This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.
As of this writing, Rob McKenna appears to have lost his bid for governor, and Kim Wyman is clinging to a minuscule lead for secretary of state.
That’s a shame – for the state, not just them. Despite the strengths of their Democratic opponents, Jay Inslee and Kathleen Drew, McKenna and Wyman were far better prepared for those offices. Tuesday should have brought them both decisive victories.
The chief reason that didn’t happen is the scarlet letter behind their names: R. The Washington electorate has turned from purple to blue to indigo over the last 15 years or so. If Republicans as qualified and moderate as McKenna and Wyman can’t get statewide mandates here, it’s hard to think of any Republicans who could.
The toxicity of the GOP brand in statewide races may make partisan Democrats giddy, but it’s a big problem for the rest of us.
Any party that knows it will stay in power from one election to the next becomes arrogant, complacent and beholden. A state without competitive politics is only a step away from misgovernment.
The GOP could be competitive in Washington. The continuing success of anti-tax initiatives reflects public alignment with Republican fiscal policy. Education reform is a golden issue that much of the union-dominated Democratic Party has all but ceded to the GOP.
Ethnic groups now welded to the Democratic coalition – blacks, Latinos and Asian-Americans – could be pried loose. Most are hungry for accountable public schools. Many are cultural conservatives whose religious beliefs get ridiculed by secular liberals.
These might be low-hanging fruit if only the Republican Party didn’t come across as angry about change, indifferent about the safety net and insensitive to the concerns of minorities.
The state GOP must put the so-called “social issues” – which come down to abortion and gay marriage – on the back burner and keep them there. Legal abortion is simply not in play in this state. Gay marriage is a done deal. Don’t waste time and capital on these arguments. Move on.
Read more »