The big story of the day is the “bipartisan” coup in the state Senate. Two Democrats joined the Republicans to give them 25-24 control of the Legislature’s upper house. They’re calling it the “Majority Coalition Caucus.”
Two architects of that takeover – Sens. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, and Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville – dropped by Monday afternoon to brief the editorial board on the move that will install Tom as Senate majority leader. (We’ll have an editorial in the print edition Tuesday; a sneak preview has already been posted on this blog.) The other Democratic defector, Tim Sheldon of Potlatch, will be president pro tem, which means he’ll fill in as president of the Senate when Lt. Gov. Brad Owen is absent.
Democrats, as one might expect, are greatly unhappy with Sheldon and, in particular, with Tom, who received party money for his re-election effort this year. That won’t happen again, vows state party chairman Dwight Pelz.
But the Dems shouldn’t complain too much. After all, the new majority is allowing them to continue chairing six committees and to co-chair three others. As Schoesler put it, they didn’t enforce the “blood purge” that typically occurs when a party wrests control. No one will be ousted from their office, for example. (We’ll see about that.)
Much attention is being paid to the fact that controversial Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, will chair the Government Operations Committee. I’m holding my breath on this one, as I suspect are some Republicans. A conservative I know told me, “A friend and I were saying today that any deal that hinges on Roach is a very shaky deal.” (If he wants to out himself, he can leave a comment.)
Roach strikes me as kind of the Lindsay Lohan of the Senate: You hope she shapes up, but she keeps doing things that get her in hot water. She’s been handed a shot at redemption here.