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Labor has Roadkill Caucus in its headlights

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on May 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
May 12, 2010 1:52 pm

Days before the state’s biggest labor group makes its campaign endorsements, its president has some tough words for centrist Democrats in the Legislature.

The self-styled Roadkill Caucus isn’t even truly centrist, Washington State Labor Council President Rick Bender writes in the council’s newsletter out today:

… this year, something different emerged, masquerading as moderate. It’s a group of Democrats calling themselves the Roadkill Caucus. They espouse a pro-corporate, anti-government agenda. They use the same rhetoric Republicans use about Washington having a horrible business climate, about the need to “reduce government’s footprint,” and even labeling their fellow party members as “too liberal.” They pit constituencies against each other — rural areas vs. Seattle — in open defiance of the party’s theme of “One Washington.”

The Roadkill Caucus, so-called by members who feel they’ve been run over too many times in a Legislature with many powerful liberals, has a roster that includes South Sound legislators like Sens. Jim Kastama and Derek Kilmer and Reps. Fred Finn, Kathy Haigh, Christopher Hurst, Troy Kelley and Larry Seaquist.

Most of these legislators won’t be expecting an endorsement on Saturday.

In a potential preview, a state employees union that is part of the labor council snubbed all of them, along with most of the Legislature, in its endorsements last month.

Bender singled out Hurst for criticizing Seattle liberals. The Enumclaw resident is running as an “independent Democrat” this year.

He says moderates need more influence in the House Democratic Caucus. But Bender credits them with having enough influence to block unemployment insurance changes “in exchange for (Roadkill) caucus votes to raise taxes.”

Many of the Roadkill members voted for tax increases, while advocating more cuts to state worker compensation and privatization of government services than many Democrats were willing to do.

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