republicans and corporate Democrats.

Litzow is not trying to resuscitate his reputation among women’s rights activists, by re-introducing, with Hobbs, the Reproductive Parity Act. But Hobbs and Litzow are fiscal conservatives.  Single-issue groups don’t play well together with the rest of the Democratic coalition.

Resolution condemning the actions of Senators Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon

[There are several similar resolution in the works.]

At the December 12, 2012 membership meeting, the 32nd Legislative District Democrats unanimously passed a resolution condemning the actions of Senators Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon. In choosing to caucus with the Senate Republicans, Senators Tom and Sheldon have chosen to ignore the will of the voters, betray the good Democrats that helped them get elected, and cede control of the State Senate to the minority party.

Resolution Condemning the Actions of Senators Tom and Sheldon

Whereas Senator Rodney Tom ran as a Democrat in 2010 in the 48th Legislative District; and

Whereas Senator Tom received over $25,000 from the State Democratic Party and $44,000 in inkind donations from the Senate Democratic Caucus in 2010, and additional support and resources from the 48th District Democrats; and

Whereas Senator Tim Sheldon ran as a Democrat in 2010 in the 35th Legislative District; and

Whereas Senators Tom and Sheldon empowered Republicans during the 2012 Session of the Legislature by using a rarely used procedural move known as the “Ninth Order;” and

Whereas Senators Tom and Sheldon announced they would serve as Majority Leader and President Pro Tempore during the 2013-14 Session of the Legislature with votes from 23 Republican Senators; and

Whereas Senators Tom and Sheldon stated that they would form a “philosophical majority” with the Republicans Senators; and

Whereas the proposed chair of the Health Care committee, Senator Randi Becker, expressed skepticism on creating heath insurance exchanges as required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the proposed chair of the Justice committee, Mike Padden, is an outspoken opponent of abortion; and

Whereas the 32nd Legislative District Democrats do not share the governing values of Senator Becker, Senator Padden, and other Senate Republicans who do not agree with and actively work to oppose the Democratic Party Platform; and

Whereas the actions of Senators Tom and Sheldon betray the fundamental philosophy of the Democratic Party;

Therefore be it resolved that the 32nd Legislative District Democrats shall direct its delegates to the King County Central Committee and the State Central Committee to oppose the nomination, endorsement, or expenditure of any campaign resource to Senators Tom and Sheldon; and

Therefore be it further resolved that the 32nd Legislative District Democrats shall work with the Democrats in the 48th Legislative District and the 35th Legislative District to make it publically known that neither Senator Tom or Sheldon “prefers” the Democratic Party; and

Therefore be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be sent to Senator Ed Murray, Senator Maralyn Chase, the Kitsap, King, Mason, Snohomish, and Thurston Democratic Party chairs, the chairs of the 35th and 48th Legislative District Democrats and the Washington State Democratic Party.

Submitted by Carin Chase, Chair

Brendan William's frank analysis of the Rodney Tom debacle, and the Dems' dilemma

Former progressive legislator Brendan Williams says, in The Inevitable Republican Coup and Its Inevitable Silver Lining, that the Democrats’ embracing of Rodney Tom a few years go had a predictable outcome: his turning on them the way the scorpion turned on the frog.

By rejecting the man [Rodney] Tom refers affectionately to as “Rob” [McKenna], Washington voters made it clear that after decades of Democratic governors they still want to chart a progressive course. The actions of Tom and Sheldon are, quite simply, aimed at invalidating the election. Every eight years the frog gets a chance to drown the scorpion. Will we take it? …

We were told an all-cuts bipartisan budget was equivalent to the moon landing! We heard the safety net was saved and the budget “spectacular”! We read education and higher education were, by not being cut further in a supplemental budget, saved!

Meanwhile, in truth, the safety net was gutted; the state workforce was cut to a degree greater than any other state; and education funding plummeted while tuition rates soared.

Perhaps the Democrats would reply: “if we didn’t go along with the Tim Eyman-inspired budget cutting, anti-tax mentality, we’d get booted out of office.  Blame the misguided voters, who consistently vote almost two to one against income taxes and for 2/3 super-majority initiatives.!”  After all, 64.5% of Washington voters approved Eyman’s I-1185 this year: see

Washington Two-Thirds Vote Required to Raise Taxes, Initiative 1185 (2012)

I think Gov. Gregoire should now be using her soapbox to educate the public about these issues. She’s called for new revenue but needs to be louder about it.

