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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 16 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 20
Labor endorses most - but not all - LGBT candidates
Section One
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Labor endorses most - but not all - LGBT candidates

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) endorsed six of seven LGBT candidates for legislative and judicial offices at its statewide COPE convention May 10-12. COPE, the Committee for Political Education, is responsible for organizing labor support for endorsed candidates.

Mary Yu, the state's first openly LGBT Supreme Court Justice, got WSLC's endorsement to keep the seat to which she was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee when former Justice Jim Johnson retired in March.

Senator Marko Liias (D-21) won the WSLC endorsement to keep his seat, as did Representatives Laurie Jinkins (D-27), Jim Moeller (D-49), and Brady Walkinshaw (D-43).

Although Walkinshaw has already served most of one term in the state legislature, this is his first election. He was selected to assume Jamie Pedersen's House seat when Pedersen took Ed Murray's seat in the Senate when Murray became Mayor of Seattle.

Also winning a WSLC endorsement was first-time legislative candidate Joan McBride, running for a seat in the 48th District.

A former Kirkland City Council member and Mayor of Kirkland, McBride originally filed to take on incumbent Senator Rodney Tom, who helped Republicans seize control of the state Senate, but when Tom dropped out of the race, McBride switched to run for a House seat and incumbent Representative Cyrus Habib (D-48) ran for Tom's now-vacant Senate seat.

Of the LGBT candidates, only Senator Jamie Pedersen (D-43) failed to get WSLC's seal of approval. WSLC spokesperson Kathy Cummings said Pedersen's name was not even brought up for discussion.

Martin Luther King County Labor Council (MLKCLC) political organizer Dianne Gross said Pedersen had not submitted the written questionnaire required of candidates seeking labor endorsement and had not requested an interview by MLKCLC, normally the first steps in getting WSLC approval.

Also snubbed by the WSLC was straight Congressman Rick Larson (D-2), the only Democratic Congressional candidate not endorsed by WSLC. Larson did submit his questionnaire and was interviewed, Cummings said, but the Snohomish County Labor Council did not recommend him, and his name was not brought up for endorsement.

Larson infuriated the powerful Boeing Machinists union (IAM 751) by urging its members to ratify a controversial contract in January.

The big surprise was WSLC's endorsement of Senator Pam Roach (R-31). Usually thought of as an anti-Gay right-wing kook, Roach has cultivated surprisingly close relationships with some unions.

'It takes a two-thirds vote of the convention to get an endorsement,' Cummings explained. 'There were a number of unions in favor [of Roach] and there were some opposed. Delegates were able to sway enough votes.'

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