Joe Fitzgibbon speaking at a press conference
Joe Fitzgibbon speaking at a press conference (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

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.

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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