In a never seen before move in Washington State politics, the nearly deadlocked Senate (26 D / 23 R) saw a power switch last week.
Two Democrats in the Washington state Senate abandoned their caucus Monday, vowing to work with Republicans to control the chamber and push conservative budgeting principles.
Democratic Sens. Rodney Tom of Bellevue and Tim Sheldon of Potlatch said the bipartisan cooperation would drive better policies. Under the new plan, Republicans will chair six committees, including the panel that controls the state budget, while Democrats will control another six committees. The parties will split control of three other panels, though Sheldon is on two of those committees.
“This is not about power. This is not about control,” said Tom, who will rise to serve as the new majority leader. “This is about governing in a collaborative manner.”
Indeed, it is. The only factor that has slowed Washington’s pace to join California in general-insolvency-atopia has been the Eastern half of the state (and some of the Northern and Southern parts of Western Washington) refusal to send any more Democrats to the state Senate. The only reason our budget deficit is not being read in the hundreds of billions is because the Republicans have been sitting down, turning their heads and crossing their arms in refusal to do anything as stupid as pass a Democrat written budget.
Some Democrats are acting rather high school clique-ish about this new proposition.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Washington State Democrats disowned the two defecting senators.
Dwight Pelz said he’s long viewed Sheldon as a Republican, but the party had invested money to re-elect Tom this year. Pelz says that won’t happen again, and the party will draft a candidate to oust him next time.
“This is a decision by Rodney Tom to switch parties back again,” Pelz said. “Rodney Tom is a Republican now.”
Tom was initially elected as a Republican but switched parties in 2006. Pelz said he believes the latest move was simply a way for Tom to fulfill his personal ambitions.
It’s called Politics, Senator Pelz. Look it up.
Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler said the new approach is the sort of cooperation the people of Washington and the country want to see.
“I look forward to showing you that the Senate can put politics aside and provide a responsible, bipartisan approach to the coming session,” Schoesler said.
There has not been a Republican held Senate or House for as long as I can remember. That is how we got to where we are. Let us all hope that they decide to do something smart in the not too distant future.