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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, July 18th, 2018

This is what pandering looks like: Rodney Tom’s door lit pieces reveal his different faces

After a four year hia­tus from leg­is­lat­ing and cam­paign­ing for office, par­ty switch­er Rod­ney Tom is back in the are­na, chal­leng­ing the sec­ond of his suc­ces­sors as State Sen­a­tor of the 48th Dis­trict in an attempt to reclaim the posi­tion he once held.

Tom is the only leg­is­la­tor in recent times (and pos­si­bly ever, although we’d have to check with leg­isla­tive his­to­ri­ans to be sure) to have served in all four cau­cus­es in Olympia. He is a Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-Republican-again.

Tom start­ed out in the House Repub­li­can cau­cus in 2003, went over to the House Democ­rats in 2006, became part of the Sen­ate Democ­rats at the end of that year, and then aban­doned the Sen­ate Democ­rats to become Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader as part of a pow­er coup he engi­neered with the Sen­ate Repub­li­cans in 2012.

Tom opt­ed not to seek reelec­tion in 2014.

Although Tom cau­cused with the Repub­li­cans for two ses­sions, became a right wing polit­i­cal oper­a­tive after leav­ing the Leg­is­la­ture, and urged 45th LD vot­ers to back  Jiny­oung Lee Englund in last year’s spe­cial elec­tion to pick a suc­ces­sor to Andy Hill, he has con­tin­ued to state pub­licly that he con­sid­ers him­self a Democrat.

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty fierce­ly dis­agrees, and argues Tom only filed as a Demo­c­rat for his come­back bid because he would­n’t win as a Repub­li­can. (The 48th has become a much more pro­gres­sive dis­trict since the last time it sent a Repub­li­can to the Leg­is­la­ture. The year was 2004; the can­di­date was Rod­ney Tom.)

Tom declared at a can­di­date forum Mon­day night that he has just knocked on his five thou­sandth door as a 2018 can­di­date. If true, that means he’s been out on the doors a lot. We were curi­ous what Rod­ney is telling vot­ers in the 48th about his can­di­da­cy, so we obtained two pieces of his door­belling literature..

At first glance, they looked to be the same, but we quick­ly real­ized they weren’t.

What we’ll call Ver­sion A appears to be tar­get­ed to house­holds that are more left-lean­ing, while what we’ll call Ver­sion B seems meant for house­holds that are more right-lean­ing. The pieces share the same design, but the mes­sag­ing is different.

Also, the stock pho­to that’s in the left lean­ing ver­sion (depict­ing a woman with chil­dren and what appears to be a chem­istry set) isn’t in the right lean­ing version.

Here is Ver­sion A:

Rodney Tom doorbelling literature for left-leaning voters

Side one of Ver­sion A

Rodney Tom doorbelling literature for left-leaning voters

Side two of Ver­sion A

And here is Ver­sion B:

Rodney Tom doorbelling literature for right-leaning voters

Side one of Ver­sion B

Rodney Tom doorbelling literature for right-leaning voters

Side two of Ver­sion B

Here is a com­par­i­son of the talk­ing points on the front of Ver­sion A.

Ver­sion A (left leaning)Ver­sion B (right leaning)
We need Rod­ney Tom as our Sen­a­tor… again.We need Rod­ney Tom as our Sen­a­tor… again.
A proud social pro­gres­sive and a proven leader.Cut tuition for col­lege stu­dents for the first time in state history.
Will reverse the vote his oppo­nent took to hide her Sen­ate emails. Sen­a­tors should not be allowed to hide their emails from the pub­lic… period.Worked with Repub­li­cans and fis­cal­ly respon­si­ble Democ­rats to pass bal­anced bud­gets with no tax increases.
Will fight to roll back car tab fees and prop­er­ty taxes.
Rod­ney changed state law so undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grant stu­dents have access to in-state tuition and finan­cial aid.

Rod­ney Tom… is more fis­cal­ly con­ser­v­a­tive than most of the Repub­li­cans in the leg­is­la­ture.”

— John Carl­son, KVI Radio

Notice the dif­fer­ences? In Ver­sion A, Rod­ney brands him­self a “pro­gres­sive” (which he most assured­ly is not), empha­sizes his views on pub­lic dis­clo­sure, and takes cred­it for the state-lev­el DREAM Act that almost did­n’t pass back in 2014.

In Ver­sion B, Rod­ney empha­sizes his anti-tax posi­tions and ends with a fawn­ing quote from well known right wing radio host John Carlson.

Ver­sion B appears to be the door­belling piece Tom is using to pan­der for Repub­li­can votes, which he needs in order to have a prayer of being competitive.

