Same party, same priorities, polar opposites in political style | HeraldNet.com (2023)

LAKE STEVENS — Robert Sutherland and Sam Low share a political party and similar legislative priorities.

But the two Republicans have starkly different styles.

As they duel for a state House seat in the 39th District in the Nov. 8 election, voters are considering what kind of Republican they want representing them in Olympia.

In Sutherland, the two-term incumbent office-holder, they get a firebrand, a roiling force with his conservative speak, a man prone to bouts of irascibility when encountering resistance to his ideas.

The Granite Falls resident drew criticism in 2020 when he joined other armed vigilantes on the streets of Snohomish to defend downtown businesses from what proved to be a false rumor of incoming leftist protesters bent on destruction.

A devotee of Donald Trump, Sutherland continues to be a purveyor of stolen election theories and falsehoods about fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

He has gone farther than most lawmakers to fight COVID mandates imposed in the Legislature. He and five other GOP members sued to block House rules requiring members be vaccinated in order to get into their offices or be on the House floor. He lost the suit.

Then, in spring, Sutherland received a written reprimand for violating legislative conduct rules when he berated and swore at the House chief of security when the two men had a run-in on the Capitol grounds. Sutherland disputed most of the allegations but acknowledged he “used a bad word.” He’s now facing a second, separate investigation into whether his actions violated state ethics rules barring harassment of legislative employees.

Sutherland makes no apologies for his brashness. He has reveled in attention garnered from verbal lampooning of liberalism and Democrats, and sometimes those in his party. He says he’s just trying to be as honest as he can.

“I’m the tip of the arrow; I lead from the front, not afraid to challenge even my own party at times,” he said this week. “I am commonly referred to as ‘The People’s Representative’ and I wear that badge of honor proudly.”

With Low, in his sixth year on the Snohomish County Council, they get a conservative-leaning centrist, pragmatic and temperate in manner, and fueled with ambition.

The Lake Stevens resident vows to work amicably with Democrats on policies. He commits to be accessible, noting his personal cell number is on business cards he hands out to constituents.

Mayors of cities in the district are backing him. So too are unions, businesses and lobbying organizations that peddle influence in Olympia. He cites that breadth of support as a revelatory sign.

“I’ve got a good, balanced track record,” he said. “It’s not about Democrat or Republican. it’s about who is going to best represent the district.”

Low is not without ambition. If he wins the House seat, he intends to keep serving on the County Council, arguing there’s a synergy to the work, and neither is full-time.

There are topics he likes to avoid. And will if he can.

In May, he was absent when the County Council passed a resolution recognizing June as Pride Month and proclaiming “LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights.” He later declined to say how he would have voted. Low also missed the 2021 meeting when a similar resolution passed.

He has done his best to steer around the subject of the 2020 presidential election.

Low said President Joe Biden won “fair and square.” But he also said “there’s always fraud out there,” though he had not seen evidence that Trump won the election. And Low has never publicly said if he voted for Trump in either 2016 or 2020.

Meanwhile, some Republicans in the 39th district rebuked Low for running. They view him as an establishment Republican seeking to oust a conservative. Precinct officers endorsed Sutherland and reportedly wanted Low to withdraw.

Sutherland too has been critical of Low. But Low hasn’t returned fire publicly, staying on message, while leaving little doubt what he thinks of the incumbent’s tenure.

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“We need more effective leadership in Olympia,” he said.

2022 Adopted Legislative District 39 (Washington State Redistricting Commission)

‘A great choice’

The 39th Legislative District is GOP territory. Republicans have represented it in the Legislature for most of the last 30 years. That won’t change in this election.

It is looking different than when Sutherland first got elected.

The state Redistricting Commission redrew the boundaries in a significant way. It shifted Lake Stevens out of the 44th District and into the 39th. Monroe, Gold Bar and Sultan got moved out of the 39th and into the 12th. More than two-thirds of the district’s residents live in Snohomish County and the rest are in Skagit County.

Low said he decided to take on his party’s incumbent to give voters a choice.

“We have a top-two primary system and so having two Republicans to choose from in a traditionally Republican 39th District seems like a great choice for the voters,” Low said in January.

Sutherland won the August primary with 33.2%. Low finished second with 27.1%, roughly 2,300 votes behind.

Low might not have advanced had there not been two Democrats — Claus Joens and Karl de Jong — in the race. Those two collected a combined 40% of the overall vote, splitting left-leaning voters.

