Representative Elizabeth Scott, R-39th District
Representative Elizabeth Scott, R-39th District (Official legislative portrait)

Last night, it was report­ed that Repub­li­cans have found a chal­lenger to run against Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gress­woman Suzan Del­Bene in 2016: the gun-tot­ing, back­ground check-denounc­ing Eliz­a­beth Scott, who cur­rent­ly serves in the Repub­li­can minor­i­ty in the Wash­ing­ton State House of Representatives.

Repub­li­cans have not defeat­ed a Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent for fed­er­al or statewide office in Wash­ing­ton for over a decade, but that’s not stop­ping them from hyp­ing Scot­t’s can­di­da­cy and try­ing to por­tray Del­Bene as vul­ner­a­ble. Just read this spin from State Repub­li­can Par­ty Chair Susan Hutchi­son:

Susan Hutchi­son, chair of the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty, Wednes­day called Scott “a ter­rif­ic can­di­date” and argued the 1st Dis­trict is “actu­al­ly a con­ser­v­a­tive-lean­ing district.”

Ter­rif­ic, as in extra­or­di­nar­i­ly great, or ter­rif­ic, as in ter­ri­fy­ing?

Hutchi­son may think of Scott as the for­mer. But a major­i­ty of vot­ers across the 1st Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict may see her as the latter.

It’s no secret that Scott is a very mil­i­tant Republican.

This is the same Eliz­a­beth Scott who does­n’t believe that women should be able to make their own repro­duc­tive health deci­sions:

This year, Scott spon­sored an anti-abor­tion bill declar­ing life begins at con­cep­tion. In 2013, she declined to sign on to a res­o­lu­tion hon­or­ing for­mer Gov. Booth Gard­ner, telling the Her­ald of Everett she object­ed to his role in expand­ing abor­tion rights.

Scott was the only state law­mak­er to vote in 2013 against a bill allow­ing crim­i­nal charges in cer­tain cas­es of spousal rape. On her web­site, she argued its lan­guage was too broad and “threat­ens the lib­er­ty of non­vi­o­lent peo­ple in their homes”.

… and the same Eliz­a­beth Scott who wants to allow gun enthu­si­asts like her­self to car­ry firearms just about every­where, even on pub­lic school grounds:

Eliz­a­beth Scott, R‑Monroe, told the crowd she would co-spon­sor bills in the upcom­ing ses­sion to both repeal and weak­en I‑594.

Scott said she also planned to co-spon­sor a bill to allow peo­ple with con­cealed-pis­tol per­mits to car­ry weapons on school grounds, in hopes of deter­ring a shoot­ing, and anoth­er to elim­i­nate the sales tax on guns and ammu­ni­tion. As she announced each pro­pos­al, the crowd lit up in cheers.

I‑594, of course, is the ini­tia­tive to require back­ground checks on gun sales sold over the Inter­net and at gun shows. It passed over­whelm­ing­ly, with a nine­teen-point mar­gin of vic­to­ry, and sup­port for the law has only grown since the elec­tion. But Scott does­n’t care that vot­ers spoke loud­ly and clear­ly in favor of I‑594. The law was­n’t a week old before she was talk­ing about attempt­ing to repeal it.

This is who Repub­li­cans want to send up against DelBene?

Susan Hutchison’s claim that the 1st is “actu­al­ly a con­ser­v­a­tive dis­trict” is laugh­able. It does­n’t pass the straight face test. If it’s a con­ser­v­a­tive dis­trict, then why have its inhab­i­tants repeat­ed­ly cho­sen Suzan Del­Bene to rep­re­sent them over con­ser­v­a­tives like John Koster and Pedro Celis? The dis­trict was brand new in 2012, and Repub­li­cans weren’t able to win it then, even though their hand­picked redis­trict­ing wiz­ard Slade Gor­ton had a big hand in draw­ing it so that it would be competitive.

Two years lat­er, in 2014, they still weren’t able to win the 1st, even though the elec­toral cli­mate was favor­able for them (midterm cycle, no statewide race, low turnout, Repub­li­can Noise Machine work­ing in over­drive in an attempt to make Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic brand as tox­ic as possible).

