Shea/McCaslin Vote Discrepancy, What Does it Mean?

Dear Group,

Matt Shea is one of two State Representatives sent to Olympia by Legislative District 4, the area east of Havana to the Idaho/Washington state line, north to Mount Spokane, and south to include the City of Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake. (Here’s a map.) Among the places encompassed in LD4 are Greenbluff, home of NWGrassroots, and the official address of the Political Action Committee “We Believe, We Vote,” two groups linked with the Redoubt movement centered in adjacent north Idaho. Besides Matt Shea some others of the local Redoubter faithful are on display here in an ad for a rally in support of the re-election of council members Ed Pace, Caleb Collier, and Mike Munch to the City of Spokane Valley City Council.  I note all three of councilmen were defeated in November 2017 in spite of this rally. 

Matt Shea and the other Representative from LD4, McCaslin Junior (to distinguish him from his father, a former LD4 legislator, now deceased), both won re-election this November, Mr. Shea with 39,572 (57.74%) and McCaslin Jr. with 42,613 (61.88%) votes. (These are not quite final tallies.) Note the difference: 3000 voters bothered to “split their ticket,” casting a vote for McCaslin Jr. (R) but also for Ted Cummings (D), Shea’s opponent. 

The last midterm elections (2014), an election in which both Shea and McCaslin had Democratic challengers, they received very close to equal numbers of votes, roughly 25,000 (58% in each of their races). That year (2014) it seems among those who bothered to vote, almost no one was making a distinction between McCaslin Jr. and Shea (many fewer voted in LD4 in 2014 than did this year, 43K in 2014 v. 69K in 2018). It’s as if 25,000 voters said to themselves, “I’m Republican. These guys are both Republican, therefore they must represent my values. I’ll vote for both of them.”

Many voters claim to be “Independent,” that is, they claim to vote for the person, not the party. That is a lovely, high-minded sentiment. I know. It is a sentiment I expressed for years–until I noticed I hadn’t voted for a Republican in a decade and realized the Republican Party had wandered off to the far right into the weeds, far away from the principles for which I thought it once stood.

Claiming to be an “Independent,” that is, evaluating each candidate on his or her merits, is a great principle, but it actually requires that one pay close attention, attention that is often lacking, especially at a level less than national politics.

The spread between the votes for Shea and McCaslin in LD4 in the November 2018 election tells us more people are paying attention–but we need more. Is that 3000 vote difference due purely to the national attention blip around Shea’s “Biblical Basis For War” manifesto? Is it because volunteer canvassers and Democratic candidates knocked on doors and talked with people about this man Shea? 

We will never know for sure, but it all helped. People of good will have two years to work at getting the word out about Shea, McCaslin, Maycumber (LD7) and the groups and ideologies they represent. Share Shea’s extremist manifesto widely. They say all politics is local. It’s time to pay attention.

Keep to the high ground,