State Sen. Bill Finkbeiner’s reelection prospects just got tougher today, when software engineer and activist Eric Oemig declared his bid for the 45th District Senate seat. In announcing his candidacy Oemig hit on themes which should resonate well in the increasingly Democratic Eastside district.
“Our district needs a leader who focuses on the basics. We need to solve problems in education. We can improve the financial health of our families and our businesses by making health care affordable. Everyone saves money when we waste less time in traffic,” said Oemig. “Our tax dollars should be spent on programs that return more value to families and businesses than we pay in.”
I first met Eric as a fellow classmate in the candidate training track at last year’s Camp Wellstone… and Finkbeiner should be worried. Eric is everything you want in a candidate: he’s smart, passionate, energetic, and personable. And after a career solving problems and creating efficiencies for high-tech companies like Microsoft, he has the personal wealth and freedom to devote to full-time campaigning. This is one Democratic candidate who most definitely will not be outspent.
Eric is also unquestionably progressive, but with a real-world business perspective that 45th District voters should find appealing.
“Bill Finkbeiner has been in Olympia since he graduated from college. Our district wants new leadership. We have things that need to get done. Finkbeiner spends his time flip-flopping trying to appease the right wing of his party instead of addressing the needs of the district,” added Eric Oemig.
“I worked in the private sector to eliminate inefficiencies. I will work to bring that same attention to fiscal accountability to state government. More importantly, I have the integrity to make sure people know how I will vote on key issues,” said Oemig.
Finkbeiner, who recently resigned as Senate minority leader, is being stretched between a GOP leadership that’s moving ever further to the right and his own constituents who are growing ever more moderate. Last year he held party unity in defeating the anti-discrimination HB 1515 by a single vote. This year, all eyes will be on Finkbeiner to see if breaks rank with his party and votes for the bill… just as he did when he was a Democrat in the state House.
For his part, Eric is unequivocal:
“Let me be clear,” said Oemig, “I will be happy to cast the deciding vote to ban this discrimination.”
That’s the type of strong statement that will play well with voters, when compared to a flip-flopping career politician like Finkbeiner.
This is going to be one of the mostly hotly contested races in the state Senate this year… unless Finkbeiner, finally facing a well-financed, well-equipped challenger, decides to drop out.