The sin of buying a home in the “other Washington” was leveled against Rep. George Nethercutt on Wednesday by Gonzaga University students supporting Democrat Judy Olson.
Nethercutt was defended by another group of GU students who complained that Olson was another “tax-and-spend liberal.”
The arguments outside the Crosby Center were hardly the pinnacle of political discourse. But the complaints of the GU Young Democrats had a familiar ring.
It was the same charge Republicans leveled against Tom Foley two years ago. Only the price of the house was changed to reflect a slightly lower value.
The Foley home, once described by the GOP as “a million-dollar mansion,” was valued at $620,000. The Nethercutt abode is valued at $475,310, said Young Democrat Chairman Jason Pierson, who described it as “plush” and “in a bourgeois neighborhood.”
Nethercutt and his family recently bought the house in Alexandria, Va., after renting another house for about a year.
“We lost our lease and had to find a place to live,” he said this week. “It just made sense to buy a house rather than pay several thousand dollars a month to rent a place.”
At the beginning of his term, Nethercutt left his wife and two children, ages 12 and 16, in Spokane and commuted to the district on weekends. After about seven months, they moved East to be together during the week, and he continued the weekend district commute.
Olson, who wasn’t present for the Young Democrats’ protest, said later she didn’t consider Nethercutt’s home purchase a major issue.
Nethercutt said something similar in 1994, although his supporters mentioned the Foley mansion regularly at his campaign events.
If elected, Olson said she’d rent an apartment and return to her Palouse farm on weekends.
Back on campus, Jennifer Wallace of the GU College Republicans said she was “disappointed and disgusted” that her Democratic counterparts “would criticize Representative Nethercutt for moving his family to D.C.”
Although young Democrats out-numbered young Republicans about 2-to-1, the decibel levels were about equal when the two groups exchanged jibes and chants. Most others students hurried by with only a quick glance.
“Would you like a Nethercutt button?” a College Republican asked a fellow student.
“No. I’m going to physics,” came the reply.