Evenly divided Legislature inspires hope for moderates | The Petri Dish

  • Saturday, December 3, 2016 12:30pm
  • Opinion

Jerry Cornfield

Will the Roadkill Caucus be reborn in 2017?

This is not idle conversation as the approaching legislative session could be epic in its length and partisanship with power evenly divided between the Democratic and Republican parties.

Nearly six years ago, centrist Democratic lawmakers banded together in hopes of injecting moderate policies and a moderating tone into partisan-fueled policy debates. Calling themselves the Roadkill Caucus — a reference to getting run over by the far right and far left of the two political parties — its members earned their way into many critical conversations on budget and policy.

It pretty much disbanded in 2012 when two of its members in the Senate joined forces with Republicans to give the GOP control of that chamber. Things haven’t been quite the same in the Legislature since.

There may be an effort to launch a version of Roadkill 2.0 next year, at least in the Senate.

That’s where Republicans hold a 25-24 edge on Democrats and, thanks to elections and retirements, there should be 12 new faces in place when the session starts in January.

“Moderates in the minority are ready to make a deal,” said state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, an original Roadkill founder. “Are minorities in the majority willing to buck the system to find common ground?”

Guy Palumbo of Maltby, a newly-elected Democratic senator, said he’s open to joining.

“The reality is with a one-vote split it does empower moderates on both sides of the aisle. They can drive the agenda if they choose to,” he said. “Compromise is not a dirty word in my book.”

It may be the only word by the time the 2017 session ends.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com.

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