News Esser Outtakes
posted by January 31 at 12:03 PMon
I’ve interviewed new Washington GOP state chairman Luke Esser a couple of times in the last few days since he was elected Saturday by the GOP rank and file to replace Diane Tebelius.
Excerpts from the interviews will appear in this afternoon’s print edition of The Stranger, but I had to leave some stuff out.
Thanks to Slog, I can post the cutting room floor right here. So, here are a couple of interesting quotes from Esser.
Esser on Dave Reichert: “If not for his larger-than-life persona as the sheriff who caught the Green River Killer, he would not have survived 2006.”
Esser on the viaduct: “The worst thing right now is this phony option. This fantasy land option. The mini-tunnel. The engineering and cost analysis has not been done. For the governor to want Seattle to be presented with this phony option is very misleading. Gregoire seemed to say that at first, but then she seemed to change her mind. We need stronger leadership than that on regional transportation issues.”
[Esser told me he couldn’t speak for the entire GOP on the viaduct issue, but he says his position as a legislator (he was a state senator from Bellevue until he got his ass kicked by GOP Rep turned Democratic state senate candidate Rodney Tom last year) was this: Seattle could do a tunnel if it could raise the extra money above and beyond the $2 billion plus the state had kicked in for a rebuild.]
Esser on Tebelius: “There wasn’t a particular difference between me and Diane ideologically. We’re both conservative Republicans. [Check. Esser practically filibustered against the gay civil rights bill in Olympia last year; voted against cost of living pay raises for teachers; voted against fixes on 520 and 405 because he wouldn’t support a gas tax—this was a senator from the Eastside?; voted against stem cell research; and voted against closing the gun show loophole.]
Anyway, more Esser on Tebelius, and warning, he uses a sports metaphor: “You have to put yourself in a position to win even if you know the political winds aren’t going your way this time. If you lose a game by a lot of points [without giving it your all] it sets a bad precedent for the close game that’s coming up. You always have to be in a position to win.” Esser criticized the local GOP for not raising enough money last year and for leaving its state political director position empty. Esser, who already axed Tebelius’s communications director, says he will be filling the top spots like the political director in the next few weeks. He also says he wants a full-time communications director working out of Olympia to coordinate the GOP message with the GOP caucus.
Esser had also blamed the GOP losses here on the GOP’s image at the federal level: the war, budget deficits, and GOP corruption. He mentioned Mark Foley and Duke Cunningham by name. So, I asked him if local GOP voters were against the war in Iraq now. “I wouldn’t say that at all,” he said.