All Politics is Local

Is Michael Cortney a closeted Democrat?

During the Columbian’s Editorial Board interview, 3rd Congressional District candidate Dorothy Gasque, a Democrat, said if she couldn’t vote for herself, she’d vote for Michael Cortney. Cortney is running as a Republican, but as Gasque (who campaigned for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and was a Democratic National Convention delegate) noted, his views most closely align with hers. Michael Cortney

At several candidate forums, Democrat Carolyn Long has joked that Cortney is a closeted Democrat and she’s working to bring him over to her side.

Listening to Cortney talk, it would be easy to confuse his statements for that of a Democrat.

A few examples:

“As a Republican, I am completely baffled at how my party treats science. Science is at the core of what made this country great.”

“It should be easy to get an education. We need to start putting money and research into education. Students should be able to pay off their debts by joining the service or doing community service.”

 “We used to tax people … to build an interstate system. It provided a basis for the success that my generation has experienced. My party all of a sudden seems to think we’re going to become great again by destroying everything they built. And I don’t understand that.”

 ”When people come to our borders and want to come live in our country, they have every right be heard, and unless they are a threat to our well-being, I believe they should be afforded the same opportunities of our forefathers.”

 “As far as an assault weapons ban, it’s like Reagan says, we’re not going to stop people from doing crazy things, but by drying up the market we can make it more difficult.”

But Cortney insists he’s a Republican. During the same editorial board meeting where Cortney earned Gasque’s hypothetical vote, he said he never gets to share his conservative side because no one asks him.

So I asked.

“After watching George Will do an interview on the Phil Donahue show I have always thought of myself as Republican,” Cortney said. “People like George Will and William F Buckley Jr. would help shape my political views in my early life.”

He said he believes in a free market system and that the government shouldn’t prop up dying industries like those dependent on oil and coal. He supports low taxes on both the individual and corporations. That the seven deadly sins are “deadly for a reason.”

“I believe that everyone in this country is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and one of the government’s jobs is to secure that liberty,” he said. “That in this country we are not white, black, straight, gay, Christian or atheist, male or female. We are all Americans and entitled to equal protection under the law.”

Although he describes his views on abortion as “very conservative” he thinks women’s productive rights should be decided by women.

“I believe my politics are somewhere to the right of center,” Cortney said. “I believe my humanity calls me to balance my politics with love and compassion, and so I believe that government has a responsibility for the well-being of its citizens.”

He concedes, however, that because of his views he’s perceived as a RINO (Republican In Name Only).

“They’re probably right,” he said. “This is no longer the party of George Will, William F Buckley Jr., or (Ronald) Reagan that matter. RINO is a word the far right made up to push us moderates out, so they could own the party, but I will not go silently into the night.”

Katy Sword

I cover the city of Vancouver and federal politics. Reach me at katy.sword@columbian.com.

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