PubliCola dislikes too many things about Pam Roach (R-31, Auburn, Bonney Lake) to list in a single post. Roach's tendency to erupt in verbal fireworks can make for entertaining drama, but her frequent harassment of fellow legislators detracts from the political process, to the point that Senate Republicans booted out of their caucus this January. Additionally, Roach has proved to be an ineffective legislator---of the 29 bills she introduced last session, only three reached the Senate floor, and she didn't even participate in the first five days of this year's special session to hammer out this year's state budget.
Finally, Roach is solidly aligned with right-wing organizations such as the Association of Washington Business and has taken in thousands of dollars in corporate donations from the likes of Chevron, Pfizer, Phillip Morris, Wal-Mart and Premera Blue Cross. Her stalwart opposition to domestic partnership benefits, greenhouse gas limits, and comprehensive sex education are all deal-breakers.
Unfortunately, Roach hasn't attracted many strong challengers, so we had to pick by process of elimination. Matthew Richardson, Roach's sole Republican challenger, has raised virtually no money and stands almost no chance of making it through the primary. Ron Weigelt, a Democrat who last ran to unseat Roach in 2008, shows some promising experience in civic service, having served on the Buckley City Council for five years. However, his failure to state any clear positions or plans on issues such as "affordable health care" or "jobs, jobs, jobs, and more jobs!" (which is about as specific as his web site gets) indicate that he is not serious about winning the vote of his district, much less bringing change to Olympia.
Of all Roach's opponents, Federal Way police officer Raymond Bunk is best qualified to replace Roach. Bunk skews fairly conservative for a Democrat: He is a vocal supporter of scaling back business regulations and modernizing the business and occupation (B&O) tax, and opposes increasing property and sales taxes. He's also an anti-deficit hawk who promises to check spending in Olympia and promote small business job growth.
Bunk has the backing of the Washington Education Association and the 31st District Democrats, along with a long list of police and fire organizations. Bunk will have a hard fight against the well-funded Roach. But it's high time she left, and Bunk is best positioned to take her place.