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  Suburban Archipelago: Democrats Target GOP Turf
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ContributorRalphie 
Last EditedRalphie  May 09, 2006 07:19pm
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CategoryAnalysis
MediaNewspaper - The Stranger
News DateFriday, May 5, 2006 01:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionEastside GOP state Senator Bill Finkbeiner's resignation, announced last week has Democrats salivating over the prospect of taking control of 10—if not all 12—state legislative seats that represent the supposed Republican strongholds of Kirkland, Bellevue, Kent, and Mercer Island. Finkbeiner, the now-former senate minority leader who, to the chagrin of his caucus, cast the deciding yea vote on the gay rights bill—made his retirement announcement just a month and a half after GOP Eastside house member Rodney Tom (R-48) announced he was switching parties to run as a Democrat against Republican Senator Luke Esser (R-48).

"I don't think Bellevue's going to be a Republican community anymore," state Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz says, predicting that the much-hyped "Democratic Revolution"—the Dems' version of 1994's Gingrich Revolution—will take place for certain, at the local level.

Republicans think Democrats are wrong about a leftward trend on the Eastside. "They talk about Kerry," state GOP Chair Diane Tebelius says, "but they don't talk about [gubernatorial candidate] Dino Rossi, and [State Attorney General] Rob McKenna, and [U.S. Congressman] Dave Reichert," three Republicans who won on the Eastside in 2004. "It's about running good candidates."

Well, Democrat convert Rodney Tom—challenging GOP senator Esser—is certainly a strong contender. The former GOP rep—who says "the religious right has taken over the Republican Party"—has come out swinging. Tom trashes Esser, a conservative who voted against gay rights, accurate sex-ed curriculum, stem-cell research, education funding, closing the gun-show loophole, and the popular transportation tax. Tom says Esser "is not the face of the district. He might be a fit if he were running on the eastside—of the state."
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