NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Republican Pedro Celis confirms he’ll challenge Suzan DelBene for U.S. House

With less than nine­ty days to go until the fil­ing dead­line arrives, the Repub­li­can Par­ty has final­ly found a chal­lenger for U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzan Del­Bene: Pedro Celis, a fifty-four year old for­mer soft­ware engi­neer who resides in Red­mond. Celis worked for Microsoft for more than a decade and is now a mem­ber of the board of Plaza Bank, a local finan­cial insti­tu­tion that serves the Lati­no community.

Seat­tle Times polit­i­cal reporter Jim Brun­ner spoke to Celis ear­li­er today ahead of his offi­cial cam­paign kick­off tomor­row to get a sense of what Celis will be run­ning on.

Celis pre­dictably crit­i­cized Del­Bene’s sup­port of the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act, no doubt hav­ing been told by the Nation­al Repub­li­can Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee (NRCC) that this should be his major theme. And he also con­demned Del­Bene for sup­port­ing an increase in the min­i­mum wage, to $10.10 an hour.

I can’t imag­ine that Celis isn’t aware that Wash­ing­ton State has the high­est min­i­mum wage of any state in the coun­ty and that vot­ers here have wel­comed oppor­tu­ni­ties to increase the min­i­mum wage, most recent­ly last year in SeaTac.

In fact, the rea­son that our state’s min­i­mum wage is the high­est of any state in the Union is that we start­ed index­ing it to the Con­sumer Price Index in 2001.

A few weeks after Celis began work­ing at Microsoft (he start­ed in Sep­tem­ber of 1998, accord­ing to his LinkedIn pro­file) vot­ers resound­ing­ly and over­whelm­ing­ly approved Ini­tia­tive 688 by a mar­gin of near­ly two-to-one — 66.1% to 33.9%.

I‑688 increased the min­i­mum wage from $4.90 to $5.70 in 1999, and then to $6.50 in 2000, pro­vid­ing that it be indexed to the CPI there­after. (It’s now $9.32 an hour). It ranks as one of the most pop­u­lar ini­tia­tives in Wash­ing­ton State history.

Celis is cer­tain­ly enti­tled to his opin­ion, but rais­ing the min­i­mum wage has been good for Wash­ing­ton fam­i­lies and our eco­nom­ic security.

Pri­or to I‑688’s pas­sage, lob­by­ists for numer­ous trade asso­ci­a­tions pre­dict­ed that bad things would hap­pen if it became law. Here is how the Seat­tle Times’ Jim Lynch char­ac­ter­ized their oppo­si­tion at the time:

Wash­ing­ton busi­ness groups call the Novem­ber bal­lot mea­sure a fright­en­ing prospect that could stick the state with unrea­son­ably high wages and put it at a com­pet­i­tive disadvantage.

“Scary,” says Russ Good­man, spokesman for the Wash­ing­ton Restau­rant Association.

Scary? Try suc­cess­ful.  I‑688 has now been the law of the land for over fif­teen years, and it has con­tributed to the eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty of thou­sands of Wash­ing­ton fam­i­lies. Late­ly, our state has repeat­ed­ly been ranked as one of the best states to do busi­ness, and our high min­i­mum wage actu­al­ly helps our competitiveness.

What Celis does­n’t seem to appre­ci­ate is that when work­ers (who are the real prof­it cre­ators!) are paid a high­er wage, they need less pub­lic assis­tance and can con­tribute to the eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty of their neighbors.

If Celis and his cam­paign team think that run­ning against the min­i­mum wage will help him appeal to vot­ers, they are sore­ly mis­tak­en. Dino Rossi tried that in 2008 in his rematch with Chris Gre­goire, and it con­tributed to the fail­ure of his campaign.

Giv­en that Celis was a sup­port­er of the Wash­ing­ton State DREAM Act, signed into law today by Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee, I’d be curi­ous to know what his posi­tion is on com­pre­hen­sive immi­gra­tion reform. Brun­ner’s sto­ry does­n’t dis­cuss that issue, although that does­n’t mean Brun­ner did­n’t ask Celis about it dur­ing their interview.

