Spanaway Democrat Now House Republican
Rep. Tom Campbell of Spanaway defected to the majority House Republicans on Tuesday, saying his years as a Democrat have been “like a bad marriage.”
Campbell, a maverick who once threatened to punch a Democratic colleague during floor debate, will make little difference in the balance of power. His departure reduces the Democratic minority to 37 and increases the GOP majority to 61. It was the first post-election party switch for a lawmaker in 14 years.
The second-term lawmaker, a chiropractor, has often been at odds with the Democrats since he won his seat in 1992, fighting the party’s appetite for gun control and its approach to law-and-order legislation generally.
Last year, he startled colleagues when he shouted, “I’ll knock you on your ass, Randy Dorn!” during an argument with Dorn, a Democratic representative from Eatonville, over the contents of a bill intended to quell youth violence.
Dorn was defeated in November.
“We’re glad to have him part of our team,” said House Speaker Clyde Ballard, R-East Wenatchee, after Campbell made his announcement at a news conference.
House Minority Leader Brian
Ebersole, D-Tacoma, said: “I think this is the best decision for all concerned. Tom hasn’t been a member of this caucus for a long time. He didn’t come to caucus meetings, and he tended to view philosophical differences over legislation as a personal affront, and that’s not how this place works.”
Campbell said he had considered declaring himself an independent, and decided on the GOP only moments before his announcement.
He acknowledged that he had said months ago that he did not intend to switch parties because the time to do so would be before the election so voters could know for whom they were voting.
But he said shoddy treatment by the Democrats this year forced his hand.
“Cynical people” will call his move opportunistic, Campbell said.
“But the truth is, I’ve been in the minority a long time,” he said.
The last lawmaker to switch par ties after the election was Democrat Peter von Reichbauer, whose move gave the Senate a Republican majority in 1981.
© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.