How the Washington State Democratic caucus worked to sabotage progressive candidates

The House Democratic caucus in Washington State supported Democrat Matt Larson over Darcy Burner in the 5th LD primary for House seat position #2.  Darcy is a strong progressive. She worked in D.C. as Executive Director of Progressive Congress and has a big following. The Democratic Caucus contributed $50,000 to Matt Larson. Later, after Darcy trounced Larson in the primary (11,014 to 5,056), the Dem Caucus donated only $20,000 to Burner.

Before the election I’d heard mumblings from a Democratic operative that Darcy was too far left, and after the election this same operative defended the caucus’s decision, saying that Larson would have been more electable.

Darcy Burner on TV

I was told by a knowledgeable source that the Democratic caucus also refused to support Jason Ritchie for state House because he refused to be critical of Darcy.

I asked Jason Ritchie about this, and he agreed that the HDCC didn’t want either him or Darcy in the caucus, so they didn’t target the races for support. He also agreed that both seats were winnable, as the district is trending blue. He went on (telling me I may quote him):

Labor allies stood behind my campaign 100%. I was endorsed by Bernie Sanders and Our Revolution. The problem is the HDCC and the entrenched elite who are not listening to the grassroots. Progressives and Labor need to stand together, not fight against each other, to oust the current leadership and reestablish our party as it was founded, progressive and working class champions.

Jason Ritchie for House

Here’s an early article about the caucus’ opposition to Darcy Burner, from Seattle Met: House Democrats Take Sides in Democratic Primary.

Here are details about the donations. In the 5th LD primary for House seat position #2, the Democratic Caucus contributed $50,000 to Matt Larson, Darcy’s Democratic challenger.

Democratic Caucus contributed $50,000 to Matt Larson
Darcy easily beat Larson: 11,014 to 5,056.   On Oct 10, 2016 the House Democratic Campaign Committee contributed $20,000 to Darcy’s campaign (substantially less than the $50,000 they gave to Larson).

Democratic Caucus contributed $20,000 to Darcy Burner

But Darcy lost in the general election to Paul Graves, who won 39,330 votes to Darcy’s 33,838.

In the other 5th House race, Jason Ritchie was the only Democratic primary candidate.  Republican Jaye Rodney beat Jason Ritchie 37,772 to 34,954 in the general election. That was even closer.

Fact is, the caucus (especially Frank Chopp) tends not to like progressive candidates.

They chose former Republican Rodney Tom over a good Democrat, leading to the Republicans taking over control of the state Senate. State Democratic chair Dwight Pelz later regretted this.

Fact is, the Democratic caucus is wishy-washy on Democratic Party principles:  Frank Chopp allowed Steve Litzow’s charter school bill SB 6194 to come to a vote; over a dozen Democrats voted for it; and Governor Inslee allowed the bill to become law. Despite its being unconstitutional!  See These Dems voted to undermine public schools, contravene the Constitution, and aid Republicans.

In 2012, after Dennis Kucinich’s seat was redistricted out of existence, he visited Washington State to investigate running for Congress here. But Pelz opposed Kucinich’s move and ridiculed him,  angering many progressives.

A similar sellout was the recent votes by Senators Murray and Cantwell against Bernie Sander’s bill to allow re-importation of pharmaceuticals from Canada. There is an effort underway among Democrats to pass a resolution, or possibly a censure, about this issue.   Yes, Trump’s upcoming inauguration is a dark day for America. No, that’s no excuse for selling out principles for the sake of campaign money from corrupt drug companies.

It’s sellouts like these that confuse the voters, cause low turnout, and contribute to GOP victories and defections to the Greens and Socialists.

4 thoughts on “How the Washington State Democratic caucus worked to sabotage progressive candidates”

  1. What kind of history does Burner have of winning local elections? Has she ever won any elected public office?

    It’s not unusual for ‘progressives’, ‘liberals’ etc. jump into a race armed with a burning, liberal agenda, only to come up short. Then they blame ‘establishment’ Party Leaders for not supporting them. Is the past, Darci’s out spent her Republican challengers and come up short.

    Why do you she has such a track record?

    1. Maria Cantwell hadn’t held elected office before she became a state House member.

      Suzan DelBene was elected to the U.S. House in 2010 after never having won an election to a public office.

      I believe Lisa Wellman hadn’t held elected office before she ran for state Senate.

      Tana Senn was appointed to Mercer Island City Council and then to the State House, without having ever won election to a public office. (She later won re-election.) Abraham Lincoln lost many races before he started becoming successful. Darcy almost beat Dave Reichert and serverd as Executive Director of Progressive Congress. She has a big following.

      The fact is: the Dem caucus prefers moderate (corporate) Dems who won’t rock the boat and won’t challenge the power of Boeing, Microsoft, and the other campaign donors.

  2. Top down is a serious problem in the Democratic Party. It’s time they realize that their declining numbers are directly related to citizens being handed their ONE candidate from the power brokers who have led the party…and btw, who have NOT been successful at either re-gaining the State Senate, increasing the majority margin in the House, or filling all the state offices with Democrats.

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