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'Bipartisan' state Senate means rejecting voters' own values

Guest Opinion: Democratic Sen. Kevin Ranker says coalition leadership will act against voters' wishes on the environment, women's rights and education.
State Senator Kevin Ranker (D)

State Senator Kevin Ranker (D) Citizens for Kevin Ranker

Lawmakers continue to huddle behind closed doors at the capitol.

Lawmakers continue to huddle behind closed doors at the capitol. MathTeacherGuy/Flickr

Republicans in the state Senate dropped a political bomb last month when they announced that they were seizing control of the majority with the help of two renegade Democrats. Calling themselves a philosophical majority, Republicans detailed their proposal for what they say is a power-sharing arrangement, and talked about bipartisanship, centrism and “putting the people of Washington first.”

As a member of the deposed majority, I would be lying if I said this didn’t initially feel like a hijacking. But wounded pride aside, this is politics, and as a member of the new minority, I would be foolish if I didn’t take the Republicans up on their invitation to move toward a more collaborative way of governing when the 2013 Legislature reconvenes on Jan. 14. Cooperation, moderation, policy over politics — these are good things.

But look a little closer and it becomes quite clear: That’s not what Republicans are offering. The people of Washington are as welcoming of bipartisanship as anyone. But above all, I believe the people of Washington look at the problems facing us as a state, and want to see solutions that get results in a way that reflect their values.

We have some significant challenges ahead, including a billion dollar budget shortfall, an order from the state Supreme Court to comply with the Legislature’s constitutional mandate to fully fund k-12 education, a chronically underfunded higher education system, funding and implementing the exchanges needed to expand coverage under federal health care reform, protecting our environment and natural resources and the jobs that depend on them and protecting and advancing women’s reproductive rights.

Unfortunately, the Republican plan simply will not advance the core values of a majority of the citizens of our state. In fact, in order to reach their philosophical majority, it seems they have had to make commitments to abandon several of the core values that I, and I believe a majority of Washingtonians, feel should be priorities — Democrats, Republicans or some combination.  This last election strongly underscored this when voters elected pro-choice, pro-equality, pro-education and pro-environment candidates for president, U.S. senator, governor, all statewide offices except one, and majorities in our Congressional delegation, our state House and our state Senate — and they also approved marriage equality and marijuana legalization at the ballot box.

Shockingly, the Republicans’ new leader, Sen. Rodney Tom, has already said that Senate Republicans’ budget will not fully comply with the Supreme Court’s order on education funding. The Republicans have also said they do not support any new revenue for our state’s k-12 and higher education systems, even as our schools become increasingly uncompetitive with those in other states. As a result, the Republicans’ budget will result in either further cuts to higher education, dramatic cuts to social services — or both.

As an expression of bipartisanship, the Republicans were pleased to offer Democrats chairs on six watered-down committees — including three weak environment committees in place of one strong committee — and kept the chairs of the six most important committees for themselves. But again, wounded pride aside, let's look more closely at how this structure will support the core values of a majority of Washingtonians.

In the health care committee, Republicans selected a chair who is, according to her voting, anti-choice and has traditionally opposed federal health care reform. Their choice to chair the labor committee has been a vocal and outspoken critic of collective bargaining. For the law and justice committee, they selected as chair with a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association — this at the time when sadly, due to the horrible events in Newtown, gun control is likely to come before this committee. To chair the energy committee, Republicans have tapped a senator with a zero percent rating from the Washington Conservation Voters, just when we elect a governor with exciting proposals for expanding our renewable energy opportunities and the green jobs that come with them. They also proposed this committee only have four members, three of whom they will appoint; the best of them has a 30 percent Conservation Voters rating.


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Comments:

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 7:03 a.m. Inappropriate

"Unfortunately, the Republican plan simply will not advance the core values of a majority of the citizens of our state." Senator Ranker fails to recognize that his whine only highlights the ineffectiveness of the Democrats in the Legislature and the Executive's administration of the State. What are some of the values Senator Ranker and his party have found NOT to be a priorities worth addressing? Budgets and Budget Deficits, Education Funding, Infrastucture maintenance, development and funding, illegal aliens, Government Reform.

Perhaps Sen. Ranker should look at the nearly thirty year monopoly of his party and the lack of progress, political infighting and check his ego at the door to try and get something done for the people of Washington for a change.

