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Politics NW

OLYMPIA — Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, it turns out, can appreciate fine artwork even when it’s a portrait depicting him as a monarch.

The Medina Democrat, who angered his own party by forming a majority coalition with Republicans, laughed off a “King Rodney Tom” painting when he encountered it outside the Capitol on Thursday morning.

But the other influential lawmaker walking with him, Senate Republican leader Mark Schoesler, was not as pleased.

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“Why don’t I have one?” joked Schoesler, of Ritzville, Adams County.

It was one of several good-natured exchanges prompted by the painting, a Photo-shopped picture of Tom — adorned with robe and crown.

Fuse Washington, a progressive group, created it this week.

“King Rodney Tom’s ascension to power in Washington is a remarkable story of drama and palace intrigue,” read a scroll-shaped flier distributed Thursday by the artists, who also handed out coffee and doughnuts. “For King Tom, it’s all about ego, ambition and political power. Compromise means convincing others to agree with him, and loyalty comes from leverage, not trust.”

Tom and Potlatch Democrat Tim Sheldon see their coalition with 23 Republicans somewhat differently. They have framed the coalition, which holds a one-vote majority in the 49-member Senate, as an opportunity for the divided chamber “to work together in a collaborative manner.”

Erin Haick, a 31-year-old Seattle resident and the field director for Fuse Washington, said it took her about six hours to create the portrait.

The group also launched a “King Tom Watch” website, Facebook page and Twitter account.

Brian M. Rosenthal: 360-236-8267 or On Twitter @brianmrosenthal

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