On Monday two Washington State Senators elected as Democrats  became Turncoats and turned control of the Washington State Senate over to the elected Republican minority. So much for party loyalty and adhering to the supposed principles and beliefs they ran on. The print edition of the Seattle Times headline says it all – “Senate power shifts into GOP hands“.  The two Democrats who bolted the Democratic Party are Rodney Tom of the 48th LD in Medina and Tim Sheldon from Mason County.

Yesterday culminated a month long process that was already in play and not a surprise. Calling themselves the Majority Coalition Caucus is a joke.  The GOP heavy “coalition” is comprised of the 23 Senators actually elected as Republicans and two Senators elected as Democrats but who have now joined with the Republicans to run the Senate.  This shift gave the new “majority” a 25/24 vote margin and the ability to take over.

Rodney Tom was originally a Republican who switched it appears now mostly in name only to the Democrats when he ran last time. Tom and Sheldon both benefited heavily personally in this power switch with Tom becoming the new “majority” leader and Sheldon the president pro tempore. Both Tom and Sheldon were involved in a similar power shift at the end of last year’s budget process in the Legislature.

Rodney Tom is up for election in two years and the Democrats in the 48th LD last week passed a resolution condemning Tom for his actions:

The following resolution was adopted by the 48th Legislative District Democrats by a vote of 30-8, including Senator Tom’s vote against.

–Phil Kouse, 2013-2014 Chair

State Senate Leadership Rightfully Belongs
to the Elected Democratic Majority

Whereas

the 48th District Democrats, according to our bylaws, exist “to contribute to the growth, development and influence of the Democratic Party” and to “support … those candidates who, by their records and reputations, are in general agreement with the [party] platform;” and

Whereas

State Senator Rodney Tom was elected as a Democrat in 2006 and 2010 with the endorsement of, and financial and volunteer support from, the 48th District Democrats and other Democratic organizations and elected officials; and

Whereas

Senator Tom has announced his intentions to oppose ratification of the Senate leadership and committee chairs chosen by the elected Democratic majority, instead installing Republicans to chair important committees, including Healthcare, K-12 Education, Judiciary, and Ways & Means; and

Whereas

Republican control of the Senate would be a barrier to enacting legislation that advances Democratic goals and values, such as funding for K-12 education, broadened access to higher education, mental health counseling, insurance parity for reproductive care, and implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act (“Obamacare”);

Therefore, be it resolved

that State Senator Rodney Tom is advised to vote to ratify the leadership chosen by the elected Democratic majority caucus; and

Be it further resolved

that by failing to vote for this leadership slate, Senator Tom will be thwarting Democratic values and the will of the people, rendering himself ineligible for our future endorsement and support under our bylaws.

Adopted this 9th day of January 2013, by the 48th District Democrats

A similar resolution is being considered by the King County Democrats and it is expected that the Washington State Democrats will likewise condemn Rodney Tom when they meet the beginning of February. Rodney Tom’s actions have pretty much guaranteed that if and when he runs for re-election in 2014 that this seat will be hotly contested. Likewise Democrats statewide will need to make a concerted effort to try and pick up other Senate seats to ensure that they have a real Democratic majority.

Between now and then don’t expect much to get done by the legislature on raising new revenue or repealing unneeded and costly tax loopholes.  If action is to be taken in these areas it will have to be undertaken through an initiative from the people or at best a referendum by the legislature.  The problem is that Republicans are so knee jerk anti-revenue, cut government only, that things may well get worse before they get better for the state budget and the state economy.

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