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Ex-Democratic Lawmaker: Anti-Catholic Bigotry Drove Me to the GOP: Exclusive Aleteia Interview

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Mark Stricherz - published on 11/07/14

Mark Miloscia describes himself as a "social justice, anti-death penalty, seamless garment, pro-life Catholic."

WASHINGTON – The political ad showed Washington State’s Mark Miloscia donning a papal mitre and clutching rosary beads. Its caption portrayed the Mississippi native, a Catholic, as an agent for Catholic rule. “’Mississippi Mark’ has always worn his church on his sleeve,” the advertisement said. “Rather than represent the people of Federal Way, he has best represented the people of the Vatican.”

The ad appeared on the website of local Democratic activists in King County as late as October, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which broke the story. Miloscia was a Democratic state representative for 14 years and after losing a bid for state auditor two years ago, in March he announced he was switching parties to run as a Republican for the state Senate. “Washington state Republicans don’t insist that everyone believe and vote exactly the same way to run for office,” Miloscia told the Seattle Times.

The Washington State Democratic Party said political ambition was the real reason for Miloscia’s party switch. “With his last-place finish in the race for State Auditor in 2012, Miloscia is upset that the voters of Washington State chose not to give him a promotion. He saw that he wasn’t advancing fast enough as a Democrat,” the party wrote in a statement.

Local Democratic activists got rid of the web ad. But its anti-Catholicism bolsters Miloscia’s argument that the state’s Democrats are intolerant toward traditional Catholics. A Seattle PI columnist, Joel Connelly, agreed. He said the ad “ranks as the nastiest single attack of Washington’s 2014 campaign. Whatever the intent of site authors, they’ve bolstered Miloscia’s argument that the Democratic Party no longer welcomes someone who is socially conservative.”

State lawmakers differ from their federal peers. They represent smaller constituencies; they make more impolitic statements (read The Huffington Post or Daily Caller for confirmation); and the outcome of their races depend less on big-money interests and political actors.  

Yet the national Democratic Party, too, has few lawmakers who vote for traditional Catholic positions of support for labor unions, the unborn, and social welfare. For example, Democrats for Life of America listed seven of the 254 Democrats in the current Congress as members.

Aleteia caught up with Miloscia Thursday morning in his basement in Federal Way, Washington. He was moving boxes around after winning his state Senate race by 13 percentage points over Democrat Shari Song on Tuesday.

Miloscia, 56, is an atypical Republican lawmaker.

Although he is a Mississippi native, his family moved to New York City when he was six years old. He went to the Bronx High School of Science for one year and graduated from Francis Lewis High School in Queens. His father worked two jobs, as an insurance and shoe salesman; his mother stayed at home to rear five children.

After graduating at 17, he enrolled in the Air Force Academy and served in the Air Force for 14 years. As a state lawmaker in Washington State, he earned a voting record of 92 percent from a state labor union. He cited John and Robert F. Kennedy as well as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as his political heroes. He cast presidential votes for Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008.

He and his wife, Meschell, have three children.

In the interview, Miloscia said young, millennial-age Democrats are driving out traditional Democratic politicians both in the blue state of Washington State and nationally.


Were you surprised by the anti-Catholic ad?

The long and short answer is no. It’s always been subtle. My opponent is taking the position that I take my orders from the Catholic Church. If you read the blogs, people are pretty blatant. And their anti-Catholicism is flat out ugly.

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