Guest Column: Legislative Junkie
Continuing our series examining the closely fought battle for the Washington State Senate, here is a another guest post from The Legislative Junkie.
The Legislative Junkie has volunteered to give us some inside scoop on this pivotal race and while he shares my pithy writing style, he is one of the four regular guest contributors to this blog. You can read more guest posts by using the menu on the right.
Cyrus Habib (D) vs. Michelle Darnell (R)
The 48th district reaches the richest niches of eastern King County, stretching from the eastern shores of Lake Washington to the western shores of Lake Sammamish, including Medina, Redmond, and parts of Bellevue and Kirkland. It’s voting patterns are typical of the suburban King County swing districts I’ve written about before on this blog – socially liberal, big business Democrats – the kind that are pro-marriage equality and anti-union. This Senate seat is left vacant by the retirement of Rodney Tom (
R, D, “D,”- his own ego, Medina).
Since Rodney Tom’s late-2012 defection from the Democrats to become Majority Leader of the Majority Coalition Caucus (a move that gave governing power to Republicans and torpedoed much of Tom’s own stated legislative agenda), he has been a major target of the Washington State Democratic Party. His retirement denied Democrats the grudge match they were looking for, but it left the seat open for the taking by first-term Representative Cyrus Habib (D-Bellevue).
Habib is young (32), charismatic, and has a resume that, frankly, leaves me feeling inadequate (attorney at Perkins Coie, Bellevue Human Services Commissioner, Rhodes Scholar, editor of the Yale Law Review).
He’s been endorsed by people who don’t always find themselves on the same side: both the Washington Education Association AND education reformers like Stand for Children; both the Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund AND the Seattle/King County Realtors. After winning his House race by 20 points in 2012 and raising more than $135,000 for the 2014 cycle, Habib has the seat all but locked up.
Michelle Darnell, the Republican in the race, is running an interesting, if not entirely ready-for-primetime, campaign. Her campaign rhetoric is anti-big business, focusing especially on the plight of homeowners facing foreclosure.
She’s also criticized Habib for supporting a Business and Operations tax giveaway to Boeing. However, she doesn’t mention much in the way of policy positions or solutions (she told The Stranger’s Election Control Board “I am not going to talk about specific policy.” Warning – the SECB’s response contains an all-caps incredulous vulgarity).*
Darnell’s campaign has an amateurish feel to it that I want to admire (she’s raised less than $10,000), but it’s also borderline shady (posting a blurry photo of yourself next to Kemper Freeman, captioned “Michelle standing beside Kemper Freeman, Owner of Bellevue Square” won’t fool anyone into thinking he’s endorsed you).
Habib has this seat won. It’s all over now but the voting.
*Darnell also pokes at a pet peeve of mine, saying “I know about education, I’ve raised four children.” That’s legitimately impressive, raising four children, and I’m all for including the wisdom of parents in education policy. BUT: no, being a parent (or having been a student) does not make you an education policy expert. It’s like saying, “I know about astrophysics, I see the moon almost every night” or “I know about nutrition, I eat three meals a day.”
Education policy, from curriculum development to resource allocation, is the keystone issue facing the legislature, and it’s more complicated than what someone can learn from their experience as a parent. Suggesting so distracts from the legitimate research and expertise of those who have devoted years to understanding education policy and practice – teachers, wonks, researchers, reformers, and activists. I hate hate hate this kind of appeal to anti-intellectualism.