One Question

The Democrats are savaging state senator Rodney Tom (D-48, Bellevue), their wayward colleague who has joined up with the Republicans to oust the Democratic majority and step in as the new senate majority leader.

But what about the Democratic political consultant who has helped Tom win two elections in the swing turf Microsoft suburbs, supposedly giving the Democrats an advantage?

John Wyble, a progressive Democrat who consults for liberals such as Seattle City Council member Nick Licata and mayor Mike McGinn, along with Democratic state legislators such as Tacoma state Representative-turned-state-senator Jeannie Darnielle and North Seattle environmentalist Representative Gerry Pollett, is also Tom's consultant.

Tom hired Wyble after switching from the Republican to the Democratic Party in 2006. Wyble's other cleint in the 48th, Democratic budget leader Representative Ross Hunter, sent Tom Wyble's way. Tom paid Wyble's firm, Winpower Strategies, more than $100,000 in his 2010 race.

Poof. Tom upended the whole Democratic plan and everything Wyble was working for.

Wyble has also worked on progressive state legislature candidate Sahar Fathi's campaign. Most important in the current context, he helped steal a Republican state senate seat in the 2012 election by working for Democratic state Sen. Mark Mullet, from Issaquah, who won.

The Mullet race—a big win in the Republican-leaning 5th District (Republicans Dino Rossi and Cheryl Pflug held the seat before Mullet)—was a key piece in maintaining a working Democratic advantage in the senate.

But poof. Despite the Mullet win, Tom upended the whole Democratic plan and everything Wyble was working for.

So, today's PubliCola "One Question"—recommended by George in the comments threads earlier today—goes to Wyble: As Democratic Legislative districts are voting to pull their support for Tom, are you going to continue working for him?And do you feel betrayed?

Here's what Wyble, who says he hasn't talked to Tom about the Republican coup, told us:

As a Democratic consultant, do you plan to keep working for Rodney Tom?

I haven't made that decision yet. I'm going to wait and see how this session turns out. I do think Rodney follows his principles. I'm a Democratic consultant. So I'm going to see what happens here. We may get to the end of a session and we may be an in completely different situation. So I'm waiting and seeing like a lot of people.

A different situation? Meaning?

Rodney is a Democrat now. Even though the 48th [District Democrats], you know [voted to pull support from Tom in future elections], even though people are frustrated with him, he may stay a Democrat. [Democratic Party Chair] Dwight [Pelz] or [Democratic senate caucus leader] Ed Murray may say, look, we need help making sure Rodney's back and elected. [If so], I'm going to do that.

But if people say, we're done with him, I'm not going to work with somebody that doesn't reflect the values of the Democratic Party.

I'd be hesitant to say 'We're never going to work with Rodney Tom again.'  It just seems like that could get us in trouble, that may not be the smartest thing for us to be doing. It may be, but it may not be.

Rodney and I got along well and had a good business relationship. So, we'll see where this is at the end, but I'm not going rush to judgment. He is who he is. I don’t think he's shifting his positions or anything. I would like to see a Democratic majority leader. I'm a Democrat, so I'm frustrated along with everybody else, but I also want to see how this session plays out.

Do you feel betrayed by Tom?

I don't feel betrayed by Rodney. If we want a progressive majority, we have to work for it. Rodney was never a flaming liberal. We always knew where he was. It's unfortunate that he had a change of heart, but I don't feel betrayed. That's the political reality on the ground, and we just have to organize to win the majority.

What about Pelz's call early on to make Tom give Democratic Party money back?

I don't agree with that.

Was the 48th District's vote to pull their support appropriate?

I think that's totally within their right to do. I think they're reflecting the will of their body. I think that's a perfectly acceptable thing to do.

As a Democrat, would you have voted along with that?

I'm not sure what I would have done in that situation. I'm not trying to be evasive. The reason that I say that is because we're in such a tight situation in terms of control of the state senate, and I'd be hesitant to say "We're never going to work with Rodney Tom again." It just seems like that could get us in trouble, that may not be the smartest thing for us to be doing. It may be, but it may not be.