NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Norm Dicks says he isn’t running for reelection, will retire from U.S. House

Norm Dicks, the dean of Wash­ing­ton’s con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion, has just issued a sur­prise announce­ment through his office explain­ing that he has come to the deci­sion not to seek reelec­tion to the U.S. House this year.

I am announc­ing today my inten­tion to com­plete my ser­vice in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the end of the cur­rent ses­sion but not to be a can­di­date for re-elec­tion to the 113th Con­gress. After eigh­teen terms rep­re­sent­ing the peo­ple of the 6th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict of Wash­ing­ton, pre­ced­ed by eight years on the Staff of Sen­a­tor War­ren G. Mag­nu­son, Suzie and I have made the deci­sion to change gears and enjoy life at a dif­fer­ent pace.

The priv­i­lege of serv­ing in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, with the endorse­ment of the vot­ers every two years, is indeed an hon­or unlike no oth­er pro­fes­sion in our coun­try and I have tru­ly enjoyed every day here and have cher­ished all of the friend­ships we have made with many of the finest pub­lic ser­vants in the nation. I am proud that many of these friend­ships have crossed the ide­o­log­i­cal and par­ty lines that tend to sep­a­rate us, and I have always believed that we can achieve greater results if we leave pol­i­tics aside when the elec­tion sea­son and the floor debates are over.

Sen­a­tors Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell each imme­di­ate­ly issued state­ments thank­ing Dicks for his ser­vice to the state.

“Norm Dicks is a true Wash­ing­ton State insti­tu­tion. But more than that, he is my men­tor, my friend, my advi­sor, my team­mate, and my broth­er. He is our state’s quar­ter­back here in Con­gress, and I can’t imag­ine our del­e­ga­tion with­out him,” Mur­ray said. “Norm will retire from Con­gress leav­ing behind an incred­i­ble lega­cy of pub­lic ser­vice. Wash­ing­ton fam­i­lies will ben­e­fit from his hard work, pas­sion­ate advo­ca­cy, and tremen­dous con­tri­bu­tions for decades to come.”

“To me, more than any­thing, Norm is the guy who loves Wash­ing­ton state more than life, who would do any­thing to defend it, and who works every­one to the bone to make sure the fam­i­lies he rep­re­sents are tak­en care of. And he doesn’t just fight hard—he wins. I will miss his voice here in our nation’s cap­i­tal. And we will all miss his abil­i­ty to make sure fed­er­al pol­i­cy works for Wash­ing­ton state families.”

Sen­a­tor Cantwell agreed, using some of the same language.

“Norm Dicks is an insti­tu­tion in Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics. He has car­ried on a great tra­di­tion, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of his men­tor, Sen­a­tor War­ren Mag­nu­son. For more than forty years, Norm has been involved in every major issue affect­ing our state – from pro­tect­ing salmon and clean­ing up the Puget Sound to sup­port­ing our mil­i­tary instal­la­tions and fight­ing for the Air Force tanker.

“Often­times, peo­ple would refer to Norm as Washington’s third sen­a­tor. His impact on Wash­ing­ton State will be felt for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

The impact of Dicks’ deci­sion to retire, how­ev­er, will be felt imme­di­ate­ly. While the new­ly redrawn 6th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict cer­tain­ly could be called a Demo­c­ra­t­ic dis­trict, it is not a safe Demo­c­ra­t­ic dis­trict. Dicks has held it for thir­ty-two years, but now his name will not be on the bal­lot in 2012. Repub­li­cans will def­i­nite­ly go after the seat — whether they will be able to field a cred­i­ble can­di­date remains to be seen. Democ­rats don’t have a par­tic­u­lar­ly deep bench in the 6th either, but there are a few state leg­is­la­tors who might be inter­est­ed in run­ning, like Derek Kilmer.

UPDATE: Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire has just weighed in with a statement:

There has been no greater advo­cate for our state than Con­gress­man Norm Dicks. For near­ly four decades, Norm has fought hard for Wash­ing­to­ni­ans – push­ing Con­gress to take action to pro­tect our mil­i­tary bases, our com­pa­nies includ­ing Boe­ing, and of course the health of the Puget Sound. He has been a trust­ed part­ner, a staunch ally, and a close friend.

Wash­ing­to­ni­ans statewide will great­ly miss Norm’s pres­ence in Con­gress. He will leave behind a lega­cy that is unmatched. I wish Norm and his fam­i­ly all the best as they move into this next stage of their life – and on behalf of all Wash­ing­to­ni­ans, thank him for his stead­fast ser­vice and com­mit­ment to our state.

