Ever since Representative Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill, University District) shepherded the momentous nine cent gas tax through the legislature last April, my editor has been hounding me to write a story singing Murray's praises as the badass legislator from Seattle who actually gets stuff done.
Murray himself has long wondered if The Stranger were ever going to run a pro-Ed piece. According to Murray's media consultant, Murray tells me, The Stranger has been particularly mean to our city's Capitol Hill rep. And so, Murray invited me out to lunch a few years back—an Italian place—to make his case. He walked me through all the good stuff he's done: he doubled the amount the state puts into low-income housing; earmarked the first state money ever for farm-worker housing; ushered through the first gas hike for transportation fixes in two decades with 2003's five cent tax; he got stringent clean-car-emissions standards passed.
So why hadn't we shown the love?
Maybe it's a case of having higher expectations for those you know and respect. Or maybe it's what I kept telling my editor: With limited pages in the news section, there's more important stuff to get into the paper than a glowing piece on a legislator. There's news to cover. Well, this week, there's no denying that Murray is the news.
As I reported on the Slog last week, when Murray took the stage in the foyer of the Paramount last Friday, the day Murray's historic gay rights bill passed, the raucous celebration—already buoyant with high fives and hugging—hit 11. Murray drew sustained applause as the day's hero. After Murray, beaming and waving to the packed balcony, finally quieted the crowd, his speech was interrupted twice more—once when the crowd spontaneously started chanting his name, and then again, after Murray thanked the crowd, when someone yelled out, "No, thank YOU!" which led to more sustained cheers.
I didn't cheer. You're not supposed to cheer when you've got a reporter's notebook in your hands. So I jotted down notes about five old ladies in fuzzy old-lady sweaters who were blowing their noses and wiping away tears. But I wanted to cheer. And I'm cheering in this column.
Ed Murray's reputation was cemented that night—but not as the state legislator who finally managed to get the gay rights bill passed. No, his unique claim to fame is even cooler than that. Murray has the unique distinction of inspiring not one, but two right-wing initiatives to undo his work.
Last year, a pair of right wing radio hosts went after Murray's gas tax with an initiative, I-912. And on Monday, the increasingly weird Tim Eyman filed a referendum seeking to overturn the gay rights bill.
After predictions of doom for the gas tax, Murray—against the advice of many liberals—campaigned vigorously against I-912, and his work was vindicated. I-912 got crushed at the polls.
Murray predicts a similar fate for Eyman's challenge. "People are more upset about taxes than about gay rights," he says. "And look what happened to I-912."
So, Ed, there's your pro-Ed piece. But don't thank me. As that guy at the Paramount shouted out, "thank you." You've obviously earned it. Now, back to it—get out there and crush Tim Eyman like you crushed 912.