January 6, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 01
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Tuesday, Sep 22, 2020



Eastside Legislator to be challenged by a fair-minded candidate
Eastside Legislator to be challenged by a fair-minded candidate
Eric Oemig pledges support of Anderson-Murray Civil Rights Bill; opposes Constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality

by Cat Rambo - SGN Contributing Writer

Republican State Sen. Bill Finkbeiner, who voted to defeat the Anderson-Murray Civil Rights Bill last year, could face a tough reelection challenge from a 38-year-old former Microsoft software engineer, Eric Oemig.

Finkbeiner finds himself in a party that is increasingly moving to the right, while his own Eastside constituents are becoming more moderate. His vote against the bill last year could mean he's out of touch with the values of voters, although his recent resignation as the Senate minority leader could mean he hopes to recapture their confidence.

Finkbeiner voted twice for the measure, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, while serving in the House, but voted against it in the Senate. The bill failed by a single vote. Oemig, who announced his candidacy for Finkbeiner's Senate seat this week, believes this is one example of how much Finkbeiner is out of touch with his constituents.

"Bill Finkbeiner has been in Olympia since he graduated from college. Our district wants new leadership," said Oemig. "We have things that need to get done. Finkbeiner spends his time flip-flopping trying to appease the right wing of his party instead of addressing the needs of the district."

Oemig was born and raised in Wisconsin, where he attended the University of Wisconsin. He came to Washington State fifteen years ago in order to work for Microsoft and remained at the company for eight years. In 2003, he founded "Moral Politics," a public access television show centering on progressive thought. Now, he hopes to add Senator to his long list of accomplishments.

David Goldstein, who blogs about Washington politics and the press on his site,, wrote that Oemig was "everything you want in a candidate: he's smart, passionate, energetic, and personable. And after a career solving problems and creating efficiencies for high-tech companies like Microsoft, he has the personal wealth and freedom to devote to full-time campaigning." Goldstein had met Oemig last year at Camp Wellstone, a candidate training program.

The Seattle Gay News spoke with Oemig this week about his candidacy and his positions on the pressing issues of concern to the region's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.

For Oemig, the question of the Civil Rights bill is a "no-brainer." In fact, he sees the bill's death last year as representative of something that's wrong with politics today. "I was talking to my wife when it hit me. It was clear in our minds that the direction the government was going in was wrong. And I realized that there is so much that can be done at the state level. There are a lot of good things in this state that I want to make better. Changes come at the grassroots level."

Oemig also opposes a constitutional amendment to ban Gay marriage, both on the local and national level. "The Constitution is a great document - a beautiful document," he said. "While it could use some improvement here and there, perhaps, to try to insert discrimination into it is something that is both very wrong and very un-American."

His experience with Microsoft informs his approach to politics. "My mantra at the company - when people asked me what to do - was 'Do the right thing'," he said. "And that is what I plan to bring to politics. Corporate politics is about getting to the best ideas and solutions and that's what government should be doing."

According to Oemig, his biggest challenges will be institutional inertia and the fact that the opposing candidate has held the office for a long time. He hopes to point out to voters the discrepancies between Finkbeiner's self-definition as a moderate and the conservative nature of his actions in office. The campaign will involve knocking on a lot of doors to introduce himself, he says, but he's prepared for the struggle. He says he's ready to tell people what he stands for: honesty and transparency in government.

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