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December 4, 2006

GOP looks for a path back to power

Posted by David Postman at 9:29 AM

At Sound Politics today Eric Earling follows up on Matt Rosenberg's prescription for GOP renewal. (I linked earlier to Rosenberg here.)

For Earling it is about education and transportation. Those issues, he says, are the two "in need of clearer attention from GOP candidates hoping to reclaim a swath of lost legislative seats in the suburbs."

It's not news to anyone that education and transportation are important. But Earling focuses in on some important elements that hit close to the GOP's heart. On education, he says give up the push for vouchers and charters. On transportation, he says -- as he has said before -- just saying no to taxes won't do it.

Republicans, like Democrats, remain divided internally on the WASL, testing, and accountability. As such, one doesn't often hear a consistent theme from either party on the issue, other than the fact Democrats seem much more willing to talk about education in general. That needs to change.

The real challenge, however, is what to talk about with education. The concept of vouchers (or "opportunity scholarships") and charter schools has a lot of intellectual appeal to many conservatives, and rightly so. Yet, vouchers are rarely implemented outside of truly failing urban school districts, and charters seem a lost cause given the state populace's repeated rejection of the notion.

...

Many a Sound Politics reader objects to new taxes, especially on transportation, in part thanks to controversial projects like light rail, the monorail, and the tunnel v. viaduct debate. Those objections, however, does little to address the transportation solutions citizens of the Puget Sound area are increasingly demanding, and gives legislative candidates little footing on which to stand on the campaign trail. Just ask Luke Esser how consistently voting "no" on transportation improvements treated him on the campaign trail, at the same time his opponent was attacking him on the issue, and in a district that voted against I-912.

The key is Democrats generally stand for something on transportation, including recent road-heavy, gas tax increases. What's the Republican plan for transportation?

The last time state Republicans were so marginalized was 1993 and '94. They came roaring back in the '94 election largely on a national wave and the record of an overreaching Democratic legislative majority.

But other than waiting for Democrats to blow it, what should Republicans in the Legislature do the next two years? Are there positive things they can do to provide an alternative voice to the Democratic machine? Can they do anything meaningful in the way of blocking the Demo agenda, or trying to curtail Gov. Chris Gregoire's plans as she ramps up her re-election?

I'd like to hear if anyone has any serious suggestion. Whether friend or foe, what would you tell the GOP to do?

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