Last night, NARAL Pro-Choice Wash­ing­ton held a can­di­date forum in Red­mond to give can­di­dates run­ning for the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture in the 45th Dis­trict an oppor­tu­ni­ty to share their views on wom­en’s health and repro­duc­tive rights.

The six can­di­dates seek­ing to rep­re­sent the dis­trict in the 2015–2016 Leg­is­la­ture were all invit­ed to par­tic­i­pate, but unfor­tu­nate­ly, only the Democ­rats (Matt Isen­how­er, Lar­ry Springer, and Roger Good­man) showed up.

Top­ics dis­cussed includ­ed the fall­out from the Supreme Court’s Hob­by Lob­by rul­ing, the Sen­ate’s repeat­ed fail­ure to pass the Repro­duc­tive Par­i­ty Act, and con­se­quences for wom­en’s health result­ing from public/private hos­pi­tal merg­ers or part­ner­ships. But the Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates also com­ment­ed on the absence of their Repub­li­can oppo­nents, who were rep­re­sent­ed by emp­ty chairs.

(Full dis­clo­sure: I am an offi­cer of the 45th Dis­trict Democ­rats, which is work­ing to elect Matt Isen­how­er, Lar­ry Springer, and Roger Goodman).

“It real­ly speaks vol­umes that my oppo­nent is not here,” Isen­how­er told the audi­ence. “Again and again in the media, unfor­tu­nate­ly, peo­ple refer to him as pro-choice. But my ques­tion would be, if he is pro-choice, why is he not here? Why did he not fill out the ques­tion­naire for NARAL? Why has he not gone for endorse­ment for both NARAL and Planned Par­ent­hood? Those things, those actions, speak a lot loud­er than any words I can say.”

Matt Isenhower next to Andy Hill's empty chair
State Sen­ate can­di­date Matt Isen­how­er lis­tens as State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lar­ry Springer speaks. Isen­how­er’s oppo­nent, Repub­li­can Andy Hill, blew off NAR­AL’s forum for 45th leg­isla­tive dis­trict can­di­dates. (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Isen­how­er could have been more spe­cif­ic and said, Again and again in the Seat­tle Times, unfor­tu­nate­ly, edi­to­r­i­al writ­ers have referred to him as pro-choice — for it is Frank Blethen’s edi­to­r­i­al page that keeps cred­it­ing Hill as hav­ing that stance.

Take the Times’ unsigned endorse­ment of Andy Hill, pub­lished ear­li­er this year:

Hill rep­re­sents his social­ly lib­er­al dis­trict, sup­port­ing abor­tion rights, gay mar­riage and the state allow­ing stu­dents with­out legal res­i­den­cy sta­tus access to finan­cial aid.

Or this blog post from edi­to­r­i­al writer Thanh Tan last week:

But by try­ing to take out mod­er­ate, pro-choice Repub­li­cans such as incum­bent Andy Hill for not being more assertive or rabid about sup­port­ing abor­tion rights, they risk affect­ing issues that go way beyond wom­en’s health.

Or this col­umn by edi­to­r­i­al writer Lynne Varn­er from 2012:

Pro-choice groups need mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans, a grow­ing group local­ly that includes not just Lit­zow but state Sens. Joe Fain of Auburn and Andy Hill of Red­mond. Law­mak­ers may think twice next time about buck­ing their par­ty to join a team that might bite them next election.

Actu­al­ly, his­to­ry has shown that when advo­cates of wom­en’s health back Repub­li­cans, they get burned. Steve Lit­zow, Andy Hill, and Rod­ney Tom were in a posi­tion to bring up the Repro­duc­tive Par­i­ty Act in the Sen­ate dur­ing each of the two ses­sions their cau­cus has con­trolled the floor. They failed to deliver.

The leg­is­la­tion could have passed with what Tom likes to call a “philo­soph­i­cal major­i­ty”, pos­si­bly even with­out Hill. But it was nev­er brought to the floor for a vote. (It did, of course, pass in the Demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly-con­trolled state House.)

There is no evi­dence that Andy Hill sup­ports repro­duc­tive rights, includ­ing a wom­an’s right to ter­mi­nate a preg­nan­cy. Hill does not even adver­tise him­self as pro-choice or pro-lib­er­ty. Instead, he has allowed (and per­haps encour­aged) The Seat­tle Times to do that for him, while avoid­ing the issue on the cam­paign trail, pre­sum­ably so as to avoid offend­ing his base. Hill is try­ing to have it both ways.