Celis’ cam­paign has reg­is­tered sev­er­al domains to be used in con­junc­tion with the cam­paign, includ­ing, which a WHOIS search shows is cur­rent­ly held by the Nation­al Repub­li­can Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee’s senior dig­i­tal strate­gist Christo­pher Han­ks. Han­ks also is the reg­is­trant for

Del­Bene’s cam­paign did not mince words when asked for com­ment. Speak­ing on behalf of the cam­paign, Sound­view Strate­gies’ Sandeep Kaushik told Brun­ner, “If you like the way the Repub­li­can Con­gress has forced the irre­spon­si­ble gov­ern­ment shut­down, advo­cates for pri­va­tiz­ing Social Secu­ri­ty and launched a war on women, and want more of the same, then Celis is your candidate.”

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  1. Good syn­op­sis, this guy seems like a more rea­son­able Repub­li­can, but to the vot­ers, that could be a lia­bil­i­ty. Del Bene is seen a close to the cen­ter and can eas­i­ly tie this oppo­nent to the shut down.

    # by Mike Barer :: February 27th, 2014 at 7:56 AM
  2. First, no one from the NRCC needs to explain to Celis, a PhD in com­put­er sci­ence, that Oba­macare should be a focus in the cam­paign. This was land­mark leg­is­la­tion that was rammed through with zero bipar­ti­san sup­port or input, and in par­tic­u­lar rammed through the Sen­ate on the basis of a par­lia­men­tary trick.

    By con­trast Democ­rats in the 30’s and 60’s were smart enough to seek bi-par­ti­san sup­port and input for Social Secu­ri­ty and Medicare. 

    Now Oba­macare has turned out to be a clus­ter****, and Democ­rats own it 100%. Polit­i­cal­ly it’s a no brain­er to make this a focus of the 2014 elec­tion, but beyond that it’s the right thing to do, with our health care sys­tem and thus peo­ples’ lives at stake.

    Attack­ing the min­i­mum wage, on the oth­er hand, is polit­i­cal­ly per­ilous, but it is also the right thing to do. Min­i­mum wage laws in essence cut out the bot­tom rungs of the employ­ment lad­der, some­thing that a Pedro Celis doubt­less under­stands well. 

    I‑688 has been a dis­as­ter for young, entry-lev­el work­ers. Any­one with a teenag­er try­ing to find a sum­mer job knows this. Since I‑688 passed, WA has con­sis­tent­ly and pre­dictably ranked in the top 10 states for teen unemployment.

    If the bot­tom rungs have been torn out, you can’t start climb­ing your way up. Don’t wor­ry though. You can still get an obama­phone, Med­ic­aid, sec­tion 8 hous­ing etc. ah the good life.

    # by wutitiz :: February 27th, 2014 at 3:12 PM
  3. We have enough anti-gov­ern­ment Repub­li­cans in Con­gress. I’ll be vot­ing to keep Suzan Del­Bene in Congress. 

    # by Tim Matthews :: March 4th, 2014 at 4:01 AM
  4. 100% agree, Tim. 

    # by Simon Anderson :: March 7th, 2014 at 2:44 AM
  5. I call the party(s) mem­bers DEM­GOP’s. Because the elites have meld­ed togeth­er in such a way as you can­not tell them apart. Celis is def­i­nite­ly a Demo­c­rat in dis­guise much like many of the Rinos. Wash­ing­ton State is full of them. I’ll stay con­ser­v­a­tive inde­pen­dent, thank you. And Celis does not need to speak of Amnesty. Mar­co Rubio has done it for him. Term lim­its will help estab­lish a dif­fer­ence in par­ty mem­ber beliefs.

    # by Perf Parjer :: March 23rd, 2014 at 3:28 PM

One Ping

  1. […] Pedro Celis, Repub­li­can donor and tech­no­crat, has made his run for Con­gress against Rep. Suzan Del­Bene offi­cial, just as we pre­dict­ed a few weeks back. Despite DelBene’s strong per­for­mance last year against John Koster, this race tops sev­er­al lists as the most com­pet­i­tive in the nation. While I think that an ungod­ly amount of mon­ey will be spent on this race, I don’t see it going red this year. Rep. Del­Bene has shown her­self to be an effec­tive Con­gress­woman, stay­ing in reg­u­lar con­tact with her dis­trict, but in a tough year, it might turn ugly. […]

    Ping from Friday Odds and Ends: Celis and Robocalls | The Political Junkie :: February 28th, 2014 at 10:04 AM
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