Daniel Walters on Brown v. CMR

Dear Group,

The news we consume both nationally and locally is written by someone, and no one writes without some point of view. All news offers a story, a story based at some level on facts, numbers, and quotes, but always facts, numbers, and quotes selected and presented by a writer. I used to read newspaper articles without paying attention to the byline. That was naive. 

I have not met Daniel Walters personally, but I have read a lot of his writing…and I like it. Daniel Walters is a staff writer with The Inlander, the Spokane weekly free newspaper. Mr. Walters is in his early thirties. He is Spokane through and through, North Central High School, Whitworth University, to staff writer with the Inlander starting in 2009 (all that comes from Facebook). Pay attention to his byline. He is worth reading. 

I offer an extended quote below Daniel Walters’ November 9 Inlander article, McMorris Rodgers wins the battle, but her House Republicans lose the war. Was it worth it? . The first part of the article was a little jarring as it pointed out the result of the CMR/Brown contest “wasn’t even close.” You might be forgiven if, in the election aftermath, you had quit reading there–but it got a lot better. I like the way Daniel Walters thinks. I will pay more attention to the Inlander and a bit less to the Spokesman:

But in McMorris Rodgers’ speech, at least, there’s no trace of regret over the night’s events. Instead, she reminisces about the time she was called to give the State of the Union response in 2014, the one where she promised that Republicans were the ones with the solutions to “affordable health care.” 

“No, we shouldn’t go back to the way things were, but this law is not working,” McMorris Rodgers said back then. “Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government’s.” 

But that just underscores McMorris Rodgers’ mixed legacy in leadership: Today, Obamacare remains the law of the land. In fact, McMorris Rodgers spent the last phase of the campaign arguing, dubiously, that she had been a champion of the defense of one Obamacare’s crucial tenets — the pre-existing condition guarantee. 

McMorris Rodgers’ House Republicans spent eight years in power — the last two with control of every branch. But they haven’t funded the wall. They didn’t pass comprehensive immigration reform. They didn’t successfully pass a bill to protect DACA recipients. This year, in fact, they haven’t even been able to successfully pass a Farm Bill.

Instead, I wait patiently as a scrum of TV reporters lob mostly softballs at McMorris Rodgers for a few minutes. Then, as the small press conference looks to be ending, I jump in:

“Would you rather have lost and the Republicans keep the House—” 

But then, like a Secret Service agent leaping in front of a bullet, McMorris Rodgers’ campaign manager, Patrick Bell, shuts me down. 

“Sorry that was the last question,” Bell says, maneuvering in front of me. “Thanks, Daniel. Thanks, everybody.” 

At the encouragement of another McMorris Rodgers campaign staffer, I spend the rest of the party trying to catch McMorris Rodgers as she shakes hands and takes selfies with her supporters. 

“Do you have a moment for print?” I ask as she walks out of the party. “All the TV guys got to ask questions? Print doesn’t get anything?” 

Again, Bell shuts me down. 

“We did it! We did it! We did it!” McMorris Rodgers cheers as she readies to leave. “56 percent and counting.” 

I try one last time as McMorris Rodgers stands in the door to the Davenport Grand Hotel, and get the closest thing to an answer. 

“We won right here tonight in Eastern Washington,” she says. “Focus on tonight, Daniel.”

And then, like that, she’s gone. 

To be sure, during the Obama years, the House Republicans made for fearsome opposition: They shut down the government in 2014. They successfully pushed back against federal government spending. Yet the House’s biggest legislative legacy from the past two years of Republican control is the major tax cut bill — a bill that is anticipated to keep sending the deficit soaring. Few, if any, vulnerable House Republicans based their campaigns on the effectiveness of the tax cuts.

And for all that? Democrats look like they’re going to be picking up about 37-40 House seats, despite the booming economy. It’s the best Democratic performance since Watergate. In the end, it wasn’t even close. 

Asked by a TV reporter about the changing landscape in the House, McMorris Rodgers stresses her ability to be bipartisan: “I have great relationships. I can work across the aisle,” she says, talking about her successes in areas like hydropower and forestry. 

But by Thursday, CNN reports that Cathy McMorris Rodgers will not run again for House conference chair. Rep. Liz Cheney is running for that spot instead. 

So here’s my final question: If you were Lisa or Cathy, which would you rather have: A personal victory? Or control of the House for your party? 

Would McMorris Rodgers have rather lost on Tuesday night if the House Republicans won? Would Lisa Brown prefer to have been elected if it meant Republicans had maintained control of the House? 

When I asked Lisa Brown that question, she doesn’t hesitate: She’d rather Democrats have control of the House than for her to be elected personally.  

“That’s really what motivated me to get into it,” Brown says about her race. In fact, Brown believes that she played a small role in the Democrats’ victory. 

In years past, McMorris Rodgers has been flying all around the country, working to fundraise and stump for her fellow House Republicans. 

“I believe she would have been doing the same thing during the campaign if she hadn’t had a competitive race,” Brown says. 

Instead, she was spending money and holding events in her district, fighting Lisa Brown. I intended to ask McMorris Rodgers the same question. I assumed I’d have a chance. During the campaign, McMorris Rodgers has spoken with the Inlander for lengthy, challenging in-depth interviews on multiple occasions. 

But on election night, neither the Inlander nor the Spokesman-Review get their questions answered by McMorris Rodgers.

Keep to the high ground,