Cheney Free Press -


Brown considers run

Former state legislator visits Cheney to hear residents issues, concerns


August 24, 2017

John McCallum

Lisa Brown addresses the audience at Cheney's Mason Jar last Saturday.

If the reaction from the 20–25 people gathered at Cheney's Mason Jar last Saturday to hear Lisa Brown speak is any indication, it should be obvious to the former state legislator and current Washington State University-Spokane chancellor what decision people, at least fellow Democrats, want her to make about running for a congressional seat.

"Lisa Brown is here," Cheney City Councilwoman Teresa Overhauser said by way of introduction. "I am hopeful you will all join with me in asking her to run."

The comment met with rousing applause as Brown, who represented the 3rd legislative district in Spokane from 1992–2012, took the microphone and told the audience what compelled her to consider challenging incumbent Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers for the 5th District congressional seat.

"Remember that party in the Rose Garden?" Brown said, referring to the gathering of Republican members of the House staged by President Donald Trump to celebrate the passage of the American Health Care Act.

The bill passed the House 217-213 on May 4, with no Democrats voting for the measure to repeal and replace most of the current Affordable Care Act. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the AHCA would have resulted in 23 million Americans eventually losing their health care.

"That health care bill was not good for Eastern Washington," Brown said. "Fortunately, it did not pass (in the Senate)."

Brown, who has not yet committed to running, fielded questions on a variety of issues ranging from health care to the economy to campaign finance reform. One man asked her how she would address attempts by Republicans in Congress to privatize America's infrastructure.

"Infrastructure needs to be publicly owned and invested in," she replied, noting that when a bill proposing privatizing smaller airports was advanced, officials at Spokane International and Pullman airports lobbied against the measure.

Brown also endorsed pay equity for women, as well as paid family leave and quality child care. She gave an example of how the latter impacted her with a story of her first year in the state House in 1993.

During one session she had her 1-year-old son with her on the House floor because no care facility was available, and was told by membership that he had to leave.

Brown criticized McMorris Rodgers' voting record on several occasions, including to approve an Internet privacy bill in March making it easier for providers to share or sell information from users browsers.

"Privacy should be protected," Brown said. "She (McMorris Rodgers) is 100 percent with the party leadership, no breakaway, no challenge and I think that's unfortunate."

Brown spoke about occasions during her seven years as state Senate majority leader when she was successful in crossing party lines to get legislation passed. She also noted that as the chair of the House budget writing committee, she was able to get a pair of Spokane Valley Republican representatives to join Democrats in support of that year's budget. It's an approach Brown said she would take to Congress if elected.

John McCallum

Supporters of Lisa Brown displayed their hopes for her candidacy outside the Mason Jar.

Brown, who taught economics at Eastern Washington and Gonzaga universities, said good tax reform is possible without overhauling the current system, reform that would be fair to all and pay for things people want such as a social safety net, good infrastructure and defense.

In a response to a woman's comment that McMorris Rodgers seems to "talk a good talk" in front of voters, and then vote against the wishes of those voters, Brown said that any race between the two must involve good conversations among residents in the 10-county, 5th District.

She was also realistic about her chances in such a race.

"Let's be clear, incumbents usually win and Cathy McMorris Rodgers has (raised) over $1 million," Brown said. "This race will be about people talking to each other, even if we agree to disagree."

Brown said she plans to make a decision about her candidacy within a week to 10 days.

John McCallum can be reached at


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