Seattle Times Jumps the Shark: Endorses Republican in Uber-Democratic 37th LD

Back in 2012, just for kicks, I got myself elected a Rick Santorum delegate from the 37th Legislative District Republican precinct caucus. How’d I manage that? I was the only “Republican” to show up from my precinct. That’s how much of a joke the GOP is in this overwhelmingly Democratic district.

Yet that didn’t stop the Seattle Times editorial board from hopelessly endorsing an unknown Republican against 8-term incumbent Democratic state Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos. I mean, what the fuck?

THE 37th Legislative District’s Position 1 needs a legislator willing to compromise and represent the best interests of a diverse district where many schools are struggling and persistent achievement gaps threaten to leave students behind.

That means turning out the incumbent in favor of the promising political newcomer, Daniel Bretzke of Seattle. The moderate Republican faces an uphill battle against a 16-year legislative veteran, state Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle.

If by “uphill battle” they mean running face-first into the base of a sheer vertical cliff, sure.

See, here’s how this thing usually works. The Seattle Times will hold its nose and endorse a Democrat in an uber-Democratic district, because to do otherwise would make them look feckless, impotent, and stoopid. If there’s a competitive race for an open seat, they’ll generally go with the Democrat with the fewest labor endorsements, but otherwise it’s the incumbent. That way the editors can point to their handful of Democratic endorsements in safe Democratic districts as a defense against accusations of partisanship arising from, say, their endorsement of lifelong asshole Drew Stokesbary over his more qualified Democratic opponent in a swingish 31st Legislative District.

So what explains this astounding act of editorial futility?

The Democrat chairs the House Education Committee and is in a position to make a huge difference for kids. Yet, she has repeatedly used her power to stall meaningful education reforms opposed by the teachers union.

While Santos should be focused on the Legislature meeting its court-mandated obligations to fully fund education, she wants to make the challenge worse. She supports Initiative 1351, the teachers union-backed measure that requires class sizes across all grades to be reduced, the hiring of thousands more teachers and building of more classrooms. Yet, there is no funding mechanism in sight.

This past session, Santos ignored Seattle Schools’ plea for a change in the law to include some level of student test scores in teacher evaluations.

I’ve got my own problems with Santos, dating back to her stalwart defense of payday lenders. She refused to support last year’s minimum wage legislation, and she’s long scorned much of the environmental agenda as something that’s more of a concern for rich white people than her own diverse working-class district. She’s actually far less liberal than her district. But I appreciate her work as chair of the Education Committee where she’s been a strong opponent of charter schools and much of the rest of the Gates/Walmart backed corporate education reform agenda.

And that, of course, is what has the editors’s undies so tied up in a knot. They absolutely hate the teachers union, and by association, teachers. And so in their eyes, Santos’ support for “hiring thousands more teachers” is a transgression so unforgivable that they are willing to stake what’s left of their withered reputation on a challenger who I could outpoll with a half-hearted write-in campaign.

It is an oversized gesture of unabashed futility that demonstrates once and for all that when it comes to understanding or representing the values and interests of its citizens, Seattle has, alas, become a no-newspaper town.


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    I would point out, though, that they endorsed Pramila, who has shit-ton of Labor endorsements.

    Of course, they followed it with “advice” that she buck progressive values and instead “compromise” (ie: capitulate) to Republicans in Olympia if she wins. Because, you know, that’s how to represent a dark blue, working-class district – be the lube for the GOP to fuck ‘em.

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    @1 That’s the norm. Look at all of their Democratic LD endorsements this year. Either they laud the Dem for supporting an anti-teachers union vote, or they advise the Dem to do so.

    The funny thing is, I expect Pramila will prove far more liberal and far more effective than Santos ever did.

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    czechsaaz spews:

    The 31st needs to send an education reformer to expand charter schools and vouchers and the funding for that is easy. Elect the party that won’t under any circumstances raise revenue and get all the education revenue from cuts to every other program the voters of the 31st care about.

    What’s so hard to understand. The Blethens know what’s best for you little folks off island.

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    Jack spews:

    Seattle may become a no-newspaper town, and many other towns, too. I think newspapers’ days are numbered. They’re just getting their butts kicked in the marketplace of media by other channels of communication.

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    cantbeme spews:

    Seattle may be a no-newspaper town, but at least that paper still has the name of the city it doesn’t represent on its masthead. Unlike The News Tribune, which shares much of the Blethen family’s hatred of unions and public employees in general and clearly is not in sync with the city it still publishes its paper in.

    And, by the way Goldie, one of the last, great statehouse reporters, Joe Turner, a guy way more in tune with Tacoma than his editors, and who retired in 2009 in part because he was fed up with how his newspaper changed when it was bought by the McClatchy chain, passed away Thursday.

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    @5 I remember Joe. Great old timey curmudgeon of a reporter by the time I started stopping by the press houses in Olympia. Skeptical of everybody and everything. Sad to hear of his passing.

    And of course, Peter Callaghan, maybe the most thoughtful and informed political columnist in the state, just left the News Tribune. Not the press corps it used to be.

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    Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:

    Back in 2012, just for kicks, I got myself elected a Rick Santorum delegate from the 37th Legislative District Republican precinct caucus. How’d I manage that? I was the only “Republican” to show up from my precinct.

    Just wondering. Think the GOP has any idea who you are these days?

  8. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Nearly all ST editorials are explainable in terms of (a) Frank Blethen’s personal hatred of unions, and (b) his paper is little more than a Republican Party pom-pom.

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    TFoss spews:

    Actually, the cries of newpaper obsolescence are passe. Newspapers are adjusting. Just not the Seattle Times. BTW, terribly saddened by passing of Joe Turner. He was one of the good guys. And yes, Peter Callahan is taking much of whats left of thoughtful political commentary in Olympia to Minnesota. Very sad day for politcal news corp. As for Times endorsements just do what the voters do- ignore them.

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    Ivan spews:

    “Peter Callaghan, maybe the most thoughtful and informed political columnist in the state?”

    I’m sorry, Goldy, but you’re full of shit. You put Callaghan’s anti-teacher, anti-union columns up next to Frank Blethen’s anti-teacher, anti-union editorials, and I’d defy you to tell me who wrote which one. Callaghan was a pompous, pontificating blowhard, and Washington state is well rid of him.

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    tensor spews:

    Goldy, the last two paragraphs in your original post are amazing. Not only do you editorialize effectively against the Times’ editorial, you do so with more verve, thus out-doing your target in both substance and style. Well played, sir!