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Saturday, January 28, 2006

WA Dems & GOP Select New State Party Chairs

Posted by on January 28 at 18:56 PM

The Democrats elected former left-wing King County Council Member Dwight Pelz as new state chair this afternoon. Pelz, a loud brawler, replaces outgoing chair Paul Berendt.

The Republicans, replacing their outgoing chair (and quipster) Chris Vance, elected attorney and party activist Diane Tebelius. Tebelius ran against Dave Reichert in the Republican primary in 2004. Her latest claim to fame: Losing the Rossi trial and defending her party’s recent controversial voter challenges in King County.

Immediately upon being selected (Pelz beat rival Laura Ruderman 95-70), Pelz showcased his knack for sound biting.

Asked about Tebelius, no wimp herself (Tebelius is a former federal prosecutor and she raised nearly a half a million dollars in her R primary loss to Reichert), Pelz said: “She’s smart, and she’s tough. But she’s got a tough product to sell.” He went on to bash President Bush’s record of misleading the public about Iraq, the Republicans’ “Culture of Corruption,” and the Republicans’ history of bilking the working classes.

Berendt leaves Pelz with the best situation for Dems of any West coast state: The Democrats control both houses in the Olympia, the Governor’s mansion, and both U.S. Senate seats.

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Both the Democrats and Republicans have chosen the wrong people. Greg Rodriguez is a hard-working guy, a concerned parent and someone who is the eptiome of a "people person." I first met him, when I worked at a table for John Kerry, at the Juneteenth celebration in Pratt Park, in June 2004. I ran into him, later that summer, at the King County Labor Picnic in Woodland Park.
The sad thing about it, is that it seems the Democratic party gave into the bigots who might be unwilling to vote for Democrats, because Greg, who is openly gay, took the last name of his partner. Instead, the Democrats would have done well to ask themselves, "Do we want people such as that in the party? Do we really stand for anything, such as we purport?"
The Republican (state) party had the option, from what I recall reading, of installing a Latina small businesswoman as head of the state party. Aside from what that might have done for many people's perception of the party - it is debatable whether there would be substance there - the fact that she is a small business person would've helped the state GOP focus on one of the founding principles of the Republican party: free labor. In today's world that could mean, working for oneself. Neither party really seems to address itself to the self-employed or the entrepreneur, in anything meaningful sense, anymore. Historically, the Democrats did and the Republicans took care of the corporate types.
I met Diane Telebus just once and hardly talked to her. It just seems that neither party needs another attorney at its helm.

Correction to last post: the new head of the State GOP's last name is Tebelius.


No one made Greg drop out - he chose to. And if you honestly believe that hardcore Democratic Party acitivist gave two shits that Greg was gay or that he changed his name, you know nothing about the members of the Washington State Democratic Party.

I think Greg mentioned those critisizms (which came from one guy, who isn't at all really involved with the Party, and certainly didn't have a vote in the decision) as a way to make an illusion of an excuse - what really happened was that Greg realized he didn't have the votes, and he needed a way out.

If Greg had really wanted the job, he wouldn't have dropped out. It was his choice, and if he truly did drop out due to one guys blog comment, then he really didn't have the mettle for the job in the first place.

Greg Rodrigeuz is gay?

I was there for the vote and it's weird how Josh plays both journalist and participant. He's hopelessly conflicted and unreliable. A warning to his readers.

Greg woulda been a lousy choice. come on, it had nothing to do with him being was the fact he couldn't do the job.

"Conflicted." ??

That's a fancy criticism, Gasgirl. I'm not sure I follow you. I guess sometimes I have conflicting feelings about the stories I cover. But rest assured, I'm not staying up at night feeling "conflicted"—especially not about Dwight Pelz or Diane Tebelius.

I think Pelz and Tebelius were both smart choices for their parties.

The Republicans are limping a bit right now, and I think Vance was wise to step aside. Tebelius will easily maintain Vance's junkyard dog style, but she'll add a needed dose of gravitas. I think the Republicans' goal right now is to regain the trust of the Republican leaders back in D.C., and there's not a better choice for the task than Tebelius.

As for Pelz—he'll be a much-needed improvement over Berendt when it comes to sound bites and framing issues for the media. And as a Deaniac, Pelz will tap right into DNC Chairman Dean's focus on building grass roots power. However, as the current Democratic majority in Olympia shows, Berendt was great at field campaign. Pelz is going to need more than sound bites, and he'd be wise to take some pointers from Berendt on how to run campaigns.

The Cantwell/McGavick race is going to be a great test for both freshman party chairs.