Cameron

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 10:20 a.m. Inappropriate

The Citizenry voted for a Democratic Senate. Two Senators that lied to voters joined the Republicans. There is no bipartisanship involved at all with what is happening in the Senate. It is Republicans, not bipartisan. It is nothing other than Republicans going against the stated will of the Washington State Citizenry.

jhande

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 12:08 p.m. Inappropriate

The citizenry voted for senators, not a senate.

NotFan

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 8:53 p.m. Inappropriate

They voted for Senators who identified themselves as Democrats. They did not vote for Senators who identified themselves as Democrats in order for the Senators to assist the Republicans in taking control of the Senate. Do Republicans get elected to assist the Democrats in taking over the Senate? No, I guess not, all of the Republicans seem to be marching in partisan lockstep. The idea that voters voted for a candidate, who identified himself as a Democrat, in order for that candidate to work to gain control of the Senate for the Republican party is silly.

jhande

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 12:21 p.m. Inappropriate

And when Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania changed from Republican to Democrat after Obama was elected, you were just as outraged? Look, the WA State Democrats will have to get cracking in the next election and see if they can beat these guys.

NotFan

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 9:57 a.m. Inappropriate

As Senator Ranker's article ably demonstrates, politics are tribal exercises. We pick a tribe/team/party and we defend that tribe no matter what happens. We celebrate the perceived accomplishments of our tribe and downplay or ignore its failures. We denigrate the perceived accomplishments and failures of other competing tribes. It's probably innate primate behavior. That is why the bipartisan coalition is such an anomoly. Members of two competing tribes have banded together to try and create a temporary centrist tribe. The last time we had such unforced cooperative behavior in Washington politics was in 1963.

Senator Ranker had a choice: the rankerous (okay, I couldn't resist) tribalism of past politics or the less tried cooperative approach sought by the coalition. He stuck by his tribe and the politics of yesterday, usually the safest choice.

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 10:24 a.m. Inappropriate

Two Republicans, who lied about their political affiliation, and the Republican Senators is not a bipartisan coalition, or even a coalition at all. Your "tribalism" contention is nonsense. This has been a power grab by Republicans, and nothing less.

jhande

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 2:14 p.m. Inappropriate

Although the possibility exists that after a generation of unaccountable leadership in Olympia, these two selfless patriots put the narrow, greedy ambitions of their power-hungry, spendthrift party aside, risked their political careers, and for once put the best interests of the state and all its citizens ahead of their own.


Yeah, yeah... But it makes as much sense as your description.

dbreneman

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 8:20 p.m. Inappropriate

Even with your possibility this is still a Republican power grab; and not a "Coalition", and not bipartisan. Further, it is not what the Citizenry voted for.

jhande

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 10:10 a.m. Inappropriate

Whether it's a "hijacking" as Sen. Ranker calls it, or a "coup" as I called it in a 13 December comment (http://crosscut.com/2012/12/13/transportation/111952/king-county-gets-rail-business/?page=2), the outcome -- as Sen. Ranker clearly acknowledges -- is the same: the forcible imposition on the people of blue-state Washington the red(neck)-state agenda of Ayn Rand savagery and reactionary hatefulness.

I doubt the result in Olympia will be as horrid as it is in Wisconsin or Michigan, both realms where the Working Class has been totally disempowered and women are methodically reduced to patriarchal chattel. But it will be at least as bad here as in Washington D.C., where the only alternative to governmental shutdowns is Democratic surrender to Republican demands, particularly in terms of maliciously genocidal elimination of social services.

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 10:28 a.m. Inappropriate

I consider it a coup. The Governor, and the Legislature, should not work with the Republican Party at all. The Republican Party has gone against the Citizenry with their action in the Senate. Other branches of Government working with the Republican Party would be against the wishes of the Citizenry.

If the Republican Party can pull off this unethical coup, then the other branches of government need to be unethical toward the Republican Party. Anything coming out of the Senate should be rejected without even looking at it.

jhande

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 11:23 a.m. Inappropriate

I keep seeing (and agree with) comments about how far the R's have move out of the mainstream and how they need to become more centrist to be a viable force in state politics. This is their chance to show that they can be mainstream. If they can do it, great! If not, then lesson learned.

ruffner

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 12:10 p.m. Inappropriate

"Mainstream" = "Raise taxes and turn WA State into California"

NotFan

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 12:10 p.m. Inappropriate

Lots of sore losers on this thread, including the author of the article.

