April 19, 2010

"Tired of being under constant attack," WFSE/AFSCME delegates deny endorsements for all but one Senator, all but 18 House members

Federation delegates elected by their locals to the union’s biennial Endorsements Conference Saturday (April 17) sent a message to incumbent legislators that they may need to look elsewhere for support in 2010.

The delegates, meeting in Seattle, evaluated the performance of state senators and representatives and concluded most of them have waged a systematic campaign to dismantle human services and inflict extraordinary and unnecessary sacrifices on state employees.

Only one incumbent state senator – Sen. Pam Roach, R-31st Dist. – and 18 House incumbents received the seal of approval from the Endorsements Conference. Rep. Sharon Nelson, D-34th Dist., received the endorsement in the race for the open 34th District Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Joe McDermott.

In federal races, the delegates endorsed state Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-49th Dist., for the open U.S. 3rd District Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Brian Baird.

They also backed Democrat and former Microsoft executive Suzan DelBene, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert in the 8th Congressional District.

And incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray once again won the unanimous approval for her re-election bid.

No candidates in the three state Supreme Court seats up for election received endorsements. The screening process will continue and endorsements may be made later.

The Endorsements Conference also weighed in on four statewide ballot issues, voting to oppose Tim Eyman’s I-1053 to reinstate supermajority requirements for votes on revenue. They also opposed I-1082 to privatize the state workers’ compensation program and the expected initiative to privatize state liquor stores.

Delegates endorsed the Williams Gates Sr.-backed Initiative 1077 to raise $1 billion with a tax on “adjusted gross income” for couples earning more than $400,000 a year and individuals earning more than $200,000.

But it was the discussion of the legislative races that generated the most discussion and anger.

“We’re tired of being under constant attack,” said Dennis Eagle, the Federation’s director of legislative and political action.

The delegates endorsed House incumbents they concluded had gone the extra mile to delay and mitigate the furlough bill, fight for the $65 million needed to keep out-of-pocket health costs level and support vital institutions and safety net programs.

“Our lunchbox depends on decisions made by elected officials,” Eagle said.

And with 25 percent of the state budget wiped out by the global economic crisis, that lunchbox is much lighter. State employees had already given up $1 billion in wages, benefits, pension funding and layoffs before the 2010 session.

So delegates weren’t interested in endorsing incumbents who pooh-poohed state employee concerns about saving the safety net or who seemed to relish finding new ways to make state employees sacrifice.

The Endorsements Conference delegates blamed state senators, and particularly the majority Democrats, for waging an attack on human services, including supporting privatizing or shuttering Child Welfare Services, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility services, juvenile rehabilitation, residential habilitation services and big chunks of Corrections, like Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women.

“Virtually every member of the Senate is responsible,” Eagle said.

Those incumbents and other candidates aren’t totally denied an endorsement. But without the blessing of the Endorsements Conference, they now face a grueling run of local interviews where they will face tough questioning from members. The unendorsed also face an uphill battle to win the backing of the Washington State Labor Council’s COPE Endorsements Conference May 15. The Federation is the largest WSLC-affiliate, so it brings clout to support or deny endorsements.

Here is the list of candidates endorsed by the WFSE/AFSCME Endorsements Conference April 17 (*indicates incumbent):


Patty Murray, D*


Congressional District 1 – Jay Inslee,D*
CD 2 – Rick Larsen, D*
CD 3 – Craig Pridemore, D
CD 6 – Norm Dicks, D*
CD 7 – Jim McDermott, D*
CD 8 – Suzan DelBene, D
CD 9 – Adam Smith, D*



Dist. 31 – Pam Roach, R*
Dist. 34 – Sharon Nelson, D


Dist. 2 (Pos. 2) – Tom Campbell, R*
Dist. 3 (Pos. 2) – Timm Ormsby, D*
Dist. 11 (Pos. 2) – Bob Hasegawa, D*
Dist. 21 (Pos. 1) – Mary Helen Roberts, D*
Dist. 22 (Pos. 2) – Sam Hunt, D*
Dist. 23 (Pos. 1) – Sherry Appleton, D*
Dist. 28 (Pos. 2) – Tami Green, D*
Dist. 29 (Pos. 1) – Steve Conway, D*
Dist. 30 (Pos. 1) – Mark Miloscia, D*
Dist. 30 (Pos. 2) – Skip Priest, R*
Dist. 32 (Pos. 1) – Maralyn Chase, D*
Dist. 33 (Pos. 2) – Dave Upthegrove, D*
Dist. 38 (Pos. 2) – Mike Sells, D*
Dist. 44 (Pos. 1) – Hans Dunshee, D*
Dist. 46 (Pos. 1) – Scott White, D*
Dist. 47 (Pos. 1) – Geoff Simpson, D*
Dist. 47 (Pos. 2) – Pat Sullivan, D*
Dist. 49 (Pos. 2) – Jim Moeller, D*


I-1053 (Tim Eyman/revenue supermajorities): OPPOSE
I-1077 (Tax on high adjusted gross incomes): SUPPORT
I-1082 (Privatizing workers’ comp.): OPPOSE
I-???? (Privatizing state liquor stores): OPPOSE

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