I'm not conviced that Josh is right that Tebelius is a good choice as Republican chair. It may be that she is best suited to reinvigorate the party and strengthen its ties to the national leadership, as Josh suggests, but the fact that the R's leading electeds (and almost-electeds in the case of Dino Rossi) endorsed her opponent leads me to suspect the opposite.
In fact, Tebelius' election may well signal the end of Vance-ism in the state party. If so, if Tebelius intends to lead the party back towards a harder-edged, appeal to the base style, that is very bad news for Republican political fortunes in a blue-leaning state like this one.
That is because for all of Vance's bluster and occasional missteps, his diagnosis of what his party had done wrong in the past, and his prescription for what it needed to do in the future if it wanted to start winning statewide races again, was spot on. Vance understood that the party's best hopes lay with in the increasingly populous suburban cresent of the Puget Sound, which had abandoned the party in droves as Republicans all but self-immolated as they nominated a string of unelectable ultra-religious nutjobs and hard right culture warriors in high-profile races (Pat Robertson, Ellen Craswell, John Carlson, Linda Smith, and so on). Vance instead made sure that moderate-seeming (if not actually substantively moderate), suburban-friendly candidates (who also made the party's big business bagmen swoon) like Rossi and Rob McKenna carried the party's standard. The fact that Rob won easily, and Dino nearly did, proves that Vance was on to something.
Of course, this repositioning enraged large segments of the existing Republican activist base, which really is extreme in its views -- just read the comment threads on Sound Politics, where Vance was pilloried mercilessly, if you don't believe me -- and, like some on the Democratic hard left, prefers ideological purity to electoral viability. Tebelius appears to be choice of these uncompromising activists. When you combine her selection with the party's terrible decision to back I-912 (no idea whether its true, but I've heard rumors that Vance opposed that decision, by the way), and its current near-excommunication of Bill Finkbeiner for supporting the anti-discrimination bill (he is likely to face a Christian right primary challenger), and its likely backing of a divisive and probably quixotic attempt to run an anti-gay, pro-discrimination referendum this November, and you've got the makings of a post-Vance hard right turn that will erase all the Vance-initiated image-softening efforts from voters' (already sketchy) memory banks. And that is unalloyed good news for Democrats; if things play out as I suspect, it may not even be inconceivable that we could convince alienated moderates like Finkbeiner and popular Eastside Rep. Fred Jarett to switch teams.
Now, I could be wrong about Tebelius, and Josh could turn out to be right. She certainly is smart and tough, as Dwight says. But whether -- and this is the real question -- she is politically savvy as well remains to be seen.

That's funny that Sandeep lumps John Carlson in with the culture warriors. John is actually pro-choice, but you will never, ever hear him say it.

I agree that Vance was on to something to spin moderate. (I think Vance just had to step aside with the messy Chelan loss and the KC vote challenge...and the fact that the Rs are out of power.) I don't think Tebelius is going to lose sight of Vance's wise spin.
And in her primary run against Reichert, she tacked more moderate, I believe.
Speaking of the 8th...that contest is almost as important...if not more bell weathery...than Cantwell/McGavick. The suburbs seem to be the future, and both parties want to claim the East Side....desperately. This is where Tebelius might have the advantage over Pelz. Tebelius canvassed that turf. She's from there. She knows what messages work and don't from gut and campaign experience. This may give her an edge over Pelz in that major contest this fall...
Obviously, she lost there herself, but really, I don't think there was any stopping a celeb like Reichert...and Tebelius did pretty well in that match up. Again, she raised half a million just for the primary...not too shabby.

How can you say Tebelius has anything to offer?

She is a looser. I like Democrats - so good choice for the R's.

She should have never wasted her money or time against so well presented Dave Reichart. He was right person, right time, right look, right record --- why did she bother?

The Dino ballot case was a farce - en total. Not a leg to stand on in the beginning. Even cherry picking the judge didn't help. But she was paid over a 100,000 - the only winner. She also was very mundane in the parts of the trial I watched.

There is going to be a R rout in this state this fall. She is a stooge - the choice for the ultra right wing we have been fighting for over twenty years.

Added note - Such a great reminder of the Old GOP when former R Gov. Gentleman Dan Evans offed a letter of support for the gay righs bill.

Historic note - After he left the Mansion in Oly, the right wing of his party would not let him go to the national R party converntion as a delegate. The year Washington R's nominated Pat Robertson for president. What a bunch - sounds like leftist political fiction.

Diane will be right at home.

Everybody, please beware of Josh. He finds himself very interesting and is unreliable as a journalist. A warning to his readers.

Can't we just let Erica cover politics? It's just a matter of time before Josh turns on Nick. Josh hangs out with Team Nickels, and is not to be trusted.

Bell T

Yes, Greg R. is very opely gay.

