Not long after Cathy McMorris Rodgers was elected to the state Legislature, her mentor, Mark Schoesler, traveled with her to Washington State University for meetings in the district she now represents. The previous few years had been a whirlwind for the 25-year-old freshman Republican. McMorris Rodgers was not long out of college when her father got her a job on a political campaign. That quickly turned into a position as a legislative aide in the state House and then an appointment to her boss's seat when he ran for the state Senate. The new lawmaker headed to WSU with Schoesler by her side.
While Schoesler, nearing 40 and in his second term in the Legislature, attended meetings, McMorris Rodgers stayed outside, entertaining his 15-year-old daughter before a football game.
For Schoesler, who is now minority leader in the state Senate, that scene is important to the tale of McMorris Rodgers's career. It illustrates how personable McMorris Rodgers is, and how easily she relates to and charms young women—the very type of voters her party needs to attract. She was "shy," he said, "a very humble person, very down-to-earth" and willing to spend time talking with a teenager while he spoke with constituents and community leaders in Eastern Washington's hub of agribusiness and research. Schoesler did not intend to denigrate McMorris Rodgers by emphasizing her interaction with his daughter over any legislative accomplishment or demonstration of political skill. He didn't think it might lead anyone to wonder whether her peers in the Legislature thought she was a capable politician, or if they instead saw her skills as better suited to child care.