PubliCola Picks: Five More for the the State Legislature

By PublicolaPicks October 19, 2010

PubliCola picks Ruth Kagi for State Rep., District 32, Position 2

Successful businessman and business-book author Gary Gagliardi is an iconoclastic Democrat-turned-Republican who thinks corporate interests have corrupted the Democratic Party. He denounces the Democrats as limousine liberals and says, "I would to prefer to reform the Democratic Party, but as long as they are in power in a state like ours, they must dance with the special interests who bought, I mean, brought them."

With graphs about state spending from the conservative think tank Washington Policy Center and Harvard Business School credentials, Gagliardi comes across more like a professor, albeit a loopy one, than an angry Tea Partier. But his solutions—devolve everything to the hyperlocal level—aren't practical for the responsibilities of state government. He was rated just "adequate" by the Seattle/King County Municipal League.

He also hasn't garnered much support or attention in this liberal district; with less than 50 contributors, he's had to use his own money and loans to raise just $20,000.

Incumbent Democrat Ruth Kagi, who chairs the House Early Learning & Children's Services committee, has a progressive voting record, particularly on funding services for low-income children (she also scores 100 percent with environmentalists for her supportive votes on things like strong growth management regulations.)

And Kagi has support: Hundreds of donations,  an "outstanding" rating from the Muni League, and a long list of endorsements, including ours in the primary. We stand by it for the general.

PubliCola picks Rep. Judy Clibborn for State Rep., District 41, Position 2

PubliCola’s less than thrilled with Clibborn, who hasn’t been much of a friend to Seattle’s agenda of smart growth and sustainable transportation over the years---voting for the infamous tunnel cost-overruns provision, against light rail to the Eastside, and for allowing private transit and vans in public-transit-only facilities like the downtown Seattle bus tunnel.

However, Clibborn's challenger, Republican software consultant Stephen Strader, offers no concrete proposals for change. And Clibborn has recently made some tentative moves in a progressive direction, preserving funding for transit last sessino (some of her colleagues wanted to siphon it to auto ferries) and supporting legislation that would have required drivers to stay three feet away from cyclists.

PubliCola picks Sen. Steve Hobbs for State Senate, District 44

Sen. Hobbs, who represents Snohomish, Mill Creek, and Lake Stevens, has been demonized by labor. That's because he's the leader of the Democrats' conservative caucus in the Senate. Among the conservative caucus' crimes: They were the reason the Senate wouldn’t repeal a $50 million tax loophole for big banks, and they fought to block an extension of unemployment benefits and take away state workers’ health care benefits.

Hobbs voted to furlough state workers; against repealing I-960 (Tim Eyman’s initiative that requires a two-thirds legislative majority to increase taxes); and against the budget (because, gasp, it included new taxes). He also voted for giving tuition authority to the University of Washington rather than to the legislature. And he pushed to privatize liquor sales. Not surprisingly, he got a 50 percent rating from the Washington State Labor Council.

But here's another reason that labor, specifically the teachers' union—which has given $1600 to his Republican opponent— doesn't like Hobbs (and we do): He's the Senate leader on education reform, a champion of challenging the status quo by forcing teachers to accept changes such as tying teacher evaluations to student performance.

Hobbs is also a solid progressive vote on social issues (for domestic partners’ rights; against gender discrimination; and pro-choice).

Meanwhile, his moderate status also allows him to reach across the aisle and help bring Republicans along on some social issues like sex ed. (He orchestrated a compromise on the medically accurate sex ed bill that, while disappointing to reproductive-rights advocates, did bring some Republican senators along .)

His GOP opponent, David Schmidt (who held the seat until Hobbs beat him in 2006), is lousy on social issues, getting zero ratings from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU during his stint in the legislature. He was also a ‘No’ vote on the gay rights bill in 2005, when the bill lost by one vote.

PubliCola picks Rep. Phyllis Kenney for State Rep., District 46, Position 2

This is another pick that probably should have gone on our No-Brainer list. Kenney has an outstanding voting record, scoring 100 from environmental groups. She's been endorsed by NARAL and the reform-minded League of Education Voters. And she was one of the five Seattle legislators in the House delegation who stood up to Frank Chopp and voted against putting Seattle taxpayers on the hook for cost overruns on the deep-bore tunnel.

Her opponent, Beau Gunderson, is a Libertarian-leaning Independent who says he's running to make a point about giving voters more choices.

PubliCola picks Rep. Deb Eddy for State Rep. District 48, Position 2.

Roadkill Caucus member Eddy is a moderate Democrat who effectively represents her Eastside district. Although we disagree with her on some major issues---notably, a provision in state law putting Seattle taxpayers on the hook for cost overruns on the deep-bore tunnel---she's also stood up against corporate tax loopholes, against Tim Eyman's initiatives, and in favor of education reform.

Her opponent, Republican Philip Wilson, has zero political experience.

All our other endorsements to date (including our early round  of 32 No Brainers) here.
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