Why the WASTATE Democratic Party Loses Elections

Every poll shows WASTATE as BLUE. Yet the Democratic Party here loses elections that should be won. Why?

The obvious example is the legislature.  We are a blue state where the legislature swings equally to the right or the left with each election.  The result is chaos like the McCleary court  decision where the legislature is being fined $100,000-a-day for not funding our schools   

GOP vs Dem messageThe McCleary decision is not the worst example.  At least three Congressional seats in our state are flippable ..  in each of these seats  a good blue candidate has a real chance of taking the seat away from a weak Republican  .. enough fragile red Districts to turn our delegation from a 4/10  seat GOP minority to a tiny minority.

This will not happen in Districts 3, 5, or 9. One of those seats, is currently held by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Trump Republican who is the fourth ranking member of the GOP leadership. Joe Pakootas,  her opponent, is a highly accomplished entrepreneur, the former chief of the Colville Tribe , and a man who is likely to become a national leader if he has the chance.  So far Joe has received no support from the state party. 

An even worse example is the current election for State Treasurer.  Three excellent Democrats ran against each other.  There was not a hint of guidance from the party or from our leaders.  The result?   Two Republicans will run against each other in the final.

Part of the Dems’ problem is a lack of interest of most Washington liberals in party organization.  We have huge numbers of highly successful liberals in business, technology and academia but the small community of party activists here is a mix of doctrinaire activists,  representatives of traditional .. and shrinking .. unions,  or political junkies.

The result is a feckless Democratic party.  A good example of what could be is the current election for President.  We select our candidate by caucuses.  Bernie blew Hillary out of the water in caucuses even though she blew him away in the popular vote.  How did this happen?  The folks behind the Bernie campaign showed great organization, bringing out their forces to control the caucus votes.   Even though Clinton represents the choice of the largely moderate party, the impartial, leaderless party was impotent.

Imagine the same sort of effort behind a candidate like Joe Pakootas!    

I place most of the blame on our elected leaders.  Political parties need management just as much as companies, universities, families and the army.  These very different organizations have one thing in common .. the need for  leaders. In WASTATE the Dem Party is leaderless. Even Patty Murray, out great Senator, and my choice to leader the Senate if the Dems regain the majority, shows almost zero presence on the ground in the State.  The people who could provide that, e.g. Senator Murray, Governor Inslee or even former elected leaders like Ron Sims,  are hands off. That costs us!

The obvious need is to bring more of the leadership behind Bernie into the party structure.

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  1. Jonathan Shapiro #

    There is a saying about computer science that where every other field stands on the shoulders of their giants, in computer science we stand on their toes. It’s more true than anyone likes to admit, and I think the same might sometimes be said of Democrats.

    Love them or hate them, one thing the Republicans are very good at is organization, they have differences just like Democrats do, but much of the time they find a way to pull together in ways that we do not. Then there is the issue that most politicians don’t seem to see politics as a team sport.

    Stephen is right. We need a greater degree of coordination, and that’s a leadership function.

    That said, a state level organization analogous to the Progressive Caucus might go a long way toward helping us coordinate. I mention the Progressive Caucus because it stands outside the leadership structure, providing coordination by the simple expedient of making sure everybody has access to the same appropriately collated and organized facts.

    I wonder if DFA might be interested to support something like that here in WA?

  2. 2

    I have thought the same thing. There is a lack of leadership. Frank Chopp does not use his bully pulpit to promote D positions, even though his seat is safe. With leadership, the party could promote issues that electeds won’t touch, such as tax reform, improving labor laws and investing in transportation. The legislature seems to hope for initiatives that will save them from hard negotiations. I wish that Bernie supporters would turn toward state politics to fight for raising the minimum wage, against corporate tax breaks, and for a fairer tax system.

  3. theaveeditor #

    I would go further, When we came here state Dem politics were led by Magnusson and Jackson.
    Even at the so called no partisan leve .. we need a lot better leadership in recruiting candidates for offcie.