A Challenger for Finkbeiner (and he’s pro-gay-rights)
A few weeks ago The Seattle Times ran an interesting story about Bill Finkbeiner, the moderate Republican state senator from the eastside who has been blamed for the one-vote defeat of the gay civil rights bill last year.
People get particularly incensed about Finkbeiner because he voted against the bill, ensuring its death for nearly the 30th year in a row, even though back when he was a Democrat, he twice voted for the bill. That strikes many as unprincipled flip-flopping — and unnecessary, given that Finkbeiner’s moderate district encompasses Redmond and Kirkland, is overwhelming pro-choice, and therefore is unlikely to boot him out of office for extending basic protections to homosexuals.
Gay rights groups vowed they would hold Finkbeiner responsible if the bill—which would specifically prohibit discrimination against homosexuals in housing, employment, and financial transactions—failed to pass last year. Well, it failed to pass. And now, just a week before the new legislative session is set to open in Olympia, an eastside Democrat named Eric Oemig has announced he will challenge Finkbeiner in the upcoming November elections, and plans to hammer Finkbeiner for his flip-flopping on gay rights. A press release Oemig sent out today reads:
After 14 years, Finkbeiner still won’t say how he will vote on civil rights bill 1515 if it comes up again this year. Previously, he has voted both for and against the bill.
“Let me be clear,” said Oemig, “I will be happy to cast the deciding vote to ban this discrimination.”
Whether the 38-year-old former Microsoft software engineer has any chance against Finkbeiner remains to be seen. But Oemig’s announcement keeps the pressure on Finkbeiner to flip his position yet again and support the gay civil rights bill this session (as he has suggested he may do).
Did gay rights activists put Oemig up to this? No, he says. But he’d be happy to take their money to support his campaign.