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    Legislative elections this year could bring surprises

    Guest Opinion: Some see the Democrats as behind in preparation for the state Senate battles. Voters may deliver a different verdict.
    Rep. Cyrus Habib

    Rep. Cyrus Habib John Stang

    This fall’s elections have big implications for the future of Washington. There is no way we can fulfill our most important responsibilities and meet our biggest challenges— like funding and improving our public schools, building an economy that offers opportunities to everyone, and tackling our transportation problems — without leadership from the Legislature.  

    The biggest question for Washington voters about the Legislature is who will control our state Senate, now run by Republicans. There is some conventional wisdom, voiced by Chris Vance in Crosscut "(GOP gains ground in battle for state Senate control"), that Republicans will maintain their control, based on the lineup of who’s up for re-election and where seats are in play, and the fact that Democrats often struggle in low turnout, off year elections. I believe that conventional wisdom is wrong.

    The Republican’s biggest Achilles’ heel is their track record. After two years of the Republican majority, it has become clear that the Senate under their leadership in not a place that is capable of doing the work of government — of working together to solve problems that we cannot solve alone.

    Dominated by the extreme wing of the Republican caucus, the Senate has become a Northwest version of the U.S. House of Representatives. Their main accomplishment is to block progress on solving our most important problems. They spend their time holding hearings dedicated to denying the science of climate change, trying to overrule local laws that provide sick leave to working families, and attacking the Supreme Court for ruling we aren’t meeting our constitutional responsibilities to fund public education.

    Nationally, Republicans have gerrymandered so many districts that they can maintain a majority in the U.S. House despite record disapproval ratings and losing the popular vote. That is not true in Washington state, however, where Republican senators must face accountability for surrendering to an extremist agenda in moderate swing districts.

    This year, the Republican senators who rode the Tea Party wave to victory are up for re-election. This political landscape, combined with an improving local economy and the success of Obamacare in Washington state, means Democrats here are on the offense in 2014 legislative races.

    The strongest pickup opportunity comes in the 48th District, a progressive district that includes Bellevue and Kirkland. Embattled and vulnerable Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom’s decision not to run gives Democrats a substantial advantage in this race. They have a popular and formidable candidate in Rep. Cyrus Habib. Republicans will be hard pressed to hang onto that seat, especially given the Senate Republicans’ track record of blocking progress on issues that are popular in this district — from the Reproductive Parity Act to transit funding and a working transportation package.  

    The next Democratic pickup opportunity comes in the 28th Legislative District, a blue collar swing district with a large military population south of Tacoma. In many ways this race is a mirror image of the special election in the 26th District last year: A popular and well-known House member is challenging a newly appointed senator in a challenging district for the incumbent. Despite a record-setting 2013 campaign in the 26th District that made up an early 20 percentage point deficit, Sen. Nathan Schlicher couldn’t overcome the name recognition of Rep. Jan Angel and lost by a slim margin.

    However, in the 28th this year the tables are turned as popular longtime Democratic Rep. Tami Green has stepped up to challenge Sen. Steve O'Ban. The incumbent O’Ban is a hardline social conservative who was appointed to this seat just last year. Green is a registered nurse and union member from a military family who has been an effective progressive member of House leadership. Green’s proven commitment to the community, name recognition, fundraising network and background as a health care leader make her a very strong challenger for Democrats in 2014.

    In the 45th District, which covers Redmond and Woodinville, incumbent Sen. Andy Hill eked out a narrow victory in the Republican wave of 2010. Now Hill faces a strong challenge from Democrat Matt Isenhower. Like Green and Habib, Isenhower has a great resume. He is a Navy veteran, Harvard MBA, businessman, and father of young kids. He’s already aggressively campaigning and raising money in this swing district and has a good chance of unseating Hill after the Republican budget chair failed to address the funding problems that undermine our education system. 

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    Posted Fri, May 9, 1:58 a.m. Inappropriate

    The Republican Senate's biggest failing was the transportation bill. Divided government can work -- if each house passes its version of the bill and a conference committee hashes out the differences. But when one house controlled by one party simply refuses to act, the system breaks down. Nothing happens, and the public at-large, citizens of both parties, all parties, are dis-served.

    The Democratic House passed its transportation bill, and the Republican Senate failed to act. It's time to get people in office who want to get things done. Aaron's right; it's time to vote out partisan obstructionists, and this year those are Senate Republicans.

    Posted Fri, May 9, 5:44 a.m. Inappropriate

    "Aaron's right; it's time to vote out partisan obstructionists, and this year those are Senate Republicans."

    Aaron's right? So the 30 years of Democrat monopoly rule in Olympia, King County and Seattle has produced results worth repeating? No.

