Rep. Maureen Walsh stepped down Thursday as vice chairman of the House Committee on Early Learning and Children’s Services, The Associated Press reported. Walsh, R-College Place, was one of two Republicans selected by Democrats for top committee posts in December, in a nod to bipartisanship. Rep. Tom Campbell also was named chairman of the newly formed Select Committee on Environmental Health.
“Maybe it was naive of me to not think it would cause any problems,” said Walsh, who also cited family concerns as part of her decision. Her husband died in April, and she has a 14-year-old son attending school in Olympia during session.
“When it boiled right down to it, the fact that I had some folks in my caucus who would view me a little different or not see me as a team player … I don’t need that. I don’t need that at all,” she told The Associated Press.
There has been lots of hand wringing about how this is bad sign for bipartisanship. Nothing could be further from the truth. For Republicans, Walsh’s resignation makes Democrats responsible for whatever is passed from that committee. The GOP can now fire at will at Democrats without putting Walsh in the position of defending the Democrat’s agenda. Democrats need to realize that they are the choice of most voters. Democrats won in ’06! Frank Chopp and others can say nice things about working together with the GOP, but committee chairs need to be on the team and share our values.
Folks voted for Democrats in ’06 because, sure, they wouldn’t mind a little ‘working together’, but they voted mostly because they wanted to fix roads, fund schools, provide healthcare to kids, and pursue government reform. The House Speaker would do well remember why folks gave him that huge majority in the first place.