Governor-elect Inslee has vowed not to raise revenue.

The Left in Washington State needs to mount a concerted effort to educate the public about how they’re getting screwed by the regressive tax system. The voters’ ignorance is the fundamental problem.

There also should be a cleaning of house in the Democratic Party, in which progressives kick out the DINOs (Democrats in name only). But such a battle would be difficult, because ex-Republicans and “centrist” Dems abound, and some of them are quite good on women’s rights, gay rights, and the environment.

The Cancer in the Democratic Party

In February of this year, Chris Hedges penned an influential article, The Cancer in Occupy, in which he exposed and condemned the activities of the “Black Bloc” of violence-loving extremists who have weakened, divided and discredited the Occupy Movement.*

There’s a comparable cancer in the Democratic Party: corporatist Democrats who ally themselves with Republicans on economic and military issues and who serve the 1%.

The Cancer in the Democratic Party is damaging the Democratic brand, as well as the body politic, and needs to be excised.

In Washington State the infamous Road Kill Caucus of corporate Democrats regularly votes with Republicans on economic and labor issues and on charter schools. Three of them voted in the State Senate for the Republican budget.

Retiring Road Killer Deb Eddy has even endorsed Republican State Senator Steve Litzow; see In a breathtaking act of betrayal, Democratic Rep. Deb Eddy endorses Republican Steve Litzow.

Brian L. Gunn, candidate for State House in the 31st LD wrote on the WA Liberals yahoo email list (see sidebar on left):

Two years ago, Chris “Roadkiller” Hurst, Karen Willard & Yvonne Ward all signed a press release endorsing Pam Roach. When I brought forward a resolution to censure this betrayal (to use your word for it), the WA Dems State Central Committee voted against the motion.

Interesting corollary: I attended the Pierce County Democrats Executive Board meeting yesterday. Jeff Hogan, a candidate for Pierce County Council, was invited to speak. He said very little of substance, so I checked his website. It was similarly vague. A glance at the Pierce County Auditor’s website showed that Hogan filed as “Prefers Republican Party”.

And progressives are the problem with the Democratic Party?

There is a slew of Democrats who transferred from the Republican Party and who retain many of the views of their former party.

A Democrat who is little better than a Republican, if at all, is Brad Owen, who as Lt. Governor worked to defend Tim Eyman’s super-majority initiative I-1053, as described here and here.  Owen is now running for Lt. Governor.  Fuse Washington’s Progressive Voters Guide, even endorsed  Owen’s Republican opponent, Bill Finkbeiner.  Here’s their explanation why they endorsed both Finkbeiner and Owen: “Bill Finkbeiner is a moderate, fiscally conservative Republican. His endorsements reflect the fact that he is more progressive than Brad Owen on a woman’s right to choose, marriage equality, and the environment.… As Lieutenant Governor, Owen has established himself as a conservative Democrat, siding with Tim Eyman’s belief that closing tax loopholes requires a two-thirds super-majority.”

There are allegations (which I haven’t had time to research) that the state Democratic Party, funnels too much campaign funds to corporatist Dems. Former State Representative Brendan Williams gave me permission to quote him: “Amount Senate Ds spent re-electing Sen. Rodney Tom in ’10: $44,886.90. Amount WA Democratic Party spent: $25,578.55. Value to Republicans of Sen. Tom voting with them: Priceless. (Also in ’10, real Democratic Sens. Oemig — with 49.03% of vote — and Gordon — with 49.84% — lost by excruciatingly-close margins; just think of what that Tom money could have done for them).”  If you know more about this topic, please let me know.

Another Democrat that deserves being named as a DINO is House Budget Chair Ross Hunter. According to the well-documented article Microsoft Wins Nevada Royalty Tax Cut and Tax Amnesty; Reports Record Revenue, in 2010 the Washington State legislature

gave Microsoft an effective $100 million annual tax cut by revising the definition of the royalty tax.

…It also gave Microsoft amnesty on an estimated $1.25 billion in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties that the company has avoided paying since 1997 by reporting this revenue from a small Reno, Nevada office. The state’s Department of Revenue has ignored this practice and refused to address precedents that call the legality of Microsoft’s accounting into question.

