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Marko Liias exits congressional sweepstakes; other WA-01 candidates stay in

“[I]t’s often said that democracy is about voters choosing their politicians. But in the redistricting process, it’s politicians choosing their voters. And in many ways, those decisions can be more important than elections in some context.”

Nate Persily, Beekman Professor of Law and Political Science at Columbia University, commenting on the importance of redistricting in the United States.

With the release of Slade Gorton and Tim Ceis’ congressional redistricting proposal yesterday, participants and would-be participants in Washington’s 2012 congressional sweepstakes finally have an idea of what the political landscape is going to look like for the next decade… that is, assuming the Redistricting Commission completes its work on time as required by the state Constitution.

No district has been more reshaped under Ceis and Gorton’s proposal than the 1st (WA-01), which is currently represented by Jay Inslee. Only a few months after the Redistricting Commission began its work, Inslee formally launched his campaign for governor, which gave the Ceis and Gorton the freedom to relocate his district.

(By tradition, the four Redistricting Commissioners are supposed to avoid moving incumbents out of their current districts when redraw the lines… however, neither the Constitution nor the relevant statute – Chapter 44.05 of the Revised Code of Washington – requires this. Thanks to Dave Gibney for the clarification).

Following the launch of Jay Inslee’s campaign for governor, several Democrats declared their intention to run for Congress to succeed him, including Laura Ruderman (who served as one of the 45th’s state representatives for many years before unsuccessfully challenging Sam Reed for Secretary of State in 2004), Darcy Burner (who twice ran against Dave Reichert in the old WA-08, but came up short each time), Roger Goodman (one of the 45th’s two current state representatives), newcomer Darshan Rauniyar, Steve Hobbs (state senator from the 44th), and Marko Liias (state representative from the 21st).

All of the aforementioned candidates  – with the exception of Liias – have managed to end up in the new 1st. After thinking things over, Liias has decided to quit the congressional sweepstakes and seek reelection to the state Legislature. Here is the message he sent to his supporters earlier today:

I have some tough news to share with you. I will not be continuing my campaign for Congress.

My home, and the communities that I have represented in the State Legislature, were moved into existing congressional districts that already have strong representatives in Congress. The district where I’ve lived most of my life and hoped to represent in Congress, the First Congressional District, will now move east and become a large, more rural district that stretches from east of Lake Washington to the Canadian Border.

Some have suggested that I move to this new district and run anyway, but that is not who I am.

I started this campaign because I believe that the middle class needs strong, principled voices in Congress. And while 2012 will not be the year that I take our fight to Washington DC, that does not mean our fight is over. After taking some time to consider our options, Mike and I have decided that I should seek reelection to the State Legislature where I can continue the fight for a budget that preserves the safety net, funding for education, realistic transportation solutions and full marriage equality.

I am proud of all that we accomplished together in this campaign. In less than six months, we attracted support from over 3,000 individual donors, held over a dozen house parties, and we have earned endorsements from amazing community leaders and committed citizens. I could not be more grateful for your support and encouragement.

As I look forward to the upcoming legislative session, I know that there will be teachers and home care workers and small business owners that need a voice in Olympia, and that will be my task. I may ask for your help again in the weeks ahead, and I know that you will be there with me.

Thanks for everything.

All my best,

The other five candidates have all decided to stay in the race – and most of them are wasting little time asking for contributions. They may soon be joined by Suzan DelBene, who challenged Dave Reichert in WA-08 last year and nearly pulled even with him in a difficult year for Democrats.

Meanwhile, Denny Heck, who unsuccessfully sought to succeed Brian Baird as U.S. Representative from the old WA-03, is off and running in the new WA-10… and from his announcement press release, it sure seems like he has the Democratic nomination sewn up. Here’s an excerpt:

Heck is in a strong position to be elected the first Congressman from the 10th District. He has the endorsements of Congressman Norm Dicks in the 6th Congressional District and Congressman Adam Smith in the 9th Congressional District.

Heck has also been endorsed by Thurston County leaders including State Senator Karen Fraser, State Representatives Sam Hunt and Chris Reykdal, County Commissioners Cathy Wolfe, Sandra Romero and Karen Valenzuela and by Dylan Carlson, Chair of the 22nd Legislative District Democrats.

In Pierce County, Heck has been endorsed by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, 28th Legislative District State Representatives Tami Green and Troy Kelley, 29th Legislative District State Representatives Steve Kirby and Connie Ladenburg, 27th Legislative District Senator Debbie Regala and 27th Legislative District Representatives Jeannie Darneille and Laurie Jenkins, former 25th Legislative District State Representative Dawn Morrell and former Representative and State Treasurer Dan Grimm, retired Pierce County State Senators Rosa Franklin, Marilyn Rasmussen, and Ken Madsen, and by Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and former Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma. Heck has also been endorsed by Don Green and Ken Stevenson, Chairs of the 28th and 2nd Legislative District Democrats.

Heck starts 2012 with more than $550,000 cash on hand, raised from more than 1300 individual donations to the campaign. He is proud to have the support of the Washington Machinists Council, Electrical Workers IBEW Local 77, Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, AFSCME Council 2, Laborers Local 252, Boilermakers Local 502, Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 66, Operating Engineers 302, APWU American Postal Workers’ Union, Asbestos Workers Local 7, Plumbers and Pipefitters, and the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council.

It is not clear yet what the Democratic field will look like in the new WA-03 or WA-08, though one Democratic candidate has been preparing to challenge Reichert in the latter district – Karen Porterfield. Incumbent Democrats Rick Larsen, Norm Dicks, Jim McDermott, and Adam Smith are expected to seek reelection in their newly redrawn districts, which have become more Democratic.

In eastern Washington, Republicans Doc Hastings and Cathy McMorris Rodgers are expected to seek reelection. The Democratic Party has recruited a former U.S. Marine, Jay Clough, to challenge Hastings; however, the party doesn’t appear to have a candidate lined up to take on McMorris Rodgers.


  1. Dave Gibney
    Posted December 29th, 2011 at 10:39 PM | Permalink

    Nice article, but there is one error. There is nothing in the law explictly protecting incumbents. It would in fact be illegal to cite such a criteria as justification for any boundary placement.

    Of course, we all know that incumbent protection is a major concern in the backroom 🙂

  2. Andrew
    Posted December 29th, 2011 at 11:51 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for the correction. I have updated the post.

  3. Posted December 30th, 2011 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

    Here we go again with one of my preferred candidates accepting an endorsement from someone NO ONE should accept an endorsement from. In this case, from a man who supposedly is too afflicted with alzheimers to stand up for the ills he committed against Pierce County, yet well enough to offer an endorsement.. ? VERY disappointing, as this means either “my” candidate is ignorant to what this guy did to us, or doesn’t care what this guy did to us. Either is bad in my book.

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  1. By Morning Rundown for December 30th, 2011 on December 30th, 2011 at 9:47 AM

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