Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

LIVE from Woodinville: Senator Eric Oemig kicks off reelection campaign in heart of 45th

Full Disclosure: The post makes this fairly obvious, but I'll just say this upfront. I am a strong supporter of — and a volunteer for — Eric Oemig, running for reelection to the state Senate in Washington's 45th LD.

Good evening from Woodinville!

This evening, I am honored to be joining many terrific progressives from around the Eastside and beyond to support Eric Oemig, a true champion of people powered politics and a defender of our common wealth.

Eric is kicking off his reelection campaign tonight at the Hollywood Schoolhouse, the same place where he officially began his run for Senate four years ago.

In 2006, Eric was a newcomer to politics, having decided that his district (and mine!) needed more effective representation. He declared his intention to run against incumbent Bill Finkbeiner, a Democrat-turned-Republican, early that year. Finkbeiner ultimately decided not to seek reelection, and Eric won a hard-fought campaign against Representative Toby Nixon after several seasons of campaigning.

Since joining the Senate, Eric has worked to make government more open, strengthen our public schools, bring clean elections to Washington State, and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of public services. He has also supported all of NPI's legislative priorities, from the Homebuilding Revitalization Act to instituting a revenue neutral homestead exemption that would make property taxes fairer.

Eric has also been a tireless supporter of NPI itself, and although I'm only at this event on NPI's behalf to the extent that I'm covering it for The Advocate (because NPI doesn't endorse candidates) I am thrilled that I have to put a disclaimer on this post, as required by NPI's Code of Ethics.

Eric is, quite simply, one of my favorite elected officials.

I am honored that he represents my district, and I'm going to be doing all I can to make sure we send him back to Olympia this autumn.

It's clear from the turnout tonight that I'm not the only person who thinks that way. Many of Eric's colleagues have come to support him, and the 45th District Democrats are out in force, as are many other Eastside candidates and local officeholders. Representative Larry Springer and Senator Randy Gordon are both slated to speak on Eric's behalf. The main program has not begun yet, but when it gets going, I will check back in with an update to this post.

UPDATE, 7:45 PM: The main program was excellent. We heard from Representative Larry Springer first, who reminded that while us we don't yet know how the national mood will affect legislative races, we shouldn't accept that the outcome of the 2010 midterms has already been decided. After all, no one has even cast a vote yet, and won't till October. We have to spend the next few weeks and months organizing. Victory is possible, but we have to work for it.

Senator Oemig spoke next. He talked at length about the priorities he's been working on Olympia for the last few years, particularly strengthening our public schools and moving us closer to voter-owned clean elections.

If there are two words that summarize what Eric believes, I think they're the words that comprise the signature he uses in his email: Optimizing government. Eric doesn't buy into the conservative nonsense about big government versus small government. He wants effective government.

Effective government is a key progressive principle. And Eric has worked to further it by pushing for more openness. He likes to be able to measure performance. But in order to measure performance, we need data. And unfortunately, sometimes government is opaque and there isn't any data available.

Eric has worked to change that.

Delivering the closing was Eric's colleague Randy Gordon, now the state senator from the 41st LD. Randy told us a story about the formation of HJR 4220, a proposed constitutional amendment known as the Lakewood Police Officers Memorial Act, which we will all be voting on this autumn.

The transcript of that story is as follows.
The Constitution was changed this year again. And we had a choice this year about how to change that Constitution.

We had the choice between creating an American gulag where people's rights of bail could be suspended willy nilly... Let's just remember what the presumption of innocence is all about. It could have been the presumption of innocence to think yourself innocent while you're sitting in jail contemplating your innocence.

Innocent people need to be moving on with their lives. But on the other hand, violent criminals need to let us move on with our lives. There's a balance to be struck. It takes justice.

I went to Eric with an early draft of what I was proposing as a solution. And he said to me, "Randy, I'm counting on you for this. Is it good enough?"

I reflected on it. We were there on the floor of the Senate. I still remember. It wasn't good enough. I went back. I rewrote it.

With the help of my colleague Senator Kline, we were able to put a [resolution] out there that unanimously passed the state Senate of Washington, that passed the House, [was] signed by the Governor, and is going to be on the ballot for the people - you the people - to decide this November.

But what it'll never say in the Constitution, when it is written and rewritten... is that the words on that page are entirely the responsibility of all of us, but the credit goes to somebody whose name will never appear in the Constitution: Eric Oemig.

Because his insight, clarity, focus - and simply asking the right questions fearlessly at the right time - made us all do the right thing.

It is a team sport!

And we need a conscience there. We need some who's incorruptible there. We need someone who doesn't buy into the system there. We need someone who's going to go and put you first there.

And you need to put him first.
That last line drew big applause from the packed room. I saw a lot of checks being put into remit envelopes, so I'm inclined to believe Randy's appeal struck a chord. He certainly delivers an enthusiastic fundraising pitch... Eric couldn't have picked anybody who would do a better job.

This has been a great event; hopefully, it's a sign of things to come. I firmly believe the State of Washington needs Eric Oemig at this critical time. I will be enthusiastically voting to send him back to the Senate for another term.


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