Most of the legislation was led by Chair of the Finance committee Rep. Ross Hunter, a 17 year veteran former employee of Microsoft.

To make ends meet, the Legislature cut $120 million from K-12 education and $73 million from university budgets. It also raised the service tax rate on all businesses from 1.5% to 1.8% and created new “7-11” taxes on the average Joe on beer, soda and candy. Over the next twelve months, the benefits of 4700 unemployed people with disabilities will expire.

See also Microsoft Tax Scam Costs our State $1 Billion per year!, wherein it says:

Ross Hunter passed a bill in 2010 which exempted Microsoft from having to pay this B & O Royalty tax. To add insult to injury, during the same legislative session, Ross also raised the B & O tax rate on many other businesses from 1.5% to 1.8% to make up for the fact that Microsoft was not paying their fair share.

Finally, on Hunter’s facebook page there was a discussion in which he declared his support for Simpson-Bowles (which will put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block), as well as for charter schools (his support for charter schools is well known).

Unfortunately, it’s too late to propose a primary challenger to stop Hunter from being the Democratic candidate from the 48th LD , though you sure would think that shame at serving the 1% would lead Hunter to withdraw his candidacy.

But shame seems not to deter our political leaders, who happily serve the interests of the 1%.

Governor Gregoire has come under strong criticism for insisting that the the state budget should not include new revenue, and for barely pushing back against the anti-tax mentality that led voters to vote against their own self-interest and support Tim Eyman’s super-majority initiative I-1053. (But earlier this year she did publicly call for revenue.)

Another target of criticism is state party chair Dwight Pelz, who alienated progressives by viciously attacking Dennis Kucinich when the Ohio congressman explored running for Congress here in 2011.

The state party, including Gregoire and Hunter, endorsed 1st CD candidate Suzan DelBene, whom many progressives believe to be a corporatist Democrat in disguise. (She’s an ex-Microsoft executive, her husband heads the Office division at Microsoft, and she said she’d caucus with the corporatist “New Democrats”, not the Progressive Caucus.)   The Washington State Progressive Caucus of the Democratic Party endorsed Darcy Burner for the 1st CD.

Progressives need to be more insistent that the State Democrats stop supporting and funding Road Killers and other friends of Republicans.

The issues are complicated by the fact that many of the corporate Democrats are strong on women’s rights or environmental issues. Single-issue advocacy groups such as NARAL within the Democratic coalition sometimes work at cross-purposes to the broader progressive agenda, as when NARAL endorsed Republican Steve Litzow in 2010. Litzow later betrayed NARAL and women by voting against the Reproductive Party Act.

At the national level, carcinogenic Democrats include Blue Dog Senators but also, arguably, the President, who has surrounded himself with Wall Street cronies, who has pursued military and economic policies that would make George Bush proud, and who time and again has sold out progressives and compromised too early with Republicans.  Even his signature Affordable Care Act is straight out  of the playbook of the Heritage Foundation.  The only people he’s prosecuted are the whistle blowers. (Despite all that, and more, he’s still better than Romney. Sigh.)

Walter Kloefkorn writes

Without major changes we will continue to have a war economy, and any gains in social justice will be made meaningless by the increased degradation of the entire working class. We’ll all wallow in misery together.

Building as big a coalition as possible is definitely necessary. I’m willing to make alliances with non-progressives to achieve specific objectives. But they absolutely must stop calling themselves progressives and polluting the brand. Progressive is NOT a synonym for liberal. Part of our power is that only progressives have the ability to bring Greens, social democrats, socialists and others to the left of a party into a broad coalition. The corporate slime balls have been driving the best Democrats out of the party for several decades now. That is why the most we ever get these days are crumbs.

To build that coalition, progressive has to start meaning something to people along the line of, “Oh, those are the folks that will fight for me instead of selling me out all the time.” Talk to 20- or 30- somethings and you’ll quickly find that “sell out” is a HUGE part of the Democratic brand image in their mind. Who can blame them?

Hey, Dems kick out the corporatists, Blue Dogs, Road Killers, compromisers, and other sell-outs, because The People are starting to realize there’s often not much difference between your candidates and the Repugs.

*Though I strongly oppose the violence of the Black Bloc activists, I even more strongly oppose the violence, secrecy, domestic spying, and injustice of the bloated  US military and intelligence agencies; the threat they pose to the nation exceeds that of the Black Bloc activists.

