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WA State Senate Majority Leader Not Running — Business Taxes, Environmental Regs at Risk

Posted Tuesday, April 15, 2014 by Jules VanSant.

An update from PPI Lobbyist in Olympia, Washington, Bill Stauffacher

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Rodney Tom, Dem 48th District, WA State

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, a Democrat, announced this morning that he is not running for re-election in the Washington State Senate. In late 2012, Tom and another Democratic colleague, Sen. Tim Sheldon, joined with 23 Senate Republicans to form the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC). In 2013. The MCC had a one-seat majority before picking up a Democratic-held seat during a special election race in 2013. Today the MCC has a two-seat Senate majority (26-to-23) while Democrats have control of the Governor’s mansion and the House of Representatives.

The MCC is seen as the last line of defense against increased business taxes and additional environmental, consumer and labor regulations sought by legislative Democrats. Tom’s departure from this key race means the Senate MCC is seriously at risk during the 2014 elections.

Senate Republicans can maintain their majority, but the Senate Democrats now have thebest chance to date to regain the majority and to give Democrats complete control in Olympia. To do so, Democrats must keep a current Democratic seat (very difficult) and win two or the four of these GOP/MCC-held seats:

If the Democrats cannot keep control of the seat held by retiring Democratic Sen. Tracey Eide in south King County, then the Democrats must win three of the four GOP-held seats. In the Eide seat, Republicans have a terrific candidate: former state Rep. Mark Miloscia, who switched parties to run as the GOP candidate.


Bill Stauffacher, Stauffacher Communications on behalf of PPI Association

Tom’s seat could easily go back into the hands of Democrats who do not participate in the MCC. House Ways and Means chair Ross Hunter or first-term Rep. Cyrus Habib may jump to the Senate race, but the Senate Democrats must push aside their current caucus-backed candidate to clear the field for either Hunter or Habib.

Tom represents a district that includes Bellevue, a suburban city that has become more Democratic since redistricting. Tom’s independence and decision to join with Republicans to give the GOP coalition a working majority in the upper chamber drew the ire of Democrats in Olympia. However, within his own district, Tom’s positioning played well with the financially moderate and socially liberal voter base.

In his announcement to colleagues, Tom cited family health concerns. At the end of session, Tom dealt with a serious bout of kidney stones. He also needs to care for his father, who was seriously injured in a car accident in recent weeks.

Filing for election is mid-May. More surprises are yet to come.