It’s pos­si­ble we’ll be hear­ing from Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma on Nor­m’s retire­ment a lit­tle lat­er in the day. No doubt the White House is still pro­cess­ing the news.

UPDATE, 11:32 AM: And here is Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s statement:

I want to thank Norm Dicks for more than thir­ty years of ser­vice on behalf of the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton State. Norm has spent his career work­ing to pro­tect our nation­al secu­ri­ty, cham­pi­oning the men and women of our Armed Forces and fight­ing for the many nat­ur­al resources of Wash­ing­ton State and the Pacif­ic North­west. Norm’s ded­i­ca­tion to our nation’s intel­li­gence per­son­nel and his lead­er­ship on the Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee will be missed in Con­gress and Michelle and I wish him and fam­i­ly well in the future.

UPDATE, 11:45 AM: More reac­tion in now, from Seat­tle May­or Mike McGinn, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rob McKen­na, and our Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands, Peter Gold­mark. McGin­n’s statement:

Norm Dicks cham­pi­oned his dis­trict while mak­ing the entire state his pri­or­i­ty. He was a giant in Con­gress, an invalu­able ally to Seat­tle, and he has left his mark across our state. We wish him well.

Com­mis­sion­er Goldmark:

We have been well served by the long and dis­tin­guished career of Norm Dicks. He has been an effec­tive and ded­i­cat­ed leader for the state of Wash­ing­ton for a gen­er­a­tion. His steady lead­er­ship will be great­ly missed. I hope he will con­tin­ue to find ways to serve Wash­ing­ton State in the years ahead. I wish him and Suzie all the best.

Attor­ney Gen­er­al McKenna:

Con­gress­man Norm Dicks’ ded­i­cat­ed pub­lic ser­vice has served Wash­ing­ton State well for over four decades. I respect him for focus­ing on get­ting things done in the leg­isla­tive process, often on a bipar­ti­san basis, and for putting the needs of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans first in his many con­gres­sion­al accom­plish­ments. I wish Suzie and him well as they enjoy the next chap­ter of their lives.

And final­ly, here’s Dwight Pelz, chair­man of the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party:

As the dean of Washington’s con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion, Norm has been a tire­less pub­lic ser­vant and a leader in both Wash­ing­tons. Norm’s fierce advo­ca­cy for Wash­ing­ton’s work­ing fam­i­lies and busi­ness­es helped bring the tanker deal home, his lead­er­ship on the Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee secured Washington’s stature in the halls of Con­gress. No one has done more to pro­tect the waters of the Puget Sound. After near­ly four decades, he will be tru­ly missed.

All of us at NPI extend our sin­cer­est thanks to Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dicks for his many years of pub­lic ser­vice to our state. As evi­denced by the state­ments above, few peo­ple are as wide­ly respect­ed in Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics as Norm Dicks.

To say that he is an Ever­green State insti­tu­tion — as Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell both did — is actu­al­ly an under­state­ment. It’s hard to pic­ture our con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion with­out Norm Dicks in it. The high­lights alone of his leg­isla­tive record could fill a book.

In 1976, when Dicks was first elect­ed, Wash­ing­ton had­n’t even cel­e­brat­ed its cen­ten­ni­al, and the new mil­len­ni­um was still a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry away. The state’s con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion con­sist­ed of only sev­en rep­re­sen­ta­tives and two sen­a­tors. In those days, the state was still rep­re­sent­ed by the leg­endary War­ren Mag­nu­son and Hen­ry “Scoop” Jack­son in the U.S. Sen­ate. So much has changed since then. But Nor­m’s com­mit­ment to serve our state has remain unchanged.

We con­grat­u­late him on all of his accom­plish­ments and wish him noth­ing but peace and hap­pi­ness in retirement.

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  1. Yep, Dicks sure brought home the military/industrial bacon, if that’s what you groove on, fine. Kin­da like our Sen­a­tor Arm’s Race Mag­nu­son. That’s just what they did.

    # by bluesky :: March 2nd, 2012 at 4:14 PM
  2. Norm Dicks has spent prac­ti­cal­ly his entire adult life in pub­lic ser­vice, this is indeed an end to an era.

    # by Mike Barer :: March 2nd, 2012 at 11:56 PM
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