The Stranger‘s Endorsements for the August 2016 Primary Election!
Lieutenant Governor – Cyrus Habib
What the fuck does the lieutenant governor even do? No one seems to know. There are three serious Democrats in this race, and their biggest fight is over what they could do if they won this office.
The SECB wasn’t sure what a lieutenant governor does, either, so we bummed some uppers off a high-school kid and started googling. It turns out the lieutenant governor presides over the state senate, sits on the rules committee (which helps determine which legislation moves forward), chairs a committee on economic development and international relations, and fills in for the governor when he or she is out of state. In other words, it’s kind of a parliamentary thing, half legislative and half executive, but it’s elected in a partisan race separate from either the senate or the governor.
What the actual fuck?
Anyway, some people believe the lieutenant governor should be focused on fairness and diplomacy—it’s “not an ‘in your face, my way or the highway’ job,” says Brad Owen, the guy who has the job now but isn’t running for reelection (and thank God for that, because Owen is a useless tool)—and others believe it should be more of an activist position used to push for progressive policies.
That’s where our pick, Cyrus Habib, comes in. Habib is up against a couple of formidable Democrats—we particularly liked Karen Fraser—but he’s the most enthusiastic about using the office as a bully pulpit and a check on Republicans.
The child of Iranian immigrants, Habib lost his eyesight as a child and then attended Columbia, Oxford, and Yale. In Olympia, he has supported paid sick leave, allowing public testimony by video, improved political representation for minorities, regulating ride-share companies, and improving education access for students with disabilities. He believes guns should be banned in the entire Capitol, including the senate chambers.
Owen warns Habib that too much partisanship in the lieutenant governor’s seat can “cause rancor and political mistrust.” Maybe, but Owen’s evenhandedness hasn’t stopped senate Republicans from running amok, wasting time on anti-choice, anti-trans legislation, dragging their feet on education funding, and abruptly firing the state’s pro-transit transportation secretary because they were mad about toll lanes. Even if the lieutenant governor can’t stop their bullshit, he or she can loudly speak up against it. Maybe Habib will cause some “rancor,” but rancor is just what the state senate—both unhinged Republicans and sleepy mainstream Democrats—needs. Vote Habib.