All Politics is Local

Will local Republicans get steamrolled?

Clark County’s legislative delegation primarily consists of Republicans.

If you include the 14th and 20th legislative districts, which take in small portions of the county, Republicans control four of five Senate seats and eight of 10 House seats.

Democrats, however, enjoy comfortable statewide majorities in the House and Senate. Gov. Jay Inlsee, who is running for a third four-year term this year, also is Democrat.

With the numbers stacked against them, local Republicans wonder how much influence they will have when the 2020 session begins Monday in Olympia.

“Frankly, I think it will be a steamroll,” Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, said. “That’s the way it was last year. I don’t see why it will change this year. It’s unfortunate, because I think some of the best legislation comes when we are all at the table.”

Short legislative sessions are generally for fine-tuning two-year operating, capital and transportation budgets enacted last year, not for major initiatives requiring considerable legislative wrangling.

“You’re probably not doing Earth-shattering policy this year,” Rep. Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver, said.

Given that 2020 is an election year, with all House seats and half of Senate seats at stake in November, Vick suspects some Democrats will look to score points with their constituents.

“On the other side of the coin, there is a new speaker,” he said, referring to Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma. “I don’t think anyone, including the Democrats, know what the full implications of that are.”

Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, said partisan clashes over hot button issues don’t tell the full story since most bills passed by large majorities with little acrimony.

“A lot of times, the collaboration and the good work we do gets overshadowed by the partisan comments that may show up in the newspaper,” she said.