Lowry didn’t attempt a passionate defense of liberalism. Indeed, even when he took on components of the GOP agenda, including welfare reform, he did so in general terms, without taking issue with specific proposals.
“It’s easy to blame people on welfare - or new immigrants - or anyone else having trouble securing a stable place in our society,” he said. “Mocking them, denying them aid, keeping their children from receiving medical care or going to school does neither help them nor help society.”
And while he could threaten a veto if either chamber sends him bills that violate the core of his agenda and principles, Lowry instead offered an olive branch of bipartisan cooperation.
But so far, GOP leaders are cutting Lowry no slack, and see nothing unsporting in holding their ground. They will fight for enactment of their Contract with Washington State, with the governor’s help or without it, GOP leaders said after Tuesday’s speech.
House Speaker Clyde Ballard, R-Wenatchee, said he sees a headon collision coming, especially on health care.
“He has said he doesn’t want major changes made,” Ballard said. “But we think major changes are needed. I see two trains headed toward each other and I don’t know that either one of them is going to back up.”
Rep. Todd Mielke, R-Spokane, leader of the House Republican Caucus, said the governor’s speech gave him only guarded optimism about working in partnership with the governor this session.
“I heard him talk about regulatory reform, but this is the same governor who vetoed much of the regulatory reform bill last session. He talks about health care reform being so successful when most of it isn’t even implemented.
“He says we need to get dangerous people off the streets but it still sounds to me like he wants to understand why they are dangerous, when most people don’t care why. They just want them to pay the piper,” Mielke said.
Some Democrats praised the speech, and Lowry’s call to include prevention as well as punishment in fighting crime.
“He didn’t oversimplify or make wild-eyed generalizations,” said Rep. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane.
Brown held out hope for making common cause with her GOP colleagues. “There is a lot of common ground when it comes to goals.”