In a least two state legislative districts this year, candidates have blurred the lines between political parties. They both involve self-identified Democrats who talk and act more like Republicans.
In the 35th Legislative District, incumbent Tim Sheldon is running as a Democrat again this year despite the fact that in the 2014 legislative session he voted and caucused with senate Republicans.
Real Democrats in Mason County consider Sheldon a DINO, a Democrat In Name Only, who conspired with other conservatives to block any meaningful progress in the Legislature. Real Democrats, including all of the 22nd district delegation, support Irene Bowling for the 35th.
Travis Couture, the only Republican candidate in this year’s 35th district primary, says his party’s grass roots members think Sheldon is not nearly conservative enough. They consider him a corrupt career politician, who is trying to curry favor from moderate Republicans and less liberal Democrats.
Couture said he would represent more principled Republicans; those opposed to raising the gas tax, Obamacare and Medicaid expansion and the Dream Act, which provides college tuition assistance for undocumented people living in the state.
It’s possible that Couture represents a sincere tea party-like challenge to Sheldon for the right-wing faction of the Republican Party. Or, he could be running on an extreme right-wing platform to make Sheldon look like the candidate in the middle, so voters will over look his abandonment of the Democratic Party.
That kind of trickery may be occurring in the 31st Legislative District, which covers portions of east Pierce County and southern King County. In that race, Lynda Messner is running as a Democrat against incumbent Republican Sen. Pam Roach. But she’s anything but a liberal.
Messner has made online statements opposing gun control, immigration reform and “deals with the UN” and demanding proof that President Obama was born in the U.S. and is eligible to hold office. She is, in other words, a birther like Donald Trump, who doesn’t pretend to be a Democrat.
Voters in the 31st district smell something fishy. Could Roach have conspired with Messner to draw attention away from her real opposition, Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw? Stranger things have happened when Pam Roach is involved.
Our state’s primary voting laws have candidates state which party they prefer, but not whether the party endorses them. In Sheldon’s case, the Democratic party he professes to prefer wishes he would take early retirement and move to Mexico.
It’s pretty obvious that Sheldon really prefers the Republican Party. Why else would he caucus and vote with them? If it walks like a duck ....
It’s important that Mason County voters check each candidates’ endorsements, and press them for clear answers on the issues. Don’t be fooled by misleading political party preferences.