Republicans have picked up 12 seats in the state House since 2008, when Democrats enjoyed a whopping 63-35 margin in the state House. This year, Republican Teri Hickel’s victory over Democrat appointee Carol Gregory in the 30th Legislative District’s special election reduced the Democrats’ majority to 50-48, placing a GOP take over of the House well within reach in 2016 – if not sooner. Democrats’ steady erosion of seats in the House ranks as our 7th least underreported story of the year.
Republicans won the state Senate in 2014. They are close to winning the House in 2016. So, why have Republican numbers surged at the expense of Democrats? More than anything, Republicans did a better job of finding candidates that reflect the views of voters in their districts. Democrat candidates have become increasingly out-of-touch as the party shifts further and further to the Left to accommodate its downtown Seattle special interest donors.
For the past 13 years, Frank Chopp has served as state Speaker of the House. Chopp served three years as co-speaker before that when the House was in a 49-49 partisan tie. That means a liberal Seattle career politician has held the House gavel since 1999. During his tenure, Chopp has managed to position himself as arguably the most powerful Democrat in our state.
By every indication, Chopp’s tenure has managed to push the state Democrat Party further to the left by recruiting candidates who identify with the “liberal theology of Seattle politics.” Chopp’s out-of-touch recruitment of political candidates has inadvertently helped Republicans in their push to win more seats in the state House.
Republicans have attracted more voters with an agenda focused on smaller government and small business. It’s what voters are responding to. Democrats continue to focus on growing government and pleasing special interest donors—so much so that they willfully ignore voters’ wishes.
This legislative session, it will only take one Democrat member to restore some balance to the state House by joining with the Republicans to create a coalition caucus and force Chopp to share the gavel again. If two Democrats decided that their party’s Seattle-style liberal politics no longer represent them or their constituents, they could put Chopp back in the minority for the first time since 1998.
As far as depending on Chopp and his fellow Seattle-style liberals to change their tune, that isn’t likely to happen. When Gregory lost to Hickel, Democrat State Representative Reuven Carlyle of Seattle and the lefty activists over at Fuse Washington blamed the result on low voter turnout. By pointing to low voter turnout, instead of an inability to convince voters to support extreme policies, Chopp and his fellow Seattle-style liberals chose to ignore reality and continue pushing for higher taxes and big government.
Voters have sent a clear message to Democrats and their special interest supporters. They are fed up with the Left’s agenda, specifically the constant push for new taxes.
But, that’s a message the Left refuses to accept.
Accepting that message would mean Democrats would have to give up on their 2016 plan to introduce a state income tax via initiative. Democrats already have to contend with the fact that Washington voters have said “no” to an income tax many times before. It’s much easier to excuse the losses on something like low voter turnout than to accept that voters reject your party’s unimaginative “solutions.”
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