Washington Legislators with ALEC Ties

ALEC Politicians – SourceWatch

Washington Legislators with ALEC Ties

House of Representatives

Senate

Outrage as Road Killers help Republicans seize control of the Washington State Senate

Goldy reports on The Stranger’s Slog: Republicans Just Seized Control of the Washington State Senate.   Road Kill Democrats Jim Kastama, Tim Sheldon and Rodney Tom team up with Republicans to try and push through a regressive Republican budget. They used a parliamentary maneuver to force a vote on a Republican budget that hadn’t yet had a hearing.

This is explained in more detail here: Wash. Senate GOPers try to take over Dem budget.

Senator Nick Harper opines in Budget shenanigans a blow to transparency:

This nearly 300-page behemoth – which had been carefully kept secret from the public and from all but three Democratic senators until moments before it was motioned to the floor for a vote – will have an impact on every single Washingtonian.

It is reprehensible and indefensible that they had no say in the matter.

Also: BUDGET COUP UPDATE: GOP Unveils Alternative Budget, Set to Pass it Tonight, Special Session Looms

FUSE Washington reports: “It may be late on a Friday, but a lot of bad stuff is happening in Olympia. Three conservative Democrats – Jim Kastama, Rodney Tom, and Tim Sheldon – joined all 22 Republicans to seize control of our state senate and pass an extreme all-cuts budget with no public hearing. Tell Senators Tom, Kastama, and Sheldon to stop holding the senate hostage!”

On Facebook I’m seeing lots of comments by Democrats angry at these Road Killers. People are threatening primary battles and worse. “WA NARAL used to support him because he was pro-choice.” “There have to be consequences for making the last two months worth of legilslative work and process moot, an exercise in futility, and a huge waste of the people’s money – which is something you’d think would be a concern for a Roadkiller.” “Basically Rodney Tom can never be trusted to put WA citizens ahead of his agenda. Call his office at 360-786-7694 to voice your opinion.” “Would make a great dart board” (speaking of one of the Road Killer’s photos).  “Went all through school with him and boy I do not h ave a damn clue who he is now……definitely not a Democrat!”

A wedge divides progressives and women in Washington State

Washington State Senator Steve Hobbs is a founding member of the Road Kill Caucus of centrists Democrats.  The Road Kill Democrats are known for often voting with Republicans on fiscal and labor issues.

Hobbs recently voted against the Washington Investment Trust (state bank) that progressives had been passionately promoting.

Steve Hobbs

Despite his role in the Road Kill Caucus, Hobbs is a hero of the women’s rights movement.  Hobbs was the prime sponsor of the Reproductive Parity Act that recently passed by the state Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee.  As reported by NARAL:

“NARAL Pro-Choice Washington applauds the committee for standing up for women’s health care access and approving the Reproductive Parity Act, and we thank prime sponsor Sen. Steve Hobbs for bringing this legislation forward,” said Christi Stapleton, Interim Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington.

In a similar manner, NARAL gave its  endorsement to Republican Steve Litzow, who narrowly defeated progressive Randy Gordon for the 41st LD state senate seat. (See this article. )   NARAL gave dual endorsements: to both Gordon and Litzow.    Gordon lost by about 200 votes, due in part to attack ads funded by the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity,and, presumably, to the endorsement of Litzow by NARAL.

Like Hobbs, Litzow did not support the Washington Investment Trust bill.  [Added: moreover, Litzow cast the deciding vote against the Reproductive Parity Act!]

Steve Litzow

I asked women’s rights activists about why NARAL endorses Republicans and Road Killers.  The answer was simple: they want to show that they’re bipartisan. Like many Catholics, for whom abortion is the only issue that matters, some women’s rights activists seem to care only about women’s rights — to the extent that they’ll endorse candidates like Litzow who, on other issues, are very conservative

The Road Killers and Republicans are very smart to divide the Left in this way.    I hope NARAL gets on board with the rest of the progressive movement and stops aiding the enemy.

Is this sort of wedge driving new?  That is, are socially liberal, fiscally conservative politicians driving a wedge into the Left elsewhere in America? Certainly it’s not happening on the national political stage, where Republicans have become increasingly conservative on both social and fiscal issues.

This is an unpleasant issue to bring up, but it needs to be raised.