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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Weinstein to leave state Senate, Jarrett will run to succeed him as a Democrat

Senator Brian Weinstein, of the 41st Legislative District, announced today that he won't seek a second term in 2008:
I am honored to have been chosen to serve the people of my distinct and I can honestly say that serving in the Senate was one of the most significant events of my life. I accomplished some of my goals, though clearly not all, but it was never my intention to become a career politician. I look forward to resuming the full time practice of law at the conclusion of my term.

My election in 2004 tipped the balance in the Senate in favor of Democrats and because of that, I believe we were able to improve education funding and transportation funding.
Weinstein was the first Democrat elected as Senator of the 41st, which includes Mercer Island, Newcastle, and neighborhoods of Bellevue and Renton.

He will likely be succeeded by Representative Fred Jarrett, who now plans to vacate his House seat and run for the a Democrat.

Jarrett could certainly make the case that he is the most progressive Republican in the Legislature. His views seem much closer to ours than those of his own caucus. We are happy to welcome him to the Democratic Party.

His switch increases the House Democratic caucus by one vote while making it extremely unlikely that the Republicans will have a shot at recapturing the 41st's Senate seat next November.

Democrats will also have an opportunity to hold on to Jarrett's House seat, too. With Jarrett's departure from the GOP, the Eastside looks solidly Democratic.

Republicans may accuse Jarrett of being a political opportunist, but we sense he's tired of sharing a tent with people who don't share his values:
I felt there was a strong tradition in the Republican Party that really couldn't be lost. So what I've been doing as long as I've been in the Legislature is trying to articulate Republican viewpoint, and what I found is I may have a lot of ego, but I don't think I have enough ego to think anymore that I can do it.
UPDATE: Here is Jarrett's formal statement:
After many months of careful consideration and many conversations with my family and supporters I have decided to run for the 41st District Senate seat as a Democrat in the 2008 election.

This is not a decision I make lightly.

Forty years ago, I volunteered on my first Republican campaign. Later, I worked on Dan Evans' first gubernatorial campaign and came of age during his time as governor. In the decades since, I’ve served as a Republican precinct committee officer, legislative district chair and legislator.

It has been a difficult journey from the party I volunteered for in the 1960s, to the Republican Party of today. I have, I think, remained true to Republican values of investment in education and transportation, civil rights, environmental protection, and well managed and effective government. And, I’ve felt an obligation to work within the party to maintain or restore those traditions.

Yet over the years, while those values have remained important to the 41st District and to me, the Republican Party has evolved in different directions.

I have always held the belief that a legislative body functions best with a diversity of political and opinion – and that open and honest debate is essential to the development of good legislation. The two-party system has been central to this.

Yet, it has become clear to me over the years that my philosophy of government and my approach to problem-solving is increasingly at odds with my colleagues in the Republican caucus.

I retain a great respect for my Republican legislative colleagues. They represent their districts well. But, individually and regionally we see the legislative process in different ways.

My goal as a member of the state legislature has always been to accomplish results for my district and state. I try to approach issues with an open mind and seek solutions that are in the best interests of my constituents - not what is best for any political party or re-election campaign. This has meant working to craft legislation that can win support from both sides of the aisle rather than trying to create campaign issues for the next election.

I am proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish by working across the aisle in Olympia.

We face very difficult problems in this state – problems that cry-out for thoughtful, bipartisan solutions: Creating Twenty-First Century education and transportation systems, protecting our environment and assuring that state government accomplishes its mission effectively and efficiently.

I have concluded I can work best for the interests of the 41st District as a Senate Democrat. I think I can accomplish more for transportation, education and other important issues confronting our state as a Senate Democrat.

Many have told me that this is a politically risky move – that I should be content to stay in my current position where my re-election is more certain. But I don’t want to be a state legislator simply for the sake of being in office – I want to make a difference.

I have also been told that this move will cause some to say that I am abandoning the Republican Party. Yet I am the same person today that I was when first elected to public office in 1979.

There is no perfect political party, neither Republican nor Democratic. But those who wish to serve the public must choose regardless.

I have concluded that my vision for the state and our government has a better fit with the Democratic Party. I could have waited until after the upcoming legislative session to announce this decision but that would have not been the fair thing to do. I wanted my constituents and House colleagues to know of my decision.

It has been my honor over the last seven years to represent the 41st District in the state House of Representatives. I hope to continue representing the 41st District in the future.
The local right wing probably won't miss Jarrett, but their prospects of regaining seats in the Legislature in 2008 suffered another blow today.


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