Jay Rodne and Michael Baumgartner
Jay Rodne and Michael Baumgartner

Two Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors in key dis­tricts announced sep­a­rate­ly yes­ter­day that they will be leav­ing the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture at the end of this year as opposed to seek­ing reelec­tion in what many observers believe could be a wave year for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty not unlike the 2006 midterms twelve years ago.

State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jay Rodne — the extrem­ist, Islam­o­pho­bic Repub­li­can who came under fire last cycle for mak­ing un-Amer­i­can com­ments about Mus­lims — was the first to announce that he would be step­ping down.

“I am announc­ing my deci­sion to not seek re-elec­tion to my House seat lat­er this year,” Rodne said on Face­book. “Although I will not seek re-elec­tion, I will con­tin­ue to serve the cit­i­zens of the 5th Dis­trict until my term ends on Decem­ber 31, 2018.”

“When I was first appoint­ed to the Wash­ing­ton House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Jan­u­ary 2004, my kids were sev­en and five respec­tive­ly,” Rodne added. “It’s amaz­ing how fast the years have flown by and with my kids now in col­lege, about to grad­u­ate and embark upon their own lives as adults, I too am look­ing for­ward to mak­ing this tran­si­tion to new oppor­tu­ni­ties, new chal­lenges and new ways to give back.”

Rodne was fac­ing the prospect of a strong chal­lenge from Issaquah City Coun­cilmem­ber Bill Ramos, who filed to run against Rodne a few weeks ago. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has quick­ly ral­lied around Ramos, with the 5th Dis­trict Democ­rats giv­ing Ramos their endorse­ment at a recent gen­er­al meeting.

The Repub­li­can Par­ty has already found a replace­ment can­di­date for 2018: Chad Magen­danz, Rod­ne’s for­mer seat­mate. Magen­danz ran unsuc­cess­ful­ly for State Sen­ate in 2016 against incum­bent Mark Mul­let, los­ing narrowly.

Both Rodne and Magen­danz ben­e­fit­ed from a surge of Repub­li­can votes in the late bal­lots, with Rodne com­ing from behind to defeat his Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Jason Ritchie (who is now a Sam­mamish City Coun­cilmem­ber). How­ev­er, Magen­danz was not able to over­come Mul­let’s lead, and Mul­let held onto his Sen­ate seat.

Magen­danz is now hop­ing to return to the House in what looks to be a very dif­fi­cult cli­mate for Repub­li­cans nation­al­ly as well as locally.

Mean­while, Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Michael Baum­gart­ner has decid­ed not to seek reelec­tion in the 6th Dis­trict. He will be run­ning for coun­ty trea­sur­er instead.

“Eight years ago when I returned from Iraq and Afghanistan you gave me the great priv­i­lege of serv­ing as your State Sen­a­tor. Today I’m writ­ing to inform you that it’s time for a new chal­lenge. I will not be return­ing to the Sen­ate, but instead will be run­ning for Spokane Coun­ty Trea­sur­er this fall,” Baum­gart­ner wrote.

State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jeff Holy will be leav­ing his House seat to pur­sue Baum­gart­ner’s Sen­ate seat, cre­at­ing a new open­ing for a Demo­c­ra­t­ic pick­up on the House side in that district.

Baum­gart­ner is one of the most extreme mem­bers of the Sen­ate Repub­li­can cau­cus and one of the sen­a­tors who is clos­est to dis­graced ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er Tim Eyman. Baum­gart­ner, along with Doug Erick­sen, enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly sup­port­ed and helped cam­paign for Eyman’s uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, hostage-tak­ing I‑1366 in 2015, which the Main­stream Repub­li­cans of Wash­ing­ton strong­ly opposed.

Activist and ded­i­cat­ed health­care advo­cate Jes­sa Lewis has announced that she will be seek­ing Baum­gart­ner’s Sen­ate seat on behalf of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party.

“The more time I spend talk­ing to my neigh­bors and friends in the 6th LD, the more I see the need to empow­er our com­mu­ni­ties to take our issues  —  our wish­es, and our aspi­ra­tions, our very real prob­lems  —  and turn them from com­plaints into com­mit­ments,” Lewis wrote in a Medi­um post lay­ing out her pri­or­i­ties.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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