I’ll add that there is no such thing as a mod­er­ate Repub­li­can, or a mod­er­ate Demo­c­rat, for that mat­ter. The mass media loves the label mod­er­ate, but it’s use­less. It does­n’t stand for any­thing. Progressive/liberal and con­ser­v­a­tive refer to a sys­tem of val­ues, prin­ci­ples, and pol­i­cy direc­tions. Mod­er­ate does­n’t. There is no mod­er­ate world­view. There is no con­sis­ten­cy to what so-called mod­er­ates believe.

Most of the time, when some­one says mod­er­ate, they mean bicon­cep­tu­al. Bicon­cep­tu­als are indi­vid­u­als or groups that use the pro­gres­sive val­ues sys­tem in cer­tain areas of their polit­i­cal think­ing, and the con­ser­v­a­tive val­ues sys­tem in oth­ers. I can’t stress this enough: Bicon­cep­tu­als are ide­o­log­i­cal­ly different.

And most peo­ple are, to some degree, biconceptuals.

Bicon­cep­tu­al­ism helps explains the phe­nom­e­non of strange bed­fel­lows, which is when unusu­al coali­tions form to achieve a com­mon goal (for instance, reform­ing the NSA or pre­vent­ing an expan­sion of gambling).

Frank Blethen and his edi­to­r­i­al writ­ers would have us believe Andy Hill is par­tial­ly pro­gres­sive. They can cred­i­bly argue Hill sup­ports mar­riage equal­i­ty, because Hill did vote yes on the bill that brought the free­dom to mar­ry to Wash­ing­ton. But again, there is no evi­dence that Hill sup­ports repro­duc­tive rights.

As Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lar­ry Springer explained when it was his turn to speak:

[Andy Hill] is in his lead­er­ship. He is one of the high­est-rank­ing Repub­li­cans in the Senate.

He’s the Chair of the Ways & Means Com­mit­tee. He has — I believe — a respon­si­bil­i­ty to rep­re­sent his dis­trict, and to say to his lead­er­ship: We need to do this. This needs to come to the floor for a vote.

Springer added:

I have nev­er, ever heard Andy Hill say “I’m pro-choice.” He waf­fles; he walks around that con­stant­ly. In fact, we had to… [look­ing at seat­mate Roger Good­man] You and I had to bail him out at the town hall meet­ing in Sam­mamish three years ago because the ques­tions were relent­less. And he just would­n’t answer, would­n’t answer… and it was clog­ging up the meet­ing, so we said, okay, time to move on.

UPDATE, Octo­ber 20th, 2014: After this post was pub­lished, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lar­ry Springer reached out to NPI to let us know that the town hall sto­ry he shared at the NARAL forum stemmed from ques­tions con­cern­ing Andy’s posi­tion on mar­riage equal­i­ty, not repro­duc­tive rights. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Springer checked with Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Roger Good­man, and that was Roger’s rec­ol­lec­tion as well.

At the time, Andy had not tak­en a posi­tion on the issue and the Leg­is­la­ture had not vot­ed on Ed Mur­ray and Jamie Ped­er­sen’s his­toric bill.

We regret any con­fu­sion (as does Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Springer) and appre­ci­ate the clar­i­fi­ca­tion. If any­thing, this addi­tion­al con­text indi­cates that Andy has a his­to­ry of being eva­sive and duck­ing tough ques­tions on mul­ti­ple issues.

Now, back to the orig­i­nal post…

Springer’s oppo­nent Bren­dan Wood­ward also skipped the forum, as did Good­man’s oppo­nent, Joel Hussey. How­ev­er, they are at least not using a major dai­ly news­pa­per to sug­gest they hold a posi­tion they don’t real­ly hold.

It’s too bad the Repub­li­cans chose not to attend. Had they par­tic­i­pat­ed, they might have learned some­thing. They would have had to field tough ques­tions, sure, but that’s what real lead­ers have to do.

As I said ear­li­er, a num­ber of impor­tant top­ics were cov­ered, includ­ing the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the Hob­by Lob­by deci­sion. The can­di­dates even delved into top­ics them­selves with­out being prompt­ed. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Springer, for instance, brought up the impor­tance of med­ical­ly accu­rate sex edu­ca­tion in his open­ing remarks.

These issues aren’t going away, and the incom­ing Leg­is­la­ture would be mak­ing a seri­ous mis­take if it does not address them in the 2015 session.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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One reply on “Republican Andy Hill a no-show at NARAL’s 45th District candidate forum in Redmond”

  1. Typ­i­cal. Well, Hill’s awash in cash and will prob­a­bly get reelect­ed with a few votes to spare in a midterm year with­out a statewide race. Then he’ll start get­ting ready to run for governor. 

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