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Wash. Senate Majority Leader Tom Announces He Won’t Run For Re-Election

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, looks over a document on the first day of the 2014 session of the Washington state Legislature, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.

One of the most influential and controversial members of the Washington state Legislature made a bombshell announcement Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, announced he is dropping his bid for re-election. Tom is one of two Democrats who joined with Republicans last year to help them take control of the state Senate.

In an e-mail message to fellow lawmakers, Tom said he will not run for a third Senate term because of personal health issues relating to a recent bout of kidney stones. He also cited a need to care for his elderly father.

Tom’s departure from the race comes as a shock to Washington’s political establishment.

“This is terrible news for the Republicans,” said Chris Vance, former chair of the Washington State Republican Party.

Vance says Tom’s departure will make it harder for the mostly-Republican Majority Coalition Caucus to retain control of the state Senate.

“The Senate was going to be competitive anyway. Now it’s even more competitive,” he said.

Republicans will now have to recruit a candidate to run against Democratic challenger Joan McBride in Tom’s suburban Seattle district.

Tom first won election to the Washington Legislature as a Republican. In 2006, he switched parties to become a Democrat. He remained a Democrat even after joining with Republicans to take control of the state Senate.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.