The “Do Nothing” Legislature

On the show this week, we railed a bit on the Democrats in the Washington State legislature for being incredibly timid with this upcoming session. It’s not quite clear to me how much of this is House Speaker Frank Chopp’s doing, and how much of it is Governor Gregoire’s (who’s up for re-election). Certainly there seems to be enough blame to go around.

The Chopp/Gregoire “strategy” — if one can call it that — seems to be that if they cower in the corner and do nothing (except for a few Republican initiatives, perhaps), the Republicans will have nothing to run on in November. David Postman elaborates here.

The deluded thinking seems to be that Rossi and the state GOP will look at one another and say, “well boys, there’s nothing to run on this year, so we might as well pack up our bags and hand this one to the Democrats.”

But of course, in reality, the GOP will do no such thing. The more ground that Gregoire/Chopp concede, the more Rossi will advance, pushing the whole state agenda farther to the right, despite the fact that Democrats control both houses AND the governorship! To call this infuriating would be an understatment.

And indeed, we’re getting a glimpse of their strategy, as Postman notes:

One of the top priorities of House Republicans in the next two months will be to “let people know about the culture of failure” of Democrats, he said. “We’re going to be talking about it nonstop.”

And that is being complemented by the state Republican Party which is issuing a “Gregoire Administration Failure of the Week.”

If Gregoire/Chopp were facing a situation like Bill Clinton and Dick Gephardt in 1993 — a rising Republican party, a terrible recession, and huge budget deficits — I could maybe understand the adoption of a defensive crouch. But by any measure, the Republican Party is on the decline in Washington State: Maria Cantwell beat the sunny, moderate Mike McGavick by a crushing 17 points, moderate Republican legislators in the Seattle suburbs are converting to the Democratic party, and the state is almost a shoo-in for the Democrat in this fall’s Presidential elections. The state is hungry for agressive, progressive leadership. So let’s see some, please!