Yes, Johm Carlson is a right winger. Nice face, polite manner -- but apparently you missed his run for Gov. against Gay Locke?

Locke creamed him - statewide.

John has lost something. On all the talk show I have seen recently he just say the obvious, agrees with some comment - not much steam or vinegar anymore.

FINALLY married, some kids, pauch and balding - oh well.

You're going to have to be more specific in your warnings agains Feit. Are you just a neighborhood nut job that has a conspiracy theory about Josh Feit or do you have a real beef about his reporting? My hunch: nut job.

Yes, I smell a nut too: Beware! Beware! He writes things I disagree with! Therefore he is hopefully conflicted, corrupt, compromised!


Gasgirl seems full of gas, but what is it with Josh. He spends more time hanging with Team Nickels than Nick. Moth to the power? Maybe there's an opening in the city's office music and culture. Nick better watch it.

Am I missing something? The Stranger's news coverage doesn't seem very pro Nickels.

Response to Belltowner: You have a point about Carlson. I like John, he is more open-minded than he lets on, and he's also thoughtful and engaging and has a remarkably well-developed sense of humor for a Republican.

But John's public image, driven by his conservative radio talk credentials, is that of a uncompromising winger. HIs biggest political claim to fame is his success in passing I-200, the anti-affirmative action initiative; while that was a popular proposal which garnered close to 60 percent of the vote, it cemented his reputation as a righty concerned with scoring ideological wins on controversial, hot button issues, and in this state Republicans can only if they come across as nice-guy moderates. Pushing 912 onto the ballot only adds to that widespread perception.

Response to Josh: My point is that it is too early to tell in which direction Tebelius will go, though given the circumstances of her election, there is reason to think that her chits are laid with the party's wack-a-doodle-doo far right, rather than the biz-friendly conservative establishment (or "Chris Vance and that Bellevue crowd," as Pam Roach once disparagingly described them to me). We'll see, I guess. Should be interesting.

As for the eastside, now that he's in, knocking off Reichert will not be easy, though also not impossible. My sense is that Reichert is potentially vulnerable, but the advantage of incumbency will be huge in large part because -- in spite of the fact that this is a nationally spotlighted race -- the provincial local media will not give it the sort of sustained, top-tier coverage it deserves. Without the media attention, television advertising will fill the vacuum for only marginally engaged suburban voters, and, while his flaws are evident in person, sexy, sexy Dave is good, good, good on TV.

Pelz has an even harder product to sell in Maria Cantwell, and if he loses this one, he's definitely out.

The grassroots Dems want to cash in on opportunities outside Seattle, and have their eyes on taking back the Republican stronghold of Eastern Washington.

When that happens, Republicans will lurch back in to King County and the Central Puget Sound Region. Large sections of Snohomish and Pierce Counties are trending Republican, and it's possible those gains will spill over into Seatlle. Contrary to what The Stranger would have you believe, the Democrats control the "moderate" and "liberal" portions of the vote. I'm quickly coming to realize that the "liberal" vote is locked up, but not the moderate.

They have ZERO control over the Far-Left, which is going to do a knee-job on Maria this fall. Hell, the Far-Left was out PROTESTING both Clinton and Cantwell at Qwest Field! Moderates aren't going to be impressed with Pelz, and Cantwell is slowly strangling herself by voting and acting "extreme" while trying to appear "mainstream" at the same time.

It's nice that we have so many Democrats in high position but let's hope that they act smarter than the Seattle City Council which made Dems looks stupid by the racist, sexist way it chose Sally Clark.

If Tebelius can re-energize the kook wing of the Republican Party, that's GREAT news. There's nothing liberals need more than MORE ELLEN CRASWELL. Nutjobs discredit the R's, and are probably Cantwell's only hope right now.

Cantwell's only credential until recently was "not a Republican". Now she's got the ANWR win. But it seems like every Dem in the state has SOME kind of a grudge against her -- for me, it's her unrelenting support for spammers.

And the R's have the ultimate business candidate -- McGavick is the real thing, not a jerkoff like Rossi. Whether he's the "real thing" politically is of course a different question. Say something kooky, Mikey!

But no sane voter wants to give back the (probable) gain in Pennsylvania, where Santorum is going down. Dems have a real chance to gain in both houses, and we can't give it up just because we don't like that stupid woman.

So the question is, will the simmering-under Republican vote, which is still angry about the call on Rossi's turnover, and still angry about the usual inefficiency in government, blah blah blah, and now freshly mad about The Gay Agenda, be able to tip the balance in the Senate? I hope not. I agree that the Senate race is the critical challenge for these party heads. Kick some ass, Pelz!

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