TURNCOAT VOTE: Dems  overwhelmingly censure Rod Tom, the suburban lawmaker who is handing state senate power to the GOP.
  • Collin Jergens
  • TURNCOAT VOTE: Dems overwhelmingly censure Rod Tom, the suburban lawmaker who is handing state senate power to the GOP.
By a leaden majority, members of the 48th District Democrats delivered an overwhelming condemnation last night to their state senator, Rodney Tom, who was elected as a Democrat in 2010 but then betrayed his party. Tom and fellow moderate Democrat Tim Sheldon (of Potlatch) decided to caucus with the opposing party, thereby handing senate power to Republicans when the legislature convenes next week and making himself the leader of a GOP majority.

An "angry" crowd badgered Tom with "hostile questions," says one of the people at the meeting, Collin Jergens, spokesman for the Democratic-leaning group FUSE. "Members were frustrated that Tom betrayed the principles on which he ran for office. They were angry that Tom put an anti-Obamacare Republican in charge of the health care committee and Pam Roach in charge of anything."

Taking a 30-8 vote, the group—which has twice helped Tom's election with volunteers and money—passed a resolution that begins by asking Tom to appoint the leadership elected by the Democratic caucus last fall. Failing that, the group denounces Tom for "thwarting Democratic values." By seeking Republican leadership to chair committees, as he's expected to do, Senator Tom is "rendering himself ineligible for our future endorsement and support under our bylaws," resolution says.

"The dissenters wanted to push back the vote to next month to learn more," Jergens reports, "but they were a small minority."

In the end, Senator Tom's megalomaniacal play for attention will win his minute in Olympia's spotlight, but that's it. He's losing voters, losing Democrats in the senate, losing Democrats in the house, and losing the Democratic governor. Just like we saw when he and Sheldon tried a budget coup last year, he still doesn't have a real majority. Last year, the Democratic budget passed anyway because Tom can't wrangle the governor or house. So he's going to lose this year, too.