1) The people who voted for the two conservative Democrats, who joined the Republicans, knew who they were voting for and what they believed in.

2) WA state passed Tim Eyman's latest initiative requiring a 2/3 vote to increase taxes by well over 60%, and this passed in every county in the state, including King County. So, why was that not mentioned in the author's list of "core values" of WA state?

3) Inslee won by a fairly small margin, and I am convinced it was entirely because McKenna was just a horrible candidate. A Dan Evans Republican would have won the WA governship this year easily.

Kevin Ranker certainly does not represent the entire state of WA, even though he seems to think he does.

Lincoln

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 12:27 p.m. Inappropriate

A "Dan Evans Republican" would not support deliberately genocidal reductions in the socioeconomic safety net.

He would not support all the other Republican tactics -- including methodical destruction of mass transit systems -- intended to rid the state of its elderly and disabled people and lower-income folks in general.

Neither would a "Dan Evans Republican" endorse homophobia, misogyny and the theocratic Christian doctrines by which these murderous bigotries are spawned -- all litmus tests for membership in the present-day Republican Party.

Indeed, in today's Republican Party, a "Dan Evans Republican" would be denounced as a heretic (if not a traitor) and ousted accordingly.

As to "sore losers," I know of no losers more sore than those who, by imposing a coup, overthrow a democratically elected government.

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 2:21 p.m. Inappropriate

Wow, this sure touched a nerve. I haven't seen so much frothing at the mouth in the comments section here in a long time. The simple fact is that state government has been so mismanaged lately that any change offers the chance of an improvement. And even if there is no improvement it's only government, it's not the end of the world. Oh wait, I forgot - To the Left, government is the world.

dbreneman

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 4:51 p.m. Inappropriate

Everyone in the Senate was democratically elected. You don't like the outcome? So what?

Calling it a "coup" that "overthrew a democratically elected government" just exposes you as a silly little twit. Nobody was "overthrown." Everyone in the Senate was democratically elected.

You are a fool.

Lincoln

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 8:25 p.m. Inappropriate

Tom and Sheldon ran as Democrats. Their constituents elected Democrats. Their constituents did not elect Tom and Sheldon to work with the Republicans against the Democrats. So, the individuals whose will was ""overthrown"" were Sheldon and Tom's constituents.

If you can not figure this out, then it is you who is the fool.

jhande

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 8:55 p.m. Inappropriate

jhande, voters have long known both Tom and Sheldon to be moderates, siding with Republicans from time to time.

Honestly, you have no idea why anybody voted for who they vote for, Tom & Sheldon included. But, they have been elected, knowing them to be moderates.

Democrats and Republicans working together has been a loud call for years and by that, we do not mean everything go as only Democrat Leaders want.

Clearly, Tom and Sheldon are acting as their constituents wish or they would not be reelected as many times as each has.

The leftists are just going to have to learn how to deal with not having dictatorial powers any longer.

LewWaters

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 11:18 p.m. Inappropriate

Lew, Becoming a Republican, and working against the Democrats in order to hand the Republicans control of the Senate is not siding with Republicans from "time to time"; and it would take a huge stretch of credulity to think that citizens voted for a Democrat that the citizens thought would do this. This is not a "moderate" working with Republicans from "time to time".

Neither of these two have been up for re-election since these events. Tom has not been up for re-election since his previous budget adventure.

This would not be "Democrats and Republicans" working together, it would be Republicans taking control of the Senate. There are no Democrats involved. Tom and Sheldon are not Democrats, their actions prove that.

There is no coalition. All of the Republican Senators marching in lockstep is not a coalition. It is not "moderate".

As for "dictatorship": Citizens elected Democrats with their votes; the Republican scheming that has led to the disregarding of the will of the Citizenry is the action of dictatorship. The Republicans could not win at the ballot box, so they scheme to force their way. Those are your dictators.

You can play your liberal-conservative garbage all that you want. The Citizenry did not vote for this; and that has nothing to do with Parties. And no, we do not have to play along with the Republicans, or "learn to deal" with fascistic individuals, and liars.

jhande

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 6:58 p.m. Inappropriate

jhande, the fallacy in your comment is the people elected George W. Bush for two terms and that did not stop your side from trashing and opposing him every step of the way. You can't have it both ways to where your views alone are aired and acted upon.

