Friday, December 02, 2011

An Open Letter to Rob McKenna

Hi Rob,

You're right. You're absolutely right. You probably weren't going to get the WEA endorsement. You did sue the organization pretty gleefully, after all, and you've got some obvious antagonism towards unions in general. I was going to give you credit for even showing up to face down what would have been a group programmed to not like you. That would have been, well, courageous.

But you're not going to show up, Rob. You couldn't make it on November 11th, so the WEA rescheduled the interviews just for you. 60 members from around the state are getting together in Federal Way tomorrow to do the gubernatorial interviews, and now it's only going to be Jay Inslee because you cancelled.

Rob, that's chickenshit. From a conservative standpoint, how are you going to face down the WEA as Governor if you don't even have the courage to do it as the candidate? From a moderate standpoint, if this is how you're going to treat the teachers before you're elected, why would anyone expect better after you're elected? You're supposed to be a mainstreamer, but this doesn't feel like bipartisanship.

I get to criticize. I'm one of the people in the WEA who has tried to build relationships with Republicans, and I've taken some shit for it. In 2010 I pushed to have us endorse folks like Joel Kretz, who is one of the best on levy equalization, and Susan Fagan, who has stepped in to the Education Committee every bit as effectively as Rep. Cox used to serve in the position. Joe Schmick, Kevin Parker, Shelly Short. I've been in every one of their offices, I've had dinner with more than a few of them, I've steered PAC money towards them, and even though we don't always agree we at least have a relationship that I value and appreciate.

You had a chance to start relationship building, Rob, and you blew it off, and I don't really understand why. If you believe in your education platform, go to Federal Way and speak truth to power. What you would have gotten out of it is the chance to say, "Yes, I did meet with the teacher's union, and yes, I told them what I believe," but now you've completely given up control of the narrative.

Courage would have been remarkable. This will still be remarked on, but for different reasons.

One more story: I really hated Eric Oemig. The things that he said about the small school districts I work with were beyond the pale, I didn't like where he was on levy equalization, and in general he bugged me. When we were going through our 2010 endorsement process it was clear that Oemig would get the endorsement over Andy Hill, and Hill was making that pretty easy because he didn't fill out his WEA-PAC survey.

So I sent Andy Hill an email, he called me, and we talked. I encouraged him--please, turn in the survey. We were certain to disagree, but don't just give it away. Hell, you might just find we agree on some things. I want to engage with you, please meet me half way and engage with us.

He never did return that survey. Message received.

Good luck going forward.

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