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Morning Wire: Marko Liias, Health policy & COVID-19, Mainstream Republicans

This is hard. Staying at home is hard. Distance learning is hard. Watching businesses collapse is hard. Watching loved ones get sick is hard. None of this is easy. We are going through a collective trauma together. It’ll reshape our society, our commerce and our politics.

But, right now, when we’re going through it, we might try to give ourselves a little grace. None of us are at the top of our game. We’re not working from home. We’re at home… trying to work. So, if you’re having a tough time (as seems to happen a few times during my day), go for a walk. Take a nap. Cut back on the caffiene as it can up your anxiety.

And, if you need to, feel free to send me a note to tell me how you’re doing. I may not have anything smart to say, but I’ll read it and I’ll see you.

With help from Michael Goldberg

1. Q&A: Sen. Marko Liias on his run for LG 

Sen. Marko Liias has launched a campaign for Lt. Governor drawing on his experience as Majority Floor Leader. He’s earned endorsements from the current occupant of the Lt. Governor’s office as well as some of his Senate colleagues – including Joe Nguyen and Emily Randall – for his work moving legislation aimed at protecting vulnerable populations.

Reporter Michael Goldberg asked Liias to outline what a term as LG would look like for him, should he win.  Pivoting to a green transition, bringing the public and private sector together to address the housing crisis, and avoiding severe cuts to the budget as happened in ’09 are all on his list, says Liias.

2. Q&A: Jon Nehring, Chair, Mainstream Republicans

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring is the new Chairman of the Mainstream Republicans of Washington (MRW), an organization founded over 30 years ago to provide a voice for moderate Republicans within the GOP. In this interview, Nehring describes what political moderation means in an age of Trump and political polarization. He also discusses how Washington Republicans can form a governing coalition with a majority more concerned with problem solving than fiery rhetoric. 

“What I tell everybody is that if we don’t unite the Republican Party we have no chance of winning statewide elections, and you’re not going to win many elections period. Even when we unite the Republican Party here in Washington State, we’ve still got a lot of work to do. We’re still behind. If you’re not interested in even uniting the party, you’re really not interested in winning and governing and actually making real change.”

3. Wire Insider: Stu Elway

Longtime public opinion analyst and President of Elway Research, Inc., Stuart Elway told us before the COVID-19 pandemic struck that for a presidential election year with eight statewide offices on the ballot, the 2020 Washington State elections were shaping up to be fairly quiet. His comments in this edition of Wire Insider came back in December 2019. So, we reached out to him yesterday to see if his thinking had changed much. 

“As I said last year, this election is going to be about Trump. That hasn’t changed, except it is more about Trump. Specifically, how voters rate his performance in this crisis. In this state that does not bode well for Republicans. To a similar, but lesser extent, the Governor’s race is also a referendum on the incumbent. The qualifier is that to date, none of the Republican candidates seem to have gained any traction with the electorate, and Inslee is getting very positive marks thus far in dealing with the crisis.”

4.  May 1st and the Five Stages of Grief

It’s a good time to be thinking about policy in the post-COVID space. (See item 5, actually.) But, as we move through the Five Stages of Grief in response to the COVID and economic traumas we are all facing, some of us will be stuck in anger. If we learn from the last decade following the Great Recession, it’ll manifest on both the left and the right – as is happening May 1st.

On the left, Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant has led the charge in organizing a potential rent strike should Gov. Inslee not enact a suspension of statewide rent and mortgage payments along with a rent freeze to prevent rent increases for the rest of the year. On the right, State Rep. Matt Shea is calling for a “May Day Mutiny” demonstration. after circulating a flyer online promoting a “May Day Mutiny” demonstration. 

Anger is a dangerous thing in politics. It creates strong motivation, tribal cohesion and electoral mobilization. What it doesn’t do is think holistically, look for compromise and build for the future.

5. Health policy in the post-COVID era

With a special session likely coming in June, it’s not too early to be thinking about a policy response to COVID in addition to the necessary fiscal response. While the FY 2021 budget may have a $5 billion hole to address, legislators should also start thinking about the policy implications in a post-COVID paradigm rather than with pre-COVID thinking. In a new series titled “The Special Session,” our sister site State of Reform is exploring ideas for a post-COVID health system and how policymakers might support a new model for care.

These are “think pieces” to support your creative brainstorming and problem solving. Current posts discuss reinsurance, funding and executing a serological study, and reconsidering hospital and community funding models. If you want to share your thoughts on what a post-COVID world could look like, scribble them down and send them my way. 


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