NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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.

Monday, August 6th, 2018

Mainstream Republicans working to elect Rodney Tom in the 48th Legislative District

The Repub­li­can Par­ty may not have any­one run­ning under its ban­ner for Leg­is­la­ture in the 48th Dis­trict this year, but that does­n’t mean the par­ty is bereft of can­di­dates to sup­port. As reports filed with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion show, the par­ty appa­ra­tus is heav­i­ly invest­ed in sup­port­ing the come­back bid of Rod­ney Tom, who claims to be a Demo­c­rat, but who Democ­rats say is real­ly a Republican.

Tom, for read­ers who don’t know, is a peren­ni­al par­ty switch­er who start­ed out his polit­i­cal career as a Repub­li­can, left for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty in 2006, and rejoined his old par­ty six years lat­er as part of a back­room deal in which he was installed as Major­i­ty Leader in return for deliv­er­ing the State Sen­ate into Repub­li­can hands.

Before defect­ing back to the Repub­li­cans in 2012, Tom had won two com­pet­i­tive elec­tions to the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate as a Demo­c­rat with Demo­c­ra­t­ic sup­port. After deliv­er­ing the Sen­ate into Repub­li­can hands, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty dis­avowed Tom, and he began mak­ing prepa­ra­tions to seek reelec­tion to a third con­sec­u­tive term in 2014 with Repub­li­can help — despite still claim­ing to be a Democrat.

But a few weeks after the end of the 2014 ses­sion, Tom abrupt­ly end­ed his reelec­tion cam­paign, say­ing his first pri­or­i­ty had to be to look after his father.

Tom remained involved in state pol­i­tics as a right wing polit­i­cal oper­a­tive, but did not reen­ter the elec­toral are­na as a can­di­date until this spring, when he let it be known he would be run­ning for the posi­tion he pre­vi­ous­ly held.

When the Repub­li­cans found out that Tom was inter­est­ed in try­ing to win back his old job and take out Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Kud­er­er, their oper­a­tives began mak­ing plans to inter­vene in the race on his behalf.

First, they worked to clear a path for Tom by mak­ing sure that he would­n’t have any Repub­li­can oppo­si­tion (very impor­tant because Tom’s planned path to vic­to­ry over Kud­er­er requires the sup­port of Repub­li­can voters).

In this, they suc­ceed­ed. You can see from look­ing at the can­di­date fil­ings that Tom and Kud­er­er orig­i­nal­ly had two Repub­li­can oppo­nents: Ken Seal and Richard Ben­nett. How­ev­er, both of them with­drew their can­di­da­cies on May 21st, leav­ing just Tom and Kud­er­er and a third can­di­date named Bill Hirt.

Hirt (who by his own admis­sion peren­ni­al­ly runs for office mere­ly to have a plat­form to denounce Sound Tran­sit’s Link light rail project) was deter­mined to stay in the race. He was, how­ev­er, amenable to iden­ti­fy­ing as an inde­pen­dent in order to min­i­mize the pos­si­bil­i­ty of caus­ing inter­fer­ence to Tom’s candidacy.

Sec­ond, the Main­stream Repub­li­cans agreed to endorse Tom. (The Main­stream Repub­li­cans are a group that is a part of the Repub­li­can Par­ty appa­ra­tus in Wash­ing­ton State, but is admin­is­tered sep­a­rate­ly, as opposed to being under the aus­pices of the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty Cen­tral Committee.)

You would­n’t know it from look­ing at their pub­lic list of endorse­ments — his name has been omit­ted — but sources tell us that Tom was indeed endorsed.

NPI reached out repeat­ed­ly to the Main­stream Repub­li­cans to con­firm this infor­ma­tion, but we received no response.

Last week, how­ev­er, we got the con­fir­ma­tion we’d been seek­ing when mail­ers paid for by the Main­stream Repub­li­cans began arriv­ing in the mail­box­es of vot­ers in the 48th Dis­trict. The mail­ers instruct right-lean­ing vot­ers not to waste their vote on Bill Hirt, but rather to sup­port… Rod­ney Tom. Take a look — here’s the front:

Front of a mailer paid for by the Mainstream Republicans in support of Rodney Tom

And here’s the back:

Back of a mailer paid for by the Mainstream Republicans in support of Rodney Tom

This is the most overt effort we’ve seen yet to recruit Repub­li­can vot­ers to sup­port Rod­ney Tom so that he’ll per­form bet­ter in the August Top Two election.

Tom had pre­vi­ous­ly ben­e­fit­ed from inde­pen­dent expen­di­tures in sup­port of his can­di­da­cy from anoth­er PAC that usu­al­ly inter­venes on behalf of Repub­li­cans. Now, he’s get­ting help from an arm of the par­ty that has “Repub­li­can” in its name.

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One Comment

  1. Very inter­est­ing. It’s like pulling the cur­tain on the Wiz­ard Of Oz.

    # by Mike Barer :: August 7th, 2018 at 3:34 AM
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