"Independent." "Bipartisan." "Listens to you."
These are just a few of the buzzwords you're sure to see splashed across political ads this fall. Republican candidates here in Washington from U.S. House down to local offices are desperate to proclaim independence from their party. Especially as Republicans in swing districts have realized that the "Trump Effect" may act more like kryptonite for their campaign.
This is especially true when it comes to Republican Mark Harmsworth of the 44th Legislative District. Harmsworth represents the heart of Snohomish County east of Everett, including Snohomish and Lake Stevens. This is a blue collar swing district that elects both Democrats and Republicans.
Here's what Harmsworth doesn't want his constituents to know: in 2016 he voted with the Republican Party leadership in Olympia 97 percent of the time.
Fuse analyzed all 429 final votes taken on bills in the state House this year. There is a tradition in Olympia for legislatures to vote with their party on procedural motions and then vote their conscience on final passage, so we thought that using final votes would be the most fair standard. For the small number of bills where legislators overruled Governor Inslee's veto, we used the original roll call vote. We then compared the voting record of Representative Harmsworth to the Republican Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen. These votes came on both small, uncontroversial bills and major pieces of legislation that will impact working families in our state for years.
Who is in Charge?
Since Harmsworth is voting with the Republican leadership nearly every time, who is he taking his cues from?
The real decision maker is a very conservative legislator who is unknown in most of Washington. Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen represents the 39th district, another large district covering the rural east side of Snohomish and Skagit counties. Kristiansen holds many extremely conservative views, including opposing abortion, opposing universal background checks for gun purchases, blocking action to fight global warming, supporting Tim Eyman's self-serving initiatives, opposing transit funding, and refusing to close tax loopholes to fund education. A candidate holding Schoesler's extreme views would have almost no chance of being elected in the independent 35th District. Not surprisingly, Harmsworth doesn't want you to know that he follows the lead of his very conservative Republican leadership 97 percent of the time.
So what was Harmsworth actually voting on? Here are few examples of bills he followed his party leadership on.
- Voted with Republican leadership against a bill to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work.
- Harmsworth voted with Republican leadership against a plan to close the opportunity gap for students of color.
- Voted with Republican leadership against "Breakfast after the bell" legislation that extended the hours for free and low-cost breakfast for low-income students.
- Harmsworth voted with Republican leadership against a plan to fully fund K-12 education over the next four years.
- Instead of funding education, Harmsworth voted with Republican leadership to create a new tax break for construction of aircraft maintenance facilities.
- Voted with Republican leadership against a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United.
No candidate authorized the ads promoting this post. Paid for by Fuse Votes, 1402 3rd ave #406, Seattle, WA 98101. Top 5 contributors: Fuse WA, Fast PAC, SEIU 925, New Direction PAC, Our Votes Count.