The State of Washington is almost like a microcosm of our nation in that its congressional representatives and the majority of its state legislature are committed to implementing much of the Trump agenda, while the state is also a hotbed of resistance to that effort.
The majority of people in Washington voted for Clinton but, as with Congress, Republicans have a majority of representatives in the state legislature, but just barely, and their majority in the state senate depends on a coalition (the Majority Coalition Caucus) forged with Democratic state senator Tim Jordan.
The Trump administrations recruitment of state Republicans has affected the thin advantage of Republicans in Olympia. Brian Dansel resigned from the state senate to join the Department of agriculture. At the end of January he was replaced by Shelly Short, restoring the Republican led coalition’s majority. State Senator Doug Erickson has been spear heading the deconstruction of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington D.C., while trying to maintain his job in Olympia, just in case he is not soon appointed head of the EPA’s Region 10, headquartered in Seattle.
Meanwhile in Washington D.C. Cathy McMorris Rogers has been serving as one of Paul Ryan’s chief lieutenants. She is the person who formally nominated Paul Ryan to be Speaker of the House this session. She was widely believed to be Trump’s pick for Interior Secretary because of her virtually unequaled voting against environmental concerns and for big oil; she was rated 0% on environmental issues in 2016 by The League of Conservation Voters. Her strict adherence to national Republican positions and commitment to national recruiting and similar national efforts have come at the cost of promoting the interests of people in her district.
Cathy McMorris Rogers was the presumptive pick to serve as Secretary of the Interior until she met with Trump and the next day he appointed Ryan Zinke. It is entirely possible that her allegiance to Paul Ryan rather than Trump cost her that opportunity, as Ryan and Trump enjoy an awkward partnership. It appears that Ryan is trying to push through his legislative agenda, while keeping things on an even keel with Trump, before the administration implodes.
Cathy McMorris Rogers is certainly doing all she can to stay on good terms with Trump while marching to Ryan’s directives. She has voted lock-step with the Trump agenda, while at the same time taking Ryan’s position with respect to Putin. She spends relatively little time in her home district and did not plan to have a town meeting until it was recommended by the national party. It then became a rather farcical telephone call to an assembly organized by her miffed constituents.
She has a rather regal attitude of noblesse oblige toward the people who voted her into office. She treats them as if they are ignorant and easily duped. Two things come to mind here. First she sanctimoniously and repeatedly talks about the need to work together with Democrats, to cross the aisle, and achieve unity, when her voting record is the exact antithesis of that. Her time is not spent fashioning laws, let alone crossing the aisle, and there are few if any voting records demonstrating less willingness to compromise. Her belief in the ignorance of her constituents is best demonstrated by a video on her Facebook page in which she announces that she has sponsored a bill that will require the pre-existing conditions be insured, as if this idea were her invention. She simply does not respond to followup questions on Facebook or at town hall meetings. One of the Facebook comments was pretty funny. Someone suggested that while she was at protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions, she ought to sponsor a bill to give women the right to vote.
She appears to have underestimated the people in her district, where a large number of people are on Obamacare. Following Ryan’s directive she has undertaken to convince them that they will be better off without Obamacare and with a significantly less inclusive (and perhaps more expensive) program. This has not been well received.
The other Washington Republican, Dave Reichert, representative has an entirely different approach. He is one the powerful Ways and Means Committee, where he toadishly protects Trump’s interests, while placating his constituents with symbolic and trivial support of issues they favor.
Like Cathy McMorris Rogers he had no interest in a town hall meeting or any other meeting with the people in his district, then when commanded by his betters in Washington D.C. to do something, he called in.
Meanwhile, Washington’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, has channeled the national outrage at the immigration ban and successfully challenged it in court. Citizens throughout the state have shown there passion for the issues by participating in the Women’s March in Washington DC and marching and demonstrating all over the state. The governor and mayors around the state have voiced opposition to Trump policies.