Opinion

Our representatives represent us badly

Ah, how the mighty have fallen.

Washington, once the mightiest bastion of power in Congress, with Senate President Pro Tem Warren G. Magnuson, Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson as the leading national congressional voice in defense, and Speaker of the House Tom Foley, is in the basement.

Not only are we ranked 43 among the 50 states for power and influence, one of our senators has sunk almost out of sight.

Maria Cantwell, in her first term and up for re-election this fall, was rated 93 among the 100 senators for what she accomplished in 2005 in the way of achieving leadership, influencing the passage of legislation and shaping legislation through amendments.

Which means 92 senators have more clout than she does and only seven have less.

Who says so? A new nonpartisan outfit called Knowledgis LLC that was formed to encourage more civic interest in choosing of candidates. K.LLC spent five months assessing all 100 members of the Senate and 435 members of the House, taking into account such power factors as tenure, committee assignments and leadership positions.

Our senior senator, Patty Murray, did considerably better, coming up 46th out of 100, but then she is in her third term and is the ranking Democrat on Transportation.

But all is not lost. “Stormin’ ” Norman Dicks, the 30-year veteran of the House and following in Jackson’s foot steps as a respected national spokesman on defense, placed 26th out of the 435 House members, which is not to be sneezed at. He has tenure up the gazoo, sits on Appropriations (always a big plus), is the ranking Democrat on a defense subcommittee and scores often and big on legislation he goes after.

He’s ranked seventh among House Democrats in power and influence, and first among other members elected with him in the Class of 1976 for what he achieved last year.

Here is the listing of power rankings for Washington’s delegation, name followed by total score, then by ranking in Senate or House.

Sen. Patty Murray 33.37 46

Sen. Maria Cantwell 14.25 93

Rep. Norman Dicks 31.25 26

Rep. Pete Reichart 16.62 168

Rep. Doc Hastings 16.25 174

Rep. Cathy McMorris 15.75 184

Rep. Jim McDermott 14.76 212

Rep. Brian Baird 13.50 249

Rep. Rick Larsen 7.37 361

Rep. Jay Inslee 7.25 366

Rep. Adam Smith 6.75 379

Freshman Reichart achieved a higher score than tenured members McDermott, Inslee and Hastings because he had a “sizzle” factor, i.e. a unique background and experience. The former King County sheriff was famed for his pursuit of the Green River killer. “Baghdad Jim” Mcdermott sits on Appropriations but his anti-Bush mouthiness may have given him a “fizzle” factor.

Inslee has tenure but does little than echo McDermott’s criticisms of Bush. Hastings’ poor showing as Ethics Committee chair probably gave him a “fizzle” factor too. The rest are fledglings.

Oh, as expected, Senate Majority leader Bill Frist and Speaker Dennis Hastert were No. 1 in their respective houses.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at PO Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.

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