When liberal Seattle Democrat and Speaker of the House Frank Chopp faced his socialist challenger Jess Spear (a protégé of Kshama Sawant) during the 2014 election cycle, he faced criticism over just how few far-Left issues he has been able to push out of the state Legislature lately. Of course, Chopp defended himself the way Chopp always defends himself – he blamed Republicans.
The world according to Chopp is that his lack of achievement to the problems facing our state is the fault of Republicans.
Never mind the fact that Democrats have been in control of Washington State for decades (Chopp himself being the state’s longest-serving House speaker, since 2002) or the fact that Chopp has absolutely no qualms about taking credit for popular Republican policies he desperately fought against—like freezing and then reducing college tuition.
Despite his best attempts to defend himself, Chopp failed to explain why state House Democrats have—in fact—not passed their far-Left agenda. In 2014, Democrats baffled liberal onlookers by failing to pass a bill that sought to increase the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2017, after the city of Seattle had already started its process towards $51 an hour.
And who could forget how Chopp helped solidify our green governor’s irrelevance as a leader? Inslee’s cap-and-tax bill at the start of this year only garnered 37 co-sponsors (all Democrats) in the Democrat-controlled state House—defining the lack of support Inslee’s featured policy had even among liberal members of his own party.
In fact, there were not enough Democrat co-sponsors in the House to pass Inslee’s proposal out of the Transportation Committee itself (only 11 supporters of 25 members), let alone pass it on the floor. That Chopp did not even bother to try and twist arms for Inslee’s top priority proves just what he really thinks of our green governor.
Making matters worse, Democrats—due to Chopp’s poor leadership and refusal to give up on their tax-raising policies —forced the 2015 legislative session to drag into July. It wa s clear when the session started in January that Chopp and his fellow Democrat House leaders could not get 50 votes on the tax-raising budget they desperately wanted. In other words, they could not convince enough members of their own party to go on record voting for historic tax hikes.
The site of several top House Democrats jumping ship in favor other jobs is another piece of evidence of Chopp’s failing leadership skills. At the end of the 2015 legislative session, Democrat State Representative Ross Hunter—the lead House budget writer—announced that he would leave the Legislature to join Jay Inslee’s administration as Director of the Department of Early Learning. Hunter, who had been a member of the state House for 13 years, began his new job September 8th. It certainly says something – and not something positive – when a leader like Hunter would rather have Inslee as his boss than Chopp.
Another one of the House’s budget “whizzes” taking his leave is Reuven Carlyle—chair of the House Finance Committee— who announced his intention to seek appointment to the state Senate seat held by Jeanne Kohl-Welles, who won a seat on the King County Council this year. Indeed, during the 2015 legislative session, arguably no other legislator shouted louder for a state capital gains income tax than Carlyle. The Seattle Democrat went to great lengths to champion the income tax, partnering with far-left groups to pull ridiculous publicity stunts. Of course, in the end, despite the Democrat-controlled state House led by Chopp, all his efforts were for naught – the income tax failed to even be brought up for a vote.
Most recently, first-term Democrat Rep. Brady Walkinshaw apparently decided he would end his elected career rather than continue under the leadership of Chopp. Walkinshaw recently announced he would take on the political suicicde mission of challenging Congressman-for-Life Jim McDermott.
Part of the problem with Chopp’s tenure as Speaker is the way he has pushed the state Democrat Party further to the left by recruiting candidates who identify with his “liberal theology of Seattle politics.” As Shift recently pointed out, Chopp’s out-of-touch recruitment of political candidates has inadvertently helped Republicans in their push to win more seats in the state House.
Bad for Democrats, good for Republicans. And remarkably under-reported by the media throughout 2015.