Contentious, feud-prone Pam Roach, member of the Pierce County Council, is going to call it a career next year, and will not seek reelection to a job she sought in 2016 after 26 years in the Washington State Senate.
When she told the Tacoma News Tribune, there were doubtless signs of relief from the courthouse to the statehouse, particularly among fellow Republicans with whom she frequently crossed swords in Olympia.
State Sen. Hans Zeiger, a Republican lawmaker of collegial bent who is highly regarded by colleagues, immediately announced his intent to run for Roach’s seat.
Roach, 72, has given lip to everybody, even dropping an “f-bomb” on her son Dan Roach when they were colleagues on the Pierce County Council.
The younger Roach, as vice chairman, tried to cut off a meandering Council debate, saying: “Stop, we’re not even going to talk about this.”
“Go ahead and do it again,” his mother shot back.
“Just stop,” said Dan Roach.
“F*** you, I’ve leaving,” said Pam Roach. She later apologized, at one point saying that “Democrat protesters” created the mood that made it happen.
Roach was clipped in several past runs for public office. She sought the 8th District seat in Congress, losing to U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn. She ran unsuccessfully for the King County Council, and ran for King County Elections Director.
She was an Olympia ally of initiative promoter Tim Eyman, a champion of the National Rifle Association — and, reportedly, a skilled shot — and even ran for reelection to the State Senate in 2014 with backing from the Washington State Labor Council. She voted with unions more often than any Republican in the Legislature.
During a 26 year Senate career, she fought frequently with fellow Republicans. In 2010, Roach was barred from the GOP Caucus Room in Olympia after abusive treatment of caucus staff.
“It would be best to physically separate you from the caucus staff, and other Republican senators, while we are working on the floor,” colleagues told Roach in a letter.
She was later booted off a bipartisan task force on human trafficking, after suggesting that traffickers were drawn to teens wearing nose rings and tattoos, and that traffickers’ victims “probably sent their money on drugs.”
“These comments serve one and only one purpose, to diminish the horrors of trafficking by attacking its victims,” Lieutenant Gov. Brad Owen wrote in removing Roach from the task force.
Afterward, Roach said colleagues could not stand a “strong woman” in their midst, and declared: “My enemies are in very high places and for the most part in my own party. I’ve been the most unfairly treated Senator in state history.”
Roach was let back into the Republican Caucus when GOP lawmakers needed her vote to take control of the Senate.
She would team up with minority Democrats to get herself elected to the post of president pro tempore of the State Senate.
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The most famous incidence of Roach oratory came after someone (never apprehended) removed a flower from her desk on the Senate floor. Roach demanded that the culprit be found, telling her colleagues:
“I am incensed that anyone would touch or remove anything on a Senator’s desk and I want to find out who took my flowers and more then, and I intend to take action.”
Roach has continued a rocky road on the Pierce Council. Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, a fellow Republican, has instructed county staff to deal with Roach using emails due to her vulgar treatment of staff.
She has lately championed turning vacant towers of the Pierce County Jail into a homeless facility.
In years past, Roach has promised/threatened to write a book exposing hostile treatment by colleagues in the Legislature.
She will now have the chance, unencumbered by public office.