Mossback: Where have all the conservatives gone?

Politically speaking, Bellevue is starting to look a lot like Seattle: A place of progressive orthodoxy and political correctness. It wasn't always like that.
Bellevue at night

Bellevue at night Photo: Flickr User rutio

Tim Burgess failed the progressive litmus test.

Tim Burgess failed the progressive litmus test.

I was recently chatting over coffee in Belltown with Randy Pepple, Republican political consultant and pundit, and the man who ran Rob McKenna's gubernatorial campaign. We were talking about Bellevue and Pepple brought up the upcoming city council races, which in recent times have pitted old- and new-guard candidates against each other, specifically over the contentious issue of light rail and its impact on the city. Pepple worries about the influence of Seattle consultants on the races. He is currently advising old-guard councilman Don Davidson in his re-election effort.

The city of Bellevue has turned pretty blue. Even Republican Rob McKenna did not win his hometown in 2012. As Seattle consultant Christian Sinderman has said, density equals Democrats. Pepple is concerned that Bellevue is on the path to political monoculture. He doesn't want to see Bellevue turn into another Seattle.

By Seattle he means a one-party town, a place where orthodox views and political correctness prevail, where the legislative districts litmus-test candidates in a game-show atmosphere of political "Survivor" as each contestant tries to prove they're more progressive than their rivals.

Electoral dissent in Seattle doesn't come from the right much any more, it comes from the left. The so-called liberal monoculture does have many shades of blue and extends far enough leftward to occasionally include socialist candidates. The debate often seems to be about whether Seattle should be more like New York, Vancouver, BC, or Havana, Cuba.

In the now distant past, Seattle used to have more ideological diversity: Republicans were frequently elected, though the last elected Republican mayor was Dorm Braman, who came to office in 1964, the same year a Seattle Republican named Dan Evans become a popular governor. Pepple observes that the last Republican legislator with a Seattle home address was Bruce Addison, elected to represent West Seattle's 34th District in 1984.

The last serious GOP aspirant to make the mayoral finals was city attorney Doug Jewett, a moderate who lost to Norm Rice in 1989. Even back then, Jewett tried to downplay his Republican background. Not long before, in the 1960s and '70s, Seattle produced a farm-team of notable Republicans who influenced the city, county and state: Bruce Chapman and Ludlow Kramer both served on the city council and both served as Secretary of State, city councilman John Miller went to Congress and former mayoral candidate John Spellman became King County executive, as did city councilman and one-time mayoral candidate Tim Hill. Local races used to frequently feature GOP law-and-order candidates, fiscal conservatives, good-government reformers and Chamber of Commerce loyalists who pledged to bring a business sensibility to City Hall.

Today, most Seattle business execs are Democrats, at least publicly. The only Seattle precinct that went for Mitt Romney was the gated enclave of Broadmoor. Of course, that precinct also supported gay marriage and pot legalization. Republican elephants have nearly vanished from city politics, about as common these days as the mammoths that once wandered the glacial plains of the Puget Sound basin.

If the GOP is gone, the rhetoric against it and the polarization of politics in general, are not. Seattle Democrats are still picking at impurities in voting records. Seattle city council member Tim Burgess gave up his bid for mayor in part because he dreaded the re-vetting of his progressive bone fides in the campaign. When I asked him about this the day he dropped out of the mayor's race, he allowed that the raking over all that would have been "a real drag in the campaign, for sure," a campaign that didn't need any more drags.

Burgess admitted that he had donated to John McCain's campaign in 2000 and had previously supported Rob McKenna for attorney general. In a primary where candidates are jostling leftward on social issues, the King County Democrats endorsement committee became suspicions of Burgess's core convictions. The fact that Burgess had donated more than $10,000 to Barack Obama didn't assuage them. According to Seattle Weekly, a member of the committee, Michael J Maddux, said "When ... looking at the totally of Tim's record, we can't be certain he shares our party values. We were burned with Rodney Tom calling himself a Democrat and then deserting. We don’t want that to happen again."

That's one place where the politics of Seattle and the Eastside come together. Rodney Tom is the Medina-based Bellevue Republican-turned-Democrat state senator who took control of the chamber this year with the backing of Republicans and one fellow Democratic turncoat. The party has read Tom out — he was "excommunicated" in a letter from Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz — though Tom says he still identifies as a Democrat. The truth is, Tom doesn't seem at home in either party.

