Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington’s three newest members of Congress are featured speakers tonight at the state Democratic Party’s yearly crab feed fund raiser in Lacey. The $50 per person event starts after 5 p.m. at the Saint Martin’s University Pavilion. It follows an all-day grassroots organizing forum that runs all day at the college campus.
For details on the event to here. The tone of the crab feed event should mostly be celebratory – in that party chairman Dwight Pelz’s forces held onto the Governor’s Office for an eighth straight election, longest current streak in the country; Democrats also won all but one statewide executive office, retained control of both U.S. Senate positions, won six of 10 congressional seats and emerged with a 55-to-43 edge in the state House.
Among featured speakers are U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene in the 1st Congressional District, Derek Kilmer in the 6th and Denny Heck of Olympia in the 10th. All three were elected for the first time in November.
But it’s likely that Pelz will invoke the names of two Democratic state senators, Rodney Tom of Medina and Tim Sheldon of Potlatch, who crossed over to form a majority alliance with 23 Republicans. That wrested control from Senate Democrats who went into session with 26 members but now are in the minority.
Under rules adopted by the Senate this year, Tom and Sheldon are part of the Majority Coalition Caucus and are not participating with the Senate Democratic Caucus, which is left with 24 voting members.
The state party’s central committee members approved a resolution recently that censured Tom and Sheldon and called on the Senate Democratic Caucus to permanently expel both men from their caucus.
Tom and Sheldon have defended their actions, saying the new power structure may lead to a broader discussion of policy options at the Legislature. Tom said last week the Senate already has given hearings to policy ideas that had been bottled up for years in Olympia. But the Democrats are making both the focus of fundraising appeals.