Tom and Sheldon have been elected more than once with voters knowing full well they cross the aisle.

Funny how liberals demand Republicans reach across the aisle to support Democrats, but whine like little babies when Democrats reach back across the aisle to work with Republicans.

That back and forth is how our government was meant to work and not just everybody cave to the far left Democrat agenda.

Time you learned to deal with it.

LewWaters

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 10:24 p.m. Inappropriate

Lew, How do you presume to know what my "side" is?

jhande

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 12:19 p.m. Inappropriate

A "Dan Evans Republican" couldn't win the nomination.

Steve E.

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 12:14 p.m. Inappropriate

Sen. Ranker and his party have NOT delivered results for the People of Washington. They have delivered for their contributor lists, they continue to spread taxpayer funded largess to their friends, unions, NGO's, Tribes. Do they win elections? Sure. You can't fix stupid. But apparently in the Governors race you could vote for it. Sen. Ranker can rest easy knowing Governor Special Sauce is on the case, he has stated that he can satisfy the McCleary Decision requirements without raising taxes. He must be right, afterall Governor Gregoire hand-picked Inslee to continue her record of failure.

Cameron

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 8:27 p.m. Inappropriate

Mr. Ranker, you couldn't be more wrong. Each of you are elected by a majority from within your district, to represent your district.

Republicans and moderate Democrats coming together to form the 'Philosophical Majority' is a combination of elected officials representing voters, elected by the majority from their districts..

The 'Philosophical Majority' therefore IS representing voters values, even though apparently not yours.

LewWaters

Posted Wed, Jan 2, 11:28 p.m. Inappropriate

Quit lying, Lew, there are no Democrats joining with the so-called coalition. You know that, yet you lie.

Tom did not tell voters, when he ran as a Democrat, that he was going to work with the Republicans in order to have the Republicans gain control of the Senate. Tom did not run as a Republican.Tom lied.

Citizens have an expectation when they vote for a Democrat, that the candidate will not work to have the Republican party be in control. They would not vote for the Democrat if they wanted the Republican party to be in control. That is like saying that when a citizen votes for a Republican, it really means that they want the Democrats in control. No one votes for a Democrat, because they wish the Republicans in control; and no one votes for a Republican, because they wish the Democrats in control.

You are really shovelling it, Lew.

jhande

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 8:48 a.m. Inappropriate

I'm not convinced that anyone who disagrees with your opinions is, by definition, a liar. You obviously don't like these guys, but beyond that you've added very little which is interesting to this debate. Just vitriol.


Paragraph and paragraph of vitriol.


But don't mind me. I disagree with you. So I'm a liar.

dbreneman

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 11:15 a.m. Inappropriate

Lie on dbreneman, I enjoy reading your common sense posts on these apparently contentious issues.

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 9:51 p.m. Inappropriate

An individual who knows what they are saying is not true is telling a lie. It has nothing to do with agreeing, or diagreeing with anyones thoughts, or opinions.

jhande

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 11:43 a.m. Inappropriate

"Quit lying, Lew, there are no Democrats joining with the so-called coalition. You know that, yet you lie."

The writer is disagreeing with your characterization of the Democrats who bolted to form the coalition. That is a difference of opinion not a lie.

dbreneman

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 2:42 p.m. Inappropriate

All the Republican Senators marching in partisan lockstep joined by two individuals is not a "Coalition" or bipartisan. There is no "philosophical majority". There are all the partisan Republicans and two liars.Obviously it is legal for Tom to do what he has done. People do not need to lie that this is bipartisanship, or anything more than Republicans taking control of the Senate.

jhande

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 12:07 p.m. Inappropriate

The Legislature should ignore the Supreme Court's education ruling. The courts have no power over appropriations. The ruling was illegitimate.

NotFan

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 2:15 p.m. Inappropriate

jhande, Bravo! I agree with you 100%. Well said, sir.

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 2:37 p.m. Inappropriate

Senator Ranker responds to many fallacies in the Republican Party line concerning the political coalition. A political coalition is just what it is. All the inflammatory language around it, for and against, simply points out the fact that it is pure party politics. Tom and Sheldon acted predictably based on past behavior, selling their political assets to the highest bidder. The real question may be how loyal to the coalition Tom and Sheldon will be, given a propensity to disdain party labels.

