It's the time of session where we spend hours standing in the hallway. I might as well post some items of interest while I'm waiting.
> Can Democrats win back the support of labor?
Following up on a story I've mentioned before, NPR's Austin Jenkins reports that relationships remain uneasy between legislative Democrats and the labor movement. "The trick for Democrats is striking the right balance," writes Jenkins. "Just as they’re trying to mend fences with labor, they have to close another $2.6 billion budget shortfall and demonstrate to voters that they’re willing to take on entrenched interests... All of this is happening in a high-stakes election year. All House members and about half of state senators are up for re-election in 2010. Democrats need their base to be fired-up and ready to work."
> Will the 2010 be a year where voters turn against Democratic incumbents?
Ted Van Dyk at Crosscut.com suggests incumbents generally, and Democrats in particular, could be in trouble in this year's elections. "To voters, 2010 elections, some nine months distant, are something only remotely in mind," Van Dyk says. "To elected officials, however, they are a consuming topic as they face what many sense to be the imminence of their hanging. Could presumed safe-seat incumbents, such as Sen. Patty Murray, be at risk? The answer, almost everywhere, is yes."
Van Dyk points out that trends are going against the Democrats now and, even though the election is still months away, there's reason to believe things aren't going to get any better between now and the election. "The message for Republicans is: Don't count political chickens before they hatch," Van Dyk concluded. "An anti-incumbent tide will not be enough to elect your candidates if those candidates are unattractive or appear unqualified... In 2010, however, hopes of GOP bumbling will not be enough to save incumbent Democrats running in perilous conditions. They will have to run hard and smart to keep their places."
> What's the difference between a "Blue/Green" legislator and a "Roadkill" legislator?
Jerry Cornfield of the Everett Herald reports that there are now competing sub-caucuses among legislative Democrats. "Centrist Democrats frustrated that their ideas and voices are routinely mashed by the Legislature’s liberals and conservatives are banding together," Cornfield writes. "They call themselves the Roadkill Caucus... They envision themselves staking out and securing a middle ground in heated philosophical debates sure to break out in the session’s pressure-packed final days... Historically, there have been many such caucuses within the Legislature. This year, they are most visible among Democrats who hold majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. Best known is the Blue-Green Caucus with roughly 20 House members whose political concerns are centered on labor and environmental issues."
Oh, well. Politics can be brutal, but it's never boring. -- Dennis