It's no wonder Denburg is bummin'. Derdowski, a World Trade Organization detractor, labor advocate, and growth management die-hard, is one of those populist conservatives -- à la Huey Long -- whose trajectory catapults him to the place where Left and Right come together. And unlike the wishy-washy center where PBS Democrats and country club Republicans come together, Derdowski's comfort zone is out of bounds, where he can throw bombs at the status quo. King County Republicans -- developers in particular -- finally got organized, fielded a bona fide Republican named David Irons, and ran Derdowski out of town. Irons, a telecommunications CEO, got 54 percent of the vote.
We caught up with Derdowski -- who we had endorsed the previous week -- and asked him, among other pressing questions, if in fact he's really a Republican.
The Stranger: Any modern Republican role models?
Brian Derdowski: I can't find very many. I don't relate to Clinton or Bush, or even Buchanan. Buchanan's good on NAFTA, but he's got too many crazy ideas.
TS: Is your "R" status just a rouse -- so you could get elected in East King County?
BD: The local Republican party is too dependent on support from the highway-developer complex. The organizations that are best advocating for the values I support are labor unions, environmental groups, economic justice advocates, and individual rights groups. That's why I support them and join them. I believe powerful economic interests are corrupting our politics, and undermining our democratic institutions.
TS: Okay. So again, why are you a Republican?
BD: To tell you the truth, it's hard to say. I wrestle with this question. I'm a strange duck.
TS: Environmentalists see you as a real ally on growth management, yet your opponent [David Irons] was able to make growth management "his" issue. Do you think that's the reason you lost?
BD: Most people are conflicted about growth management. They want a large home with a private lot, but they don't want sprawl. They want pleasant home-town communities, but they want a Costco nearby. They want to protect the environment, but they don't like government regulations. These conflicts make the public especially vulnerable to dishonest arguments. My opponent pulled the wool over the eyes of a few too many people by exploiting their ignorance. As he said on TV on election night: "We told the people what they wanted to hear... ."
TS: Do you think your reputation as the "monkey wrench" on the county council hurt you at the polls? [For example, during the recent referendum squabble, Derdowski's colleagues say they were dumbfounded yet again when he voted against his own amendment.]
BD: My legislative accomplishments [like his government accountability initiative and his plan -- at the behest of nurses and unions -- to implement oversight of health care delivery] would compare very well to any other council member, but you wouldn't know it if you read the Times, or the "Eastside Quick-Read." Print media is becoming increasingly irrelevant, anyway.
TS: Will you run for another office? Will you run as a Republican?
BD: I will run for another office if I can further the goals of environmental protection, and fair and accountable politics and government. The Republican Party isn't lost, it's just somewhere in blankety-blank Egypt. Maybe I can find it and drag it back to the people!