Last Saturday, March 3, the Washington State Republican Party held precinct caucuses. It was an exciting few hours, filled with energy and a patriotism rarely seen in this state. (For more on the event, see here) Part of the caucus process was a non-binding straw poll which Mitt Romney won. After the results of the straw poll were released, I found myself wondering, “Does Washington State really matter?”
In order to answer that question, I think that we have to ask ourselves another question: What kind of Republican does Washington State produce? Who do we, as a State Party, put forward for the rest of the nation to see? Are they representative of Republicanism or Conservatism? To help explore this, I’ve picked three of Washington’s prominent Republicans to look at.
Let’s start with Michael Medved, not an elected official, but certainly a prominent Washington Republican. Mr. Medved is the 17th most influential radio show host in America according to NewsMax. He’s also an author and a columnist. Mr. Medved is also a very strong moderate Republican. Very few among us would call him a conservative. In fact, he’s been quite critical of conservative viewpoints in the last few years and has stood up for and supported moderate Republicans. Speaking about Sen. John McCain, Mr. Medved had this to say: “McCain has been a stalwart Reagan Republican since he first entered politics…” Really? Is the McCain Feingold Act an Reaganesque law? Is referring to Tea-Party conservatives as “Hobbits” the Reagan thing to do? Defending Sen. McCain’s stance on illegal immigrations, Mr. Medved wrote “As Senior Senator from Arizona, McCain has fought for years to tighten border security, stop illegal immigration, increase workplace enforcement and to resist “amnesty” for those who entered the country without authorization.” Huh. My parents live in Arizona and they would be shocked to find out that Sen. McCain’s views on illegal immigration amounted to anything but amnesty! Mr. Medved must have forgotten all about the Kennedy-McCain Amnesty Plan.
Mr. Medved’s views on President Obama are also outside the mainstream of conservatism. Mr. Medved seems to think that President Obama is nothing more than a run of the mill liberal democrat. He claims that the President is “typical rather than radical.” Mr. Medved himself acknowledges that his views do not line up with grass roots conservatism, saying in a Wall Street Journal column “Republicans—especially in the tea party faction of the GOP—frequently charge that the current incumbent counts as an unprecedented, frightening fanatic with an alien, un-American agenda. But this view of Obama can’t possibly survive an honest examination of the record of his Democratic predecessors.” (Read the column here.) If you need more on Michael Medved’s anti-conservative, moderate positions, our own Erik Erickson handled the subject brilliantly in a piece last November and I urge you to read it.
Next, let’s look at Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna. Attorney General McKenna is also running for Governor of Washington State as a Republican. Outside of Washington, you have probably only heard his name in reference to Obamacare. Attorney General McKenna is one of the many attorneys general to join the legal fight against the Obama administration. We hear this and think to ourselves, “Great! A Republican from Washington State is standing up for conservatism!” But wait, don’t be misled. AG McKenna really only wants the individual mandate stopped. Regarding his true stance on Obamacare he said “The accusations are as insidious as they are inaccurate. An e-mail was circulated earlier this month by a member of Congress accusing me of trying to “wipe out” the entire health care reform law…” He wanted to set the record straight. He doesn’t oppose a government takeover of our health care system, he just opposes one part of that takeover (Read the whole piece by AG McKenna here). McKenna has also sided with Washington State democrats regarding conscience protections for doctors, nurses and pharmacists who object to selling Plan B for religious reasons (see here and here). That begs the question, where does he stand on forcing doctors to perform abortions? Where does he stand on forcing religious institutions to violate their faith by providing abortifacients, abortions and sterilizations? I think that we can infer that McKenna would stand with the Obama administration on such matters. Rob McKenna cannot be trusted to stand up for conservative Republicans who want to protect life. In his own words he says, “I am pro-choice, and I’m on the record as being pro-choice.” Guess who Rob McKenna is supporting for President, by the way. You guessed it, Mitt Romney.
Lastly, let’s look at King County Councilman and GOP candidate for Washington State Attorney General, Reagan Dunn. Councilman Dunn has thrust himself into the spotlight in our State as one of the few Republicans to support gay marriage (See here). Councilman Dunn speaking about both abortion and gay marriage has said “…it ought to be a choice of the individual and less about the government.” He says talks about the choice of individuals, but had nothing to say when all conscience protections were left out of the Washington State gay marriage law. That’s right, if a pastor or church refuses to participate in a homosexual wedding, that pastor or church will be in violation of the law! So much for individual choice, right Mr. Dunn?
These are only three examples, but they paint a grim picture of the state of our Grand Old Party in Washington State. All of that being said let me also say that there are many, many conservative Republicans in Washington. Most of us are just normal citizens. Some of us even make it on the ballot (Shahram Hadian, for example) but rarely advance due to the influence of centrists, more interested in winning elections than standing for solid conservative Republican principles.
Again I ask, does Washington State matter as it pertains to Republican politics? I know that we can matter, but only if Republicans in this State will stand on the principles that define us both as conservatives and Republicans. Once we step away from those principles, we become a hindrance to our Party and to the Great Cause of restoring and preserving our Great Republic.