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Washington State is Making a Comeback

February 23rd, 2009

Back in the late 70s Washington State had a powerhouse of a Senate delegation in the combined forces of Sen. Warren Magnuson and Sen. Henry Jackson. To quote wikipedia directly:

one of the most effective delegations in the history of the United States Senate in terms of “bringing home the bacon” for their home state. Washington State received nearly one sixth of public works appropriations, even though it ranked 23rd in population.

But just as Texas is in decline now, so too did Washington’s political clout wane. It was under a Speaker of the House from Washington State, Rep. Tom Foley that the Republican Revolution of 1994 took place, and since then Washington hasn’t had much going for it on the national scene.

That all seems to be changing now — not so much in the legislative arena, where we are doing respectably, having finally settled on a pair of Democratic Senators who are working their way up the ranks — but in the new Obama Administration. Already Ron Sims, the King County Executive (King County encompasses Seattle as well as the city of Bellevue and many sizable suburbs like Redmond) has been nominated as the Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Seattle City Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske (jee-willikers, everyone has a wikipedia page) is said to be the next Drug Czar (a most unfortunate position title). I don’t know much about Kerlikowske, but I’m a big fan of Sims and voted for him in the 2000 Primary for Governor over Christine Gregoire. But he’s been in the Executive post for 12 years now and I think moving into HUD is a great step in his career.

If that wasn’t enough, the big news, as reported by The Fix is that former Governor Gary Locke will be nominated as the new Commerce Secretary, now the third appointment to that position following Gov. Richardson and Sen. Gregg. I will say this right now, I like Gov. Locke. Always have. He’s a total policy wonk and not afraid to talk details. He even came and spoke to a very small group of students at the law school that I had the pleasure to attend. For certain he gave off the politician vibe — he’s no saint — but he’s down to earth, forward thinking, and reliable. I consider these all great qualities in a Commerce Secretary and, if confirmed, I think he’ll do a great job in the position.

Of course, having representation in the Cabinet isn’t quite the same thing as an iron grip on the Senate appropriations process, but it does create a political community back home that generates new networks, and eventually new leaders, that can only lead to good things for the state I still call home.

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