    We have examples almost daily of the dangers of an uncheck majority in the policy suggestions coming from Inslee, Constantine and Murray. The real danger is allowing the Democrats to move forward without any checks and balances, or at least some elected body that will ask the tough questions and advocate for taxpayers. It isn't the Washington State Supreme Court, It isn't the AG's office..without any voices empowered to ask questions and demand answers, we are doomed to repeat the failures of the past, which is what Aaron is suggesting.


    Posted Fri, May 9, 8:06 a.m. Inappropriate

    Unfortunately, the Senate Republicans were not providing "checks and balances" as you suggest, they were shutting down the process of governing. If they had a transportation agenda, they should've moved it and let the process work -- that's where the checks and balances are. Just sitting on their thumbs and doing nothing -- that's not helping anything, even you and your agenda.

    Posted Fri, May 9, 8:58 a.m. Inappropriate

    Why would you move forward an agenda, when the Governor and the Democrats have already declared it a non-starter? Stopping a poorly thought out, expensive Transportation Bill from moving forward is a check and balance...not an obstruction. Don't worry though, I am certain Inslee and the Democrats will be back with a Transportation Bill even more expensive than the ones they had proposed last session. Maybe even throw in another run at the Income Tax to go along with a carbon tax and the new taxes being proposed by the Clean Air Agency, the Puget Sound Recovery folks.


    Posted Sat, May 10, 2:51 p.m. Inappropriate

    It's not as if they chose to not move their bill forward. The Republucans didn't have the votes in their own caucus to move their bill and pass it. The folks that didn't want a raise in taxes happening during their re-election got what they wanted, and the citizens got nothing.

    Mr Baker

    Posted Fri, May 9, 12:51 p.m. Inappropriate

    "30 years of Democrat monopoly rule in Olympia..."

    Tell us, exactly what 30-year time-frame are you talking about?

    Is it the last 30 years... Except for 2003-04 when Republicans controlled the Senate.

    Is it the last 30 years... Except for 1999-2001 when the House was evenly divided.

    30 years... Except for 1997-98 when the Republicans controlled the entire Legislature.

    Is it the last 30 years... Except for 1995-96 when Republicans controlled the House.

    Is it the last 30 years... Except for 1992 when Republicans controlled the Senate?


    Posted Fri, May 9, 8:20 p.m. Inappropriate

    How many Republican Governors in that time span? Does one chamber of the legislature and a Governor with a veto pen not equal control? Is that seriously the best defense of One Party Democrat rule you can mount?


    Posted Sat, May 10, 9:11 a.m. Inappropriate

    You claimed that the Democratic Party has had a 30-year monopoly, and I've simply pointed out that you don't know what you're talking about.

    And no, "one chamber of the legislature and a governor with a veto pen" DO NOT equal "control." It equals a stalemate with the party that controls the other chamber of the legislature since legislation needs to be passed by both chambers - a basic concept most of us learned in junior high school civics.

    Posted Sat, May 10, 12:09 p.m. Inappropriate

    I tell you what, you give me a Republican Governor and a Republican controlled House or Senate and we will see who get's their agenda through? Deal?

    You really intend to say that a party with a Governor and one chamber of the legislature doesn't equal control? You are joking right? I think your low grade Stainless is a bit tarnished.


    Posted Sun, May 11, 11:07 a.m. Inappropriate

    I'm curious; what is your source for the legislative history you cite?


    Posted Mon, May 12, 7:45 a.m. Inappropriate

    (http://ballotpedia.org/Washington_State_Legislature) though the same info is probably also verifiable via the Secretary of State, the Legislature, and other places.

    Posted Mon, May 12, 1:55 p.m. Inappropriate

    Thank you.


    Posted Fri, May 9, 6:02 a.m. Inappropriate

    Aaron and his organization certainly have strong connections with the Democrat Party in Washington State, acting as a front group.

    Here is a link to their board members for those not familiar with FUSE.



    Posted Fri, May 9, 6:02 a.m. Inappropriate

    Aaron and his organization certainly have strong connections with the Democrat Party in Washington State, acting as a front group.

    Here is a link to their board members for those not familiar with FUSE.



    Posted Fri, May 9, 6:05 a.m. Inappropriate

    Here are the profiles of staffers, including Aaron, to help understand
    who drives FUSE and policy letters like this op-ed.



    Posted Fri, May 9, 11:03 a.m. Inappropriate

    Given the fact the education funding went steadily down during successive Democratic majorities and the McCleary case was filed and ruled on during Democratic rule in Olympia it seems a stretch to say the solution to education funding is putting them back in power of both chambers.

    Posted Sun, May 11, 1:44 p.m. Inappropriate

    Cameron, the board members of FUSE seem like an experienced, talented group of people. I'm not sure how you expected anyone to react on reading their bios -- outrage? At what, precisely?


    Posted Tue, May 13, 12:02 p.m. Inappropriate

    I cannot help it if left wing activists, Unionists, Trial Lawyers and former Democrat staffers doesn't seem like a pattern to you. They are a front group for the Democrat Party.


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