Rodney Tom campaign manager pans House budget writer on Twitter; says tweets are just 'personal views'

Staff writerFebruary 22, 2014 

The newly hired campaign manager for Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, took a few shots at Tom’s district-mate, Democratic Rep. Ross Hunter, on Twitter Saturday during the lawmakers’ district town hall meeting.

Keith Schipper, who recently left his job as communications director of the state Republican Party to run Tom’s reelection campaign, tweeted Saturday:

"Nice to hear Rep. Hunter talk about funding (education), but it's hard to believe the budget writer of the (legislative) chamber that defunded our schools."

Schipper also quoted Hunter as saying, "The House has passed hundreds of bills this year, some of which are important."

Schipper's response on Twitter: "The others? Not important I guess."

Schipper said when contacted by phone Saturday that his tweets represent only his "personal views" and don’t represent any falling out between Tom and Hunter, D-Medina.

The two lawmakers, who represent the same district east of Seattle, have generally been on good terms, and share an apartment in Olympia during legislative sessions. They both spoke with constituents Saturday during a legislative town hall meeting in the 48th Legislative District.

While both Tom and Hunter are Democrats, Tom left the Senate Democratic Caucus last year to lead a mostly-Republican coalition that now has control of the state Senate. Hunter chairs the House Appropriations Committee and is the House's chief budget writer.

Schipper said his comments on Twitter don’t represent any kind of campaign strategy to distance Tom, who is running for reelection as a Democrat in 2014, from his Democratic colleagues in the Legislature. Schipper said he attended Saturday's town hall meeting "as just kind of a spectator.”

“I didn’t mean to imply anything that was going on between Rodney and Ross, by any means,” Schipper said. “To say we have an overall strategy like that all mapped out is probably a little premature.”

“My tweets have nothing to do with either one of them,” Schipper added.

Democrats have said they are targeting Tom in the 2014 election campaign. Another Democrat, former Kirkland mayor Joan McBride, will run against Tom this fall.

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