WA state politics forum draws crowd

WA state politics forum draws crowd

Secretary Wyman (left) with Cornell Clayton, Todd Donovan, Sen. Hans Zeiger, Maria Chavez and Nicholas Lovrich after the forum ended. 

A panel discussion on the state of politics in our Washington attracted a standing-room-only crowd at a public forum Friday on the Capitol Campus.

The public forum was co-hosted by the Office of Secretary of State and Washington State University’s Foley Institute.

The symposium included a panel discussion on the latest developments in Washington state politics, including the state’s political culture, elections, the Legislature, and demographics and immigration.

Panelists included Washington State University professor emeritus Nicholas Lovrich, Pacific Lutheran University political science professor Maria Chavez, Western Washington University political science professor Todd Donovan and 25th Legislative District Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup. Foley Institute Director Cornell Clayton was panel moderator.

Lovrich told attendees that Washington has a unique tradition in that many progressive and populist movements come to the state.

Donovan pointed out a paradox in Washington politics, in which the state is considered to be a safely “blue” nationally and typically elects Democrats for most statewide offices, yet has produced a Legislature that is virtually 50/50 between Democrats and Republicans, with divided control in the House and Senate.

Maria Chavez answers a question as Todd Donovan listens.

Chavez said current efforts by the state to push back against some of the federal government’s recent decisions is turning traditional states’ rights arguments on their head.

“Instead of thinking of states’ rights as ‘segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,’ as the old George Wallace states’ rights, we can now think of states’ rights as promoters of civil rights progress,” Chavez said.

Zeiger, who was elected to the Senate last fall after serving six years in the House, shared how the two chambers differ, noting that the House is geared toward passing more bills (which helps explain why it uses an electronic voting machine for floor votes), while the Senate is more deliberative, using voice votes.

“The House is the gas pedal, and the Senate is the brake,” Zeiger quipped.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman kicked off the noon-hour event by telling the audience, which included many legislative interns, the importance of legislators to find common ground.

The four panelists are contributors to the forthcoming updated book from WSU Press on politics in Washington: “Governing the Evergreen State: Political Life in Washington.” The updated book is expected to be released in early 2018.

TVW covered the event and has it available here for viewing.


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