New senate majority leader Rodney Tom in his new office

As expected, the state senate voted today, with two of the 26 Democrats joining the 23 Republicans, to put state Sen. Rodney Tom's (D-48) "Majority Coalition Caucus" in power, displacing the Democrats and rejecting a Democratic power-sharing proposal.

The remaining 23 Democrats (they actually have 24, but have not filled one vacancy yet) tried to head off the MCC takeover with a proposal to have co-chairs in all committees and an equal split between caucus members in all committees. Calling it "more reflective of the situation we find ourselves in [24 Democrats and 23 Republicans, plus the two renegade Democrats]," Seattle Sen. David Frockt (D-46), who proposed the Democrats' hail Mary play, called for a "true power-sharing arrangement."

Murray said having the conservatives in control "doesn't reflect the state."  He concluded: "We are a Democratic state."

Senators rejected the proposal in favor of Tom's proposal, which stacks a couple of important committees—Ways and Means and Rules, for example, against the Democrats—and leaves most committees with sole chairs from Tom's new caucus.

As we reported earlier today, a trio of Democrats agreed to chair some committees in Tom's setup, though they also voted against Tom's proposal in general, opting instead for Frockt's losing Democratic proposal.

In voting against Tom's setup, Seattle Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36) called his coalition "a coup" and—riffing off the derisive GOP term for moderates (RINO's, Republicans in Name Only)—she called today's deal "BINO," or "Bi-partisan in name only."

Other than Tom's opening pitch for the MCC proposal, the GOP didn't say much during the hearing. Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-24), one of many Democrats to give a speech against Tom's proposal, mocked his Democratic side's losing gambit, joking: "The side with the votes doesn't give a lot of speeches."

After the vote, the displaced Democratic senate majority leader, and now Democratic minority leader, Sen. Ed Murray, seconded Khol-Welles' point about faux bipartisanship. 

Referring to the Rules Committee—which sends bills to the floor—(and is stacked in favor of the "Majority Coalition Caucus" 13-8), Murray said, "If I can't get a bill to the floor ... if I'm not allowed to move bills... that's not bipartisanship."

Sen. minority leader Ed Murray

Murray said having the conservatives in control "doesn't reflect the state."  He concluded: "We are a Democratic state."

Murray was referring to the last two elections, which supposedly put a 26-vote Democratic majority in place. More specifically, he noted the 2012 election, which (in addition to Democratic sweeps from president to U.S. senator, to governor, to attorney general) Murray said affirmed "liberal measures." He was, of course, talking about his gay marriage bill, which voters upheld in November, and additionally, the vote to legalize marijuana. He noted that the MCC has told him they will not hear his proposal for an assault weapons ban nor the Reproductive Parity Act.

Tom disagreed with the notion that the MCC betrayed the 2012 election, saying the Democrats were "cherry picking" when it came to last year's results.

Tom's rejoinder seemed to confirm Murray's point: "A lot of that's up to the chairs," he said at a press conference after the floor vote when asked about the Democratic legislation Murray was concerned about.

Tom disagreed with the notion that the MCC betrayed the 2012 election, saying the Democrats were "cherry picking" when it came to last year's results. "What you didn't hear from the Democrats is that voters passed 1185, overwhelmingly." (I-1185 was Tim Eyman's latest measure mandating a two-thirds legislative majority to pass taxes.) "The voters do not like taxes," he said.

Tom also  took exception to the Democrats' contention that his MCC wasn't bipartisan. "Five of us [Democrats] are intimately involved in this process," he said, referring to himself, Sen. Tim Sheldon (who, like Tom, is caucusing with the MCC instead of the Democrats) and the three Democrats who took him up on his offer to chair committees—Sens. Tracey Eide, Steve Hobbs, and Brian Hatfield.