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Finkbeiner: Would sitting in alphabetical order make the Washington state Senate more cooperative?

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on April 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
April 2, 2012 3:56 pm

Maybe we should file this in the “Everything I Know I Learned In Kindergarten” folder.

Former state Sen. Bill Finkbeiner now a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, has suggested some ways the Senate he would preside over could be less partisan. Suggestion No. 1 is to get rid of the center aisle that divides Republicans and Democrats and require lawmakers to sit in alphabetical order rather than by party and seniority.

Bill Finkbeiner (right) in 2005 following a press panel with other Legislative leaders. AP correspondent Rachel LaCorte is at far left. In the center are then-Republican leader Bruce Chandler, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown and House Speaker Frank Chopp (Peter Haley photo)

” The aisle separates the parties, promotes division, and decreases the sense of cooperation,” the campaign said in a message to supporters. “No business would split a team working on its most important policies into two oppositional groups, and we citizens shouldn’t allow this either. As Lieutenant Governor, I will make legislators sit in alphabetical order and not separated by party.”

I’m not sure if the Senate would be a better place if Senate Democratic leader Lisa Brown sat between Republicans Don Benton and Mike Carrell but it sure would be fun to watch. And Finkbeiner knows well the difference between the Democratic and Republican sides of that aisle. He won legislative elections first as a Democrat and then as a Republican and was the leader of the Senate Republicans during his time in that caucus.

The Finkbeiner campaign also suggested that the holder of the office could be a mediator to help bring legislators together, dubbing it “the Switzerland of the Legislature.”

“As Lieutenant Governor I will make my office and resources available to any legislators who are ‘stuck’ on negotiations–and work with them to resolve these problems on time, avoiding costly special sessions,” he wrote.

“It’s time to break down the barriers between the political parties that are gumming up the legislative process and holding our state back,” Finkbeiner wrote.

Other candidates for lieutenant governor are Democratic incumbent Brad Owen, current Republican House member Glenn Anderson and Clifford Mark Green who lists his party preference on Public Disclosure Commission forms as Party of Commons. Green has also filed PDC paperwork to run for secretary of state.

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