Meanwhile, with Sutherland and Low expected to again split Republican votes in the Nov. 8 election, corralling support from Democrats and independents will be requisite to win.

Low said he wouldn’t adjust his strategy.

“I feel I have a message that appeals to everyone in the district. That message is effective leadership,” he said.

“With two Republicans in the race, voting Democrats will scrutinize both of us very carefully,” Sutherland said after the primary. “In the end they want someone who will speak the truth and offer real, common sense solutions to the problems that affect them.”

Sam Low (left) and Robert Sutherland.

Resume check

Sutherland, 62, got off to a rough start in politics after a career in bio-pharmaceutical research. He lost races for Congress in 2014, Snohomish County executive in 2015, Congress again in 2016, and Snohomish County Council in 2017.

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The streak ended in 2018 when he won his House seat, succeeding Dan Kristiansen, a Republican and former House Minority Leader who retired. He won re-election in 2020 with 60% of the vote.

As a legislator, Sutherland does not introduce many bills. And the ones he does rarely get hearings. As a result he had no bills signed into law this past term.

Low, 52, the former owner of a painting business, won his first election in 2013 to join the Lake Stevens City Council.

In 2016, he unseated Democratic County Councilman Hans Dunshee, to secure a partial term. Low won a full term in the 2017 election and last November won a second term by beating Democrat Brandy Donaghy.

If successful, Low intends to keep his council seat. He wouldn’t be alone in doing so. Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, is holding down both jobs after he was appointed to fill a County Council vacancy last month.

It is legal for legislators to hold two elected posts at the same time.

A County Council member earns $126,571 a year. Meetings are mostly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and rarely last all day.

State lawmakers earn $57,876 a year. The Legislature is in session 105 days in odd years, 60 days in even years — more days if there is a special session. After session, lawmakers’ schedules vary widely.

Low said he has “an idea of how it’s going to work,” but added “if I can’t make them both work, I’ll be glad to give one up.”

He hasn’t said which one.

Sutherland is making Low’s quest to hold two elected jobs an issue.

“Once voters, Democrats and Republicans, learn of this, they will reject him outright as a slick politician out to benefit only himself and his family,” he said.

Rep. Robert Sutherland at a “March For Our Rights” rally in Olympia in 2019. (Washington State House Republicans)

Prioritize this

At a recent League of Women Voters forum, Sutherland and Low were asked to name their top three priorities.

They were the same: property taxes, transportation and public safety. For the most part, their approaches on each were too.

Both vow to pursue property tax relief.

Sutherland has authored a bill to slash the state’s property tax in each of the past two sessions. Had it passed, it would have saved taxpayers roughly $1.6 billion between July 1 and June 30, 2023.

Low, meanwhile, has opposed raising the county’s portion of property tax by the state-allowed 1 percent.

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On transportation, both pledge to fight for money to widen a deadly two-lane stretch of Highway 522, replace the U.S. 2 trestle and improve safety along U.S. 2.

Sutherland said he has been fighting as a member of the House Transportation Committee, but like with tax relief, Democrats are in the majority and calling the shots. He voted against a 16-year, $17 billion transportation package in March, partly because Republicans were left out of the process of crafting it.

“One-party rule doesn’t work very well,” he said.

Low said the state “has not been a good partner” in addressing the district’s biggest transportation needs. He has said it would have been hard to vote for the package because the GOP was not involved. Low, who chairs the state Transportation Improvement Board that distributes grant funds to cities and counties, said relationships he has will help him make state a better partner.

On public safety, both said some of the policing reforms enacted in 2021 still need retooling to enable law enforcement to better do their jobs.

Both also want to make simple drug possession a felony again. Last year, the Supreme Court found a longstanding state law criminalizing possession unconstitutional. Lawmakers responded with legislation earlier this year to decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs. Sutherland was one of 18 House members to vote against it. Low said he would have too.

And on abortion, both are anti-abortion and have been endorsed by the Lynnwood-based Family Policy Institute of Washington.

Sutherland, who thinks the Supreme Court got it right with the Dobbs decision, has opposed Democrat-backed bills aimed at expanding and protecting access to reproductive care.

Earlier this year, he and the rest of the Republican caucus opposed a bill to expand the list of health care providers who are legally allowed to terminate a pregnancy. It also ensures Washington abortion care providers can serve any person who comes into the state for services without fear of punishment.

