We’d like to support any member of the politically polarized 111th Congress who breaks with his or her party occasionally. And check it, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert votes with his party just 86 percent of the time (that sounds high, but the state's delegation votes along party lines an average 96.6 percent of the time). For example: Reichert voted against his party to override President Bush’s veto of a children’s health care bill, voted for the employee non-discrimination act (i.e., for gay rights), and, most dramatically, voted for the cap and trade bill.  (He also voted with President Obama and the Democrats to extend emergency unemployment benefits.)

But then there’s the other 86 percent of the time. It’s not pretty: Most recently, after voting against health care reform (and for the anti-choice Stupak amendment), he co-sponsored a bill to repeal the health care legislation; voted against Wall Street reform; voted against the stimulus package; and voted against repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. (And both NARAL and Planned Parenthood say Reichert has voted their way 0 percent of the time—zero!—since taking office in 2005.)

There’s also an important footnote to that 86 percent stat: Reichert has a clever trick of supporting antagonistic GOP amendments—like killing a renewable energy fund sponsored by Democrats in 2008—then voting for final passage once his efforts to undermine good legislation fail.

If that footnote doesn’t convince you Reichert is gaming voters in his suburban Seattle district, this should: Earlier this year, Democratic blogger David Goldstein published a tape of a closed-door meeting at which Reichert insouciantly dismissed his green votes as chess pieces in a political game to keep his seat. (Even the Seattle Times, which rarely links or cites any of Goldy’s partisan posts, saw the significance of the story. They ran with the story and filed an editorial criticizing Reichert for his deception.)

The Times felt duped. And they should have. Is global warming—or the Gulf oil spill for that matter—a pawn in Reichert’s game? What other issues are just cynical moves?

Look, we’re not rubes. We get how politics works. But if Reichert really isn’t an environmentalist at heart, voters should know— because in the future, when he’s more confident with his long-term incumbency, Reichert may feel comfortable voting his real conscience—on the environment and whatever else he’s fibbing about.

Whereas Reichert's opponent in his last two races, Darcy Burner, ran as an anti-war, Netroots lefty, his challenger this time, former Microsoft exec Suzan DelBene, is a buttoned-down entrepreneur whose top contributor is Microsoft, not ActBlue.

DelBene is a tech entrepreneur with a liberal agenda. She supports including a public option in the health-care bill (telling PubliCola, “we’ve done health insurance reform, and I think we need to move on to health care reform”); supports cap and trade; is solidly pro-choice; supports repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask Don't Tell; stresses closing the gender wage gap; supports expanding the Pell Grant program and increasing investments in community colleges; and wants infrastructure improvements to increase freight traffic in Puget Sound ports.

It’s an aggressive, refreshing to-do list that’s in sync with the socially liberal, business-savvy attitude of the Eastside Seattle suburbs.

DelBene, who founded two successful businesses including drugstore.com, has raised more than $1.6 million so far, landing Reichert on CNN’s list of 50 most vulnerable reps.

PubliCola Picks Suzan DelBene.
Show Comments