57,000 calls and emails about the proposed Education secretary. A 3,900 percent increase in calls from a year ago. Washington’s members of Congress are being bombarded by constituents spurred into action by the Trump presidency.
Last January, Rep. Adam Smith’s offices got 21 constituent calls. The entire month.
This January, Smith’s office said, it received 846 calls, a 3,900 percent increase.
Rep. Dave Reichert’s office said it is dealing with “an unprecedented level of demand,” with call volume and visits at least quadruple normal levels. Reichert, the only Seattle-area congressional Republican, is asking constituents to schedule appointments if they want to meet with staff.
In Rep. Suzan DelBene’s office, calls and emails have doubled since Inauguration Day two weeks ago.
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Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office has had 31,000 calls in the last three weeks.
And Sen. Patty Murray has received more than 57,000 calls and emails from Washingtonians — just about the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be secretary of Education. There have been thousands more contacts on other topics, Murray’s office said.
Washington’s congressional delegation is being bombarded with calls, emails and in-person visits from constituents angry, scared and spurred to action by the presidency of Donald Trump.
“We are kind of all-hands-on-deck with interns and everybody answering emails and phone calls,” said Kerry Arndt, Murray’s press secretary. Murray, Arndt said, “is absolutely energized by it — really, really glad to see it.”
“This is the first time I’m calling, and I’m calling all the time,” said Margot Roth, 63, of Twisp, Okanogan County, who calls Murray, Cantwell and Rep. Dan Newhouse, a Sunnyside Republican, daily.
“I want them to vote no on everything,” Roth said of Murray and Cantwell. “I want them to send a message, filibuster if they need to.”
Murray and Cantwell have both committed to voting against DeVos, the billionaire Amway heiress, charter-school booster and Republican mega-donor.
“She has no experience in public schools, except through her work trying to tear them down,” Murray said in a speech on the Senate floor Friday.
Smith, who represents south Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma and has been in office since 1997, said he’s never seen this level of involvement from constituents.
“This is a promising sign for the vitality of our civic culture, and I hope I continue to see this level of participation as we move forward,” he said.
In Port Angeles, Mimi Tiderman, newly retired after more than three decades as a middle-school teacher, sets aside 30 minutes a day to process the news and call her representatives. She calls Murray, Cantwell, Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, of Spokane, Washington’s top-ranked congressional Republican.
Other than one call about a wildfire years ago, Tiderman had never called her representatives before.
“I’m embarrassed to say I’ve been way too comfortable and way too willing to let the world just continue because I really trusted our elected officials, even when I disagreed with some of their decisions,” Tiderman said.
She cited repeal of the ACA, DeVos’ nomination and the temporary ban (halted by a federal judge in Seattle on Friday) on all refugees and citizens from seven majority Muslim countries as animating issues.
“It feels like we’re destabilizing the world,” Tiderman said. “I’m not seeing a lot of experts weighing in. It just feels like these impulsive moves, and I think they’ll have dire consequences. The only thing I can do is try to stand up and resist some of this that’s coming down.”
She’s tried to call the White House — she rattles off the number by heart, 202-464-1111 — but the comments line has been disabled.
She doesn’t like the influence of Bannon, Trump’s nationalist adviser who is widely credited as the driving force behind the temporary immigration ban.
“People need to step up, you can’t just,” Kendall said, her voice cracking. “You can’t just give your words, you have to fight for this stuff.”