Choosing among Candidates for Washington State Representative from the 4th Legislative District
With 12 candidates for Washington State Representative from my legislative district, the 4th, I decided to take a different approach to figuring out who to vote for instead of party affiliation (or not). I asked 6 questions that pertain to actually governing, not (strictly) about positions on issues. I eliminated candidates as I went.
Is the candidate serious about governing?
I have no interest in voting for someone who will go to Washington who is not prepared to actually govern. I expect my legislator to participate in debate and discussion, to propose and modify bills, to compromise – in other words to govern.
Clint Didier: If he believes in limited government as it states on his webpage, why is he running to become part of it?
Kevin Midbust: Citing his win of his second grade class president as his elected experience didn’t strike me as being serious to govern.
Gordon Allen Pross: I was unable to find coherent positions from Pross’ position page, interviews, or webpage, with the exception of his single proposal regarding tax reform.
Gavin Seim: Running for a political office on a platform of “no more politicians” didn’t reassure me he was serious about governing.
Richard Wright: Wright seemed pretty centrist, and respectful of others and the process. That made me wonder if that’s actually exactly what we need. However, the lack of detail on issues on his candidate page or campaign web page made it impossible for me to say he was serious about governing.
Is the candidate respectful of those in office?
If a candidate can’t be respectful of those with whom he disagrees from the sidelines, I have little confidence they’ll be respectful in the difficult business of governing. Also, if a candidate can’t show respect to others, why would they expect to be respected themselves?
Glenn Stockwell: His campaign webpage has every imaginable conspiracy and hateful theme about President Obama.
Clint Didier, Kevin Midbust, Gordon Allen Pross, Gavin Seim.
Richard Wright seemed respectful of those in office and of the political process, but the lack of positions on issues was problematic.
Does the candidate have prior experience in governing or education that suggests potential leadership?
Josh Ramirez, Tony Sandoval: Both candidates seemed serious about governing and were respectful of those in office and of the political process, but I questioned whether their prior experience or educational background would be adequate to be successful in the national political arena.
Clint Didier, Kevin Midbust, Gordon Allen Pross, Gavin Seim, Glen Stockwell.
Does the Candidate Appear to Act Free of Special Interest Bias?
Dan Newhouse signed the Grover Norquist pledge. I share and admire the position taken by George Cicotte who said of the Norquist pledge:
A true leader would never sign a special interest pledge or bow to a lobbyist’s claims or demands — a true leader answers only to the voters.
Governing requires good faith and compromise. If I vote for a candidate, I expect him/her to exercise both of my behalf as one of his/her constituents. Grover Norquist can take up his views with his elected representative, and not coerce mine. And if a candidate for office in my district can be coerced by Grover Norquist, what other special interests will they be vulnerable to?
Are the Candidate’s Positions Consistent?
Janea Holmquist: Her position statement says,
Senator Janea Holmquist has never voted for a tax increase on WA families!! Janea protects you, your wallet and your rights! Holmquist sponsored Initiative 1053 (Taxpayer Protection Act requiring a 2/3 Legislative vote to raise taxes) stopping billions in proposed taxes. Janea saved Fair and 4-H funding, after the Gregoire Administration tried to eliminate it.
This is an example of adopting inconsistent positions. Judging from her candidate statement, as a Senator, Holmquist would not vote for tax increases, leaving the executive (Governor Gregoire) to cut programs due to lack of funds. But when the programs getting cut are things that she cares about (the Fair and 4H) Holmquist “saved” them. And complains about Gregoire making program cuts. If you support cutting revenue, I find it hypocritical to complain about cuts in services and programs. Balance and compromise are required.
In an interview, Holmquist was asked “What should the federal government do to complete the cleanup of Hanford?” She answered, “Fund it without raising taxes or the level of government spending.” The only way this is a defensible position to me is if the candidate makes specific recommendations for what programs ought to be de-emphasized in order to complete the cleanup. As above, balance is required between government priorities on behalf of the tax payer and how revenues are produced and spent.
Are the Candidate’s Positions Realistic and Practical?
Dan Newhouse: The candidate’s campaign webpage says,
Obamacare is a failure. Because of this law, Central Washington residents are dealing with more government bureaucracy, cancelled health plans, higher premiums, Medicare cuts, loss of doctors, and even job losses. I will fight to replace Obamacare with a health care plan that actually works for doctors, patients and the economy.
George Cicotte: The candidate’s Contract with Eastern Washington has as its first item to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In it he states the Affordable Care Act
offers false promises of coverage few doctors will take, insecurity in the middle class, and cronyism privilege at the top. We need to replace the president’s failed health care reform with policies that put power back in the hands of patients and doctors, creating transparency and accountability in pricing.
My direct personal experience is at odds with the positions of these candidates. When I signed up for a policy under the ACA, I had more choices of coverage than the choices available to me under my previous employer’s subsidized benefits plan; I was able to keep my health care team; and the policy I selected under the ACA is better for me than my previous employer’s subsidized plan (e.g. I can get prescriptions at my local pharmacy instead of only through the mail via a pharmacy that doesn’t have stores in Washington state). Also, the ACA is the law of the land. The Affordable Care Act has reduced the number of Americans who are uninsured from 20% in summer 2013 to 15% in spring 2014, exceeding initial projections. Over 9 million Americans who couldn’t afford health insurance before the ACA was implemented are now insured. Hospitals are reporting that charity care has been reduced – reducing the need to pass on those costs to paying patients. Free clinics are closing after successfully helping their clients obtain health insurance through the ACA. It is unrealistic to propose throwing out altogether a law that has helped millions of Americans obtain insurance who were not insured previously. The process of governing includes continuous processes of improvement, adjustment and compromise – good legislative policy, realistic legislative policy is to modify existing laws as necessary, not throw them out altogether.
- Seems serious about governing.
- Appears to be generally respectful of those in office.
- Has experience that suggests he’ll do well in DC. The fact that he has been a staffer is especially pertinent to me – I think it will be valuable. He’s had to work with other Congressional staffers, that’s where the nitty gritty of compromise and hard work happens. And I don’t think he’ll arrive in DC with a prideful, diva mentality.
- I don’t see any particular issues with special interest bias.
- Generally, his positions seem realistic to me, except for maybe the one about reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, but I think he’ll learn quickly in DC whether or not that really makes sense (hint: no).
Ok, where’s my ballot?