Low won’t say if he agreed with the Dobbs decision. Nor did he cite any votes by Sutherland on abortion bills that he disagreed with.

“People on both sides of the issue are tired of judges and lawmakers making the decision,” he said in the forum.

He promised as a legislator to “continue to leave the decision to voters and any changes should come from voters.”

Choosing sides

Endorsements and dollars are flowing to Low in this contest.

Former lawmakers Kristiansenand John Koster, who both served in the 39th, back the challenger. So too do the mayors of Lake Stevens, Sedro-Woolley, Arlington, Sultan, Gold Bar and Index.

On the money front, Low had raised nearly $137,000 to Sutherland’s $48,000 as of Oct. 11. Low’s donor list includes statewide firefighter, carpenter and health care worker unions; oil and energy providers; and associations for dentists, builders, restaurants and hospitals. Propeller Airports, which runs the commercial service at Paine Field, and Arlington Buzz Inn are on the list too.

“I am running to represent everyone,” Low said.

Sutherland is backed by the Snohomish County Republican Party and the 39th District Republicans. He has received cash from an oil company and the Skagit/Island counties Builders Association. Controversial aerospace executive Peter Zieve is on his list of donors too.

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The incumbent dismissed Low’s advantage as evidence that he’d been “bought and paid for” by special interest groups.

“I mean no disrespect to any of the aforementioned groups, but I do not work for mayors, unions, or businesses,” he said. “I work exclusively for the hard-working taxpayers of Snohomish and Skagit counties.”

Ballots for the general election will be mailed Oct. 20.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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Same party, same priorities, polar opposites in political style | HeraldNet.com (5)

Same party, same priorities, polar opposites in political style | HeraldNet.com (6)

Same party, same priorities, polar opposites in political style | HeraldNet.com (7)

Sam Low (left) and Robert Sutherland.

2022 Adopted Legislative District 39 (Washington State Redistricting Commission)

FAQs

What does polarized mean in politics? ›

Political polarization (spelled polarisation in British English) is the divergence of political attitudes away from the centre, towards ideological extremes. Most discussions of polarization in political science consider polarization in the context of political parties and democratic systems of government.

What is it called when you agree with both political parties? ›

The adjective bipartisan can refer to any political act in which both of the two major political parties agree about all or many parts of a political choice. Bipartisanship involves trying to find common ground, but there is debate whether the issues needing common ground are peripheral or central ones.

What is it called when you don't side with either political party? ›

An independent voter, often also called an unaffiliated voter or non-affiliated voter in the United States, is a voter who does not align themselves with a political party.

Why the two party system is the ideal one? ›

Sometimes two-party systems have been seen as preferable to multi-party systems because they are simpler to govern, with less fractiousness and greater harmony, since it discourages radical minor parties, while multi-party systems can sometimes lead to hung parliaments.

What does polarized mean in simple words? ›

to cause something, especially something that contains different people or opinions, to divide into two completely opposing groups: The issue has polarized the nation.

What is polarization in simple words? ›

: division into two sharply distinct opposites. especially : a state in which the opinions, beliefs, or interests of a group or society no longer range along a continuum but become concentrated at opposing extremes. political polarization.

What is it called when one political party controls everything? ›

A dominant-party system, or one-party dominant system, is a political occurrence in which a single political party continuously dominates election results over running opposition groups or parties.

What does both parties mean? ›

both people. “In arranged marriages, as in traditional western love marriages, both parties ultimately have the right to say no.”

What are examples of political views? ›

Classical
  • Individualist anarchism. Egoist anarchism. Communist egoism. Illegalism. Expropriative anarchism. Existentialist anarchism. Philosophical anarchism.
  • Libertarianism. Left-libertarianism. Libertarian socialism.
  • Mutualism.
  • Social anarchism. Anarcho-communism. Anarcho-syndicalism. Collectivist anarchism.

What is it called when you don't support Republican or Democrat? ›

Nonpartisanism is a lack of affiliation with, and a lack of bias towards, a political party.

What is it called when you're not liberal or conservative? ›

Moderates identify as neither liberal nor conservative, holding a mix of beliefs that does not necessarily correspond to either group. They typically believe that issues are too complex for simple partisan solutions to work and that the two major political parties are too ideological.

What is the opposite of political party? ›

In politics, the opposition comprises one or more political parties or other organized groups that are opposed, primarily ideologically, to the government (or, in American English, the administration), party or group in political control of a city, region, state, country or other political body.

