Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski is stepping down after six years in the post.
Podlodowski leaves on a high note for state Democrats, who in the November midterms held on to their majorities in the state Legislature, won the secretary of state’s office and scored a surprise win in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.
In a statement Wednesday, Podlodowski said she’d delivered on her pledge to elect more Democrats.
“This was not an easy decision, but I feel strongly that I have accomplished what I set out to do and it is now time to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders ready to light the fires of democracy, teamwork and community around our state,” Podlodowski said.
She cited accomplishments including expanding the Democrats’ legislative majorities, building a “blue bench” in areas across the state and increasing the diversity of the party’s candidates.
Democrats hold every statewide elected office and over the past six years flipped both the 3rd and 8th congressional districts, Podlodowski noted.
The state Democrats will elect a new chair at a meeting in Olympia on Jan. 28.
Shasti Conrad, who recently wrapped up two terms as chair of the King County Democrats, confirmed Wednesday she will run for the state chair position, and will make a formal announcement Thursday.
Podlodowski was elected chair in 2017, succeeding Jaxon Ravens. She took the position as Democrats were reeling from Donald Trump’s presidential win, and immediately framed the state party as part of the nationwide “resistance” to Trump and his policies, complete with a fist-in-the-air logo.
In recent years, the party dropped the fist imagery and touted its “Rise and Organize” project, which trained thousands of local organizers. In a message to Democrats on Wednesday, Podlodowki credited the program with helping raise the party’s share of the vote in every county in the state.
“Some places are a little less red, but [some others] are a lot bluer!” she wrote.
While notching wins overall, as Democrats grew even more dominant in King County and Seattle suburbs, the party in recent years lost ground in some previously Democratic legislative districts in more sparsely populated coastal areas such as Grays Harbor and Pacific counties.
A former Microsoft executive and Seattle City Council member, who later ran nonprofits including the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, Podlodowski was the state party’s first LGBTQ+ chair. She lost a bid in 2016 for secretary of state.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, state GOP Chair Caleb Heimlich said Wednesday he is seeking reelection, with a vote scheduled at a party meeting Jan. 21. He was elected party chair in 2018.
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