Washington State’s Senate Democratic caucus made the most of an opportunity to hold Tim Sheldon accountable for his treachery at the end of 2012 by joining forces this afternoon with militant Republicans Don Benton and Pam Roach to elect the renegade Roach as President Pro Tem of the Washington State Senate.
Sheldon had expected the position to go to him a second time (it first went to him as a consequence of the power coup he and and Rodney Tom engineered with the Senate Republicans in 2012) but Democrats brilliantly turned the tables on him and the Senate Republican caucus’ leadership in an unexpected maneuver that resulted in the position going to Roach instead.
The final vote was twenty-five for Roach and twenty-four for Sheldon. A majority vote carried the day (take note, Tim Eyman) and Roach was duly elected and sworn in as President Pro Tempore by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen.
Realizing what the Democrats were up to, Republican floor leader Joe Fain placed Senator Karen Fraser’s name into nomination. But none of the Democrats, Fraser included, voted for Fraser. Instead, they provided the bulk of the votes needed to get Pam Roach elected, with Roach and Benton supplying the final two votes.
It was really something else to watch. Seeing the faces of the power-hungry Senate Republicans as they realized they were getting played was incredibly satisfying. Schoesler and Sheldon only found out something was up shortly before the vote.
Sheldon, of course, is in no position to disparage Roach or Benton. He wanted power two years ago and made a deal to get it. He can hardly complain about his colleagues’ actions. After all, he chose them as caucus-mates first!
The position of President Pro Tempore of the Senate, like that of President of the Senate, is mostly ceremonial, although it does guarantee a seat on the very important Senate Rules Committee as Vice Chair.
Pro Tempore is Latin, and it basically means for the time being in English. The President Pro Tempore is the person who fills in when the President of the Senate — Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen — is absent. Ordinarily, Owen is present and able to preside, but that’s not always the case.
The positions of Vice President Pro Tempore and Secretary of the Senate went to Sharon Brown and Hunter Goodman, as anticipated.
Amusingly, the Legislature’s website continues to list Tim Sheldon as President Pro Tempore. I’m sure they’ll get that corrected by the end of the day, if not sooner.