"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. Senate down to local offices are desperate to proclaim independence from their party. Especially as Republicans in swing districts have realized that the Donald "Trump Effect" may act more like kryptonite for their campaign.
This is especially true when it comes to Republican Steve O'Ban of the 28th Legislative District. O'Ban represents the Southwest part of Pierce County, including University Place, Lakewood, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord. This blue collar area where many military families live is a regular swing district that elects both Democrats and Republicans.
Here's what O'Ban doesn't want voters in his district to know : in 2016 he voted with the Republican Party leadership in Olympia 98 percent of the time.
Fuse analyzed all 366 final votes taken on bills in the state Senate 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 Senator O'Ban to the Republican Majority Leader Mark Schoesler. These votes came on both small, uncontroversial bills and major pieces of legislation that will impact working families in our state for years. Remarkably, O'Ban disagreed with the Republican leadership on only 5 of the 286 bills. So much for moderation.
Who is in Charge? Since O'Ban 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. Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler represents the 9th Legislative District in Southeast Washington. This one of the largest and most rural districts in the state that includes many farmers and ranchers, as well as Washington State University. When he's not in Olympia, Schoesler is a dryland wheat farmer in Ritzville.
Schoesler 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 28th District. Not surprisingly, O'Ban doesn't want you to know that he follows the lead of his very conservative Republican leadership 98 percent of the time.
The Votes So what was O'Ban actually voting on? Here are few examples of bills he followed his party leadership on:
- O'Ban voted with Republican leadership to roll back some anti-discrimination protections for LGBT members of our communities. Thankfully, the bill failed in the Senate.
- Instead of funding education, O'Ban voted with Republican leadership to create a new tax break for construction of aircraft maintenance facilities.
- O'Ban voted with Republican Leadership to amend the state Constitution to include a recent Tim Eyman initiative. Not surprisingly, the measure failed on a party-line vote.
- Voted with Republican leadership to undermine our state's voter-approved clean energy laws two separate times.
- Voted with Republican leadership to undermine protections for construction workers injured on the job.
We expect our leaders to represent their constituents and voice their conscience, not their party, on the major issues facing our state. For all of his rhetoric about independence and moderation, Senator Steve O'Ban has faithfully voted the Republican Party line 98 percent of the time. The voters of the 28th District deserve better. It's time for a change, and that starts with replacing O'Ban.
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.