In any case, his move to create a Republican-based coalition in the senate deposed the presumptive senate majority leader, Ed Murray, who is running for Seattle mayor. Raising the specter of a "Tom" in the midst of the mayor's race was a way of saying Burgess can't be trusted, that he's a Benedict Arnold in waiting, a DINO (Democrat In Name Only). It reminds everyone that electing stealth conservatives has consequences, such as undercutting progressive Seattle advocates like Murray.

Of course, everyone is subjected to PC tests. At a recent Seattle legislative district endorsement session, backing for Murray was opposed by one Democrat who reminded the racially diverse crowd that Murray had been in the state house when the anti-affirmative action initiative I-200 was passed in 1998. The legislature didn't overturn I-200 as they have other Tim Eyman initiatives. It happened on Murray’s watch, she said, implying that the man who fought to get gay marriage passed is really a civil rights impostor.

For the most part, Seattle "conservatives" are liberal Democrats who veer slightly from orthodoxy. Burgess, for example, was sympathetic to education reform and soft on charter schools. Like former city attorney and one-time mayoral candidate Mark Sidran, he backed tougher panhandling laws. Ironically, he might have alienated some of his business supporters by actually moving "leftward" to vote for sick leave and more low-income housing at South Lake Union.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, May 28, 5:50 a.m. Inappropriate

"density equals Democrats" You could have stopped there Knute.

Cameron

Posted Tue, May 28, 7:38 a.m. Inappropriate

If Republicans are concerned about Bellevue becoming a political monoculture like Seattle, they need to look at themselves and think about whether it is their own fault.

Bellevue has an exploding immigrant population. Will they listen to those constituents and pass bills like the Dream Act in the State Senate and immigration reform in Congress? Will they continue to let opinion leaders in their party like Rush Limbaugh and the Fox crowd slam immigrants without comment or criticism? Or will they continue to oppose popular issues and then wonder why they're being marginalized in areas that they used to compete in? There are votes on the table ready for them to pick up. Immigration issues are but one example that's particularly relevant to Bellevue. There's also McKenna's lawsuit against Obamacare, women's issues, and plenty more.

Everybody talks about how the last Republican to do whatever in Seattle or Washington was Dan Evans or a Dan Evans-type. Dan Evens would probably be a Democrat if he was coming up the ranks today. He strongly advocated for an income tax in WA - can you imagine Rob McKenna coming out for an income tax?!

Seattle and Bellevue have changed since 1984, but the Republican party has changed more. They have become insular and extreme, they've gone from Dan Evans to Don Benton. If the Republican party is concerned about Seattle and Bellevue becoming Democrat-dominated, they need to look in the mirror and think about what they will do about it, because it isn't Seattle and Bellevue's fault.

Posted Tue, May 28, 9:04 a.m. Inappropriate

Why are you suggesting State Senator Don Benton of Clark County is "insular and extreme". Yes, he has stirred the ire of some in Clark County over his recent appointment as an environmental bureaucrat but that may be a positive step given the financial wreckage to our transportation system the so called bureaucrats of that curious brand have wrought, to date. Have you checked out the combined price tag of the SR 99 Deep Bored Tunnel with its daily need for 70 megawatts of power (for ever and ever), the SR 520 bridge with its massive lids and parks, and the I-5 Columbia River Crossing with its unwanted light rail to God knows where in a county whose voters have rejected it? Three projects at nearly $14 billion for less than 12 miles of road! And, by the way, these gold plated projects brought to you by a department who forgot how to maintain what it already owns! Perhaps Mr. Benton can, at last, return fiscal responsibility to the highway system in his role in the state senate, a task no one has done in the last three decades. He may be obstreperous but that quality, in these tough financial times, may serve us all very well in a state that has failed to read the Federal Statute on "Value Engineering". Economy of scale was, at one time, a watchword in the Washington State Highway Department (WSHD) of Bill Bugge, Walt McKibben and George Andrews. Remember, those were called the good old days. Maybe Mr. Benton and his colleagues can bring them back.

seebee

Posted Tue, May 28, 12:15 p.m. Inappropriate

Density equals democrats.

