So Ed Murray is running for the Washington State Senate in the 43rd against Pat Thibaudeau, a Democratic incumbent.
Haven’t heard of Thibaudeau? Well, that’s because she doesn’t do much in Olympia, and isn’t exactly respected by her fellow Ds. In 2005 she was in line to get the chair of the State Senate’s Health Care Committee, but her fellow Dems in the Senate replaced her—demoted her—because they apparently didn’t believe she could handle such an important committee. (Or as the PI’s Joel Connelly delicately put it in a column in December of 2005: “Thibaudeau did not get a committee chairmanship when Democrats organized the Senate early this year.â€ť)
Murray, meanwhile, has been a player in the state house. He’s chair of the important Transportation Committee. This year he got the gay rights bill passed and passed a regional transportation package. Last year Murray got a transportation-funding gas tax through the house. It says something about Murray’s power and his progressivism that for the second year in a row right-wingers are trying to repeal bills he got passed: last year KVI pushed an unsuccessful repeal of the gas tax; this year Tim Eyman is pushing a repeal of the gay rights bill. (Great Goldy post here about what a lying sack of shit Eyman is.)
The Dems in the State Senate aren’t as progressive as the Dems in the House, and Murray would be a good addition to the Senate. Ed gets things done. And Murray will be as effective in the State Senate as he’s been in the House—and not just on gay issues. (In the same column Connelly wrote of Murray, “Murray has demonstrated in Olympia that it is possible to be liberal, progressive and gay, but also tough and highly effective. He is frequently mentioned as a successor to Seattle’s Congressman-for-life Jim McDermott.â€ť)
But some folks have a problem with Murray running against Thibaudeau. They gripe that Murray shouldn’t be running against a democratic incumbent. But other Washington Dems have run against Dem incumbents. Gary Locke was elected to the legislature after defeating Peggy Maxie, an incumbent Dem and an African-American woman, in 1982. In 1994 Kip Takuda was elected to the state legislature when he defeated Vivian Caver, yet another African-American woman and a fellow Dem.
Oh, and guess who else has committed the unpardonable sin of running against an incumbent Dem in a state race?
In 1992 Thibaudeau ran against and defeated an incumbent Dem in the primary. Thibaudeau ran against Rep. Dick Nelson, one of the most liberal Dem members of the legislature at the time. And Thibaudeau not only ran against an incumbent, but she ran a dirty campaign, sending out hit pieces that misrepresented Nelson’s positions. Just how dirty was Pat in 1992? Thibaudeau was so dirty that the King County Democrats denied her their endorsement going into the general election in 1992. From the Seattle Times:
PARTY IRREGULAR: In the Democratic Party playbook, everybody happily joins hands after the bruising primary election and unites for the bruising general election. But not in King County, where party leaders voted this week not to endorse Pat Thibaudeau in the 43rd Legislative District.
Thibaudeau, who with a few absentee ballots still to be counted appears to have defeated Rep. Dick Nelson in the 43rd District primary, expected to get the party endorsement and would have if not for last-minute opposition from the Nelson camp. His supporters complained she was unduly nasty and misrepresented his legislative record. “[Thibaudeau] lied,” says Nelson campaign aide Roger Pence.â€ť
Thibaudeau’s dirty campaign in 1992 wasn’t her first underhanded attempt to grab a seat in the state legislature—just her first successful attempt. In 1987 Pat Thibaudeau tried to grab the 43rd District House seat away from Cal Anderson. The seat was open, and the 43rd District Dems drew up a list of three candidates. Traditionally the King County Council appoints the top choice, and Anderson was the top choice. Anderson at the time was an openly gay aide to Seattle Mayor Charles Royer. The state legislature at the time had never had an openly gay member, and the Dems in the 43rd, home to Seattle’s gay community, felt it was important to send Anderson. (Remember, this was 1987, the height of the AIDS epidemic—gay people desperately needed representation in the legislature.)
Thibaudeau was the 43rd District Dems’ last choice—third on the list. But Thibaudeau had friends on the County Council—she was a lobbyist, you see—and she pressed her chums on the County Council to ignore what 43rd District Dems wanted and appoint her over of Cal Anderson. The 43rd District Dems cried foul, but Thibaudeau refused to play by the rules. (Before the list was drawn up, Anderson and the 43rd District Dems’ second choice both signed a letter agreeing to support the 43rd District Dems’ first choice, whoever it was. Thibaudeau refused to sign the letter.) The King County Democratic Party Chairman at the time, David McDonald, accused Thibaudeau of working to “undermine” the appointment process. He then called on the King County Democratic Central Committee to remove Thibaudeau from the list before sending it on to the County Council. Removing Thibaudeau required a two-thirds vote of the Central Committee. Thibaudeau lost the vote, and was removed from the list—a pretty resounding rejection of Thibaudeau and her slimy politics.
So if someone tells you that Murray is out of line for running against an incumbent, tell `em that Thibaudeau did the exact same thing in 1992. And if someone tells you that it’s ageist and sexist for Murray to take on Thibaudeau, then tell `em that it was homophobic and opportunistic for Thibaudeau’s to try and block Cal Anderson’s appointment in 1987. (And I suppose you should add that it was sexist and, er, racist for Locke and Takuda to run against and defeat African-American women.) And then tell them that in addition to being ineffectual, Thibaudeau is an ineffectual, self-serving pol who has twice been slapped down by her own party for her dirty campaigning and her dishonest, underhanded political maneuvering.
And then tell `em it’s time for Pat to go.