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Lawmaker’s wife tells top Democrat put on big boy pants

Sen. Tim Sheldon, center, is one of two Democrats who have said they'll work with the Senate's 23 Republicans to form a new caucus that currently holds a 25-24 vote (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Who needs Washington, D.C. for political intrigue? A spicy clash in our Washington involves the chair of the state Democratic Party, two state Senators, and now a Senator’s wife.

First, the players in this drama.

State Senator Tim Sheldon has served 22 years in the Washington State Legislature as a Democrat representing the 35th District, which includes all of Mason County and parts of Thurston, Kitsap and Grays Harbor Counties. Sheldon has earned the reputation of being a maverick by consistently bucking his party’s agenda and by working across the aisle to get legislation passed.

State Senator Rodney Tom is from Medina. In 2002, Tom was elected to the state House of Representatives as a Republican. He was reelected in 2004. In 2006, Tom switched to the Democratic Party and won the senate seat he still holds. In March of last year, Tom joined with fellow Democratic Sens. Jim Kastama, Tim Sheldon and 22 Senate Republicans to push through a revised budget bill. A few months ago Tom announced he would again caucus with the Republicans.

Enter stage left, Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz. The party has censured both Sheldon and Tom for “gross disloyalty” and “perfidious behavior,” cutting off their future access to party funds and mailing lists. I wrote about the exchanges between Pelz and the two lawmakers last week for this story: Top Democrat state senators are ‘not invited to our party.’

One more player has now stepped into the spotlight. Sheldon’s wife. Linda Sheldon is standing by her man in this email she sent to Pelz. She tells him to put on his “big boy panties” and learn to compromise.

Dear Dwight,

Thank you for your kind personal letter trashing my husband. I thought it merited a reply.

First of all, his name is Tim SHELDON, not SHELTON (or was that a Freudian slip?) He has served in the Legislature for 22 years, and you would think by now you would know his name. Maybe that’s what he means by the Democrats in Olympia being “Seattle-centric.” If you can’t remember the rural legislators’ names, how could you POSSIBLY remember their constituents’ issues?

Apparently you think you and your party (which also happens to be MY party) were betrayed. Well now, let’s see – last year the Democrats controlled BOTH chambers, and couldn’t squeeze out a budget in 2 special sessions, costing our already financially destitute state a tidy little sum of bucks — until several Democrats (Tim included) got tired of sitting on their asses doing nothing at the taxpayers’ expense, while a handful of party hacks spit at one another behind closed doors and came up empty-handed. So they WENT ROGUE (ie, reached across the aisle to get a compromise). Public sentiment, if you will recall, was behind them, and you guys wearing the big party hats looked pretty damn foolish. And the State got a budget before a third special session had to be called. Now, if that’s BETRAYAL of the public (excuse me – I meant PARTY), then I’ll wear a TRAITOR t-shirt anytime!

I’m sorry you feel you wasted a big $25,000 on Rodney. And we will really miss your usual donation ($0.00) to Tim’s campaigns. But then, I understand that you feel you must take your ball and go home.

If you are so distressed about the legislation coming down the tracks under the Majority Coalition rule, I suggest you put on your big boy panties, admit you were politically bested and learn to WORK with the new coalition to get compromises you can live with. Otherwise, it’s completely their game. Fight it, stamp your feet, call names, dig in and you will lose big-time. As a Democrat, that would not make me happy.

I’m not sure exactly how you plan to censure Tim and Rodney – maybe duct tape? And YOU have ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT to say THEY have no right to call themselves Democrats. My dog could be a Democrat – there is no application, sign-up, litmus test, educational requirement, membership fee, vetting process, inquisition. You either BELIEVE you are, according to your principles, or you don’t. Waving your Magic D Wand will not banish them from the club.

When you denigrate Tim and Rodney, you denigrate the beliefs of all those who voted for them, support them and consider themselves Democrats. Do you really want to tell all those D voters they can take a hike? That’s going to piss off a lot of people… including ME, a lifelong liberal who just happens to be able to see the BIG PICTURE when you can’t.

Where can I get a TRAITOR t-shirt?

Linda Honan Sheldon

I talked with Linda, who describes herself as a liberal Democrat. She’s hoping Pelz understands her sense of humor, but also gets her point.

Pelz, chair of the state Democrats, responded to Mrs. Sheldon this way:

Linda, I am sure you are a wonderful person, and I have enjoyed our brief meetings, but you really should not waste your time by writing me long e-mail messages.

I have zero respect for your husband. He will hold no place of importance in the history of our state other than being admired as one of our most successful self-promoters, and double dippers.

His prime value will be as an object lesson for political science professors in our state, who when asked whether party labels mean anything, will be able to answer “No”, and point to the obscure State Senator who called himself a Democrat but endorsed George Bush for President, Dino Rossi and Rob McKenna for Governor, and opposed his centrist colleague Derek Kilmer for Congress.

When Tim retires he will be able to gather around himself the people who respect him. That meeting will take place in your kitchen.


To that, Mrs. Sheldon says, “Our kitchen table is bigger than he might realize.”

I have a feeling this drama is to be continued…


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