Now, here is com­par­i­son of the let­ter that’s on the oth­er side.

Ver­sion A (left leaning)Ver­sion B (right leaning)

Dear Neigh­bor,

My 89-year old father lives on a fixed income in the East­gate house where I grew up. Since 2015, his prop­er­ty tax­es have gone up 43%.

Still, my oppo­nent pushed for even high­er tax­es last session.

I take this personally.

We can’t dis­place seniors out of their homes. We’ll nev­er make hous­ing afford­able if we dri­ve up costs.

I am return­ing to pub­lic life for two main rea­sons: to advo­cate for edu­ca­tion reforms and to keep tax­es in check.

I hope my record as a social pro­gres­sive and fis­cal­ly-respon­si­ble leader earns your vote once again.


Dear Neigh­bor,

My father just passed away this spring at 88 years old. He lived on a fixed income in the East­gate house where I grew up. Under my oppo­nen­t’s failed lead­er­ship and big-tax men­tal­i­ty, we’ve been bur­dened by the biggest prop­er­ty tax hikes in his­to­ry. My father’s tax­es had gone up 43% since 2015.

I take this per­son­al­ly. We can’t dis­place seniors out of their homes. And we will nev­er make hous­ing afford­able if we keep dri­ving up costs.

I am return­ing to pub­lic life for two main rea­sons… to advo­cate for edu­ca­tion reforms and to keep a check on taxes.

I hope my record as a fis­cal­ly respon­si­ble leader earns your vote.


Notice that the left lean­ing ver­sion only says Kud­er­er “pushed for even high­er tax­es last ses­sion” with­out going into more details.

The right lean­ing ver­sion, on the oth­er hand, spite­ful­ly tries to direct­ly impli­cate Kud­er­er in Tom’s late father’s suf­fer­ing by false­ly blam­ing her for the sub­ur­ban and urban prop­er­ty tax increas­es Tom’s own Sen­ate Repub­li­can cau­cus insist­ed on dur­ing oper­at­ing budget/McCleary fund­ing nego­ti­a­tions in 2017.

As far as Tom is con­cerned, it does not mat­ter that Kud­er­er was a NAY vote on the prop­er­ty tax levy swipe scheme and was in the minor­i­ty in the Sen­ate at the time it was pro­posed and approved. It seems Tom will say any­thing in an effort to secure the votes his cam­paign needs. The truth does­n’t matter.

All that mat­ters is win­ning, and get­ting his old posi­tion back.

Also notice that Tom calls him­self a pro­gres­sive again in Ver­sion A, while that label is con­spic­u­ous­ly absent from the word­ing in Ver­sion B.

From what we can tell, Ver­sion A was made first, and Ver­sion B was cre­at­ed sev­er­al weeks lat­er. Both ver­sions are cur­rent­ly being dis­trib­uted by Tom’s campaign.

This, read­ers, is what pan­der­ing looks like. This is pol­i­tics at its worst.

It’s clear that Rod­ney Tom real­ly, real­ly, real­ly wants to return to the Leg­is­la­ture and resume his pow­er games. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for him, Pat­ty Kud­er­er stands in his way.

Because the 48th is heav­i­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic, the only way for Tom to win is to turn out the Repub­li­can base and con­vince a sub­stan­tial num­ber of Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers to betray their par­ty’s own true stan­dard bear­er in favor of him.

Tom is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly chas­ing after two very dif­fer­ent groups of vot­ers and try­ing to win them over to his side by telling them what he thinks they want to hear.

That’s dis­turb­ing, but not sur­pris­ing com­ing from some­one who hooked up with his old polit­i­cal par­ty in return for a cor­ner office and the title of Major­i­ty Leader.

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One Comment

  1. Wow, no jack­et in ver­sion A. Jack­et in ver­sion B. Mul­ti racial class­room dis­ap­pears in back of ver­sion B. Good expose.

    # by Mike Barer :: July 18th, 2018 at 8:23 PM

One Ping

  1. […] NW Pro­gres­sive has an amus­ing post about Tom’s door-hang­ers, com­par­ing the ver­sion in Demo­c­ra­t­ic-lean­ing parts of the Dis­trict to the ver­sion found in Repub­li­can-lean­ing areas. Cyn­i­cal as hell, but the vot­ing sys­tem we signed up for invites pre­cise­ly this strat­e­gy, so I can hard­ly blame him. Most of the dif­fer­ences are entire­ly pre­dictable, but there’s a par­tic­u­lar­ly curi­ous dif­fer­ence that’s puz­zling to me. From the door-hang­er tar­get­ing Democ­rats and left lean­ing voters: […]

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