Morning Fizz: Catching Up With Changing Demographics
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring the race to be the new state rep from the 43rd and the new Democratic Party chair.
1. Earlier this week, the immigrant rights group OneAmerica Votes endorsed former Planned Parenthood political director Dana Laurent in her run to be the new Washington State Democratic Party Chair. (Longtime chair Dwight Pelz announced earlier this year that he's retiring early next year.)
There's some important symbolism here. As the Democratic Party continues to outpoll the GOP election after election among minority voters—as well as with women, and younger voters—the leadership ranks in the party still looks GOPesque.
By endorsing Laurent, a young woman, over the other main contenders—former U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell aide and Jefferson County Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Biery and former state party executive director (in the 90s and early 2000s), Jim Kainber—OneAmerica Votes is trying to formalize the Democratic Party's strength on the ground with new voters within its leadership.
OneAmerica Votes' endorsement came this week with the following statement from OneAmerica Votes' board president Sudha Nandagopal (bolds ours):
Dana has demonstrated a strong commitment to ensuring the political landscape in Washington State catches up with changing demographics. She has urged and often guided the efforts of the political establishment to invest in both short and long-term strategies to mobilize and engage immigrant and refugee communities, which in turn strengthens our democracy and all of our communities.
OneAmerica Votes is a major driver on two key Democratic priority bills in Olympia, the voting rights act (which would allow disenfranchised communities that can prove discriminatory voting patterns in at-large districts to switch to district voting) and the DREAM Act (which would allow students with undocumented parents to receive financial aid for college).
2. Though perhaps not as idealistic: Speaking of party outreach, Seattle's 43rd District Democrats (Capitol Hill, Broadway, Madison Park, Montlake, University District, Wallingford, Fremont, and downtown), has expanded its active membership by a stunning 80 percent since August, going from 103 precinct committee officers to 185.
The sudden expansion—legislative districts often struggle with having active party organizers in all their precincts (the 43rd still has 24 open PCO seats)—coincides with 43rd District state Sen. Ed Murray's election as mayor, which has opened up a state house seat; 43rd district state Rep. Jamie Pedersen is a shoo-in to fill Murray's senate seat.
"The final results show that Tim Eyman's I-517 was defeated with 62.71 percent of the vote, the biggest-ever defeat of a Tim Eyman initiative."
Precinct Committee Officers are responsible for picking who fills legislative vacancies—and, looking for supporters, two of the candidates, 43rd District chair Scott Forbes and Pedersen-endorsed Brady Walkinshaw, have reportedly gone on a PCO organizing tear.
We should say: 29-year-old Walkinshaw, who is gay and Cuban-American, has focused on recruiting younger and minority voters.
3. After the 39 county election commissions certified this year's election results yesterday, Democratic party apparatchik and relentless anti-Tim Eyman activist Andrew Villeneuve gleefully pointed out some Eyman trivia: "The final results show that Tim Eyman's I-517, one of two statewide initiatives on the ballot, was defeated with 62.71 percent of the vote, which is the biggest-ever defeat of a Tim Eyman initiative, percentage-wise."
(I-517 would have eased oversight rules on initiative signature gathering.)
In his press release, Villeneuve added: "In overwhelmingly rejecting I-517, the people of Washington have reaffirmed that the purpose of the Seventh Amendment to our state Constitution was to create an initiative process, not an initiative business."