This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, is legendary in the Legislature – but not in a good way. Just about anyone who has worked with or for her there over the years has anecdotes about her tantrums or examples of verbal abuse. There’s even a name for it: being “Roached.”
Her behavior has gotten her into hot water with her Republican colleagues several times in the past, but nothing like what happened last week when she was banned from her party’s caucus. GOP leadership had had enough, citing her “unacceptable” behavior toward staff.
In a letter to her, Republican caucus leaders said, “As your fellow Senators it is difficult to be in a room with you when you erupt in anger.” What that means for Roach is that she will no longer have a voice or vote within her own party’s huddles – diminishing any clout she still may have.
Roach reacted to the disciplinary measure the wrong way – with a counterattack, not contrition. Instead of resolving to work on what are obvious anger-management issues, she has accused Republican leaders of persecuting her. She wrote in her blog that “. . . there is some petty politics going on with some of my colleagues. . . . My caucus does not like me standing up. They figure, if you can’t beat her on issues, go after her personally.” Remember, she’s talking about her fellow Republicans here.
Roach is a hard-working advocate for her district, but being pushed out of the loop within her own caucus will make it harder for her to work on issues that benefit her constituents. That’s something voters should keep in mind, as Roach is running for re-election this year.
This disciplinary step against Roach is a significant one for Republican leaders. They see potential for increasing their numbers in the November election, and the last thing they want to do is lose a seat that’s been a sure thing for the past 20 years. But they had little choice; Roach’s behavior puts the caucus at risk of being sued for creating a hostile workplace for employees.
This newspaper endorsed Roach for election four years ago. But her behavior since then has been troubling. It’s been said that you can tell a lot about a person by how he or she treats subordinates. Roach’s treatment of Senate staff says volumes.