Blue America Welcomes Craig Pridemore (WA-03)

Please join us in the Comments Section for a chat with Blue America’s newest endorsee, Washington state Senator Craig Pridemore, where he joins Alan Grayson and Marcy Winograd on a very short list of Better Democrats.

In 2006, Craig was named Legislator of the Year by Washington Conservation Voters. There were a number of reasons they chose the relatively new state legislator but it certainly had a lot to do with a bill he wrote and successfully passed, the nation’s first electronic waste recycling bill which mandated the kind of product stewardship that makes a producer responsible for the full lifetime costs of whatever they make, including the eventual disposal or recycling. Although some electronic goods manufacturers– some in other countries, where TVs are made– fought passage, Craig managed to put together a strong bipartisan coalition to pass it. In fact, every Democrat in both houses of the state legislature voted for the bill with only two exceptions, conservatives Steve Kirby and Deb Wallace. Ironically, one of those conservatives, Deb Wallace, is one of Craig’s opponents in the Democratic primary for the seat in southwest Washington that has been represented since 1998 by Brian Baird.

Washington’s 3rd CD is a non-gerrymandered swing district. Obama beat McCain in 2008 52-46%, Obama’s closest win in the state. Bush took the district, narrowly, in 2000 and 2004. Meanwhile, Baird won re-election with 64%, just around what he did in 2006, 2004 and 2002. It’s one of Washington’s fastest growing areas– right across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, especially attractive for people eager to avoid Oregon’s income tax and Washington’s sales tax. With 15,575 homes estimated to be headed for foreclosure in the next 4 years, it has been harder hit by the housing crisis than most of the state. Very much an economic populist, Craig is a perfect fit for the district. A few days ago we had a long talk about how to put WA-3 back on the road to prosperity.

“I have a strong belief that the best thing government can do to stimulate job growth is to invest in public infrastructure and facilities. We can do some targeted tax incentives for new industries, like green energy, but tax incentives alone are not going to stimulate job growth. Businesses are not going to create jobs and start hiring again until demand for goods and services increases. That means putting money in the hands of working people, not Wall Street…

“We’ve spent thirty years trying to shift as much of the nation’s wealth to the supply side as possible and we’ve succeeded. We need to get back in balance and fuel the demand side as well. We need to get money percolating through all levels of our economy, not just at the top. Republicans seem to have only one strategy for economic recovery and that’s to replace good-paying jobs with bad-paying jobs.”

Craig comes from a union family. His grandparents met in Hazard, Kentucky, a classic coal mining company town and his grandfather worked in the mine starting at age 15. He was the smallest kind so he had the job of placing the explosives. When he was 17 a blasting cap went off in his hands. His father had to amputate his fingers on the spot. He got docked a day’s pay because he had to get his son to town and wasn’t working. Craig’s grandfather’s lost job wasn’t replaced by unemployment insurance or workers’ comp; nor was there job retraining. Craig’s always been very much in sympathy with working people. His dad is a pulp and paper worker and his mom is a school teacher. Everyone’s a union member. It helped me understand why Craig is so adamant about fighting for ordinary families, which I heard in his voice when he talked about the battle over health care.

An overwhelming number of people in this country wanted legitimate health-care reform, including the choice of going to a public option. It wasn’t just Republicans who thwarted that reform; it was Democrats too. We need strong, progressive Democrats who are going to fight for what the people want– not just for insurance companies.

“It’s clear to me that we will not get Financial Industry reform without election reform. It’s clear to me we won’t get progressive health-care reform without election reform. It’s clear to me we won’t end corporate control of Washington, DC without election reform. I’m looking forward to signing on as a co-sponsor of John Larson’s Fair Elections Now Act.”

Craig is a 49-year-old highly decorated former military intelligence officer who worked after college as a financial analyst the Clark County Public Works Department before being elected a County Commissioner (beating a Republican incumbent heavily financed by the developers’ community. It’s how he learned about grassroots campaigning, walking 117 miles eight days, meeting with hundreds of people from battleground and Yacolt to Richfield and Camas. He was re-elected and the challenged another Republican incumbent for a state Senate seat. He was re-elected to that job in 2008 with 62% of the vote.

As a state Senator he wrote and passed one of the first successful pieces of legislation for greenhouse gas caps in the U.S. Senate Bill 6001, in fact, directly prevented the construction of a dirty coal plant in Washington, saving untold numbers of people from asthma, heart disease, cancer and a whole battery of chronic lower respiratory diseases. His two main opponents, the aforementioned Rep. Deb Wallace and a millionaire investor, Denny Heck, are both what are euphemistically called “business-friendly” Democrats. That’s what Blue Dogs are called before they grow up to be Republicans in Democratic clothing. Heck, particularly — who has stated no policy positions on anything but who refers to himself as “the only working capitalist in this race”– has started raking in a great deal of money from all the wrong sources.

Electing Craig Pridemore is an opportunity to make the House a more progressive place and to elect a leader who doesn’t just go along with the flow. The first time I spoke with him he told me that “the conventional wisdom up here is that a Democrat can’t win if he/she stands for Democratic values. I am absolutely committed to changing that perception and to make WA-03 a reliable, progressive seat in the future.” I hope you’ll join me in helping him to do just that– at the Blue America ActBlue page, where Craig becomes the first candidate we’re endorsing this who wasn’t a previous endorsee.


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