Thursday Jolt: Democrats and Transit
The days' winners and losers.
Today's Winner Dana Laurent
In a brief statement, Jefferson County Democratic Party Chair Nancy Biery announced today that she's dropping out of the race to replace retiring Washington State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz.
Biery, a former U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell staffer, said: “I am officially withdrawing from the race for State Democratic Party Chair. While it’s clear there are many changes our party desperately needs to get back on solid ground, it’s my assessment that the status quo forces are unwilling to make those changes. I will not be endorsing another candidate in the race at this time.”
We called to get more on that "status quo forces .... unwilling to make those changes" line, but have not heard back.
Democrats (176 of them)—including two, a man and a woman, from each state legislative district and two from each county Democratic organization—will elect their new chair at a February 1 meeting of the Washington State Democratic Central Commiettee in Vancouver.
Coming from one of just two women in the field, Biery's announcement is a clear windfall for Win/Win Network ED and former Planned Parenthood lobbyist director Dana Laurent, the other woman who's running.
Laurent, 41, didn't go identity politics on us when we asked for her reaction to the news, though. After praising Biery's work for the party, she said simply that when she's out talking to the delegates across the state, they tell her they want someone with "the skills and experience to not only win elections, but to elect champions who will lead on our Democratic issues." She added: "And people know that you do this by building the grassroots infrastructure of the party."
Laurent has been endorsed by an impressive crew, including former state senate majority leader, former state Sen. Lisa Brown (D-3, Spokane). Other legislators who've endorsed her are: current Democratic state senate leader, Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-34, W. Seattle), state Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne), and state Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34, Burien, W. Seattle).
The other candidates are: Current state party spokesman Jaxon Ravens, Benton County party chair Jay Clough, and former party Executive Director from the 1990s, Jim Kainber.
Today's Winner: Transit Advocates
Even if the talks went the Democrats' way and increased transit spending, that would only mean a 90/10 split between roads and transit respectively.
Jolt hears there were no breakthroughs on the transportation package talks today in Olympia, where Democratic and Republican state legislative leaders (and Gov. Jay "Desperately Needs a Win" Inslee) are trying to bridge differences over the roads/transit split and the funding sources.
Primer here, but basically, the Democrats want more transit spending along the lines of a Democratic house package that passed earlier this year, while the Republican-controlled senate has, to the Democrats' consternation (i.e. Why are we negotiating with you if you don't have the votes?), not passed anything.
Why does today's non-news (discussions will reportedly pick up tomorrow) amount to a win for transit advocates? Because it means the talks might collapse. And that's good for transit advocates because even if the talks went the Democrats' way and increased transit spending, that would only mean a 90/10 split between roads and transit respectively. The carrot for Democrats (at least King County Democrats) in the package is a funding for King County Metro service.
However, King County Executive Dow Constantine has floated a Metro funding alternative that isn't attached to the hefty roads package coming out of the state. The sooner talks in Olympia die, local transit advocates believe, the sooner they can get to work on a local effort.