You might have seen his name in the newspaper or on a yard sign recently, but you might not know who Rodney Tom really is. Here’s a quick rundown on the man running as a Democrat for state Senate on the Eastside.
Tom is a wealthy real estate broker from Medina who was first elected to the state House as a Republican in 2002. As the political winds changed during the 2006 election, Tom also changed parties and ran as a Democrat. He served as a conservative Democrat until 2013 when the political winds shifted again. Seizing an opportunity to move into a leadership role, Tom and another conservative Democrat joined the Senate Republicans to form a majority caucus that he led. Tom served as majority leader for two years before he decided not to seek re-election in 2014. However, Tom’s legacy lived on in the Republican majority caucus for another three years until last November, when Democrats retook control of the state legislature.
Tom’s switching sides to join the Senate Republican had huge implications for important policies across the state. In some cases, Tom pursued misguided policies himself, and in others he empowered the most conservative members of his caucus.
Here’s the most important thing you need to know: while Tom is running as a “Democrat,” he has made it clear that he will not join the Senate Democratic caucus. Instead, he wants to create a new caucus, which would erase the narrow Democratic majority that oversaw one of most productive legislative sessions in years.
Here are a few of Tom’s key actions to consider as he runs once again for his old seat.
The Wrong Side Of Gun Safety
Tom appointed Sen. Mike Padden as the leader of the committee that deals with firearms and gun safety. Unfortunately, Padden has an “A” rating from the NRA and steadfastly refused to consider any meaningful gun safety legislation. The obstruction of Padden and Tom’s Republican majority forced activists to launch a ballot measure for universal background checks for gun purchases, which passed with nearly 60 percent support. This year, the Democratic majority in Olympia that Tom is running against banned “Bump stocks” and is considering stronger measures in 2019.
Blocking Reproductive Health Care Access
One of Tom’s main campaign talking points is that he’s “socially progressive.” However, Tom blocked one of the top legislative priorities for Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other groups that advocate for women’s health care. The Reproductive Parity Act simply requires insurance policies that cover maternity care to include abortion care as well. While the state House passed the bill repeatedly and a majority of senators supported it, Tom used his power as Republican majority leader to block the Reproductive Party Act from even receiving a vote. Only this spring after Democrats retook control of the Legislature did the bill finally become law.
Repealing Family and Medical Leave
Washington has one of the leading family and medical leave laws in the country. The original law provided for paid leave of up to five weeks for the parents of newborn or newly adopted children. Being able to spend even a few weeks at home to care for a newborn can pay short- and long-term dividends for both parents and children However, Tom co-sponsored legislation in 2013 to repeal Washington’s Family and Medical Leave Act. Since then, a bipartisan coalition actually strengthened Washington’s law, showing just how out-of-touch Tom’s legislation was.
Ending A Key College Tuition Savings Program
Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) college savings program has served 157,000 Washington families since its founding in 1998. The program allows parents and families to save for college with the peace of mind that tuition costs won’t increase. Tom wanted to shut down the program, which would have eliminated one of the best ways for working families to save for college.
Expanding Predatory Payday Lending
Unscrupulous lenders like Moneytree have been pushing for years to roll back Washington’s strong consumer protection laws on payday lending. When Rodney Tom became the Republicans’ majority leader, he co-sponsored a bill to let predatory lenders charge exorbitant interest rates for short-term loans, which often target military personnel. While Tom and his Republican caucus pass the bill, House Democrats once again stopped the dangerous legislation.
No candidate authorized this blog or the ads supporting it. They are paid for by Fuse Votes, 1402 3rd Ave, Suite 406, Seattle, WA 98109. Top 5 Contributors: UFCW Local 21, FAST PAC, Loren Cohen, Fuse Washington, SEIU 925 PAC