Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Greg Rodriguez withdraws nomination for state party chair

Greg Rodriguez has posted a letter to his website announcing his withdrawal from the race:
Dear Democrat,

Today I am announcing my decision not to seek the position of Chair for the Washington State Democrats. I have been extremely flattered and encouraged at the support I have received over the past weeks, but after some new developments in my partner's job situation, my son's schooling (these being the primary reasons), some very deep thinking, and talking with family and friends, I do not feel I would be the best choice at this time. I apologize to those of you who have supported my campaign and want you to know this has been a very difficult decision.

It is extremely important that we have a smooth transition in leadership for this Party and I fear that would not happen if I were to be elected. Many of the same forces that campaigned against me last year with questions about my surname, my financial abilities as County Chair and my sexuality (all of which were baseless or meaningless) are continuing the same tactics this year. While I am not one to run away from a fight, and feel this type of politicking should end, this race has never been about me but what is best for the Party. I think stepping aside is what's best for the Party and the new developments in my family.

To this day, I do not know what I have done to some members of this Party that make them so fearful and sometimes downright undermining in my quest to help make this Party stronger. I deeply admire those who have come before me and I am often saddened at some of the tactics used. What I do know is that the next State Chair needs to be able to utilize these people for transition and I know I would not have their support going forward.

At this time I am not actively supporting one candidate over another but do have some points I would like the new Chair to consider. I hope that you will agree with many of them and will insist that our Party undertakes them no matter who the chair is. These ideas are not mine, but are what I have heard over the past 5 years of Party involvement and still continued to hear during this campaign.

First and foremost we must run our Party in a more business like fashion. We need to provide our Districts and counties with up-to-date and efficient communications, lists and training resources. We must find and hire the most professional people and insist on the utmost levels of ethics and accountability. The thoughts and ideas of the Eboard, Chairs, and caucus leaders should be listened to and acted upon much more than they have been. Decisions should be made collaboratively and not done in back rooms and assumed that everyone will go along with them.

We must improve our voter file and technology presence. It is true we have one of the most advanced systems in the country, but that does not mean we should rest on our laurels. We must utilize the people that have the technological know how and who have offered support to this Party (but have been turned away) to make our system better and more user-friendly. Our website must be translated into Spanish and other languages as well as any printed materials we develop.

We have to pay more attention to our Democrats outside the I-5 corridor. This means in rural and urban places on both sides of the mountains. We will never regain a Democratic stronghold if we write these places off. It will not happen over night, but we must find ways to get our message out, recruit and train candidates, and work with our local County and District organizations to strengthen the Democratic base across this state. In addition, we must utilize all of our caucuses, our friends in labor, choice and peace groups, environment and yes even business to craft and deliver messages appropriate to the different demographics and geographies of the State of Washington .

We need to develop a Party leadership mentoring program and learn how to encourage our youth to take on more positions of leadership. We must end the politics of personal and organizational destruction that occurs even within our own Party. This will get us nowhere and in fact has caused people to leave the Party organizations in this State. While so many of our goals in this Party may be different, we have far more that are the same and should work more and more to find that common ground and assist our rising stars and growing organizations in achieving their fullest potential.

While I have heard even more ways in which we can become a better Party these are what have been voiced the most of over the last two years. I can not tell you how great it has been to travel across this state and see the real energy and desire to make a difference. I will still continue to stay involved. This decision does not mean my devotion and my future help with the Party is ending. I hope I can play some sort of role in conjunction with the new leadership.

With recent developments I feel my primary duties must be turned to my children's disabilities and how I can help them, and others like them, succeed as their lives move forward. I am fortunate to serve on the Governor's Developmental Disabilities Council and will look for ways to expand that role as well.

Again, this was not an easy decision and I know I have let some of you down. I have the utmost confidence that some of the remaining candidates will serve you well. I believe this is an opportunity for new leadership and new directions. It will be my hope that you will all help in that direction. I wish you all the best in 2006.

We respect Greg's decision to withdraw and wish him the best. We thank him for offering his insight as to where the party needs to go, and we concur that there are many areas that need attention.

The two main candidates in the race for state party chair are now Dwight Pelz and Phil Talmadge.

Most people know that Dwight recently ran against Richard McIver for Seattle City Council. He is just finishing up a term on the King County Council. Dwight also was an early supporter of Howard Dean. Previously, he was a state senator and director of WA Citizen Action.

Phil Talmadge has previously served on the state supreme court and made a run for Governor in 2004. He was the first candidate in the race but later withdrew after Gregoire and Sims announced due to health concerns.

Both Dwight and Phil have good reputations and it'll be interesting to see how the race for state party chair plays out.

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