Local Republican Defection?
It is notable when a staunch local Republican publicly endorses two Democrats for elected office. On Sunday, September 20, the Spokesman Review "Editorial Board" (aka the publisher, Stacey Cowles) endorsed Lance Gurel and Lori Feagan for the two WA State Representatives to the State House in Olympia for Legislative District 4 (Spokane valley north to Mount Spokane). The Editorial was entitled, Voters should step out from under Shea’s shadow in the 4th.
Mr. Cowles wrote, "Voters should choose legislators who not only understand Eastern Washington values but also will work collaboratively in Olympia to accomplish goals that serve the region and the state. They also, it should go without saying, ought to avoid candidates who would embarrass the district."
Mr. Cowles' Editorial highlights the support that Bob McCaslin and Rob Chase (the two "Prefers Republican" candidates for these LD4 seats), consistently offer to Matt Shea's theocratic [my word] Liberty State movement, a fringe proposal that has burbled along on the far right for years. The proposal gained greater airing (and scrutiny) in recent years with Rep. Matt Shea's agitation for the idea among his fellow travelers (and now his parishioners) at the Covenant Church on Spokane's near north side, and with his alliance and support of the "American Redoubt" movement centered in North Idaho. Shea and McCaslin gained notoriety with their followers (and to a lesser extent with the rest of us) by proposing the formation of Liberty State with a bill filed in the Washington State House of Representatives. The fact that these folk take the Liberty State proposal seriously--and semi-publicly acknowledge the far right "Christian" theocratic reason for proposing it--is not just an embarrassment for our region, it is unsettling and a bit frightening.
The Spokane County Republican Party is riddled with ideologues allied to Matt Shea. Indeed, for a time the Spokane GOP chairwoman was Cecily Wright, a woman who was also the organizer (with her husband) of Northwest Grassroots, a far right organization in Green Bluff that hosted James Allsup, the Pullman-based white supremacist marcher at Charlottesville. Our very own Cathy McMorris Rodgers unflinchingly accepted the endorsement of the Matt Shea wing of the local GOP. (So far, the Spokane GOP seems to be avoiding listing endorsements for the November General Election. Are they worried over potential backlash?)
The smaller, relatively moderate local Republican group, who confusingly call themselves the Republicans of Spokane County, declined to even mention LD4 candidates among their Primary election endorsements. Of course, both organizations make sure they append the word "radical" to every mention of someone of the "Democrat Party" persuasion.
Stacey Cowles' endorsement of Lance Gurel and Lori Feagan, two Democrats, is a striking departure for a man whose wife sits on the board of the Washington Policy Center. Cowles' endorsement of these two skilled, reasonable, community-minded, sober Democratic candidates, Feagan and Gurel, feels like a long overdue repudiation of the smoldering extremism that has infected the local Republicans for too long.
There is much of politics over which Stacey Cowles and I disagree, but not on this.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. Northwest Grassroots, the organization mentioned above organized by Cecily Wright and her husband, had a website advertising their organization and meetings in Green Bluff. I linked to it many times when I was writing about the James Allsup debacle. That website link now goes to this: http://northwestgrassroots.com/ If you click "downloads" on that page it takes you to this video: http://northwestgrassroots.com/_downloads/Alex-Jones-on-Qanon-April-1st-2020.mp4. The site says that the video download was "last modified" on August 4, 2020. It is a half an hour of Alex Jones, the king of conspiracy theorists, talking about his relationship with both Donald Trump and QAnon. Jones was recorded last April. I find it chilling to watch. I don't think it is much of a stretch to think of this NWGrassroots wing of the local Republican Party dialed into this dangerous nonsense. Rob Chase's involvement with Northwest Grassroots is clear, as is his dabbling with QAnon. Rod Higgins, still a councilperson and now former mayor of the City of Spokane Valley, not only attended but took to the podium at NWGrassroots (in this video at 38:00 minutes) to demonstrate his scheming against and lack of respect for fellow elected council members. Although the Northwest Grassroots website appears to be abandoned, the organization still maintains a Facebook presence. (Are you surprised?)
All of this hides in plain sight. The shame is on the voter who casts a ballot for and lets themselves be represented in elected office by these people. Sadly, the local Republican Party has played along with and been infiltrated by these folk for a long time.