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.