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A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific ideological or policy goals.

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This leads to what they determine are the two types of party systems that are common in provincial politics: centripetal party systems and centrifugal party systems.

What is a two-party system simple? ›

The 'two-party system' is a term used to describe a political system where 2 major political parties dominate because they receive the majority of votes. One of the 2 parties typically holds a majority in the parliament and forms government while the other is opposition.

Who is a polarized person? ›

Polarizing people, like polarizing ideas, are those who disrupt the status quo. They're inherently divisive, often loved and hated in equal measure.

Is polarized positive or negative? ›

Polarization occurs when an electric field distorts the negative cloud of electrons around positive atomic nuclei in a direction opposite the field. This slight separation of charge makes one side of the atom somewhat positive and the opposite side somewhat negative.

What are examples of polarization? ›

A simple example of a polarized transverse wave is vibrations traveling along a taut string (see image); for example, in a musical instrument like a guitar string. Depending on how the string is plucked, the vibrations can be in a vertical direction, horizontal direction, or at any angle perpendicular to the string.

What is polarization in one word answer? ›

Polarization definition. A division into two conflicting or contrasting groups.

What is polarization behavior? ›

Group polarization is defined as a phenomenon when “members of a deliberating group move toward a more extreme point in whatever direction is indicted by the members' predeliberation tendency.” Group polarization leads to changing attitudes among individuals within the group.

What is another word for polarization? ›

What is another word for polarization?
separationsplit
divisiondivergence
schismpolarity
oppositioncontradiction
contrarietydifference
17 more rows

What is it called when the government controls everything you do? ›

Totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is an authoritarian form of government in which the ruling party recognizes no limitations whatsoever on its power, including in its citizens' lives or rights.

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dictatorship. noun. government by someone who takes power by force and does not allow elections.

What is the difference between one party dominance and one-party system? ›

Answer: In one party system, only a single political party exists. Other political parties do not exist. One party dominance refers to the regular election victories of one party with huge margins.

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The electoral system in the U.S. is called a two-party system. That means that two parties dominate the political field in all three levels of government. In the U.S. these two parties are the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

What is 2 people called? ›

Noun. Two people or things of the same sort considered together. couple. pair. duo.

What is another word for all parties? ›

What is another word for all-party?
multilateralbilateral
jointmultiparty
mutualsimultaneous

What are the 5 types of politics? ›

The major types of political systems are democracies, monarchies, oligarchies, and authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes are more unstable politically because their leaders do not enjoy legitimate authority and instead rule through fear.

What are the 3 types of political systems? ›

The major types of political systems are democracies, monarchies, and authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.

What is political in simple words? ›

Politics (from Greek: Πολιτικά, politiká, 'affairs of the cities') is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status.

What do you call a Democrat in name only? ›

Democrat In Name Only (or DINO) is a pejorative term for any member of the United States Democratic Party elected as a Democrat but who allegedly governs and legislates like a Republican would. The term was created as an analogous opposite to the acronym RINO, Republican In Name Only.

Are there more Republicans or Democrats in America? ›

Gallup. On December 17, 2020, Gallup polling found that 31% of Americans identified as Democrats, 25% identified as Republican, and 41% as Independent.

What do you call a Republican in name only? ›

It was invented so that it is abbreviated to "RINO", and pronounced to sound like "rhino". Bill Clinton would have been proud of what was happening on the third-floor Senate corner at the State House this week. ... The Republicans were moving out and the Democrats and "RINOs" (Republicans In Name Only) were moving in.

What is it called to have both liberals and conservatives? ›

Liberal conservatism is a political ideology combining conservative policies with liberal stances, especially on economic issues but also on social and ethical matters, Representing a brand of political conservatism strongly influenced by liberalism.

What do liberals stand for? ›

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on the rights of the individual, liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law. Liberals espouse various views depending on their understanding of these principles.

What is a moderate conservative? ›

A faction that has become increasingly small since the 1990s, modern Republican moderates are sometimes known as "fiscal conservatives, social liberals". Moderates tend to be conservative-to-moderate on fiscal issues and moderate-to-liberal on social issues.

What is opposition party short answer? ›

Official Opposition designates the political party which has secured the second largest number of seats in either upper or lower houses. To get formal recognition in either upper or lower houses, the concerned party must have at least 10% of the total strength of the house.

What does opposite party mean? ›

opposite party means the party against whom a Mediation Submission has been made by the Initiating party. Sample 1.