What a wonderful phrase. No wonder I moved.

I do agree however that the local and national republican party is shattered.

The only solution I can see is for all political people to start to go back to the economic basics, and learn to appreciate and understand that if you waste money, you lose the next election.

Posted Tue, May 28, 10:42 p.m. Inappropriate

70 megawatts to power and ventilate the deep bore tunnel? As in 70 million watts? Really? I knew it was an insane project but this surprises even cynical 'ole me...... Wow. Please do tell us more. Any links you can give us on that?

I don't doubt you're right, but.....lordy, lordy. That is some serious juice.

Posted Thu, May 30, 3:47 a.m. Inappropriate

snoqualman, The Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project, 2010 Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Appendix R Energy Discipline Report, October 2010, on page 24 has a table which shows the operational energy requirements fot lights and ventilation in the downtown tunnel. This is Exhibit 5-3. It gives the energy requirements for the lighting and ventilation in millions of BTU's (MMBTU), not watts. Exhibit 5-3 shows the lighting and ventilation would use 239 MMBTU's a day.

MMBTU may be converted to watts. There are websites which show you how to do this on paper, or you could go to convertunits.com. So, 239 MMBTU equals 70,043,985.73 watts. That is over 70 megawatts a day, and that is only for the ventilation and lighting, and not the pumps.

The pumps will be a huge electical drain, I do not understand why pump electrical usage is not included with the daily operational energy usage of the tunnel. The pumps should add a lot of watts to the over 70 megawatts for lighing and ventilation.

There is also mention of needed utility infrastructure upgrades; but, no quantification of that is given in Appendix R.

The machinery and electricity requirements of the downtown tunnel mean the dowtown tunnel is not "green".

Putting the over 70 megawatts needed for operation of the downtown tunnel in perspective:

Fingertip Facts at the Seattle City Light website, on page 20 has a table that shows Seattle City Light (SCL) "total system generation capacity" to be 1,810 megawatts (MW)------ 70 megawatts for the tunnel is 3.9% of the total system generation capacity (TSGC) of Seattle City Light;

The TSGC for the SCL Diablo Powerplant is 159.3 MW----70 megawatts is 43.9% of the TSGC of the Diablo Powerplant. That is almost half the output of the powerplant needed for the tunnel;

The combined TSGC for the three plants that make up the SCL Ross Lake Complex is 711.1 MW---- 70 megawatts is 9.8% of the TSGC of the Ross Lake Complex.

The tunnel will be a huge user of electricity. Remember, the 70 megawatts does not include the pumps.Looking at the numbers, I do not see how the downtown tunnel will not raise electric rates. Another thing to think about are the Sound Transit tunnels, and the power usage needed by them. The Sound Transit tunnels' power usage combined with the over 70 megawatts needed for the downtown tunnel will draw a large percentage of the total system generating capacity of Seattle City Light. These tunnels are not green, and they waste a lot of energy. I am thinking that the electical usage numbers for the pumps are scary; and, Oh God, lets not talk about streetcars.

jhande

Posted Thu, May 30, 4:20 a.m. Inappropriate

There should be no "a day" after 239 MMBTU's in paragraph one; and no "a day" after 70 megawatts in paragraph two; and the "daily" before "operational" in paragraph three should not be there. Sorry, it is late at night.

jhande

Posted Sat, Jun 1, 4:19 p.m. Inappropriate

I agree with you chummybumma, Liberals are ruining America.

tjp

Posted Tue, May 28, 10:30 a.m. Inappropriate

Do a large number of people left or right care about this faux issue?

From a personal perspective I always urge liberals and such to move into the big city areas of greater Lake Washington. Why? I like to point out that there's safety in numbers, it's their kind of people, housing is so much more chic and plentiful, the school systems are judged to be the best in the state, and jobs start at 100k/year. It's paradise.

Djinn

Posted Tue, May 28, 11:40 a.m. Inappropriate

This is a confusing article. At the start it appears to be about Bellevue, then it talks about a fear that Bellevue might become like Seattle, then it devotes most of its time to Seattle. Knute, Bellevue is not like Seattle, and never will be.

