The WA state GOP continued its self-destructive lurch to the right today, when state Sen. Bill Finkbeiner announced that he was resigning his position as Senate Minority Leader. Amongst other reasons, Finkbeiner said he wanted to spend more time with his family. Uh-huh.
“Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day,” said Finkbeiner, R-Kirkland. “There is a significant time commitment that comes along with the honor of representing your neighbors in the Legislature. When you add to that the tremendous time it requires to lead and represent a legislative caucus, there is sometimes little left over for other things that are equally or even more important, including work and family. To be honest, I was being pulled in many different directions and was stretched pretty thin.”
Mostly he was stretched between the interests of his relatively moderate constituency and the demands of the ultra-conservative Republican Senate Caucus. I’m sure Finkbeiner really does want to spend more time with his family, but in political talk, that’s usually just a face-saving euphemism. Finkbeiner barely survived a leadership challenge last spring, and he likely faced another tough battle before the coming session.
As far as Republicans go, Finkbeiner is one of those most in touch with mainstream WA voters… which means he’s totally out of touch with the mainstream of his own party’s leadership. First elected to the state House as a Democrat in 1992, he switched parties to run for the Senate in 1994, but his core ideology apparently never bothered to switch with him. Last session he angered many fellow Republicans by breaking ranks on a stem cell research bill and the controversial transportation improvement package (recently affirmed by voters in rejecting I-912.)
The transportation vote was one “I feel really good about,” he said. “We were able to keep that issue bipartisan.”
Which is exactly what the rest of the GOP didn’t want, and payback was inevitable.
Oh well. It’s not like a man with a “latte liberal”, environmentalist wife (and recent author of “The F Word: Feminism in Jeopardy“) was ever going to win the hearts and minds of the current WA GOP.
In the long run, I’m guessing Finkbeiner is better off politically disassociating himself from the right-wing of his party. Outside the leadership he can better serve a district that continues to trend Democratic, and enjoy the freedom to consistently vote his own conscience… both of which will serve him well if he ever wants to run for higher office. Indeed, freed of the burden of leadership, don’t be surprised to see him vote his conscience on HB 1515 (prohibiting discrimination based on sexual preference) when it is reintroduced in the coming the Legislative session.
I look forward to following his political evolution, and remain hopeful that Finkbeiner can grow into the kind of Republican I can respect.