Who are called the opposition? ›

The opposition is formed by the largest party or coalition of parties that does not have the support of the majority of members in the House of Representatives. The opposition is sometimes called the alternative government because it could form government if it was to win the support of the majority of members.

What are the main characteristics of political parties? ›

The characteristics of a Political Party are to attain power, pursue an ideology, have a common agenda, establish a government, and act as a link between the people & the government. A political party is a collection of people who come together to contest elections and control the government.

How many types of political parties are there? ›

As per latest publication dated 23 September 2021 from Election Commission of India, the total number of parties registered was 2858, with 8 national parties, 54 state parties and 2796 unrecognised parties.

What are Class 10 political parties functions? ›

The functions political parties perform in a democracy are:
  • Candidates are put forward by parties to contest in elections. ...
  • Parties put forward different policies and programmes and the voters choose from them.
  • Parties play an important role in making laws for a country. ...
  • Parties form and run governments.

Why do we need political parties Class 10 notes? ›

Functions of a Political Party

Parties put forward different policies and programmes and the voters choose from them. A party reduces a vast number of opinions into a few basic positions which it supports. Parties play a decisive role in making laws for a country. Parties form and run governments.

What party list system means? ›

The party-list system is a mechanism of proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof registered with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

What are the 2 main parties of the 2 party system? ›

The followers of both of the first political parties, the Federalists and the Democratic Republicans, were organized in loose alliances led by members of the social elite who served in Congress or the executive branch.

Why did the two-party system form? ›

Political factions or parties began to form during the struggle over ratification of the federal Constitution of 1787. Friction between them increased as attention shifted from the creation of a new federal government to the question of how powerful that federal government would be.

Which best describes a political party? ›

A political party is defined as a political group that is officially recognized as being part of the electoral process and who can support (put forth) candidates for elections (free or not) on a regular basis (Sartori 1976).

How do the terms pluralistic and consensus both apply? ›

how do the terms pluralistic and consensus both apply to the american system? because the pluralistic consists of many cultures such as religion ethnic and social groupps. While consensus is a general agreement among the groups - this all connects to the american system.

What is a two-party system quizlet? ›

Terms in this set (8) What is a two-party system? A party system in which two major parties regularly win the vast majority of votes in general elections, regularly capture nearly all of the seats in the legislature, and alternately control the executive branch of government.

What does liberal stand for? ›

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on the rights of the individual, liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law. Liberals espouse various views depending on their understanding of these principles.

What is pluralism explain with example? ›

17. 3. Pluralism is defined as a society where multiple people, groups or entities share political power. An example of pluralism is a society where people with different cultural backgrounds keep their own tradition. An example of pluralism is where labor unions and employers share in meeting the needs of employees.

Which of the following is the best example of pluralism? ›

The most notable example of pluralist democracy in the American political system is the role that interest groups play in political decisions today.

What is an example of a pluralistic society? ›

An example of a pluralistic society is the United States. In the United States, there are interest groups with common values and ideologies that aim to influence government policy in favor of its' members.

What are the 2 main parties of the 2 party system? ›

The followers of both of the first political parties, the Federalists and the Democratic Republicans, were organized in loose alliances led by members of the social elite who served in Congress or the executive branch.

What are the 2 main political parties? ›

The electoral system in the U.S. is called a two-party system. That means that two parties dominate the political field in all three levels of government. In the U.S. these two parties are the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

What's the meaning of two-party system? ›

The 'two-party system' is a term used to describe a political system where 2 major political parties dominate because they receive the majority of votes. One of the 2 parties typically holds a majority in the parliament and forms government while the other is opposition.

What are conservative beliefs? ›

They advocate low taxes, free markets, deregulation, privatization, and reduced government spending and government debt. Social conservatives see traditional social values, often rooted in familialism and religion, as being threatened by secularism and moral relativism.

What is left wing and right wing? ›

Ideological groupings. Generally, the left-wing is characterized by an emphasis on "ideas such as freedom, equality, fraternity, rights, progress, reform and internationalism" while the right-wing is characterized by an emphasis on "notions such as authority, hierarchy, order, duty, tradition, reaction and nationalism" ...

What is the meaning of liberal conservative? ›

Liberal conservatism is a political ideology combining conservative policies with liberal stances, especially on economic issues but also on social and ethical matters, Representing a brand of political conservatism strongly influenced by liberalism.

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