Tina Podlodowski on Saturday won election by a wide margin to become the next chair of Washington’s Democratic Party, ousting Jaxon Ravens. A former Seattle City Council member, Podlodowski vowed to rebuild the party.
OLYMPIA — Vowing to rebuild the party, Tina Podlodowski on Saturday won election by a wide margin to become the next chair of Washington’s Democratic Party.
Members of the state Democratic Central Committee voted in Podlodowski, a former Seattle City Council member, and ousted Jaxon Ravens.
Ravens had been the chair since 2014, and the party’s executive director before that.
Podlodowski, who unsuccessfully ran last year for secretary of state, racked up nearly 70 percent of the vote.
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In her nomination speech, Podlodowski called on Democrats to be more aggressive in terms of both message and outreach across the state.
She underscored Democrats’ losses in recent years of city, county and state legislative seats. And Podlodowski noted that even when the party’s numbers were previously stronger in the state Legislature, it didn’t always equate to forward movement on Democratic priorities.
“We have to elect people who are going to fight for our values in these seats, progressive values in these seats” she said.
“Remember, even when we had supermajorities, did we fully fund education?” she asked, as the crowd answered in the negative. “And that has to change.”
“We need a party that’s strong and visible in all 49 legislative districts, in all 39 counties,” she added. Podlodowski has previously said she intends to open offices in Eastern Washington, where Democrats often struggle to elect officeholders.
The shake-up comes after the election this autumn of President Donald Trump, who captured the most votes in some traditionally Democratic-leaning counties.
Democratic losses in down-ballot races also played a role. Democrats failed to retake the state Senate or increase their slim margin of control in the state House.
Even before November, the enthusiasm in the Democratic primary season for Bernie Sanders sent changes rippling through the party.
In the aftermath, the party’s 176-member central committee has seen about two-thirds of its members replaced in legislative-district and county elections in recent weeks.
In his nomination speech, Ravens argued that the party was strong but also emphasized the need to work to elect Democrats across all parts of the state.
“We’ve got to make sure we are supporting Democrats everywhere,” he said.
In the end, Podlodowski garnered 119 votes, while Ravens earned 53. Another candidate, Roger Flygare, got two votes.
The state Democratic Central Committee also elected Joe Pakootas, of Spokane, to be vice chair. Pakootas, chief executive officer of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, previously ran against U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane.
Pakootas and Podlodowski ran as a ticket.