Slidezone

Posted Thu, Jan 3, 3:52 p.m. Inappropriate

Let's play what if. What if the governor was a conservative Republican, the House was controlled by Republicans, and a majority of senators were Republican. During the election, the voters approved same sex marriage, marijuana decriminalization, and a supermajority or public vote for higher taxes. After that election, a couple of maverick Republican senators decided to join the democrats to form a bipartisan coalition that responded to the socially progressive but fiscally moderate message sent by the voters.

Would that also be a coup generated by turncoats? An attempt to frustrate the will of voters? Or would it be a response to the signals sent by voters? Whatever is true, either scenario provides an opportunity to show voters that our elected leaders can work together to govern rather than, like the other Washington, grouse about each other and perpetually campaign.

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 12:24 p.m. Inappropriate

The answer, of course, is that the same Democrats crying "fraud" today would be jumping for joy, and today's joyful Republicans would be crying "fraud." Which is why "independent" is the fastest growing category of voters.

NotFan

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 2:43 p.m. Inappropriate

Turncoats are turncoats.

jhande

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 11:43 p.m. Inappropriate

Changing political allegiance is not treason. When Rodney Tom actually switched parties (from Republican to Democrat) where was the outrage? Does any civilized human being really believe that partisanship is the highest and most noble loyalty?

simorgh

Posted Sun, Jan 6, 7:07 a.m. Inappropriate

No, but a citizen does think when they vote for a Democrat, that the Democrat is going to be a Republican. Not being a liar is the highest loyalty.

jhande

Posted Sun, Jan 6, 7:10 a.m. Inappropriate

should be "not going to be a Republican". It seems in the Senate that all of the Republicans are marching in partisan lockstep. So, at least for the Republican Senators, partisanship is the highest and most noble loyalty. Why is that noble for Republicans but not for Democrats? I know, the Republicans are special, right?

jhande

Posted Sun, Jan 6, 9:19 p.m. Inappropriate

If not lying is the highest loyalty, how many loyal politicians are in office today? Surely there is some virtue more noble than hanging with a political party no matter what. This whole thread is seriously overblown.

simorgh

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 5:06 a.m. Inappropriate

Republican Party and the Democratic Party should just create one party,

THE DEFICIT PARTY

salmonjim

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 7:07 a.m. Inappropriate

This stream was useful.

Tom and Sheldon have agreed to a GOP takeover of the state Senate.

It is as simple as that.

The Republican caucus is selling the scheme as a "majority coalition." That's a smokescreen.

If Tom and Sheldon really wanted a coalition, they should have bargained for one.

Tom is leading the Senate Republican Caucus. He will deserve everything that comes with that.

Jan

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 8:26 a.m. Inappropriate

I think it would be interesting to remove the ability for people on this board to use aliases to hide behind. It's a trend happening all over the web, and significantly reduces the poison that many feel they can throw when wearing a mask.

I don't vote for Republicans,but the Republicans played their coalition beautifully, as this is all politics, not a board game. The Democrats have been extremely complacent and even abandoned their usual base in such tactics as the extremely unpopular and counterproductive parks pass. It's time to see them play hardball, which is what the Republicans have done. In the meantime, the voters are the ones who are going to get screwed with no real progress made and lawsuits likely to be the outcome for failing to solve the mandated issues.

8string

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 12:26 p.m. Inappropriate

What it means is that the Democrats won't get their tax increases, and Inslee won't be able to claim to have been "forced" into it. As for the mandated issues, the best thing the Legislature could do about the McCleary decision is to simply ignore it.

NotFan

Posted Fri, Jan 4, 10:26 p.m. Inappropriate

Is 8string your real name?

jhande

Posted Wed, Jan 9, 5:47 p.m. Inappropriate

I voted for Tom in 2010 with the understanding he was a Democrat. His recent actions show me he is a fraud and I will not vote for him again. However the damage is done. His actions allowed Republican extremists to take committe chair positions where they will have power that they should not have if Tom had acted in accordance with the values he claimed he was aligned with. I am horrified with his little coup and in two years he can go back to being a realtor or more likely using his senate position to get some lucrative lobbying position. It's sickening that he tries to whitewash his actions as somehow showing he knows the voting public's will better than they did when they voted in a Democratic majority.

R81801

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