Life is good for State Senator Rodney Tom this morning. He ran and won re-election as a Democrat with a 6 point margin. Then yesterday, he announces that he has made a deal where not only will he, along with Tim Sheldon, be caucusing with the Republicans, in so doing they flip the Senate from Democratic control to Republican. And, as part of the deal, State Senator Tom is now the new State Senate Majority Leader.
To make the caucus work, they had to reaccept Pam Roach, kicked out of the Republican caucus two years ago due to numerous accusations of abusing state staff. Despite being sanctioned and required to attend anger management before she could rejoin them, now the caucus is readmitting her without her having met the requirements of her censure. This will not make for pleasant caucus meetings in Olympia.
This is not the first time Rodney Tom has switched parties. In 2006, seeing that he would be unable to win as a Republican in his new State Senate district, he switched parties in order to run for office. Now a Democrat, Rodney has not been a reliable member of the Democratic caucus, and has run on a platform which includes immunity for businesses which do direct harm to customers or their employees, crippling school districts with pointless metrics and testing practices, and fought against the will of the people to accept marriage equality. On the issue of marriage equality he even advocated for a scorched earth policy, rather eliminating all marriage rights in the state rather than have marriage equality.
As for Tim Sheldon, he has never been a reliable party member in the first place. His maverick attitude, and anti-establishment leanings, have won him few friends in the state capital of Olympia. He was one of only two senators to vote against marriage equality. He rejected budgets when they did not send enough porcine cask projects to his home district and he would be the deciding vote. He has never been against voting against his own bill if it would push an agenda. This switch is just another self-serving move by the state senator.
Washington State is now convening next year with a split congress, and a new Majority Leader who has less time in office than most of his compatriots. Only time will tell how much power he will have, but all signs so far point to a dysfunctional, weak state senate, and a very short term for the new Republicans.