Senator Barbara Bailey
Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-10

One of the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate’s most vul­ner­a­ble Repub­li­cans is call­ing it quits ahead of the 2020 short ses­sion and pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cycle.

Sen­a­tor Bar­bara Bai­ley (R‑10th Dis­trict: Island Coun­ty, Stan­wood), who defeat­ed vet­er­an Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Mary Mar­garet Hau­gen in 2012, has decid­ed to resign and leave the Sen­ate ear­ly instead of serv­ing out of her term and retiring.

In a let­ter to Gov­er­nor Inslee, Bai­ley explained her deci­sion.

After much prayer and dis­cus­sion with my fam­i­ly, I have made the deci­sion to step down from my Sen­ate seat effec­tive Sep­tem­ber 30th, 2019. This deci­sion was not tak­en light­ly; how­ev­er, I believe now is the best time to make this move. I have been giv­ing this deci­sion a lot of thought for the past three-four months.

Spend­ing qual­i­ty time with my fam­i­ly and church has been dif­fi­cult at best, and unwork­able at oth­er times. There are sig­nif­i­cant projects and ven­tures in which my hus­band and I want to be involved while we are still rea­son­ably healthy and mobile.

I leave with a great sense of accom­plish­ment of some sig­nif­i­cant issues which were passed into law, and which have made life for our cit­i­zens more effi­cient and mean­ing­ful. Specif­i­cal­ly, mak­ing high­er edu­ca­tion more afford­able in our pub­lic insti­tu­tions, bet­ter sup­port for our vet­er­ans and their depen­dents, improved health care for our aging pop­u­la­tion, and as Chair of the Select Com­mit­tee for Pen­sion Pol­i­cy, ensur­ing long-term sus­tain­abil­i­ty at a time when oth­er pen­sion sys­tems around the coun­try were in crisis.

Our pen­sion sys­tem now ranks among the most sta­ble in the nation.

I plan to stay engaged with those pro­grams affect­ing the well-being of our senior cit­i­zens to ensure they have improved access and resources for their care and dignity.

It has been my hon­or to have served the state of Wash­ing­ton, and specif­i­cal­ly the cit­i­zens of the 10th Dis­trict. I will always be avail­able for con­sul­ta­tion and con­tin­ued ser­vice when and where needed.

The Sen­ate Repub­li­cans today respond­ed to the let­ter by issu­ing a pub­lic state­ment lav­ish­ing praise on Bai­ley for her con­tri­bu­tions as a legislator.

What Bai­ley does­n’t say in her let­ter is that she was fac­ing an uphill bat­tle to secure reelec­tion in 2020. Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Helen Price John­son declared her can­di­da­cy for the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate a few weeks ago, and Democ­rats believe the 10th is ripe for flip­ping, espe­cial­ly giv­en Dave Paul’s vic­to­ry last year.

(State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dave Paul unseat­ed incum­bent Repub­li­can Dave Hayes for one of the 10th’s two House seats last cycle, tak­ing over the posi­tion Bai­ley once held while a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive after pre­vail­ing in a close race.)

By resign­ing, Bai­ley is mak­ing way for a fel­low Repub­li­can — per­haps State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Nor­ma Smith, one of the most thought­ful and lib­er­al Repub­li­cans in the state­house — to serve in the Sen­ate ahead of the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and gain some of the advan­tages of incum­ben­cy pri­or to fac­ing the voters.

It will still be an open seat, though, and Democ­rats will make it a top pri­or­i­ty, along with Smith’s House seat, which she near­ly lost last year. If Smith moves over to the Sen­ate, it presents House Democ­rats with an oppor­tu­ni­ty for anoth­er pickup.

In accor­dance with the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion, the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty (present­ly chaired by Caleb Heim­lich), must now draw up a list of three pos­si­ble suc­ces­sors for Bailey.

This list will then be pre­sent­ed to the Island and Skag­it Coun­ty Com­mis­sions plus the Sno­homish Coun­ty Coun­cil, as the 10th is a mul­ti-coun­ty dis­trict. The coun­ty leg­isla­tive author­i­ties will then have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to joint­ly make an appoint­ment. If they can­not reach agree­ment, Gov­er­nor Inslee will make a choice.

We’ll keep you post­ed on fur­ther developments.

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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