As he officially starts his fifth campaign for the state Senate, Republican Bob McCaslin concedes he has changed his mind about some things.
For instance, the amount of time someone should serve in that body. Challenger McCaslin in 1980, running against two-term incumbent William Day, said no one should serve more than eight years in the Senate.
So how can he seek another term, having already served twice as long as Day?
“We all change,” McCaslin said Thursday in an interview after his kickoff fund-raiser. “You get involved in politics and the challenges. You get caught up in that.”
At 70, McCaslin has changed in many ways in his last term. He underwent heart surgery, for a quadruple bypass, in 1993. Last year, his wife, Wanda, died after a nine-year fight with cancer.
Other things haven’t changed. He remains the gregarious pol who begins and ends his speeches with a joke. The part in between - which he keeps short - is reserved for a denunciation of government spending and regulations.
If re-elected, his top legislative priority would be to repeal the state’s Growth Management Act, he told some 120 supporters.
Because that’s unlikely to happen, his fallback position would be to amend the law to allow counties to pull out of the mandatory rules to govern urban development.
Despite his tenure, McCaslin boasts no authorship of a major law. He doesn’t apologize. Instead, he argues he’s more in tune with his district by voting against new laws.
“This is a very conservative district - conservative Republicans and conservative Democrats,” he said of the 4th District, which is centered in the Spokane Valley.
He’s proud of killing bills, such as a recent campaign finance reform plan, by adding amendments that make proposals unpalatable to their authors.
In a campaign eight years ago, he vowed to vote against any budget until the state conducted an in-depth study of spending. McCaslin hasn’t even proposed such a study in recent years, saying it would be killed by Democrats.
The former Kaiser employee and real estate agent has been elected by comfortable margins each time. He has no announced Democratic opponent yet, although former state Rep. George Orr is considering the race.