Yesterday, State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (D‑34th District: West Seattle, Vashon Island), announced that after thinking the matter over, he has decided not to seek the position held by his mentor, State Senator Sharon Nelson, and will instead run for reelection to the House, where he serves as Chair of the Environment Committee and the House Democratic Campaign Committee (HDCC).
Nelson surprised many last week when news broke that she had informed her colleagues of her decision to retire. She became Senate Majority Leader less than six months ago, following Manka Dhingra’s victory in the 45th District.
Fitzgibbon made it clear that his announcement, which came yesterday — was not an April Fools’ joke by putting a disclaimer at the end of his statement.
After much consideration and receiving much advice, I believe the place I can be the most effective for my district and the issues I care about is in the House of Representatives. I’ll be running for reelection to the House this year, not for the Senate.
2019 can be (and needs to be) a watershed year in the Washington State Legislature on fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There is great energy and leadership around climate priorities in the Senate right now, and staying in the House lets me focus on building momentum for climate and clean energy progress in our chamber. I’m also motivated to make progress in the House on gun safety, death penalty repeal, multimodal transportation infrastructure, restoring habitat for salmon and other endangered species, and fixing our upside-down tax code.
I also love the team-oriented culture of the House and want to remain a part of a great team, the House Democrats, that I know and love well. I’m confident that our district will choose a great new senator to represent us, who can make the 34th district proud and serve the Senate and the state well.
Thanks to all who provided advice and input as I made my decision. I’d be honored to have your support as I run for reelection.
(not April Fools)
As mentioned, Fitzgibbon currently serves as the chair of the House Democratic Campaign Committee (HDCC), and the House Democrats would undoubtedly have needed to find someone else to serve in that role had Fitzgibbon decided to run for the Senate. With Fitzgibbon staying in the House, the HDCC gets to keep its energetic chair, and the House Democrats retain an outstanding legislator who has been a champion for transit and environmental justice in Washington State.
And it also means that the contest for Nelson’s seat could attract a lot of candidates. The 34th is a safely Democratic district, and Senate seats in very safe Democratic districts don’t come open very often. It would not be surprising if two Democrats wound up making it through the August Top Two election and squaring off in November for the opportunity to represent the district for the next four years.