In Olympia, whether you oppose your party is not as important as when you oppose your party.
Leaders of the majority Democrats don't expect their members to always toe the party line. But they do expect support on procedural votes.
So it was unusual Monday for Democratic Sen. Jim Kastama to propose, and Democratic Sens. Tim Sheldon and Steve Hobbs to support, clearing the way for a vote on a resolution that party leaders didn't want to hear.
Another supporter Kastama had lined up was Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, the powerful Democratic chairwoman of the Transportation Committee. Haugen said after the vote she would have supported the resolution to block the seating of a new senator. So why did she vote no on Kastama's motion to move to the resolution?
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It's because she generally votes with her caucus on procedural matters, Haugen said. It's part of her responsibilities as a committee chair.
So where does that leave Kastama, who chairs a committee on economic development? He still has a gavel, still sits on the Senate's budget panel, and says he hasn't seen repercussions.
But it's telling that he threw his lot in with Sheldon, whose own status as a party pooper has left him sitting on only a single committee. (The Kitsap Sun's John Stang has more on Sheldon's dwindling portfolio.) Not to mention with Hobbs, who is also a chairman but who missed out on other committee assignments he wanted (More on that from the Everett Herald's Jerry Cornfield.)