Knute describes a few good Republicans, mostly not from Bellevue. I'd be happy to see some Republicans on the City Council who think like the people Knute mentioned. Unfortunately, we rarely see such people running for office. In Bellevue the GOP has been a one-issue party, all about light rail. I see no reason why a good well-rounded Republican couldn't still be elected in Bellevue. But one of them needs to stand up and get on the ballot.

Posted Tue, May 28, 1:38 p.m. Inappropriate

One of the things that hampers Republicans in Washington State is that voters are well aware that voting for a Republican whom they might otherwise kind of like simply puts too much power into the hands of extremists in the state and federal Republican parties. When you send a Republican to the federal Senate, for instance, you are giving extraordinary power to the Republicans in the federal Senate, especially the kooky "rape is the woman's fault" and "a pregnant woman couldn't have been raped" and "homosexuality is a sinful choice" crowd. Washingtonians, even conservative ones, don't want that. It's harder for Republicans to win in mayoral races in bigger cities for similar reasons: it gives a Republican too much stature for potential future office.

Then there is the trust issue. Just look what happened in the state Senate: Republicans staged something akin to a coup by getting two nominal Democrats to align with them in that body and implement a set of policies (or obstruct policies) in defiance of the wishes of the majority of the population of the state. Washingtonians are learning that local Republicans cannot even be trusted to be a "loyal opposition," let alone a ruling party; instead, we see a party whose goal is simply to obstruct and destroy.

Given all that baggage, there is just no such thing as a viable Republican candidate for most major offices in this state, including office in Bellevue.

smacgry

Posted Tue, May 28, 6:18 p.m. Inappropriate

You don't want Seattle to become a one-party town.

I've seen the results in Massachusetts and Chicago.

Republican one-party towns have their own corruption as well, just haven't lived in those areas.

No opposition party, the only hope is Federal prosecutors. We lost a bunch of Lieutenant Governors in Massachusetts over corruption charges.

It doesn't really matter which party, they're all crooks, you just don't want a one-party town. This applies to EITHER party.

Posted Fri, May 31, 1:10 p.m. Inappropriate

Seattle has been a one-party town for a long time. The real worry is if Washington becomes a one-party state.

NotFan

Posted Sun, Jun 2, 3:29 p.m. Inappropriate

Good point, I stand corrected.

Posted Wed, May 29, 8:02 a.m. Inappropriate

At one point in the story you seemed to be answering your own question, exploding the myth of a monoculture in Seattle. Given the ferocity of different opinions about the Mayor's race here in Seattle, what possibly gives you the idea that a monoculture is even close to existing?

If Republicans go extinct, it is not the death of diversity in thought. Diversity of thought will always exist. We don't need to prop up naturally failed ideologies such as conservatism to maintain that.

Timothy

Posted Wed, May 29, 10:08 p.m. Inappropriate

Bellevue is near the Microsoft campus. Half the people who work at Microsoft are contractors, whose do not get Microsoft FTE benefits or office space. They're not Republicans? Surprise!

Clarify

Posted Wed, May 29, 11:30 p.m. Inappropriate

Thanks for the vignettes that capture such irony in our local politics. I was at a few of those Seattle Democratic meetings you describe, and yes those scenes did happen. Cringe worthy, chuckle worthy, and theater of the absurd at times.

Posted Thu, May 30, 1:34 a.m. Inappropriate

This article says the tunnel needs 25 million kilowatt hours annually. Dividing by 24 and 365 I guess this is an average load of 285 kilowatts = 0.285 megawatts.

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/transportation/article/xxxx-1395688.php

Good question where the 70 megawatt figure came from.

spock

Posted Thu, May 30, 3:53 a.m. Inappropriate

See the 3:47 AM post above.

jhande

Posted Fri, May 31, 1:54 p.m. Inappropriate

Your confusion Mr. Berger is in what you think a conservative is. Or was. Once upon a time Bellevue was inhabited by intelligent people who believed in good government, just not as much of it, and good solutions, just not too fast. Those used to be Republicans. Now they're Democrats. Bellevue is still inhabited by the same people. It's just that there are these other folks calling themselves conservatives who are anything but conservative. They're radicals. Radical reactionaries who don't believe in good government and don't believe government can produce good results, period. You can't very well have them over for blanc and brie because they're as likely as not to set your condo on fire. Or worse. The nannies across the lake are at least house broken.

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