Friday, July 15, 2005

"Strategery" -- think war not battle

On the Pajama Jihad blog, Nathan Azinger, a young, bright and engaging Pierce County Republican (which is why I read his stuff), suggested that - contrary to conventional wisdom - of the two Democrat 26th District State Representatives, Pat Lantz, the (very) senior of the two is actually the more vulnerable. That freshman State Representative Derek Kilmer (D - Gig Harbor), in Nathan's eyes, is less vulnerable is because Derek voted very close to his district beliefs during some key votes during his first session. And, according to Nathan's experience, Derek answers his mail better than 26th District Senator Bob Oke (R - Port Orchard). While the latter is comparing apples to oranges, Bob Oke is doing yeoman's work in the Senate - his perceived mail responsiveness notwithstanding. He devotes lots of floor time (and votes) while in pain from chemotherapy. That is public service way beyond the call of duty.

I agree with Nathan that Pat Lantz is actually the more vulnerable in 2006. She is carrying around too much ultra-liberal baggage from her years in the House and from this year's votes especially. More importantly, she is Chair of the House Judiciary Committee and is the PRIME reason we have not taken even a single step in getting real lawsuit abuse reform in this state. (Well, she is a trial lawyer and gets a lot of Trial Lawyers' Association campaign money, but I am sure that it is merely coincidence.) More pertinent, she won her seat against newcomer Republican Matt Rice in 2004 by only 361 votes (0.5%) mostly from Kitsap. And the Libertarian candidate got 1,792 votes. Where would those votes have gone had there been no Libertarian? And in a Presidential year, the Kitsap side of the 26th District produces 2000 more votes than the Pierce side...and Kitsap votes more Democrat and Pierce more Republican. In the off year elections like 2006, the reverse is true. So if we work at it, Pat Lantz' House seat will be a Republican pick up in 2006. Bye-bye law suit abuse.

What about Derek? Derek is an attractive, likable, bright young legislator that the Democrats were lucky to recruit. His fiscal instincts are much more conservative that the Democrat party generally, but his social agenda is more liberal than the district. As much as Republicans may agree with his NO vote on the 9.5 cent gas tax and on overturning I-601 spending limits, it is the first vote of the session that makes the difference. That vote? Who will be Speaker of the House. Recall from your high school civics class: the Speaker is the linchpin of the House. It is the Speaker who chooses the Committee Chairs and it is the Committee Chairs who determine, alone, what bills are heard and which are allowed to be voted on. And even when a bill passes out of a committee, it is the Speaker alone who determines what bills will reach the floor for a vote and in what order. (No, you say. It is the Rules Committee who decides. Well, yes and no. Yes, they do choose what bills are "pulled" to the floor, but, no, it is the Speaker alone who decides what bills they can even look at to "pull").

Just as important, Democrat Legislators are given a "pass" (allowed to vote the district not the party line) if there are otherwise enough Democrat votes to get a piece of legislation passed. This year, for example, Derek, Dawn Morrell (D-25, Puyallup), and Tami Green (D-28, Lakewood) were allowed to vote against the gas tax and dumping I-601 because there were enough votes in the Democrat caucus to pass those two bills and the Democrat leadership knew that if any of those legislators voted against their district they would be in trouble. But this only works when the Democrats have a large majority. We need to replace Derek, however nice a guy he is, because his first vote, for Speaker, is VERY Seattle liberal and way out of step with the 26th District.

Now is the time to think about the war, to think about an overall game plan to gain the majority in the Washington State House of Representatives - and who we have to do it. Now is not the time to worry about the tactics of the battle like where to put signs and what bills we need to support. We need to find great candidates to face Derek and Pat (Beckie Kranz and Matt Rice come to mind).

Are there any other credible candidates out there?

My $00.02 offered with perfect 20/20 hindsight.



At 16 July, 2005 22:10, Blogger Steve said...

One of Nathan's complaints was that finding Republicans was difficult for interested youths. You might mention in these blogs the phone number and email address of the PCRP and the resources on line: the Young Republicans, Mainstream, District clubs and etc.. All your philosophy is great but practical advice and useful information is better.

You, like so many in the party, need to quit thinking like the party. We have core party principles and we need to disseminate them and let folks know how we approach government and welcome those who are like-minded. However, in this state that will only be about 30 percent of the folks and they are probably going to vote for an R, no matter what. Another 30 percent are going to consistently lean toward the Democrats’ philosophy. Those we really need to address are the 40 percent who are independent and who don’t give a whit about D or R but want someone who will listen to their problems, help them with their issues and make their life better. They don’t want to know why you think Derek voted for something, he did vote that way, he tried to make their life better, now what are you going to do . . . whine or listen to them?

Your statement: “. . . it is the first vote of the session that makes the difference. That vote? Who will be Speaker of the House. . . “ is party thinking. Come out in 26th and stop the first 100 folks you come to and ask them who the Speaker is, reckon three will know? They don’t give a damn about the Speaker, they will probably never see him in person (even if they visit the legislature during session), never meet him and don’t know or care what he does. They do know Derek, Pat and Bob and they know Lois, these folks talk to them, visit them and vote on their issues (sometimes). If they are ineffective, have their own agenda or don’t address the district issues then, like Lois, they get voted out of office.

If we are to win the war, we need leaders who are interested in the district, not their own agenda and political future. We need leaders who are trustworthy and do not lie to their supporters or the voters. We need leaders who have positive, practical ideas for the district and the state. We need leaders who know the district and its needs and interests and will represent the district, not the party, when they get elected.

If we continue to tell them we know what is best for them and override or circumvent their initiatives, challenge their votes in court, approve projects they vote against, trample their property and personal rights and generally ignore them, then we will continue in the minority and continue to wonder what the hell happened. And wonder why can’t our “great” candidates win.

At 16 July, 2005 22:14, Blogger Steve said...

Sorry, somenow the PCRP site address did not show.

I'll try again:

At 22 July, 2005 00:29, Blogger Nathan said...

A couple notes:

1. I never specifically mentioned response to mail in my post. That was brought up by Cydney (a.k.a. Kiddo), another bright and engaging fellow 26er.

Oke does deserve a little slack because of his health problems, but her point really ought to be taken to heart: representing the interests of his constituents is the primary duty of a legislator. In order to do that, there needs to be communication between the legislator and his constituents. That communication ought to go both ways.

Never underestimate the power of a polite and thoughtful reply.

2. While I agree with you that it would be preferable from the standpoint of Republican interests to have two Republican Representatives in the 26th district, there is still the matter of setting priorities.

In a war, not every position is of like value. Some are of strategic importance and must be taken at all cost, others can be bypassed completely. Many fall somewhere in between. The trick is to set priorities and then check them off from the top down.

Lantz is at the top of my priorty list. Kilmer is lower. It would be ideal to defeat both, but if I had to lose one race or the other, I'd rather lose to Kilmer.

3. Not a comment per se, more a question. You say that Kilmer's social agenda is more liberal than the district. He's certainly a social liberal (I recall a rather memorable NARAL mailing in which they managed to spell Lois McMahan's name wrong), but on what do you base your assertion that this is farther to the left than the district as a whole?


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