Why so few Dante scholars in the Democratic-controlled state senate? In Dante's Inferno, the ninth and final circle of hell is Cocytus, or treachery. And on Friday, senate Republicans, with a boost from some apostate Democrats, employed something called the "Ninth Order" to maneuver and ultimately pass the minority-Republican budget. Coincidence?
"Democratic leaders on Saturday treated the GOP takeover of the Senate budget like a bad dream," the Seattle Times' Andrew Garber writes. "Senate Republicans, with the help of three conservative Democrats, seized control Friday and passed their own budget proposal — one far different from the majority party — by a 25-24 vote."
Senate Republicans deserve plaudits for a brilliant tactical magoozle (benefitting from those defector-members of the Democratic Roadkill Caucus.) Nevertheless, Republicans should be careful what they wish for. As Garber writes, "Net cuts include $44 million to K-12 schools and $30 million to higher education, according to nonpartisan staff. The Democratic budget contained no education cuts." Do Republicans want to be pegged as the pro-business, anti-education party? Doesn't that run counter to governor-in-waiting Rob McKenna's agenda to bolster higher-ed as a vehicle for economic growth and social mobility?
The Roadkill Caucus' namesake may have been self-fulfilling. The iconoclastic middle-roaders could soon be roadkill themselves. The fracture emerged over the weekend as Roadkill senators Brian Hatfield and Steve Hobbs split with Rodney Tom and Jim Kastama over the Republican budget (the latter two siding with the Republicans.) The attendant press releases made it sound like more than a family squabble.
"In the last couple of years, the Roadkillers have been a force to be reckoned with. Saying they were tired of getting 'run over,' they banded together and demanded a bipartisan budget in the Senate last year. This year, they've been calling for a long list of 'reforms,' designed to bend what they call the state's 'cost curve,'" Austin Jenkins writes in the Washington Ledge. "The question now is whether we've just seen the death of the Roadkill Caucus or if this is just — pun intended — a bump in the road?"
Mitt Romney, who won Washington's Republican caucuses on Saturday, may have benefitted from a rising tide of moderates as much as a mobilized Mormon vote. The results echo the 2004 Democratic caucuses when conventional wisdom had Howard Dean in the lead (much like those who bet on Santorum or Paul this year.) Restive moderates, fearing an outlier or unelectable nominee, determined to show up for John Kerry.
"The strongest region for Romney was the Eastside in King County. Mitt seemed to fit like a political glove for a majority of the 130 or so Republican caucus-goers at Highland Middle School on Saturday, with Paul showing that he has a considerable following in Washington," the Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly writes. "Paul has yet to win a primary or caucus, but did place second in both the Minnesota and Iowa caucuses."
Washington's new 1st Congressional district has been euphemistically termed "diverse." That's one way to describe a demographic of rednecks and blue-bloods, country clubbers and country denizens. The eventual winner, representing a region that former Sen. Slade Gorton called the most evenly divided Congressional district in the United States, may need to be a politcal shape shifter. Very different constituents with very different agendas.
As the Herald's Jerry Cornfield writes, "Those responsible for the once-a-decade redrawing of boundaries converted the 1st District from an urban safe haven for a liberal Democrat to a mix of farmland and suburbia from the Canadian border to Medina, where partisans are equally divided — and where Republicans can win."
Lastly, the politics of snow removal may decide a mayoral race, this time in Anchorage. As the Anchorage Daily News reports, "Anchorage Assemblyman Paul Honeman, who is trying to unseat Mayor Dan Sullivan in the April 3 city election, says the city's response to this year's snow overload shows the mayor is a poor manager, more interested in cutting the size of government than providing adequate service. It's a major theme of his campaign." Deja vu all over again?
Seattle Times, "State Republican senators pass own budget proposals"
Washington Ledge, "The End of the Roadkill Caucus?"
Seattlepi.com, "Romney wins, Paul and Santorum fight for second"
The Herald, Washington's new 1st congressional district"
Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage snow removal gets political"