Incum­bents are gen­er­al­ly con­sid­ered to be most vul­ner­a­ble when they stand for reelec­tion the first time. But Del­Bene sur­vived 2014, and is no longer a fresh­man.  Last cycle, Repub­li­cans recruit­ed a can­di­date they said had a lot of promise (Celis, for­mer­ly of Microsoft, like Del­Bene), but he bare­ly sur­vived the August Top Two elec­tion, and ran an unin­spir­ing, lack­lus­ter campaign.

Scott won’t have that par­tic­u­lar prob­lem — she’ll be pack­ing heat, lit­er­al­ly — but she’s not a cred­i­ble oppo­nent for Del­Bene. Yet, amus­ing­ly, Hutchi­son is try­ing to pitch Scott as the per­fect foil to the well-liked Con­gress­woman:

Hutchi­son said Scott can appeal to the many 1st Dis­trict vot­ers who are not thrilled with DelBene’s sup­port of the Oba­ma agen­da, includ­ing some Democ­rats. “Sno­homish Coun­ty Democ­rats are blue col­lar. They aren’t rep­re­sent­ed by that social­ist wing that is so promi­nent in Seat­tle,” she said.

Ah, this trope again. Well, I guess it’s to be expected.

Repub­li­cans know they can’t win in Seat­tle, so they try to demo­nize the state’s largest city and pit the rest of the state against it.

But there is noth­ing extreme about the sen­si­ble pol­i­cy direc­tions that Seat­tle’s pro­gres­sive lead­ers stand for, whether that’s increas­ing the min­i­mum wage, mak­ing our state’s hor­ri­bly regres­sive tax sys­tem fair­er, or ensur­ing that law enforce­ment treats every­one with respect and dignity.

As I not­ed ear­li­er, Repub­li­cans have failed to defeat a sin­gle Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent at the fed­er­al or statewide lev­el for years. The so-called boa con­stric­tor strat­e­gy just has­n’t been work­ing for them. But they seem deter­mined to keep try­ing it.

If past his­to­ry is any indi­ca­tion, they’ll find it tough going.

The Sno­homish Coun­ty Democ­rats have con­sis­tent­ly put Wash­ing­ton’s third largest coun­ty in the win col­umn for many Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates and causes.

Jay Inslee, Pat­ty Mur­ray, Maria Cantwell, and Chris Gre­goire have found sup­port there, as have Democ­rats run­ning fur­ther down­bal­lot, like Bob Fer­gu­son and Peter Gold­mark. Sno­homish has been piv­otal in the fail­ure num­ber of recent Tim Eyman ini­tia­tives, notably I‑985 in 2008, I‑1033 in 2009, and I‑1125 in 2011.

Sno­homish vot­ers also mem­o­rably stood against over­turn­ing an increase in road fund­ing in 2005 by vot­ing down Kir­by Wilbur and John Carl­son’s I‑912.

It is worth not­ing that the 1st Dis­tric­t’s pop­u­la­tion base is actu­al­ly in King Coun­ty. Because the 2nd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict encom­pass­es the pop­u­lous west­ern por­tion of Sno­homish, the por­tion of Sno­homish that’s in the 1st is most­ly rur­al. It includes the area affect­ed by the destruc­tive Oso mud­slide last year. And, as local lead­ers in Dar­ring­ton and Arling­ton have attest­ed, Del­Bene rep­re­sents the area very well. She shows up, she lis­tens, and she deliv­ers excel­lent con­stituent service.

The dis­trict extends north through Skag­it and What­com coun­ties, tak­ing in com­mu­ni­ties like Mount Ver­non and Fer­n­dale, which also see a lot of DelBene.

It’s fun­ny that Hutchi­son is so enthu­si­as­tic about Scott. Demo­c­ra­t­ic strate­gists and cam­paign plan­ners will be enthu­si­as­tic about her, too. She’s exact­ly the kind of can­di­date they like: some­one who is so mil­i­tant and extreme that there’s plen­ty of mate­r­i­al just wait­ing to be har­vest­ed for use in neg­a­tive ad campaigns.

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 “Militant Republican legislator Elizabeth Scott to challenge Suzan DelBene in 2016”

  1. My guess is that Susan and Scott are close in ide­ol­o­gy and val­ues. That was not the image that Susan want­ed to por­tray when she ran for KC Exec­u­tive as a pho­ny moderate.

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