Desperate to solidify their tenuous hold on the Washington State Senate, top Republicans have once again recruited into their ranks a candidate repeatedly elected to the Legislature as a Democrat with Democratic volunteers and donations.
Mark Miloscia, who previously served several terms in the state House as one of two of the 30th Legislative District’s representatives, has decided to run against his former colleague Tracey Eide for Senate. He filed his paperwork today with the Public Disclosure Commission and also launched a campaign website.
But unlike Rodney Tom, Jim Kastama, and Tim Sheldon, who defected to the Senate Republican caucus in 2012 (Kastama has since left the Legislature); Miloscia plans to campaign as a Republican. His C1 form lists him as a Republican, and he calls himself a Republican on his new campaign website, created with NationBuilder.
Miloscia has reportedly long been interested in moving up to the state Senate, though he chose to vacate his seat to pursue a bid for auditor in 2012.
Democrats Craig Pridemore and Troy Kelley also decided to forego returning to the Legislature in the hopes of succeeding Brian Sonntag, resulting in a crowded four-way race. Miloscia finished well behind everyone else in the August winnowing election, capturing only 9.77% of the vote. Kelley and Republican James Watkins went on to the general election; Kelley prevailed and took office in early 2013.
There had been speculation that Miloscia might seek to regain a seat in the House by challenging Republican Linda Kochmar.
But evidently, the Republicans approached Miloscia with a better offer. No doubt he was promised big bucks (and perhaps even a committee chairmanship) if he agreed to be their candidate for Senate against Tracey Eide.
On his website, Miloscia claims he switched parties “only after months of careful consideration”. In a blog post entitled “Choosing a party”, Miloscia (who could definitely use a spelling and grammar checker) writes:
[C]ould Party heroes like a President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, or the evangelical Rev. Martin Luther King JR, be supported by today’s Democrat [sic] leaders and activists?
Before, I’d felt there was a place as the Party publicly promoted a “big tent,” and respected cultural diversity. Some leaders worked to insure [sic] that candidates like myself, had a place.
Not anymore. Today, the Democratic Party asks for our votes and money, but they will never support candidates like JFK, RFK, MLK JR, or even a liberal Tip O’Neill again.
A growing segment, tolerant in name only, now completely controls the party with litmus tests and interest groups.
And on his about page, Miloscia writes:
Today, it’s the Republican Party that offers a big tent, welcoming different views… Washington State Republicans don’t insist that everyone believe and vote exactly the same way.
Uh huh. Either Mark Miloscia has no idea what he has signed up for, or the money he’s been promised is doing the talking for him. If he thinks the Democratic Party is controlled by interest groups with litmus tests, he has no comprehension of what Republican politics are like. The Senate Republican Caucus, which Miloscia now aspires to join, is dominated by extremists and is dysfunctional to its core.
Miloscia has long depicted himself as a principled “pro-life” Democrat, but it’s evident to us that he is actually an opportunist like Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon… in our view, the worst kind of politician there is.
Miloscia may have felt rejected in the wake of his campaign for auditor, after many Democrats declined to consider his candidacy due to his opposition to marriage equality, reproductive rights, and initiative reform. But in defecting, Miloscia is turning his back on all of the people who have stood up for him over the years.
What Miloscia fails to admit on his website is that there were a number of progressive Democrats who loudly and enthusiastically supported his campaign for auditor, regardless of whatever disagreements they may have had with him on policy directions. Apparently, those friendships aren’t worth as much to Miloscia as the money the Republican Party is willing to spend on his behalf.
Republicans are eager to expand the playing field, so to speak, to make it harder for Democrats to regain the state Senate. If Republicans could manage to capture Tracey Eide’s seat, Democrats would then need to defeat three Republican incumbents instead of two to get a majority. Hence their recruiting of Miloscia.
When Miloscia ran for auditor, he appeared before a number of Democratic groups and proudly espoused Democratic ideals. In the candidate questionnaire he submitted to the King County Democrats, he began an answer to the question, Why should the county support you over your opponent? by stating:
Democrats need to elect the best person who can succeed in managing an agency dedicated to performance and improving government with the use of audits. This person needs to be able to passionately champion government improvement, government programs and Democratic leadership.
Miloscia went on to describe his priorities as follows:
My issues should be no surprise for I have not been silent on our pressing needs as a state representative.
I have been a consistent and vocal champion for solving these three most pressing issues facing our state today:
- Restoring voter trust in government and Democrat[ic] legislative leadership so we can start passing needed tax and program reform policies to help educate our children, take care of the elderly and those less fortunate.
- Reversing the wage inequality gap caused by the war on unions and the middle class which will also improve tax collections and help gain voters’ confidence.
- Improving the Quality and Sustainability of Government, School programs and budgets through the use of performance management and performance audits.
As State Auditor, I will champion those best practices that further these goals.
If Miloscia thinks the Republican Party is interested in any of these priorities, he’s deluded. Today’s Republican Party is the party of Grover Norquist and Tim Eyman, of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, of Scott Walker, Rick Snyder, and Paul LePage. Its agenda is to wreck government, eviscerate public services, and destroy the rights of working men and women. It is virulently anti-labor.
The party has embraced scorched-earth tactics and hostage-taking to accomplish this. Its modus operandi is obstruct, obfuscate, and obliterate.
Perhaps Grover Norquist said it best:
I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.
In joining the Republican Party, Mark Miloscia has turned his back on his Democratic friends and vindicated his critics. He’s part of the Party of No now. Too bad.