In an interview Monday, former King County Democrats chair Bailey Stober said he'll run as an "independent Democrat" for the 47th Legislative District seat held by Rep. Mark Hargrove, R-Covington.
Bailey Stober resigned this month as chair of the King County Democrats and as communications director for the county assessor’s office after well-publicized findings that he mistreated the party’s former executive director.
But Stober does not intend to fade into the background in disgrace. Instead, he’s running for public office. In an interview Monday, Stober said he’ll run as an “independent Democrat” for the 47th Legislative District seat held by Rep. Mark Hargrove, R-Covington.
Despite being essentially forced out of his political post and paid job, Stober waved off the cloud surrounding him, contending he was tried in “a kangaroo court.” In a written statement announcing his candidacy, Stober said he understands it “may be controversial in some circles” but that “he will not be addressing the matter directly.”
“Listen, having been in politics for over a decade I know I have made lifelong friends and lifelong enemies. I don’t need to join in the debate because I know who I am and I know why I get up every day, and that’s to serve the people of South King County,” said Stober, who lives in Auburn.
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He added that while “keyboard warriors debate,” he’ll be out knocking on voters’ doors.
Still, Stober will bring well-documented baggage to the race, after months of investigations and reports about his conduct as King County Democrats chair.
An investigation and daylong triallike proceeding by the local Democrats ended with party leaders finding him guilty on five violations, including that he’d created a hostile work environment and improperly fired Natalia Koss Vallejo, the county party’s former executive director. Stober resigned as chair after those findings.
Koss Vallejo this month blasted King County Democrats’ handling of the investigation, calling the two-month ordeal unprofessional and “dehumanizing” because she was shut out of internal party proceedings while Stober continued to use his position to fight the charges from the inside.
Stober also quit his $98,000-a-year county job last week after an attorney hired by the assessor’s office delivered a critical report saying Stober had called Koss Vallejo derogatory names, including “bitch,” while acting as her boss. The report stated Stober also had referred to a senior state party leader with misogynistic insults and had generally engaged in “juvenile behavior.”
Stober resigned “in lieu of termination” and will receive a settlement of $37,700 in exchange for not suing the county.
Hargrove, the Republican incumbent, is seeking a fifth term in 47th District, which includes Auburn, Kent, Covington and Renton. He said he’d heard a while ago that Stober was planning to run, but after recent news “I suspected he would change his mind.”
Hargrove added: “I’ve lived here 31 years. I think I represent my constituents well. I welcome the opportunity to share our different views and I think our constituents will respond and make the best choice.”
The state Democratic Party sought to distance itself from Stober. In an emailed statement party spokeswoman Ansley Lacitis said costly investigations “found him guilty of of demeaning his employee and body-shaming women who had to work with him.”
She said Stober “doesn’t represent Democratic values in any way, and should remove Democrat from his affiliation.”
However, Stober is launching his campaign with endorsements from some south King County leaders, including Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus and Kent Mayor Dana Ralph.
In an interview, Ralph said, “I think there is absolutely controversy, but he is a good guy, smart — and I don’t think you should always believe everything you read in the news.” Asked which news about Stober she believed to be false, Ralph said “there is a whole bunch but I am not going to go into it.”
The 47th District is potentially swing territory. Its other state representative is state House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, while its state senator is Republican Joe Fain of Auburn. Still, Hargrove won his 2016 reelection campaign with 57 percent of the vote.